From so far away, the zip line looks barely larger than a spider’s thread as it hangs so precariously over the ground. You watch as riders in their harnesses scream across the sky with the buzz of steel-on-steel ringing loudly. They twist and spin in the wind as if they were nothing – seemingly blissfully unaware of just how terrifying it looks from where you stand. Coming closer doesn’t do much to quell those worries, either. Though the wire is wrought from sturdy-looking steel, how can you trust such a long length of wire rope measuring less than an inch thick and spanning hundreds of feet long?
To understand all of the forces going into play here, we first have to understand just how tough the mettle of that metal is!
How Strong Are Those Cables?
Despite how thin it looks on the outside, you’d be surprised just how dense and durable they are on the inside! In most cases, the cable used for a zipline is either galvanized or stainless steel wire rope. Between the two, they sport nearly the same resistance to pulling and twisting, but they are specifically chosen for their resistance to the environment. Stainless steel wire rope is the best for wet/salty/acidic conditions, but in milder conditions, the zinc coating on galvanized steel is more than enough to keep it stable for a long, long time.
The amount of stress they can withstand on their own is absolutely tremendous, too. Different lengths of zipline require different gauges (or sizes) of wire rope. Basically, the longer the distance, the thicker the cable needs to be. On top of having to carry the burden of its passengers, it has to be able to hold itself up over those long distances, too! Fortunately, though, it’s more than capable of supporting both. A 7×19 (7 groups of 19 wires) braided cable of galvanized steel measuring only ¼ inch thick is capable of supporting up to seven thousand pounds of force.
A cable that thick is suitable for a zipline 200 feet long – and for longer distances, the required weight capacity gets more and more ludicrous from there. Needless to say, a single person with a couple of extra pounds of harness has absolutely nothing to worry about while riding a zip line of any size. The gear and equipment they use to ground the wire rope to its support structures and the quality of the harness used are worth taking a look at, of course. However, you rarely have to worry about those sorts of thoughts – zipline equipment is regularly and thoroughly inspected due to the kind of stringent requirements they need to meet.
Quality Wire Rope For All
If you’re worried about the quality of the wire rope from Silver State Wire Rope and Rigging, however, there’s never a reason to worry. Our equipment, materials, and techniques have been tested true since day 1 – and we stand by our dedication to quality. Learn more about our wire rope products and capabilities!