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I'm sure that there were local variations, but they were generally longer and much thinner than seen on most models. The handles would be less than 2" in diameter (try grabbing a chunky one in your hand!) and the overall length about 18" long. See:

 

https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/3892.html

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one of my biggest pet peeves on ship models are the enormous, squat, out of scale, lightbulb shaped monstrosities that are all too common. Suppliers can’t machine wood small enough at an industrial scale to offer a realistic product. So instead (apparently) they offer the smallest product they CAN produce on an industrial scale and unfortunately they claim they are “scale model belaying pins” but they’re often outrageously huge. Here’s a photo illustrating the point. Compare the size of the pin to the size of the cannon.

A6FF8398-A645-40DC-9511-DCDEC9D8ACB8.png

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4 hours ago, druxey said:

I'm sure that there were local variations, but they were generally longer and much thinner than seen on most models. The handles would be less than 2" in diameter (try grabbing a chunky one in your hand!) and the overall length about 18" long. See:

 

https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/3892.html

It's sort of surprising that the NMM would collect, inventory, and store such a common artifact made as recently as 1925. I suppose it's almost 95 years old now, though.  It makes me feel old! Another item for my "Kids today" file, as in: "Don't know what a belaying pin looks like!"

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1 hour ago, Ryland Craze said:

 

 

W-BP-diagram.jpg.175415c722ea51c0a76bbe9015350b28.jpg

The part of this drawing labeled “2/3” is visually represented incorrectly, it should be longer. The printed values in the drawing may be correct but they clash with the proportions depicted in the drawing itself. On an actual pin rail the thickness of the rail itself is a factor and this isn’t factored into this particular drawing. In real world use If 10” of pin is protruding above the rail then 10” must also be protruding beneath it. So a pin that satisfies this requirement needs to have the thickness of the rail added to the 10” portion of the pin under the shoulder at the neck of the pin. 

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If you’re going to represent your  rigging as it appears on a real ship I feel the nuances of the shape of the pin aren’t very important. On a model, in my opinion, only the diameter of the pin is an issue. Here’s a shot of lines hung on pins on Constitution and all you can realy see are the top couple of inches of each pin. What I’m saying is you can get away with using any cylindrical material, wood, wire, plastic. This photo also happens to illustrate a pin-related issue: the spacing of pins along the rack. As you can see in the photo if these pins were any closer together it would interfere with handling the lines, there needs to be sufficient space between the pins. The outsized commercialy available wood pins are too wide . If you need six pins on one length of the fife rail and you try squeezing six of the commercial pins into that small bit of space they’ll be pressing against each other.  they make the space between them impossibly narrow.

E26E7315-FAC2-4EBC-9A1A-975D6FF6BB38.jpeg

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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26 minutes ago, JerseyCity Frankie said:

E26E7315-FAC2-4EBC-9A1A-975D6FF6BB38.jpeg

Good points. Another error frequently seen on model pinrails is that the coils hanging from the pins fail to correspond to the length of the particular falls depicted. A three=part purchase is going to take a third more line than a two-part purchase to two-block it, i.e. a third more the working length. The length of the falls will also vary depending upon the distance from the uppermost block to the pinrail. Neat coils, all of the same length don't exist in real life. Falls should be the correct length to properly portray the coil in minature.

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Ah, the photo's depict something I haven't noticed before.

The line is first looped in a figure of eight over and under the pin, maybe four or five times.

Then the crewman 'hand coils' the line. The coil is NOT passed over the top of the pin (as seen in so many models), but instead a 'loose' loop from the last winding over the top of the pin is past through the coil from behind, then over the top of the coil and then past back and over the top of the pin, securing the coil.

The coil is hung from that loop, which can quickly be lifted off again. The crew member must put his arm through the coil again to support it from falling untidily to the deck. May-be THAT'Swhy so many sailors only had one arm!

That's how I read the picture anyway; my main point being that the bulk of the coil doesn't actually go over the pin!

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7 hours ago, shipman said:

Ah, the photo's depict something I haven't noticed before.

The line is first looped in a figure of eight over and under the pin, maybe four or five times.

Then the crewman 'hand coils' the line. The coil is NOT passed over the top of the pin (as seen in so many models), but instead a 'loose' loop from the last winding over the top of the pin is past through the coil from behind, then over the top of the coil and then past back and over the top of the pin, securing the coil.

The coil is hung from that loop, which can quickly be lifted off again. The crew member must put his arm through the coil again to support it from falling untidily to the deck. May-be THAT'Swhy so many sailors only had one arm!

That's how I read the picture anyway; my main point being that the bulk of the coil doesn't actually go over the pin!

Not exactly. The fall is brought down to the pin and around (outboard) the bottom of the pin, then, with the fall held taut around the bottom of the pin, the loose line is grabbed in the free hand and given a half-turn twist and the resulting loop is cast over the top of the pin, forming a half hitch. That's it. No "figure eight over and under the pin, maybe four or five times." (All but the coil on the right of the four in the picture above look like some donkey has been wrapping the line around the pin over and over again.) That's lubberly and you'd get a start from the bosun's quirt if you tried that back in the day. All that is needed is the single half hitch around the top of the pin. the tension on the line and friction in the half hitch will keep it completely secure. Additional turns and hitches only make it more difficult to cast off the line when that time comes, and it sometimes comes in an emergency when seconds count. 

 

Unfortunately, today it seems belaying a line to a pin is almost never seen done correctly. They always seem to over-do it with multiple turns. Seamanship is another of the dying arts.

 

The remaining line laying on deck is then coiled up in one hand (and not around your elbow, either!) Each loop of the coil must be given a half turn with the fingers as it's coiled to keep the line laying fair and not kinking. When the coil is made up in one hand (or sometimes on deck it it's too large to hold, which can frequently be the case in large ships), it is picked up and the free hand is reached through the middle of the coil and a bight is pulled between the line tied off at the pin and the coil and pulled through the center of the coil and over the top of the coil, taking a twist as it does, and the loop resulting from that twist is hung over the top of the pin, thereby hanging the entire coil on the pin. To cast off, the loop is simply pulled off the pin and the line freed from the pin, with the standing part then coming off the coil without fouling.

 

I can do it a heck of a lot faster than I can tell you how to do it. It's one of those details on a model, particularly when restoring an older model, that tends to indicate that the model was "sailor built" by somebody who actually had some blue water under their butt and knew what they were doing, instead of just building a model from a kit.

Edited by Bob Cleek

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The attached Hatton and Hart photos of the USS Tennessee circa 1870ish, port side mizzen. The belay pins are straight without a "handle" top, very utilitarian in shape. The back two are especially huge beast lacking any beauty of the normally perceived shape. 

 

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Adding to Bob's point about coilsmjCoWkl.jpg

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Edited by Keith Black

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Surprised no one has mentioned it yet, but the fat pins that come in kits can be turned down quickly by chucking them into a rotary tool and giving them a pass or two with some sandpaper or a file. Neatness isn't a particular concern, since most of the pin will be obscured by rigging line. 

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There’s tremendous confusion in ship modeling circles about how to belay on a pin but there is zero debate on the topic in the tall ship community. On a tall ship it is always THREE figure eight turns around both parts of the pin never two or less, never four or more. The turns are ALWAYS clockwise around the top of the pin, they NEVER go in the other direction. Debate creeps in on the subject of using a locking hitch on the third turn, some ships do, some ships don’t. Note that the decision to use a locking hitch is never at the discretion of the sailor, each ship will have a stated shipwide policy on locking hitches. Believe it or not. 

The use of the three turns has everything to do with FRICTION for it is the friction that holds the line to the pin, not the binding force of a hitch. Three turns is all it takes to create enough friction to prevent any line in any load on any ship from “rendering” around the pin by itself. A line that would have sufficient force to render on three turns would break the pin or part the line itself and loads that are too strong for that wil go on bits or the like, not pins.

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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Here’s some explanation: in this diagram he line comes down to the pin and a figure eight turn is put on in such a way that the standing part of the line isn’t going to rub against the figure eight turns. The turn is put on CLOCKWISE.

7BB913F4-FF06-4171-8E91-9769D4E4502E.jpeg

 

This drawing shows the “lead” of the line coming down to the pin and the first figure eight turn. The red arrow is pointing to the point where the line crosses over itself.

33E7B4D2-852A-42F9-828D-C98080B1D970.jpeg

 

The second drawing shows subsequent figure eight turns going on. It shows a locking hitch at far right.The point where the lines cross is now being pressed down upon by the turns placed over it. 

The technique described for use on pins is EXACTLY the same for use on all cleats too, the same principles are involved. You will see the crossing turns used anywhere lines are belayed in nautical settings. 

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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Frankie, I agree with what you say, no problem.

Looking at the 'Constitution photo which I based my original observation, the one pin you can see clearly does seem to have at least four turns around the pin. Still I agree with what you say.

My original point remains, that the 'spare' cordage coil isn't over the pin its self. Most models I see; that coil is over the pin.

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On ‎12‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 9:26 AM, JerseyCity Frankie said:

one of my biggest pet peeves on ship models are the enormous, squat, out of scale, lightbulb shaped monstrosities that are all too common. Suppliers can’t machine wood small enough at an industrial scale to offer a realistic product. So instead (apparently) they offer the smallest product they CAN produce on an industrial scale and unfortunately they claim they are “scale model belaying pins” but they’re often outrageously huge. Here’s a photo illustrating the point. Compare the size of the pin to the size of the cannon.

A6FF8398-A645-40DC-9511-DCDEC9D8ACB8.png

Recently I was looking for wooden belaying pins 10 mm long, but all of them were ugly and fat, not proportioned well at all. Someone had 11 mm brass ones looking OK, but it turned out they were out of stock at the moment.

So, I reluctantly decided to make my own.  I used bamboo skewers of appropriate thickness (from supermarkets) and prepared myself a brass former, following advice of Ed Tosti  here:

  He is making here sprockets for his wheel, but the principle is the same. First make a former from metal (I used a short piece of brass rod, which I drilled through on a lathe. Then I filed one side to an appropriate profile for my pins. Finally I inserted skewer into the hole and using only mini files, shaped the pin to an appropriate look. This method allows for fairly quick fabrication of belaying pins and for repetition of identical shapes, which is important.

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4 hours ago, JerseyCity Frankie said:

There’s tremendous confusion in ship modeling circles about how to belay on a pin but there is zero debate on the topic in the tall ship community. On a tall ship it is always THREE figure eight turns around both parts of the pin never two or less, never four or more. The turns are ALWAYS clockwise around the top of the pin, they NEVER go in the other direction. Debate creeps in on the subject of using a locking hitch on the third turn, some ships do, some ships don’t. Note that the decision to use a locking hitch is never at the discretion of the sailor, each ship will have a stated shipwide policy on locking hitches. Believe it or not. 

The use of the three turns has everything to do with FRICTION for it is the friction that holds the line to the pin, not the binding force of a hitch. Three turns is all it takes to create enough friction to prevent any line in any load on any ship from “rendering” around the pin by itself. A line that would have sufficient force to render on three turns would break the pin or part the line itself and loads that are too strong for that wil go on bits or the like, not pins.

Well, what do you expect from anybody who calls them "tall ships?" Rubes for sure! :D There wasn't any such thing as a "tall ship community" in the age of sail. Neither did real seamen spend half their time singing "sea chanteys" to the music of insufferable amateur concertina players. :D 

 

Three turns will hold without a locking hitch, but that takes more work than a single turn and a half hitch twist. The three (or more) turns build an unnecessary wad of line on the pin and take that much longer to cast off.  Consider doing it that way with soaking wet inch and a half diameter line and I think you'll agree. Some say multiple turns are required with modern synthetic cordage which is more slippery than natural cordage, and there may be some truth to this, although I've never experienced it in practice. Others say they do it that way on the "dude schooners" because they can't be sure the "guests" really know what they are doing.

 

It is not uncommon to take two opposing half-hitches on a mooring cleat, however, when the intermittent strains imposed by the vessel's surge alongside a pier or dock may cause a single half-hitch to work loose.

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I apologize if i missed it in all of this,  but what is a good generic overall length for a belaying pin?

 

( I'm not particularly concerned about the rivet counters surveying one of my models and proclaiming that my belaying pins are 2 scale inches too long.. :D )

Edited by Gregory

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2 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

“Three turns will hold without a locking hitch, but that takes more work than a single turn and a half hitch twist. The three (or more) turns build an unnecessary wad of line on the pin and take that much longer to cast off.”

The other reason for multiple figure eight turns on the pin, as opposed to just a single knot on the pin, is so the crew can “ease under strain”. By taking off just one of the three turns 1/3 of the friction is removed, right? Two turns removed remove 2/3 of the friction, When the time comes to ease a load back onto the deck-for instance when lowering a Mainsail on a schooner- you can’t just cast the line off the pin and let the line run. This would likely break the gear. The load has to be controlled, not allowed to run away. To do this the single crewperson removes turns on the pin until the line begins to render by itself due to the load-the weight- on the line. In this way a single person can control the line as it is eased, and can control the speed too. The friction is still doing the work and the crewperson isn’t holding the weight, they’re allowing friction on the pin to control the speed at which the line pays out. 

Another place the single knot on a pin idea can’t work is on sheets. Sheets have to be constantly adjusted and if it’s windy the sheets are under a great deal of strain. But a single crewperson can ease a sheet by easing turns on a pin. Easing a sheet tied to a pin with only a knot is possible but would be dicy and require the attention of a team of crewpeople. And a sheet with a knot attaching it to a pin is constantly tightening that knot as the wind tugs on the sail and I’m afraid after a short while that sheet would need a knife to get it off.

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    I find it quite interesting to learn the reasons why and how things were done on a ship the way that they were.  :)  I'm sure that a lot of us here without any actual sailing experience can learn a lot from those that have.  All of that knowledge can only help to improve our models.

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18 hours ago, JerseyCity Frankie said:

The other reason for multiple figure eight turns on the pin, as opposed to just a single knot on the pin, is so the crew can “ease under strain”. By taking off just one of the three turns 1/3 of the friction is removed, right? Two turns removed remove 2/3 of the friction, When the time comes to ease a load back onto the deck-for instance when lowering a Mainsail on a schooner- you can’t just cast the line off the pin and let the line run. This would likely break the gear. The load has to be controlled, not allowed to run away. To do this the single crewperson removes turns on the pin until the line begins to render by itself due to the load-the weight- on the line. In this way a single person can control the line as it is eased, and can control the speed too. The friction is still doing the work and the crewperson isn’t holding the weight, they’re allowing friction on the pin to control the speed at which the line pays out. 

Another place the single knot on a pin idea can’t work is on sheets. Sheets have to be constantly adjusted and if it’s windy the sheets are under a great deal of strain. But a single crewperson can ease a sheet by easing turns on a pin. Easing a sheet tied to a pin with only a knot is possible but would be dicy and require the attention of a team of crewpeople. And a sheet with a knot attaching it to a pin is constantly tightening that knot as the wind tugs on the sail and I’m afraid after a short while that sheet would need a knife to get it off.

I hear what you're saying, Frankie, but it doesn't comport with my own experience. Myself, I've never had any problem easing off a length of line from a pin, or horsing up from one, either. If you can hold the line before you even throw it around the bottom of the pin, you ought to be able to hold it just as well when casting it off. If for some reason, you want more friction, it's easy enough to take a quick turn around the top of the pin. 

 

Contrary to your assertion, the coefficient of friction in line under load is not a "linear equation." Each of the turns does not carry an equal portion of the friction or of the load. The first turn carries most all of it. Additional turns are just "window dressing." Ever notice how nothing comes free until you get down to the last turn or so? And, obviously, nobody ever "casts the line off the pin and lets the line run" more than once. 

 

Belaying pins are designed to take vertical strains more or less parallel to the direction of the pin and never horizontal (shear) strains at right angles to the pin, which can snap a wooden pin. The pin itself isn't meant to take the majority of the strain from the line, but rather it's the pin rail itself where the greater part of the strength, as well as friction, comes from. Sheets, which generally carry horizontal strains, should never be belayed directly to a pin rail.  Sheets should be carried through a block or around a winch to provide a fair lead to a cavel or deck cleat. Pin rails are for halyards and other lines from aloft. 

 

I've belayed lots of lines to pins and hitched lots of sheets to cleats in my 70 years and I've never, ever, "needed a knife to get it off," nor even a fid.  That's the advantage of a half-hitch.

 

This thread got me curious and I did a bit of googling. It seems there are many sites purporting to show how to belay a line and hang a coil and almost as many ways the people posting those instructions say it should be done as there are people posting. Welcome to the internet, the world's largest collection of self-appointed experts! :D As the saying goes, "Different ships, different long splices." I suppose. Being "of a certain age," when I was growing up and infatuated with all things maritime, having a father in the shipping industry in San Francisco when it was the busiest working seaport on the West Coast, there were still a fair number of old timers around "on the beach" who'd served their apprenticeships "before the mast" sailing around the Horn in the big four-masted barks and all sorts of smaller sailing craft. Some were kind enough to share what they knew (and probably nobody else cared to hear them talk about) with kids like us. That's how we learned our basic seamanship. Somewhere along the way, we lost the continuity of that maritime culture. Today, it's become quaint and of interest to many, but it seems much of it has had to be recreated, rather than handed down in a direct line. A lot of the detail got lost along the way. There was a lot more to it than those "playing pirates" and singing "sea chanteys" today will ever know.  

 

 

 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek

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Well, no “tallship” experience here, just small power and sail boats and modern warships.  I’ve found that a properly led single figure 8 with a final twist seems to hold most everything fine, even with synthetic lines.  As for needing extra figure 8 turns to safely slack a line under tension, in my experience it can be done easily with only half a figure 8 turn around a cleat (and presumably a pin). Even large mooring line tension can be safely slacked with only half a figure 8 on the bitts.  It was  however common practice to make extra figure 8 turns on bitts when moored.

 

fwiw,

 

Keith

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3 hours ago, Gregory said:

I apologize if i missed it in all of this,  but what is a good generic overall length for a belaying pin?

 

( I'm not particularly concerned about the rivet counters surveying one of my models and proclaiming that my belaying pins are 2 scale inches too long.. :D )

One might as well ask the same question about a gentleman's privates. If it looks right, it is right. It takes looking at a lot of them in real life to instinctively judge whether one is too short or too long. It depends on the use intended and is relative to the size of the line that going to be tied to it.

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