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Tubbs Flex Alp failure

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  • Tubbs Flex Alp failure

    The issue of cracked crampons on Tubbs Flex Alps is nothing new. I am on my second season with my current pair and cracks appeared on both crampons by only their second time out, but I kept using them and keeping an eye on the cracks. Almost two full seasons later a catastrophic failure...



    My point is that, even though the cracks appeared a long time ago, the metal withstood a lot more use before they finally failed. Unfortunately the failure was terminal. I carry a lot of spares - pins, rings, nuts and bolts, cable ties, but no arc welder.

  • #2


    The side tooth broke off? That's stainless steel right? That's not catastrophic is it? It doesn't strand you to lose a tooth. Its not a good thing though. :-)
    I might be kidding...

    Comment


    • FoulHooked
      FoulHooked commented
      Editing a comment
      tough angle on the photo but it looks like the main body of the crampon completely broke free of the attachment point in the top half of the photo. looks like the tooth is still there but the plate is only attached on one side.

  • #3
    For some reason the photo won't load for me, but I'm wondering if it was the same type of failure my LG's had (twice). I suspect Tubbs Alps and Louis Garneau Blizzards use the same crampon from the same manufacturer. If it is then its basically a "powdered" steel that's been die cast and molded to the buyer's specs. It may or may not be carbon powder coated so they can call it "carbon steel". Its not necessarily a bad thing because its light, but it also means it has a life span when repeatedly stressed. Actual carbon steel would not have a short life span but would be much heavier.

    Edited: Words.
    “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” - Ed Viesturs

    Comment


    • bud
      bud commented
      Editing a comment
      It's a very hard steel. I once tried to stop drill a crack in Flex Alps shoes and even my toughest drills wouldn't do it. Hard = brittle. Tubbs is very good about taking care of customers when this type of thing happens.

    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      That's good info, Bud. LG was good about taking care of me in the sense that they repaired the damage for free, but it also took them 3 months to get the shoes back to me. In the meantime I bought a pair of Tubbs TRK's which have been awesome.

  • #4
    These photos may show it better...



    Comment


    • #5
      Yes! That does show it better. That looks like a good reason to get away from frameless snowshoes. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. Only axle for me. :-) The only thing wrong with an aluminum tubular frame is that it might not handle dragging over rocks so well. I do not like the present snowshoe selection. I use old Tubbs and present day GV's.

      Not saying the present Tubbs Mountaineer is a terrible snowshoe, but I think Tubbs had the formula a while back for the perfect binding and snowshoe and crampon. And now has moved away from that formula. I'm not sure they ever put it together totally in one package, but they were close, and closer than they are now, I'm afraid.

      But you don't have to carry an arc welder. You just have to carry an extra snowshoe or two. Duh.
      Last edited by CatskillKev; 02-23-2017, 05:08 PM.
      I might be kidding...

      Comment


      • #6
        Wow thanks for posting. I just looked at my 2 year old Flexalps and found the same crack!

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        • #7
          Were you able to still use the snowshoe to get out, or did it become unusable?
          ADK 46/46W, Grid 223/552
          Photos & Stuff

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          • Thomas
            Thomas commented
            Editing a comment
            It was unusable. I only had about 1 1/2 miles to go so I just limped out holding it in my hand. BTW, my experience with Tubbs has been great so far. In addition to spares they sent me two years ago, I am expecting delivery of a new set of crampons and bindings in the next few days. I'll see if the new crampons hold up any better. I suspect that most of us put the equipment through more stress than the average user so on the grand scale, it may not be a big issue for the company.

        • #8
          Interesting how the stress-fracture followed the outline of the (stamped) reinforcement.

          ​Now that I see this design up close, I'm amazed by how little metal there is in the 2 tabs that connect the entire binding to the pivot points. I'm guesstimating from the photo but it looks like the tab is about 3/4" wide and is attached to claw that's 5" long? That's quite a bit torque on a tab that isn't tapered (wider at the binding and narrower at the clevis pin). MSR's design is tapered ... but they have other stress-fractures issues.


          FWIW, other reported failure is broken front teeth: http://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/f...-my-experience
          Looking for Views!

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          • #9
            I only use these snowshoes when there is more snow than hardpack or ice. My Evo Ascents are better, I think for harder conditions, though the crampon is not as aggressive, in which case, if I I think I'll need them I bring my crampons.
            #8335W, Solo 46W
            46 Grid 249/552
            NE 111 101/115


            One list may be done, but the journey is far from over...
            Half Dome, 2009

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            • #10
              Can't believe these things haven't been recalled...

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              • #11
                After reading this thread, I checked my Flex Alps and discovered a large crack on both crampons, directly between the two front teeth and heading up to the footbed. They're three seasons old, though, putting them outside the 3-year warranty that Tubbs notes on their website (for Flex models). I sent a note to the retailer anyway. Fingers crossed.
                46W

                Comment


                • Thomas
                  Thomas commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I spoke with Tubbs directly and IIRC they told me that some components are warrantied for life. Might be worth a call.

              • #12
                Thanks, Thomas! I first contacted the retailer, and the retailer said to call Tubbs. I called, and Tubbs told me to contact my local authorized retailer who would then work with Tubbs. That retailer was REI, who - when I called - told me I needed to work directly with Tubbs. So I called Tubbs back, and they then told me they'd just send me a new set of crampons. Thing is, the original crampons are riveted on, so the guy said I'd need to drill out the old rivets and bolt on the new crampons (they're including the hardwear). I'll verify warranty implications before doing any drilling, of course, but it's something.
                46W

                Comment


                • Thomas
                  Thomas commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Dealing with K2 in Canada was much easier. One phonecall and the parts are on their way. At least you got results eventually.

                  Drilling out the rivets can be a bit tricky since they will eventually start to spin along with the bit. What works for me is either a dremmel or careful use of an angle grinder. In either case check frequently for heat build up since you could melt the plastic. The new rivets are easy to install and form well just using a hammer.

                • Stranger
                  Stranger commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thanks again, Thomas. I'll likely go with the Dremel. I appreciate the help!

              • #13
                If you look, there may be a crack between the front teeth in the last picture.
                I might be kidding...

                Comment


                • #14
                  Originally posted by CatskillKev View Post
                  If you look, there may be a crack between the front teeth in the last picture.


                  Here are the locations of the "standard" cracks that appear on the Flex Alp crampon (maybe the TRK as well). As mentioned, the cracks were there for almost two years before this failure.

                  Comment


                  • #15
                    Thanks for the latest pic.

                    ​Look at the reflection of the lighting on the metal between the two front rivets. It ends abruptly just a few millimeters to the right of the rivets. It suggests the surface left of this line is not in the same plane as the surface to the right of the line (i.e. the crampon is bent). This line runs from the hairline crack encircled on top to the failure encircled on the bottom. This line also coincides with where the "clevis pin tabs" end and the front teeth begin. In other words, the crampon is flexing along this line and causing metal fatigue.

                    ​The front crack, between the two teeth, is also intriguing. It suggests the two front teeth attempt to move independently (because they aren't always subjected to the same forces simultaneously). The result is flexing between the two teeth and metal fatigue.

                    ​I can't help but feel it's not just the mechanical design that plays a role in the failures but the choice of metal. It appears to lack sufficient fracture toughness for the intended purpose.



                    Looking for Views!

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