Andy Fielding of CTS Forestry & Arboriculture puts Stein’s newest piece of ‘must-have’ gear to the test.

ALL the rigging jobs I’ve done so far, I’ve used my trusty floating lowering device secured to the tree with a whoopie sling. While this has always worked well for me, I recently had the opportunity to try out the Stein SMB1000 ‘fixed’ single bollard lowering device.

Here’s what I found whilst using it in the real world.

The first obvious thing to note is that it’s slightly heavier than the floating device, but that’s to be expected as this is a fixed device with a lot more metal ‘bits’ for your money. 

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When I say heavier, it only weighs 4.4 kg so heavy here is just a relative term. It is fixed or held in position on the tree using a specially designed ratchet strap fitted with carbon steel hooks and to prevent the mounting hooks detaching from the device when not under tension the hooks include keeper pins. 

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According to the specification, the webbing is made from a high tenacity 50 mm wide polyester yarn and is UV resistant with a 6,000 kg breaking strength. 

The ratchet also meets the requirements of the European Load Restraint Legislation Standard EN12195-2:2001. The strapping system allows the device to be fitted to a tree with a diameter of up to 1.45 m or, if you measure around the outside of the tree, that’s a circumference of up to 4.55 m.

Fitting it is easy. There is a handy top suspension point which means that the device can be installed on the tree by just one person. I just wrapped an old bit of rope round the tree above where I wanted the device to go. Then I hung a karabiner from it and attached that to the device. Simple. 

If you’re feeling flush and have some spare cash to spend, there is a top-mounting strap made for this purpose that can be purchased at the same time. The device is then held in position, which means the ratchet strap can be attached and wrapped around the tree by a single person. 

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On the back of the device are two horizontal rubbers to prevent the metal back plate from digging into the tree. It’s then an easy task to tighten up the ratchet strap to ‘fix’ the device in position and we’re ready for action.
Attached to the metal back plate of the device is the bollard, which is 73 mm in diameter.

This dictates the maximum rope diameter that can be used, which in this case is 14 mm. 

During the time that I had to try the device I used a Stein Omega 14 mm diameter rigging line, which was perfect for the job. On the front of the bollard is a bright yellow sticker reminding you that the Work Load Limit (WLL) is 1,000 kg. 

The bollard is 140 mm long and includes two sets of 15 mm diameter solid-bar fairleads.

Both front and rear fairleads are set horizontally, 63 mm apart, which gives lots of space for up to four wraps when used with a 14 mm diameter rope. Set in the top right-hand corner of the back plate is a bent over fairlead. This guides the rigging line down from the rigging pulley and onto the bollard. 

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The first wrap goes behind the rear fairlead and subsequent wraps in the area between the two fairleads. The device also came with a handy A5 user instruction manual to explain the safe working set-up.

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At the bottom of the back plate is another attachment point. For added security I attached a steel karabiner to a 20 mm multi-sling to this point as a backup, just in case.

So that’s the set up but how did it perform? In short, as expected. It’s easy to set-up, easy to dismantle and it does what it says on the tin. I understand that once it reaches the shops, suppliers’ websites, etc, it will retail at around the £199 mark (excl VAT). 

If you’re looking to upgrade from floating to fixed device or you just need to replace what you currently have, I think that’s a good investment.