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.
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    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.

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    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.
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    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.

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    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.
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    Its all clean and shiny!

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    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.
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    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.
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    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.

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    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.
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    Metallic Champagne Pink Spray Paint. I LOVE this color!

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    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.

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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.