Friday, 3 January 2014

How to Make a Clipstick for £12.45

Any of you who climb with me will know, I love a clipstick. The problem is that there's not much choice with the BetaStick being the only 'production' stick. While I don't mind the BetaStick I've never been tempted to buy one as they don't hold solidgate quickdraws very well (though later models have improved) and they're a little flimsy for the pricetag (around £35).

The good news is, it's pretty easy to make your own. They tend not to be as portable, but are as sturdy, and in my experience hold QD's more securely than the BetaStick.

 This is number 3 for me after Segwin trod on Prototype 1... I can't remember what happened to #2, perhaps I trod on this one. It's not all bad as it's allowed me to refine the design, and without further ado here's how to DIY:

1) Buy Yourself an Extendable Pole
There are various options avaliable. B&Q are a good bet with poles from 2m - 5m in length. There's a comprimise between size and portability; 2.4m (£9.95) should do you for most fully bolted routes. If you want something a bit flashier you can get a Carp Net Rod for (£12.50 - Go Outdoors), this is really light as it's made from fibreglass, and can be extended with one 'swoosh', but be warned they don't like being stood on(!). Whatever you choose make sure it is sturdy when extended and levered sideways as this is where all clipsticks are weakest.

B&Q Extendable Pole
2) Buy a Beefy Bulldog Clip
The purpose of the bulldog clip is to hold the draw with the gate open on the end of the stick. BetaSticks use a rather more intricate support, and there are certainly other ways to do it... However a bulldog clip is cheap (£2.50 from Staples) and works well with both solid and wiregates.

3) Attach the Bulldog Clip to your Clipstick
This is the hardest bit to get right. Clipsticks get a lot of abuse, so the joint has to be very sturdy. However the bulldog clip is attached it needs to be done in such a way that it can fully open and close. In this example I used and existing slot in one side of the stick and created a matching slot on the other side. I then slid one arm of the bulldog clip through the two slots, providing a sturdy mount. Note it has been deliberately offset from the centre in order to allow the clip to open fully.

Drilling holes to make a slot

The clip then needs to be glued in-place. Use a good glue. Tip: 'Super' Glue is not super. Use something proper like 2-part Araldite. Make sure you're still able to open and close the clip once it's been glued.

Use Decent Glue!

4) Make your Clip Quickdraw Friendly
Clearly a strong bulldog clip squeezing a quickdraw will scratch it up unless it is protected. Cover the jaws of your clip in elephant tape. This also gives it a bit of further grip which will prevent your quickdraw falling out. Also, make sure your QD sling isn't rubbing on any sharp metal edges. Tip: Whilst not essential, if you have access to a grindstone you can take off the top corner of the clip's jaws to give greater clearance for your bolt. This matters more on the Petzl expansion bolts. The black pen mark shows where the QD gate should sit.

Taped Jaws Prevent Scratching and Provide Grip
5) Add a Loop
Add a loop so that you can clip your clipstick to your harness. This is really important if taking it off the ground! As Jenni and I found out last week when she dropped it from 15m! ;-)

6) Add Stickers and Finishing Touches
Clean it up, test it on various hooks around the house, make sure you're happy and - hey presto! You have a very cheap and very capable clip stick. Enjoy!

Working well with solid gates. Rounded jaws provide extra clearance.
Stickered up and ready to go!
Tip: Don't tread on it! ;-)

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