Sitting in Luton airport on the day of 9/11, Fred Hall (technical director and chairman at DMM) and Chris Rowlands (exports manager) were stranded on their way out to Switzerland for a business trip. As everything was at a standstill, Fred and Chris brainstormed ideas for new gear. On their return to Wales, they asked the team at DMM a simple question: what is the heaviest piece of gear on your harness?
The size 8 cam or a set of large nuts, you might say? No, the heaviest piece of gear on is your rope. The longer the pitch the more work is involved in dragging it up behind you.
With this issue and other objectives in mind, DMM set about trying to come up with a solution for minimising rope drag. DMM focused their attention on the performance of quickdraw carabiners commonly used in traditional climbing.
To tackle this issue, the team looked at designing a new carabiner with an integrated pulley wheel. A few days later with the rudimentary steel prototypes in hand, a group headed to the old Beacon Climbing Centre to carry out some rudimentary tests; two hauling systems were set up—one with the standard carabiners and another with the new prototypes—with the rope zig-zagging through the carabiners.
Following subsequent prototypes and further testing at the DMM factory in Llanberis, the team found they could achieve up to a 30% reduction in friction and rope drag. The integrated pulley wheel in what became the Revolver allowed ropes to run more efficiently through the carabiner by converting energy into movement. Replacing sliding friction with the moving friction of a bearing.
The Revolver was the first ever carabiner with a pulley wheel, a key element for reducing rope drag on wandering or lengthy climbing pitches. Initially intended for traditional climbing, the versatility of the pulley wheel proved useful for mountain guides wanting lightweight hauling systems and crevasse rescue kits.
This ground-breaking product has gained widespread recreational and industrial use: in counterweight rescues, clipping high-lines, hauling chainsaws, deviating running ropes and many more.
“Our products go on to do all sorts of things,” says Fred “most we won’t even know about. While the Revolver was designed with a specific purpose in mind it is also used in a tactical capacity, for dragging soldiers away from IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and widely used by kayakers for dragging their boats out of rivers and up the bank.”
The challenge of hot forging the Revolver body for lightness and strength, led to the concept of I-beam technology being widely used at DMM.
Alongside the wire-gate version, there are now locking and auto-locking versions, providing greater security. The relatively recent addition of the Revolver Rig to DMM’s range, with its high efficiency roller bearing sheave and full strength textile friendly becket, is popular with arborists.
Here at DMM, we are ceaseless in our commitment to an exacting set of standards and our cutting-edge designs have stood the test of time. The standard wire-gate Revolver, hot forged at DMM today, still performs at the highest level in the most extreme conditions, all the while keeping its design virtually indistinguishable from its first production run in 2004.
After over 40 years of innovation at DMM, the Revolver remains a standout piece of equipment and is the result of honest, reliable manufacturing made in the factory on the shores of Llyn Padarn.