Greetings Wild Washington fans,
As spring rapidly approaches it is time once again to think about camming unit upkeep. There are several signs of trouble with your cams, the triggers may be hard to pull, lobes may stick open, or slings may be damaged from UV exposure or rock abrasion. There are also some simple ways to fix these problems, cleaning your cams and re-lubing, as well as sling replacement. There are also ways to repair the lobe wires, but it is probably better to send them back to the manufacture.
Inspection: The first important step to cam maintenance is to thoroughly inspect your cams for any signs of fatigue. Look for any visible signs of cracking around any brazing or soldering, check the axle caps, look for frayed wires, damaged triggers, excessive lobe wear etc.. This will give you a good idea of how to proceed with your cam maintenance project.
Clean & Lube: One of the safest ways to clean your cams is to use warm soapy water and simply work the triggers in the soapy water. Then rinse the cams with clean water and blast them dry with compressed air. The air compressor can help to get the grit out from between the cams. There is another way as well, but it is not as eco-friendly. Brake cleaner can be substituted for soapy water if the cams is extremely “gummed up” with oil and dirt. If you use brake cleaner do it sparingly and wear rubber gloves. DO NOT get brake cleaner on the slings of your cams, for this will surely cause damage. Soapy water almost always does the trick. There is also a cam cleaner made by Metolius. Lube for cams should be one of the synthetic varieties, Slick 50 One lube, Metolius Cam Lube, Klotz, Amsoil. When you lube the cams use the lube sparingly as well. Try to spay the lube onto the axles and work the triggers vigorously. This will help to work the lube into the moving parts of your cam. I then fold a paper towel or rag and try to rub the excess lube off the cam and between the cam lobes if possible. The synthetic varieties do not attract dirt like regular oil, but it is still a good idea to have the cam clean and as dry as possible for your next adventure!
Sling Replacement: There are no hardened rules about when to replace the slings on your cams, but there are a few basics. How often do you climb? Where do you climb? How much have your cams been exposed to the sun? The answers to these questions will help you make an informed decision about sling replacement on your camming units. As previously mentioned it is a judgment call, but I would say that if you climb a lot and your cams are 5 years old it is definitely time to think about sling replacement. All Black Diamond Camalots™ need to be sent back to Black Diamond because they have a special way of attaching their slings. http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us
Other types of camming unints can be sent to Yates Gear Inc. for new sewn slings, they have a standard and Spectra™ material for a small fee. I sent 7 cams to Yates back in March 2010 and I think the total bill was about $50.00 including shipping. I had the Spectra slings sewn on and the cost was approximately $6.00 per unit. They will also color code them according to your preference.
These are the cams after cleaning, lubing and new sling replacement. They are like new again and function flawlessly.
Paul “Thor” Pelot
About the Author, Paul “Thor” Pelot
Paul “Thor” Pelot started climbing in 1974 on the rock chimney at YMCA camp near Big Elk Creek, in Idaho. This humble beginning led to climbs that have spanned 36 years and taken him across the United States and Canada.
The love of this “sport” has transformed my life and I really consider it a lifestyle. I was born in Southeast Idaho and joined the Navy in 1983, this led me to climb in Virginia, West Virginia North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Canada for 14 years. I moved back to southeast Idaho in 1997 and continued to climb throughout the western United States. I finally came to my senses and moved to Bellingham, Washington in 2008 where I met Joseph Anderson, Owner of Peregrine Expeditons. Joseph and I have been cranking rock in Washington and Canada (Squamish, B.C.) ever since that first day at Mt. Erie near Anacortes, WA. In fact, we just got back from a brutally cold day of climbing at Mt. Erie today, January 15th 2011. I hope you are all fired up by the article and enjoy nature’s playground.
Have an outdoors article you’d like to submit for publication? Just fill out our form. If you enjoyed this article, please share it below.