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Money for old rope

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As a climber, every so often I have to retire a rope. Be it from old age or wear, it's best to replace them every 3-5 years, or sooner if they're damaged. Our university climbing club has to retire all its ropes every three years too so every three years there's about 300m of rope laying around.

Rather than throwing them away, or leaving the ropes sitting in a corner of our equipment cupboard, I thought I'd put them to good use.

Here are all the uses we've thought of so far, with steps on how to make them:
  • Dog Toys
  • Skipping Ropes
  • Emergency Tow Rope
  • Hammock
  • Rope Ladder
  • Rope Swing
  • Tyre Swing
 
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Step 1: Rope Ladder

To make a rope ladder you'll need two 4m lengths of rope and some 2x4. I used 9mm dynamic rope (which made my ladder bouncier than I would have liked) and the thicker support slats from a pallet cut in half.

Cut each of your slats to length. My pallet was 80cm wide so my rungs ended up being 40cm wide. Drill holes slightly larger than your rope 3cm from either end and then run some sand paper over each rung to stop them splintering your hands/feet while climbing it.

Tie an overhand knot near one end of each piece of rope. Thread the first step on from the other end. If you like you can tie a knot above the step as well but I didn't bother.

Tie another knot 30-40cm further along each rope and thread the rung to it as before. Repeat this until you're out of rope or rungs.

Leave at least 50cm of rope at the top end of the ladder and tie a loop into the end of each piece of rope. You can now use these loops to fasten the ropes to themselves over a tree branch.
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Eddie_T1 month ago

My son just used a re-purposed climbing rope and his Jeep to clear my drive of fallen trees portions. I have been trying to find a bargain piece but so far have only drawn flack for attempting to reuse such a sacred line. My thought is that in a free country I should be free to re-purpose a climbing rope. I don't intend to climb but frankly that's my own business what I use it for. Gyms retire them in great condition for safety and insurance reasons, on the farm or around the property we use them til they are worn beyond use. Please post suggested sources for ropes.

Marcos2 years ago
I had some scraps of climbing rope which worked great as handles on my Tire Trugs. I'd love to get ahold of a long length of this stuff! I have about 50' of yacht braid (rope used on sailboats) in my station wagon for tying stuff onto the rack. I've used it many times, and I'm sure climbing rope would work at least as well, maybe better, since it's a little firmer than yacht braid.
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bayley603 years ago
make a zip line
camp6ell3 years ago
so, you're going to retire rope... to use it as rope? why not call the instructable "uses for rope?" you say that the rope is being retired because presumably it's no longer safe to use as rope, but then you advocate building rope swings and ladders with it - does it not matter if the rope breaks and your kids fall 20 feet?
no 20" "whippers on a rope swing (unless you are doing it very very wrong)
Jayefuu (author)  marktreefrog3 years ago
Very!
Jayefuu (author)  camp6ell3 years ago
The rope is not unsafe for climbing, it's retired as a precaution. It's advisable to retire them just incase there's damage you can't see. Just because it's not rated to save someone's life after an 8m fall doesn't mean it can't handle a static weight of 100kg hanging from it.
You could make some poi or meteors to twirl with. Tie a monkey fist, leave about 50cm, add a loop on the other end. Make another one and you have a great pair of poi.
yep did it I'm pretty good at poi but nearly knocked my self out.LOL I would have rather hit myself with my fire poi (or not at all)
I love old rope. I used to manage a climbing gym in Dallas TX, one of the tallest in the world. I ended up with A LOT of old rope. I made
porch swings- with pcv pipe frames and woven old rope
Jacobs Ladder- 30 to 40" ofold rope and 8' sections of pvc or wood. make ladder hang it at ange from ground to about 7" high or higher if you have padding.
garden chairs- with old chairs with the seat removed and then woven old rope.
hanging exercise equipment- 2 lengths of old rope, 4 prussics with 1 1/2 pvc pipe or old garden hose for hands and feet.
sailors rugs- lots of old rope woven into patterns.
monkey fist Poi- 8"of old rope with about 14' of "sheath slippage. can really, really hurt if they hit you.
old rope dog collar and leash- old rope, key rings, old backpack clips, old dog
bracelet- sheath from old rope, lighter or rope cutter.
pall point pin cover. old rope, new pin, lighter
decorated security door- door (vertical bars) lots of odd old rope woven from belt- old rope sheath and back pack clips.
bottom to top. short pieces of different colors woven and fuzzed together.
Twine- inside climbing rope there are 8 individual cords that can be used for many things. AND MANY MANY MORE
LynxSys3 years ago
The distinction between a "tow rope" and a "recovery rope" is that the former has some stretch to prevent hard jerks on either vehicle involved. A recovery rope (for pulling a car out of a ditch) does not have stretch, because you want more precise control of the car being pulled.
ryguydub3 years ago
door mat or rug http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=298197
mikeasaurus3 years ago
Money for old rope

Money? Do you mean 'ideas'?
Here: collect lengths of 3-foot rope, tie them into interesting knots and sell them at craft fares for a dollar each. Done.
fritsie1233 years ago
The ropes are retired because they can't be trusted to be safe anymore, right? And then you make a rope ladder out of them? Perhaps it's best to use the rope for non-loadbearing purposes. Sure, the ropes are probably fine, but should you risk it? Perhaps not. But kudo's for not tossing the rope in the bin, and repurposing them. Re-use is better than recycling.
Jayefuu (author)  fritsie1233 years ago
You're half right. We retire them because they're not trustworthy for taking falls on. Static loads at safeish heights should be fine. A matter of choice I suppose.
Ah, I never thought about that. When falling, the rope probably gets several times the stress compared to a static load. Thanks for clearing that up!
I wanted to add that a rope ladder also uses two ropes, meaning half the tension of a typical climbing setup. =)
lesweeks3 years ago
Back in the days when navies had sailing ships, the old hemp ropes had to be 'retired' when they could no longer be spliced or trusted. The old ropes were cut into short lengths and sent to the prisons where the inmates teased them apart into fibres. This is what we know as Oakum and when coated with Stockholm tar is used to caulk the gaps between planks on ships and boats. So the Oakum was sold to chandlers and boat builders. Hence 'Money for old rope'. Nothing to do with the instruct but maybe interesting!
zsthorian3 years ago
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I'm really surprised your FS ropes are only rated at 900lbs and they're considered ok for life use. Our Statics in the SAR team are rated at 30kN- ie 3 tonnes. A dynamic lead rope I would expect to be rated somewhere around 20kN or 2 tonnes. For rescue work you should be working on a percentage of that rating. NZ rescue works on 10%- so that 3 tonnes would be considered ok for a 300kg load. I know the US uses different figures- (?8% or 5%) but even at 5% a 900lb rope would only get rated for a 180lb load- and I would guess a hefty fire guy in full turn out gear and BA would come in at more than that! I'm currently putting together an edge kit for personal use and am looking for rope with a rating of a minimum of 900kgs (to cope with me plus gear plus pack)- that's twice what you guys are trusting with your lives. I would have no problems using an old climbing rope to tow a car but you would need a short length otherwise the stretch would mean the towing car would be round the corner and out of sight before the car being towed actually got any strain on it! Of course once you have used the rope to tow the car you should make darn sure it doesn't get used for a life load EVER again!
Yup apparently I dont know what the heck Im talking about. I talked to the chief that handles training last night and he said that I was incorrect in my information. And that a climbing rope should have sufficant workign load for towing a vehicle. and that I was off on my working loads by a magnitude of 10 so when I quoted 900 lbs I would have been closer with 9000 lbs. But im not afraid to say that I was wrong. Stay safe and have fun out there y'all
Glad you're all using a safe loading rope!
Jayefuu (author)  jtpoutdoor3 years ago
Indeed, I make sure any sections of retired rope I have lying around are short enough that I won't mistake them for my real ropes and that any that aren't short are kept in a box and are labeled.
bart.p3 years ago
everyone is saying that a dynamic rope isn't any good for towing but i have to argue, im not going to get in to all the strength stuff but in off road applications a stretchy rope is actually what you are suppose to use, i forgot the name of it but what you usually do when someone is stuck in mud, ditch, hole, etc; you put the two cars as close to each other as possible and floor it, there is a special rope used for this that works very like like a spring, yanking the stuck vehicle out, i think it might be called a kinetic rope or something like that
Jayefuu (author)  bart.p3 years ago
"i think it might be called a kinetic rope or something like that"

Dynamic?
bart.p Jayefuu3 years ago
as i said i dont know what its called off the top of my head, i know in polish its called a kinetic rope (word for word translation)
dzurn3 years ago
Cut a hole in the bottom of the tyre/tire, to make sure the swing is NOT a breeding ground for mosquitos.
andy.clarke3 years ago
You can donate old rope to your local Scouting group. Our Beavers group (5-7 year olds) use 3 foot chunks of old climbing rope for a game we call "Tails". Each Beaver tucks a "tail" into the waisband of his pants at the back, then they run around trying to step on and 'capture' the other's tails. Lots of fun. Our Cub and Scout groups use two to three foot lengths to practice knots. It helps when they have different colours as it is easier to see which end is which when tying. AndyC.
DavidM453 years ago
Give 'em a break, LOL just so you know climbing ropes are not rated for tensile strength but yacht ropes are. A decent 10 mm line should compare to your static rope would have a tensile strength (less than breaking strength) of 10,000 lbs. that should cover pretty much anything, ENOUGH said
Jayefuu (author)  DavidM453 years ago
What use would a climbing rope be if it wasn't rated for tensile strength? They're rated to 22kN, and that's just the safety rating not what they could actually hold.
Good article, My point was climbing ropes are plenty strong even for "emergency" towing especially with it's 5% stretch ... that is unless you leave the car in gear with the e-brakes on! to quote New England "Dynamic" Ropes: Working Loads: No blanket safe working load (SWL) recommendations can be made for any line because SWL's must be calculated based on application, conditions of use, and potential danger to personnel among other considerations. It is recommended that the end user establish working loads and safety factors based on best practices established by the end user's industry; by professional judgment and personal experience; and after thorough assessment of all risks. The SWL is a guideline for the use of a rope in good condition for non-critical applications and should be reduced where life, limb, or valuable property is involved, or in cases of exceptional service such as shock loading, sustained loading, severe vibration, etc. The Cordage Institute specifies that the SWL of a rope shall be determined by dividing the Minimum Tensile Strength of the rope by a safety factor. The safety factor ranges from 5 to 12 for non-critical uses and is typically set at 15 for life lines.
A climbing rope is elastic, where a yacht rigging rope generally isn't but UTS of a climbing rope is similar to standard kernmantel rope of the same materials.
Mbeardsley3 years ago
You could make big monkey fists with heavy weight and use them for door stops.
Websprinter3 years ago
This would be great for plant hangers, bird feeders and other Macramé projects. :) I wonder if you could Macramé tomato cages. ;)
MissCrafty3 years ago
You could make a rope rug. http://www.crochetspot.com/giant-doily-rug/
Jayefuu (author)  MissCrafty3 years ago
Thanks :) I'll be working on an ible to make a door mat after I get back from holiday
Defy573 years ago
Upon the advice of a chp officer my brother tried to use his climbing rope as a tow rope, since it was all they could find in his trunk. It repeatedly broke. There was no way to get even pull across more than one strand at a time. When they checked the officers trunk, lo and behold, he had a tow strap. Didn't bother to check it in the first place because the straps are almost always missing.
emkayach3 years ago
An old salt's advice, pick up a copy of "Ashley Book of Knots" and have at it. You could repurpose all of the rope in the world with the ideas in this book.
Ugifer3 years ago
Stretchy is not a bad thing in a tow rope - the forces involved in getting half a ton of car rolling from stationary are significant and a bit of stretch will help avoid ripping bits off.
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