Update to Portable Aerial Rig Pulley System

If you are up to date with the rest of my Aerial Equipment blogs – Great! This is an update to the pulley system I use with my Ludwig Portable Aerial Rig. If you are just starting out please go back and read my other posts then come back here when you’re ready for more info about pulley systems.

**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas on safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource to find the professionals.**

I was contacted by Peter Boulanger, the Artistic & Tech Director of The Underground Circus. I think you can see his comments in the comments section of my blog. I’m going to post his concerns and say that going forward please consider using tandem pulleys opposed to the double pulley in your system. Please read his attached documents and then read our comments from The Underground Circus Facebook post (I’m Amy, if you’re curious.) If you already use the double pulley beware of the rope abraiding while lifting heavy loads. Also keep an eye on the outside safety plates of the pulley for any deformation that may be tell tale signs to take the pulley out of service.

I have not seen this large of a twist in my setup  (I’m not lifting people with my pulleys just the equipment so I don’t see the abrasion of the rope at all) but I do understand that the twist is there and it is putting extreme pressure on the sides of that double pulley that it is not designed for. It would be awful to have something unexpected happen to that pulley in a drop…

Luckily I’ve been playing with different ways to set up pulleys and I have additional pulleys in my arsenal so I can swap out my double pulley without much pain. Ooh, speaking of pain…I did learn a valuable lesson the other day. I DO NOT recommend ever trying to take down the Ludwig rig (from full height) ALL BY YOURSELF. Although, I did get it down to a manageable height so I could swap out the pulleys it was not fun, pretty, or easy. There was a ton of swearing, straining, and a few “OMG what just happened!” moments as the rig started to topple to the side almost crushing into my house. (And that is a major conversation I never want to have with my insurance company bc as you know these rigs are about as coverageable as a trampoline in Florida…use at your own risk). Get someone to help you take that rig down. Learn from my mistake…plus you’re going to need someone’s help to put it back up again anyway.



Additionally, I said above that I’ve been playing with different pulley ideas. This is because I want to be able to use my new Aerial Animals Trapeze as a static trapeze but with the current system it only has one rigging point. Discussing it with my Fiancé he decided to make me a spreader bar with 3 rigging points and we’d use a complicated pulley system to make it work. Well … complicated is rarely the best way to do things and it did not work.

I don’t have many pics of it because I really wasn’t going to write about it…but here it is. The steel spreader bar being painted and getting ready for eyebolts. (The spreader bar is perfect but just not used with the pulley set up that I had in mind.)


I used one rope and 4 single pulleys. I could raise and lower it just using one side of the rope. It looked great.

It seemed to work ok at first if I pulled it up to the top. But it wasn’t real stable and wobbled back and forth and the pulleys would bump each other. Then the final “oh crap, this definitely isn’t going to work” moment was when I put the trapeze up. Even if I used span sets and pulled it to the top the trapeze rocked back and forth (side to side) as I shifted weight from one side to the other. It wasn’t fun…oh it could be worked with as a unique apparatus but it wasn’t at all what I wanted.

Finally, I’ve gone back to the original pulley system (until I change the double out for a tandem set up…). Plus a seperate system for the trapeze: a single pulley for each side. I cut a 100ft rope in half and knotted a loop to attach the trapeze. Then I level each side equally and tie it off on the cleats. So now I have 2 pulley systems on one rig…this only works if you have 5 eyebolts on the top and I have 4 tie off cleats (one on each leg). I choose to tie off the trapeze pulley to the opposite legs of the single-point pulley.

Any questions or comments?

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Aerial Equipment Part 6: Portable Aerial Rig *1 Year Outdoor Review

**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas on safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource.**

It has been over a year since I purchased my Ludwig Aerial Rig. I still love it and I’m glad I have it. It has been kept up outdoors the entire time. Recently, I took it down and inspected it, then put it back up. I took photos of how it has weathered over the past year.

Ludwig Rig

Purchased and first installed February 2016.

Complete inspection March 2017.
(I do regular inspections of the legs, tie downs, rope, and climb to the top to visually and physically inspect pulleys and connections on every use.)

My biggest concern was to look for rusting on any of the welds on the rig and to make sure all the screws were tight on all connections on rig.

  • There was NO rust on any of the welds.
  • All screws on the legs pieces were still screwed down. There was one screw on the header leg that was not super tight but it was still secure. All quick connects (the buttons) were in place and secure. The header eye bolts were tight (unmovable) and free of rust.
  • There was some surface rust on the inside of the tube of the header and on parts of the legs that were inside the other pieces of leg. There was not not a huge amount of rust. I will continue to monitor it.
    Note: My Fiancé used some grease on the connection legs to reduce friction and be another barrier to prevent rusting (likely not needed but he wanted to do it).
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One year: Surface rust on the leg beam where it was inside of other beam.

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One year: Surface rust on inside of header beam.

  • The area with the most rust were the tie down cleats. These are untreated steel and get wet almost daily from our sprinkler system. I cleaned them with Navel Jelly (soaked them for 15 minutes then scrubbed them off with a green scrubber, did this 4 more times-soaking for 15-25 minute intervals & then scrubbed them before they were clear of the rust.) Then I sprayed them with Rustoleom Clear Primer to slow down future rust.
    Note: I also ordered a brand new set just to have available, if needed. 

Before and after: Tie off cleats.

Soaking cleats in Navel Jelly.

One year: Rust on leg from cleat.

Pulley System

I decided I was going to change out all the hardware on the pulley system when I took down the rig for inspection. I did this for 2 reasons:

  • I was concerned about weathering of the pulleys, carabiner, quicklinks, and rope. The labeling on the carabiner & pulleys say: “For intense use the pulley should be replaced every 12 months, for normal use the pulley should be replaced every 24 months.” I was not intensely using it. (I consider something like zip line use all day long to be intense use. I was only using it to pull aerial equipment up one or twice a week and on the equipment for a few hours at a time.)
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    Pulley labeling.

    But I wasn’t completely comfortable with leaving them out in the elements (sun, wind, and rain) all year and not taken them down for cleaning/thorough inspection.
    AND on my regular inspections, I’d noticed that the top carabiner had some rust on it that concerned me…

  • Aesthetic purposes: I found that Fusion Climbing had come out with all black pulleys. I like that look so much more than the Blue/purple/orange pulleys and the price wasn’t much different on Amazon.
    Note: I confirmed with Fusion Climbing that the Amazon “Shop For Lifestyle” fulfillment company was a licensed distributor. Fusion Climbing also sent me additional information about the pulleys so I was able to confirm the packaging & product was legit.)
    Fusion Matte Black Pulley Flier

    I purchased a new all black rope. The old rope had a yellow stripe in it that I didn’t really care for.

I adore having the pulley system because it is so easy to switch out apparatuses and to take down and store equipment. But it is definitely a piece that requires more inspection and maintenance than if I didn’t have it. That is something to consider when putting together a portable aerial rig system.

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One year: Eyebolts, side pulley and quick links.

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One year: Middle eyebolt, carabiner, and double pulley. Note the rust on the carabiner.

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One year: Side eyebolt, quick links, and pulley. Note how the top quick link doesn’t look like its all the way tightened.

During my big inspection I was curious to how they weathered. This is what I found:

  • The quick links weathered phenomenally. No rust. No damage. I noticed that one wasn’t fully screwed tight. It was closed and the threads engaged but just not fully tight. See above photo.
  • Pulleys
    • The pulley’s color (blue, purple, orange) had faded from the sun.

      One year: Paint color faded.

      One year: Paint color faded.

    • The spinning mechanism did not stick at all. All of the pulleys moved freely. Only slightly less freely than the brand new pulleys.
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      New and one year old pulley: side by side.

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      New and one year old pulley: side by side.

    •  

      The only rust on the pulleys was a small amount on part you clip into where it was being rubbed metal on metal. Other than that the pulleys were very clean after being left up outside all year.

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      One year: Small amount of rust and wear.

    • I cleaned, dried, then lubed/oiled the old pulleys with silicone oil. They now run smooth as ever. I bagged them and will store them for later use.
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Silicone oil. Bought off of Amazon.

  • Top carabiner = Rusted.
    • This was the piece I was most worried about. It was the most ugly. I had noticed it getting rusty about 2 months prior to taking down the rig but did not realize it was as bad as it was until it was off and in my hands. The shine had disappeared. There was visible rust. However, the triple locking mechanism worked fine and was not fused shut and it opened and closed fine.
    • I cleaned it up and lubricated it with graphite. Then I did some research. I found that this rusting is called “Surface Oxidation.”  It is a steel carabiner and they are plated finish to prevent this. After time that coating wears off and they do begin to rust. See last paragraph of this link to Fusion’s Carabiner Information.
    • I’m keeping it for minimal use (I.e. I used it when rigging for an underwater photoshoot.). I think it is fine to use but it is kind of ugly so it won’t be used every day.
      Note: I was also informed that I could use clear nail polish to protect it.
    • I initially replaced it in the pulley system with the same type of steel carabiner because that’s what I had on hand. I have now changed my pulley configuration and have a Maillon Rapide Quick Link 10mm to take its place.
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      New and one year old carabiner.

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      One year: Wear on carabiner.

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      One year: Rust on carabiner.

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      One year: Wear & rust on carabiner.

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      One year: Carabiner after cleaning and oil.

  • Rope.
    • The old rope is still in excellent shape. There is no deformities, breaks, bends, kinks, or abrasions to the outside sheath.
    • It does feel slightly stiffer than the new rope but I think with a wash it will be back to normal.
    • I did research on climbing ropes. Here is an “How to inspect a climbing rope” guide.
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One year: Rope.

Final Thoughts

First question:

I have heard people ask if they can keep their rig up year-round.

My opinion:

For the Ludwig rig in Florida is YES

  • BUT make sure you are constantly inspecting it for wear, rust, screws that are loosening, etc.
  • Ludwig has also commented that he has kept a rig up year round in Colorado and it has not had issues. If you have more questions, I refer you back to the makers of the rigs. Please read all the info on his website about his rig. Ludwig Rig
  • There is also a lot of information on the Safety in Aerial Group on Facebook. Please join and use the search function to look up questions. (Outdoor, aerial rig, portable, pulley, free standing = these are good places to start.)

Second question:

Can the pulley system be kept up year round?

My opinion:

For my pulley system in Florida is also YES with a few considerations.

  • Think about how much use and weathering the pulleys and the rope are taking. My rig was used only by myself for a few hours once or twice a week (so not that much use). You may want to change out parts or the entire system once a year or do a complete inspection/cleaning of the system and evaluate replacing the system (at least once a year).
  • I feel like with cleaning and lubrication of the pulleys and cleaning of the rope I could continue to use the old system. I have changed out my system for aesthetic reasons not purely because I needed to retire the other system.

Note my shed that holds all my mats and other aerial and circus equipment.

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Aerial Equipment part 5: Rust on my Lyra (Cleaning, Painting, Re-taping)

II’ve had my Lyra for over 8 months. I’ve brought it into studios and used it on my outdoor rig. I still love it! Most of the time it is stored inside in my dance room which is air conditioned yet about 2 months ago it started to rust through the tape. I live in Florida where the humidity is very high. It is possible that I set my hoop down in wet grass or something. I’m not exactly sure why it is rusting. I’ve been busy but it has reached the point that it is time to clean off the rust on my hoop and re-tape. Basically, make it pretty again.

These are the “before” pictures as I was taking off the tape. It was really pretty disgusting.

I needed to start my research again to figure out the best way to do this…

I opened Facebook on my laptop and went to the Safety in Aerial Group. I knew I had read about ways to clean and re-tape your hoop in some of the posts. I plugged “rust” into the search bar and started reading.

This is what I found:

Yes, other people have this problem. Probably, the best way to solve it is to have it powder-coated (or to have bought a stainless steel or aluminum hoop to begin with…). Well, I’m not ready to make the powder-coating leap yet. So I’m going to start by cleaning it.

Suggestions for cleaning it:

  • Use steel wool to clean the rust off (Grade #0 Fine did not work)
  • Use 200 grit sand paper to clean the rust off (When I spoke to one of my aerial instructors this is what she has done in the past. This is also what worked the best for me.)
  • Use 3M Scotch-Brite General Purpose Hand Pad to clean the rust off (This helped get the dirt grime off but didn’t really see it get rust off.)
  • Use Navel Jelly to dissolve the really stubborn rust off (You can buy it at Home Depot. Use gloves & do it outside. I did not actually need to use it but its good to know & have on hand.)
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Cleaning supplies

Keep it from rusting:

After cleaning it there were several suggestions on how to keep it from rusting again.

  • Powder-coating (I’ll look into this in the future but right now I’m trying some other things)
  • Oiling/lubricating (It would probably work but I’m having a mental block about putting oil onto an apparatus that I’m going to be hanging from…):
    • Sentry Solutions Marine TUF-CLOTH to stop the rust
    • T-9 Boshield to protect the metal from rust. This was copied from the Boshield website “T-9 dries to a waxy, waterproof finish without leaving a sticky film.” (you can buy it at any woodworking store)
    • FYI: W-D 40 does not protect from rust.
  • Spray painting (use Rust-Oleum or Kyrlon Hammer Finish)
  • Taping and putting a coat of acrylic paint over it

I decided to try to clean it the best I could. Use Rust-Oleum to paint it. Then re-tape it. I read that several studio owners do this but they need to re-do it about twice a year. I will try and and report how it does in future posts.

My process

Cleaning the hoop

  1. I took all the tape off
  2. Then I started cleaning. I took it outside and started with the steel wool.
    IMG_9579

    Steel Wool.

    I went through 2 pads before I realized it wasn’t really doing anything. I was using the “Grade 0: Fine” steel wool. Maybe this wasn’t tough enough.

  3. The steel wool was actually sticking to the left over adhesive. So I went and found some GOO GONE and a rag and started wiping the adhesive off. That really helped.

    IMG_9580

    GOO GONE!

  4. That’s when I noticed that the cement pavers on my patio were scratching my metal hoop so I found an old towel to put down to protect it.
  5. Not to worry because I switched to the 220 grit sand paper and that really started to clean it up. The sand paper cleaned off the rust and a lot of the black dirt. It also filed down any of the scratches that were rough. My hoop started getting shiny.
    IMG_9581

    Protect the hoop from scratching on concrete.

    This was extremely dirty and my hands, arms, face, shirt all started turning black. LOL. It was so messy & I was outside in 90 degree heat so it was everywhere.

    IMG_9584

    So dirty!

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    Result of my cleaning supplies.

  6. Then I found a Scotch-Brite sponge scrub pad and some dish soap to wash it. I took a garden hose and soaped it up.
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    Dawn and Scotch-Brite Scrub Pad.

    Initially, I was just going to use the sponge but once I started washing it a lot more of the black, dirty grime started coming off. I switched to the green scrub side and this REALLY helped clean the hoop up. Now it was shiny!

  7. I dried it off with a towel and set in out in the sun to dry.
    IMG_9587

    Its all clean and shiny!

    IMG_9588

    Look at the shine. No more rust.

What I would do differently

If I were to do this again (and I’m not sure how it will work now that I’ve spray painted the hoop)…

  1. After removing the tape, I’d wash it first with the sponge and soap
  2. Use the GOO GONE right away
  3. Then maybe take the Scotch-Brite scrub to it
  4. If there is still grime and rust then I’d use the sand paper
  5. And finally if needed I’d use use the Navel Jelly.

Spray painting the Lyra

This was easy. I saved this screen shot from Steve Santos with the idea of following it to a T.

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Screen Shot from a Facebook’s Safety in Aerial discussion about rust on hoops.

I went to Home Depot to buy supplies and called my Fiance to see if we had a “torch.” We do but he told me I didn’t need to use it (I think he didn’t want me burning down the house.). That all I needed to do was leave the hoop in the Florida sun to heat up and dry off all the moisture. I understand that there is still a ton of moisture in the air and I probably should have heated the hoop up but I’m learning to pick & choose my battles with my Honey Bunny and this was one I didn’t want to fight so I let it go. My hoop did get very hot in the sun so hopefully it worked **Fingers crossed**

  1. Bought Rust-Oleum Primer and Spray Paint. The color isn’t going to matter but I really liked the light metallic champagne pink color.
    IMG_9576

    Spray paint!

    ***LOOK at this sparkly  glitter spray paint. OMG! I didn’t know if I’d actually use it but it was too cool not to buy. I was thinking about using it and not taping the hoop and maybe the glitter would act a bit more grippy. When I mentioned this to my Fiance he didn’t think the glitter paint would stay on very long and would scratch/peel off right away with use. Anyone have thoughts on this? I’m not brave enough to try it yet***

  2. I hung it on my rig outside by one spanset and started spraying the primer.
    IMG_9593

    Hung it outside from one spanset.

    I did a light coat about 6-12 inches away from the hoop. Let it dry for about an hour. then moved the spanset to the other side and did another light coat. Then I let it dry for 2 hours and brought it inside to dry overnight.

    IMG_9595

    First coat of primer.

  3. Then the next day I did the same thing with the champagne pink spray paint. It actually started raining about an hour after I sprayed. Once it stopped I took it down and dried it off and set it inside to finish drying.
    hoop

    Metallic Champagne Pink Spray Paint. I LOVE this color!

    hoop2

    Its almost the same color as my wall.Taping my Lyra

Taping my Lyra

When I was first purchasing hardware for my Lyra I bought some Mueller’s Athletic tape knowing I’d eventually need to re-tape it. I found it on Amazon.

tape

Mueller Tape 3 rolls, 1 1/2 inch x 10 yards

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Comes in many colors!

 

This is what I found when searching for how to tape a Lyra (tape an aerial hoop). Its a lot like taping a hula hoop. These are some helpful tips:

  • Tape from the bottom to the top. if you don’t do this then the tape will roll over on itself as your hands/body slides down the hoop.
  • If you look at the hoop as a clock with 12 at the top. Start taping at 7 going up to the top towards 1. Then go the opposite direction starting at 5 and going up towards 11. This gives you some overlap at the bottom where there is most wear.
  • Here is a video that shows a taping tutorial.

In all it took less than 20 minutes and I thought this was the easiest part of this entire process.

  1. I started the tape at 7 on a clock and wrapped around the hoop tube it so it overlapped itself 1/2 the width of the tape.
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Starting the taping.

2. I tried to keep the tape tight against the hoop to keep any wrinkles out.

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I started at about 7 on the clock.

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This was one roll of 10 yards of tape.

3. Once I finished one roll of tape. I took a second roll and started at the 4/5 on a clock and started wrapping clockwise. This roll seemed to have more strings come off the tape. A few times I had to stop and turn my roll of tape over so the other side of the tape was being overlapped to keep it from unraveling. (I guess I’ll see how that works out.)

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The second roll I started at 4/5 and wrapped clockwise.

4. Using the second roll of tape I was able to complete the hoop part and go all the way across the straight part and ended where the hoop starts to curve again. I had just a bit left on the roll.

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Finished! OMG its like I have a new hoop!

5. The hoop is SO BEAUTIFUL. It looks like a brand new hoop! Why didn’t I do this sooner?

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It matches all my other pink stuff.

Please let me know if you have any other suggestions or if you tape/protect your hoop in different ways.

Types of tape that people use to cover their Lyra:

  • Mueller Athletic tape (M-Tape)
  • Generic athletic tape / adhesive cotton tape (ie. Zonas Zinc Free tape)
  • Newbaums handlebar tape (its soft & not sticky)
  • Hockey tape
  • Some people use foam pre-wrap or under wrap under the tape for padding or use several layers of cotton tape
  • Gaffer tape (heavy cotton cloth with strong adhesion properties, typically used to tape down cables to the floor during stage productions, try the brand Polyken, tends to be expensive)
  • Baseball/tennis racquet tape
  • Soft side of velcro tape (??)
  • ESI Silicone tape

Ways to decrease stickiness of a taped hoop:

  • Put chalk on in
  • Coat it with acrylic paint
  • Instead of chalk dust a fresh tape job with shimmer powder
  • Someone posted that “zinc” in the tape is what gives it the sticky goo so look for zinc free tape

UPDATE: 10/16/16 The Mueller Tape that I used is SUPER sticky! It really eats up my hands. I’ve just seen a recommendation for Meister Tape. I think it can be purchased off Amazon. I’ll probably try that next time. 

 

 

Aerial Equipment part 4: Buying Fabric/Silks

My Fiance asked what I wanted for Christmas last year and I didn’t have an answer. I’ve wanted my own fabric for a long time. I had just bought my own lyra/aerial hoop (which I loved and really enjoyed working on my own equipment). I hadn’t known if I was ready for my own fabric but I had been going to different aerial studios and had been on many different types of aerial silks. I was learning what I liked and what I did not about them. I often asked questions why they acted differently.

I knew I didn’t like very skinny, thin, super stretchy fabric (everyone has their own likes and dislikes…I suggest trying out as many as you can before purchasing anything). There are tons of different options: width, weave (example: tricot), denier (thread size), type of polyester (nylon), length, etc.

At one of the studio’s I where I take aerial classes …

NOTES:

  • Do not try to learn aerial fabric/silks on your own. It is extremely dangerous and you could be seriously injured. Get a coach or instructor and discuss it with them when its a good time to buy your own fabric and what type to purchase.

  • Please check out this blog post by Laura Witwer, Sassy Pants,
    DIY Fail: How NOT to Learn Circus From YouTube.
    In fact, if you are taking aerial/circus classes you should go back and read all of her blog posts. She’s pretty awesome! 🦄

Cirque City, they have new fabric from several different suppliers. There was one that I always gravitated towards. It was the most comfortable for me to climb, to drop on, and felt good in my grip. I asked about it and Sierra, Cirque City’s owner, was able to give me the information about where it was purchased and the type/width/etc…which I passed on to my Fiance…and suddenly it was Christmas morning and I was wrapping myself up in my own silks! 💖

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Best Christmas ever!!

Here are some things that I’ve learned since receiving my fabric/tissue/silks. I suggest knowing these important items before you buy your own fabric (or soon after if you already have):

  • Where and how to safely rig aerial fabric (please don’t throw a piece of fabric over a tree branch or a basement rafter…you could seriously injure yourself by not knowing aerial safety) THIS IS #1!! SUPER IMPORTANT!!
  • How to safely tie the fabric onto a Rescue 8
  • How to inspect the fabric (your fabric is likely the weakest part of your aerial hardware)
  • How to wash aerial fabric (only use detergent, no bleach or fabric softeners, hang to dry)

I’ve learned a lot of these by asking my aerial instructors and doing my own research. I also was able to do “hands on” learning by physically rigging a fabric onto a Rescue 8 with an instructor before attempting it on my own. (I suggest bringing your fabric and hardware to the studio and do it with someone you trust. This way you can be corrected before you make a life threatening mistake.)

Websites & Blogs

I’ve included a few links below that have a TON of information and are EXTREMELY helpful! Please take some time to read through them if you want to safely own your own fabric (or even if you already have your own fabric…you can still learn more about how to safely care for it).

These blogs are also very helpful and AWESOME! Please check them out!

  • Aerial Reflections – I LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog post about buying aerial fabric. She states a TON of things that I have glossed over. Read it! I promise you’ll come away knowing a lot more than if you don’t.
  • XO Sarah – Info about where to buy aerial equipment but if you continue to read the comments there is a lot more info.

Websites to buy aerial fabric

There are many more. Where do you buy your fabric? Please leave a comment.

 MY FABRIC

rigsilks

Aerial Fabric from Circusbyus – 17 yards

Circusbyus $136 (Gift from Fiance, Xmas ’15)

  • Fabric 17 yards (25 ft)
  • Low stretch
  • Nylon tricot 40-denier
  • UV pink (glows in ultraviolet/black light 💖)
  • 108″ wide
  • Destructive tested & rated (according to the website)

Review: I love it! It has a very slight stretch and it is very easy to climb. The color is amazing. It is a very bright pink and it almost glows in the sunlight. I haven’t tried it in black light but I’m excited to try it. The fabric seems very thin and you can see shadows through it but even at 108″ wide it fits my hands great. So far its perfect. (Happy Aerial Princess 👸!)

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My instructor, Sierra, had bought the Neon Green fabric. It is also an amazing bright, glowing color but after a few months of daily & heavy use it soon had to be taken out of service due to holes near the Rescue 8. I wish I had spoken to her prior to getting my fabric because she said the UV fabric has a coating on that helps it glow in UV but it also can make it a bit more delicate. My fabric should be OK and will likely last longer because I’m the only one using it. It won’t be hung or used every day. And I will be checking it regularly and know what to keep an eye out for.

(BTW  when my Fiance bought this fabric. I only gave him the general information…website/type/length…but gave him the option of the color. He knew I would love the UV Pink the best and I do!!)

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MY RESCUE 8

Saftey8

Fusion Safety 8

Rescue 8 – Fusion: Amazon $20.79

  • Aluminum
  • 45kN
  • Black

Review: I have a fairly average review for this Rescue 8. Nothing good or bad to say about it.

NOTES:

  • One of my instructors recently inspected some of their Aluminum Rescue 8’s and decided to take a few out of service after about a year’s use. I asked to see why they made that decision. My instructor pointed out the visible wear and small cracks beginning to show.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions as a student. If your instructors can’t answer your safety questions then I would question your safety…

My Rescue 8 will be used only by me so hopefully it will last longer than a year. Next time, I will consider purchasing a more expensive steel one.

In the future:

This, Angel Rigging Plate, is what I truly want to rig my silks from…maybe for my birthday. It is so unique and beautiful!!

https://verticalartdance.com/shop-all-products/aerial-angel-rigging-plate/

THE REST OF MY HARDWARE

Finally, I’m using the carabiners and swivel that I use with my lyra. See Aerial Equipment part 1: Buying a Lyra.

🎪🎪🎪**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource.**🎪🎪🎪

silks11

Aerial Equipment part 3: Mats! 

Mats are VERY important safety tools when doing aerial. Many of the aerial studios I’ve trained at have 1 1/2″-2″ panel mat beneath the aerial points. For new or difficult tricks (especially drops) I like to pull a 4-12″ crash mat under the point. I have heard many differences in opinion on what size, type, or the safety of mats that are needed for aerial. I would love to hear in the comments what types of mats you use for training!

My opinion is: I LOVE MATS and the more mats I have the more confident I feel.

Please check out this link to more info about aerial mats: Simply Circus website mats section.

This is a run down on the mats that I have and use at home, where I bought them, and how much they cost.

Round 1:

When I first started aerial I also did some pole dancing. I bought a pole and a small pink panel mat for home use. I bought the mat brand new about 4 years ago off eBay. It is a MatsMatsMats.com mat. It folds twice and is 4×6′. I use it to stretch and it is a great little mat.

mats5

I also use yoga mats and I have a gray foam fitness mat that rolls up. * I just ordered a new yoga mat from Amazon because my little chihuahua had an accident on mine and…well…I just decided it was time for a new mat.
Screenshot 2016-02-27 17.00.15

Round 2:

When I bought my Lyra I wanted a mat that was a bit more robust than a panel mat. My instructor told me that in a gym she trained at they used bouldering pads as mats. I went home and Googled.

Mats are freaking expensive! Wow! (If you don’t believe me do some googling…)

Bouldering/rock climbing crash pads come in all sizes and costs. I choose a Mad Rock Climbing 5″ thick Crash pad.
mats3

  • It is black and 72″x44″ (6 ft x 3 1/2 feet) when laid out.
  • It folds twice into a 24x44x15″ backpack.
  • I choose it because it had good reviews and I could use Amazon Prime.
    Total $250-260.


Pros:

  • Largest portable crash mat on the market
  • I like the 5″ thickness (seems better than a panel mat to me)
  • It’s portable and easy to carry
  • The folds have Velcro coverings so you don’t step into a crack
  • You can sleep on in as a portable mattress if you want 😴
  • (It works great under my slackline…)

Cons:

  • It still seems small to me. I feel like to be completely safe I want 2 of these mats put side by side.
  • It is very firm but over time I think it will relax.
  • I hated the orange logo so I took some fabric paint to it.


These are some other bouldering crash pads I considered:

  • Black Diamond
  • ClimbX-XXX
  • Metolius

Round 3:

Now that I’ve gotten my 24 foot Ludwig Aerial Rig, I really wanted a big crash pad so I can start trying some more advanced skills. And again…

Mats are freaking expensive!

A lot of the 8-12″ crash/landing mats that are used for gymnastics/acrobatics/trampoline/martial arts are rectangles. One problem that I’ve had with aerial is that I pull a mat under me there is a length that is too long and one that is too short. I need to direct my trajectory so I land in the right place. Not a huge issue but it’s been an annoyance for me.

*Anyone else have problems with this, or is it just me?

I thought if I’m going to spend $$$ on another mat…I want it to be a mat that works for me. These were my requirements:

  • 6 foot x 6 foot (a square not a rectangle)
  • 12″ thick
  • Light color (the mat will be outside & the sun heats vinyl up quick in Florida)
  • Portable & easy to store (needs to fold once and have handles)

Then I did a web search and sent out quotes for estimates to 7 different suppliers. (Side note a few replied right away with estimates via email, a few I needed to call to get a response & a few never did respond.) It is worth while to shop around. The prices vary greatly as do the quality. This is what I found:

  • AK Athletics $625 free shipping, no tax. WINNER!!!
  • Resilite $530 + shipping $181 + tax $49.77 = $760.77
  • CoverSports $626.27 + shipping $135.00 = $761.27
  • MatsMatsMats $714.99 + shipping $331.60 = $1046.59
  • GreatMats responded they could not build to my requirements. *I was looking through their website and saw some tiles made out of recycled rubber like they have in some playgrounds…the bouncy kind…I was considering that under my aerial rig because I’m pretty sure the grass is going to die pretty soon. What do you think, good idea/bad idea?
  • RossAthletic & The Mat Warehouse did not respond. 😦

I went with AK Athletics because:

  1. They were priced the best & had free shipping: $625
  2. They were the first to respond.
  3. I liked their customer service the best.
  4. 6’x6’x12″, Tan on top/Black on bottom, folds once, handles on the folded sides.
    Order was placed 1/18/16, shipped 2/1/16, received 2/4/16 (signature required)
    Screenshot 2016-02-27 17.10.12mats2

Pros:

  • This mat is super comfy. * I could easily fall asleep on it.
  • The vinyl is very soft to the touch.
  • It is thick and heavy. The perfect crash mat.
  • I had thought that I might choose something bigger like 8×8′ or 10×10′ but 6×6′ is perfect size for aerial use. *Although for hoop…the 5 inch Mad Rocks on top of my grass works just fine!

mats1

Cons:

  • This mat is LARGE! I cannot lift it by myself (I thought I’d be able to lift it with the handles…). It is easy to drag but not lift. My fiancé is already questioning where everything is going to go. Ugh! I have no where to store it.
  • The seam runs right under my aerial point. I’m afraid that it will come un-done over time. It already looking worn and the seam is pulling apart after just 4 uses. I believe I will use a yoga mat on top of it to try to reduce some to the wear that will happen to it. I will keep you updated.
    mats6
  • The vinyl got REALLY cold (too cold for bare feet when it was around 55 degrees out. I’m worried about how hot it will get during the hot summer days in Florida. Maybe my yoga mat will help. Or maybe I will need to get some type of rug for the top of it.

So far I’m very happy with how my private aerial area is coming together. It has been a great (& expensive) learning experience. Please let me know if you have any questions. And I hope everyone is having a safe and happy aerial time!!

**I am NOT an aerial instructor. I am NOT a professional. My ideas for mats and safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource.

Aerial Rigging: kN? 

What the heck does “kN” mean and what does it mean to me as an aerialist?

kN confused me as I was beginning my aerial hardware/equipment research. I had to look it up and refresh my physics memory. *If I ever learned what kN meant when I took physics I definitely don’t remember it.

kN = kilonewton

Newton (N) is the international system of units (SI) for FORCE. Named after Sir Isaac Newton. One N is very small. A N is so small (at Earth’s gravity 1 N = a small apple) it is common to see forces expressed in kilonewtons (kN). When we see kN stamped on our hardware, it gives a measurement of what kind of forces it can withstand, or how strong it is.

This chart has helped me when looking up ratings and applying them to aerials:

kN (kilonewton) to lbf (pounds-force)

1kN = ~225 lbf
5kN = ~1124 lbf
10kN = ~2248 lbf
20kN = ~4496 lbf
30kN = ~6744 lbf
40kN = ~8992 lbf
50kN = ~11,240 lbf

Here is a simple calculator to convert kilonewtons to force pounds.

How do I calculate how much force I create as an aerialist?

This is a video of how much force an aerialist can create from just a simple drop.

This link shows how to calculate your weight and shock loads as an aerialist. It’s an eye opening read.

What does this mean to me?

  1. According to the link above there are a wide range of safety factors. You will need to decide which works best for you and your practice (*you may want a smaller SF if you are doing static motions with no drops, larger SF if you have multiple aerialists doing large drops, or different SF depending on if its for permanent equipment used daily vs temp. equipment used rarely):
    • 2,000-5,000 lbs (same as a car) = 9-22kN
    • Cirque du Soliel 10:1 SF (est. 900 lbs for in a drop) = 40kN
    • American National Standards Institute 7:1 SF (est. 900 lbs for in a drop) = 31kN
    • Professional artists standard 3:1 to 5:1 SF(est. 900 lbs for in a drop) = 12-20kN
  2. I can convert the ratings of my equipment into something more familiar to me. *Example: a carabiner with a 25kN label is rated to roughly 5500lbs.
    • My carabiners are 23-50kN (5,170-11,240lbf)
    • My swivel is 36kN (8,093lbf)
    • My aluminum rescue 8 is 45kN (10,116lbf)
    • My rigging plate is 30kN (6,744lbf)
    • My fabric is the weakest part of my rig at breaking strength around 2,000lbs. (With fabric it is more likely to tear before it completely breaks. Simply Circus Fabric testing)
  3. Knowing how my equipment is rated will also help me keep an eye on when it needs to be inspected and retired.
    *Sometimes I will practice a lot of static moves with slow fluid transitions. Other times I get in a “drops” mood and all I want to do is drop after drop. The drops are going to generate more force and more wear on the equipment.
    I should be inspecting my equipment more often when I’m creating more force on them. Consider how you are using your equipment and the forces you are putting on them.

Use the information above (kN/forces/ratings/calculations) to help make smart decisions about your aerial equipment. If you are unsure or confused, please ask for help and do more research.

NOTE: All carabiners (and other aerial hardware) have a kN amount etched into the spine. If they do not have an etching amount do not use them for aerial.

Other definitions:

  • Load definitions link
  • WLL = Working Load Limit
    The force that a object can safely lift without breaking.
    WWL = MBL (minimum breaking load)/SF (safety factor)
  • SF = safety factor also referred to as DF = design factor
  • Force = mass x acceleration

What are other things that you’ve found in your aerial or circus research/experience that has caused confusion or raised questions? There are other aerialist out there (like me) who have also been wondering the same things.

***I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas for saftey may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to professionals if you have questions. Facebook Saftey in Aerial Arts Group and Simply Circus site are a great resources.***

Aerial Equipment part 2: Buying a Portable Rig 

**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas on safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource.**

Just over 2 years ago (2013) I bought a new house. In my search for a house I was looking for tall ceilings or large trees (this was before I knew how difficult and unsafe rigging from trees can be). If you are thinking about rigging at home please read this article by Steve Santos.

My new home doesn’t have ceilings or trees able to rig on. I decided I needed my own rig. Two years ago I sent Ludwig, Damnhot.com, an email with a dozen questions about portable rigs and his rig. He answered me right away but soon I realized how expensive owning a house can be and it wasn’t time for me to buy a rig.

So 2 years later, my aerial training and knowledge has increased. I own my own hoop and fabric…then stars aligned: I came into some extra money, my Honey Bunny agreed a rig would look great in the backyard and he’d help me with it, and finally my schedule was making it difficult for me to get to the studio to workout. I also read this article by Delbert Hall about Portable Aerial Rigs. I want to share the info I’ve gathered in my search for an aerial rig.

*Now that I have my new rig and its up in my yard. I’m going to use it for a while and eventually write review blog for it. So far its great and I love the pulley… If you are considering a rig, get a pulley. It makes life SO MUCH EASIER! 

FINAL DECISION
Ludwig Portable Stand Alone Rig

  • 21 ft Quad Rig Copper Vein-$1780 (4ft header)
  • X4 -4ft extension feet ($160) (website says “$1920 if in stock” – it was in stock but I did not get this price)
  • X4 -more eyebolts (5 total= needed 4 more, $14 each, x2 trapeze & x2 corner for pulley, like in photo = $56)
  • X2 Tie-off cleats ($13 each =$26)
  • X4 extra screws ($4) (just as a precaution. There are more extra screws included)
  • $365+ $18 shipping (residential shipping to Tampa, FL)

TOTAL: $2409 ordered 1/9/2016, shipped 1/15/2016, arrived 1/21/2016

unboxingamy

Un-boxing! 16 6ft legs, 4 4ft feet, & 4ft header

These are a few reasons I decided on this rig:

  • Ludwig was quick to respond to all my questions. Very knowledgeable and was highly recommended. Plus a friend has one of his and loves it.
  • Stability of a quad vs tripod
  • Options in height: this rig can go from 7 to 24ft high & doesn’t need different size cables on the legs (it uses straps that can be tightened)
  • Footprint: at 24ft it still fits in my yard (19ft = 17×20′, 21ft = 19×22′, 24ft = 21×24′)
  • Powder-coating color options (my Fiancé was against this rig because it’s steel and he was concerned about rust. He really wanted me to get an aluminum one. I don’t always listen to him). I chose Copper Vein. *It is VERY dark…almost black.
  • You can get a pulley to change out apparatus.

10ft high (One 6ft leg & 4ft foot) my Lyra has 4ft spansets…at this height it might be useful with a very short pull-up bar or 4-6ft yoga hammock.

PULLEY

Next was the pulley system. I knew I wanted it so I could change apparatus easily and quickly put up and take equipment down. I didn’t want to leave my equipment outside because we have a lot of random rain in Tampa (plus the sprinklers come on at night).

Aerial Animals offers the entire pulley system at $260 + shipping $20 Total $280.
Ludwig also has a lot of info on the right and wrong way to install a pulley and recommends Aerial Animal’s pulley. The Aerial Animal’s website spells out what the system includes and Patti was quick to answer all my questions.

As I was researching her system. (I wanted to verify all the ratings) I found I could buy the components for less. I grappled with using Patti’s info and then not buying it from her but I wanted additional hardware and I saved over $90 by buying from other resources. Unfortunately, I’ve found with purchasing from other sources, I’ve had to do a lot of manual work: phone calls, pricing, looking at ratings, calculating shipping, etc. Then once I ordered, some of it wasn’t in stock and that delayed shipping. If you want it right away go with Patti.

*I will likely buy a trapeze from Patti. Hers are beautiful and have a ton of options.

*I’ve done some additional research on carabiners and am rethinking using the D-shaped 50kN biner for the top connection. I’m looking into a shackle or heavy duty Quick Link so the carabiner isn’t overloaded.

This is what I bought for the pulley: Fusion Climbing & Rigging Warehouse

  • Pulley Fusion Strux: $18.69
    Blue, single wheel, aluminum, 34kN, 2″/16mm, L 4.25×3.25″
  • Pulley Fusion Secura: $29.15
    Purple, double wheel, aluminum, 25kN, 2″/16mm, rope max <15mm, L 5.5″x3.25″
  • X2 Pulley Fusion Micro: $10.73 each = $21.46
    Orange, aluminum, 20kN, L 4.0×3.3″, rope max 11mm
  • Carabiner Fusion Tacoma Triple Lock: $23.80
    D-shaped, 1″ opening, 50kN, black
  • X4 Quick Link Maillion Rapide: Rigging Warehouse $1.70 each = $6.80
    WLL 700kg (1550lbs), 5/16″, steel
    (FYI: 7/16″ 2425lbs)
  • Static Rope New England KMIII Max: Rigging Warehouse $117
    100ft , 11mm/ 7/16″, Black/yellow, weight 5.8lbs, tensile 8,000lbs

Total for pulley: $216.90 + shipping $14.92 = $231.82
*Fusion’s shipping would have been around $16 for just the pulley hardware (I ordered additional hardware for myself plus they waived shipping for my order due to some miscommunications.)
*Rigging Warehouse’s shipping was $14.92. Rope was back-ordered and took about a week extra to ship (but they should have an entire spool now to cut from).

pulley2

Pulley set up. Note how the rope goes down opposite legs. Please read Ludwig’s notes on pulleys.

NOTE: The rope I ordered is black and yellow but the same make & model as Patti’s. Patti’s rope is black. Please consider that if aesthetics are important. I had a difficult time finding this rope in black…and finding it in 100ft lengths. If you know more about climbing rope than I do (I know nothing) then there may be another 11mm static rope that can be used equally well.

2nd NOTE: I would have preferred a pulley system that was black or a neutral color. This one is Orange/Blue/Purple. I think if my rig were being used to perform and aesthetics important I might have looked for another system. Or when I eventually need to replace parts I may change them out for something else. Anyone have other pulley suggestions: 

Other Portable rigs I considered: 

These are my personal notes and many of the rigs (including Ludwig’s) come with several different configurations and options that can increase or decrease prices.

Trapezerigging.com

  • ~$2750 (free shipping) for 18.5ft
  • Quad. Foot pads for concrete or wood floors.
  • Footprint looks extra wide. I could not find specs. (Update: The FlyWire article says footprint is 24×26′)
  • Aluminum
  • I heard this comes with a ladder for changing out apparatus. I’m not sure if its extra or not.

Circus Concepts

  • ~$1968.23 for 24ft (unknown shipping)
  • Tripod
  • Aluminum
  • A lot of extras: pulley, trapeze spreader, extra cables for changing heights, etc.

Suspendulum

  • ~$1499+250 shipping = $1749 for 20ft
  • Tripod
  • Extras: need different length cables for changing heights, carry bag (I think this is awesome!) (for all total $153.99)

Bobby’s Big Top

  • Check out the website and call/email for more info. This wasn’t what I wanted so I didn’t look that far into it. But you may like it!