In 1962 there was a breakthrough invention of a revolutionary product that we have all come to know as Wirelock® cold socketing compound. Why was it revolutionary? If a product came along that made it easier and faster to put a stronger termination on a wire rope, it could be argued that a lot of the mining sector would stand to benefit from such a product.
Wire rope in and of itself is not very useful. To get any work out of a wire rope, something must attach to each end of it to enable it to pull. This is how most raw materials are brought out of underground mines. Usually one end of the wire rope is fastened to a winding drum and large, bulky thimbles or cappells must be installed on the opposite end to provide an attachment point. Although, where space was limited, some wire ropes would have to be terminated with sockets.
How sockets were installed (up until 1962 that is), required sliding the socket onto the rope, prepping the rope end, and pulling it down into the socket. The next step was to melt zinc babbit by heating it up to around 427°C to pour it into the socket. The socket itself would also have to be preheated so that the molten zinc would not stick to the socket wall.
Along came Wirelock®, which is touted as the world’s first “cold-socketing media,” which is much cooler than molten zinc, as it only ever reaches temperatures as high as 100°C after mixing. All of the other steps remain the same, but instead of starting the forge, you just get a stir stick, mix some sand into a pail of resin for 2 minutes, and pour it into the room temperature socket and wait for it to set.
Wirelock all but eliminates the possibility of burns and other injuries from resulting from extreme heat of the Zinc process and the only real downside is that mechanical failures and downtime are quite prevalent when Wirelock® ends up in the hands of the untrained. Reading the manual supplied with the Wirelock® and hoping for a good socket is like reading the owner’s manual of your car and expecting to be a good driver.
The best way to minimize socket failures when using the Wirelock® socketing media is to ensure that employees have participated in a formal, hands-on training course that reviews the core fundamental principles that everyone should know before they pour a socket that lives depend on.
The Northern Strands Wirelock® Socketing course reviews the fundamentals from the application manual and includes valuable lessons that we have learned through using this product extensively as a company over the last 50 years. We then walk the students through the process of pouring a socket step-by-step using a 16mm wire rope and corresponding socket. Once the sockets are complete, they set for the requisite amount of time and then are destructively pull tested to ensure all the steps were followed correctly.
Put simply, Wirelock® has the potential to be one of (if not the) best ways to terminate wire rope. The benefit of using it can be found across many different industries, but just like any other tool in the toolbox, it needs to be used correctly to fully realize these benefits. An incorrectly poured socket that fails can lead to expensive downtime, injuries and even death should a socket fail.
Saskatoon (Head Office)
3235 Millar Avenue
Saskatoon, SK S7K 5Y3
Hours of Operation: 7:30am to 5:00pm Mon - Fri
Phone: (306) 242-7073
Toll Free: (800) 242-7073