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Smitty23

How old is too old?

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Right, so I'm 98% certain I'm going to start jumping again next Spring (got to let the idea percolate in the wife's mind for a few months). Will have been away from the sport for about 6 years by then.

So I went up to the loft and found the suitcase containing my old pride and joy and blew the dust off like an Indiana Jones movie.

Inside I found my rig, right where I'd left her. A Javelin - DOM October 1998! And inside we have a PD 126 - DOM 1992!

No main as I sold years ago, and I also have my Vigil 2.

Fist things first I pressed my Vigil 2 button and it greeted me with a Hello - half a decade from it last being pressed. I was impressed.

Long story short - what's the deal with my gear? It's old - I know that - but will it see me through next year to do 50-60 jumps?

The container I bought after AFF almost 10 years ago and it's only done 139 jumps in the last 10 years. It's in good condition. I'll obviously get a rigger to give it a once over next year.

I emailed Vigil and they said it will need a new battery next year as it will be 10 years since DOM. That's fine. On a side note, AAD (Vigil) have insanely good customer service. Very impressed.

So it's just the reserve I'm worried about. It's 26 years old for crying out loud. Over half a century.

Is there a rigger on here who can advise me? Should i just bite the bullet and buy a new reserve? Or will it just need an airing and a repack?

Your thoughts would be appreciated.

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Smitty23

Right, so I'm 98% certain I'm going to start jumping again next Spring (got to let the idea percolate in the wife's mind for a few months). Will have been away from the sport for about 6 years by then.

So I went up to the loft and found the suitcase containing my old pride and joy and blew the dust off like an Indiana Jones movie.

Inside I found my rig, right where I'd left her. A Javelin - DOM October 1998! And inside we have a PD 126 - DOM 1992!

No main as I sold years ago, and I also have my Vigil 2.

Fist things first I pressed my Vigil 2 button and it greeted me with a Hello - half a decade from it last being pressed. I was impressed.

Long story short - what's the deal with my gear? It's old - I know that - but will it see me through next year to do 50-60 jumps?

The container I bought after AFF almost 10 years ago and it's only done 139 jumps in the last 10 years. It's in good condition. I'll obviously get a rigger to give it a once over next year.

I emailed Vigil and they said it will need a new battery next year as it will be 10 years since DOM. That's fine. On a side note, AAD (Vigil) have insanely good customer service. Very impressed.

So it's just the reserve I'm worried about. It's 26 years old for crying out loud. Over half a century.

Is there a rigger on here who can advise me? Should i just bite the bullet and buy a new reserve? Or will it just need an airing and a repack?

Your thoughts would be appreciated.



I'm not a rigger but I've jumped a lot of older gear, and I've always jumped at places where the Ken and Barbie type who replace their rigs every couple of years are very rare.
I remember in the early 80s when a five year old rig looked old. Gear was changing so rapidly then. Now a lot of it has stabilized. I have a Quasar 2 and Stellar 7 that was built in 1996 and still seems new to me. If you sat it next to a new one I'm not sure there's be enough difference to tell them apart, especially since Strong has been really good about taking care of it. I send it to them every few years for maintenance. My first cutaway on this gear was in 2015 and it worked perfectly.
Send the rig in to Sun Path to go over then pack. If it's not airworthy they won't sign off on it.

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A few months ago I buy back my first custom rig that I sold in 2000 and nobody jumped with it. I had a PDR143R DOM 1996 and I send it to PD for inspection. They send it back with permission for more 30 repacks (this means 30 years more on my Country). I jumping again with the old rig - Tallon II and a Stilleto 150 all DOM 1996 but only 200 jumps. I just buy a new Vigil 4.

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I’ll bet it’s just fine, as long as it’s sized appropriately. A 1998 Javelin is probably freefly safe; the reserve flap was already tucked into its spot. We have a 1997 as a backup rig, and it’s great.

Wendy P.
There is nothing more dangerous than breaking a basic safety rule and getting away with it. It removes fear of the consequences and builds false confidence. (tbrown)

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Smitty23



Inside I found my rig, right where I'd left her. A Javelin - DOM October 1998! And inside we have a PD 126 - DOM 1992!

...So it's just the reserve I'm worried about. It's 26 years old for crying out loud. Over half a quarter of a century. (FIFY :)
Is there a rigger on here who can advise me? Should i just bite the bullet and buy a new reserve? Or will it just need an airing and a repack?

Your thoughts would be appreciated.



How many packs on the reserve?

What sort of environmental conditions was it stored under?
Primarily temp conditions, but pest infestations, light and humidity can also be a factor over that time period.

Properly stored, it may well be fine. A good inspection would be in order, obviously.

A bigger concern for me would be how appropriate a 126 would be for someone coming back after a year layoff.
But that's a different issue.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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DBCOOPER

Just curious. 120 jumps over 9 years and you want to jump a PD126R for your reserve? What size main?



The last main I had was a Crossfire 2 119.

After I do my re-currency jump next spring I intend to upsize to buy a 135 for a few jumps as that's the max size that will fit in my old Jav I believe.

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All very good advice thanks.

I think getting a rigger to take a good long look over my gear will answer any lingering questions. Especially with regards to the reserve. That will be interesting. I want to pop it with them and see what it will be like. We will have to wait and see.

I love my container, always have. It's a bit like your first car, so I'm hesitant to write it off just because of the passage of time.

You know, part of me is just thinking I should save up between now and next year and just buy a brand new PD126R if the rigger gives me bad news. A bit extravagant maybe, but it should see me through the rest of my days. Even if I should downsize a bit.

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20 years was a simple number for rigged to quote when refusing to repackage older/obsolete parachutes. After 20 years - in the California desert - containers get faded, frayed and filthy. There was a lot of progress during the 1970s and 1989s. For example, no modern rigger wants to touch round reserves made during the acid-mesh era of the mid-1980s.

Our last major revolution in skydiving technology occurred around 1990 with the introduction of collapsible pilot-chutes, ZP fabric, zero stretch suspension lines, electronic AADs, ringed harnesses, free fly friendly, wing-loading a more than 1:1, etc.
Since then we have only seen incremental improvements.

Another difficulty - when maintaining older parachutes - is finding manuals and Service Bulletins that were published before the inter web.

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riggerrob

20 years was a simple number for rigged to quote when refusing to repackage older/obsolete parachutes. After 20 years - in the California desert - containers get faded, frayed and filthy. There was a lot of progress during the 1970s and 1989s. For example, no modern rigger wants to touch round reserves made during the acid-mesh era of the mid-1980s.

Our last major revolution in skydiving technology occurred around 1990 with the introduction of collapsible pilot-chutes, ZP fabric, zero stretch suspension lines, electronic AADs, ringed harnesses, free fly friendly, wing-loading a more than 1:1, etc.
Since then we have only seen incremental improvements.

Another difficulty - when maintaining older parachutes - is finding manuals and Service Bulletins that were published before the inter web.



Speaking of 20 years, there's some other rule in their. A rigger who was packing my rig let me know that this would be her last time because the reserve would be over 20 years old then. But it wasn't a problem with the reserve, it's just that she couldn't. She was letting me know that a different rigger would have to start packing it after this.

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Is she (your rigger) retiring?

When aerobatic pilots call about real king their old rounds, I mumble somethings not about no longer having access to a long table ...... bromocreasol, tensile-testing clamps, etc. Besides, most of the companies that used acidic mesh have issued service bulletins, limited canopy life or gone out of business.
The last time I landed a round canopy was 1986.
Most students - who learned to skydive in North America after 1990 - have only seen square canopies.
Am I being cowardly or lazy?

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Bob_Church

Speaking of 20 years, there's some other rule in their. A rigger who was packing my rig let me know that this would be her last time because the reserve would be over 20 years old then. But it wasn't a problem with the reserve, it's just that she couldn't. She was letting me know that a different rigger would have to start packing it after this.



In the USA? Sounds more like she was saying that she "won't pack it anymore", not "she can't". I have definitely told customers that they are welcome to find a different rigger that is willing to continue working on their old junky equipment that I was no longer willing to maintain.
Edit: There is no rule to my knowledge that would allow one rigger to pack something that another rigger could not based on age.

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Bob_Church

Speaking of 20 years, there's some other rule in there. A rigger who was packing my rig let me know that this would be her last time because the reserve would be over 20 years old then. But it wasn't a problem with the reserve, it's just that she couldn't. She was letting me know that a different rigger would have to start packing it after this.



There are a few manufacturers who have retroactively established life limits for their equipment. Those life limits are not legally binding, and violating them will not lead to FAA certificate action. But there is additional civil liability exposure from choosing not to follow manufacturer recommendations (recommendations, not legally binding instructions). Some riggers choose to accept the additional exposure, and some do not.

--Mark

edited because no spell check

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But it wasn't a problem with the reserve, it's just that she couldn't. She was letting me know that a different rigger would have to start packing it after this.




It just means she works as an employee of a loft with a 20 year policy. Please send all your "too old to pack" 1998 PD reserves to me. I'll use them to replace the 30 year old Swift Pluses and Ravens I'm packing for my customers.

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mark

There are a few manufacturers who have retroactively established life limits for their equipment. Those life limits are not legally binding, and violating them will not lead to FAA certificate action. But there is additional civil liability exposure from choosing not to follow manufacturer recommendations (recommendations, not legally binding instructions). Some riggers choose to accept the additional exposure, and some do not.

--Mark

edited because no spell check



They have done no such thing. That would require an Airworthiness Directive, but you already know that. Pulling support for their equipment is obviously their choice, one that I can understand, and an obviously effective way of phasing out older generations. But to try and dump the onus of grounding gear onto the field rigger with the implied threat of civil liability is definitely a sore spot for me. If they don't want their gear out there anymore then They should ground it.

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It just means she works as an employee of a loft with a 20 year policy.



That is exactly what it means. I am that rigger.

The 20-year policy was established before I started here, and to be honest, I like it. I can make exceptions case by case, and I have done so on occasion for close friends whose equipment is in exceptionally good shape (For the record, I do not recommend anyone count on my making exceptions to the rule for them. My definition of "close friend" or of "exceptionally good shape" may be different from yours, and I would rather not disappoint you on either count, lol).

I've had customers at previous lofts whose gear was "well-loved." While I could not see any reason to retire it in terms of real airworthiness issues, those containers simply gave me the creeps because of their age and the resulting softness of the textiles. In some of these cases, no number of, "it's time to start thinking about replacing your container" talks were effective: The customer asks, "but it's airworthy?" to which the answer is, "technically, yes," and off they go to manifest. I still see some of those rigs in use on the same jumpers when I visit the DZ, six years after leaving that job. It's pretty hard to imagine that they're not in worse shape.

I don't recall ever being creeped out by a reserve because of its age - just the harness/containers, which are exposed to the elements jump after jump. I certainly see no reason to retire a PD Reserve just because it's 20+ years old.

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"That is exactly what it means. I am that rigger.
The 20-year policy was established before I started here, and to be honest, I like it."

My only problem with it is that I LIKED having that particular rigger pack my reserve. I always felt like I could really trust it afterwards. I don't feel that way with all riggers and I don't like the possible hesitation of even half a second to give it one more chance to open that that lack of absolute trust can give me. I'm not the sort to just drop my rig off with someone I'm not familiar with then pick it back up in a week. I've even pencil packed in years gone by because I thought it was safer than the riggers I had access to at the time.
It took awhile to find a replacement this time.

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I don't recall ever being creeped out by a reserve because of its age - just the harness/containers, which are exposed to the elements jump after jump. I certainly see no reason to retire a PD Reserve just because it's 20+ years old.




Yes, reserve canopies are generally kept safe and protected inside a container that takes all the abuse. There are so many places for a H/C to get worn and become "close" to being non-airworthy. And that can be a very tough call. I'm still not comfortable with a time limit on them, but it sure does make more sense.

We've all seen the ads for timed out European canopies, but I have not seen any for containers. Perhaps just the canopies are limited? That makes no sense at all. But regulations often don't make sense.

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Went and spoke with someone today. We didn't pop the reserve to have a look but the general consensus was that it will probably be alright but better off retiring it. And I'm happy with that if I'm honest now it's been confirmed. We didn't get into the nitty gritty because by the time I get back in the air - next spring - the reserve will be 27 years old. That's old. Really old. I don't know why I was trying to eek out a few more repacks on it.

I'll just save up through the winter and buy a brand spanking new reserve which should last me for the rest of my days. Makes sense to me now.

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Smitty23

. . . the reserve will be 27 years old. That's old. Really old.



A few years ago I sent a 1992 VTC2-360 tandem reserve to PD for inspection and recertification. The data cards were incomplete, and canopies built at that time came without a "bowling score" data panel, but I'm pretty sure there were more than 40 packs and more than 25 jumps on it. It came back with a new data panel, with boxes for 40 more packs or 25 more jumps. I don't expect I'll be around to send it back again. At the rate it gets packed and jumped, it will have been in service for 40 or 50 years. That's old.

--Mark

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