***I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas for safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to professionals if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group and Simply Circus site are a great resources.***
Originally buying my own equipment wasn’t in my plans. I really didn’t need my own equipment. …but I fell in love with a special lyra.
Last year I took a class at Circus-Arts in Polk City, FL. I practiced on a hoop and we bonded. Csaba had made it himself…a one of a kind. It was the perfect size, shape, and movement for me. I loved it. It stayed in the back of my mind for a long time. Throughout year I attended classes there about once a month, one day I asked him if he would make another for me… or if I could buy that hoop. A few weeks later, I was a new owner of my very own aerial hoop.
It cost $250. Very reasonable price for a hoop. Plus I didn’t have to pay shipping.
*I am finding shipping is a HUGE expense when it comes to buying aerial equipment.
Csaba tried to give me a couple of spansets but I wanted shiny new hardware. (In hindsight, I should have taken those spansets …because although spansets are each fairly inexpensive, when you start buying a few in several different lengths, the price adds up.)
Next, I needed to figure out what hardware I wanted to complete my set up. I would need at least 2 spansets, 2-3 carabiners and a swivel. I knew from being a part of the Safety in Aerials Facebook group that I needed hardware that would hold up a car (2000-5000 lbs).
*A Cadillac Escalade weighs 5,949 lbs.
Where do I find that type of hardware? First, I asked my instructors. Then I went to the most likely websites…ones that sell aerial & circus stuff. These are some of the sites I found but there are many others:
- Aerial Essentials
- Fire Toys
- Aerial Animals
- Trapeze Rigging
- Circus Concepts
- Bobby’s Big Top
- Aerial Empowerment
I also went to climbing and rigging websites:
- Sapsis Rigging -the website is a bit difficult to search but keep at it or call them to help
- REI (I have not had good luck with specifics from them)
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Gear Express
- Rigging Warehouse – its a bit of a process to get registered & order
- Bill Jackson’s (The only climbing gear store I know about in Tampa Bay)
I’m analytical and enjoy list making and comparisons. I priced everything and looked up ratings. Then I took the info and made charts. All of this was somewhat confusing for me. I’m a newbie to rigging and I wasn’t quite sure what all the terms meant. I couldn’t always find ratings or know if it was OK for aerial. I think this is normal for a lot of aerialists but it meant I needed to keep doing research.
SWIVEL & BINERS
I ended up ordering hardware from Aerial Essentials because I felt that they had a good website, I knew of other aerialists who have their hardware, and they listed all the ratings in a way that was easy for me to understand. However, now that I’ve done more research, I’ve looked back at their website and have questions about some of the biner ratings and what I received. *2/1/16 Aerial Essentials updated their website & is consistent with what I received.
I bought 3 carabiners thinking I may need one for each spanset connected to the swivel then one to connect to the rigging a point. I also thought about buying a spreader plate & a 4th biner because that would keep the carabiners and swivel from being double loaded. That is probably the best and safest set up but I thought it would take up a lot of room since I was trying to conserve my ceiling height.
*Now that I’m writing this I think I may buy a spreader plate and set it up this way for my aerial rig since height won’t be an issue.*
Currently, I use 2 carabiners & a swivel. I put both spansets in one carabiner. Attach it to the swivel and then a biner to the rigging point. It’s nice to have an extra carabiner just in case. I also wanted to feel/see the difference between the auto lock & screw gate so I bought both. The auto lock is D shaped.
UPDATE: 2/1/2016 After doing more research on carabiners (see my carabiner post), I’ve learned that this rigging of a double point Lyra is a mistake. Use of spansets in carabiners will overload the carabiner make it dangerous. Carabiners were not designed for that type of use. Also, tri-loading a carabiner with 2 spansets and a swivel is bad. I’m purchasing some Quick Links or shackles and a rigging plate and post more updates.
- X1 Swivel black, aluminum (with stainless steel bearings): 8,000lbs/36kN (Brand Fusion) -Aerial Essentials $45
- X1 Carabiner black, steel auto lock (4.5×2.5″): 50kN (Brand Fusion Tacoma, etched 50kN) – Aerial Essentials $17
- X2 Carabiner black, steel screw gate (4.5×2.5″): 25kN (Brand Fusion Ovatti, etched 25kN) – Aerial Essentials $15
Total: $98.10 with shipping.
My Lyra is a tabless, trapeze/straight top, 36″ tall and about 39″ wide.
I needed 2 spansets for it to use as ropes. Searching the Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts forum, I found that Liftall Tuflex is a common brand sling used in aerials.
- There are many brands and types of spansets out there. Being a newbie to aerial rigging I stuck with what I have seen/used and what was recommended. Common names if you’re searching online: spanset/Span Set/sling/roundsling/stage sling.
*My Fiance, who is a metal worker/contractor, had no idea what I was talking about when I said “spanset” but I showed him a picture and he called it a sling.*
- Spansets are usually color coded depending on weight ratings. Violet/purple and green are what I have seen used with Aerial rigging and were recommended by my aerial instructor. I decided green spansets would be good for my use. Mostly because I’m trying to be super safety conscious & I liked the higher ratings.
- It’s a good idea to keep the labels intact on the spanset otherwise all warranties are void.
- Also, regular inspections are necessary. Each spanset should come with instruction/warnings about how to inspect them. (I keep a notebook with dates of inspections along with all the specs and purchase dates.)
I priced a dozen different websites before purchasing. I wanted green-rated spansets with black covers and found a recommendation for Sapsis Rigging on the Facebook Safety Group.
Sapsis has several “in stock” spansets and also they will also custom-make sizes if you call and request them. They also were the best price I found for green-rated/black-covered. Unfortunately, the size I actually needed for the studio was not a size they had in stock. And I didn’t know it until I actually rigged it at the studio. I was impatient … I ordered green 4ft ones off of Amazon (Goodness, I’m addicted to Prime!). If you know what size you need you can get away with buying a few spansets. But I like having my options…I bought 8 in four different sizes.
*I called for 4.5′ black-covered spansets and they quoted around $19 each.
Liftall EN60X4 Tuflex sling: Verticle 5300/ chocker 4200/ basket 10600lbs:
- X2 1 ft green: Sapsis (black) $7.83 each
- X2 3 ft green: Sapsis (black) $10.17 each
- X2 4 ft green: Amazon (green) $15.13 each
- X2 6 ft green: Sapsis (black) $17.20 each
Sapsis (+shipping $14.48) $84.88 + Amazon $30.26 = $115.14
I also bought some athletic tape for the lyra so I can recover it when needed (the gray isn’t my favorite color). I couldn’t decide on a color so I bought black and pink and also gray just in case I wanted touch up the current tape. Maybe I will make a blog when I re-wrap it for the first time.
- Mueller M-Tape Canister (3 Rolls/Pack) Black (1.5′ x 10 yds) Amazon $11.62
- Mueller M-Tape Canister (3 Rolls/Pack) Gray (1.5′ x 10 yds) Amazon $11.62
- Mueller M-Tape Canister (3 Rolls/Pack) Pink (1.5′ x 10 yds) Amazon $11.62
When I finally rigged everything and put the Lyra up in the studio the black coating on the carabiners and swivel rubbed together and makes a creaking noise. I sent an email to Aerial Essentials asking if it was normal and if there was a fix. They recommended using graphite to lubricate it.
- L-300 Powdered Graphite Lubricant 21.oz: Amazon $6.21
My first jump into owning my own aerial equipment cost me: $504.31
***This is the what I choose to buy & some of my reasons why I chose what I did. It may not be the safest or right choice for you.***
I could have searched and found the hardware cheaper (the black coating costs extra, buying directly from manufacturers costs less) or not bought one carabiner and only bought one set of spansets …I could have done it for about $360 total (maybe less).
But I’ve already brought my Lyra to a workshop where I needed different size spansets. I also lent some hardware to friends for a NYE performance. Now, I’m going to need the 6-foot spansets for my new outdoor rig (Yep…that will be another blog subject). I am using all the equipment I’ve bought. And have plans to buy more.
This is just the beginning when it comes to aerial equipment. I also need mats. Mats are necessary for aerial safety. Mats are freaking expensive!! (Future blog subject!) Aerial is not cheap. Expect to spend money if you start buying equipment. Plus you still will need to find a safe place to rig it (Future blog subject!). Luckily, I have a few awesome aerial studios that will let me rig from one of their aerial points. Plus, I’m getting a portable aerial rig of my own soon.