Cord Lock experiments

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A magnet has done well to pick out the occasional steel machine screw or nut from the stainless at the hardware store bins. When I get the cord locks with SS springs I’ll give it a try with the magnet and let you know

Got ‘em. ALSG and Conk got me wondering about cord locks; it doesn’t take much to get my experimental curiosity aroused. Down Conk, down boy, don’t get so excited.

I have a variety of cord locks, including the little round ball things that aren’t worth a fiddler’s damn, rectangular versions, ITW/Nexus “Award Winners”, Conk’s BigBoys and now, Sgt Knots “stainless steel” spring versions.

Some minor experiments were in order. First I tried picking up the various cord locks with a magnet. Actually, four different magnets, from weak little ½” circles to a seriously powerful 2 ¼” ceramic magnet.

To verify the validity of the magnet test I tried all of the magnets on various screws, nuts and washers in the stainless steel collection vs some comparable steel hardware. Most of the SS stuff was only weakly magnetic, except, unhappy discovery, the SS Nylocks.

That took a bit of diddling and repeat “testing”, waving the magnets over the cord locks to get them to at least wiggle if not levitate, and included the poor methodology caveat that the little round ball cord locks weigh next to nothing, while Conk’s BigBoy’s are, quote, “too heavy”. The Sgt Knots cord locks are kinda mid-sized, oval barrel 1 1/8” x 5/8”, with a 3/8” wide oval aperture. (OK, not “oval”, elliptical. Damn grammarians)

Some of the cord locks were instantly attracted by any of the magnets, but Conk’s BigBoys and the Sgt Knots, despite having the largest metal springs, were only weakly attracted using the ceramic magnet, even given their larger size/weight.

The surprise was the discontinued ITW/Nexus cord lock, zero magnetic attraction even with the ceramic magnet, although that spring is completely hidden inside the slender “barrel”. Complete guess, but it could be that Conk’s BigBoys and the Sgt Knots cord locks have weakly magnetic stainless steel springs, and I’d bet the ITW/Nexus one does (did).

A purely observational test. The little round cord lock required almost no compression, and the spring on Sgt Knots cord lock was by far the most difficult to compress. Not unduly finger ouchie difficult, but it’s a helluva spring and oughta hold damn tight.

Actually the ITW/Nexus was the toughest, but that is an oddly different design; it doesn’t compress but instead pulls apart to reveal the opening, and requires both hands to do so. Not something you would want to adjust frequently, maybe why it is discontinued.

Another test. I strung five varieties of cord locks along a piece of paracord to see how difficult it was to slide them along the cord without removing the spring tension. That test was instantly revealing. From worst to best:

Little round-ball cord lock – all but useless, doesn’t hold worth a damn.
BigBoy cord lock – surprisingly the next easiest to slide uncompressed
Rectangular cord lock – hard to slide in one direction, easy in the other. It was some audible “toothy” rasp grip pulling to one side, which might not bode well for cord or bungee longevity.
Sgt Knots – hard to slide uncompressed in either direction
ITW/Nexus – Immovable. Impossible to slide even a little without (un)compressing.

Rather than ship them off to the seashore, where I can’t observe them and occasionally try to compress them, I want to hang them up outside the shop and induce artificial corrosion. I’m thinking dunk them in a glass of salty water once a week and see what happens over time.

But I’m amenable to other corrosion-inducing ideas, not sure my curiosity can wait for years.

Current take away without corrosion experiments – I need to pull out all of our stuff bags, tarp, tent, spray cover, chair bags, etc and replace some which I know have too-wimpy, don’t-hold-worth-a-damn cord locks. The OEM cord locks on some of our tents (looking at you MSR) are worthless.

Glad I ordered a fifty pack of those Sgt Knots cord locks, some for me, some for friends. And one for ALSG.

https://www.amazon.com/Crown-Spring-.../dp/B01N7ZDXSV
 
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That didn’t take long. I salt water soaked the cord locks six days ago and just went out to re-salt soak them. Before I did so I gave them each a test squeeze.

Some are already getting hard to squeeze. And, although it has rained a couple times in the past week, all of them shed noticeable salt crust when compressed.

I have them re-salt soaking and next week I’ll improve the methodology by first squeezing and inspecting them, rinsing them to replicate properly washing a boat after a salt water trip and then re-salting them.

Found a good use for the saltwater after cord lock soaking. I’m pouring it over the paint test panels to perhaps hasten the decay there as well.

https://www.canoetripping.net/forums...opside-take-ii
 
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Cord lock corrosion test continued; inspection after a second salt water soak and another week hanging outside:

Rectangular Cord Lock: The spring is toast, doesn’t “spring” back closed once compressed. Very little grip on cord when pulled “closed”. The spring is invisible for inspection, hidden inside the “barrel”. I’m already calling that style all but useless. Shame, I could see applications for the one-way sliding action.

Round Ball Cord Lock: The spring surprisingly still works. Surprising because the visible spring is already heavily corroded. Still doesn’t hold worth a damn, maybe less than before. Those are a nope, not even for a stuff sack drawstring.

ITW/Nexus Weirdo Cord Lock: Almost stuck, a PITA to pull open (needed tools). Still un-slidable when closed. The spring is invisible inside the housing. Could be the reason those “Award Winners” were discontinued. Another nope.

Sgt Knots Cord Lock: Still a very stiff spring with good hold on the cord. No corrosion on the visible spring. Promising so far.

Conk Big Boy Cord Locks: Spring tension and hold almost as good as new, no corrosion on the visible spring. Also promising so far.

I thoroughly rinsed them of salt encrustation to replicate washing a boat after tidal use. The freshwater rinse made no appreciably difference in spring tension or grip.

The cord locks are again submerged soaking in a salt water solution, ready to rehang back outside. Another week, or maybe two, three, and I plan to bust each one open for closer inspection.
 
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Cord Lock Test Results

After 6 weeks exposure, and weekly salt water bathes, the cord lock experiment comes to a close.

First sliding the “locks” on the cord without spring compression tested once again. Then, as I take them off the cord, I’ll smash them open with a hammer for a look inside. SCIENCE!

Left to right, rectangular cord lock, ball cord lock, ITW/Nexus cord lock, Sgt. Knots cord lock and Conk Big Boy cord lock

P5290031 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Rectangular cord lock.
Slide/grip test. It was semi trashed after the first salt water bath. I did like the toothy-grip one way action, where it was immovable in one direction without compression, but in a salt water environment it failed almost immediately.

Interior/spring inspection. Or not. I had hoped to see the condition of the hidden-from-view spring, but that was one tough cord lock. I had to smash the bejeepers out of it with a 20oz roofing hammer. Pieces flew every which way; maybe I’ll find the spring next time I clean the shop floor.

P5290032 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Round ball cord lock.
Slide/grip test. Almost no hold. Never had much to start with.

Interior/spring inspection. I can see from the outside that the spring is badly corroded, and learned my hammer smashing lesson; a flying piece of shrapnel from the previous one hit me in the tit. I wrapped the cord lock in cloth before hammer smashing. That was a weak plastic ball, it shattered on the first light tape. The spring is 100% corroded and magnetic. Those were a nope to start with.

P5290034 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

“Award Winner” ITW/Nexus cord lock.
Slide/grip test. Doesn’t slide at all. Because it can’t be un-sprung by fingers alone. It pulls apart to release the spring tension, and even with two pair of needle nose was a PITA to release.

Interior/spring inspection. That thing required repeated hammer blows. The spring has zero corrosion and zero magnetic attraction; I think the operational failure is due to dirt/crud/salt building up inside the pull apart mechanism. Cool design, but it takes both hands to pull-release, and once it jams forget it. Nope.

P5290036 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Sgt Knots cord lock.
Slide/grip test. By far the best grip on the cord of any or those tested.

Interior/spring inspection. That was a tough one to smash open. Zero corrosion on the spring, but once free of the housing it was more distinctly magnetic than before. I expect still stainless steel. 100% yup on the Sgt Knots.

P5290036 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Conk Big Boy cord locks.
Slide/grip test. Easier to slide the cord while uncompressed than the Sqt Knots, but still the next best of the bunch.

Interior/spring inspection. Hmmm, those have a different kind of plastic housing. The cord lock body would not shatter; under repeated heavy blows it finally deformed enough to pull the pieces apart and extract the spring. The spring was still shiny with zero corrosion, and also more magnetic with the housing gone. Also a yup.

P5300040 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The last two have the largest cord or bungee aperture; Conk Big Boys have a ¼” circular hole, the Sgt Knots have essentially the same size hole, but oval. Tested with intact, unsalted specimens both hold even better when using something larger than 3mm cord.

Thus endeth the cord lock tests. I’ll put all the shattered pieces and springs in a padded envelope and mail them to ALSG or Conk; it was their fault for sending me down this experimental road.

ALSG probably, unless I find a miniscule UL carbon fiber cord lock, Conk is probably not interested.
 
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Rectangular cord lock
Interior/spring inspection. Or not. I had hoped to see the condition of the hidden-from-view spring, but that was one tough cord lock. I had to smash the bejeepers out of it with a 20oz roofing hammer. Pieces flew every which way; maybe I’ll find the spring next time I clean the shop floor.

My scientific methodology seems, as usual, lacking rigor. I have cleaned the shop and still not found the missing spring from smashing that rectangular cord lock.

Of course experience has shown that it could have flown anywhere; I was cutting up a chip of hash 48 years ago and one piece flew ka-bing who knows where. I searched and searched – the shag carpet didn’t help - and found it years later in the cover slot of a turntable. Happy days.

But, ALSG seems smitten with inspecting the parts and pieces of hammer smashed cord locks. Anything for Alan; I had some unused rectangular cord locks, and had a creeping suspicion about the spring, based on the smashed remains and seeming absence of a spring.

P6090002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Employing my learned from experience wrap-it-in-cloth before smashing technique I destroyed another one.

As I had begun to suspect, there is no spring. The compress-to-open force on those cord locks is provided by the internal housing design; a vee shaped “plunger” is pressed down into narrowing vee guides inside the cord lock body, aligning the holes in each piece.

P6090004 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

It is all plastic tension, there is no spring to corrode, but the enclosed housing accumulated enough salt and exposure pollen/debris to become uselessly stuck.

The toothy grip one-way sliding action on those does have desirable applications, just not exposed in a marine environment.

I guess I need to mail the hammer smashed remains to ALSG. He can sleep with them under his pillow, in hopes that the Cord Lock Fairy visits while he slumbers. If I knew his wife I’d slip her an unsmashed cord lock to leave in its place.
 
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I didn’t notice until I saw the photo, but those non-spring rectangular cord locks are YKK’s

P6090002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Without the photo and glare I had never noticed that YKK stamp, it is hard to discern even with a magnifying glass.

Now that I understand the inner workings of those rectangular YKK cordlocks I can see more protected applications where that one-way toothy grip would be advantageous.
 
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Thank you Mike, for taking the initiative to evaluate cord lock choices.
Ordered the Sgt Knots based off of your testing.
Thanks again for the product testing.

Bill
 
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The Sgt. Knots cord locks, for my uses and applications, were definitely the best of those tested.

But my usual applications are with paracord or bungee cord. For thinner 2mm stuff, like Samson Zing-it or Lawson Glowire/Ironwire, using cord locks with a smaller aperture might provide a better “lock”.

I don’t have any itsybitsy aperture cord locks, but may test the grip of those I do have on some 2.2mm Zing-it. Or on the even skinnier cord on our MSR tent bags; the teensy OEM cord locks on that thread-like 1mm cord don’t hold worth a damn and I’ve been meaning to replace them with something that works.
 
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Further cord lock experiments, without destructive testing.

Various diameter bungee cord first. Same cord locks except no ITW/Nexus; I broke my last one trying to open it far enough to get even skinny bungee through. Same order, same experiment, trying to slide the cord lock along the bungee with the spring uncompressed.

Skinnest bungee first, 1/8 with reflective tracer
Rectangular YKK – The toothy grip is apparent, not bad
Ball – Still useless.
Sgt. Knots – Still the best
Conk Big Boy – Still the next best

P6180002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I tried 5/32 (blue) and 5/16 black bungee, with the same uncompressed results, although the larger cord didn’t fit well through the round ball aperture.

P6180003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Going to increasingly larger diameter bungee ¼” stuff is a no-fit on the ball, a barely fit on the rectangle and Sgt’s, and an easy fit on the Conks. 5/16” bungee fit only through the Conks, and even then had to be forced.

Synopsis – Conk’s Big Boys have the largest opening, Sgt. Knots next, ¼” bungee is as big as you want to go with either of those and those round ball cord locks are effing useless in any application.

But, in more typical usage, I am most curious about uncompressed spring cord lock grasp on line more slender than the paracord used the first time around.

Better quality cordage, thickest to thinnest

3mm Reflective Glowire. Sliding test results same as always; the best uncompressed tension was with the Sgt Knots.

P6180008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

2.2mm Zing-it cord. Same results as with everything else. Except for the rectangular YKK cord lock, which for mysterious reasons had a hell of a grip on that waxy-feel Dynema construction. Good to know.

P6180009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

And, finally, the objects of detestation that started me down the search for skinny line cord locks.

the even skinnier cord on our MSR tent bags; the teensy OEM cord locks on that thread-like 1mm cord don’t hold worth a damn and I’ve been meaning to replace them with something that works.

I looked at the cord locks on our other tent bags, and tarp bags and stuff sacks, etc. The cord locks on the MRS Hubba Hubba tent bags are the only ones I find useless at cinching the bag closed.

Useless. If I pick up the bag via the “handle” at the bottom everything falls out, and if I pick it up from the top the mouth yawns opens instantly. It is a little thing, one that was bothered me as long as we’ve owned those tents.

Those MRS tent bags use 1mm cord, with a cord lock the size of a gnat’s ass. Damn, I’m sure glad MRS shaved off excess weight there.

P6180012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I tested the various cord locks on those tent bags and, trying to avoid any conformational bias, the winner was once again the Sgt Knots, even more apparent with that teeny 1mm cord.

P6180013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That is a Sgt. Knots cord lock beside the OEM gnat’s ass cord lock on the bench for comparison.

Conclusion – Whatever the cord or bungee diameter used, the tighter the spring compression the better. Well duh.

I guess I need to mail a YKK cord lock to ALSG, the last one he got was busted all to hell.
 
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Received the SGT Knots Crown Spring Cord Locks 100 pack yesterday. Very impressed.

Will be changing out cord locks this weekend on everything that has one. Glad I bought the 100 pack. Was only $4.00 more than the 50 pack. Starting counting up how many I might need, then wife's gear, and some projects that are upcoming. Grandson wanted to redo all the cord locks on his gear, etc. They are going fast.

Finally, a cord lock with a serious spring. I don't know of a single OEM cord lock on any of our gear that has that quality of spring material, diameter, and tension.

Thanks again Mike for doing the leg work.
 
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Will be changing out cord locks this weekend on everything that has one. Glad I bought the 100 pack. Was only $4.00 more than the 50 pack. Starting counting up how many I might need, then wife's gear, and some projects that are upcoming. Grandson wanted to redo all the cord locks on his gear, etc. They are going fast.

Finally, a cord lock with a serious spring. I don't know of a single OEM cord lock on any of our gear that has that quality of spring material, diameter, and tension.

Boatstall, I may follow suit. I also bought a 100 pack, and although I’ve already given half of them away to friends, and still need to send some to Conk, who helped start the cord lock experiments, I probably have enough left to replace every cord lock on every tent bag, tarp bag, stuff bag, chair bag and compression sack. Or not, if I run out will buy again.

My plan had been to replace only weaker the cords locks, and then only on gear selected as I prepped for a trip.

Well hell, the cord locks on all those bags and sacks weaker than the Sgt Knots. It would be easier, albeit take a couple hours, just to pull everything out, and replace them all at the same time. I need a little project anyway, and it would be a good opportunity to reorganize the kinda messy gear shelves.

What am I going to do with a collection of fifty lesser cord locks?

Where did I put ALSG’s address?
 
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