BACK-FRAME WHEEL for laying cordage, from a fix-thread ratline to a two-inch rope, is about four or five feet in diameter, and is hung between two uprights, fixed by tenons on a truck, and supported by a knee of wood. Over its top is a semi-circular frame, called the head, to contain three whirls (that turn on the brasses) with iron spindles, secured by a hasp and pin. They are worked by means of a leather band encircling the whirls and wheel. Three of the whirls are turned when hardening the strands, and one only when closing the rope, the strands being hung together on it. The truck, on which the back-frame wheel is fixed, runs on four wheels, and is made of three-inch oak plank, about nine feet long and thirteen inches broad, at one end, and eleven inches broad at the other.

BACK-HOOKS, large strong iron hooks, to close ropes and cables, fixed in the breast-board of the sledge.

BANDS, to encircle the wheels and whirls, are of leather, large line, or catgut. The leather is for the spinning and back-frame wheels, the line for the table-wheel, and the catgut for line and twine wheels.

BLOCKS, single, double, or treble, are strapped with a hook and thimble, and reeved with a rope, called the tackle-fall, which is used to stretch the yarn to its full extent, (before the press is put on,) by a capstern, or crab, at the lower-end of the rope-walk. The fall is then belayed, until every yarn is hove through the strands and brought down, so that the rope may not exceed the circumference intended.

BOLTS for whirls are large iron pins with round heads driven in the board over the crank-wheel for the whirls to run on.

BRASSES, let into the heads of laying or spinning wheels, are about four inches long and two broad. In the middle of the upper-end is a hole for the spindle of the whirls to work in.

BRIDGE, an oak plank, thirty-two inches broad and three thick, fixed across the top of the kettle, with a mortise through the middle to admit the step, and a hole at the end for the yarn to pass through to the nipper.

CABLES, ropes made of nine strands, that are nine inches and upwards in circumference.

CABLETS, cable-laid ropes, under nine inches in circumference.

CAPSTERN. A round body of wood, about eight feet high and fourteen-inches in diameter. It turns on a spindle at top and bottom, has four holes near the middle for levers and bars, and is turned by men or horses. Its use is to draw the yarn, when turning, out of the copper through the nipper, to be coiled away in the yarn-house, and there properly hardened before used; if not, it will kink in closing.

A CAPSTERN, or CRAB, is fixed in the ground at the lower-end of the walk, and is used in stretching the yarn to its fullest extent, before it is worked into strands, by means of the tackle-fall, led from the sledge to the capstern, they being about eighteen yards distant from each other.

CLEARER. A tool similar to the hatchell, but with finer teeth, as the hemp is always finished on it for lines and twines, for sail-makers, &c.

CLOSING of ropes, see LAYING.

COUCH. To couch well is to lay close and even.

COIL. A rope turned in form of a ring, one turn upon another, for easy stowage, and that it may run out free.

CRAB, a sort of small capstern, fixed in a frame of wood at the lower-end of the ground, used to stretch the yarn, by giving power to the tackle.

CRANK-WHEEL, for spinning of lines, box-cord, &c. is fixed on an iron spindle or axis with handle to turn it by: It hangs between two posts; the after one is six feet high, one foot broad, and five inches thick; in its upper part, above the wheel, is let in a semi-circular board, two feet six inches long, two feet broad, and five inches thick, to reive three sets of whirl-bolts, with whirls on them, for the spinners to hang their threads on: at the front side of the wheel is a short post supported by a knee of oak for the spindle to rest on.

DRAGS are formed like the after part of the sledge, to which they are fastened by ropes, and are lined with a board on the upper side. They contain weight, as a press, when the rope requires more than the sledge can carry to keep the strands of proper stretch, and prevent their kinking, as they get hard, and as the rope is brought to its intended size.

FIDS, to make eyes, splices, &c. in large ropes, are round lignum-vitæ pins, thick at one end and tapering to a point. They are from eight to twenty inches long.

FOREGANGER, a short piece of rope, one quarter of an inch in circumference, (larger than a whale-line,) to six on the harpoon when they strike a whale.

FORE-LOCK-HOOKS are made if iron, with a long neck and handle; they have an eye at the end of the neck for the fore-lock to go through, and are to hang the yarn on, to harden and close ropes, from two-inches and a quarter and upwards.

GROUND-TWO, the loose hemp that comes from the sides of the hatchellers and spinners.

A HATCHELL, to clear the ends of the hemp, by drawing it through, has forty sharp-pointed iron teeth, one foot long, fixed in wood.

HAULED ABOUT is a term used in making a short cable-laid rope, when one strand is made long enough to make three; or, for a four strand rope, long enough to make tow, and form an eye at the lower end of a stay.

A HAUL OF YARN is about four-hundred threads, when warped off the winches, with a flight turn in it, to be tarred.

HAWSER. ropes made of three or four single strands. When made of four strands it is called shroud-laid, and is used in merchant-ships.

HEART, a strand slack twisted, used in some four-stranded ropes: it is run down the middle, to fill the vacancy that otherwise occur, and thereby forms a round. It is best hawse-laid.

IRON JACKS, sometimes used instead of the table-wheel or back-frame wheel, differ from the latter by having an iron wheel with cogs, which work in the whirls, they having iron cogs likewise.

JUNK, old cables or hawser-ropes, cut into various lengths.

KINKING, the twisting or curling of a rope, by being twisted too hard.

KNITTING, the tying together certain quantities of yarn, when warping into hauls to be tarred.

LAYING, the closing of the strands together to compose the rope.

LAYING-HOOK, the hook on which the strands are all hung together for laying or closing.

LOPER, used to lay lines, has two iron swivel-hooks (that run round in a brass or iron box) at each end, for the line to hang on, and work, by the power of the fore turn, from the wheel at the upper end.

MARKING-YARN, a white thread, untarred, laid in rope for the king's or East-India company's mark. That for the king's is spun the contrary way.

MARLINE-SPIKES, to make eyes, splices, &c. in small ropes, are long iron pins, in shape of a fid, from eight to sixteen inches long.

MAIL, to rub off the loose hemp that remains on white cordage, is a kind of steel chain-work, flat, and fastened upon leather, about nine-inches long and seven-inches broad.

NIBBED-HOOKS are of iron, used to hang the yarn on to harden the strands, and lay ropes from two inches and a quarter to three inches and a quarter.

A NIPPER is formed of two steel plates, eight inches square and half an inch thick, with a semi-oval hole in each four inches wide, by the upper plate moving, enlarges or contracts as the tarring of the yarn requires. It is thus fixed. A post, twelve inches square, is placed between the kettle and capstern, with a mortise cut eighteen inches long from the kettle's surface and five inches wide. The under-plate is turned up on each side, to form two grooves, and is let into the front-side of the post from the lower part of the mortise: the upper-plate has a dove-tail on the back, that slides up and down in a groove into the grooves of the lower plate, and, by a staff, made fast to its front, it is highered or lowered, and regulated by a weight suspended at the other end, so that the yarn receives no more tar than is required, and what is squeezed out drops in a trough and returns into the kettle.

PENDANTS, short pieces of rope, doubled, with a large eye spiced at each end, and a thimble seized in the bight, used to hook the tackles where wanted.

POSTS AND RAILS, along the whole length of the walk. The posts are eight feet high, exactly opposite to each other, and support, on the head, the rails that cross the ground, in which are iron hooks for the spinner to hang his yarn on as he spins it.

PRESS-BARRELS are old tar-barrels filled with clay, and laid on the sledge or drag to add weight when the rope is closing.

RAN, twenty cords of twine, wound on a reel, and every cord so parted by a knot as to be easily separated.

REACHING-POST, a post sixteen or eighteen inches diameter, and about four feet high, fixed in the ground at the lower-end of the walk. It is used in stretching the yarn by means of a tackle, one of the blocks of which is hooked to a strap round the post, the other block to a pendant at the sledge, they being about eighteen yards distant from each other.

REELS to reel ropes on, from a fix-thread ratline to a two-inch rope, have four ribs fixed at each end in a flat circular piece of wood; round the edges, are blades, or handles, to tune them: one-of the circular pieces is called the head, and is made to slide off for taking the coil away. They turn on an iron spindle with a round head, and are from ten to thirty-six inches long, and from twelve to eighteen inches diameter.

REELS, HAND, are used for reeling marline and other lines. They are narrow boards, with three or four holes at each end, in which pegs are fixed to reel the line on.

REELS, TWINE, have four oak bars, about eighteen inches long, one of which slides for the convenience of taking off the twine.

ROPE-HOUSE GROUND, OR WALK, should be four-hundred yards long and about ten broad, At the upper-end are fixed the spinning-wheels, over which is the hatchelling-loft, also the back-frame wheels, tackle-boards and posts, winches for winding the yarn on as it is spun, and reels for reeving the ropes on. On each side are stake-posts: in the middle is fixed the warping-post; and, at the lower-end, the capstern and reaching-post. Back-frame wheels for small, and sledges and drags for large, ropes, are used towards the lower-end.

ROUNDING is giving the rope an additional turn after being closed.

SERVING-MALLET has a round head, about twelve inches long, to serve round the parcelling and spunyarn, which is woolded round the rope, to work the worming into the cuntline of the rope.

SERVING of ropes is binding them round with rope-yarn.

SHIVERS. The foul particles taken from the hemp when hatchelling.

SHORT-LAID, implies short-twisted.

SHORT-HAULS, hauls of yarn for rope short of the common length.

SHORTS. The toppings and tailings of the hemp, which are dressed for bolt-ropes and whale-lines. Shorts, also, implies the distinction between the long hemp used in making staple-ropes, and inferior hemp.

SLACK-LAID means slack-twisted.

SLEDGES are frames made of strong oak, clamped with iron in different parts. They are from three feet wide and eight or twelve feet long to five feet wide and fifteen feet long, according to the size of rope. The two sides are the length of the sledge, made of oak, five by seven inches thick, and tied in with oak bars at each end: near the front are two uprights, five feet high, let into the sides, and supported by two slanting pieces from the upper-end. A breast-board, nine inches wide and from two or three inches thick, is fastened with iron pins to the uprights, and contains holes for the hooks to go through on which the yarn is hung, which, being turned by men, is twisted into rope, and so closed or finished. These sledges are loaded to such a degree as the rope in making requires.

SPINNING-WHEEL, for twelve spinners, to spin yarn at the same time, is about five feet in diameter, and is hung between two posts fixed in the ground: over its top is fixed a semi-circular frame, called the head, which contains twelve whirls, that turn on iron spindles, with hooks to their front-ends to hang the hemp on, and are worked by means of a leather band encircling the wheel and whirls.

STAFFS for tops are round, from six to eight feet long, and from two and a half to five inches diameter, which go through a hole in the top, or are confined under it by a bolt and tails: they run on a truck-wheel at the lower-end as the rope closes.

STAFF for the nipper is an oak bar seven feet long and four inches square, one end is fixed in an iron strap on the upper-plate of the nipper; on the other end a weight is suspended sufficient to press the tar out of the yarn.

STAKE-POSTS are of oak, about four feet high and twelve inches diameter, with a mortise-hole in each for the stake-heads to go in and out, to keep the rope from the ground. They are placed about ten yards distant from each other along the whole length of the walk.

STAKE-HEADS are about four feet long and four by three inches square, with four wooden pins to keep the strands asunder. For lines they are about two feet long and three by two inches square and have six pins.

STAPLE-ROPES, a term for ropes made of hemp not inferior to clean Petersburgh.

STEP, OR TONGUE, for the tar-kettle, is made of three-inch oak plank, five feet long and thirteen inches broad, which tapers to nine inches at the bottom, and is put into the kettle through a mortise in the bridge. Within four inches of the lower-end of the step is a round hole five inches diameter, for the yarn to pass through. The step is suspended and regulated by a tackle.

STOVING is placing of white rope in an iron stove or oven, to which heat is communicated by means of a flute, which makes the rope more limber and pliant to receive the tar,

STRAND, one of the twists or divisions of which a rope is composed.

STRAP, a number of yarns platted together with an eye at one end, to put a stick through: it is bound round the end of the tails to twist them tight when the rope is to be laid hard. Some have a hook at the other end, to hook the strands in laying: others are made of the same sized rope as the pendants, with an eye spliced in each end.

STRAPS, pieces of rope spliced to surround blocks, or fasten large ropes, &c.

TABLE-WHEEL, to lay ropes, from a six-thread ratline to a two-inch and half rope, is fixed in the wheel-house, at the upper-end of the rope-walk, in a frame fixed in the ground, with two sliding cheeks, and bands to work the whirls, which go separately over each whirl, and round the turning-wheel. (Some have six sets of whirls, of different sizes, with iron spindles, and nibbed or forelock-hooks at the outer-end.) A tackle-board, twelve inches broad and three inches thick, with six holes for the hooks to go through, is fixed above the cheeks upon cleats.

TACKLE-FALL, the rope that connects the blocks together. The whole assemblage is called a tackle, and is used for stretching the yarn, &c.

TAR, a liquid gum of blackish hue, which distills from lines, or fir-trees: when prepared by boiling, it is used in tarring ropes. Stockholm tar is the best for this purpose, and no other is allowed in the royal navy.

TAR-KETTLE is made of copper, and holds from ten to twenty barrels of tar. It is set in strong brick-work, and over it is fastened, from side to side, in the direction of the nipper, a bridge made of three-inch oak planks, thirteen inches broad, through the middle of which is a mortise for the step next the capstern is an upright post, twelve inches square, in which is fixed a nipper, to press the tar out of the yarn; and a staff, with a weight suspended at the end, is fixed on the side of the nipper, to keep it down, that the yarn may have no more tar than is necessary.

TOPS, to lay ropes, from a six-thread ratline to the largest cables, are conical pieces of wood, with three or four grooves or scores from the butt to the end, for the strands to lie in, and form a triangle. If too broad at the breech, the rope will not close well, nor the strands work so close as they should. A hole is made through the centre of the top, one-third the length from the biggest end, for the staff or bolt to go through, round which are put pieces of old rope, called tails, for the layer to close the rope with, and lay it hard or slack, according to the use it is for. A hole is likewise made through the middle of the top length-ways, for laying ropes with a heart. A collar is put on to assist the layer when the work is too heavy, and to enable him to hold the tails and close the rope well.

TOPS, to lay ropes of three inches and upwards, have a staff under them, with a truck-wheel at the lower-end. An iron bolt goes through the centre of the top and is lashed down to the staff, on which the tails are put and rounded over the rope, being too heavy to be laid with the collar. A strap is put round the tails with a woolder for the layer to close the rope with.

TOPS, to lay cables, have a leg to support them with a truck-wheel at the end to run, besides the staff which the tails go over.

TOPS, for laying lines of all sizes, are of hard wood, tapered at the after part, that the line may close sharp. Those for sash-lines have four grooves, and for drum-lines eight grooves.

TOPPINGS, what comes from clearing hemp when hatchelling.

TOPPING AND TAILING is the clearing both ends of the hemp with the hatchell.

TRUCK-BARROWS are of different sizes, have three wheels, and are used to take hauls of yarn from the yarn-house, and remnants of yarn, coils of rope, &c. from the ground to the rope-house.

TRUSSELS have four legs braced together with stout pins: they are used at the upper-end of a rope, or put under ropes of a short length, when the strands cannot be put on the stake-heads.

WARPED INTO JUNKS is yarn warped into short lengths for spunyarn.

WARPING is running the yarn off the winches into hauls to be tarred.

WARPING-POST, a post, fourteen or sixteen inches diameter, fixed in the middle of the ground for warping the yarn into hauls.

WARPING-BLOCKS are used to warp the yarns into hauls for tarring. The tops and bottoms are made to separate, to let in the sheaves and screw down.

WARPING-HOOK, for hanging the yarn on, when warping into hauls for tarring, is a large iron hook hung occasionally to the warping-posts.

WHIRLS are of oak or ash, five inches long, cylindrical formed, and fixed on iron spindles in the heads of wheels, with a hook at one end for the spinner to hand his hemp on. They are likewise used to hang the yarn on for hardening, and laying ropes, from a six-thread ratline to a two and a half inch rope. Those for twines and lines are made of box wood, with a hole through the middle, and two or more grooves round them, one to hold the catgut which encircles the wheel, and the other to hold a small cap, made of catgut, to which the thread is fastened in spinning or laying. The whirls for large work are four inches in diameter, with three or four grooves and an iron cap.

WINCH (a) is, to wind the yarn on as it is spun, and consists of eight spokes, to form the body. and eight blades, four at each end, to contain the spokes, and an iron bolt with a round head to turn it on.

WOOLDERS, single and double handed, are sticks about three feet long and four inches in circumference, with strops of rope-yarn made fast, to fix on the rope and assist the men at the hooks in closing the rope.

WORMING is laying strands along the cuntlines of ropes, to make an even surface for serving.

YARN, called twenty-five, twenty, and eighteen thread yarn, differs only in the fineness; the twenty-five being finer than the twenty, &c. It is thus distinguished, because either twenty-five, twenty, or eighteen threads a hook, make a rope of three inches in circumference, and so in proportion.

Steel: The Elements and Practice of Rigging and Seamanship
Printed for David Steel, London, 1794. pp 53-59.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

Sjöhistoriska Samfundet | The Maritime History Virtual Archives | Etymology.

Copyright © 1999 Lars Bruzelius.