What do you consider your most valued piece of rigging gear? Maybe it’s your tried and true rigging line that has had your back through all the hot and hard days of summer? Maybe it’s the crane that has lowered massive trunks to the ground without leaving a dent in the grass? Well, for me, it’s my Good Rigging Control System or GRCS for short! Imagine having a portable crane that you can carry into the backyard, far from the reach of a conventional crane, and lift large limbs safely AND easily!
The GRCS is made up of a steel mounting plate that is then held to the tree with a large ratchet strap. Once the mounting plate is in place, you have two options for your rigging: you can either attach the winch or the rigging bollard. The 2-way allows you to easily deadlift loads up to 3,000lbs with a 22:1 mechanical advantage or when turned in the opposite direction, a 44:1 mechanical advantage! The rigging bollard allows you to quickly and easily run ropes as you would with any other trunk-mounted friction device like a port a wrap. In my opinion, the rigging bollard allows for a far smoother rope running operation because of the larger diameter bollard, and its static mount to the tree. The static mount reduces the slack created with a Port a Wrap when the load changes and the device is allowed to drop and then quickly slap back up into the tree which can generate a shock load situation. The rigging bollard has two pins on the outside edge that allows the rope to be locked off once the bollard is full of wraps and the rope is half hitched to the pins.
One of the biggest things to keep in mind when using something with such great lifting ability is the simple fact that your rigging needs to be capable of handling the loads you are about to generate. This means that a singular rigging point is going to see a significant load and it would be in your best interest to design your rigging to distribute the load over multiple rigging points that will help use the tree to distribute that load as well. It would be against my better judgment to use a singular rigging point on a leaning spar, but instead, use the fishing pole technique or something along those lines to help share the load throughout the structure of the tree.
Speaking of designing your rigging, do keep in mind that some sort of fairlead should be used to help direct the rope running into the top of the GRCS. If the angle of the rope is too great coming into the device and a large load is generated, it could damage the tabs that the rope runs through before it is wrapped around the bollard. Most days the GRCS can be mounted to the tree so the rope runs directly into the tabs and there is no need for a fairlead but other days an Omni Block or any other rigging block on a sling can easily redirect the rope right into the tabs. Another thing to always consider is where the grounds person will be standing while limbs and logs are being lowered. It is best to try to mount the device somewhere out of the path of the lowering limbs and this is where the fairlead will come in very handy!
The operation of the GRCS is pretty simple and the device is very well labelled to help with the learning process. The rope will come out of the fairlead pulley, which is usually directly above the GRCS, and then drop between the two metal tabs. At this point, the rope can only be wrapped in a clockwise direction. If you plan on lifting, load the entire bollard with wraps and then bring the rope over silver tab at the end of the bollard and then through the toothed wrap at the end of the bollard. Now the crank handle can be attached and the rope can be tensioned in wither a clockwise direction (22:1) or a counterclockwise direction (44:1). Once the limb has been lifted and has settled, the handle can be removed and wraps can be slowly taken off the bollard. Be extremely careful to remove the wraps with the rope being pulled perpendicular to the bollard. If you pull the wraps straight off the bollard, you run the risk of all the wraps letting loose and dropping the load. Once the wraps start to move, flip out one of the pig tails the put the rope through, now the load can be lowered to the ground. If the limb becomes stuck, you can always reload the bollard and lift the limb again. Awesome!
Some other advice to keep in mind from my experience:
- Always use two people to mount the device on the tree… it’s heavy!
- Never try to mount the device with the winch attached… it’s heavier!
- Always take the winch off before trying to take the device off the tree.
- Always use a fairlead if the rope isn’t coming directly into the top of the device.
- Always, always, always take wraps off the winch perpendicular to the winch bollard!!!
- Be sure to try this device out and use it to it’s fullest advantage! It is easily one of the best tools you can have in your rigging kit and allows you to handle larger limbs as well as larger jobs with ease!