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Mast tackles/Burton pendants in 1763 Cutter


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As usual, once I arrive at the point of making a particular part, I find the details confusing. This time it's about the mast tackles. The Sherbourne kit that I have doesn't illustrate or mention mast tackles or Burton pendants. Similarly, the 1763 cutter model I photographed in the Royal Dockyard doesn't have any.


On the other hand, one of the cutter models (1790) I photographed does show a similar tackle hooked to the base of the mast as follows:




Furthermore, Petersson in his book 'Rigging Period Fore and Aft Craft' shows what he calls a Burton pendant and tackle as follows (though I have added text to point out the difficulty I have with his diagram):




This made me think it might be a good thing to set up mast tackles. However, the moment I started looking at this, I thought that the diagram didn't make mechanical sense. It shows the runner going through what looks like a hook without a block -- which would mean it would have to run through a thimble.


When I looked up Marquardt's book on Eighteenth Century Rigs & Rigging, he shows the following arrangement:




This is very similar to that shown by zu Mondfeld and is clearly more sound (to my mind) in terms of mechanics.


Marquardt also supplies the following information about cutter rigging (following Steel) -- the last two paragraphs of which I am at a loss to understand:


"The mast tackle pendants were wormed, parcelled and served over their whole length. Each was doubled, and the bight was seized to create an eye which fitted over the masthead. The ends were then spliced together, and a single block was seized in the lower bight. The ends of all splices were tapered, marled down and served over with spun-yarn.


The tackle runners had a hook and thimble spliced into one end and were served over. They rove through the pendant blocks and were spliced round the strops of long tackle blocks.


The tackle fall was bend to a becket at the lower end of a long stropped single block, with the ends seized. The long strops, with hooks and thimbles spliced in, were hooked to eyebolts in the sides."


Here, I don't understand the terms 'served over' and 'long tackle blocks'.


I also don't understand which 'long stropped single block' is being referred to as having the becket for the tackle fall.


As a result I don't really know whether it's right to put mast tackles on, and, if I do, whether to try to mimic Petersson's diagram, or whether to go for the kind of picture Marquardt shows.


Any advice, comment or other will be, as usual, very welcome!



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The description is exactly what you see in the last diagram.  A long block is much like a sister block.  It looks like two single blocks end to end. In some versions the upper sheave is larger than the lower to give some clearance between the parts of the fall.


A long stropped single block simply means that the strop is longer than you would find on a regular block.  It is what you see for the lower block of the tackle in the last diagram.  One end of the strop holds the thimble with the hook, the other end is the becket loop where the tackle fall is bent on.




Hope that makes a little more sense.

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  • 4 years later...

I've been trying to establish an exact layout for a Burton Pendant on my model of Fly. Are you guys maybe overlooking the fact that none of these boats ever had the rigging set up in the same way. Also its been suggested that during the lifetime of the ship it would change according to current crew preference. Notwithstanding I'm very glad I never had to do a day's work on one!


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Hi again,

 Took another photo of the violin/fiddle block arrangement that I've fitted but the technology's failed. You can see on the previous photo, port side aft, one of the double blocks made.  Comments even adverse would be welcome. A group of us meet once a month to chat about ship models. We take our stuff with us but the chat gets in the way of any progress. We are all in our 70s with the inevitable shaky hands. Good fun though!

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  • You ;guys might find the following of interest. Has anybody ever seen a fiddle block with three sheaves, the triple block on Muirneag's mainsheet sounds like it would take some hammering. I've got the boats plans referred to and started it at the drawing scale but got cold feet! Look her up if you are so inclined, she's a bonny shape.

Something like 11 knots

MacLeod the Hard Driver

MacLeod drove all his boats hard, especially the Muirneag. She could stand being hard pressed. As he once said - "I never worry about the Muirneag's hull, only the spars & gear".
Muirneag was apparently triumphant in many races home with the Scottish fleet from Yarmouth, as well as races back to Scottish ports from the fishing grounds. In consequence he did damage much gear, & in 1909, when running for Fraserburgh, wind abaft, the mizzen was snapped off above the crutch, driving her so hard that day, he was leaving the Steam Drifters behind.
Another time while running to Wick from the Stronsay fishing grounds again with wind abaft, foresail & mizzen set & two men on the wheel, Muirneag logged 22 1/4 miles in 2 hours.

The End of the Muirneag

At the age of eighty in 1945 he took her to sea for a night to say farewell, after 42 years as her sole owner. Muirneag was sold at public auction in Stornoway in 1947 for £50 & was dismantled to provide fence posts. A Stornoway dental mechanic, George MacLeod, took her measurements whilst she was being dismantled, & these became the basis for the plans drawn by renowned maritime expert & author Harold Underhill, of Glasgow, & the reference for models such as those by Gordon Williams & David P. H. Watson OBE, Connecticut, USA, on display at the Scottish Fisheries Museum at Anstruther. The model of Muirneag owned by the NMM (pic opp) was constructed by George Macleod of Stornoway, who in a letter to William McIntosh dated 1/7/1956 said
"......By the way, the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, have accepted my model of the 'Muirneag' and it is now berthed in their museum there."


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