In the sixties, the testing of ropes was based upon Maurice Dodéro’s works. Dodéro used components which related to the carabiner then in use - a 10 mm diameter standard. John Brailsford realized that, if he could increase the diameter over which the rope passed on the top of the nut, he would greatly reduce the risks of cutting the rope sling at this critical point of contact. A star was born: the MOAC! Joe Brown, Don Roscoe (of the Rock & Ice Club), John Brailsford himself and his regular partner, Doug Cook, used them and found they worked at a level of safety not enjoyed before. In 1962, the first batch of MOACs was cast in Manchester and the guide, Peter Gentle, hand-finished them. Mounted on 9 mm rope, other sizes could be obtained by filing them down to reduce their thickness. Originally, Alan Kimber, a Scots-based friend of John Brailsford, thought about calling the new nut Johnny, which also is a slang term for a condom... Ellis Brigham, owner of a chain of outdoor shops in UK who sponsored the die cast first production run, also owned a climbing equipment import company, Mountain Activities. Therefore the name MOAC was chosen for this nut, that many British and American climbers still carry them for sentimental reasons.

Charles Curtis was probably the first to make wired nuts. He first climbed on Cloggy in 1959 and collected his first authentic « nuts ». At this time, he was studying Chemistry at Sheffield. He graduated in 1961 and moved to the Geology Department where he started making his Little Mesters in his workshop.

Charles Curtis had not seen wire used for artificial chockstones but, at the Sheffield University Mountaineering Club, many members were speleologists who explored the caves in Derbyshire, just a few miles away.


They manufactured ladders from wire, and he convinced them to give him some samples. His first attempt was a dismal failure. A mould was made and molten aluminium poured on to a knotted wire, which caused it to lose its temper and strength. Attempting the second ascent of « Vector », a Rock & Ice route at Tremadog with Peter Crew, Jack Soper fell off on to one of these nuts while trying to layback the top crack which was full of mud. The device exploded, the wire had been weakened by the heat of the metal. The next step solved the problem completely. Aluminium blocks were cast or cut and then drilled from the top (single large hole) and then the bottom (two small holes). The wire was inserted, tied and the knot pulled back down into the larger hole. He then set the knot in place with epoxy resin (araldite). Charles Curtis made sets of different sizes, the smallest being limited by the knot size. Large ones were made relatively thin. Altogether, no more than twenty were made. The name is a local Sheffield name -a dialect version of the Little Masters- the name given to the local craftsmen who had built the cutlery and silverware industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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