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Tiller rigging

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I am working on a Baltimore Clipper model and have a tiller, but know helm. I've seen pics that show some lines attached to the tiller that don't seem to attach to anything else .... I can't figure their purpose or advantage. 

There is a pair of blocks attached to the man-end of the tiller, which have lines rove thru them to a pair of blocks at the deck, and a line running across the deck.  If there was a helm to which they attached, I'd get it. But, steering is only with a tiller. 

Can anyone enlighten me?


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To maintain a course the sails, wind and current must be balanced. Suspect that the tiller is often used as part of the action by using forward speed and a tiller aligned off center. Holding a rudder off center requires force and the action of the sea, roll and pitch would beat up the tiller-man so block and tackles were used to aid in steering and to absorb much of the tiller shock, allowing one man to handle the tiller by moving across the deck with the bitter end of each tackle in hand. Be interesting to see what those who have used this setup say, I have only steered using a wheel, paddle or oars, never a tiller.

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Tackles on a tiller seems to have been a common arrangement, at least on smaller merchant vessels, well into the 19th century. This simple arrangement with four blocks certainly was cheaper and easier to maintain than a steering-wheel that would have had to have guiding blocks in addition.


The arrangement with the tackles has also one mechanical advantage over the steering-wheel in the sense that you can effectively block the tiller in position, while still being able to control it, which is difficult to do with a wheel. Tillers typically had a sort of belaying-pin at the man-end, around which the runners could be slung with a half-hitch. This allows positive control over the tackles by easing the hitch. A wheel would have to be lashed down at the handles.


I effectively used this technique to steady the tiller in strong winds when boat-sailing by using the free end of the main sheet ...

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I don't know what model this is, but the rigging doesn't seem to be completely correct. In principle there are four single blocks, two are hooked to eye-bolts in the waterways and two are stropped to the tiller. The fixed parts of the purchases are spliced to an eye above the blocks that are hooked to the waterways, then lead to the blocks stropped to the tiller and back to the tiller. Here, the loose ends of the purchase could be turned around the tiller, or around the pin mentioned in my previous post. They are not really belayed, but the turns around the tiller or the pin provide friction and hence take away some of the force of the tiller, making it easier to control it. In the model above the loose ends of the two(!) purchases seem to be joined above the tiller, which does not make sense, of course.


Unfortunately, I don't have a clear enough picture that shows this arrangement. Here is the only one I could find quickly:



Just for curiosity sake: there is also a sort of intermediate version, where a small wheel is mounted on top of the tiller. Here the purchases are continuous and wound around the drum of the steering wheel:



This gives some mechanical advantage because of the difference in diameter of the drum and the wheel, plus the purchase, but does not have the braking effect to seperate purchases would have.


Both pictures are from models belonging to the Altonaer Museum in Hamburg/Germany.


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