The three-ring parachute release system was brought to the skydiving world by Bill Booth (the guy with the ZZ Top beard from the tandem video you probably watched at some point) to replace the Capewells that were in common use. For any more questions about history/function, feel free to drop into the loft to see Kyle or Rory.
Q: How often should I service my three-ring?
A: Most manufacturers recommend servicing the three-ring release once a month, but make sure to check your manufacturer’s manual for a definitive time frame.
Q: HOW should I service it?
A: (VIDEO) Pull your cutaway handle and safely set your risers aside under a weight or rubber-banded together. You will need a paper towel and a lubricant spray like silicone or teflon. Spray about a quarter-sized area of your spray onto the paper towel and draw your cutaway cables through the lubricant. You will probably see a black residue left on your paper towel. We usually give two or three pulls through and then find a clean spot on the paper towel and do a pull or two to clean off excess dirt.
After that, you can feed your cables back into your rig (make sure to thread it properly if you have a Skyhook/Collins lanyard). Once that is in place, it is time to massage your rings. Grip the rings on your risers in turn between your thumb and pointer finger and wiggle the ring around in as many directions as possible. What we are trying to do is break the memory of the fabric that has it held in position for how it normally rests. In a low-speed partial malfuntion like an out-of-sequence horseshoe, your risers may not release if they are too set in their shape. Get the end of the riser straightened, so that the middle ring lies flat out. Reattach your risers and then do a full line continuity check to make sure that you put them back on straight.
Q: Why do we do all of this?
A: To prevent a hard cutaway. Aside from the memory built into your risers and the previously discussed possibility of them staying in place, we lubricate the cables so that they slide easier when we need to use them. Also, that black residue that was on the paper towel can build up in your cable housing and cause a harder cutaway.
If you have any questions or need a demonstration, please come upstairs and see your friendly riggers, Rory and Kyle, and we will be happy to help you keep your rig in tip-top shape.