Stop Hockling Me!

Jessica Cofer Blog

When working at height, there are many factors that come into play in regards to equipment, the environment and the work to be done. One speed bump that we may encounter when rigging is hockling, or twisting ropes.

Owen Gluck, a NATS Safety and Training Specialist with several years of experience in residential tree care, shares his experience with hockling.

Much like a heckler in a crowd, a hockle in a rope can take you out of a working rhythm and ruin your day. A rope is considered hockled when it is kinked through twisting from use. The most common way an arborist’s rope becomes hockled is by running it through a Port-A-Wrap in rigging operations.  

When we rig in a tree, we tend to use a uniform setup until the work in that tree is completed. Once we have established where the rigging point will be and which side of the tree we are going to have the fall of the rope on, we leave this setup until the rigging in the tree is complete.  By doing this, the ground person also stays consistent by wrapping the rope in the Port-A-Wrap the same direction each time.  

If the rope continuously runs the same direction on the Port-A-Wrap, the rope heats up and stretches out. The result is that the lay of the rope is extended, which in turn shortens the twist of each rope strand, creating kinks or hockles. Using a rigging ring or non-pulley device as a rigging point can also introduce more heat and friction into the rigging system and aid in hockling the rope.  

To avoid kinks and hockles in ropes, alternate the direction that the rigging rope is setup in the Port-A-Wrap, from clockwise to counterclockwise, throughout the rigging operations of the tree. The higher the strand of rope used, the less likely the rope is to hockle. By adding a block or pulley at the rigging point, friction and heat on the rope will be reduced. 

Some ropes will become stiff and stressed from heat and tension over time, and may be easier and more likely to hockle. Consider retiring and replacing these ropes to avoid potential issues.

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