Cutaway cables cleaning research

Cutaway cables cleaning research


Cutaway cables are an essential component of a skydiver's safety gear. They are responsible for releasing the main parachute in the event of a main parachute malfunction.Therefore, it is crucial that these cables remain clean to ensure easy cutaway handle extraction and main release when needed. However, despite being protected by stainless steel housing and coated with yellow nylon/ most popular/, the cutaway cables tend to get dirty over time. The dark matter that sticks to the coating is just dust, dirt, and metal particles from the housing. Part of the dust consists of microscopic rocks, which are everywhere.

What makes dust stick to the yellow cables is the greasy residue left behind by silicone spray or other petroleum-based products. When used, the metal housing presses the rocks into the yellow cable, causing hard cutaway. Therefore, cutaway cables do not need lubricant to function correctly; they need to be clean and with a smooth surface to slide through the polished stainless steel housing. Regularly cleaning the cables with methylated spirits ensures that they remain clean and smooth.

It is essential to note that before silicone and WD-40 type products became popular, there were different cutaway systems and ways to clean them. For example, Capewell and similar systems were all metal parts with small operational margins. So cleaning the parts with alcohol or methylated spirits gave the best outcome. Silicone cleaning products and similar became popular because they clean and lubricate the cables. This is correct, but only for a short period. After that, the residue left behind by silicone or oil attracts dust, which causes damage to the cables. The pictures provided show the damage caused by using silicone spray on cutaway cables. Even after cleaning the cables and they look unaffected, it’s clear that the cables are damaged. This and the remaining dust and dirt on the inside of the housing can cause hard cutaway. And we don’t have a backup system for that!


The photographs below show the damage caused by dirt and micro-rocks that have accumulated on the cables due to the sticky oil-like substances found in silicone and other oil-based products used.


It is also important to note that manufacturers' recommendations are not always the best practice. That’s why they are just “ recommendations”. Something that works today might not work tomorrow, with tomorrow’s equipment, materials and situations.


Methylated spirits are an easy solution for almost every situation, they evaporate within seconds and are readily available in shops.

In conclusion, cutaway cables are essential safety gear for skydivers, and keeping them clean is crucial. While there are different ways to clean the cables, using methylated spirits is the recommended practice. What works well on the field is the most important factor to consider.


Kras Bankov


GLH Systems

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