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Stephen Blue

Issues with ChristmasLightShow Mega-Topper Pulley

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Well after my first weekend of setup was knocked out by the Nor'Ida that dumped crazy amounts of rain on us, I got started this morning on setup, already a weekend behind. This afternoon, we began rigging the 20' megatree with the newest purchase - the pulley-topper and sliding ring-o-hooks from ChristmasLightShow.

Everything assembled quite well (OK, getting the connector into the two pieces of 1 1/4" pipe involved a lot of blow torch, oil lube, and incessant hammering). We erected the pole, tied off the guy lines, and decided to do a test run up the pule with an empty ring just to see it work (before we used to erect scaffolding inside the tree - it was a crazy operation - this new pulley system was to make the mega MUCH easier to construct).

It gets 3/4 of the way up the pole, and then it would go no further. It jammed. Wouldn't come down. Took the pole down, everything seemed ok, put it back up. Jammed again. On the second time we took the pole down, we noticed a few things. 1) The bolt holding the pulley is at a slight angle down to one side. (not a ton, we didnt notice it until we really started scrutinizing it the issue) and 2) we further noticed that the pulley itself, when it rotates to the side with pressure, contacts the pipe! Thank goodness we didn't rig 16,000 lights on it before we pulled it up!

Is this a normal issue and am I doing something wrong? Or is something just not right with my topper? We're running 3/8" 1200 breaking strength line through it. Seems to fit the pulley itself quite well, though my father (who is much more mechanically inclined than myself) questioned its size/strength.

We're going to try and retrofit a new pulley tomorrow (Living in a town of 900 people and 3,000 boats, we have 2 - count um, 2! - West Marines. Lots of sailboats around here, the pulley selection will be plentiful. But I would love to hear some others experiences if anyone responds tonight before we go pulley shopping in the A.M.

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Stephen,

I had the same issue, but it has more to do with the mega tree head having the ring/bolt on one side, it makes the collar bind when it's going up and down the pole. What worked for me (and I did have 9600 lights attached when I had this problem, was to get a few different pieces of PVC and fittings. i finally found one I could split in half, and wedge into the collar, between the metal collar and the pipe to make a tighter fit. Some epoxy putty to hold it in place, and was off to the races. That and some silicone to lube things up allowed it to ride to the top of the pole. I need to work out a better solution to the issue this year.

Hope that helps and let me know if you have any questions, not sure this was totally clear.

Steve

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Stephen,

I thought about this potential problem when building my 20' tree, so I installed two pulleys. They sit 180 degrees across from each other and I also used 1/8" steel aircraft cable through the pulleys. I wanted two for the simple fact of pulling from both sides, and also, if a cable broke, there would be a spare too keep the collar from crashing to the ground. If using 3/8" cable as you are, be sure the pulleys have a big enough diameter to allow the cable to make the bend. Good luck and have fun with your display.

John Pfeiffer

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I have the same system.

Pully rubbing... I purchased a few washers, 2 being wide plastic ones. These then spin freeley but keep the pully centered so it's not rubbing on the pole.

Next I took a PVC cupler and used sand paper, and a file to remove plastic from the inside. I took out a lot so it moved realy easy up and down the pole. It should be noted that this part took me a long long long time. The right tool for the job was not in my garage to to it quickly, so I made due with what I had.

Fitting between the pipes, I did not have to hammer anything, mine just slipped together.

-Pat

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Last year, I also had a problem with the cable jamming up when the lights had been winched about half-way up the pole. It took me a little while to figure out exactly what was happening.

It turned out that the cable was slipping off the wheel of the pulley and jamming itself between the wheel and the housing of the pulley. So, it winched pretty easy until it was loaded. About half way up the pole, it wouldn't go up or down.

The fix turned out to be easy. I just zip-tied the top of the pulley housing together so the cable couldn't travel anywhere but on the pulley wheel. I've never had a problem since then.

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Hoping to put up my kit from darryl next monday or tuesday. I watched the video and hoping that I can figure things out well enough to get the tree up. Wish there was someone close that could come assist being as this is the first year for a tree this size. I am hoping to get it up and not have to leave it out of my display because the cost alone would make me sad if I was not able to use it.

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If you are having trouble or issues with mega tree pulleys or ropes hanging up or streching or anything else concerning the raising of your mega tree lights consider building the JUMP [jack up mega tree]. No issues here . Just turn the crank and the light strings and whatever else you want to go up do exactly that. And it can't break or fall on your head. Go to www.magicchristmas for details or call us at [318]487-0736 and we will guide you through the process. Walter and Jackie

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Well we thought we had it - a new pulley and a little bit of rigging the single pull point to pull from 3 points worked well in our light-less test. Went ahead and loaded 13,000 lights onto it... got about 2/3 up the tree (after a brief snag on the coupler which was easily fixed by helping it up along with me on an 8-foot ladder). But it got about 12-13 feet up and just would go no further. System is just not working well. We're bringing in some sort of elevation device to get up there and pull it ourselves (Depending on what favor we decide to call in... bucket truck or forklift w/ plywood and one brave soul haha). Back to the drawing board for making it easier next year I suppose (already has taken twice as long as the previous method of just setting up scaffolding...). As for this year, we'll get her up! It may be the ONLY thing lit by the time we finish, but we're gonna get it! Hah

The two-pulley system for even pull-points is something I wish I had gone ahead and done... good suggestion John. Also a note to self and everyone else: Use steel cable. Was convinced 1200-pound breaking strength line used on sailboats would be just fine - the stretch in it is amazing and proves to be a significant hindrance in raising the weight.

Improvement ideas for the CLS system:

-Determine a way to rig two pulleys, so that there is an actual mechanical advantage, as there is none with a lone pulley. (And, according to a friend who is going through an Able Bodied Seaman course, that a lone pulley can add up to 10% resistance is what the course told them). Would it be possible to rig the pulleys to two of the cross bars and figure-8 the line to get the mechanical advantage of the two pulleys? This would prevent having to make the rig taller (and correct my next point).

-Raise the pulley(s) so the line/cable isn't dragging along the edge of the pipe! Even if this means adding height to the rig...

-Engineer a way to make it a 3 or 4-point pull on the light ring. The current 1-point pull causes it to raise to one side, digging one section into the pipe. This is especially troublesome when the coupling is reached, as there is inevitably grooves and threading at this point.

-Further, I'm using the same 1 1/4" black water pipe that is recommended, and it is amazing to me how loose around the pipe the light ring sleeve is. If the sleeve was more fitted to the pipe, the angle at which is "digs" would be less, and thus hanging would not be as prevalent.

Just some thoughts...

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I used this CLS head this year for my first mega tree. With 8400 lights on it, it was difficult to get to the top. Definitely not a smooth operation.

I am going to try to engineer a better solution next year because otherwise I really like the hook design.

What helped me was that I used the end of a ratchet strap hooked to the head so I could manually help balance if the head started to bite and dig in on one side or the other. It was enough to get it unstuck when it decided to bind 3/4 up the pole!

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I wonder if having someone on a ladder with a pole to help balance the other side as you pull the head up would help. Guess I will see in a few days....

Steve -

I used the hook end of a ratchet strap and did just this while I cranked it up. MUCH easier. I was stubborn and didn't bother to ask my wife for help, but I bet it would have been even easier with two people.

Next year I am going to rig a bushing or find a way to run a pulley to each side of the CLS topper. The idea is great, but the implementation leaves a bit to be desired. :-)

Good luck!

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What the heck!!! All the pulley problems, and all the ropes, and still not holding many lights. Not sure why people aren't "Jumping" on Walter and Jackie Monkhouse's "JUMP" concept. No pulleys, no wires, no guy wires, will support at least 30,000 lights 20' in the air easily, and can be raised by a 10 year old. Take it from someone that has been in this hobby for many years, go with a "JUMP".

Bill

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