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I’ve got a question to connoisseurs:

In "The Oxford Companion to Ships and The Sea" I understand that the rope on cannons was also led by a THIMBLE STROPPED to the cascable. So far, I have only known about a rope spliced around the of the pommel or the rope warped once around the Pommel. These ways of attaching the breeching rope to the cannon itself I have seen on many models so depicted. I imagine the "thimble solution" as a precursor to the later cast handles, similar to the carronade irons. Has anyone ever seen the "thimble solution" presented on a ship model and who knows more about it? I haven't found any other clues on the Internet so far.

Greetings Joachim
 

Breeching 3 Quelle.jpg

Breeching 2.jpg

Breeching 1.jpg

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I can't recall seeing it on a ship model, but it was a common arrangement, I believe. Wrapping a heavy breeching line around a knob could foul the quoin. A cu*t splice worked into the breeching line was also commonly used.  (Proper splice name expurgated so as not to offend the sensibilities of those not fluent in nautical nomenclature.)

 

Thimble rig:

 

Antoine_Morel-Fatio_pl10.jpg

 

Carronades frequently had the thimble cast on the cascabel, as in this example on HMS Victory.

 

220px-HMS_Victory_68lb_Carronade.png

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_artillery_in_the_Age_of_Sail

 

 

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Hi Bob,

thanks very much. It's so embarrassing for me: I "studied" the first illustration several times recently, alas, apparently not thoroughly enough, as I  did not identify the separate thimble but took it as a cast thimble.

greetings

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 Joachim and Bob,

 

I've seen a number of different sketches depicting how the breeching rope was secured at the cascabel.

 

The earlier cannons did not have the "ring" or "thimble" above the "button" or "ball".  The later versions did, an improvement as the breeching rope required a more positive means of being secured.

 

One method I've seen prior to the ring was to wrap the breeching rope around one turn starting from below.  Where they cross was whipped (bound together with a smaller sacrificial line that could be cut free if required) to keep the wrap tight and not slip off.

 

Another version was to pass the breeching rope over top and short splice a similar sized rope on either side so it passed below and trap it in the reduced neck portion of the cascable.

 

Once the design was improved with the addition of the ring or thimble the breeching rope simply passed through it.

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 Joachim,

 

The "thimble" or breeching ring came about for English ships on guns by Carron (Carronades) about 1779.  Armstrong pattern long guns did not have the breeching ring, but by 1787 Blomefield pattern long guns did have them, so their presence is dependent on the year of your particular ship.  I don't know if this is comparable to other nations.  If you can let us know what size cannon and what year, more detailed information may be available.


Allan

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Allan,

thanks for the details. I interpret the wording in the Oxford Companion as follows:

" a thimble stropped to the cascabel" implies that that a separate thimble was bound by a piece of rope lengthwise onto the groove between the knob and the breech of the cannon.  As the Blomefield pattern had the breeching ring as an integral part of the cast, I assume that the thimble solution was in use before 1787. 

I am scratch building the English cutter presented in af Chapman's drawings having 3-pdr guns at 1:50 scale and warping or c*nt seizing the breeching rope seems to look too clumsy. While searching for an feasible and elegant approach I happened to stumble into the entry in the Oxford companion. 

60 - Kopie.JPG

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Posted (edited)

Cotrecerf

 

I had never heard of this arrangement before so it is good to know about this possibility.   For the English, the Armstrong long guns had no ring based on sources I have seen in the past but I my main sources on this are mostly  Lavery's Arming and Fitting and Caruana's The History of English Sea Ordnance.    I plan to go through both again to see if they reference such a contrivance.  I can't imagine that the  Oxford would describe such a design without some reliable contemporary source so definitely worth a further look.     


Allan

Edited by allanyed
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Allan,

as you are I am of the opinion that the Oxford Companion's entry must be based on a reliable contemporary source. I guess they would not list a very exotic and rare method. I have checked  Lavery's arming and fitting but could not find a matching description. I have no access to Caruana's book, so hopefully you will find something there.

 

cotrecerf

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According to Boudriot among others, the French carriage was breeched through the cheeks about midway back, the gun was only secured by a preventer.
The British used a Breeching afixed to the Cascable, using either a spliced loop, or a thimble above the neck.
According to your source the early thimble was a separate part resting on the top of the neck, and the later thimble was cast into the gun (or indeed carronade). This cast thimble was easier to use with a wide traverse angle without placing undue imbalanced stress on the breeching, especially compared to the c#nt splice.

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Cotrecerf

Page 383 in Caruana's Volume II of The History of British Sea Ordnance goes into a lot of detail.    A short synopsis ---    Wrought iron double thimbles were attached to the neck of the button.  This is documented in the first edition of Falconer's Marine Dictionary (T. Cadell, London, 1769) where it is stated that the middle of the breeching is seized to the thimble of the pommillion.  The so-called Burney edition of Falconer, published by Cadell in 1815 is more specific but obviously very out of date, stating that the breeching is fixed by reeving it through a thimble strapped upon the cascabel.   Long before 1815, the ring was cast as part of the barrel.   

 

It goes on to say that double thimbles made their first general appearance in the 1765 Ordnance Store Regulation.  He gives some detail on single and double thimbles and straps (strops) that were wormed, parceled, and served including sizes of the thimbles for various size guns.   These were not universal in use as the more traditional means of attachment at the time was a wrap around the cascabel or the c-nt splice.  And yes he does use the  complete proper word rather than what he calls the bowdlerisation to cont splice used by Simmons in the Sea Gunners Vade Mecum.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Allan

 

 

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Allan,

 

thank you very much for your efforts in clarifying the matter for (not only) me. My issue of Falconers Dictionary is a reprint of "a new edition, corrected, printed for T. Cadell 1780" which I will search for finding the relevant passages you mention and will try to look up the 1765 ordnance store regulation.

And yes, being a traditionalist when it comes to the original form of words, i also stick to the proper word for that splice.

 

Great help of yours.

 

cotrecerf

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Posted (edited)

Good Evening Everyone;

 

The word which everyone seems to be pussy-footing around so carefully is so old that its origins and early use are hard to trace, with similar words in a variety of languages. However, in medieval times it was a perfectly acceptable word, and did not have the shock-power that can now be attributed to it in some contexts. Sailors, not unnaturally, adopted it to describe something which was as close to the girl back home as they could get whilst at sea (cabin boys excepted, if they were so inclined, of course) And so 'see-you-enn-tee' -splice became an inoffensive and widespread description. I have also seen the word used to describe the place in a tree where the trunk forks into two branches, which usage would doubtless have been familiar to shipwrights selecting trees for felling. In Regency and Georgian times the word is also widespread, and not necessarily shocking, being used in satirical prints as a simple descriptor, along with its more common four letter sibling. Victorian ladies reaching for the smelling salts upon hearing a word which could be sexual in its meaning changed the accepted conditions for using the word, I suspect.

 

So three cheers for sailors and their vocabulary. It's a see-you-enn-tee-splice, so let's call it that!

 

All the best,

 

Mark P 

 

Edit: I wrote the proper word, but the site's software has asterisked it out. So I will try a small change. 

Edited by Mark P
To try and make my original intention clearer
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Good Morning Frolick;

 

If that was just a humourous reaction to the possible double meaning, then ignore the following, but:

 

Just to be sure, and in case this expression is not used in the States, it means to step delicately around something, verbally, which the speaker/writer does not want to mention directly. It can also be used to describe various situations where someone is not exerting themselves hard enough to achieve success.

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

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