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Complaceny Breeds Failure
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'd like to share an experience I had today while experimenting with climbing sticks. First, I need to explain the situation.

After scouting an area, I found the perfect tree for a stand and the only tree in the area capable of holding one. The problem is that the tree is a HUGE sycamore that 4 guys together couldn't wrap their arms around. Trying to use screw-in tree steps in a tree this big is like climbing a wall, so I had the idea of using climbing sticks. The idea I had was to bolt the sticks directly to the tree where the brace is attached to the sticks. (See Pic). The tree is so large that of course the straps aren't long enough to attach the stick the traditional way.



I decided to use 7 X 3/8 inch, hardened lag bolts. At ground level, I attached one 4 ft. section of the sticks to the tree with the bolt through the brace and it was solid as ever.

I climbed the 4ft section and bounced on it and it didn't give one bit. I couldn't see if the bolt had any give at all, so I asked my wife to watch. As she watched, I climbed the small section. She said that she could see the bolt bending a bit. Now, I weigh 300 +, but I could not fathom a hardened bolt having any give like that. I got down and the bolt seemed as strong as ever. I wanted to try to watch the bolt as I climbed, so I went up again. I took one step onto the section and *BAM* the bolt broke in half! I couldn't believe my eyes. The bolt broke right where the threads started. There were 4 inches of the threaded bolt into the tree and the bolt snapped like a twig. (See pic)



I have read where some guys are using lag bolts as tree steps. This is proof positive that it may not be a good idea. I would have never thought a bolt of this grade would break. Even though I am heavy, I am no where near the poundage these bolts are rated for.

I just wanted to raise some awareness on this subject, in case anyone else had the same idea. I am still going to lag my sticks to the tree's I hunt in for theft protection. By all means though, I will NEVER think again that the bolts alone can support the sticks to the tree. I'm glad I did the experiment at ground level and didn't find out after I was 20 ft. in the air.

Live and learn, the operative word being live. Safety first. Any input?
 

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Complaceny Breeds Failure
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Discussion Starter #3
Well, Chris, it never hurts to try new things. Trust me, I am not the only one who has ever done this. In fact, I have done it for years, but only to deter theft of the sticks. However, I had never tried it as a direct means to support the sticks to the tree. I'm telling you, after the section was secured to the tree with the bolt, it was ROCK SOLID. That's why I wanted to post this. It would have been really easy to just stop experimenting then and think the set-up would work. I would have never thought the bolt would break.

I am more concerned with the guys that are using the bolts as steps.
 

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Holy crap, there is Another ChrisM... how strange?:mg:
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Anyways the grade of hardware used looks pretty cheap/weak anyways.

Most of the stronger stuff is shiny, Ask for Grade 5 hardware next trip to the hardware store and see what they can hold.

Aside from that, At 300 + Id be worried about a stand failing. Im 275 and I feel like i push the limit on some of the 300 rated stands that i use.

No fat implication intended, But im no twiggy guy and if your bigger than I am, I would definately be more concerned about it failing too.

It definately crosses my mind sometimes when im standing on the edge of the platform.
 

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Complaceny Breeds Failure
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Discussion Starter #5
The grade of bolts I used were Grade 8. The aren't shiny because they are galvanized AND hardened. I've never had a stand fail on me, nor have I ever felt uncomfortable in one. Check out the Chippewa Wedge-Loc if you are a big guy. You'll love it.

Oh, and you can be 300 + and not be considered fat. It's all in your body build. Look at Shaq.
 

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Bad Lag Bolt

I can't lay my hands on the article right now but last spring one of our tech magazines at work had a story about inferior quality fasteners coming from China, India, etc.

It seems there are a lot of fasteners of all types coming into the US that don't meet the various safety and strength standards set by SAE. Lots of breakage and bolt cap failures way under acceptable limits.

Most are sold in bulk through hardware and big box home improvement stores that set SAE buyer requirements but never test the delivered product.

The article suggected when specific SAE standards must be met stick with a labeled brand name product that specifically states the SAE tensile strenght and carrying capacities.

Sounds like you may have gotten some of the hardware they were talking about. I've used galvanized lags in the past to build home made stands and never had a problem but that was many years ago.

Since It's your life that's at risk I'd make sure the fasteners come from a reputable source. Hope you don't have anymore problems.
 

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Complaceny Breeds Failure
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Discussion Starter #7
irishjim said:
Since It's your life that's at risk I'd make sure the fasteners come from a reputable source. Hope you don't have anymore problems.
Thanks. I won't have anymore problems because it was just an experiment. I don't plan on trying it again. However, you may be right about the quality of the bolts not being up to par. I bought them at Lowes. They did not have the strength and tensile weight listed. Maybe that's where I went wrong. However, I've never had one break before. Thanks for the advice.:cocktail:
 

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Okay John here's my take on this.

1) great post - making others aware of possible poor quality materials/safety

2) using climbing sticks - great product, good choice

3) theft proof - for me, the fact that they are easy to remove/install is a plus

4) why not take the steps w/you.....leaving your stand way up high out of reach of the would-be theif that way you wouldn't fear loosing anything and the steps are not that heav to pack in.

It's just a thought.

Greg
 

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I have had to buy new straps because the ones I had were not long enough. I would suggest just buying longer straps to put up.
 

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Complaceny Breeds Failure
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Discussion Starter #10
Ashx2

ASHX2,

I have had stands stolen in the past, as well as having some of my stands hunted out of while I was at work. Packing the sticks in and out is a bit of a hassle, but weighing the options, I believe you are right on the money.

BigBucks125,

As for the huge tree I want to get that stand into, a few 20 foot ratchet straps are next on the agenda. I believe that to be the safest way, although a little costly. Oh well, money very well-spent.

Thanks for the input guys!
 

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Your first 4 foot section should be on the ground. Step on it to sink it in the dirt then put a grade 5 lag bolt coated in wax in the tree but not all the way. I then stack the other sections together and put it on the first stick. Tighten the first stick. Climb the sticks and put the bolts in as you go. I have never tried it on a tree that big though. Always wear a safety harness!

Bryan
 

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nstrut said:
The grade of bolts I used were Grade 8. The aren't shiny because they are galvanized AND hardened. I've never had a stand fail on me, nor have I ever felt uncomfortable in one. Check out the Chippewa Wedge-Loc if you are a big guy. You'll love it.

Oh, and you can be 300 + and not be considered fat. It's all in your body build. Look at Shaq.
Shaq is also over 7 foot tall and wears a size 20 something shoe....bad example dude:wink:

I don't have much experience in this area (hardware) but i can tell you from when i was in machine shop i learned a couple times. Hardened metal/steel only means it is going to snap before it bends too far.

Why didn't you just buy some good rope and some good ratchet straps?

BTW, if you used a drill bit to put that bolt into the tree it definately didn't help the strength of it.
 

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Complaceny Breeds Failure
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Discussion Starter #13
I can't lay my hands on the article right now but last spring one of our tech magazines at work had a story about inferior quality fasteners coming from China, India, etc.

IrishJim,

I think this article eludes to the same thing you were speaking of. Thanks for the heads up.

http://www.sizes.com/tools/bolts_SAEtork.htm
 

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I'm wondering if the problem is because the bolt is intended to hold things together. The pressure they are designed for is along the length of the bolt. Using them in the manner described here is putting shear stress on them. Are they really designed for this type of stress? Maybe an engineer can help out with this.
 

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Guys,
Grade 8 bolts, are the STRONGEST bolts you can buy at the local hardware store. Grade 5 is next strongest, and finally, the weakest they sell, are the regular old zinc plated bolts, which have no "grade rating" advertised at the hardware stores.
I have many machinist buddies, who build Gantry hoists, and all other types of shop cranes, that are designed to lift and hold HEAVY loads, sometimes over 4000lbs. They ALL use at LEAST Grade 8 fasteners, which are GOLD in color at your local hardware store. However, I would suggest going to MSC, Mcmaster Carr, or another similar INDUSTRIAL supply center. They are ALL ACROSS America, and they have TONS AND TONS of different brands of bolts. As mentioned above, you DO NOT want the Import stuff, which is ALL that is sold at your local hardware stores.
Open up MSC or McMaster Carr's website pages, and you will see the USA Made, NAME BRAND fasteners, and these are what you want for a situation like this.

If you will get on Mcmaster Carr's website (perhaps the largest hardware store in the WORLD), you will find all types of bolts, which are MUCH stronger than the Grade 5's and 8's you all get locally, at the Mom and Pop Hardware stores.
Aviation grade bolts, marine grade, etc, etc, etc.
You WILL find bolts that will EASILY hold a 300lb individual....
 

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Complaceny Breeds Failure
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Discussion Starter #16
Paul,

Thanks for all the good info.

I know that 300lbs is considered heavy for an individual, but nothing that I would have ever thought could break a bolt rated at much stronger stress rates.

I did buy the bolts at Lowes and the guy said they were Grade 8, but I think I will take your advice and buy some from McMaster Carr just to test them out.
I'm curious now.

Best option for the large tree seems to be the ratchet straps.

One other thing I noticed is that the bolts guys are using for tree steps are not lag bolts. The are threaded allen bolts and they do not screw them into the trees. Instead, they drill a hole and then slide the bolts in and out as they wish. As long as the hole is drilled on an angle, supposively this system works really well.

http://www.treehopper-llc.com/
 

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hitman846 said:
Your picture shows a machine thread bolt which is not intended for use in wood, it would pull out easily. A lag bolt has very course thread like a really big deck screw. If the guy at your hardware store gave you these for use in wood he should go back to the key making machine.
That's about what I was thinking. I do ALOT of installation work and I can tell you that the bolt in your pic is not designed for wood usage.
 

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Complaceny Breeds Failure
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Discussion Starter #19
Quote:
Your picture shows a machine thread bolt which is not intended for use in wood, it would pull out easily. A lag bolt has very course thread like a really big deck screw. If the guy at your hardware store gave you these for use in wood he should go back to the key making machine.

That's about what I was thinking. I do ALOT of installation work and I can tell you that the bolt in your pic is not designed for wood usage.
Wow, that's irritating. As you can tell, I'm not an expert with hardware, but I do expect if I tell somebody at Lowes what I am looking for, they should have enough knowledge to give me the right thing. The guy was an older gentleman that seemed to know his stuff. I guess not.

Now I can't really even be sure the bolts were Grade 8. There aren't any markings, so I'm guessing I got taken there also. it's starting to seem like the bolt breaking was because it had good reason to, and because of my lack of knowledge and trust in other people.(Lowes)

Thanks for pointing that out, hitman.
 

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hitman846 said:
Your picture shows a machine thread bolt which is not intended for use in wood, it would pull out easily. A lag bolt has very course thread like a really big deck screw. If the guy at your hardware store gave you these for use in wood he should go back to the key making machine.

Actually, you are incorrect sir, with all due respect.
That INDEED IS a lag bolt, which is easily identified by the large, coarse screws, in relation to the size of the bolt.
A machine screw THAT size is not even sold at ANY Lowes in the WORLD, much less in galvanized. If ANYONE on this board goes to Lowes, and finds a machine screw THAT size, in galvanized too,***EDIT: No text masking***.
I'm pretty sure that machine screws are not galvanized generally anyway.

Look closely at the pic, and you will see that is a regular hex head lag screw/bolt. I buy them all the time for building decks...
I am 110% sure the above statements are true.
 
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