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Kong-Bonaiti & Kong Ascenders

Kong-Bonaiti Kong-Bonaiti Lift
Kong-Bonaiti Kong-Bonaiti Lift
 
Kong Lift, Version A Kong Lift, Version B
Kong Lift, Version A Kong Lift, Version B

Overview


In 1977 the Bonaiti company changed its name to Kong, but they continued to put the name Bonaiti on their products for many years afterward.


Kong-Bonaiti
(#223)

Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
 
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging

Technical details:

I acquired my Kong-Bonaiti on eBay from Brian Greco in 2007.

The Kong-Bonaiti came in both right and left-handed versions. Each is 209 mm. high, 92 mm. wide, 29 mm. thick, and weighs 232 g. The ascender shell is made from two pieces of 3.5 mm. anodized aluminum sheet. The upper piece forms the rope and cam channels, while the lower piece forms the handle. Three semi-tubular rivets permanently connect the two pieces.

The upper piece is a subtriangular shape that is essentially identical to the shell of the Kong-Bonaiti Modular Ascender. The rope channel is formed by bending one side of this piece into a U. The rope channel is 15.4 mm. in diameter. The opposite side of the shell is bent on an inclined axis to form another U. A hole drilled through both sides of the U accepts a 5.5 mm.semi-tubular rivet. The cam and cam spring are mounted on this rivet. The pivot is centered 42 mm. from the inside of the rope groove. There is a stamped D-shaped cam stop, but the cam contacts the inside of the rope groove before reaching the stop.

There is an unbeveled 13 mm. hole located below the cam near the rope channel, but this is blocked by the handle assembly, so it cannot be used. An upper attachment point consists of two unbeveled 17.3 mm. by 14.5 mm. holes through the rope channel U, just above the cam. Another upper attachment point lies above the cam pivot. This D-shaped hole is 12.2 mm. wide and 10.4 mm. high. Three 5.5 mm. holes at the base allow riveting the upper and lower shells together.

The lower shell is made from 3.6 mm. anodized aluminum alloy. There are no reinforcing ribs. The handle has a 102 mm by 48 mm. oval hand opening. It has three holes at the top that mate with the rivet holes in the upper shell. A 13.6 mm. hole at the base forms the main sling attachment point. This hole is not beveled. A black plastic hand grip is molded to the lower shell. The handgrip has four shallow, closely spaced finger grooves.

The cam is a plated skeletonized aluminum casting. The cam radius, measured from the pivot, increases from 38 mm. to 48 mm. over an angle of 42 °. The cam tooth pattern is (3)(4.H)^2(3.H)^2(2.2.1) where H represents a mud relief hole. A spring-loaded manual safety bar is mounted on the bottom of the cam with a solid pin. The normal action of the spring holds the safety against the cam. When the cam is opened, the shell interferes with the safety bar, thus preventing opening the cam. If the safety bar is moved away from the cam (opposing the spring), it will clear the shell and the cam will open. At full open the safety can be released and the spring will hold the safety against the back of the shell. A pin riveted to the side of the safety bar assists in operating the safety mechanism.

The front side of the right hand grip has "BONAITI - KONG - ITALY" in raised letters, as does the rear side of the left hand grip (making the two lower shell; assemblies identical). There are no markings on the upper shell assemblies or cams.

Comments

Imagine taking an innovative concept like modular ascender and then defeating the whole purpose by permanently fastening the parts together. Kong did this by riveting their Modular Ascender and Caver Handle together to create this ascender. I'll give Kong a Lemon Award  for this idea (although not for the result, which works well). It doesn't take much thought to realize that making the shell out of two pieces of aluminum is unnecessary, inefficient, and unnecessarily expensive. Kong realized the obvious and introduced Kong-Bonaiti Lift to replace this one.


Kong-Bonaiti Lift
(#139, 2199, 2202)

Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
 
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired this pair of ascenders from Inner Mountain Outfitters in August, 1999. I acquired another pair and another left-handed ascender in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

The shell is a tall irregular shaped stamping made from 3.7 mm. aluminum alloy sheet metal. The stamping has a number of reinforcing ribs. A rope channel is formed in the upper portion of one side and a smaller cam channel lies opposite the first. A hole drilled through both sides of the cam channel accepts a 5.5 mm. roll rivet. The cam and cam spring are mounted on this rivet. The handle below the cam has a soft plastic hand grip molded into place. In typical Kong-Bonaiti fashion, the fluorescent handle glows in the dark. The hand grip has four shallow finger grooves. A 13.5 mm. sling attachment hole is punched below the handle opening, and a 9.8 mm. hole is punched beside it. A 14.4 by 17.6 mm. oval hole through both sides of the rope channel provide an attachment point just above the cam. A 12.7 mm. wide by 10.9 mm. high D-shaped hole is punched above the cam pivot. There is a small (5 by 7 mm.) hole in the rope channel opposite the cam contact point. A dimple serves as a cam stop, but is nonfunctional because it is too high on the frame to not touch the cam.

The cam is a plated skeletonized steel casting. The cam has number of small conical teeth, all of which have their axes approximately parallel to the upper surface of the cam. The tooth pattern is (3)(4.H)^2(3.H)^2(3.2.2) pattern, where "H" indicates a hole. The inside surface of the cam is beveled, with the thick side near the shell and the thin side on the outside. Like the other ascenders, the inner cam face radius reduces from top to bottom to accommodate various sized ropes. A spring-loaded manual safety bar is mounted on the bottom of the cam with a small roll rivet. The normal action of the spring holds the safety against the cam. When the cam is opened, the shell interferes with the safety bar, thus preventing opening the cam. If the safety bar is moved away from the cam (opposing the spring), it will clear the shell and the cam will open. At full open the safety can be released and the spring will hold the safety against the back of the shell. This provides a means of locking the cam open. A knob on the safety bar assists in operating the safety mechanism. The cam safety has a slight bend that makes it slightly easier to operate.

The front of the ascender has a sketch of the ascender, an arrow, and the word "LIFT" stenciled on the rope channel. The rear has stencils saying "KONG," "Bonaiti," "Italy," the UIAA logo, "CE0426," "ø 8-13 mm.," and a date/serial number code ("9927052" on the left, "99002872" on the right). A triangle and exclamation point (which does not fit in the triangle) is stamped on the inside of the shell, behind the cam. Left-hand Kong ascenders are blue anodized, right-hand Kongs are red.

Comments

I feel that this is a well made ascender. All sharp edges have been removed. The cam teeth are very well done. The attachment points are simply holes in the shell, and although well rounded I consider their small radius too sharp for directly attaching sling ropes. They are probably acceptably rounded for webbing, but considering the proximity of the attachment points to the main rope, I would recommend using a small maillon for most attachments in order to reduce the risk of sling abrasion. The lower attachment hole could theoretically have the same safety problems as the one on Clog Version A. The upper rope attachment hole is located very close to the main rope. A carabiner through the upper attachment hole may drag on the main line. Note that such a carabiner will prevent putting the ascender on or off rope, so one's climbing system must be designed accordingly.

Single-handed operation of this ascender is fairly easy with the proper hand, but is rather difficult with the opposite hand. Closing an locked open ascender is much easier than opening, since the strong cam spring assists the user. The cam is very well made. The holes in the cam and the small hole in the shell are provided as mud relief holes. For some types of mud they work well, on others they don't - but nobody else's handled eccentric cam ascender can handle all mud conditions either. The holes on the Kong may not help all of the time, but they don't hurt.

This ascender has the same pit lip disadvantage as the Clog. The shell is thinner that the one on the Petzl Ascension or the VauDe Anthron, but I like the location of the reinforcing better on the Kong than the Petzl Ascension (The VauDe Anthron isn't reinforced).

The Kong Lift is certainly worth considering if you are looking for a stamped-frame handled ascender.


Kong Lift, Version A
(#2200)

Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
 
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Kong Lift, Version A in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

The Kong Lift, Version A is 200 mm. tall, 97 mm. wide, 26 mm. thick, and weighs 216 g

The Kong Lift replaced the Kong-Bonaiti Lift's phosphorescent handle with a black rubberized plastic handle.

The front of the ascender has a sketch of the ascender on an anchored rope, a dashed up-pointing arrow, "LIFT," either "SX" (left) or "DX" (right), and "ø8÷13 mm." printed on the rope channel. The rear has the KONG ITALYlogo, the UIAA logo, "CE0426, and either "04082 04" (left) or "02627 04" (right). A triangle and exclamation point (which does not fit in the triangle) is stamped on the inside of the shell, behind the cam. Left-handed Kong ascenders are blue anodized, right-handed Kongs are red.

Comments

The change in the handle material is an improvement. My experience with the Phosphorescent handles is that they degrade with time, become brittle, and break, leaving only the underlying aluminum stamping.


Kong- Lift, Version B
(#2016, 2017)

Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
 
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my left-hand Kong Lift, Version B from unbeatablesale.com and my right-hand from SiteLead, Inc., both on eBay in 2015.

The Kong Lift is 199 mm. tall, 96 mm. wide, and 25 mm. thick, and weighs 229 g.

Version B uses a bent tab instead of a pin on the cam safety.

The front of the ascender has a sketch of the ascender on an anchored rope, a dashed up-pointing arrow, "LIFT," and either "SX" (left) or "DX" (right) printed on the rope channel. The rear has the UIAA logo, "CE0426," a book-with-an-"i" icon, EN 567:13, a rope icon, "Ø8÷13 mm," EN 12841:06/B 100kg," another rope icon, "¤Ø8÷13 mm," "MEETS NFPA 1983(2012ED)T," "MBS 5 kN," yet another rope icon, "¤Ø8÷13 mm," "Made in Italy," "143637 14 0123.," and the Kong Italy logo. A triangle and exclamation point (which does not fit in the triangle) is stamped on the inside of the shell, behind the cam. Left-handed Kong ascenders are black anodized, right-handed Kongs are red.

Warning:
The weight ("100kg") screened on the Handle can easily be
less than the weight of a fully loaded caver.

Comments

I find that the change to the cam safety less than desirable. The tab does not provide as secure a grip as the pin did, and my thumb tends to slip.

The weight ("100kg") screened on the rear of each ascender can easily be less than the weight of a fully loaded caver. Although I know what this means, American courts may not, so I cannot recommend this ascender for heavier cavers or for expedition caving.