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bedellympian

Buying hand drill... any advice?

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Like the title says, I'm looking to buy a bolt kit. I will be mostly looking to put in rappel and belay anchors on new back country trad routes. I want to start with a hand drill due to the weight, cost, and few holes I will actually drill.

 

Does anyone have personal experience and recommendations? Best bolts to place in hand drilled holes? Best drill bit? Where to save money and where to shell more out so I have something that works but doesn't break the bank? General tips for someone new to this?

 

Thanks.

 

 

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If you are putting up new trad routes in the backcountry, I encourage you to not create bolted anchors for belay and rappel stations. Trad climbing used to mean traditional climbing, which entailed building your own anchors. Leave it wild for the next person. :)

 

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Though I generally agree with the above, here's some info leaving ethics of where and where not to place bolts aside for the moment:

 

The Petzl Rocpec SDS holder ($70) is a good one. I like it so far and it generally gets pretty good reviews. However, you should look at dammerr.com before purchasing the Petzl or other drill holder. Daniel Merrick makes really high quality climbing hammers and also some nice looking SDS drill holders. I'm really happy with the hammer I bought from him (at $100, comparable in price to other climbing specific hammers available commercially). A climbing hammer may not be strictly necessary, but the rectangular, 'machinist' shaped hammer head, nice weight balance and quality handle really help when drilling by hand.

 

Hilti bits have worked well for me so far ($10 apiece). Make sure the bit is appropriate for the rock type (some cheaper SDS bits won't drill well in harder rock).

 

As far as bolts, 3/8" is the smallest diameter one should consider in any rock type. In soft rock, 1/2" could be mandatory, as could longer bolt lengths. Stainless steel should be the absolute standard these days; that would be one place not to skimp at all. Wedge stud anchors (the threaded ones with a nut) are the cheapest (starting around $2 apiece for 3/8"). You can buy them shorter, but 3" is about the shortest appropriate size (in granite!) because they're also somewhat weaker than other common choices. 'Five piece' bolts (the ones you see around with a hex head instead of a nut) are stronger and generally accepted to be a better choice but are also two or three times as costly (starting around $6 for 3/8"). Again: the shorter 3/8" sizes are appropriate for solid granite; softer rock types will require larger and longer bolts!

 

Whatever bolts you buy, make sure they're purpose-made climbing anchors and absolutely not hardware store bolts. Hardware store concrete anchors often have little to no consistency in strength from bolt to bolt and are thus unsuitable. Also make sure that all components (bolt, nut, washer, hanger) are of the same grade of metal to avoid galvanic corrosion.

 

A nice test tube brush and some type of compressed air, C02 or hand-pumped air blowing tool are key items. Tubing that you blow through to clean the holes out can work but the moisture from your breath really makes rock dust stick and can result in a bolt that doesn't tighten down properly, rendering it unusable. The holes have to be really, really clean, especially for the wedge stud bolt types.

 

I would also highly recommend using a torque wrench, especially at first. Some may argue it's not necessary, but proper tightening torque is the only way to know that the bolt is functioning anywhere near its rated strength. Both wedge and five piece expansion bolts are 'torque actuated' and different sizes have very different necessary values. Both over- and under-tightening can render the bolt uselessly weak and/or broken. I would wager that the bolts we clip are generally over-tightened for lack of said torque wrench. A cheap wrench could be better than nothing and will run you $20-50. Just make sure the tightening torque for your chosen bolt is within the working range of the wrench (values usually given in lb/ft).

 

ClimbTech is a good and reasonably priced website for bolts, hangers, brushes, bits, anchor hardware, etc.

 

The Access Fund website has a great instructional guide for bolting and bolt replacement. It's in 'educate yourself--for advocates' on the menu. The American Safe Climbing Association also has good information.

 

The Supertopo forums have a lot of good info about bolting from people who know their stuff, but it's sometimes necessary to wade through a ton of posts to find it.

 

I'm aware that you clearly stated 'back country', but a battery powered rotohammer, where not prohibited, is a better tool than a hand drill: the holes will generally be cleaner (IE, more consistent in diameter throughout their depth); you can place bigger, longer and therefore stronger bolts; you won't get as much of a 'workout', but your elbows and wrists will thank you! Also, rotohammers are now available with smaller battery sizes than the usual 24v or 36v that are perfect for on-lead bolting and won't set you back $1000. However, there are places where the hand drill is understandably the better (or only) option and with practice, it can be a useful tool. To that end, I would recommend getting a large rock or piece of concrete and doing a few practice placements (including installing an actual bolt) to get the feel for drilling. It's really easy to make mistakes at first and it's better (crucial, in fact!) to make them in your front yard than up on the rock!

 

Proper bolt replacement requires an even larger bevy of tools, the information on which can be found via similar online sources.

 

This long response, by the way, is the result of my having gone through this same process in the last couple of years. Prepare for differing opinions. I'm sure some will dwell on the issue of bolting in general, but here's my two cents: bolts are a generally accepted part of climbing. It's crucial that anyone placing them educates himself or herself as well as possible and places good bolts. Using all the most widely accepted practices (from ASCA and Access Fund) for bolt placement and replacement will minimize the impact of the activity.

Edited by soulreaper

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Trad climbing used to mean traditional climbing, which entailed building your own anchors. Leave it wild for the next person. :)

 

actually if he drills the bolts on lead, he is trad climbing. bolting and trad climbing are not exclusive to each other. bolting on rappel and trad climbing are different beasts.

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If you are putting up new trad routes in the backcountry, I encourage you to not create bolted anchors for belay and rappel stations. Trad climbing used to mean traditional climbing, which entailed building your own anchors. Leave it wild for the next person. :)

 

And as an addendum to gene, nothing wild about finding the remaining gear/tat from "traditional" rappel anchors. Concentrate on the wealth of knowledge from soulreaper and leave bolt ethics to the "experts", or maybe since it is election season do a poll. :poke:

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Thanks guys. I appreciate the no-bolt ethic and completely agree with you. This is for a couple Oregon locales I have in mind where we will be connecting discontinuous crack systems and trying to get off of especially chossy piles. It will mostly be a safety net that I want to have dialed. If I find something that is really a nice free climb I may consider putting in two bolt anchors but that is hardly a given.

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Like the title says, I'm looking to buy a bolt kit. I will be mostly looking to put in rappel and belay anchors on new back country trad routes. I want to start with a hand drill due to the weight, cost, and few holes I will actually drill.

 

Does anyone have personal experience and recommendations? Best bolts to place in hand drilled holes? Best drill bit? Where to save money and where to shell more out so I have something that works but doesn't break the bank? General tips for someone new to this?

 

Thanks.

 

 

I'll add my 2 cents if it will help ya. Soulreaper had some good info up thread. Buy used as cheap as possible if you can. Hand drilling sucks. I have Dan Merricks (hey wait, wasn't that the Elephant mans name?) Drill and holder. I haven't used them yet, however, Merrick has done some extensive testing and he feels it's the bee's knees. He's a sharp guy, it's a safe bet he dialed it. I also own the Petzl, an old Rawl and Deuces A5 Hurricane drill which I have drilled with. They all suck. Did I mention that hand drilling sucks? Last young guy I mentioned that to still wanted to try it, so I grabbed an old 1/4" dia drill, a holder and a I showed him how to hand drill. Tap tap turn. (ie, tap tap with the hammer then turn the holder @ 1/8 of a turn or moreish.) taptap turn. This younger pup was in the building trades and worked real work for a living. In short order, despite being on the ground drilling in ideal conditions (the bolt is still in the boulder at the base of Beacon Rock which is harder than the hubs of hell andesite - and we used a removable anchor just in case) he was like "WTF!" and getting pumped. As far as holders go, they all work fine. I like the Petzl as you can trade out the bit quickly with no hand tools. The Hurricane not as fast but faster than many others. Some folks like the Pika holder (speak up Shapp), I don't. The less you need to monkey fuck mid drill the better. Which makes the Petzl a winner. These days you only have one bit style choice, the SDS style. The Rawl/Powers won't take the SDS, they need a tapered drill bit which are not made any more so if you are buying used make sure you know whats what. A5, Runnout and Petzl take the SDS but the Petzl is optimized for sds.

 

A5 use to make great bolt bags as well, look for one off ebay. A bag will help keep yer shit organized so when you are clutching on with one hand and staring death in the face while trying to drill with the other you don't have to worry (as much) about flying off mid drill and auguring into a ledge due simply to to excessive clusterfuckage. If you can't get an old A5, Luke Malabrista in Moab is making a duplicates and he makes real good stuff. I have both the Runout and the A5 and they are identical. You can always press a Fish Bag or a DMM Bag into service but not as good. Lukes company is Runout customs. He is mfg the A5 Hurricane drill holder as well in addition to haul bags, portaledges etc etc, good stuff: http://www.runoutcustoms.com/Bolting_equipment.html

 

You'll be fine no matter which bolt you choose just make sure it has an ICC approval (Hilti, Powers, Red heads etc etc all have that). In the old days, people used 1/4" diameter split shank construction bolts that were 1-1/4 or 1-1/2" long that could and would and did blow the rock out during the install as you tapped them in. Yet shockingly they rarely failed in use, even after 20 years of rusting and folks hanging off of them.

 

Basalt rock is all over the place in terms of consistency and hardness, it's usually solid but once off the beaten track sometimes you get plating and even spalling that's just sick. Some places like Tieton and other columnar basalt are real good and solid to place bolts. Of interest is that hand drilling will show you how hard the rock is real quick. Grey Andesite, say a volcanic plug like Beacon, is crazy hard. I've hand drilled in it and it sucked. But of course I have already said that. Tap around with a hammer before you choose your ideal location. At Tower, as Ivan will tell you, tapping here sounds hollow and makes ya piss your pants, whereas tapping (just over)---> there is WOW, that's some solid stuff. If you are going to spend 20 min or more making a hole, makes sure its solid and has not nearby fracture lines FIRST. Don't think of fracture lines as something you can see, if you are staring at a huge plate with the fracture going the other way, you will never see it. Whereas hitting with a hammer will quickly tell you both in bounce (vibration) and sound (dull thud or hard bouncing tap)that you are banging on a hollow drum and not solid rock. At Coethedral, there was hollow spots inside which the hammer would rat out if you tapped and listened. Occasionally the hollows were minimal, only 1" or so deep and you'd hit rock again. But tapping will often tell you something which you cannot see with your eyes is my point.

 

Some basalt (which is also grey and looks very similar to

Andesite)is not so bad to drill. You'll get differing sized grains come out when you drill that will show you that. Again, of more importance is choosing a solid location for your bolt. If you are near a corner or an edge pay real, real close attention to the possible fracture planes and your spacing, that applies doubly to the top if you are putting in top anchors. Spacing is something you will see on the construction guidelines, but as a loose rule of thumb give yourself 10 times the diameter of the bolt away from an edge. In super solid rock, it's not an issue, but you really don't know the rock composition. No one does. Top anchors, which will be used only for toproping and lowering, you could easily use otherwise short 2-3" long anchors. You might be surprised, but if you climb on older classic routes you most likely are climbing, clipping and trusting with your life much shorter ones all the time. 1-3/4" was long when hand drilling was still happening and 3/8" diameter wedge anchors were the norm. Before rotohammers made such short work of it everyone had to hand drill. No one, and I meant NO ONE ever wanted to go longer than 3". Even in soft rock like Smith. I recall when Alan Watts said he was going to put in some 5 inch long wedge anchors on Picnic lunch wall in a spot of particularity soft rock. We were shocked. Shocked! All of us. That was so massively overkill. In fact, as the transition from 1/4" to 3/8" diameter occurred, no more than 1-3/4 and 2" were commonly used in 3/8" diameter. And this was a huge increase in safety as the 1/4" diameter split shanks were commonly only 1-1/4 or 1-1/2" long. So for back country handrilling, you'll be fine with whatever you decide. Currently the mfg put a code on the end which tells you the length after installation. Its a recent innovation that will all but effectively call you out for being a pussy for not drilling but a shallow hole. In the old days, no one knew after you put it in:-) As an aside, I recently bought and installed (or perhaps bought but then watched or helped install) some shorties, wont say where as I don't need the internet outrage, but lets say that they are 1-1/2" long and I'll climb on them all day long with no muss no fuss. If you choose to do that at yer location, make sure you know the rock real well. Like real real well. There is nothing smaller/shorter than 1/2" x 6-1/2" as lead pro up at Coethedral as that is much softer stuff. It's all about the rock.

 

You can minimize spinners (bolts that don't set) by blowing (with a plastic tube from Home depot), brushing (plastic bristle brush, Home Depot only sells the large brushes but many Hardware stores have what you need, Parkrose Hardware does), then blowing again so your hole is clean. People didn't do that back in the day, but the handdrills didn't seem to powder the rock so fine that the bolts would slip and rotate as you turned the nut to tighten it.

 

If you have wedge anchors that have a dog point (an unthreaded portion near the tip) you are in luck, but if not, make sure your nut isn't high enough to get a hammer smack or you'll be eyeing a spinner for sure.

 

So the process is this: Drill hole. (BTW, if you are hand drilling this just kicked your ass if it's any kind of steep), blow brush blow. Or not. Hammer the wedge anchor in, MAKING SURE NOT TO HIT THE NUT. I usually have plenty of stud, and as I knock the bolt in, back the nut off, tap, back it off, tap, etc.

 

 

I do highly recommend Stainless steel wedge anchors, and proper torque is key to a perfect bolt. Early in the year I'll carry a torque wrench to double check the feeling of my take on the torque I feel of my regular wrench. Torque recommendations vary on 3/8" bolts between mfgs, so you might want to check the brand you're using. 25 foot lbs is common but not universal. If you have a small 4" long Crescent wrench (Crescent is a brand, buy a well made wrench), you won't be over-torquing, and under torqued isn't really an issue, overtorqing (although rare) is. I have a couple of hand wrenches that are ratchets which will fit a 3/8 wedge anchor nut on one side and a 1/2" nut on the other. Highly recommended. No properly placed wedge anchor will pull out with any climbing load if under torqued. It's never occurred and shouldn't ever happen. That said, we just did a route that took hundreds of colts and we didn't torque a single one of them. Not one. Meh.

 

BTW, that's^^ the short version, I could add a lot, but the main thing is if you have to drill - make sure to craft solid anchors for those who follow and don't forget to have fun as you're carrying on and dragging all this heavy ugly nasty heavy shit all over hell and back.:-)

 

...and now, back to the ethics and moral issues of drilling.

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Trad climbing used to mean traditional climbing, which entailed building your own anchors.

 

Tell it to John Salathe. They used to just call it climbing.

 

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I've done enough hand drilling to be convinced that regular-old HSS bits ground to a chisel point are far, far far more efficient than banging on a SDS bit. (And by all means power drill if your not in a Wilderness area)

 

You have to carefully sharpen a pile of them and need to switch them out after two holes in granite (20+ in sandstone) but they drill out at least twice as quick. (FYI it's basically impossible to sharpen an SDS bit and not have it shatter on the first hole)

 

It will only work with a collet based system.

 

http://shop.runoutcustoms.com/D-5-Hurricane-Drill-D5-HURR.htm

 

 

Practice, lots of it, on a boulder at shoulder/head level will get you both in shape for and develop technique for drilling good holes.

 

Lots of (GOOD) info on this buried in Supertopo if you do enough searching

 

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=492354&msg=495736#msg495736

 

Edited by dberdinka

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In the old days, people used 1/4" diameter split shank construction bolts that were 1-1/4 or 1-1/2" long that could and would and did blow the rock out during the install as you tapped them in. Yet shockingly they rarely failed in use, even after 20 years of rusting and folks hanging off of them.

 

Failed under less than 50 lbs load, 15 months after installation.

 

Fully corroded within the hole.

 

 

14446211_10153745308636105_5723496183093514892_n.jpg

Edited by G-spotter

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Looks like a nail drive Zamac, and not the Drive anchor that Bill was refering to, but the point remains the same.

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maybe a better lessen is to not put a bolt within 5 inches of running water? was this a canyoneering anchor?

 

for advice on hand drilling, in addition to Berdinka, try asking David WHitelaw and his crew. they put in crazy amounts of bolts all by hand.

 

Edited by genepires

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maybe a better lessen is to not put a bolt within 5 inches of running water?

 

You mean like not in the PNW?

But yeah, it was dry when I put it there. Then the glacier retreated another hundred feet or so and the flow moved.

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The other common anchor was the Star Dryvins. Basically a nail that split 2 pieces of a sleeve when you whacked it. They were still fairly small and didn't go too deep. Folks liked those better for softer rock. Looked like this (not my photo)

 

254866_3238_L.jpg

 

The most notable failure I heard of those was the West Face of Monkey Face bolt ladder. The bolts had been getting looser over the years. The story is that Dean Caldwell had a bunch of buddys to help out installing the bolt ladders. They got a keg of beer over to the base and would each take turns going up and banging in bolts till they got tired or thirsty ....or lonely. They'd go down and another would head up to bang some in while the former bolt installer quaffed a few. In such a scenario, it was all but expected that some would be installed better than others. The issue was really compounded by the soft nature of the rock however, coupled with time. They kept getting looser as time went on, we all ignored the issue and you'd have to literally push the nail back in on some of them starting in the late 80s or so, before committing your weight to the shaky hanger. The story I heard is that this culminated with some unfortunate finally zippering 8 of them in what must have been a massive pants filling fall.

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Hand drilling brings back some great memories..bang, twist, bang, twist...puff, puff, bang, twist... Much more satisfying and karmically correct than a power drill, though I have used both.

Just sold my Hurricane, loved it, a sexy piece of debauchery it was. I still have my pika drill buried some place. I can look for it if yer desperate.

Nothing more satisfying than a fresh drilled line.

 

 

14902905_10211169466141802_2004509507499297271_o.jpg

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My favorite rig is a Pika drill (2 set screws), a Vaughan 22 oz ball peen with 3" cut off, and a blowout bulb (rather than a tube). 3/8" x 2.5" takes about 7 minutes from a decent stance in granite (or 30 minutes from a crappy one :)

 

Blow out often to be effective.

 

mh

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All good advice in this thread. I'm in the petzl rocpec camp. I used the pika early on and hated it. Also used the hurricane and didn't love it. Also used high speed steel bits and could never figure out the "twice" as fast thing. I found the bits to bind way more and slow me down. Finding a hammer that fits you is also important. I've tried the original A5, the new D5, the Mcdevitt, and a petzl one but I've always returned to my original BD wall hammer. I've got small hands and short arms and the smaller nature of the BD hammer fits me perfectly. I also don't swing super hard, I'm am more of a gentle driller and find my sds bits don't chip nearly as fast this way.

 

The one piece of advice that I never see mentioned in threads like this is to use Loctite or any of the available thread lockers.. Since the torque is so much lower on Stainless steel bolts the nut has a tendency to loosen up a lot. I can't tell you how many newish SS bolts I've come across that have loose nuts or the nut and hanger are completely gone. If there is a sling on the bolt the wind will the blow the sling back and forth and eventually loosen the nut right off. Seen this in Patagonia many times and around crags of the PNW.

 

And regarding the blow tube or pump. I don't actually believe it is necessary. When I started bolting I always used one but I forgot the tube enough times that I just used the bit to twist all of the dust out out. After awhile I just stopped bringing a tube. Not sure of my exact count but I know I have for sure placed over 300 bolts by hand and have never once gotten a spinner. Then I've had partners using the exact setup as me and they used a blow tube and they got spinners. I think it has more to do with drilling technique and precision than dust in the whole. The only asterisk to this is if you are drilling on a horizontal surface and the dust doesn't naturally want to work it's way out. That would be a good time for a blow tube.

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If you are putting up new trad routes in the backcountry, I encourage you to not create bolted anchors for belay and rappel stations. Trad climbing used to mean traditional climbing, which entailed building your own anchors. Leave it wild for the next person. :)

 

And as an addendum to gene, nothing wild about finding the remaining gear/tat from "traditional" rappel anchors...

I agree. If you have to use gear to build a rap anchor then leaving it behind is unavoidable, but most tat I find consists of slings wrapped around trees or rocks. You can avoid leaving slings behind by using a long "closed" sling draped over a rock or tree trunk, like you're going to girth hitch it, but don't. Loop the rope through the two loops at the ends, and tie a tag line to one of the loops, or even an end of the rope you're rapping with if it is long enough, and then you can pull the sling. LNT. :)

 

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