Never Leave Home Without It……..

Not too many years ago, Sharon and I visited her mother’s cousin in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Earl, a successful gynecologist, was a charming fellow full of wisdom and great stories. The good doctor was a Renaissance sort of guy, taken to snow skiing and world travel and prided himself on always being prepared for life’s adventures. His emergency medical kit relied heavily on duct tape and he was masterful with it. I recently used a version of duct tape on a temporary repair and it worked just fine. What about this stuff that we tend to take for granted? Let’s have a look.

Hold on Captain! I’ll have you rolling in just a minute.

Duct tape traces it’s origins to the turn of the century. As early as 1902 an early version of a cloth backed tape was used to wrap the cables on the Manhattan bridge. Even then it consisted of a cloth or scrim backed fabric coated with a pressure sensitive adhesive. The fabric, even today, is usually polyester, nylon, rayon or a form of fiberglass. The adhesives have dramatically improved and the stuff has seemingly magical holding ability and use. A roll of duct tape is stowed on every manned capsule we send into space……you never know when something will need fixing. In 2003, when we were a little jittery with the world situation, the Department of Homeland Security recommended that every household have a roll of duct tape in their disaster kits.

A winglet on a modern jet liner….problem solved!

You can see from the attached photographs, duct tape is often employed in the aviation industry, holding in place pieces and bits pummeled by exceeding high wind or airspeed. Those of us having experience with helicopters in Vietnam may remember the “100 mile per hour tape”, green in color, that was often affixed to the rotor blades, usually to restore balance or cover some imperfection in the blade surface. It wasn’t a super secret fix, rather it was green duct tape. From a medical perspective, with little proof but plenty of anecdotal evidence, it has been suggested that duct tape will remove a wart from our skin. Just apply it and after a few days, bingo, the wart dissolves. While I am not recommending this wart fix, I can attest to the use of duct tape for removing a deep splinter, as long as the tape can actually make contact with the splinter. Apply it, drink a beverage and in 30 minutes or so, yank it off and the splinter will come with it. It has been used to hold wounds closed (on dry skin) and is a very effective flypaper hung in a room where flies are a problem. Duct tape is flammable and makes a good fire starter when lit by a match or other means. It burns hot and long enough to get something more substantial burning.

A grizzly tore this airplane up. The pilot duct taped it back together and flew it home!

Around our part of the country, it is not at all unusual to see automobiles held together with duct tape securing a piece of plastic, window, taillight or sealing a misfitting door or windshield. In fact, a shade tree garage equipped with duct tape and zip ties can tackle about any problem with trim or surface repair. To further complicate the picture, we now have variations of duct tape in color, strength, size and quantity. We, also, have a relatively new version of this versatile tape, a product called Gorilla tape. It is mean sticky, leaves a residue and you’ll almost have to burn it off the repair.

Here is the crux of the matter. I can’t imagine a household without a roll of this stuff on hand. There are new applications being developed regularly with too many uses to contemplate. Our RV culture does not leave home without it and neither should you.

Have a great weekend!


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