A device (10) having a cylinder housing (12) with a bore (12a) receives a piston sleeve (14) in which a tapered bore is formed in radially movable sections extending from the piston head. A rope gripping split sleeve (16) having a tapered outer circumference and formed of separable sections which are radially movable but maintained in axial alignment is received in the tapered bore of the piston sleeve. A rope is placed in the split sleeve which is inserted in the piston sleeve and in turn in the housing bore. A valve (18) disposed in the head (14a) of the piston sleeve allows piston movement inwardly but resists outward movement of the piston, allowing a metering fluid flow providing a timed release of the rope dependent on the force level applied. In a second embodiment device (100) includes a piston rod (122) attached to the piston sleeve which extends through a guide plug (116) into a compression chamber. Fluid is allowed to flow through a valve (128) in piston head (122b) when the piston is moved inwardly to set the device but fluid flow in the opposite direction is prevented by the valve. When sufficient outward force is applied to the rope, movement of the piston is enabled by a metering flow of fluid through a bore of a needle (130) extending through the piston plug (126). An interlocking member (14k, 122m) provides a minimum selected force for initial movement of the piston member from the set position.
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