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GregAndrea

Racer by Jump Shack

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Things I don't like:
- speedbag hasn't gained my trust (yet?)
- adjustable reserve loop
- double-ended RSL
- lack of MARD option
- reserve ripcord design doesn't facilitate use of a pull tension tester to validate pull force (especially on a field adjustable reserve loop)
- discussing Racers with cult members (not everyone who jumps a Racer is one, but they are the most vocal...)



I'll throw in my two cents worth on each of these issues as follows:

- The speedbag is an issue with some riggers, as they refuse to pack a Racer because of it. Oddly enough, many round reserves back in the day used a full diaper which basically had each stow a locking stow on the diaper itself (anyone correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm going from memory) with some exceptions like the Pioneer K-series which had a partial diaper with two locking stows - the rest of the lines stowed in the reserve pack tray). People jumping full diapers back then didn't seem to have an issue with multiple locking stows as they seem to now with the Racer's speedbag. However, even if the speedbag is a better design from a purely technical standpoint, the current freebag system used by every other rig maker have not only proven themselves from a reliability standpoint but have gained the skydiving public's trust. The speedbag has not. I would recommend that PL start offering the regular freebag as an option as I'm sure that would garner some more sales, or at least remove one reason people have for not buying a Racer or riggers for packing one.
- The adjustable reserve loop is yet another issue with some riggers as it allows a non-rigger to tighten the loop (to seat the poptop closer to the container) which can increase the pull force required to deploy the RPC. It also, in some minds, invalidates the rigger's seal. I have to admit, though I'm not a rigger I would be hesitant to pack a reserve than can be tampered with by anyone but would still have my unbroken seal. Potential legal issues there should someone tamper with the closing loop and then get hurt or killed. PL needs to redesign the whole closing loop system. Another issue potential customers have is that the Racer has two reserve pins. Part of their issue with this is that it's simply, in their eyes, a dated method when one considers that every other rig being made has the single pin system. Another concern with the two-pin setup is the extra cost of loop cutters. However, when one looks at the Racer's price tag the extra cost of a two-pin cutter system is more than outweighed by the Racer's lower acquisition cost - unless someone plans on having a lot of AAD activations and goes through a few cutters. I don't have an issue with the two-pin reserve in and of itself, but my issue is that it requires that both loops be cut before the RPC will launch. While loop cutter failures are not common, they have happened for various reasons (no cutter installed at factory, cutter not improperly installed through loop, etc. with more failure modes possible such as cutter not being given a cutting edge or electronics failure of the controller, intermittent wire continuity from excessive flexing, or even bad powder charge). Those of you who understand basic digital logic know that the current two-pin system is basically an AND gate, which to me means there are two cutters that have to work before the reserve activates. If one cutter works and the other doesn't, then it's a reserve total. If PL redesigned it so that it acted like an OR gate then only one of the two cutters need work in order to launch the RPC. By redesigning the loop and RPC so that the loop moves freely through the RPC channel instead of being tacked to it (which is why both loops or both ends of the same loop need to be cut for it to work) then they would basically turn a system that needs one more component to work compared to other systems into a redundant system in which the second loop cutter acts as a backup. For me personally, this is at least as much a concern as the speedbag (in which should one locking stow experience baglock then it's a very high speed streamer of the reserve). Or, if they redesigned the reserve system so that it's a single pin system then that would address the concerns of those who won't buy a Racer because of its two-pin reserve setup.
- Regarding the double-ended RSL, I believe that PL offers the Racer with a single-sided RSL now, so this is really a non-issue. As with the standard freebag, the single-sided RSL has proven itself with every other rig maker, so even if the double RSL is technically better that advantage is probably marginal when the success rate of the single-sided RSL is examined.
- As far as a lack of MARD option goes, the Racer is priced low enough so that PL could probably license a Skyhook or other successful MARD design and offer a MARD. Earlier this year I had a survey posted asking what were the most important considerations when looking at rigs to purchase. The availability of a MARD system rated high, so I would guess that the lack of an offered MARD is probably costing PL some sales. Another option in the survey was the size of the rig manufacturer - scoring high was a rig maker who was large enough to weather economic downturns, competition, and lawsuits and remain in business. The large and established rig makers like UPT and Sunpath will still be around in 15 or 20 years, but will a rig maker that is smaller and is seeing market share drop over the years still be around down the road? It's an important consideration for many rig buyers, especially when it comes to acquiring spares or needing factory work.
- I'm not too familiar with the reserve ripcord system of the Racer as it applies to pull force testing so I'll reserve comment on that at this time.
- Yes, Racer fans are quite opinionated about the Racer. In the end you may just have to agree to disagree rather than get into a heated discussion with a Racer jumper.

I welcome any corrections or alternate opinions as long as you do so in a civilized manner. Those of you who are snipers, please empty your magazines and take a break.
What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.

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Nice post. A few more comments from me on similar subjects, although I have said some of it before:

- MARDs:
Racers could use one. Almost every company has a MARD now. It has been a slow process since UPT first introduced them in skydiving but soon most jumpers will expect one.

-Riggers uncomfortable with adjustable loops:
I personally think the worry is overdone.

But for those who are concerned: Maybe take a digital photo of the pilot chute cap with the adjustment ends of the reserve closing loop visible, and a ruler? Or record measurements in your own log. Although it isn't absolute proof, one can say, "Well this is where the reserve loop was adjusted after I did the pull force test."

How many people bounce with reserve no-pulls (and thus hard pulls) these days anyway? "Jeez, happens to all the other riggers, I don't want to be blamed whenever my Racer customers bounce." And jumpers can screw up other things on a rig you pack, like RSL or Collins lanyard routing. So there's always potential for questions about your work if your customer bounces. Hell, on some rigs if you packed with the closing loop as short as stated in the manual (which some dumb ass lawyer could point to in court), you would have 30+ pound reserve pulls all the time!

At least in the old days there were more Reflexes and Teardrops around, also with field-adjustable loops, so any worry by riggers was diluted and not all directed at Jump Shack.

- 2 cutters:
Unlike HPC I'm not worried about doubling the failure rate. Regular AAD's are pretty reliable so doubling a practically zero number isn't a problem.
It's like airplane or rocket engines: Yes, the more engines you add, the more the risk of having an engine blow up. But they put 9 engines on a Falcon 9 first stage because they think they are reliable enough. So this issue depends on whether you trust cutters or not.

The loop-not-through-cutter issue shouldn't be a problem on a Racer, as the jumper can inspect that on every pin check. Unlike with most other rigs.

- Reserve speedbags:
Yeah they seem to work but the market would be way happier with the option for a normal bag. Parachute Labs used to offer either, but don't any more.

One thing I don't like is the big loops of line they use when stowing lines on the reserve speedbag.
(Photo: https://www.facebook.com/ParachuteLabs/photos/a.275708273406/10154224082248407/?type=3&theater)
That has a purpose in that it balances the weight of the lines for when the speedbag is accelerated away from the rig. But big loops of line next to each other just seem to remind me of all the main bag locks that have happened over the years. At least reserves are packed neatly.

- Reserve loop replacement
They really need a design where one can swap loops out quickly, which includes popping the reserve PC cap off and on. Not spending an hour with needle and tacking cord pretending to be a military rigger from the '60s.

- Size of company
Indeed a concern. Will anyone step up and take over when John and Nancy retire? I feel they need some entrepreneur who is willing to make a lot of changes, in design, marketing, and general optics, if the brand is to survive in the long term.

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While loop cutter failures are not common, they have happened for various reasons (no cutter installed at factory, cutter not improperly installed through loop, etc. with more failure modes possible such as cutter not being given a cutting edge or electronics failure of the controller, intermittent wire continuity from excessive flexing, or even bad powder charge).


Sorry, that should read "... cutter not properly installed through loop..."
What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.

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HPC

Oddly enough, many round reserves back in the day used a full diaper which basically had each stow a locking stow on the diaper itself (anyone correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm going from memory) with some exceptions like the Pioneer K-series which had a partial diaper with two locking stows - the rest of the lines stowed in the reserve pack tray).



Full diapers have two lockings stows (National Aerostar) or three locking stows (Strong Lopo, Butler). The remaining line is stowed on the diaper, but not in locking stows. This is similar to Aerodyne Icon freebags, which have two locking stows and the remaining line stowed in elastic loops in the freebag line stow pocket.

Using a speed bag with rubber bands instead of a conventional freebag equipped with a shock-cord safety stow eliminates the variation in the force required to extract the locking stows. Packing with too much fabric at the mouth of the bag means the shock cord will be much tighter; with rubber bands this is not an issue. The first two rubber band stows might break prematurely, but that leaves all the rest to stage the opening.

HPC

However, even if the speedbag is a better design from a purely technical standpoint, the current freebag system used by every other rig maker have not only proven themselves from a reliability standpoint but have gained the skydiving public's trust.

So far, the current freebag system works okay. That's because in most cases, the deployment forces do not reach the breaking strength of the safety stow, about 600 pounds. But we're close, considering reserve weight and freefall speed for some military applications and some speed skydiving.

HPC

The adjustable reserve loop . . . invalidates the rigger's seal. I have to admit, though I'm not a rigger I would be hesitant to pack a reserve than can be tampered with by anyone but would still have my unbroken seal. Potential legal issues there should someone tamper with the closing loop and then get hurt or killed.

First, all the tampering cases we have encountered recently used methods which left the seal intact. Second, the possibility of tampering after the rig has left the rigger's loft is actually a defense, not a liability. You cannot blame me for a too-tight rig if you could have tightened the loop yourself.

HPC

As far as a lack of MARD option goes, the Racer is priced low enough so that PL could probably license a Skyhook or other successful MARD design and offer a MARD.

Because of the exposed pilot chute, Racers would not benefit very much from a MARD. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze0Rcp7E0to.

-Mark

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2 random things - they changed the closing sequence to match most rigs years ago. And instructions are printed on the main container to tell you what order to close it in for anyone who is confused.

They have been offering one-sided RSLs on new Racers for a few years now as well. I agree the double-sided RSL sucks.

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>Most pilot-chutes-in-tow are caused by miss-routed bridles

Yep. Which that one was. Someone was helping me pack - I was load organizing and on a short call. They misrouted the bridle because they didn't understand the closing order. It looked a little odd to me (looked like they closed them in the wrong order) but I thought what you did - "it'll still open if you have a flap in the wrong order."

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I've got to say, of all the "Racer" threads I've seen over the years, this one has the most meat and least fire.

Don't know if Para-Labs will choose to make any of the changes suggested, but I know they are listening.

Those considering the Racer will have a better resource for evaluating the pro's/con's of the industry outlier. I'm NOT against them, but you definitely need to be a more-informed owner/jumper with one.

Thanks Guys!
JW
Always remember that some clouds are harder than others...

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Full diapers have two lockings stows (National Aerostar) or three locking stows (Strong Lopo, Butler). The remaining line is stowed on the diaper, but not in locking stows. This is similar to Aerodyne Icon freebags, which have two locking stows and the remaining line stowed in elastic loops in the freebag line stow pocket.


Thanks for the correction - I wasn't 100% sure about all stows being locking, but I did remember that all stows were on the full diaper itself.
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So far, the current freebag system works okay. That's because in most cases, the deployment forces do not reach the breaking strength of the safety stow, about 600 pounds. But we're close, considering reserve weight and freefall speed for some military applications and some speed skydiving.

True, but how many Racers are out there with the speedbag, and how many reserve deployments have there been when compared to the number of standard freebag deployments? The real test of a system's reliability is performance in the field, and the standard freebag has performed excellently for many years and for many manufacturers. When comparing total number of standard freebag deployments to total number of speedbag deployments, the first outnumbers the latter by a huge margin. Skydivers like to go with well-proven designs, and many will buy "what everyone else is buying" without researching rigs for themselves. I believe it's called the "herd mentality".
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First, all the tampering cases we have encountered recently used methods which left the seal intact. Second, the possibility of tampering after the rig has left the rigger's loft is actually a defense, not a liability. You cannot blame me for a too-tight rig if you could have tightened the loop yourself.

I think the burden of proof would be on the rigger that the reserve was tampered with after he repacked and sealed it. Even if what you're saying is true and I have no reason to question it, the reality is still that many riggers refuse to pack the Racer because of the adjustable loop design. That's the bottom line, and if a Racer owner arrives at a convention and two days in realizes he needs a reserve repack, he may find it difficult to find a rigger who is willing to repack his reserve and more importantly has experience doing so.
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Because of the exposed pilot chute, Racers would not benefit very much from a MARD.

Again, probably true, but at the risk of sounding redundant, most jumpers won't have this information when they're shopping for a rig and are considering a Racer. What they will know is that MARDs exist, they work, and in most cases it's beneficial to have one. As such, they may quickly disqualify a rig from possible purchase simply because it doesn't offer a MARD, regardless of whether a MARD would benefit that particular rig or not. Rigging Innovations just recently started offering a MARD for their CURV and presumably other rigs. It'll be interesting to see if their sales increase as a result. I'm betting they will.

There are several things I like about the Racer. However, while they did get a lot of things right the first time, such as harness design and flaps without plastic stiffeners, no deep container corners, and even the external RPC design, I think that they're making a mistake in thinking that because they got a lot of things right from the get-go that they got everything right. Very few complex products and systems are designed perfectly from the start. They all go through an evolving process of continuous improvement and eventually evolve into very reliable systems. They take advantage of improvements in technology and parts. It just seems to me that PL is so stuck in that "we got everything right the first time" mode that they're not willing to think outside the box and consider other possibilities. Or at the opposite extreme, when they do come up with a different way of doing things that is significantly different than what everyone else is doing they try to force that onto the buying public. When the buying public rejects it PL still sticks to it even when it means dwindling sales. It's great to be an innovator but if certain innovations are rejected by the other manufacturers and the consumers (verified by decreasing sales, negative rigger feedback, etc.) then it's better for the company's long-term survival to stop trying to forcefeed it and just let it go.

Mike
What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.

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I'd like to make a couple points. First of all, it is misleading to claim that a Racer would not benefit much from a MARD system. It is true that a Racer will have a quicker and possibly cleaner p/c launch than other non-Mard equipped rigs, but that is only the beginning of the deployment sequence. A MARD is not only quicker, but is far more likely to give you a clean deployment from a rapidly spinning malfunction.

Secondly, there is another issue that has not been addressed in this thread yet. That is the use of thinly Teflon coated cutaway cables instead of the long proven Lolon coated cables originally speced for the 3 ring system. These have been known to have the coating crack and fail in critical situations. And there is no good reason to use them.

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I'd like to make a couple points. First of all, it is misleading to claim that a Racer would not benefit much from a MARD system. It is true that a Racer will have a quicker and possibly cleaner p/c launch than other non-Mard equipped rigs, but that is only the beginning of the deployment sequence. A MARD is not only quicker, but is far more likely to give you a clean deployment from a rapidly spinning malfunction.

Agree 100% from a technical standpoint. From a marketing standpoint, more jumpers want MARDs on their rigs than those that don't. It's just poor marketing not to offer one.
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Secondly, there is another issue that has not been addressed in this thread yet. That is the use of thinly Teflon coated cutaway cables instead of the long proven Lolon coated cables originally speced for the 3 ring system. These have been known to have the coating crack and fail in critical situations. And there is no good reason to use them.

Another Racer deviation from the industry standard. I believe PL uses the red teflon cables because they don't require monthly cleaning like the Lolon cables need. In their effort to create a maintenance-free cable, they introduced a new possible failure mode that is probably more detrimental than not cleaning one's cables. While dirty Lolon cables might cause a harder pull than normal, a cracked teflon cable might hang up completely and cause a more severe issue for the jumper to deal with. As I've already mentioned with the speedbag the Lolon cables have proven themselves by every other rig manufacturer. I'd bet that most jumpers don't clean their cables every month as they should, yet how many cutaway issues have been attributed to dirty cables? It doesn't do any good when in trying to address one issue the "fix" creates a (potentially) even worse one.
What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.

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Reserve ripcord pulls have been measured up to 50 lbs because of dirty Lolan cables. I found the black dirt is coming from inside the metal housing. It is lubricant and who knows what, left over from the manufacturing process. By running a 17 cal. flexible (cable) gun cleaning "rod" with a swab on the end, it removes the black stuff. The flexible rod allows the cable housing to be cleaned after the rig is built. The yellow cables do not get black any more. Of course I clean as per manufacturer every month. ha ha It is my understanding that RI now cleans their housings before building rigs while the housings are straight on the bench. I have not confirmed that. BTW HPC you should be the head of PL research and development if Johnboy would give you full authority to push that rig up to speed. This is one of the few threads here that is going to help the sport. I hope.

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gowlerk

Secondly, there is another issue that has not been addressed in this thread yet. That is the use of thinly Teflon coated cutaway cables instead of the long proven Lolon coated cables originally speced for the 3 ring system. These have been known to have the coating crack and fail in critical situations. And there is no good reason to use them.



There was a fatality few years back caused by cracked red cables. They prevented cutaway. Parachute Labs changed the red cables do "pinkish" cables (less cracking). Not sure what cables were used in this accident.

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gb1

Reserve ripcord pulls have been measured up to 50 lbs because of dirty Lolan cables.


^^^^^^??? really? Which rigs use Lolan cables on their reserve ripcords... never seen that....

FWIW - Had a chance to ask Booth a few years back what HE cleans/lubricates his (Lolan) cutaway cable with and he told me that he cleans with Ronsonol Lighter Fuel, and then lubricates with Ace Hardware Silicon Lubricant https://www.williamsacehardware.com/products/13oz-silicon-spray%7C12293.html*. Don't know if he's changed to something better/different, but he has more experience with the stuff than I ever will, so that's what I do.

*he did warn me that the Ace Hardware Silicon spray adhesive can looks very similar, but is... um... not recommended for this application.

Hadn't heard of cleaning the housings... anyone else up on that?

JW
Always remember that some clouds are harder than others...

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fcajump

I've got to say, of all the "Racer" threads I've seen over the years, this one has the most meat and least fire...

... I'm NOT against them, but you definitely need to be a more-informed owner/jumper with one.

Thanks Guys!
JW



^This.

The pros are listed without the 'fanboy' fare, the drawbacks are listed without rancor.

I've packed them, and they are a bit odd.

I'd jump one (without a dual sided RSL) in a heartbeat.
"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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Until they make changes to the rig to make it more appealing to jumpers (and riggers) there really isn't much point in updating the website. Both are in need of an overhaul. First update the rig, then update the website to advertise the changes.
What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.

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My concern about the Racer is not intentional tampering. The reason I will not pack a Racer reserve is because the owner (or anyone) can then tighten the closing loop without breaking the seal. If they over-tighten it, creating a high/impossible pull force. At that point there is nothing to show the loop was tightened after it left my hands.

This is not some clever intentional tampering, it is following the instructions in the manual to re-seat the reserve PC after the pack job settles.

Derek V

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Hooknswoop

My concern about the Racer is not intentional tampering. The reason I will not pack a Racer reserve is because the owner (or anyone) can then tighten the closing loop without breaking the seal. If they over-tighten it, creating a high/impossible pull force. At that point there is nothing to show the loop was tightened after it left my hands.

This is not some clever intentional tampering, it is following the instructions in the manual to re-seat the reserve PC after the pack job settles.

Derek V



Well, we've been through this more than once.

But, just one more time...

My seal on a rig shows that it was airworthy when I packed it. It shows that the reserve pin has not been pulled.

That's it.

There's a pretty wide variety of ways that 'normal' rigs can be rendered unairworthy without breaking the seal.

The fact that the Racer has a way to be altered that other rigs don't is a drawback. But not as big of a one as some people make it out to be.
"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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wolfriverjoe

My seal on a rig . . . shows that the reserve pin has not been pulled.



Except on 2-pin continuous loop rigs like Softies and Nationals, which can be opened, aired, inspected, and repacked without breaking the seal.

--Mark

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mark

***My seal on a rig . . . shows that the reserve pin has not been pulled.



Except on 2-pin continuous loop rigs like Softies and Nationals, which can be opened, aired, inspected, and repacked without breaking the seal.

--Mark

Good point.

Thanks for the clarification.
"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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mark

***My seal on a rig . . . shows that the reserve pin has not been pulled.



Except on 2-pin continuous loop rigs like Softies and Nationals, which can be opened, aired, inspected, and repacked without breaking the seal.

--Mark

Which begs the question, what good is a it if the reserve can be tampered with and the seal remain intact?
Chuck Akers
D-10855
Houston, TX

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