Duct Tape; Sticking with the King of Tapes!
It has replaced the dog as “man’s best friend,” has been touted as “the lifesaver” and has been compared with the diplomatic talents of Mohatma Gandhi and Sister Teresa as a world peace advocate “It holds the world together” – it’s duct tape.The silver miracle tape has made its way into tool boxes, race cars, ski packs and snowmobile pouches. Athletes use it, car mechanics use it and, it is safe to say, both young and old have used duct tape at some time in their lives.Permacell, a division of Johnson & Johnson, designed the tape during the World War II effort as a strong, waterproof tape that could be ripped into lengths easily. Permacell laminated cloth with a polyethylene coat and, hence, the tape known today as duct tape.Although the tape began as military green, it quickly progressed to the popular silver after being used to hold ductwork together, and today the tape is manufactured in colors spanning the color spectrum.”I use it for connecting flexible ductwork,” said Scott Pomin, owner of Mountain Air Heating. “But, you can use it for anything.”I think the weirdest thing I’ve ever used it for was to tape a ladder to the roof of my truck.”Pomin’s story isn’t unique. While many people use duct tape for its tacky reputation, the stories have been told about being caught in a bind and using duct tape as a save-all.”I’ve used duct tape to keep my pants up when my belt broke,” said Jimmy King, Squaw Valley’s mountain manager. “The uses are endless.”King said duct tape is vital when splicing chair lift cables together. It is a second pair of hands during the arduous process. Temporary window and clothing repairs are second, while he has also used the tape as a marker instead of spray paint in the brutally cold temperatures on the mountain.”I think every snowmobile has at least one piece of duct tape on it,” he said. “I know at least every snowmobile seat has seen some duct tape.”Speedcar racers and snowmobileenthusiasts voiced their dependence on the mighty tape.”We call it race tape,” Jay England, owner of Thin Air Motor Sports, said. “It’s nickname is ‘200 mph tape’ because it can withstand speeds up to 200 mph.”England, a race car driver , said duct tape sometimes becomes a savior on race day after an accident during a qualifying run.”After a little accident, duct tape can hold just about anything together so I can finish a race,” he said.When asked if his wife Ann knew he was racing with duct tape holding his car together, he said, “She knows because she’s the one who affixes the tape.”England said the big rage these days is specially-colored duct tape. Because of its effectiveness as a car or snowmobile body repair material, the matching tape can hide the largest of dents, he said.”It’s one of the hottest selling items at the shop,” England said. “I always carry tape while racing and it matches my car’s body perfectly.”He also added that duct tape could be critical in the backcountry during snowmobile jaunts. He said duct tape can be used to repair broken cables or reattach broken parts, to stop wounds from bleeding, to fix gloves or other clothing or to “stop a buddy from screaming during a steep ride by taping his mouth shut.”Backcountry skier Grant Barta agreed with England’s suggestions about backcountry preparedness and added that duct tape could be used to repair holes in ski pants or to make homemade “croakies.””Take a shoestring and tape it to your sunglasses, then wrap the string in duct tape and there you have it – croakies,” he said.Ray Erst, a Sierra Mountaineer employee and outdoor enthusiast, said duct tape is good for repairing goose-down sleeping bags to prevent the down from falling out.”It is also a kayaker’s best friend,” he said. “I have used it to fix holes in everything from my ski boots, hiking boots and kayaking equipment.”Erst found other uses for duct tape, such as taping small pieces of duct tape to his drum to dampen the sound and pulling cat hair off his sofa.Paco Lindsey, owner of Paco’s Bike and Ski, said duct tape is useful if tires and riders get caught in a “pinch.””If bike tires rip, duct tape can be used to temporarily repair the hole so the tire tube doesn’t pop out of the hole,” he said.The tape also helps to protect tire tubes from rupturing from the screwheads in homemade studded bike tires.”Just line the rim and the heads with the tape and they’re sure not to pop the tube,” he said.Finally, Lindsey said if riders cannot afford to replace a damaged seat with a new one, which he said could cost as low as $10, duct tape could be used to repair the seat.Other outdoorsmen, like Win Crowell, said duct tape is perfect for keeping foxtails out of shoe laces when hunting or snow out of boots while snowmobiling. He also said that while working as a mechanic he once needed to tape down someone’s car hood.”It’s a fix all,” he said.Auto Doctor owner John Lamoreux agreed about the tape’s multiple personality. Besides the normal, everyday uses for the tape, he said he once needed to tape a car’s radiator to the body of the car.”The car was wrecked and the driver needed to get home, so I taped up his radiator,” he said.Squaw Valley’s Director of Ski Patrol Bob Cushman said duct tape’s uses are limitless. He said he couldn’t think of any additional practical uses for the tape beyond what others had suggested, so he added some uses for keeping oneself looking cool during a day’s ski outing.”People really need to tape their skis together so their skis don’t scissor (spread apart) while walking from their cars to the bottom of the gondola,” he said. “Or if your Vuarnet’s (sunglasses) break, tape them together with some duct tape.”If you are so tired from skiing, you can tape your ski poles to your hands, or better yet, if you need to leave a message at the bottom of a chair lift you could use duct tape to hold up your note.”On a more serious note, duct tape has come to the rescue for many rescue personnel. Truckee Fire Protection District Capt. Gary Botto said duct tape is often used to hold patients on backboards during transport.”We know we can trust duct tape to do the job,” he said.Athletes have used duct tape as ankle and wrist supports and, last year, one Tahoe City “polar bear swim” racer used duct to protect her feet from Tahoe’s rocky bottom.England suggested buying the best quality duct tape, because in Truckee’s cold temperatures “the cheap tape just won’t stick.””It’s important to realize the different grades of duct tape,” he said. “You don’t want to be caught without the best.”He suggested staying clear of the tape sold at Costco or Harbor Freight.The World Wide Web has more than four sites specifically geared toward duct tape uses. “Jim and Tim’s Duct Tape Page” is a popular site – just look at the number of hits on the page’s visitor counter. There are too many uses to list, but there is one common theme – a roll of duct tape should accompany every recreational activity and auto trip.As the motto goes, “If you can’t duct it, ‘forget’ it.” Well, that’s close enough for the paper’s sake.
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