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Emergency Chains/ Rudder Pendant Tackle

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This thread is NOT to continue a vigorous debate that started on MSW started by GTM back in September of 2014 on 'Emergency Steering Chains' where there was much discussion on the application of such chains to securing the rudder should it be unshipped at sea or whether they were used as part of an emergency steering system or whether they were used for both. I am seeking help on my interpretation of a comment by Steel (1794, 234) where he made a detailed description of how the rudder pendant tackle was set up. I am far from convinced that what I have come up with is correct, especially when it comes to the long tackle (fiddle block tackle). Just for a bit of fun, I have been studying the rudder pendant tackle of the Euromodel Royal William and that is why this question has come up. Maybe I am getting a little too technical but I wanted to 'push the envelope' a little further than what is shown in their drawings.


There are some wise people out there who hopefully could 'set me straight' with the diagram shown below on what Steel was implying when he wrote the following ...


·      rudder pendants hook to the ring, in the end of the rudder chains; the hook is moused; then stopped to three hooks driven in the counter over …

        the rudder,

        at the quarters, and

        one between the above two points.


A long tackle (’fiddle block’) is hooked to a thimble (spliced in the ends of the pendants) and to an eye-bolt in the mizzen chain, and the fall leads in, through a port, upon the quarter deck”.


Given the general acceptance that this is an authoritative text and the fact that it was written during the life-span of the Royal William, this description of the pendants and chains should/ could be considered a valid comment for this ship. The following diagram that I have engineered is based on the above description by Steel

                                red broken line = chain

                                solid blue line  = pendant rope

                                solid red circle = thimble (too small to replicate in a build at this scale)

[N.B. the rope from the thimble should be shown stropped over the long tackle block and I need to edit that fact ... if that is correct ???)


I hope all of the above makes sense.











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Thanks to druxey and Dirk for your comments but sorry for the slow reply as I have just flown from the bottom of Australia up to the top (South Australia up to Queensland) and so a bit busy doing home maintenance in my son's house and behind with the texting. In spite of my agreeing with you, Dirk, on the chain not being as long as I have suggested in the diagram, there are examples out there with the chain running right across the stern, notably the HMS Victory ? Just an interesting area to investigate.



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Your drawing is basically correct, however you are missing the block that would form the other end of the long tackle.  It would be a single block hooked into the thimble on the rudder pendant.  The tackle would run in three parts with the standing end of the fall seized to a becket on the single block.  The fall would run through the smaller sheave of the fiddle block then through the single block, back through the larger sheave of the fiddle block before leading in through a port to belay on deck.  The fiddle block was hooked to an eye bolt on the mizzen channel.


Hope that helps.


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Hi Henry,


I was confused by the term 'long tackle' where in Lees, reference is made to a fiddle block as an alternative name. In fact the long tackle is indeed a tackle from what you say - which sounds more logical than just a block in itself. Thanks for your comments which are most appreciated.



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