Beranek's lowering device

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I had no idea Gerry made this:
Technical Data

I acquired the lowering device in 2002. It was made in 1995, and is "one-of-a kind."

The lowering device has two large stainless steel parts (a frame and a rotating bollard) and two quick release pins (connected by a cable and minor pieces). The frame has a complex shape that I'll describe as upside-down-U-shaped, with a horizontal oval welded to the bottom and an eye and two ears at the top center. The eye is 16-mm thick with a 28-mm I.D. and 49-mm O.D. The eye readily accepts a 1-inch clevis pin. There is a 23-mm wide. 15-mm high flat ear on each side of the eye (i.e., on the front and back of the frame) that can be used as rope guides. The lower oval also serves as a rope guide. Its shape is elliptical, with internal axes measuring 115-cm and 82-cm. The diameter of the oval is roughly 16 cm, with minor variations around the perimeter. There are four ears made from L-shaped pieces of 9.6-mm stainless steel welded to the bottom of the oval; these serve as rope guides.

The inside dimension of the frame is approximately 125-mm wide and 158-mm high. The lower end of the U is approximately 16-mm in diameter, while the top center (at the eye) is 28.5-cm. In the center of each side is a 74-mm O.D., 48-mm I.D., 24-mm thick rectangular cross-section torus that serves as a bearing for the centrally-mounted bollard. Each torus has a 9.6-mm hole drilled through from front to back to accept a quick-release pin. There does not appear to be any bearing material other than just the stainless-steel surface of the tori and bollard.

The Bollard is shaped like a short, wide "T." The cross-piece is 60.6-mm in diameter between the bearings, but is reduced to 48-mm where it enters the bearing. The shaft of the "T" is 30-mm long, 62.5-mm wide and capped by a 78-mm oblate disk. Two rope guides resembling the cantle on a western saddle are welded to the side of the bollard opposite the shaft of the T.

The bollard can rotate in the bearings. Each end of the bollard has a pair of perpendicular holes drilled in alignment with the holes in the frame tori. These holes allow the bollard to be pinned to resist rotation. Four positions are available: shaft up, down, front or rear. The 9.5-mm diameter pins are 92-mm long. A cable and split rings connect the pins.

The device has no markings except a "0" stamped on one side of the bollard and a "1" stamped on the other. The finish is relatively smooth for a home-made item.


Gerald Beranek's vertical world is a living, sunlit one, for Jerry is an arborist. He developed the lowering device, a.k.a. "line break," as a tool to lower heavy loads from trees. I recommend Jerry's book The Fundamentals of General Tree Work (1996, Beranek Publications, P.O. Box 251, Fort Bragg, CA 95437); you can see his lowering device on page 24. Jerry made one of these devices and graciously donated it to my collection. Jerry describes the device as follows:

"I made this lowering device in 1995. It features a rotating bollard for various friction settings. To set, pull the pins, engage a bight of the rope, rotate the bollard to the desired setting, and then seat the pins. To release, just pull the pins and the rope will fall out. It works, but is too heavy for handling just 1/2" rope. The idea behind the rotating bollard has some merit, though, and could be incorporated in another design. [The device is] all stainless, but some rust occurs from mixing different alloys, grinding, and smoothing with steel files.

"The backbone of the device was quite the piece to make. After machining it, we heated it cherry red and set it in a press with a special die. It was a one-shot deal, and if we goofed we'd have had to do it all over. We lucked out and got it on the first try.

"There are lot lighter devices around for handling 1/2" rope and doing take-downs. It seems that its only virtue is that its quite the conversation piece. Anybody who sees it automatically picks it up and asks 'What is this?' Plus, its a great door stop.

"It is not a piece of climbing gear, but it is unique."

Tree people may also wish to check out Jerry's CD-ROM, A Tree Story.

I'd like to point out that it is possible for a slack rope to come off the shaft of the "T", so the user should keep the line taught once the device is rigged. I have a shortage of redwood trees in my yard, so I haven't been able to test the device as well as I would like to. It wasn't designed for rappelling, and it is a bit large for that purpose.
Another example of the many truly amazing talents Gerry has. He is quite skilled at fabricating tools and attachments. Nice work!
Its very interesting. Who actually has the device? I would like to see it with a rope through it to better understand the concept.
Gary Storrick has it. Jerry is a thoughtful wildman. Has anyone looked closely at the homemade hardware in his books and on his homemade saddles? Not only is G.F. Beranek an artist with a camera and a skilled climber and timberfaller he is also ,apparently, a master of metal manipulation!
Like I said, "Great door stop."

Tree people are great thinkers and tinkers because most of the time they are trying to find solutions. As necessity is the mother of invention, the treeman is constantly thinking out the job and creating ingeneous solutions. Sometimes redundant, but truely creative nonetheless.

Never thought I'd see that gizmo in the Tree House Forums.
Shoot, Jerry, compared to some of the other "user built" devices Gary Storrick has in his collection, yours is beautifully made...there are some real uglies there...
Most of those guys at Arbtalk are members here. They can come over and see this thread any time they want. They know where it is.
Damm Gerry that is a fine bit of metal work. I would also like to see it loaded.
Definately a rare and valuable collectors Item!
I'd like to see it in action. Next step is a patent pending. It might be less daunting than you think ?
You've got some time, Ger. Check it out & see what pots ?
I've always wondered if these were any good. The description says it can lift. I know it sure as hell ain't no GRCS, but it don't seem very different then the Hobbs. Check it out, less than 500$.
Also have a look around Kuemmerling's site, they finally updated it.


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Jonny, I have seriously considered that racheting bollard from KK. If I go for it this year I'll report my findings.
I've always wondered if these were any good. The description says it can lift. I know it sure as hell ain't no GRCS, but it don't seem very different then the Hobbs. Check it out, less than 500$.
Also have a look around Kuemmerling's site, they finally updated it.

We have guys on this site that could weld up something that looks nicer than that. It seems slapped together to me. I am trying to get another small tree service in town to go dutch with me on a GRCS.
Darin don't do it. If you can get half the $ together, you can get it all. DO NOT go in with someone on a tool like this, it rarely works well.