What is a rope clamp?
A rope clamp that is also referred to as a wire rope clip is used to secure the loose end of a loop back to the wire rope. It may also be called cable clamp, clamp, U-clip, U-clamp, or wire rope clamp.
When you browse through websites dealing in rigging supplies, you will come across multiple options in rope clips. These include rope clamps in finishes such as stainless steel, galvanized, or zinc plated. You can choose based on the job requirements and the strength you need.
Why should you know the correct way of using a rope clamp?
As with all rigging supplies, a rope clamp is designed to make lifting convenient and safe. If used properly, you can save a significant amount of effort. However, improper use may lead to compromised safety. Mishandling may be disastrous and cause serious accidents causing damage and injury. It will also reduce the working load limit by nearly 40%.
The installation of wire rope clips or U-bolt clamps may sound as simple as clamping the end of the wire rope after looping it back. However, to attach it properly, you need to know how many wire rope clips you need. In general, jobs require a minimum of 2-3 wire rope clips to secure the end properly to the entire rope. This will depend on the length of your wire. It is also important to secure the live end of the wire using the saddle. There is a common misconception that you need to reverse all clamps.
In this article, we will let you know the right way to use a rope clamp. Additionally, it is also important to read all the information that is provided in the booklet that comes along. Read everything about installation and use. Skipping even minor things may have major implications.
Types of rope clamps:
There are 2 types of rope clamps.
- Double saddle clips: This type of rope clamps come with two saddles. Each of the saddles has a leg and two nuts. One nut goes at the top and the other goes at the bottom. These can be used in any direction and you need not bother about the right placement of live end and dead end.
- U bolt rope clamps: A U-shaped wire rope clip consists of a U-shaped bolt, a forged or cast saddle that has two holes to fit the U-bolt, and 2 nuts that go into the saddle holes to secure the arrangement. There are further two types under U bolt clips and mentioned below:
1) Drop forged wire rope clip: These are heavy-duty rope clamps that are designed to sustain overhead loads. However, it is advised not to use rope clamps in overhead lifting situations. You must use swage sleeves instead. Some instances in which drop forged wire rope clips are used include support lines, guy lines, scaffolding, etc. These are quite durable and also corrosion resistant due to the heavy zinc coating on them.
2) Malleable wire rope clip: These are light-duty clamps that cannot be used for overhead lifting tasks. Malleable refers to soft wire and thus ideal for fences and other uses that do not involve overhead loads.
The difference between overhead lifting and sustaining overhead loads and when should you use rope clamps?
While it may sound mind-boggling, overhead lifting is different from sustaining overhead loads. A simple way to know if you can use rope clamps is by knowing if the object will be moved or just held in place. If you intend to move the load, do not use wire rope clips.
When the load needs to be held in place, check if it will be suspended above the ground or held on a fence or some other object. You must use a drop forged wire rope clip if it will be suspended above the ground. Malleable clips are safe to use if the load will be over a fence or on another object.
How to use a rope clamp:
- Begin by turning back the specified rope length from the thimble.
- Place the first clip at a distance equivalent to one saddle width from the seized dead end on the rope.
- Take the end that will carry the load (live end) and place it in the saddle.
- Place the U-bolt over the dead end. Once done, tighten the nuts.
- Affix the second clip as close as possible to the loop or thimble. Put in the nuts and tighten them slightly. Do not reach proper torque as yet.
- Now install the remaining clips between these two clips maintaining equal spacing between them. Remember to firmly install the nuts but do not tighten to proper torque.
- Apply light tension to the rope and now tighten the nuts to proper torque
- Apply light tension to wire rope assembly to take up rope slack and then tighten all nuts evenly to proper torque.
Important considerations while using a rope clamp:
- When wire rope clips are used, the working load limit of the wire rope goes down by nearly 20%.
- If you are using a rope clamp on a vinyl-coated cable, you must remove the coating at the spot where the rope clip will attach to the wire. Fixing over the coating will greatly compromise the strength of the assembly.
- During the process of selecting the termination fittings, make sure you choose based on cable diameter and not that of the coating.
- As a rule of thumb, remember that the Saddle should stay in contact with the live end whereas the U-bolt must touch the dead end.
- There should be no nicks or cracks on your rope clamp
- Look out for signs of repairs or reshaping. Discard the rope clamp if you find them.
- Choose the dimensions of the clip carefully.
- Use appropriate pliers based on the size of your clamp. You can find good quality pliers here
Common mistakes people make while installing rope clamps:
- Not following manufacturer instructions
- Using less number of clamps than recommended
- Not spacing the clips correctly
- Installing the saddle on the wrong end of the rope
- Forming the eye with a wrong amount of turnback
- Not using the right clip based on the purpose
- Not cycling the rope and tightening the clips regularly
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