Rigging work

If you visit a traditional rigger’s loft for the first time (or any time, really), you’ll probably be struck by the smell when you enter. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s the smell of rope and pine tar, earthy, hempy, a little sweet. You’re surrounded by cordage of all kinds in rolls, loops, bins, laid out along the floor.


There are barrels of tar and gum turpentine for soaking blocks, and buckets of thinned black pine tar for coating the work. I think it’s one of the best smells on earth.

So, if you’d like to experience today’s entry in Smell-O-Rama, get some jute,


cut off a length and put a drop of Pine-Sol on it and roll it around. That’s getting close. If you’d like to add a drop of varnish, that wouldn’t hurt.

Matt was working on a stopper knot called a 4-stranded lanyard knot today (P. 120 in Ashley’s Book of Knots).


This knot starts with seizing (also called whipping, although I believe that a whipping technically is a seizing at the end of a cord rather than below a knot or splice) the rope just below where the knot will go.


You can see this just above the vise jaws.


He then untwists the strands. In this case, there are 4 strands of rope with a core strand in the center.


These are then re-tied into this wide, turban-shaped knot.


The strands are re-laid above the knot and whipped. Sorry for the blurry photo.


This makes a great stopper knot to keep a rope from pulling through a hole (such as a hole in a deadeye).

Alex was lashing a loop into the end of a served cable today as well. The cable was looped around large wooden post (I’m sure it has a real name that I don’t know right now) and the ends lashed together like this.


He wraps his line around a pipe (again, there’s a name for it that I don’t recall) that allows him to get a great deal of leverage on the line and pull it very tight. He puts on 2 layers of lashing and then locks it all together with a couple of frapping turns.


These turns are locked in place with a flat knot.


You can see the bucket of tar in the background. Everything gets a good coating. The line-wrapped pipe is used to pull everything very very tight.


Here’s the finished product.

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This particular loop will get 2 more lashings before it’s done. Alex uses riggers (or rigging) screws to hold the cable tight to itself as he works along.

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You won’t find these puppies at Home Depot.

While Matt and Alex are working up in the rigging loft, Walt has been in the carpenter’s shop working on Parrel Buckets.

You may have heard of Parrel Beads before. They allow a line that loops around the mast to slide up and down easily, like bearings.


A parell bucket does the same thing, only it’s bucket-shaped. Here’s Walt with the old bucket disassembled.


This bucket is split into two halves with a metal strap around the outside to connect it to the spar. The strap goes in the dark, recessed area of the bucket staves.


This strap was hand-forged. Walt traced the inner shape of the strap to see how close to round it was. He then flipped the strap and saw that it matched the original tracing exactly. This means that the person who forged this strap absolutely nailed it when he made it round.

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Walt glued up his staves on a form,


and then rounded them, and cut a groove for the strap.

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Mike and Allie have been steadily forming the metal holders for the deadeyes.


Mike starts by forming the loops for a connecting pin

and then works them over a bar to make sure that they are parallel and spaced properly.

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They’ll end up looking like this once Allie cleans them up.