Maybe it’s time to replace your worn-out gaffs or you are a traveling tree worker, and you need to exchange the long gaffs for the short ones. At some point, all arborists will need to know how to take off the current gaff and replace it.
Here are some tips for when it’s time to swap out the spike/gaff.
First off, here are the tools you will need for this process:
- A vice or way to positively secure the climber from moving while working. We do not recommend trying to hold the climber in your hand or between your legs.
- T40 Torx head wrench. We recommend a T handle wrench for this but any 40 Torx head wrench will work.
- Hair dryer or heat gun (sometimes the sap from trees will make the bolts stick).
- Some Blue Loctite Thread Locker
- Towel or old t-shirt
- Bar oil or canola oil
First, make sure to put the shank of the spike/climber in a vice and secure it so the heads of the bolts are facing up and the spike is facing down or away from you.
Pro-tip here! Wrap the shank in a towel or old T-shirt so you don’t damage the shank of the climber when you tighten the vice. This is not the time to play strong man/woman, just get the vice tight enough so the climber doesn’t move when you apply pressure on the bolts.
Once the climber is secured in the vice, you will use the T40 Torx wrench to remove the bolts. They might be too tight or stuck with sap, so this is where a little bit of heat from a hair dryer or heat gun will help loose them up. Be careful not to heat the area too much and damage the shank. Heat it up little by little and give it a twist, if it doesn’t break free, heat it up a little more and try again.
Now that you have removed the bolts and taken the old gaff off, it’s time to put the new gaff in. Make sure the spike is pointing in the right direction. Once you have it oriented correctly, you will want to take the 20mm bolt and put a small amount of blue Loctite on it and thread it into the top hole of the gaff and just hand tighten. Next take the 25mm bolt and apply a little bit of blue Loctite and thread it into the bottom hole.
Once both bolts are hand tight, take the T40 Torx head wrench again and tight them up. If you have a torque wrench you can use it here. Set the torque setting to 18.5ft/lbs. and tighten accordingly. If you do not have a torque wrench no worries just tighten down until you feel you are using more than your arms strength. If your shoulders or body are moving to tighten the bolt, you are putting too much force on it.
Time to repeat these same steps for the other gaff. Once the new gaffs are in, use a little bit of bar oil or canola oil to lubricate the gaffs and prevent corrosion and dirt buildup.