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Good evening. Les here. I have question about the belaying pins supplied with my 1/64 HM Bark Endeavour. When viewed in scale they would appear to be the size of a regular glass coke bottle. I have ordered replacements from Cauldercraft that are 9.75 x 1.5 mm. Much slimmer in size. Would these be a better fit? Thnx Les.

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There are a few kits that provide belaying pins that are all out of whack scale wise. I myself purchase much slimmer ones as you have done. Sometimes they look like bowling pins!!  I'm sure the dimension pins you have purchased will be better looking.

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Hello Les here. Thanks mates. Good pics by Rick 01. I sometimes think that kit makers just throw in what ever is in the bin to make a kit. It makes us spend hundreds of dollars to correct. Oh well thnx Les.

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That picture just got me thinking. You all probaly know this but I'm unsure, Do some ships have removable belaying pins for different configurations? Just noticed the empty hole next to the pin in the picture.

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13 minutes ago, jud said:

Nice Turks Head on that anchor fluke, must have been some rib pain experience triggering it's being made and secured there.

Part of the reason I took the photo. This little ship does hour long trips around Port Phillip bay and so any pointy bits need some sort of covering to stop land lubbers from injuring themselves on them. 

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On 2017-03-21 at 8:47 AM, S.Coleman said:

"Do some ships have removable belaying pins for different configurations? Just noticed the empty hole next to the pin in the picture."

I think all belaying pins are removable. If the lines need to be freed quickly a sailor can just pull the pin out and let out the line. If it were me I would end up with a tangled mess and swinging from my ankle from the yardarm but I'm sure a sailor would be able to keep it under control quite well.

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Pins are removable but need not be. If they couldn't be removed at all it would have no effect whatsoever on how lines are belayed or cast off of them. Many pins on many ships can't be removed do to swelling of the wood or corrosion of the metal, but I've never heard of wooden pins fixed in place deliberately with fasteners or glue.  As far as I know all pins, wood or metal, are designed to be removable. I HAVE seen steel rods or pipes welded onto fixtures to creat fixed "pins" but that was only due to scarcity of real pins. I IMAGINE pins are removable so they can be swapped out when worn. I willl ask around.

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I can imagine pulling a pin out with a coil belayed around it and ending up with a messy tangle!

With the rope firstly going around the bottom of the pin then wrapped up around the top would this over time work the pin upwards and eventually pop out?

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I am currently researching pins and racks for my HMCSS Victoria project (built 1855) and I have found discussion that suggests that at some point before this  (transition from sail to steam and/or steel) the pin styles changed and that they were permanent fitted in the rack/rail.  These pins (not for all ships though) were made from brass or iron, and shaped with a broader middle that fitted to/in the rack and the diameter decreased as they extended away either side of the rack.

 

Before that, I think most pins were of the shape we are accustomed to seeing, and as JCF pointed out, some were made from wood or metal, and were designed to slip into the holes in the rack with the shoulder of the handle part stopping it slipping through.  The pins' size was governed by the rigging size belayed to it (I think Lees discusses this but would have to check) and were able to be moved in the rack (other holes) as needed for a better lead/to clear other rigging.  Belaying pins were also utilised as weapons during boarding, or defending against boardings.

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Probably a good time to discuss how pins work. The way a line is belayed to a pin has not changed for centuries, and the method I'm describing is the ONLY method currently in use universally on every sea or at any time in the past, there are no variations in this procedure. The facts: lines come down to deck and they need to be secured in a way that they stay where the sailors put them. Some of those lines are slack and just need a place to "live" and be kept out of the way. Most of the lines however will be under strain, sometime a lot of strain and these lines need to be fixed in a way that is easy to do, secure enough to hold any weight, and easy to undo in an instant. The pins are simply a cylindrical object passing through a shelf of some kind in a way that has half the pin over the shelf and half under. ( the "shelf" is the pinrail, cap rail, spider band, fife rail etc) usually pins are vertical but they can be horizontal.

to Belay the line a sailor takes a bight of line and passes it behind or under the lower half of the pin or the half farthest away from the load, then diagonally across and over the top and behind the upper half of the same pin. thats considered one turn and the diagonal path the line took makes it resemble the letter "S".  He or she repeats this operation twice more, creating three turns each turn crossing over the one beneath it on a diagonal across the face of the pinrail- picture a letter "S" with a reversed left raving "S" over it with a final Right facing "S" over that. These are known as figure eight turns and it's the way that they cross over each other that creates enough friction to hold the line in place. Three crossing turns. Never four, never two. Always three. You can hold the heaviest load with three turns, a fourth turn is just a waste of rope. Now you can coil and hang the rest of the line.

Here's a video of a guy demonstrating 

 

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There is more to pins than simply belaying though, pins are also used to ease lines under strain. Let's say you have a eight hundred pound load on a line belayed on a pin. You want to lower the load six feet then belay it again at a height above the deck with the line still holding the weight.  One person can do this singlehanded even though it may have taken six or more sailors to initialy raise the load. The sailor takes the First of the three turns off the top and bottom of the pin and holds the line tight then pauses to observe. Did the line start to creep around the pin? If he or she takes the second of three turns off, the line may start to creep on its own around the pin, the weight it's holding being so great, and this is what the sailor wants, but he or she wants to CONTROL the speed at which the line creeps or renders around the pin. The line starts to render slowly so the sailor has time in which to act. Maybe the two remaining turns are still providing enough friction to hold the line in place? But the sailor WANTS to lower the eight hundred pound load so he NEEDS the line to render so they have to remove more friction. He or she then takes a turn off the top or bottom of the pin, again keeping the line in their hands tight between them and the pin.now the friction the belay had provided has been reduced by more than half and the line does start to render around the pin, the sailor feels it moving in his or her hands and can see and hear it too. The weight above begins to lower toward the deck. But the sailor can control the speed at which the line eases off the pin by taking off or putting back on the turns AND by adjusting the angle the line takes from their hands to the pin. The sailors muscle power is the determining factor in how fast the line eases at this point, but the sailor has first managed the friction the pin provides so that the forces involved are comfortably within their muscles ability to control the line. It's all a matter of observation and judgment on the part of the sailor. It NEVER takes two or more people to ease on a pin, regardless of the weight of the load.

Often the order is to simply cast off the line and "let it run". In this case the sailor makes sure the coil is free to run and quickly takes all three turns off the pin in quick succession and the coil runs out on its own. Note that in All these descriptions the pin itself never moves. It doesn't even rotate in its hole as the crossing turns always oppose the rotating tendancy even when the line is under tremendous strain. Nobody ever pulls a pin out as a way of freeing up a line or letting it run. Note also that in nearly everything I've said above, the two horns of a cleat could be substituted, the operation for handling a line on a pin is exactly the same for the use of line on a cleat, from line as thin as a signal halyard up to the size of a dock line.

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Frankie,

 

A very good explanation.  Although I've belayed many times, this is the first time that someone clearly defined the how and why as well as the number of turns etc.  Question though:  If you are belaying to simply a timber head, that is, no underside, how do you belay?  Depending on type of ship, and period, belaying pins might not have been used.  If belaying was simply to a timber head, what is the correct way to belay?

 

Thanks all,

 

Tom

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Two half hitches just below the head of the timber head.  A timber head that was meant to be belayed to would have a cove groove below the head for this purpose.  Often the lead of the rope was lead beneath the adjacent rail first before belaying to the timber head or through sheaves near the base of the timber head (as in a knight head).

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 The line would, in my opinion, slip off the top of a vertical fixture like a timberhead? As mentioned above, I would lead the line through a fair lead or lead block first in order to get the lead to come in from the side. Nearly any Hitch will now work to belay the line but you have to take into account how difficult it could be to untie a knot if it's under strain over time. For instance a clove Hitch would require a lot of prying to open if a heavy load was on the line for any amount of time. If it was me I'd use the Tugboat Hitch.The beauty of this hitch is that it will hold anything and it's impossible to jam. http://www.animatedknots.com/lightermans/#ScrollPoint. Untying  involves NO struggle to pass parts of the line that are pinched tightly by any other part of the line. A child could untie it.

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Thanks for the link Frank.  I understand that a lead block, or some other way to get the line to come in from the side or bellow the timber head would allow the use of the tugboat hitch.  So, if I have a line coming from above the belaying point, I'll put a lead block on the deck.  This hitch for sure would work.  I'm working with a ship built in 1757 and I'm modeling it as it would be in 1777-1778.  AS best as I can find from what I've read, belaying pins weren't in use at that time in the Royal Navy.

 

I have a further question that I think I know the answer to, but I'll ask those who know a lot more than I on this subject.

 

The timber head passes through a rail (as you see on the background plan of Culloden on MSW).  I'm thinking that the line would NOT pass under that rail before hitching to the top of the timberhead.  Is that correct?  Also, I'm assuming, that belaying by simply wrapping the line around the rail would for sure never be done.  

 

All the best,

 

Tom

                  

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The line would indeed pass under the rail.  That is the reason the timber head is set into the rail.  You will find that the top of the timber head has a lip or notch underneath it so that the line does not slip over the top.  Early on, the timber heads would actually be carved heads and the line would belay around the neck.

 

Prior to the extensive use of belaying pins most lines were secured directly to the rails.

 

Regards,

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On 20/03/2017 at 11:53 AM, bluenose2 said:

Good evening. Les here. I have question about the belaying pins supplied with my 1/64 HM Bark Endeavour. When viewed in scale they would appear to be the size of a regular glass coke bottle. I have ordered replacements from Cauldercraft that are 9.75 x 1.5 mm. Much slimmer in size. Would these be a better fit? Thnx Les.

The belaying pins provided with my Caldercraft Bounty also looked more like bowling pins.  I remedied this by reducing the diameter of the top section by about 50% using sandpaper and my proxxon lathe. 

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