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 Β (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 FiancΓ© 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?

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! πŸ¦„

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! πŸ’–

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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.

Β 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 πŸ’–)
  • 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 πŸ‘Έ!)

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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.

(BTWΒ  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.

πŸŽͺπŸŽͺπŸŽͺ**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.**πŸŽͺπŸŽͺπŸŽͺ

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