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WPI Technical Theatre Handbook: Wire Rope
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Wire Rope

Wire rope, often called cable, is a material made of a several strands of groups of thin steel wires. Different types of wire rope exist, the main differences being the arrangement of the wires, and the type of steel used.

Figure 4.2: Cross sectional diagram of typical wire rope. Shown is standard 7 X 19 aircraft cable, a very flexible and strong type of wire rope.

One type of wire rope used frequently is called hoisting cable, and is typically 6 X 19 in construction. This means that there are 6 larger strands of 19 wires each. Hoisting cable is often used in fly systems, as it is strong and flexible.

Aircraft cable is another type of wire rope that is used often in theatre applications. It is usually 7 X 19 in construction, and is more flexible and stronger than hoisting cable. Aircraft cable is made out of specially processed steel that has a very high tensile strength. Aircraft cable can be purchased that has a thin coating of plastic on the outside. This coating can generally be painted, which makes it possible to mask visible pieces of aircraft cable on a set.

Wire rope is a very strong and effective means for rigging, however there are several things to note:

  • Be sure that you know the material you are working with. Many hardware stores carry what may look like wire rope, but in reality is a material not rated for bearing load. When in doubt ask, and if they don't know, don't use it.

  • Never exceed wire rope load limits. Keeping an 8-to-1 safety factor is necessary to be well assured that the wire rope will handle the load.

  • Never bend wire rope sharply. Always use a thimble in any situation where the wire rope may get bent.

  • Be careful of the ends of cut wire rope. Many sharp pieces of wire are exposed in the cutting process. Be sure to cover the cut ends with gaffer's tape or a vinyl coating.

next up previous contents index
Next: Thimbles, Wire Rope Clips, Up: Common Rigging Hardware Previous: Rope   Contents   Index
Steve Richardson 2000-07-06

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