McDermott’s Rope Brake was invented by Jim McDermott, a tree service owner operator in San Jose, California for seventeen years and then in and around Dubuque, Iowa for the past eighteen. For the past fifteen years Jim has been advertising that large hazardous removals are his specialty and he has done a ton of them. An impetus for the invention was related to the fact that finding employees became so problematic (due to basically zero unemployment in his region and his not working for four months during the winter), that he began to tailor his business and equipment selection around having just one typically inexperienced employee. As such, on the job efficiency became increasingly crucial, and this was compounded by Jim’s age. (Pushing sixty.)

Given these circumstances, continually looking for a better way led to numerous inventions. In this case, frequently working from an aerial lift in tight locations with one helper on the ground, Jim realized that he was standing idle in the bucket for quite a bit of time during the lowering of limbs and logs. From his vantage point, it was obvious that it was a time and energy consuming struggle for the employee on the ground to keep the base of the tree clear to run the rope brake, as it was trying to get material being lowered to lay where desired while trying to move around with one hand on the lowering line and the other on the material being lowered. Looking for a way to alleviate those time killers for the groundsman and himself, Jim concluded the solution would be for him to be able to do the lowering.

Jim subsequently decided to make a rope brake that would hang in the crown of the tree so he could take over and do the lowering once the groundsman had secured the load and Jim had put the saw back in the scabbard. Once he started using his original crown mounted rope brake, he realized that it not only removed the necessity to keep the base of the tree clear and enable the grounds man to much easier and more quickly navigate limbs and logs as desired (including pointing toward the chipper) but he also realized that given his greater experience and the view from his high location rope brake, he was able to more quickly, accurately and safely lower material to the ground as the situation dictated and as groundsman wanted it. Generally, as soon as the knot was untied, Jim was able to begin pulling the rope up for the next tie off.

Without the rope brake at the base of the tree, large or small drop zone, the entire area under the tree that didn’t have valuable property on it was now open to lower limbs onto it, which meant larger limbs could be lowered and lowered more quickly. Later in the process, if the groundsman was in the front yard, Jim began to secure logs and limbs himself up in the tree by making additional raps around the “double “T” attachment bar. He was now able to stay fully productive himself and enable the grounds man to also be fully productive and the job flowing more methodically than ever. With the very first prototype, Jim realized this method was making the job safer, a lot easier, and getting him home earlier as well. Almost ten prototypes followed with various negatives, positives and lessons before he concluded he had effectively tested and developed the device to the degree that it could be sold to fellow professionals interested in improving their rigging processes and bottom lines. To assure it would be of the highest quality, he enlisted the help of a team of experienced engineers, machinists, welders and certified testers in the heartland.