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Dane

The stainless myth?

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I have seen so many misquotes and misinformation on stainless steel used in crampons...including the newest BD crampon review in R&I I thought it time to get the real info down in print.

 

Stainless is not lighter than chromoly. If you use the right steel and heat treat, the only advantage of stainless is corrosion resistance, and lack of final coatings required for field use.

 

In fact is stainless steel is more expensive as a raw material. Substantially so.

 

Back to crampons. Bill Belcourt says in his BD crampon video..."the new stainless crampons are lighter by DESIGN" That means that the design of the BD crampons has changed. Lighter heel levers, no paint, slightly shorter stainless spikes or the loss of a set of screws on the bots. It all adds up to a better "design" but it has nothing to do with stainless being lighter than chromoly or being able to use less of, or a thinner material (they didn't) because of the change to stainless.

 

 

As an easy example the old (2008) Cyborgs weigh 42.2 oz. The new stainless (2009) Cyborg weights 39.4 oz. That is a 2.8 oz difference. .6 oz of that weight loss is in the new rear levers.

All the stainless pionts are shorter (3 to 5mm shorter) which is the majority of the 2oz left per pair on the Cyborg's weight loss but paint is some of that as well.

 

I really like the new stainless BD 'pons. Some good improvements in design and a big improvement by going stainless I hope. But for the end user the majority of that is simply cosmetic.

 

But lets give the credit where it is do...it wasn't stainless that made a lighter crampon, it was the design team at BD. Just more flash and more at stake in the stainless committment.

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AFAIK stainless has a higher strength to weight ratio or at least stiffness to weight so you can get away with less material and still have similar performance. You can also see added structure pressed into the metal (at least in the Sabertooths) that will improve stiffness allowing for less material.

 

Attributing all of the weight savings to the heel lever without looking at the change in the volume of metal is disingenuous. Just by going to a slightly thinner stock can make a difference but be unnoticeable to the eye.

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Some/most of your comments-assumptions are faulty.

Where do people come up with this stuff?

 

You want to argue with the director of hardware at BD about his own products have at it. I was just relying info I found and had BD verify.

 

 

"stainless has a higher strength to weight ratio or at least stiffness to weight"....this one in particular. Feel free to document that statement. It's bs. Were you thinking of Titanium?

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium

 

 

Stainless and chromoly can do the exact same jobs (except for corrosion resistance) with similar heat treats and choice in alloys at the SAME MATERIAL WEIGHT. When you understand even a tiny bit of metalurgy it takes little to go from chromoly to stainless in an alloy. And when it comes to crampons it is way easier to use chromoly and get acceptable results. Same reason only one company heavily invested in stainless technology and others make web posts on the material.

 

http://www.grivel.com/acciaio/stainless_steel_vs_chromolly_steel.pdf

 

I am telling you what the exact weight changes are and why for the last two generations of the BD Cyborg. I choose them as the comparison because it was easy as there were less design changes on the Cyborg compared to the Sabertooth. I can tell you exactly what the thickness (volume?) of the metal BD produced the Cyborg's from, which BD confirmed, as .1000". The 2.8oz weight loss on the new Cyborg is as I said, 3 to 5mm shorter stainless spikes, now powder coating (paint) and the new heel levers.

 

No one changed stock thickness at BD when they went from chromoly to stainless, that was my point. And I don't trust my eyes for posts like this. I use a digital micrometer and called BD to confirm my observations and see what I missed.

 

You might want to read this.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stainless_steel

 

 

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It is a sad rainy day when we are arguing the merits of metals, all if which work well. We should all be out sending. How come the weather is so much better than the forcast?

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Thanks to Dane. It seems there is almost as much brouhaha concerning Stainless vs. Chromolly as there is in PLB useage. For my part I'd trust the pistolsmith.

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It is a sad rainy day when we are arguing the merits of metals, all if which work well. We should all be out sending. How come the weather is so much better than the forcast?

 

 

Oregon sometimes has a malevolent/mischievous weather spirit... :shock:

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Some/most of your comments-assumptions are faulty.

Where do people come up with this stuff?

 

You want to argue with the director of hardware at BD about his own products have at it. I was just relying info I found and had BD verify.

 

 

"stainless has a higher strength to weight ratio or at least stiffness to weight"....this one in particular. Feel free to document that statement. It's bs. Were you thinking of Titanium?

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium

 

 

Stainless and chromoly can do the exact same jobs (except for corrosion resistance) with similar heat treats and choice in alloys at the SAME MATERIAL WEIGHT. When you understand even a tiny bit of metalurgy it takes little to go from chromoly to stainless in an alloy. And when it comes to crampons it is way easier to use chromoly and get acceptable results. Same reason only one company heavily invested in stainless technology and others make web posts on the material.

 

http://www.grivel.com/acciaio/stainless_steel_vs_chromolly_steel.pdf

 

I am telling you what the exact weight changes are and why for the last two generations of the BD Cyborg. I choose them as the comparison because it was easy as there were less design changes on the Cyborg compared to the Sabertooth. I can tell you exactly what the thickness (volume?) of the metal BD produced the Cyborg's from, which BD confirmed, as .1000". The 2.8oz weight loss on the new Cyborg is as I said, 5mm shorter front spikes, slight change on the angled spikes and the new heel levers.

 

No one changed stock thickness at BD when they went from chromoly to stainless, that was my point. And I don't trust my eyes for posts like this. I use a digital micrometer and called BD to confirm my observations and see what I missed.

 

You might want to read this.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stainless_steel

 

There are different types of stainless steels: when nickel is added, for instance, the austenite structure of iron is stabilized. This crystal structure makes such steels non-magnetic and less brittle at low temperatures. For greater hardness and strength, more carbon is added. When subjected to adequate heat treatment, these steels are used as razor blades, cutlery, tools, etc.

 

I've read all of those before. What SS does BD use and what Chromoly does Grivel use? Then we can do a real comparison.

 

That Grivel PDF screams propaganda so excuse me for not taking it any more seriously than that of BD.

 

I'm not trying to say that SS is better or worse. I'm just looking for a fair comparison of material properties. Show me the numbers. Like Grivel says it's a compromise but they bely this conclusion by stating that SS is for idiots and chromoly is for smart people. It's like saying aluminum crampons are useless. Useless for what?

 

Maybe my initial impressions about SS vs chromoly were backwards. It seems that SS is generally softer and weaker than chromoly but I think it has a much higher elongation % which implies better durability. I'll look into it more when I have a little more time.

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Maybe my initial impressions about SS vs chromoly were backwards.

 

NO, not backwards just totally FUBAR.

You may have read it but you have zero

comprehension of what the wiki steel info says.

 

So let me state this again.

 

Stainless steel and chromoly steel is equal in weight. Stainless steel and chromoly steel can be had in alloys that offer similar strength, toughness and durability.

 

THE ONLY ADVANTAGE stainless steel has over chromoly in crampons is in corrosion resistance. Zip, denada, nothing more...end of discussion! Once you actually understand that fact it is hard to get it backasswards :)

 

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either way, if a few ounces is cramping your onsight, you're either waaaay too good or are a weak little pussy

 

 

Dane, what about "dampening" on impact. Seems a denser material would offer more of a sinker "thud". Is there any difference here? I worry about ultralight crampons jingling around with my mighty blows.

Edited by layton

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Guys,

 

You're both right to a certain extent.

 

I am not going to get into what type of stainless BD uses because it took a long time to figure out. There are differences that add up to more than just corrosion resistance but it was not obvious from just looking at the numbers (as they are very close). You never truly understand a material until you make the product you want to make out of it, and start testing it. Sometimes you get lucky and get performance beyond expectations, and then spend the rest of your time trying to figure out why it happened. Turns out there are many factors that contribute to wear. Here is a small clue but I'm saying no more.....http://www.alloysteel.net/english/techlib_factors.asp

 

Someone please fix that link for me.....thanks

 

Bill

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So I notice that BD now has crampons made mostly of stainless, except for chromoly frontpoints.

 

Simond has crampons made mostly of chromoly, except for stainless frontpoints ("structurally hardened martensitic", whatever that means) -- their Vampire model.

 

Gimmicks ?

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for all intents and purposes, yes.

How many products would be fine as they are for 2-4 year spans? Many! However if you don't change something and make it different and market it as somehow being improved, people won't just buy it for the hell of it when they have something (specifically the same product) that works, and competitors will advertise some bullshit improvement that will make it seem like their product may have some noticeable performance edge. Sure there have been advancements and those come to the fore, and many are sequential, but for instance the cost of new sabretooths vs the old on sale is crazy for--what...3 oz and shiny crampons?

 

correct me if I am wrong but if you are going through crampons fast due to wearing the teeth short or breaking them off (does that happen a lot during ice climbing?), you're either doing something wrong or are one badass mofo who has earned the right to bitch about the difference between metals.

 

 

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So basically no one here knows what they're talking about except the guy who designed the crampons. Hah! It's kinda funny he chimed in.

 

Dane on Cascade Climbers ~~ Steve Grossman on Supertopo. Are you guys like buddies or something?

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Halifax, my apologies. I got a little hot after the "disingenuous" comment. At that point I stopped reading and started reacting.

 

Halifax sez:

I'm not trying to say that SS is better or worse. I'm just looking for a fair comparison of material properties

 

My first post was simply an inept attempt to clarify that stainless wasn't any better or worse than chromoly as a base steel. It shouldn't be a point of discussion let alone argument between us or Grivel and BD. Obviously some rivalary and market share wars going on there to get the spew of propaganda and media misinformation. The alloys and heat treats you choose are what is important within the definitions of stainless and chromoly. I posted the 2 generations of detailed Cyborg weights to make that point.

 

If you want the discussion to go farther than that it is easy to fine any manner of alloys, stainless or chromoly, that can be made into an incredible (however you want to defind that) crampon. Just pick a super alloy, stainless or non.

 

The problem with the "super alloys" is the price of the steel, the difficulty working/machining it and getting it to market at a price point the consumer base can bear. But with the right choice in alloy there really can be some magic happening.

 

No one is making a "super alloy" crampon with the possible exception, if you believe their hype, of Camp's Nanotech @ $255. retail. Using the term "super alloy" for Camp's 'pon as we would in my industry would be faulty labeling. It is simply another stainless. Might be a good choice in alloys but no magic to be had there. When you make weight comparisons between models make sure you understand comparing cookie cutter frames (very strong for their weight) to solid frame crampons. Each manufacturing style has distinct end user advantages and disadvantages.

 

more here:

http://www.matweb.com/search/datasheettext.aspx?matguid=bdaa2ce0e0d7426aac6b8a7daad50a8e

 

Good reading here:

http://www.madabout-kitcars.com/kitcar/kb.php?aid=438

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superalloy

 

Source of much of the steel I use

 

http://www.cartech.com/products.aspx

 

For the price point and the advantages of stainless, plus the advantages of durability in the SPECIFIC stainless ALLOY BD chose I think they have an exceptional product at a great price point.

 

 

I'm just looking for a fair comparison of material properties

 

Good luck with any company (manufacturing from steel) telling you the actual alloy and heat treat they are using so we could all look it up and make a side by side comparison from the steel charts.

 

Water has it right...."correct me if I am wrong but if you are going through crampons fast due to wearing the teeth short...you're either doing something wrong or are one badass mofo who has earned the right to bitch about the difference between metals"

 

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My thanks also to Bill Belacort and Black Diamond for stepping into the fray of this one. Now we're getting somewhere. Not that we weren't, with Halifax and Dane. Just another strong additional input, from a manufacturer's viewpoint (even if some corporate secrets may not be revealed) is quite welcome.

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Thanks Dane. I'm a physicist not a materials engineer so I don't have a good grasp of the finer points of steel manufacture. That was why I wanted you to clarify the volume of metal involved. Rereading your posts I did find that you talked about it but I missed it the first time. I guess I was looking for proof that there wasn't any weight savings in the crampon frame itself from using thinner stock or by larger cutouts in the under foot area.

 

BDs being pretty coy about the specs so I guess we'll just have to wait and see about the durability. I will say that I appreciate the environmental spin of using recycled SS and the lack of coatings. I just got some new Sabertooths for general mountaineering use so I'm sure they'll see quite a bit of rock and I might find out sooner than later about how durable they are.

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I have been using the new SS Cyborgs since early October. I've probably got 20+ days on them already, a lot of that use in Cody where you wear the crampons down the descent through loose scree and dirt. I'm one of those guys who usually will put 75+ days of climbing on a pair of crampons per season by the time my big alpine trip in the spring is over.

 

I'm really impressed by the durability of these SS crampons. I've burned through two sets of Rambo IVs in the past 3 years through all the alpine mixed climbing that I do. The Cyborgs are holding up MUCH better so far. I've only had to sharpen the secondary points once, after climbing a slab mixed climbing route in the Flatirons near Boulder, CO. The anti-balling plates are holding up the Cody trashing and I've been able to dial the fit in very nicely to my Kayland boots.

 

My two complaints are number one, having to cut the anti-balling plates to get to the monopoint setup, not something I was expecting and a bit of a pain in the ass to do. Number two, it took me a few tries to get the fit exactly dialed even after they seemed securely attached. I had one of them try and pop off leading the traverse on The Big Sleep and did have one come off on leading The Thrill Is Gone. A quick adjustment on the heel bail pressure has fixed the problem and it hasn't shown up since.

 

I wasn't a fan of the previous generation of BD crampons (the Bionic years) but these SS Cyborg are a totally different beast. I've done everything from climb hard ice to scary trad mixed to technical bolted mixed climbing and am still on my first set of monopoints with them.

 

Highly recommended.

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Here is some info on the materials used in the Simond 'pons Rhyang asked about earlier.

 

http://vacaero.com/News-Info-From-Industrial-Heating-Magazine/News-Info-From-Industrial-Heating-Magazine/Advances-in-Martensitic-Stainless-Processing.html

 

 

It is worth noting that Aermet, a true super alloy by any definition, is one of the most expensive and hard to work with steels available. BD was the first, and only as far as I know, climbing manufacture to use it. That was 20 years go now iirc. But maybe Bill can give us the dates.

 

BD no longer offers Aremet picks. I suspect because the market wouldn't support the price point. Climbers who know still clammer to buy original BD Aermet picks.

 

But the reason I bring it up is Aermet was one of the first "super alloys" and is still produced, still extremely hard to manufacture from and extremely expensive. There has been huge technlogical advances in steel and manufacturing techniques in the last 20 years. 20 years ago Aermet had no competitors now there are dozens of similar steels. Depending on your application and requirements some better or some worse.

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