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Simmons Rollers

Prototype CCG Single, Version A Single, Version B Racing Single
Prototype CCG Single, Version A Single, Version B Racing Single
 
Compact Double Double Racing Double
Compact Double Double Racing Double

Overview


Some words about the rollers…

Simmons rollers were available with bushing and roller bearings. I should have listed them as different variations, but then I would have had to have two different variations for each single and four for each double roller version. One can tell which version one has by looking at the end of the roller assembly - the diameter of the roller bearings is larger than that of the bushings.

There were also two styles of rollers, a straight roller and a U-groove roller. The straight rollers were a 19 mm. (3/4 inch) diameter nylon cylinder. The U-groove rollers were 25.4 mm. (1 inch) in diameter with a 12 mm. wide, 2.5 mm. deep turned groove. The larger diameter of the U-groove rollers required a larger diameter hole in the shell, and this required a larger diameter aluminum bushing on the pin.


Prototype
(#2612)

Left Right Front
Left Right Front
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Simmons roller prototype in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

My Simmons Single Prototype is 57 mm. long, 73 mm. wide, 49 mm. high, and weighs 89 g. It is a single channel chest box consisting of a U-shaped aluminum shell and a straight roller. The shell has 49 mm. tall vertical slots for attaching the device to a chest harness. The roller is mounted on a quick-release pin, along with a bushing to fit a large cutout in the shell. Simply by depressing the button on the quick-release pin, one can remove the roller from the shell.

The roller shell is stamped "GIBBS" with a double underline and "®" on each side. The quick release pin is stamped with "AVIBANK PUSH" and "55207."

Comments

Ron Simmons made the shells for his first rollers out of Gibbs Ascender shells. After deciding that he liked his idea, he started making his own shells. This is one of the early ones that still shows the Gibbs markings. Unlike later models that he put into production, this one is tall enough to admit 2" webbing. I like that since it allows me to slip it onto a simple harness without having to sew the roller in place with 1" webbing.


Custom Cave Gear
(#2613)

Left Right Front
Left Right Front
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired Simmons Single Custom Cave Gear in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

My Simmons Single Custom Cave Gear is 51 mm. long, 57 mm. wide, 47 mm. high, and weighs 82 g. It is a single channel chest box consisting of a U-shaped aluminum shell and a straight roller. The shell has 28 mm. tall vertical slots for attaching the device to a chest harness. The roller is mounted on a quick-release pin, along with a bushing to fit a large cutout in the shell. Simply by depressing the button on the quick-release pin, one can remove the roller from the shell.

The roller shell is stamped "CCG."The quick release pin is stamped with "AVIBANK PUSH" and "BLS5B10S."

Comments

Ron stamped some of his earlier rollers with "CCG" for his company Custom Cave Gear.


Single, Version A
(#645, 646, 1672, 2614, 2615)

Front View: Closed Top View
Front View: Closed Top View
 
Open for Rigging
Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my first Simmons Single from Ron Simmons at an Old Timers Reunion around 1981. I acquired another from Geary Schindel in 1992 as part of a Karstworks harness, two more from Howie's Harnesses in 2009 to mount on an On Rope 1, Lightweight Double plate that I acquired without rollers, and two more in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

My Simmons Single is 57 mm. long, 51 mm. wide, 47 mm. high, and weighs 82 g. It is a single channel chest box consisting of a U-shaped aluminum shell and a straight roller. The shell has 28 mm. tall vertical slots for attaching the device to a chest harness. The roller is mounted on a quick-release pin, along with a bushing to fit a large cutout in the shell. Simply by depressing the button on the quick-release pin, one can remove the roller from the shell.

The roller shell is stamped "SIMMONS" ("SNOWWIS" in the southern hemisphere). The quick release pins are each stamped with "AVIBANK PUSH" and "BLS5B10S."

Comments

The Simmons Roller is probably the most popular and successful chest box design in the United States. The original roller shells were cut from Gibbs ascenders, but Ron soon started making his own shells. My first Simmons roller is one of the first batch of seven sold to the general caving community, and it looks much like the final versions that Ron produced before his death. Four of the original seven (but not this one) failed due to a minor manufacturing defect: the shell was bent slightly less than 180°, so the balls in the push pin were not able to extend fully. Roberta Swicegood gave a talk on this, Field Repair of the Simmons Roller. She set a roller on the floor and stomped on it - problem solved. Ron adjusted his tooling, and I heard of no later failings.


Single, Version B
(#2715)

Left Right Front
Left Right Front
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my first Simmons Single from Ron Simmons at an Old Timers Reunion around 1981. I acquired another from Geary Schindel in 1992 as part of a Karstworks harness, two more from Howie's Harnesses in 2009 to mount on an On Rope 1, Lightweight Double plate that I acquired without rollers, and two more in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

My Simmons Single is 57 mm. long, 51 mm. wide, 47 mm. high, and weighs 82 g. It is a single channel chest box consisting of a U-shaped aluminum shell and a straight roller. The shell has 28 mm. tall vertical slots for attaching the device to a chest harness. The roller is mounted on a quick-release pin, along with a bushing to fit a large cutout in the shell. Simply by depressing the button on the quick-release pin, one can remove the roller from the shell.

The roller shell is stamped "SIMMONS" ("SNOWWIS" in the southern hemisphere). The quick release pins are each stamped with "AVIBANK PUSH" and "BLS5B10S."

Comments

The Simmons Roller is probably the most popular and successful chest box design in the United States. The original roller shells were cut from Gibbs ascenders, but Ron soon started making his own shells. My first Simmons roller is one of the first batch of seven sold to the general caving community, and it looks much like the final versions that Ron produced before his death. Four of the original seven (but not this one) failed due to a minor manufacturing defect: the shell was bent slightly less than 180°, so the balls in the push pin were not able to extend fully. Roberta Swicegood gave a talk on this, Field Repair of the Simmons Roller. She set a roller on the floor and stomped on it - problem solved. Ron adjusted his tooling, and I heard of no later failings.


Racing Single
(#644, 2618)

Front View: Closed
Front View: Closed
 
Open for Rigging
Open for Rigging
 
Top View
Top View

Technical Details

I acquired my Simmons Racing Single from Ron Simmons, but do not have a record of when. I acquired another in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

My Simmons Racing Single is 51 mm. long, 241 mm. wide, 61 mm. high, and weighs 314 g. It is a single channel chest box consisting of one Simmons roller screw-mounted to an aluminum back plate. A shaped block between the roller shell and the back plate helps keep the roller shell aligned perpendicular to the plate. The back plate has 26 mm. tall vertical slots for attaching the box to a chest strap and 26 mm. wide horizontal slots for attaching shoulder straps.

The plate and roller shell are each stamped "SIMMONS." The quick release pin is stamped with "AVIBANK PUSH" and 55207-1."

Comments

The Simmons Racing Single mounts a Simmons Roller on a long plate. This plate helps hold the roller closer to the chest than a short plate would, and many people (including me) prefer longer plates for caving, feeling that the increased size is more than compensated for by the increased comfort and climbing efficiency.


Compact Double
(#642, 2617)

Front View: Closed Bottom View
Front View: Closed Bottom View
 
Open for Rigging
Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Simmons Compact Double box from Ron Simmons, but do not have a record of when. I acquired another in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

My Simmons Compact Double is 51 mm. long, 72 mm. wide, 53 mm. high, and weighs 244 g. It is a double channel chest box consisting of two Simmons-like rollers asymmetrically screw-mounted to an aluminum back plate. The rollers are separated to provide clearance for the quick release pins. The shells are not standard Simmons roller shells; instead, they have increased height to allow for the asymmetrical roller mounting. A shaped block between the roller shells and the back plate helps keep the roller shells aligned perpendicular to the plate. The back plate has 23 mm. tall vertical slots for attaching the box to a chest harness.

The roller shell is stamped "SIMMONS." The quick release pins are each stamped with "AVIBANK PUSH" and 55207-1."

Comments

The asymmetrical roller arrangement helps reduce the size of this device. The short back plate packs better than a larger one, but is not as comfortable.


Double
(#643, 2616)

Front View: Closed
Front View: Closed
 
Open for Rigging
Open for Rigging
 
Top View
Top View

Technical Details

I acquired my Simmons Double box from Inner Mountain Outfitters at the 1991 Speleofest. I acquired another in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

My Simmons Double is 51 mm. long, 113 mm. wide, 64 mm. high, and weighs 326 g. It is a double channel chest box consisting of two Simmons rollers screw-mounted to an aluminum back plate. A shaped block between the roller shells and the back plate helps keep the roller shells aligned perpendicular to the plate. The back plate has 26 mm. tall vertical slots for attaching the box to a chest strap and 26 mm. wide horizontal slots for attaching shoulder straps.

The roller shells are stamped "SIMMONS." The quick release pins are each stamped with "AVIBANK PUSH" and 55207-1."

Comments

This is the more common, and more useful version of the Simmons Rollers chest box.

I'm one of the few people that never was sold on the Simmons Roller. Since I had the only skeletonized Gossett Block, the Tomer #12, there was no reason for me to switch to the Simmons Roller. On the other hand, since most people had to make the choice between a standard Gossett box and a Simmons Double, the Simmons usually won. Even Jim Gossett and Darrell Tomer thought that the Simmons was better, so they discontinued the Gossett Block. Eventually I switched to the Alpine box, which is marginally superior for my needs, but it was too expensive for most people.


Racing Double
(#2619)

Front View: Closed
Front View: Closed
 
Open for Rigging
Open for Rigging
 
Top View
Top View

Technical Details

I acquired my Simmons Racing Double in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

My Simmons Racing Double is 51 mm. long, 241 mm. wide, 64 mm. high, and weighs 428 g. It is a double channel chest box consisting of two Simmons rollers screw-mounted to an aluminum back plate. The back plate has 25 mm. tall vertical slots for attaching the box to a chest strap and 25 mm. wide horizontal slots for attaching shoulder straps.

Each roller shell is stamped "SIMMONS." The quick release pins are each stamped with "AVIBANK PUSH" and 55207-1."

Comments

The Simmons Racing Double mounts two Simmons Rollers on a long plate. This plate helps hold the roller closer to the chest than a short plate would, a definite advantage when racing. Many people (including me) prefer using longer plates for much of our caving, feeling that the increased size is more than compensated for by the increased comfort and climbing efficiency.