By Alasdair Wolski
Stein RC3002 Lowering Bollard
I’ve been using a portawrap for many years but for the last two years have begun to think that a fixed bollard would make rigging operations smoother, faster and safer.
In my opinion there was a choice of three, with three very different price tags.
The choice for me immediately became the cheapest and the most expensive of the three and I spent nearly a year agonising over the pros and cons of both products.
My decision to buy the Stein RC3002 was based entirely on product design, not cost. First impression of the bollard is that it is very heavy and solid. Weight is irrelevant as it is strapped to a tree and all the welding is very tidy.
Setting up the RC3002 is actually a simple operation taking two people less than three minutes, made easier if a mounting strap is used and the accessory handle takes a further 10 seconds to attach.
Using the RC3002 is as simple as any other rigging device on the market. For simple lowering applications the rope can be wound around either bollard, or both, and the position of opposing fairleads means that half wraps can be used to ‘fine tune’ the amount of friction. It took a few jobs to learn how many wraps were needed for each piece to be lowered and we soon learned that due to the large diameter of the bollard there is plenty of friction available, so no need to have lots of wraps which could increase the risk of one wrap riding over another. Something I’ve experienced with a portawrap.
Negative blocking large pieces of wood has been much less worrisome with the RC3002 as friction and control is guaranteed with the bollard remaining completely stable on the tree at all times. When mounted on the rubber preservation blocks, the device has stayed in position even under the biggest of limbs. When the bollard is cut into the tree for felling jobs, there is no way that we will be overloading the device as the SWL is 5000kg!
Lifting operations were the areas that concerned me most about my decision to purchase but I eventually realised that the ability to lift branches quickly with a winch style bollard would only get me home two minutes sooner and the ability to lift heavy branches is more about rigging points and levers than winching power (too much lifting power could in fact over load the tree).
I therefore knew that the RC3002 system would be perfectly adequate.
The accessory arm proves it’s worth on every job because 95% of our work is domestic so we are rigging over phone lines, conservatories etc.
Using the arm has turned out to be easier than anticipated and although fairly good tension can be achieved with one person, two is better. If care has been taken to ensure that the rope runs vertically into the jaws of the accessory arm, movement of the arm up and down is very easy. If it’s not, simply installing a redirect pulley above solves this issue.
The jaws of the accessory arm grips the rope perfectly every time creating maximum advantage from every stroke. We have found that after a heavy limb has been lifted, the large bollard size allows easy and very safe removal of half or a full wrap to allow smooth lowering of the wood.
It was never my intension to use double ropes for negative blocking but this would obviously be an easy thing to do. Two lowering ropes for balancing large limbs is perfectly controllable and it is very easy to pre-tension both bollards with the addition of a prussic loop and one carabiner.
It soon became clear to me that the only limiting factor to using the Stein RC3002 is the operators imagination. While It’s not essential to rush out and buy lots more gear, the addition of a pulley and a couple of slings increases ones options to allow smoother, safer and more productive rigging.
The mounting plate has a fixing point on top so the addition of a simple fiddle block system can be very useful for the occasional very heavy lift. The same fiddle block can then be used for speed lining jobs.
The biggest advantage I have found to having a bollard that can lift branches is that we now rig to a craning fork when ever possible. This means the forces on the tree are reduced by using two or three pulleys instead of one, and very large branches can be removed under control with no risk at all to the climber as the branch always moves directly away from him.
On large tree removal jobs, branches removed are sometimes four times larger than anything I’ve ever done with a portawrap and every one of them floats slowly away from the climber without shock loading the tree and the gear. Therefore, the safety factor is greatly increased and the job is more productive with less effort.
The Stein RC3002 Dual Bollard has proved to be an extremely useful piece of equipment. The construction is more than adequate and the design appears to be perfect.
I didn’t buy a bollard to rig off massive timber and make the earth shake, and have found this tool to be very versatile in many ways.
Because we now have so many rigging options available, the job has become more interesting and fun.
By thinking outside the box and rigging more creatively, the stresses on the rigging gear is greatly reduced, thus increasing it’s life and saving money.
Productivity is improved and most importantly, the climber has become much safer in the tree.
I am 100% satisfied that I made the right purchase and would confidently recommend the Stein RC3002 to any commercial operation.