Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Let's Make Some Whoopie [Slings]

Tinkering is one of those thing that satisfies the best parts of the human brain, or at the very least the male human brain.  For some it is much like smoking crack, except crack isn't nearly as addictive nor is it as much a burden on ones wallet.  This, I think, is why poor folk tend to do drugs instead of tinkering.  Too many times have I gone beyond my means with trying a new gadget only to be disappointed in what it couldn't do then promptly taking it apart to see if I could fix the perceived deficiency thus voiding the warranty and any chance of getting my money back.

This is why I stay poor and mostly humble.

My new found fascination of hammock camping has, as predicted, lead to whole new avenues of tinkerage (tinkeration? tinkerability?  tinkology? tinkery?).  So many flavors of hammocks, so many ways to to hang them, and so many ways to make a simple thing very complicated.  Whoo hoo!  I'm just waiting for my wife to start hiding the credit cards.

This particular excursion into tinkering insanity involves modifying a perfectly good and newly purchased Warbonnet Blackbird hammock.  Let me remind the reader that nothing is wrong with this hammock.  It serves its function and is just fine as is, except it isn't.

I've already discovered a few things that I don't care for, and as I stated above am obligated by my own addiction to "fix" it.  First off, and most annoying than anything else, is the lack of a complete system.  I could not hang this hammock right out of the bag.  The suspension system was lacking key pieces that, unless you already were a hanger, would not be readily on hand.  Specifically, there was no hardware for securing the tree strap to the tree.  No carabiners, no toggles, no clips, no hooks, nor any hardware whatsoever.   Being impatient, I improvised a stick toggle to temporarily solve my problem.  I was, however, a bit cranky that I had to supply this rather important bit myself, especially after shelling out a large sum of money for this otherwise decent piece of equipment.  Yes, warbonnet sells carabiners separately, but what does that remind me of???

Ah, nothing like classic Daffy.

The next thing that I jotted down on my tinkery-to-do list was improving the hammock suspension system.  The one packaged with this hammock uses a long webbing strap that doubles as the tree strap (missing the all important carabiner) and the tension adjustment.  A ring buckle system is used to make the adjustments for the suspension.

I found this system difficult at best to make adjustments.  The triangle shaped buckles were not easily loosened to slide the webbing and hand a tendency to flip about, putting a potentially bad shearing load on the webbing strap.  Again, functional yet not so much. (You can just hear the tinkerbug whispering in my ear).  It is also rather heavy (from a backpacking perspective) and could stand to go on a gram-weenie only diet.

Fortunately, I have been cramming my brain with Shug Emery videos for many weeks. Hammock forum folk know him well, but if you haven't heard of this Shug person, take some time and check out his antics.  He is to the hanging community as Alton Brown is to Iron Chef America.

Now was my chance to put all that useful shug-canery to practical application.  In this case, I knew just the thing to remedy this particular hammock malady.

Whoopie Slings.

As I have noted previously, what was old eventually becomes new again.  In this case the hammock community has generated a resurgence of classic skills that have fallen into disuse in contemporary life.  Unless you are a crazy dedicated boyscout, sailor, or arborist, you will unlikely be familiar with such terms as slippery half hitch, prusik, locked brummel, or the always fun to say whoopie sling.  For most, splicing is more commonly associated to DNA than to Dyneema (that's a rope folks).

In the case of a whoopie sling we find an excellent example of old school rope splicing tech coupled with  current tech of high strength man-made fiber ropes.  What we get, if done correctly, is an adjustable high strength suspension devices that is lightweight and free of any hardware.  It will also hopefully serve to keep my fat ass off the ground.

I am not one for demonstrations, so I will not repeat here what others have already been so gracious to do for us.  I will merely bow to their hard work and pass you along to the links and videos so they may get credit for their efforts.  I am at this point only an aggregator and serve as a point of distribution, not a teacher.  Someday maybe, but right now on these subjects the Sage is still a student.

On to the videos:

Making of the Whoopie Sling

 The man they call Shug

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