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iceclimber

BD heel bails - inspect for wear

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A couple of evenings ago I was inspecting and fitting my Stinger and Sabretooth crampons to a new set of La Sportiva Baturas, when I discovered a problem. Wanted to get the word out for others to inspect their newer style BD crampon rear bails for similar issues.

 

I was adjusting the length of one of the Stinger crampons, when I noticed that the rear bail wire was no longer sitting in the groove of the retainer in the tension adjuster; it was rattling around free in the plastic track between the retainer and the bottom of the lever. At first I thought it might have been a manufacturing goof, but that didn't make sense as I'd had about 10 days last season on the Stingers, and there's just no way I wouldn't have noticed the wire not sitting in the retainer. The date code on the Stingers is 1334.

 

Pulled the rear bail apart completely and found that the bottom lip of aluminum retainer, which the tensioning screw runs through, had deformed with the tension of the bail wire. I can only assume the wire deformed the retainer sufficiently, such that the wire was able to pull through. 

 

When I checked the rear bails on the Sabretooths,  same design, they didn't show similar patterns of wear

 

I wear a large boot (size 46) and size/tension my crampons carefully; amongst the things I take into account are making sure the rear points don't extend beyond the back of the heel, that the retaining posts on the rear assemblies clear the heel of the boot, and that there's no rattle nor play in the crampon. That generally means I have a reasonable amount of tension on the heel bail; not so much that I have to struggle to get them on/off, but enough to ensure a secure fit and interface.

 

Attached a few pictures below that should help clarify:

 

First is of the aluminum retainer. Note the deformation on the left hand side of it; that was the end that was tensioning up on the wire. There is some deformation on the right side as well; that's from me re-assembling the bail with the retainer reversed and tensioning the rear bail on the boot with a moderate amount of pressure. Wanted to see how easy/difficult it would be to deform the retainer. It doesn't take much.

 

1_-_Retainer.jpg

 

And the retainer assembled in the levers on the Stinger

 

2_-_Rear_Bail_1.jpg

3_-_Rear_Bail_2.jpg

4_-_Rear_Bail_3.jpg

 

Next are a couple of photos of the rear bails of my Sabretooths, have more days on them, but they don't seem to show anywhere near the same pattern of deformation

 

5_-_Sabretooth_1.jpg

6_-_Sabretooth_2.jpg

 

I've emailed BDEL's warranty group and, of course, they put replacement rear bail assemblies in the mail to me yesterday, and I've shipped back the bails for their inspection. I asked them to have someone from the QA group get back in touch with me once they've had the chance to inspect the assemblies. Whatever I hear back, I'll pass along.

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Heard back from BD's QA folks and they've not seen a similar situation with the rear bails. There wasn't anything remarkable with the aluminum insert; certainly doesn't appear to be defective materials or design.

 

Only thing that makes sense as a cause is that during fitting the Stingers to the Baturas I hadn't adjusted the frame length and in the process of levering the rear bail, I applied enough force to flex the plastic heel lever and deform the aluminum insert such that the wire slipped through. I was fitting the crampons on a workbench in my basement, not in the field, so I could exert considerably more force on the lever than I would when actually apply when putting them on in the field.

 

Bottom line is inspect your crampons for wear, particularly the rear bail assemblies if you like to reef them down tight and during sizing.

 

Had replacement bails shipped to me by BD's warranty department and the Stingers are back in action.

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