Author Topic: Plugs and feathers query  (Read 2056 times)

Offline Pitlamp

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Plugs and feathers query
« on: June 27, 2021, 07:00:44 am »
Does anyone know where I can buy a set of plugs and feathers which can be used in a 12 mm hole?

There seems to be plenty of commercially available ones which are 9/16" diameter (so need a 14 mm hole).

I know Dudley Dragon used to sell these smaller ones and I've got some somewhere but I'm blowed if I can find them.

Thanks.

UK Caving

Plugs and feathers query
« on: June 27, 2021, 07:00:44 am »
Warmbac

Offline Blueberry

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2021, 07:15:56 am »
Forgive my ignorance,
What are plugs and feathers?

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2021, 07:26:25 am »
They're for splitting rock. This should explain:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug_and_feather

(Not sure why an ad for Warmbac suddenly appeared in this topic - I didn't know they sold plugs and feathers, unless anyone can tell me differently?)

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2021, 08:03:16 am »
Maybe they sell plugs or feathers  ;D ;D

Online Badlad

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2021, 08:36:25 am »
............
(Not sure why an ad for Warmbac suddenly appeared in this topic - I didn't know they sold plugs and feathers, unless anyone can tell me differently?)

Warmbac help support the forum.  In return, on the equipment thread only, their ad appears on the second post of a page.  It is standard on Simple Machine Forums for ads to be placed between posts.  Usually, on other forums, this is a lot more frequent but this is the only one where we use it I think.  Warmbac are a good caving company but I doubt they will help you with plugs and feathers - unfortunately.  Cheers

Offline mikem

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2021, 09:23:53 am »
Heavy duty version on tomorrow's world:
https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=251542126728193&_rdr

Offline Blueberry

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2021, 09:46:12 am »
Splitting wedge for stone. How long do you want to wait? Pour water in the crack wait for it to freeze then allow to thaw. Repeat. I believe this process is very slow  :lol: How much time have you got?

Online pwhole

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2021, 10:15:46 am »
I think 14mm may be the smallest size available - certainly the quality 'Bavaria' ones from Rids Bruners:

https://www.rbwalling.co.uk/shop/058-plugs-feathers.html

Possibly the Chinese ones on eBay go smaller, but the ones he stocks only go to 14mm too :(

https://www.rbwalling.co.uk/01-plugs-feathers-p.html

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2021, 01:58:01 pm »
Capping is far more effective but I might not be allowed to say that. Daft really when you can get caps on Amazon.

Offline matterry

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2021, 04:51:37 pm »
 Trow and Holden

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2021, 05:34:47 pm »
Been at work today, so only just got online. Many thanks for the suggestions so far.

Offline 2xw

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2021, 05:46:07 pm »
Splitting wedge for stone. How long do you want to wait? Pour water in the crack wait for it to freeze then allow to thaw. Repeat. I believe this process is very slow  :lol: How much time have you got?

Plug and feathers takes about a half hour including drilling the holes, if it's a small to medium boulder.

It is a skill to place them right to get a good split but very satisfying. Often used in places where other methods would be innappropriate or not work as intended.

Tbh I frequently prefer using p&f where I can versus other methods

Offline Jopo

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2021, 06:51:46 pm »
I used to make the plugs and feathers that Dragon sold. They were made to suit a 12mm drill because a) that was the size of bolt we used in rescue and b) because in those days (20 years ago at least) drill and battery technology was so much poorer than now.  I stopped making them as we seem to have saturated the market at that time. I no longer have the factory having passed the reins on to Hywel who only makes stretchers and spinal splints now - although I still have the feather moulds somewhere. If he had a order for a 100 units I am sure he would think seriously about making them again.

Jopo

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2021, 07:55:04 pm »
Some for sale on Amazon.

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2021, 08:27:48 pm »

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2021, 08:33:21 pm »

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2021, 08:45:59 pm »
Splitting wedge for stone. How long do you want to wait? Pour water in the crack wait for it to freeze then allow to thaw. Repeat. I believe this process is very slow  :lol: How much time have you got?


Or go the other way and buy a flamethrower. You'll have to wait until the "last week in June" for stock levels and it will set you back £175, and you'll probably need a ready stock of water! Good for breaking rock on a cold winter surface dig though ;)

https://www.cheapmowers.com/acatalog/Sheen_X300_Flame_Gun_.html?gclid=CjwKCAjww-CGBhALEiwAQzWxOoeVklphcBRAuzbPOXl0gxTosF3O6INd3dCtrNfc0jg98vhgqD_SiBoCa4YQAvD_BwE

But I think the postage from oz will be cheaper!

Offline Ed

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2021, 10:49:08 am »
Bingo! You'll have to extricate them from Australia though! https://diamach.com.au/diamach-wedge-and-shims-plug-and-feathers-stone-splitting-tool-12mm/

Thank goodness for Liz Truss's stunning trade deal -- a Brexit win  :lol:

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2021, 03:08:39 pm »
I've had some very useful information from an old mate who currently lives in Africa, who is a skilled engineer. (With thanks to RS who uses this forum, for suggesting I contact him.)

Apparently the geometry associated with plugs & feathers designed to go in a 14 mm hole makes them significantly more efficient than those intended for a 12 mm hole. So I think I'll go with the flow and buy a 14 mm set - and a couple of the necessary 14 mm drill bits.

In the fullness of time, when I've had chance to evaluate them (compared with the 12 mm plugs and feathers I've used before) I'll try and remember to write an update on here, which may help other forum members.

Offline TheBitterEnd

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2021, 03:23:42 pm »
I bought a 10mm set from somewhere in America (avoiding rant about Royal Mail "Administration" fee for import at this point) and they work OK but are fiddly at that size and the feathers constantly need straightening because they are small and thin.

I find a couple of cold chisels works as well pretty much every time without the feathers. Drill two 8mm holes next to each other a bit over a chisel's width apart and then hammer a thin-ish chisel down between the holes. Repeat as appropriate for the size of block.
'Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.' — Mark Twain

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2021, 06:39:45 pm »
Here's the ones I ordered Wednesday evening - delivered Friday lunchtime (standard delivery).

https://www.amazon.co.uk/QWORK-Industrial-Feather-Concrete-Splitter/dp/B0769DVT1B

They look well made and the price isn't bad compared with some. Held together with a big fat O ring, which should reduce the likelihood of parts scuttling off into inaccessible hollows, irretrievably. Hopefully they'll get used in anger within a week, so I'll post an honest evaluation after that.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2021, 06:01:39 pm »
By chance I got chatting to a bloke who is a stone mason when I was at work. He told me there is a forge which will make plugs and feathers to individual requirements. Apparently they're not too pricey either.

Thought it might be worth sharing the information in this topic:

RH &G TRAVIS Brighouse West Yorkshire.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2021, 12:52:26 pm »
I promised to give a bit of feedback, so . . .

Used the new 14 mm plugs & feathers (see link in my post of 10th July above) in anger this morning. The main reason I bought them was I'd got a capping rod stuck a few weeks ago in a large boulder and I'd tried all sorts to recover it since then (short of noisy methods). Using 5 holes about 125 mm deep, the plugs & feathers split the boulder clean in half. The capping rod fell into my hand as I gently prised the two halves apart with a horse's head bar.

I am very impressed with this purchase and would definitely recommend them. At less that £22 (inc delivery) each plug & feather set costs  well under £4. (replacements can be bought in pairs, incidentally.)

In case it's of use to know, the reason for the failure of the capping effort became immediately apparent as soon as the boulder was split. The cap had jammed 30 mm from the bottom of the hole. I'd not been able to hit the capping rod quite hard enough to encourage the cap to go to the very bottom (due to the very awkward situation) so it hadn't fired. Will put this one down to experience but all's well that ends well. And I've now got new toys to play with in future.  ;)

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2021, 01:10:17 pm »
Heavy duty version on tomorrow's world:
https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=251542126728193&_rdr

Ah, good old Raymond Baxter. What excellent diction he had; many modern presenters could learn a lot from him. It's somehow refreshing to hear him talking in yards and inches too!

I'd love one of those toys . . . .    :bounce:

Offline mch

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #24 on: July 14, 2021, 07:33:35 pm »
Using 5 holes about 125 mm deep, the plugs & feathers split the boulder clean in half.

Out of interest, how far apart did you driil the holes?

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #25 on: July 14, 2021, 07:58:27 pm »
Spacing wasn't perfectly even but on average about 100 mm apart.

With plugs & feathers it's advisable for the holes to be in a line, to be considerably deeper than the length of the plugs & feathers - and to be as near as possible perpendicular to the rock surface. That's in an ideal world but sometimes, in a boulder with an irregular surface, it's not always easy. Done properly, it's quite amazing how powerful these things are.

The stonemason I had the good fortune to bump into t'other day was describing their use to split off rectangular blocks as long as 30 m, very precisely. There are videos of professional use of plugs and feathers, on a scale larger than we potholers would ever be involved with, on You Tube.

Offline marysboy

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #26 on: July 16, 2021, 04:50:53 pm »
Re splitting large rocks in quarry:





Offline Fishes

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #27 on: July 16, 2021, 05:56:31 pm »
I've used plug and feathers quite a lot when digging and find them much easier to use if you lubricate the plug. This also seems to reduce damage on the plug and the feathers with repeated use.

Mine are 14mm. I find them more effective than the smaller ones Jopo used to make (sorry Jopo) and 14mm isn't really a problem with modern drills.

I did find smaller ones available in the US but it can be a real pain getting stuff from the US with some suppliers.

It can be quite easy to lose parts of the plug and feathers in some circumstances but some of the Chinese imports come with a "rubber" moulding to help keep them together. John Beck used to use this type and we also now have some in the Derbyshire CRO kit but I haven't used them personally.


Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #28 on: July 16, 2021, 08:53:17 pm »
This is a bit more like the sort of job us potholers might want to do:


Offline NewStuff

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Re: Plugs and feathers query
« Reply #29 on: July 17, 2021, 10:26:12 am »
I've used plug and feathers quite a lot when digging and find them much easier to use if you lubricate the plug. This also seems to reduce damage on the plug and the feathers with repeated use.

Unless I was taught incorrectly, then lubing the plug (Quiet at the back!) is normal and recommended. Lithium, Moly, Shell Gadus (work perk)... I've used all sorts, it just needs to be something to reduce the friction. I found Lithium attracted a lot more grit though, and needed more cleaning so as not to have an abrasive action.
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