Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
hamilton

introduction of belaying pins

Recommended Posts

Hello there:

 

I'm curious whether belaying pins would have been used on British Royal Navy ships in 1780. James Lees, in The Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War, dates their introduction to 1745, where they were used "on racks on the shrouds of small ships but not seen on large ships until the end of the eighteenth century" (p. 139) - but "seen" where? On similar racks on the shrouds, or elsewhere as well? 

 

My subject is HMS Bellona - specifically the Corel kit, which shows belaying pins on the crosspieces of the sheet and jeer bitts of the fore and main mast, as well as on the sheet bitt of the mizzen mast. For comparison, Brian Lavery's Anatomy of the Ship HMS Bellona does not show pins on the crosspieces, though in studying his book I've noticed (as with Corel's plans) that features are given that correspond to the pre-1780 Bellona, the 1780 refit, and also features of the rig that Lees suggests did not arise until the first decade of the 19th century (towards the end of Bellona's career)....

 

As a follow up (bonus?) question, can anyone say whether shroud cleats (on lower and topmast shrouds) would have been used at this time....? Lees doesn't give a date for these, and I have no other sources that could confirm or deny their use in 1780 on British Royal Navy ships....

 

Any clarity on the belaying pin and shroud cleat questions (and apologies if this has been addressed elsewhere....) would be very much appreciated.

hamilton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Certainly pin racks are seen on contemporary rigged models of smaller ships in the mid-18th century. Vasa has them on the beakhead a century earlier. It appears that, as bulwarks were closed in and the rows of timberheads and open rails disappeared, pins and pin racks were substituted for belaying to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Evening Hamilton;

 

Druxey is quite correct in what he says, and a good example of pin racks is shown in John Cleveley's paintings of Royal Caroline. The earliest I know of, dated to 1750, shows pin racks on all the shrouds. A model of the 74 gun Ajax, an early example of the type (1767) has single belaying pins in the rails in several places. 

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Mark!

So during this period would pin racks have been on the shrouds - as opposed to shroud cleats? The drawings Lees provides of belaying plans indicate pin racks on the mizzen shrouds only, while in the text he mentions that they were seen on racks on the shrouds in small ships and large ships by the end of the 18th century....nowhere have I seen images of vessels in this period with belaying pins on the crosspieces of the bitts, though this is how Corel depicts them - perhaps as a convenience or perhaps (since the kit is a kind of combination of features from different periods of Bellona's career) to reflect a later practice....

hamilton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Morning Hamilton;

 

Be very wary of using a kit as a precedent, for the reasons you give. The paintings of Royal Caroline shows pin racks on the shrouds, and fairleads lashed to the shrouds above them. See below two extracts from paintings, although one has no fairleads, and the other has no racks on the mizen shrouds. I think that this can be ignored as artistic licence. The painter of both pictures, John Cleveley the Elder, knew the ship very well, having worked on painted scenes in her State Apartments during her fitting out, and being previously a shipwright at Deptford Dockyard where she was built.

 

260352404_DSC02769reduced.thumb.jpg.6f44089793ac46391b1d800e07fe7cc9.jpg

480303034_AL347Detailreduced.thumb.jpg.f4b04c50b163cf44a3dc1ce391d749d9.jpg

One other interesting point: I have just finished transcribing the contract for 'Edgar', a 70 gun ship built by Francis Baylie in 1668-9. This specifically mentions fitting for rigging, being listed as 'Kevells, Ranges, Cleates, Turnpinns and whatever shalbe requisite for belaying the rigging'. Turnpinns I can only believe to refer to belaying pins. I have not seen this word before in all the other contracts I have transcribed, but I cannot think of it meaning anything else.

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s hard to wrap my mind around the concept of NOT having pins with which to belay lines. Certainly it’s possible to make off a line to a railing but it’s nowhere near as easy or secure as using a pin. Again and again I learn of crucial parts of sailing ships that didn’t exist before a given date and in each case I just can’t believe the omission. For instance the jackstay on the yard, or footropes for that matter! Triangular headsails, martingales, these are commonplace and common sensical things, CRUCIAL things! I believe in many cases some of these items MUST have existed in history long before we have a solid reference for them and that they were omitted from the historical record  because they were deemed so ubiquitous as to not need mentioning in the past. But that can’t be true for all the things I’ve mentioned! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Mark for the interesting history and the lovely repros and David for the link - this has definitely made up my mind with respect to this problem.

 

Jersey City Frankie - I agree - it's hard to imagine anyone doing anything in a way that pre-dates something we later define as useful or necessary. No cave man ever longed for the distractions provided by television, but I guess they must have had other ways of keeping the stress and bother of life at bay that they thought were both delightful and amazing (at least I like to think of cave men that way, otherwise their lives seem way too depressing)....and today how often is it that younger generations think of a way of doing something or a new technique or technology that makes what their elders did seem absurd! As a teacher, I'm exposed to this kind of thing all the time - best profession if you really want to feel the ageing process.....

hamilton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The contemporary model and paintings clearly show the pin racks on the shrouds. Interesting! Any ideas of what belays to these, since the main lines according to Lees for the 1742 HMS Medway do not belay to anything called a pin or pin rail. There are some lines, like the  yard tackle falls, that belay to a shroud--I wonder if that means a pin rack on a shroud?

 

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been puzzling over belaying pins on the schooners and revenue cutters in the early 1800s. I have read that they did not use pins and pin rails, although they were common on larger ships (however some schooner kits include belaying pins, fife rails and pin rails). So, if they didn't use pin rails and belaying pins how did they attach the running rigging so it would be easy to release it for adjusting the sails?

 

I have drawings that show the standing rigging attached to ring bolts on the deck. This would not be a convenient way to handle the running rigging. Some texts say  they attached the running rigging to cleats or cavels (kevels) along the bulwarks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some ships used cleats secured to the shrouds.  Others had cleats on the bulwarks.  Depends on the shipyard and design.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lees makes no mention of the introduction of shroud cleats - though as Mark (SJSoane) points out, he does mention some lines being belayed (on the shrouds)....Some of his belaying notes are quite vague ("the line runs down to the deck", for example). And it would take some detailed going through to see if he specifies shroud cleats or pins on racks on the shrouds.

 

I had been assuming that lines belayed, for example, at the fore or main or mizzen tops would be tied off on shroud cleats - otherwise, where would they go? The images posted earlier show racks on the lower shrouds, but what of the topmast shrouds?

 

I guess I'm throwing more questions out there rather than settling anything, but....another area of conjecture

hamilton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Hamilton;

 

I have seen models with the lines worked from the tops tied off to the topmast shrouds just above the dead-eyes, and to the rail at the aft side of the top. I have also seen illustrations of them belayed to shroud cleats, but I cannot remember where I saw such illustrations.

 

All the best,

 

Mark 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Mark:

 

I guess this ambiguity gives some room for interpretation - where exact historical accuracy is not achievable, probably best to fall back on what looks good or "feels" right...

 

Thanks all for the informative responses to this thread!

hamilton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For what it's worth, Wolfram zu Mondfeld says that smaller bitts at the base of the mast were used until about 1660; the sheets were reeved through sheaves in the bitts and then belayed at the bitt head. "Until about 1660 these bitts were linked by simple crosspieces, but after that these cross pieces began to be fitted with a number of belaying pins, to which additional ropes of the running rigging could belay." (zu Mondfeld, Historic Ship Models, p. 160)

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HA - the funny thing is that I picked up Historic Model Ships at a book fair on Hornby Island where we spend our summer cabin days out here in the Pacific Northwest...it was a steal at $2.00 CDN. I have been reading through but am only around page 110!!

hamilton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/6/2019 at 8:33 PM, JerseyCity Frankie said:

gain and again I learn of crucial parts of sailing ships that didn’t exist before a given date and in each case I just can’t believe the omission. For instance the jackstay on the yard, or footropes for that matter!

Certainly it's hard to believe certain things weren't always in use, but in the case of footropes there are contemporary pictures of ships being worked by sailors without them - they're actually sitting astride the yards to furl/unfurl the sails, and quite a few are standing on the yards!

 

The Embarkation of Henry VIII at Dover

image.png.bdd5058e84f88e23fd940ceeb726813a.pngimage.png.bdf27943ecdadf7e97a60e37ff351e81.png 

It's always struck me as weird that Mediterranean ships in the 15th and 16th centuries had no ratlines, though shipbuilders must have been exposed to northern ships that did have them. It seems so obvious to me that ratlines were superior, but apparently not to Mediterranean skippers!

 

Steven

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

About us

Modelshipworld - Advancing Ship Modeling through Research

SSL Secured

Your security is important for us so this Website is SSL-Secured

NRG Mailing Address

Nautical Research Guild
237 South Lincoln Street
Westmont IL, 60559-1917

About the NRG

If you enjoy building ship models that are historically accurate as well as beautiful, then The Nautical Research Guild (NRG) is just right for you.

The Guild is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to “Advance Ship Modeling Through Research”. We provide support to our members in their efforts to raise the quality of their model ships.

The Nautical Research Guild has published our world-renowned quarterly magazine, The Nautical Research Journal, since 1955. The pages of the Journal are full of articles by accomplished ship modelers who show you how they create those exquisite details on their models, and by maritime historians who show you the correct details to build. The Journal is available in both print and digital editions. Go to the NRG web site (www.thenrg.org) to download a complimentary digital copy of the Journal. The NRG also publishes plan sets, books and compilations of back issues of the Journal and the former Ships in Scale and Model Ship Builder magazines.

Our Emblem

Modelshipworld - Advancing Ship Modeling through Research
×
×
  • Create New...