Page 10 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - April 2020
P. 10

do some more training at his Sarasota
                                                                               facility under that sort of tension.
                                                                                 When rigging, wind is definitely a fac-
                                                                               tor, something trained for at their facil-
                                                                               ity as well. “We use an anemometer, a
                                                                               wind meter. And we have a huge fan
                                                                               we’ve  even  used  airboats in  the  past.
                                                                               We’ll park an airboat and rev it up to
                                                                               70, 80 miles an hour and I’ll walk the
                                                                               wire in the wind. So that’s even part of
                                                                               the training process.”
                                                                                 “The weather is a factor. Where the
                                                                               sun is going to be often determines the
                                                                               time of the show. Directly overhead is
                                                                               usually best. We can walk in the rain
                                                                               if there’s no lightning in the area. But
                                                                               we monitor the weather systems and
                                                                               often have a portable weather system
                                                                               with us to tell us if there are lightning
                                                                               strikes within 15 miles of the area. It’s
                                                                               very complex, what we do. People don’t
                                                                               realize how much engineering and sci-
                                                                               ence goes into everything.”

                                                                               THE RIGHT ROPE
                                                                                 The type of wire used depends on the
         With the scenic walls of the Masaya Volcano all around him, Nik carefully traverses the 1” wire   event. Generally galvanized wire with
         rope. He calls it his toughest performance ever. Photo © Tim Boyles/Alamy Live News
                                                                               a 7 x 19 inner wire rope core is used.
         continued from page 8              feet above the ground. Once I started   They use galvanized cable because
         having something of an ongoing conver-  my wire walking, I never stopped. It is   there’s  usually  very little lubrication,
         sation with himself to stay focused.   life to me. My great-grandfather Karl   and it’s made to not rust.  Generally
           Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida –   said: “life is on the wire and everything   when there’s wire rope, they add grease
         Wallenda’s home base of operations and   else is waiting.”            to it, and it’s not good to walk on.
         hometown he’s lived in all his life – he                                “I have a cable that was made by
         trained in his backyard. Nik simulated   LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION  Bethlehem Wirerope Works  in Beth-
         current conditions, blindfolded, wearing   Scouting out a building includes find-  lehem, PA, specifically for me to walk
         a gas mask, employing a wind machine   ing attachments for wires.  “My uncle   across the Grand Canyon. It is a highly
         trained on his 750-foot wire rope cable.   Mike, the engineer, takes a lot of mea-  compressed and a high-strength cable.
         “I felt the wire’s tensions while walking,   surements, draws things up for us, just   The wire I use varies by distance. If I
         all in anticipation of what was ahead to   a simple drawing of the distance and   have to walk a longer distance, we have
         the crossing site in Nicaragua.”   the  walk  height,  and ratings  on  the   to use a bigger diameter cable because
           When asked about what safety mea-  building’s beam  as well as where the   of strength of that cable. The diameter
         sures are in place, Nik mentions that   davit points are located on the roof.”   of a basic cable is 5/8 of an inch, about
         aside from his team, he is pretty much   Davit points are used for  window   a nickel. And that’s what I walk on 90
         on his own. “If  something happens, I   washers.  “They often rig  lines  with   percent of the time.”
         have trained all my life to hold onto   those.  Mike  works  with  the building   There are a couple different pro-
         that wire  until  help reaches  me. And   engineers to get their information.   cesses.  Some  are  permanently at-
         it is – as always – my decision, mine   Such critical issues include, ratings on   tached, and it kind of makes for a big
         alone as to whether I will use any safe-  these points, the thickness of the block   spider web. So they have another sys-
         ty devices such  as harnesses.  I never   wall, and from there we put our heads   tem where a screw-pin anchor circle is
         have planned on using any.”        together to come up with a way to at-  used. That is placed over the cable and
           Nik  Wallenda is  a  seventh-genera-  tach that is safe.”           slid into place. It’s quite challenging
         tion  member of  the  Wallenda family.   Nik uses a dynamometer, a big scale   at times to get these stabilizers on be-
         The family started performing in  the   informing him how much tension he will   cause of all the obstacles on the ground
         1780s in Bohemia before going over to   put on his wire. Uncle Mike has a pro-  that are dealt with.  Often they only
         Germany, and emigrated to the United   gram where he enters height and length   have one place to rig to.
         States in 1928 to perform for Ringling   of the wire and how much tension they   When  he walked across  the Allegh-
         Brothers circus.                   can pull the line to. For davit points   eny River, Nik used a 500-ton hydrau-
           “I started walking a wire at two,” ex-  only rated at 4,500 pounds, if they rig   lic crane on one side and a 330-ton on
         plains Wallenda in a Popular Mechan-  to a 4,500 weight and it’s an 800-foot   the other. That, as far as science and
         ics article dating back to 2011. “That   long walk, exactly how much the wire   engineering goes, was a totally differ-
         was only two feet off the ground; my par-  is going to sag in the middle may be de-  ent  ball game. He  was  walking  over
         ents would hold my hand and I would   termined. Sometimes they cannot pull   a  river,  and only  had a  bridge on  his
         walk back and forth. At four, I walked   the  cable  as  tight  as  they  would  like.   right side nothing on my left side. Sta-
         on my own. And at 13, I performed for   In that case, the wire tends to be a lot   bilizer cables had to be placed on the
         the first time on a high-wire – some 25   more sloppy underfoot; Nik will need to      continued on page 12
         10     Wire Rope News & Sling Technology   April 2020
   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15