These are a few tips to get you started on installing your zip line. We will go over some of the basics about zip lines to help you create a safe yet thrilling ride. No information provided by CM Playgrounds LLC, dba Backyard Play Places shall be viewed as professional instruction or advice. All written or spoken material is opinion and does not guarantee safety. When installing zip lines professional advice and instruction should be obtained by competent personell. All persons are wholly responsible for the safe selection, installation and operation of their play equipment
Step 1 – Locate Anchors
First thing that needs to be done is to make sure you have two solid anchors to attach the zip line to (for example 2 trees). Once you determine a good starting and ending point for the zip line you will want to make sure there is a clear path for the rider. There needs to be a clear path for the zip line between the two anchors so that the rider won't hit anything while zooming down the zip line. If there isn't a clear line you will want to do some clearing or trimming until it is safe for the rider. You will also want to make sure that the anchors (trees) are suitable enough to allow about a 6% drop in cable for a good starting point (that is a 6’ drop for every 100’ of cable). This can be adjusted later to dial in the right speed. Cable sag is also something to consider when determining the height of your zip line. On average you will see about a 2% sag (or 2’ for every 100’ of cable).
Step 2 - Determine Cable Height
For example we will set up a 100' zip line between 2 trees on level ground. At this point we need to decide on the lowest that we want the zip line to go to the ground. 7' is as low as we want the example zip line to go. Taking into account for the 2% that the cable is going to sag (100' x .02 = 2 feet in our example) we will want to set the ending point of our zip line at the 7' low point plus the 2' sag which equals 9' high. Make a mark on the ending tree at 9' high, this will be where the chain sling will go around the tree. Now to find out the height of the start of the zip line we will add the 9' ending point plus the 6% drop (in our example: 100' x .06 = 6' ). This will give us a starting height for our zip line of 15' off of the ground. Mark the starting tree at 15' high. This is where the cable will wrap around the starting tree. It is a good idea to attach 3 or 4 blocks of wood (2x4's about 8" to 10" long work great) to the back side of the tree where the cable will wrap around. This helps prevent the cable from damaging the tree. You can also put rubber tubing around this end of the cable to prevent damage to the tree.
Step 3 - Setting Up Ending Tree Cable
Wrap the chain sling around the ending tree at the mark you made in Step 2. Sometimes it helps to put a few nails in around the tree to keep the chain in place. Next take the turnbuckle and make sure it is fully extended. Attach one end of the turnbuckle to the loose ends of the chain sling. Now take your cable and attach a thimble to one end using three of the cable clamps spaced about 3" apart to hold the thimble in place. Attach this end of the cable to the other end of the turnbuckle.
Step 4 - Wrapping Cable Around Starting Tree
This step may take two people. Wrap the loose end of the cable around the starting tree and pull as tightly as possible. A cable puller will help you with this step, but is not always necessary. Complete the loop in the cable using your last 3 clamps. The first clamp to be attached will be the one farthest from the tree. You will want to tighten the clamp at a point about 2 feet from the tree trunk. Put the cable clamp around the cable and the loose end making sure the u-bolt part of the clamp is on the dead end of the cable (the end that was pulled around the tree). Have your partner pull the cable as tight as they can. Tighten the first clamp at this point. Next loosely put the next clamp on the cable on the tree side of the first clamp. Slide the clamp about half way toward the tree then tighten at this point. Next put the last clamp on the cable on the tree side of the second clamp. Slide the clamp as close as you can get it to the tree. Tighten at this point.
Step 5 - Tighten Turnbuckle
At this point the cable should be pretty tight already. To make it even more tight you need to go back to the turnbuckle and tighten it down about as far as you can. To make it easier to turn you may want to put a little bit of lube on the threads of the turnbuckle. This will help ensure that the turnbuckle spins smoothly.
Step 6 - Test Run
Now time to do a test run. First do a test run with just the trolley and seat. This helps make sure that the path is clear. It is not a bad idea to tie a weight to the trolley to get an idea of the speed of the zip line, especially if you have increased the drop in height from start to finish. This will also give you an idea of whether you might have to add a brake at the end to slow down the riders. You want to make sure you can stop without getting thrown off at the end. Once these steps have been taken then it is time to put yourself in the seat. If you think your zip line might be too fast you will want to wear very heavy leather gloves. This way you can grab the cable BEHIND the trolley to slow down the speed you are traveling (only attempt this if you are sitting on a seat or strapped into a harness, NEVER attempt to hold on to just the handle with only one hand). After the test run it is important to make sure the cable is still tight. Make sure that the cable didn't slip down the tree. You may have to add a few nails to the tree to prevent the cable from slipping down.
Tip: Using a Harness can make your zip line much safer and easier to ride, especially for younger kids and longer zip lines.
First unbolt the 4 bolts holding the brake block together and pull brake block apart.
Bolt the brake block back together with the zip line cable running through the middle. Make sure the eye bolt is closest to the start of the zip line.
The next step is to figure out where to put the anchor and how much bungee rope you will need. These positions will probably need to be adjusted but we can at least get you a good starting point. In general the bungee will usually stretch to double its length. Most zip lines will need 20' to 30' of bungee for their brake block set up. This will depend upon the distance of the zip line as well as the speed traveled on the zip line. The distance from where the brake block sits at rest and the end of your zip line ride should be equal to the length of bungee rope you are using. Slide your brake block to this point on your cable. Tie one end of the bungee rope to the brake block. Take the other end of the bungee rope and walk toward the start of the zip line just until the brake wants to start to slide. This is approximately where you want to screw in the ground anchor or attach the bungee to a tree. A tree or other solid object makes a much better anchor than the ground anchors. Make sure you screw it in the ground about 5' to 10'' to the side of the zip line cable so you don't run into the bungee rope when riding down the zip line. Tie the other end of the bungee rope to the ground anchor or tree.
Make sure and test your brake block using your trolley and weights before you ride. Step 3 will probably need adjustments depending upon the weight of the riders as well as the speed and distance of the zip line. The easiest way to adjust the brake is to unscrew the anchor and move it to a new location.
Our Brake Block
- ZLP Brake Block
- 20', 25' or 30' of Bungee Rope
- 1 Lag Screw Eye bolt
- 2 Quick Links
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