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Rigging with Minimal Gear - Part 1

Rigging with Minimal Gear - Part 1

Rigging; or dismantling trees using ropes, blocks, and pulleys - really is an art form. Do you remember the old days of doing removals with one maybe two rigging ropes? We made miracles happen.

Remember removing that huge tree with one rope!? Nowadays with all the tools that you have at your disposal, would you remove that huge ass tree in the same manner? You’re probably sitting there shaking your head violently as to say, HELL NO! That's probably because it took longer and was more strenuous on your body! Here’s something we did though, we let our creativity take center stage and kicked that tree’s ass, with almost no gear!


How We Did Our Rigging with Only One or Two Ropes 

Before we began with any dismantling, we do our ritualistic walk-through and consider our safety. Going home safely is always priority number one! Apart from making sure we had all our safety essentials; we also assessed the tree’s condition and load bearing (rigging) points. Identifying the defects/compromised sections of the tree is crucial and as the saying goes, “plan the work and work the plan!"


Rigging from a branch union is simple: throw the rigging rope over the chosen branch union and you’re pretty much good to go. The problem didn’t come until we tried tip-tying a limb and lifting it. The friction experienced at that point was INTENSE! Using the correct rope will yield the best results and save you money down the road. 3-strands, 12-strands, or 16-strands are going to be the best for natural branch rigging.


Throughout the early and “daring” journey of my rigging career, a couple moments stood out that merit sharing my lessons.

1. Lifting limbs will require the widest branch union available and a clean opening above. If you go through another union in order to add compression to the lift and your ground crew is pulling by hand; let me tell you right now, you will be over working your crew! Another thing, if the lift is unsuccessful; then guess what?! Back in the same spot or on the target it goes.


2.One the other hand, if you choose too tight of a branch union, then your rope might pull a Houdini on you! Let me explain. If your rigging anchor point is too tight and let’s say you decide to hang another tree or even a section of wood from it; the weight of said load, will make the rope sink directly in the branch union and vanish! I was lucky though, the times it disappeared on me, I was able to finagle the rope free. Looking back, I was lucky the branch union didn’t split on me.


3. Lastly, I mentioned using the correct rope to yield the best results, and that’s because I’ve melted ropes before. Double braid ropes are meant to be used with hardware and not pressed up against the tree itself. The high abrasion will cause rope imbalance when loaded and the abrasion will break down the rope faster. Now, I did NOT know that, nor did the current G.F. because that’s what he used to issue the crews and that’s because he figured, higher breaking strength equals better. I still remember it vividly, removal operation, big rigging, negative rigging with no additional hardware. In this instance, a big top was sent, and my rope handler was letting it run smoothly, so smooth in fact that the rope was smoking in the branch union. I pulled the rope back to me and at a certain point, it began to feel “coarse and waxy”. To my dismay, I had melted the rope! Still, I continued to use it as I didn’t know any better and when I asked if it was still okay to use, the following was the response; “it’s just broken in, it should be even better now”.


Rigging limbs down, whether they be from removal or just taking out a section, can be accomplished with just a rope or two. Is it the most efficient way possible? Maybe not, but it depends on the job. If it’s something small, then yes it can be. It can also come down to how you were brought up doing tree work and whether or not you are willing to learn something new. But, I will say, learn from my mistakes. Take care of your equipment and it takes care of you!

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