Scramble's G-Series Tarps: A Bad Batch
We have some interesting reviews coming shortly, but before we get to them we just needed to address an issue (now resolved) that fortunately affected only a small number of the Scramble G-Series tarps and their customers.
Introduction: Moving Swiftly On To Manufacturer #3
Since their creation, the Scramble G-Series' tarp design hasn't really changed that much (just a few tweaks here and there), instead rather than what is being made, the greater change has been around who is doing the making, at least on the UK side.
We're now onto our third manufacturer (after an issue with our second, more on this later):
- Original manufacturer (Scotland): Ceased business during COVID (2020/2021)
- Interim manufacturer (England): Sacked
- Current manufacturer (England): Doing very nice work
We've had zero tarp failures (to our knowledge) from either our original or current manufacturers. However, the "interim" manufacturer made a very small batch of both G-38s and G-55s and over a short period in 2022 we had reports of 3 failures, all identical. This came as quite a surprise and it took us a little while to figure out exactly what had gone wrong.
Our apologies and sincere thanks to the customers who detailed the failures (and who I trust we more than compensated for their experience).
What Went Wrong?
The failures were all identical and resulted in a deep tearing near the side attachment point (never the corners) into the body of the tarp fabric.
We figured out quite quickly one of the reasons for the failures (and probably the main one). There are strict manufacturing guidelines for these tarps and one is for the side attachment point stitching to be set back from the tarp seam edging. All stitching creates weakness; where you create the weakness is the key.
The "interim manufacturers" (presumably valuing looks over function) had ignored this and stitched far too close to the tarp edge (and we'd failed to pick this up). In addition (and we only learned this from our current manufacturing partner), they had ignored a secondary instruction regarding the gauge (fineness) of the needle to be used.
You want to be punching as small a hole as the thread allows and lazily, the interim manufacturer had not swapped out their needle when switching over to working on our tarps. Resulting in a much larger hole being made.
So, too large a hole, too close to the tarp seam edging basically creates a line of weakness at a high stress site (like a perforation in a cheque book for anyone who remembers those).
1) Obviously, we immediately ended our relationship with the interim manufacturer and were fortunate to find an outstanding (though not inexpensive) replacement who we've been working with ever since.
2) We recalled all the G-Series tarps from this, fortunately very small, "interim" batch (both from the wild and from stock). The excellent tarp fabric from the unsold stock is going to be used on another project.
3) As this wasn't so much a design issue as a manufacturer / quality assurance blunder, we've changed almost nothing in terms of design. However, the current manufacturer has been made deeply aware of this issue and its importance. In addition, we've added a spinnaker tape underlay to the side attachment points (see image below). This adds about 1g in weight (in total) and means the stitching is going through (in the critical areas) 5 layers of fabric. This will add some minor fortification to the seam and cannot help but enforce a little "stitch integrity" under load for the side attachment points. However, its main purpose is to enforce a zen-like discipline on the manufacturer. It's a reminder to pay close attention to the stitch and stitch away from the seam edge.
We pay a little more, but the reputational cost of failure is far higher.
So to sum up:
- To our knowledge, there are no tarps from the bad batch in circulation and all stock in the SYSTEM store is made by the new manufacturer and features the new tape underlay as pictured and matches our specification outlined above.
- This was never a design issue and so nothing has fundamentally changed in terms of design. I recently used the G-38 in the winter kit test in ferocious conditions (90 mph winds) and although chaos ensued, there was no damage to the tarp. If they can survive what I put them through recently - we don't have a design issue and now we don't have a bad manufacturer issue either.
- The G-Series Tarps come with a 3 year warranty for good reason and what this saga highlights is the importance of customers using such guarantees. If products fail (regardless of the brand) things only improve if us manufacturers know there's a problem. This is why we're so grateful for the those that contacted us to let us know of this issue, as it allowed us to nip it in the bud, put things right and ultimately improve the product.
Now, back to the reviews.
Last Updated: 27/05/23