How Do I Know When to Retire My Cams?

How do I know when to retire my cams? —Anonymous

Cams can last 20 years or more if properly cared for, but after a few years of hard use you’ll probably need to replace some trigger wires and the slings. Some manufacturers offer replacement trigger kits, and some will replace slings or trigger wires for a reasonable fee. Mountain Tools (mtntools.com) also reslings cams and nuts. Inspect cams frequently and immediately straighten any bent trigger wires, or the cam lobes won’t retract evenly. Once a wire starts to fray, have it replaced. Murphy’s Law definitely applies to cams: A frayed trigger wire will break just as you try to place the cam during a desperate runout.

Replace the sling if:

  • It’s more than 10 years old.
  • It’s noticeably faded.
  • It shows visible abrasion or any damage to the stitches.

Retire a unit if:

  • It has held a truly severe fall.
  • A cam lobe is deformed in any way— flattened, bent, or out of alignment. The cam angle will be affected and the unit will not grip properly.
  • Any of the stem-cable wires are frayed.
  • The cam axle is bent or the cams wobble on the axle. —Jeff Achey

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