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Derek Vanboeschoten is a Senior Rigger, Tandem Master and AFF instructor with more than 3300 jumps. Derek also moderates the Gear & Rigging forum on Dropzone.com where he first posted this list of Gear Tips. It is republished here for your convenience.
- Use Performance Design's Slinks for the main and reserve canopies instead of Rapide links. Slinks are stronger, lower bulk, easier to install and remove, and won't damage the slider grommets.
- Clean cutaway cables every 30 days with Ace Pure Silicone Lubricant, sold at Ace Hardware stores, to keep cutaway pull forces low.
- Inspect cutaway cables every 30 days and replace nicked or kinked cutaway cables with a new cutaway handle/cables.
- Flex 3-rings every 30 days to prevent them from taking on a "set" and hanging up during a cutaway.
- Inspect Rapide links and bumpers or PD Slinks every 30 days. Always use slider bumpers with Rapide links to prevent damage to the slider grommets, "Lock-Tite" to keep the link from loosening, and nail polish to torque-stripe Rapide links.
- Use metal, capped, and tacked riser inserts for the excess cutaway cables, regardless of main size or type. They prevent difficult or impossible cutaway resulting from the channel "gripping" the cables or from line twists that include the excess cutaway cables.
- Replace the main closing loop early and often. Adjust main closing loop so that the closing pin is snug. Use a stainless steel washer thick enough that it won't bend when closing the container.
- Have Velcro replaced every 100-200 uses.
- Use a kill line pilot chute, regardless of the size/type of main canopy you have. Check the length of your main pilot chute kill line every 30 days. The kill line should have a little slack in it when the pilot chute is "cocked" and the bridle is under tension. If it doesn't, have it fixed.
- Replace a damaged or old kill line pilot chute with a new one.
- "Cock" a kill line PC after laying the cocooned canopy on the ground and just before putting the canopy in the deployment bag.
- Take the twists out of steering lines every jump or, at a minimum, after the last jump of the day.
- When setting the brakes, set them so that the steering line is to the inside (between the risers) and the excess is to the outside. This will put the excess to the bottom of the riser channels, helping to protect the excess steering line.
- Keep gear out of the sun as much as possible.
- Use Velcro-less toggles/risers. Velcro requires replacement every 100-200 uses, and Velcro damages the steering lines, risers and anything else it comes into contact with.
- Replace mini-risers every 500 jumps or less. Inspect them every 30 days for wear.
- While packing, check your line trim every 30 days or less. When new, all the "A" lines are the same length (on 'most' canopies, check with the manufacturer). Spectra shrinks from the heat from friction with the slider grommets, pulling the canopy out of trim. Pay special attention to steering/control lines. Replace line sets that are significantly worn or out of trim.
- Use the proper size rubber bands, 'Sky Bands', or 'Tube Stows' and do not double wrap them.
- Have your rig washed every 500 jumps or so, more if jumping in a sandy or salt-water environment.
What to do After Landing Your Reserve:
First, place the toggles back on the Velcro. This will prevent the hook half of the Velcro from damaging the lines. Second, daisy chain the lines. Use the slider to keep the daisy chain from unraveling. This will keep the lines neat and untangled. If you have an RSL, remove it from your main canopy and re-mate the Velcro to keep the hook Velcro from damaging your gear.
Be very careful with the canopy. Get it out of the sunlight and into a large plastic garbage bag and then into your gear bag. Be careful when zipping the gear bag shut to not get any fabric caught in the zipper. As long as it is clean, put the reserve pilot chute and free-bag in the center of your rolled up reserve. This will protect the spring inside the reserve pilot chute from damage.
Do not take the main canopy off of the risers to untangle it. It got tangled on the risers, it will come untangled on the risers. Taking the canopy off the risers, or worse, the lines off the links, will only make the job of re-assembling the main more difficult.
Put the cut away cables and reserve ripcord back into their housings and the handles back in their pockets. This will prevent any dirt on the cables from getting on the reserve or the Velcro from damaging lines, the container, or the reserve. If you lost one, or both handles, order them and have them shipped to your rigger. Also, if the free-bag and reserve pilot chute was lost, order a new one and have it shipped to the rigger. Make sure when ordering handles or free-bag to order the correct size for your harness/container.
In the gear bag, put a card with your name, address, phone number(s), and any special instructions, such as "install/replace soft links", "wash the container", "remove/install RSL", "I need the rig by this weekend", etc.
If you have a Cypres, check your reserve packing data card to see when the scheduled maintenance and 2 year battery replacements are due. If the maintenance is due (4 and 8 years +/- 3 months (+/- 6 months for Cypres "2") from DOM), make arrangements with your rigger to ship the unit or have your rigger remove it and ship it yourself (your rigger will need the original Cypres box to ship it). If your batteries are due (two years since installation for the Cypres1), check with your rigger to see if they have new batteries or if they will need to be ordered. The batteries will have to be replaced if there is less than four months remaining in the two-year cycle, for a Cypres "1". Cypres2 batteries are replaced at the 4 and 8 year maintenance by the factory.
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