Device for terminating a high tension rope or cable

Simple design meets the high-level tolerances for arresting a plane landing on an aircraft carrier


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The military has unique needs which are often met by the ingenuity of scientists and engineers in the Department of Defense research laboratories. The inventions that meet these needs – while highly specific to a military use – often have excellent potential to address technical gaps in commercial markets. One such technology from the Navy is this system for terminating a rope. In this case a rope is defined more broadly to include aspects of a metal-strand cable.

Planes landing on an aircraft carrier take advantage of an arresting cable on deck to slow to a controlled stop. The arresting cable is connected to a purchase cable which winds around a shaft of the arresting engine below deck. The amount of force placed on these cables is intense and the engineering that goes into such a piece of sophisticated life saving equipment is complex. One such point of engineering is the connection between the terminal ends of the arresting cable and the purchase cable. These connection points are exposed to harsh sea conditions and are routinely dragged along the abrasive non-skid surface of the carrier deck. They are an area of interest as the Navy would like to lower the weight of the cable and related components in order to accommodate the landing of heavier and faster aircraft (lower weight means a reduction in the inertia that allows for arresting of such planes).

The Navy previously created a hybrid cable (synthetic and metallic strands) but termination solutions have been an elusive issue given the arresting system requirements. The present invention is a solution for terminating a cable which consists of sliding a sleeve over the cable, peeling back the outer strands of the cable and pushing a wedge into the cable core such that the outer strands surround the wedge. From there the outer strands are pressed against the wedge and the sleeve is slid over the wedge thereby securely pinching the strands. In the image above right, the synthetic inner core of the cable is looped over the end of the wedge.

While meeting the demands of the Navy, this robust connection technology could be used with bridge cables, radio tower guy-wires, elevators, cranes, and trams.

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