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Shroud lanyard color


Dr PR
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Several years ago there was an excellent and extensive discussion - expressing many opinions - about the "proper" color of the dead eyes and lanyards used to set the shrouds. The suggestion was made that someone create a separate topic for this information, but as far as I can tell that didn't happen. I have been researching this topic recently and decided a separate topic was needed to make it easier to find.

 

CAUTION: This is a very debatable topic. In other words, different people have different opinions, and some are very forceful in defending their opinions!

 

The best discussion I have found was in EdT's Young America thread. I edited out some non-relevant discussion, but I tried to include everyone's opinions:

 

It all started with

 

Dowmer, October 9 2018 (post 3133 in this thread):

For the deadeye lanyard rigging you have in the channels, is that rigging supposed to be tarred as well like the shrouds?  I thought I read that somewhere, that working ships tarred them.  That would make the lanyards dark brown or black instead of light natural.  Of course this could be a preference too I suppose.  I see a lot of ship models like this.

 

EdT, 9 October 2018:

Dowmer, I personally do not believe that lanyards were tarred because this would make them very hard to adjust to tension the shrouds and backstays.  I rather suspect that they were greased, which would also give them a dark color.  I intended mine to be a darker walnut and I may treat them further, but I have been reserving black for tarred lines.

 

Bob Cleek, 9 October 2018:

As for the color of deadeye lanyards, it is indeed black, or dark brown, tending to black as additional pine tar is added as a matter of routine maintenance. All deadeye lanyards and other similar lashings were of tarred hemp (and still are, if you can find it!) There is rarely, if ever, any need to "adjust the tension" of standing rigging in ships such as this one and deadeye lanyards rarely, if ever, are "adjusted." The lanyards should be pre-stretched when new and, thus, should not stretch appreciably in use. Even if they did stretch when new, they'd only need to be taken up once and the problem would be solved for all time. The sort of rigging we are talking about here was designed to "give" so that the strain on the spars and hull would be minimized. (We're not talking about a "high strung" modern jib-headed Marconi racing rig here.) In fact, the friction generated by the lanyards against the deadeye holes makes them quite difficult to set up, let alone  "adjust." The deadeye holes are greased before the tarred hemp lanyard is tightened, but even so, the tightening requires that a purchase clapped onto the shroud be taken to the end of the lanyard in order to get sufficient tension on it. (I've actually had to attach a second purchase on the length of lanyard running from deadeye hole to hole in order to "sweat" the lanyard through all five of the running eyes so that each segment was uniformly tight.) The deadeyes do spread the line stresses in much the same manner as a block purchase, but the lanyards do not run freely as they do in a sheaved block... not by a long shot! When a whole gang of deadeyes and lanyards are made up and fastened with the sheer pole and lashings, all tarred and, modernly, often painted, they are essentially a permanent thing not meant to be untied to be adjusted regularly.

 

rwiederrich, 10 October 2018:

Renowned Marine expert Hervey Garrett Smith in his Book, *The Arts of the Sailor...Knotting, Splicing and Ropework*.  Mimics your sentiment concerning shroud lanyards.

 

wefalck,10 October 2018:

The story about taking the slack out of shrouds probably comes from the pre-wire rope days, when ships on long equatorial passages stayed for weeks on the same tack. This may have stretched the windward shrouds and slack had to be taken out of the leeward ones because, if a sudden change of tack for whatever reason would be needed, the mast would come over like a whip, risking to snap it.

With wire rope this is not an issue.

 

sailor1234567890, 10 October 2018:

Any mate worth his salt wouldn't bother adjusting the lanyards anyway, that would put the deadeyes out of line. Yes, he can fine tune the rig that way but normally, if any slack developed, the lashing holding the shroud to the upper deadeye was re-made so the deadeyes were always at the same level. It would of course require setting up the lanyards again but the point was to have the deadeyes all level so fine tuning using the lanyards wasn't really done. As Mr. Cleek said above, they were normally not very slack. It was a periodic maintenance thing to adjust them, not a piece of running rigging that was adjusted with any frequency.

 

stm, 11 October 2018

One general thought about rigging that came to mind when reading the previous is how the extreme weather conditions played a roll in maintaining the rigging during extended voyages.  Ropes must have been exposed to extreme changes in temperatures, winds, rain, and sea spray that must have played havoc with the lines. Have not read to much about this unless it was as a result of a severe storm. Possibly our sailing forefathers had it under control through experience on how to meet this challenge without having to much of an impact on a ships progress.

 

Rigging suffered as much as the hull and fixtures of any Sea going, deep water carrier.  Hemp rope became stronger and less flexible with introduction to salt water.  This is why it is reasonable to assume the lanyards, once set, were weather proofed(By tarring).  Once the hemp line absorbed moisture...it was nearly impossible to adjust it through the wooden holes of the Deadeyes.  Lanyards are part of the standing rigging...rigging that generally is not intended to be regularly adjusted...hence the term *standing* or fixed.  In later models cable and turnbuckles replaced hemp...holding fast the masts in their stepped attitude....resistant of any bi-lateral movement.  Stays are used in similar fasion...to prevent for and aft movement.  Like a bunch of guy wires holding erect the towering masts.

 

rwiederrich, 11 October 2018:

If one is diligent and observant, early photographic and even paintings will give evidence of blackened lanyards...which are and have always been part of the *Standing* rigging...and that rigging was always preserved with leather and a varying viscus concoction, known as tar...not like the black sticky, gooey stuff we heat up and put on roofs/roads....but a material more like thick oil.

 

EdT, 11 October 2018:

Color of lanyards is a subject that I hesitate to engage in because it is one of those hot buttons that invite many strongly held opinions.  I would suggest that someone – not me – create a topic on this subject.  I will gladly participate there with my admittedly limited knowledge.  I will, however, at the risk of inviting more comments on this build log, contribute here what I believe are some facts:

 

1.      Deadeyes and lanyards were used not only on shrouds but also on backstays.

2.      On a 3-4 month voyage around Cape Horn, upper masts would be struck down, probably more than once, requiring re-rigging of their stays and shrouds at sea.

3.      Climate variations between say a New York summer at the start of a voyage, equatorial conditions a month later, and semi-arctic conditions at the Cape a month after that, followed by a repeat of those variations up the Pacific, as well as the case described by wefalck, would certainly alter the tension in the standing rigging essential to the support of masts.

4.      All hemp strands were tarred as part of the rope-making process – hence the straw-color (see Luce, Seamanship 1868).  No doubt the effects of sun, salt and weather would lighten this over time.

5.      The treatment applied to standing rigging discussed in earlier posts, according to primary documentation widely used at the time (again Luce, 1868), can only be described as thick, black, tarry paint. – black due to the carbon black content, thick due to the addition of letharge (lead oxide), tarry due to the pine tar.

6.      The relatively complex lanyard/deadeye apparatus is obviously designed to add mechanical advantage (6 to 1) to force applied to the lanyard.  It was clearly intended for applying tension as the following well known diagram shows.

 

 

deadeyes.thumb.jpg.d57fe429ff011e5f140a8458a4d61c68.jpg.0144c3ff063273184833cf3bf0a82f27.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.      Methods and practices have evolved over time.  Even early 20th century practices were different than those of the 1860's - and wire was different from hemp.

 

So, if I accept the above as facts, I ask the following questions:

 

1.      Why install a large number of contraptions like deadeye/lanyards if they would rarely if ever be used?  Why not just seize shrouds/backstays to chains  after initial tightening?

2.      If these were needed to re-tension or re-rig backstays or even shrouds, why would one clog up this friction-prone device with a thick, tarry paint?

3.      If greasing rigging with galley slush or other lubricant was common at the time, why would this not be used on deadeye lanyards, at least when needed?

4.      What does all this mean to the color of model lanyards?

 

I am sure others will approach this issue differently, but this has been my rationale and my reasons for dark, but not black, lanyards.

 

wefalck, 11 October 2018:

Just a couple of additions to Ed's well-reasoned response:

 

- here and on other fora there has been a repeated discussion of what actually 'tar' is. To summarise: in the pre-industrial ages this was a destillation product from resinous tree-bark, namely that of pine-trees; the Eastern Baltic area was a major source, due to the prevalence of such trees there and considerable amounts where shipped through Stockholm, hence the stuff became know as Stockholm Tar; this tar varies in colour, but is essentially dark brown. The two main byproducts from coal destillation to obtain town-gas were coke and various tars; these are chemically different from the wood-tar and essentially black or very dark brown in colour; their smell is also different; due to the large quantities of town-gas produced from the 1840s on, also large quantities of tar became available and began to replace Stockholm Tar, being a lot cheaper. Both products have different properties and, hence, different applications. Stockholm Tar stays sticky, unless whethered at sea, while some of the coal-tar solidify and become quite dry, one volatiles have gassed off.

 

- hemp is a natural fibre and changes its property with humidity content mainly, even if the strands of the rope had been tarred originally; so adjusting the rigging is mostly likely a need over a period of months or years; covering the lanyards in thick Stockholm Tar would make this more difficult, covering in thick coal-tar almost impossible.

 

- the sailing properties of ship depend on many factors, including the trim, the draught, and the rake of the masts; it is known that masters optimised the rigging for given conditions in order to improve the sailing performance; so lanyards stuck in the dead-eyes would not help.

 

- we should not be mislead by the appearance of static museum ships; there compromises have to made for the lack of the continuous and intensive maintenance a working vessel would see; so on such ships you are likely to see a lot of paint and tar slapped onto parts that are prone to deterioration.

 

- also on modern ships rigged with steel wire supporting steel masts you are likely to see many more parts being virtually immobilised with thick coats of paint or tar, because there is no need for adjustment.

 

druxey, 11 October 2018:

This is an interesting side discussion. Some years ago I had a protracted discussion with a knowledgeable person over shroud laniards. I had built a model that he otherwise found impeccable, but he took me to task over my light colored shroud laniards. I countered that these were running lines, hence not 'standing' color. He insisted that the laniards were dark. I have since been converted to brown line for these lines!

 

rwiederrich, 11 October 2018

It is unarguable that lanyards are for tightening the shrouds/back stays.  Their appropriate tension is the goal to maintain erect, stable masts....and to counter the actions brought upon these members.  One can say they are part of an immovable (set) system....others say they are available for adjustment due to warpage and or stretchage.  I believe both notions are true.  I also believe they had to be preserved in some fasion....to what extent can only been known by time travelers.

 

Personally...I choose dark/black lanyards....for my esthetic eye as well as what I derive from thousands of images and paintings of the subject.    Best part of all is that it is a subjective topic as is most of the finer details of these magnificent vessels.

I stand behind Ed's conclusion for Ed and it works out wonderfully in the end.

 

Dowmer, 11 October 2018:

Oh my goodness Ed, look what I started 😁

I must admit, its facinating stuff and the input from everyone is excellent at the risk of straying from Ed's masterful build.

 

By the way, for what its worth...less than .02 pence if that...........I'd go for the dark brown color for all the reasons stated, but I think Ed was edging that direction anyway.

 

EdT, 11 October 2018:

Did you start this, Dowmer?  Oh, my.

 

I'm glad to see we are on the same page with dark brown, Druxey - maybe or maybe not exactly the same shade, but......not black.

 

rwiederrich, 11 October 2018

That's what makes it all so magical.  One persons brown is another persons black.  So who is more accurate....I wonder?

 

Bob Cleek, 11 October 2018:

Rope shrouds would stretch to some extent when new, but this was no surprise to them. As you may know, they used "shroud-laid" cordage for standing rigging before metal cable came into use. (And metal cable stretches, too.) Shroud-laid cordage is laid up with four strands around a heart, or central, strand. Shroud-laid rope doesn't have the tensile strength of three-strand hawser-laid cordage, but it is designed to be much less liable to stretch, hence its use as standing rigging. When a gang of rigging was made up, the shroud-laid cordage was often wet down and "pre-stretched" beforehand. By the time shroud-laid rope is properly wormed, parceled, and tightly served, and all of that impregnated with white lead paste and pine tar, it's a heck of a lot closer to an iron bar than a rubber band!

 

I can't imagine a "sudden change of tack" causing a mast to "come over like a whip" in a vessel of the size of Great Republic. Coming about in any square-rigger, and especially a larger one, is a slow, gradual, and rather complex evolution. There's nothing "sudden" about it. Their masts don't "whip."

 

Lee shrouds and stays will always be slack when the vessel is under sail. That is meant to be. Taking up the slack in lee shrouds while under sail results in seriously over-tensioned shrouds when those lee shrouds become windward shrouds on the opposite tack. A lower mast section might survive such abuse, but such tightening of a smaller upper mast section could even snap it on the opposite tack.  I've never heard of a sailing ship heaving to in mid-ocean to take up slack in its standing rigging.

 

The purpose of the standing rigging isn't simply to "keep the masts from falling down." It's more important function is to distribute the energy loads evenly throughout the vessel's structure. Every part of a vessel moves to a certain extent, and particularly wooden vessels. They are engineered to move so as to minimize shock-loading. Shroud tension is widely misunderstood modernly. We see many modern Marconi (jib-headed) rigged sailboats exhibiting structural damage from shrouds and stays being cranked down with turnbuckles until they sing like violin strings. The mechanics are the same as those of a bow and arrow. Tight shrouds push the heel of the mast downwards like the pointed end of an arrow while pulling up on the chainplates and we frequently see cracked frames and opened garboard seams in wooden boats and even catastrophic chainplate failures and hull fractures in fiberglass boats as a consequence. Shrouds and stays really only need to be tight enough to not be slack when the vessel is at rest. When it is under sail, the windward shrouds and stays tighten up and lee shrouds go slack. Their masts may bend a bit to leeward on each tack until the windward shrouds take up, but that is as it's intended to be.

 

The "long equatorial passages" by square-rigged sailing ships were almost exclusively made in the Trade Winds because that put the wind at their sterns. The sailing was all reaching and they would do as much as possible to avoid windward work which was certainly not a square-rigger's best point of sail. Reaching put most of the stress on the backstays which in many instances designed as running rigging, particularly those run to the lighter masts aloft. That arrangement accommodated stretch to the extent necessary.  Reaching doesn't put a lot of stress on the shrouds, relatively speaking.

 

Bob Cleek, 11 October 2018:

Hereafter, in the interests of saving bandwidth, I'll put EdT's comments in bold italics and intersperse my comments in the regular font. (I changed to just italics - Dr Pr)

 

Color of lanyards is a subject that I hesitate to engage in because it is one of those hot buttons that invite many strongly held opinions.  I would suggest that someone – not me – create a topic on this subject.  I will gladly participate there with my admittedly limited knowledge.  I will, however, at the risk of inviting more comments on this build log, contribute here what I believe are some facts:

 

The color of deadeye lanyards shouldn't be a hot button topic at all. It's really just a matter of historical fact. Some of the modern confusion probably results from 1) a lack of experience and 2) the fact that the color changes over time in use. Also, in small craft, where deadeyes were employed, they may have been designed to be frequently reeved and unreeved, such as the case with a ship's longboats. In that case, line that was not as heavily tarred would have been used. Tarred hemp (not to be confused with "manila" or sisal cordage) is naturally light brown, the darkness of the brown being dependent upon how heavily it is tarred. The more tar, which would be thicker and darker, is applied, and that tar picks up dirt, they quickly darken, eventually to black, or darn close to it, the dirt and tar builds up. The yarns are soaked in thinned tar when the rope is made and that doesn't impart a lot of color, but when tar, and then, often, black paint are applied, the lanyard becomes black.  As mentioned in another post in this thread, the tar we are talking about is pine tar or "Stockholm tar," not roofing tar. Additionally, tarred line attracts dirt like a magnet, or so it seems. Much of its darkening is attributable to dirt. The tar will wear, or perhaps more accurately, break down from UV exposure and must be reapplied regularly. However "tan" a tarred lanyard might be, it will be very dark brown, if not black, in a very short while in use.

 

1.      Deadeyes and lanyards were used not only on shrouds but also on backstays.

 

Yes, that is true in some cases. In others, the backstays were rigged to be tightened with tackles and called "running backstays." These were generally lighter than the "standing backstays" which weren't designed to be tightened, or cast off on the leeward side.

 

2.      On a 3-4 month voyage around Cape Horn, upper masts would be struck down, probably more than once, requiring re-rigging of their stays and shrouds at sea.

 

Yes, something of a routine task. Their rigging was designed to accomplish this as easily as possible. A good crew could accomplish it easily. A crack naval crew could accomplish it with amazing speed and efficiency, or so it is written. Their deadeyes and lanyards were lighter than the lower deadeyes and lanyards and easier to handle. They needed only to be set up tightly enough not to hang slack when no load was applied to them.

 

3.      Climate variations between say a New York summer at the start of a voyage, equatorial conditions a month later, and semi-arctic conditions at the Cape a month after that, followed by a repeat of those variations up the Pacific, as well as the case described by wefalck, would certainly alter the tension in the standing rigging essential to the support of masts.

 

The variable factor is not so much temperature, which did have some affect the consistency of the tar to some extent, but rather moisture. This is why standing rigging was wormed, slurried in white lead paste, parceled in tarred canvas, and tightly served with tarred serving line, tarred again, and regularly slurried after being set up using what amounted to black paint in order to keep it dry under all weather conditions. This minimized changes in the properties of the cordage and prevented decay (rot) of the material in the elements.

 

4.      All hemp strands were tarred as part of the rope-making process – hence the straw-color (see Luce, Seamanship 1868).  No doubt the effects of sun, salt and weather would lighten this over time.

 

That's true. New cordage is "straw color," because the strands are soaked in thinned or "diluted" tar, which soaks into the strands easily. That "tar" would be the consistency of water. Un-thinned pine tar is the consistency of motor oil, or even a bit thicker. Weathering does "bleach" tarred line, but it actually tends to turn it grey more than anything else, which is as much dirt as anything. To counteract weathering, tar would be reapplied to lanyards as part of routine maintenance (and often painted black as well.) That and the collection of dirt stuck to the tarred surface, turned them progressively darker and ultimately black or very near so. There is a difference between applying thinned tar to the strands when making up rope and "tarring" lanyards with thicker tar or "slurrying" them with paint to protect them from the elements.

 

5.      The treatment applied to standing rigging discussed in earlier posts, according to primary documentation widely used at the time (again Luce, 1868), can only be described as thick, black, tarry paint. – black due to the carbon black content, thick due to the addition of letharge (lead oxide), tarry due to the pine tar.

 

Yes, but the "tarry" or "slurry," used on standing rigging is something different from the pine tar used to condition "tarred" cordage. It is indeed "black paint," although I don't believe they added any driers to it, so it remained somewhat flexible and didn't chip and flake much. As with all oil-based paint of the time, its primary ingredient was pine tar, thinned "to taste" with turpentine, litharge, which is another name for lead oxide, red or white, but usually white, which was the primary solid in all paints of the time (later replaced with zinc oxide or "whiting" which was simply talcum or chalk powder,) and "lamp black," (carbon) for color. This paint was cheap and effective. It was applied to the standing rigging to protect it from the elements.  (It was also used on ironwork to inhibit rusting. Most all of the iron fittings would have been wrought iron and so already rather resistant to rusting compared to modern steel.)

 

6.      The relatively complex lanyard/deadeye apparatus is obviously designed to add mechanical advantage (6 to 1) to force applied to the lanyard.  It was clearly intended for applying tension as the following well known diagram shows.

 

Yes and no. Lanyards are not "running rigging" per se and while there is a "mechanical advantage" present in the physics of it, it certainly wasn't to provide ease in setting them up! (They look like a block and tackle, but they don't work that way when setting them up because the friction quickly overcomes any mechanical advantage that theoretically existed.) The real purpose of deadeyes is to make it possible to attach a shroud or stay to a fixed point when it couldn't be tied in a knot. There really isn't any other way to set up a thick and somewhat rigid length of standing rigging, except to turn it round the deadeye and secure it with lashings, applying the tension "a bit at a time," distributed through the several turns of the lanyard. The evolution of this piece of rigging is interesting. Originally, a simple lashing served the purpose, but that arrangement created friction which made it more difficult to tighten and chaffed the line as the shrouds alternately went slack or tightened up  depending upon whether they were on the windward or leeward side. A "bigger hole" was tried, with large bullseyes, and later with heart-shaped bullseyes with three indentations in the bottom inside of the hole, and, ultimately, the deadeye, which was originally heart- or lozenge-shaped to accommodate more flexible standing rigging, ultimately evolved into the round deadeye which more easily accommodated the thicker and stiffer wormed, parceled, and served shroud-laid standing rigging. The deadeyes and lanyard are essentially an tensionable coupling mechanism that permits the attachment of the standing rigging.

 

7.      Methods and practices have evolved over time.  Even early 20th century practices were different than those of the 1860's - and wire was different from hemp.

 

Of course, but as long as deadeyes were used, they were "mature technology" that wasn't improved upon until the advent of wire cable and turnbuckles. Deadeyes always had tarred hemp lanyards, at least until the advent of synthetic line, which those who used it on yachts often painted black to retain the traditional appearance. Curiously enough, in recent years far stronger synthetic line with negligble stretch has become available and is replacing metal cable standing rigging and turnbuckles, as well as other heavier fittings (e.g. metal sail luff piston hanks) on state-of-the-art racing sailboats. (Dyeema is one well-known brand.) This new line is used with modern "deadeyes" and bullseyes because it is much lighter than the older metal rigging and so increases performance.

 

So, if I accept the above as facts, I ask the following questions:

 

1.      Why install a large number of contraptions like deadeye/lanyards if they would rarely if ever be used?  Why not just seize shrouds/backstays to chains  after initial tightening?

 

As mentioned above, the primary purpose of the deadeyes and lanyards was to provide a way to connect thick and stiff shrouds and stays which could not be tied in a knot to a fixed point while maintaining the tensile strength of the shroud or stay. Three turns of thin line equals one thick one. Secondarily, the arrangement was easily set up and, if necessary, adjusted, and had a certain shock-absorbing ability in distributing the load. 

 

2.      If these were needed to re-tension or re-rig backstays or even shrouds, why would one clog up this friction-prone device with a thick, tarry paint?

 

The tar and/or paint served the purpose of protecting the exposed lanyards from the elements. If re-rigging or re-tensioning were necessary, the cheap tarred hemp lanyards are simply cut away and the deadeye holes cleaned out and greased and new greased tarred hemp lanyards are rove through the deadeyes anew.

 

3.      If greasing rigging with galley slush or other lubricant was common at the time, why would this not be used on deadeye lanyards, at least when needed?

 

The lanyards and deadeye holes are indeed greased, traditionally with tallow, the all-purpose marine lubricant of the time. (And still damn good today, if you can find it. This is not "galley slush," but a refined animal fat lubricant.) It does not, however, have the weathering abilities of pine tar and remains greasy until it weathers away in the elements. It makes things slippery, but it doesn't last as long as tar or paint and protect things from weathering. Pine tar forms a flexible coating, somewhat akin to varnish. Adding solids (white lead, or chalk) to create a paint keeps the tar where you put it, rather than having it get sticky and thin in hot weather. Dripping tar turned the decks of sailing ships black in short order and, of course, was tracked all over everything and everyone. Naval vessels which, in most navies of the time were kept "Bristol fashion," "holy stoned" their decks regularly. This was essentially sanding the deck back to bare wood with abrasive stone blocks to clean the tar off of them.  Painting the standing rigging instead of just adding more raw tar lessened the need to "stone" the decks. 

 

4.      What does all this mean to the color of model lanyards?

 

Well, considering the "scale viewing distance" of a model, and the assumed desire to depict the model as realistically as possible, it means black lanyards. If one were to be building a masted longboat with deadeyes and lanyards which were rove and un-rove each use, it means light brown lanyards, if one is so inclined. "Straw-colorerd" would be too light unless one wanted to show a pristine brand new longboat. Moreover, as a matter of opinion and not historical fact, the contrast of light colored lanyards on a larger vessel have the effect of drawing the viewer's eye to them in a way that distracts from the overall impression of the model. Consider what a real full sized version of the model would look like if you looked at it at full-scale distance and saw "straw colored" lanyards.

 

I am sure others will approach this issue differently, but this has been my rationale and my reasons for dark, but not black, lanyards.

 

Of course they will and if they enjoy doing so, that's what it's all about, isn't it? So long as everybody's having a good time. However, if one wants to run with the big dogs, they'd better be black.

 

Rob, I believe Hervey Garret Smith's comments on deadeyes apply to 20th century yachts, and his description of tar is different than the tar coating described in Luce for application to the "standing" parts of standing rigging.  What he describes as a "thin liquid pine oil" would not be black.

 

Oh, absolutely Hervey Garret Smith was writing for a yachting audience, but he was speaking from his own working experience with deep-water square sail. That said, there were, and still are, some rather large traditional yachts rigged with deadeyes and lanyards and a deadeye and lanyard is a dead eye and lanyard. There's no difference between a yacht and a sailing ship in the way they work or are set up and maintained..

 

As I explained above, Luce's "slurry" paint is a different coating than pure pine tar. Pine tar thinned with turpentine to a "thin liquid" would not be black, but leave a lanyard made of yarn soaked in "thin liquid pine tar" out in the elements, coat it regularly with thick pine tar "out of the can" the consistency of motor oil and let it get good and dirty, and then "slurry" it with black paint, and those lanyards will be black in no time. It's sort of like if one were building a diorama of an old fashioned gas station on a model train layout: What color is the motor oil that has leaked on the ground? It was "straw colored" when it came out of the can, but it's black when it drips out of the engine.

 

EdT, 12 October 2018:

Well, my instincts about raising this opinion-charged topic appear to have been correct, so if there is still energy to debate this, please someone start a new topic.  I suggest we move on.

 

****

 

Dr Pr 23 November 2021 (this thread):

I have been wondering about dark vs light lanyards for shrouds, stays and other standing rigging in schooners (my current build). Photos of modern schooners show about equal numbers of ships with light and dark shroud lanyards. These are working ships, and not museum ships or models, so there is no single "correct" way.

 

My personal opinion is that the lanyards were lightly tarred and light colored when the shrouds were initially set up. They were greased (with tallow originally), as were the dead eye holes, to facilitate pulling the line through and tightening it, as shown in the drawing above. Then regular maintenance would require occasional coats of tar and/or the slurry described above, and as this built up the lines would darken. Oxidation of the oils and dirt accumulation would darken it more and bleaching by sunlight would add some gray.

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15 hours ago, Dr PR said:

Several years ago there was an excellent and extensive discussion - expressing many opinions - about the "proper" color of the dead eyes and lanyards used to set the shrouds. The suggestion was made that someone create a separate topic for this information, but as far as I can tell that didn't happen. I have been researching this topic recently and decided a separate topic was needed to make it easier to find.

 

CAUTION: This is a very debatable topic. In other words, different people have different opinions, and some are very forceful in defending their opinions!

 

 

 

No. It's not a "very debatable topic," notwithstanding how much it's been debated. There's a big difference between something which is "debatable" and something which is "debated." Just as there is a big difference between an opinion and a fact. As the saying goes, "We have a right to our own opinions, but not to our own facts."

 

When a fact is easily ascertained under conventional standards, such as "the night sky is dark," opining that the night sky is light is not the fair expression of an opinion, but, rather, an erroneous statement of fact, which, when propounded seriously as fact is often colloquially referred to as "BS." When one expresses their opinion about an ascertainable fact, it constitutes the proponent's admission that they actually don't know what they are talking about, in which case, when they assert a position, they are said to be "BS-ing." Given the obvious olfactory limitations of the medium, it's sometimes difficult to easily discern whether someone is "BS-ing" on the internet. It is generally a dead give-away when, after having been soundly proven wrong, the proponent of "BS" continues "BS-ing" with deflecting comments such as "Well, I suppose we'll just have to agree to disagree," "Well, I have a right to my own opinion," and, "Well, I'm afraid we're way off-topic at this point."

 

Vessels rigged with deadeyes and lanyards today will frequently have lanyards colored other than very dark brown or black because their lanyards are today frequently made of synthetic cordage which does not require treatment with old-time tar-based coatings to preserve it and the vessels' owners don't care about authentic period appearances. If a model depicts a modern deadeyes-and-lanyard rigged vessel, the model should obviously depict the lanyards as the color they appear on the prototype vessel with allowances for "scale distance viewing." If a model depicts the deadeyes and lanyards on a vessel during the "pre-synthetic cordage era," considering scale viewing distance, they should be black. That's a fact which was never in dispute until some ship modelers started putting light colored (sometimes even ecru or white) lanyards on their models and asserting that light colored lanyards were correct "in their opinion."  There's no need to opine. Deadeyes and lanyards continue to be used on vessels of all sizes to this day and when natural cordage is used, it continues to be tarred and painted black to ensure its longevity, just as it was in earlier times. This isn't an opinion, it's a fact. (I once owned and maintained a ketch traditionally rigged with deadeyes and lanyards and I've done my share of full-scale traditional marlingspike rigging on more than a few other vessels. I know the difference between black and any other color and the difference between natural fiber cordage and synthetic. :D )

 

Interestingly, now that high-strength UV-resistant cordage [Dyneema (tm)] is becoming popular in the high-tech racing machines, we are seeing modern deadeyes and lanyards and cordage standing rigging replacing turnbuckles and wire cable standing rigging on modern sailing vessels across the board. The lanyards pictured here aren't black because they don't require tar and paint to keep them from deteriorating in the elements.

 

R.1e528bfc7d6ae548c1f6aae212687f07?rik=BLaLY5lwgpWCnQ&pid=ImgRaw&r=0

 

See the source image

 

Today's cordage comes in an unlimited range of colors. I'm sure somebody will rig a deadeye with a fuschia lanyard some day, but that's not going to make fuschia lanyards correct on a 18th Century ship of the line. I suppose if you are modeling a modern day vessel with deadeyes and lanyards you can correctly make them any color of the rainbow.

 

See the source image

 

See the source image

 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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11 hours ago, mtaylor said:

One of the issues here is "tar".   Tar today is an oil based product and black.   Way back when it was resin based and when fresh was anything but black (amber as I recall).   So color choices could be made on the shrouds and lanyards.

It's only "amber" when it's been thinned like all get out, as in when it's applied to fibers when making rope. All the "Stockholm" or pine tar I've ever used around boats has been very, very dark brown, virtually black, before thinning. The more it is thinned, the lighter it gets. Hence, when repeated coats are applied, the amber color deepens to black as the coats build up. 

 

8134652_orig.jpg.627827b416647c4085269aee3e1ca84c.jpg

 

Pine tar is widely used for dressing horses' hooves and for veterinary medicinal purposes:

 

See the source image

 

See the source image

 

It's also traditionally used as a sealer on bare wood in Scandanavia:

 

swedish pine tar

 

 

And it's the traditional method of treating wooden baseball bats to provide a sticky grip for the batter:

 

Image 1 - Rawlings GPT16 Genuine Pine Tar Can 16 oz. Baseball Softball Bat Grip Enhancer

 

See the source image

 

Dark, dark, dark brown... virtually black.

 

And because it is sticky and gets all over everything, after a good coating of tar for preservation was applied to rigging, it was painted over with black paint to further seal it and provide UV protection. Were this not done, a ship would have "tar tracks" from stem to stern in short order and be quite a mess. As most know, the sailor's "middie" collar, the square of cloth attached to the back of the collar on a sailor's blouse, evolved from a scarf tied around the neck to prevent the pine tar from the sailors' pigtails from staining their shirts when they tarred their pigtails to preserve their hair as it grew out uncut on a long voyage. Upon their return, they'd cut off their tarred pigtails and sell them to the wig makers, who'd rinse them in turpentine to remove the tar and clean the hair for making the wigs so popular in past times.

 

See the source image

 

I could care less what color people make their rigging, but if anybody's asking what color deadeye lanyards were in the Age of Sail, I'm going to say "black." And if people insist on "two tone" deadeyes and lanyards with black shrouds and tan, or even white, lanyards, they're certainly free to do so. 

 

 

 

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29 minutes ago, Dziadeczek said:

Right or wrong, I don't know?

Oh, come on! :D You can't be serious.

 

The galleon has Dacron lanyards and their overly-long bitter ends are tied off ludicrously, wrapped around the shrouds. They'll serve their purpose just fine and won't require the maintenance natural fiber cordage would, but they are not historically correct in appearance. (Black synthetic line is readily available, so there's really no excuse.) Neither are the bronze ring bolts. For an "historical recreation" of a vessel the appearance of which can never be more than an educated guess, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. (The electrical cables running down the shroud and into the cabin side are a nice touch, too.)  But what difference does it make? The tourists will love it. "A real pirate ship!" :D 

 

USS Constitution, the only commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy to have actually sank an enemy vessel, and an actual historical artifact responsibly restored and conserved, is completely correct.* And her lanyards are black.

 

* Except for the "kiddie proof" netting they festoon all over her, as between the cannon barrel and the port jambs.

 

As I said, one can use any color lanyards they wish. Those who are interested in historical accuracy will make sure the lanyards on their period models are black. 

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45 minutes ago, wefalck said:

modern examples are not helpful, as they only reflect the modern interpretation of others and perhaps modern seaworthiness regulatory requirements ...

 

Although usually i agree with you Eberhard, but not this time. We must look closely the modern example first: what its main goal? Modern longboat replicas are built EXACTLY the same method than ancient vikings were used, including the trees, tools and materials down until the natural paints they used to color the dragon heads. The nails were produced by blacksmiths one by one, next to the shipyard, along with the axes the shipbuilders used. So i can tell they are identical to the original. Their lanyard color will match the original too.

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The problem lies in what EXACTLY really is. We don't know, we where not there then, and no written or pictorial records exist.

 

We interpret, in the above case, archaeological finds, with our modern knowledge and logic. But then the knowledge was different and the logic probably as well - we have some archaeological evidence of what people in a particular case may have done, but we don't know what they have tried to achieve and why, and what was the 'normal'. With the exception of one of the Skudelev wrecks, I think, all longboats finds were dressed up for funerary purposes, so we don't know, to what degree they reflect actual practice. Even for many 19th century practices there are no records and we need to back-interpret with our 20th/21st century knowledge.

 

This applies in particular also to naval vs.merchant navy practices. We are so much framed by tax-money funded naval practices, which were often recorded, that we think that this is what they did on low-marging operated and sparingly manned merchant ships as well. Not very likely, as later 19th century photographs seem to indicate.

 

When you look at a modern replica, you look at a set of interpretations of the existing evidence, nothing more. Sometimes these are the best available interpretations and sometimes concessions have to be made, when you actually want a working(!) replica on which you are allowed to put people.

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59 minutes ago, wefalck said:

It seems that the debate goes full circle again ... modern examples are not helpful, as they only reflect the modern interpretation of others and perhaps modern seaworthiness regulatory requirements ...

Precisely so. And a host of other factors, as well.

 

I have little investment in what color somebody makes their lanyards, but the discussion illustrates what I believe to be a much greater problem of the manner in which quite significant errors worm their way into the historical record.  Already, in this thread alone, we see assumptions based on incorrect perceptions and reasoning, obviously erroneous historical recreations, and even inaccurately re-rigged contemporary museum models offered as "authority" for modeling depictions which are simply historically wrong.  On this point, again, we can see how assumptions by otherwise technical masters of the craft and inaccuracies in often modernly re-rigged contemporary models find their way into the canon of present-day "historical authority." As an historical research wonk, I've too often struggled with inaccuracies which may have found their way into the historical record by way of a 150 year old erroneous newspaper account which was cited as gospel over and over by later historians who assumed it to be true without any further research or historical analysis. Just as with "fake news," an assertion forcefully asserted often enough makes for "fake history." Three hundred years from now, will museum curators and researchers be misled by then-surviving inaccurate models being built today, as we may have been misled by assuming the accuracy some of those left to us by our ancestors?

 

In his masterful work, The Fully Framed Model, Building the Swan Class Sloops, Volume IV, David Anscherl opines that because deadeye lanyards had to be frequently adjusted, they are running rigging and were light brown..." (or words to that effect, this not being an exact quote.) In my own experience sailing vessels equipped with deadeyes and lanyards, the deadeyes, once set up, aren't ever adjusted at all, or, at least, very rarely and when they are released, as when unstepping a mast for maintenance, tarred and painted lanyards, which are at that point quite stiff and hard, are not infrequently simply cut away and replaced anew when the mast is restepped . Now, I'm not saying they weren't ever adjusted at sea and maritime adventure writers describing "tightening the lanyards until they screamed in order to squeeze the last quarter of a knot out of the old girl" in a sea chase does make for exciting reading,  but I do know for sure that traditional standing rigging generally does not need to be adjusted after being set up and doesn't need to be all that tight in any event.

 

A traditional keel-stepped mast is quite capable of standing on its own, supported laterally by its partners. The purpose of the standing rigging was not to hold the mast vertical, but rather to evenly transmit the forces of the sail through the rigging to the hull. (The engineering of the modern "Marconi" rig being an entirely different animal.) The purpose of the deadeyes and lanyard were not so much to provide a mechanical purchase in the manner of a block and tackle, but to provide a method of fastening the shroud to the chainplates in order to transmit the stresses from the sails to the hull. Tying a knot in a shroud so it might be fastened to a chainplate is not a practical exercise. The deadeye provides the necessarily large diameter around which the thick, stiff, shroud-laid shroud can be turned and lashed. Moreover, as a practical matter, there's very little mechanical advantage in the deadeyes and lanyard because the tighter the lanyard becomes, the greater the friction of the lanyard going through the deadeye holes, greased or not, and a point of diminishing returns is quickly reached. As for tightness and stretch, masts bend somewhat and, in so doing, the windward shrouds fetch up tightly while the leeward shrouds become slack and once the windward shrouds have taken up, they are as tight as they need to be to efficiently transmit the power of sails to the hull of the ship. (Pre-stretched, four-strand shroud-laid cordage sacrificed tensile strength in exchange for lack of stretch, in any event.) I certainly wouldn't contradict Anscherl on any other point I can think of, but on this one, I think he jumped to the wrong conclusion. The definition of the term, "running rigging" is perhaps too broadly applied in this instance. Lanyards do little, if any "running."

 

Similarly, anyone who has done any amount of traditional rigging using "Stockholm" or pine tar can attest that if it is thinned greatly, it is indeed amber colored, but in the form it is usually applied to standing rigging, it is so dark a brown as to be seen as black, and that's a fact, not an opinion.

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20 hours ago, wefalck said:

 

We interpret, in the above case, archaeological finds, with our modern knowledge and logic. But then the knowledge was different and the logic probably as well - we have some archaeological evidence of what people in a particular case may have done, but we don't know what they have tried to achieve and why, and what was the 'normal'. With the exception of one of the Skudelev wrecks, I think, all longboats finds were dressed up for funerary purposes, so we don't know, to what degree they reflect actual practice. Even for many 19th century practices there are no records and we need to back-interpret with our 20th/21st century knowledge.

 

Disagree again. Careful archeological researches can tell how the ship built. Even those longboats were caskets, they were seaworthy once. I don't think (and the archeologist community doesn't so) the shipbuilders had two concurrent practice for funeral ships and another for real seagoing vessels. So in this case the archeology proves the method and technique of the age. We are able to understand the full flow of building the ship, and our modern devices can prove if the rope was impregnated by animal grease or pine tar - or neither. Oak is still an oak nowadays, as like tar, iron, hemp. This is our advantage, and 21st century knowledge: the understanding the past times. Therefore building a replica ship identical as far as possible to the elders did is possible. Even our modern logic could do better 'interpretations', we follow the original, because this is the task. There is no speculation, because we have the original ship. We know her materials. We know the tools. We know the dimensions, where the joints placed, where the nails knocked. We know the rigging, and we even know the colors of them due our 21st century knowledge.

Of course, if we'd like to sail the modern replica (still longboats) we must meet the modern rules. So the crew must have life jackets, inflatable dinghy, medicines, EPIRB and so forth, but we are talking the colors of the shrouds and not colors of the modern equipment.

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10 minutes ago, mtaylor said:

It's all making sense to me now, Bob.  One thing that's been said in somewhat of a jest is that we need a "Wayback" machine.   The reality, is... we really do.   

We have always had Wayback machines, but today we ignore them, blinded by our own internet-induced conceits, and, as time passes, the opportunity to ride those Wayback machines escapes us. As young guy, I soaked up as much of the "old ways" as I could. With a father who worked in the shipping industry all his life and my growing up around the ships on the San Francisco waterfront, I was "to the manner born," I suppose. I was able to learn much from elderly mariners and craftsmen who'd done formal apprenticeships in the '20's and 30's. When I was growing up in the '50's and '60's, there were still a few "Cape Horners" around who'd worked in deepwater sail and a foreign square-rigger would arrive in port every now and then. It was all there to learn if one had the interest to appreciate it. Today there is a wealth of books and videos about ship modeling, but, informative as they may be, they cannot substitute for spending time aboard the old ships or watching the old craftsmen work. Books can tell us what was done easily enough. That's knowledge. but knowing why things were done is understanding. I admire the ambition of modelers who undertake to build miniatures of things about which they have no personal experience, relying on practicums and forums to find their way. Sometimes, though, a lack of practical experience gets the better of them. I'd suggest every modeler keep a ball of tarred hemp marline in their tool box. The fragrance of pine tar will give a whole new meaning to the experience of rigging a ship model. :D 

 

American Rope & Tar LLC :: Hand-Tarred Marline (tarsmell.com)

Tarred Marline (arthurbeale.co.uk)

 

See the source image

 

And if you really want to get the ladies' attention, try some pine tar cologne: A.G.A. Correa's 'Seized' (tarsmell.com) :D 

 

 

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Veszett Roka said:

 

... Careful archeological researches can tell how the ship built. ... ... So in this case the archeology proves the method and technique of the age. We are able to understand the full flow of building the ship, and our modern devices can prove if the rope was impregnated by animal grease or pine tar - or neither. Oak is still an oak nowadays, as like tar, iron, hemp. This is our advantage, and 21st century knowledge: the understanding the past times. Therefore building a replica ship identical as far as possible to the elders did is possible. Even our modern logic could do better 'interpretations', we follow the original, because this is the task. There is no speculation, because we have the original ship. We know her materials. We know the tools. We know the dimensions, where the joints placed, where the nails knocked. We know the rigging, and we even know the colors of them due our 21st century knowledge. ...

 

This may be true... or not.

 

While archeological research can provide a lot of information, finds are far and few between and the flaw in your reasoning is that finding one, or even a few, ships of a given type still leaves us with little or no idea of just how representative the ancient vessel that was discovered is of the general class of such vessels. This phenomenon is quite frequently encountered, even with more modern vessels. In the U.S. in the 1930's, the government conducted the Historic American Merchant Marine Survey ("HAMMS".) Researchers were sent out all over the country to locate existing examples of old vessels of all types and record their lines and construction techniques. This archive, now in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. is an extremely valuable resource for those researching now-extinct working watercraft. However, as every researcher who has ever accessed this resource quickly discovers, questions frequently arise as to whether the vessel recorded was truly representative of the type. Where did it fall in the size range of the type? Was it's construction representative of the type, or was this example unusual in some, or many, respects. Does it represent the best of the type, or the worst, or somewhere in between? 

 

The same occurs with contemporary ship models. Many, if not most, have been re-rigged over the centuries, often with grossly erroneous rigging details. Sometimes the scale dimensions of a model of an identified ship do not reconcile with subsequent customhouse size parameters. How can we say how reliable an artificial record is  presented by a single ship model?

 

Viking ships are unusual in the relatively large number discovered as burial ships found by archeologists. Even so, there have only been a total of fifteen ship burials found to date, with most of these being fragmentary, if not completely decomposed. Add to that the span of time over which such examples were built, and "building an exact replica" becomes increasingly dependent upon conjecture. 

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15 minutes ago, Bob Cleek said:

We have always had Wayback machines, but today we ignore them, blinded by our own internet-induced conceits, and, as time passes, the opportunity to ride those Wayback machines escapes us. As young guy, I soaked up as much of the "old ways" as I could. With a father who worked in the shipping industry all his life and my growing up around the ships on the San Francisco waterfront, I was "to the manner born," I suppose. I was able to learn much from elderly mariners and craftsmen who'd done formal apprenticeships in the '20's and 30's. When I was growing up in the '50's and '60's, there were still a few "Cape Horners" around who'd worked in deepwater sail and a foreign square-rigger would arrive in port every now and then. It was all there to learn if one had the interest to appreciate it. Today there is a wealth of books and videos about ship modeling, but, informative as they may be, they cannot substitute for spending time aboard the old ships or watching the old craftsmen work. Books can tell us what was done easily enough. That's knowledge. but knowing why things were done is understanding. I admire the ambition of modelers who undertake to build miniatures of things about which they have no personal experience, relying on practicums and forums to find their way. Sometimes, though, a lack of practical experience gets the better of them. I'd suggest every modeler keep a ball of tarred hemp marline in their tool box. The fragrance of pine tar will give a whole new meaning to the experience of rigging a ship model. :D 

 

American Rope & Tar LLC :: Hand-Tarred Marline (tarsmell.com)

Tarred Marline (arthurbeale.co.uk)

 

See the source image

 

And if you really want to get the ladies' attention, try some pine tar cologne: A.G.A. Correa's 'Seized' (tarsmell.com) :D 

 

 

 

 

 

When rigging, I put a dish with some Lapsang Souchon or a similar smoked tea onto my desk in order to get into the mood 😊

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Bob makes some very good points, but I have to disagree with him on one score - and agree with a point wefalck made.

 

Bob describes his experiences as a youth and later in life working on a real vessel with deadeyes and such. He describes the materials he used and provides photos of some of them. I do not question any of this - he is the best authority on his own experiences, and I accept what he has said as fact.

 

However, given the limits on human age I think it is a fact that Bob's experiences were in the last half of the 20th Century and the early part of the 21st. He does not have first hand experience of the 17th, 18th and 19th century (none of the rest of us have either). So even though his arguments are very convincing, they are not facts, but only opinions of what might have been done centuries ago. Well formed and substantiated opinions, I might add.

 

Furthermore, it has been my experience that no two ships were alike, and no two crews alike.  Even when there are "standards" within an organization, there are often exceptions made on some vessels, sometimes unauthorized. And there are many variations between nations. So I am highly skeptical that there was just one way to rig deadeyes, in every nation, and throughout all time. Of course, some variations have been discovered from artifacts and old writings.

 

Bob makes a very good point that we cannot depend upon modern practices and materials in modern vessels be authentic to historical methods, especially when new synthetic materials are used for rigging. That could explain why modern vessels have different colored lanyards. In fact, I have noticed that three modern French schooners, including two sister ships used for training in the French Navy, have light colored lanyards. Yet American built schooners appear to have black lanyards. So these colors may just be "fashion." And I hope never to see a ship rigged with purple synthetic lanyards!

 

But if fashion plays a part in the appearance of ships today, it may well have done the same in times past.

 

****

 

What I have been looking for is a authoritative description that was written centuries ago (from the horse's mouth) telling how to perform all of the steps leading up to rigging and using deadeyes, and how to prepare all of the materials. I have yet to find such a work, and even if I do it will still be just one man's opinion of how things should be done. But it would at least be a reliable source of a way things were done and the materials that were used for that period.

 

Darcy Lever's "The Young Sea Officer's Sheet Anchor" (1808) tells how to rig a ship, and describes different rope lays and such. But the only thing I have found about making ropes and lanyards is a description of naval and commercial methods for making spun yarn (section 2). There he mentions "tar" (but doesn't say what that is) and says "upon every three or four fakes Tar is rubbed on with a Brush." That leaves a LOT to the imagination!

 

Falconer's "Universal Dictionary of the Marine" (1769) says the rope yarn (Rogues -yarn) that was "placed in the middle of every strand, in all cables and cordage in the king's service ... differs from all the rest, as being untarred ..." Falconer does say "tar" was used to preserve the hull and rigging from the effects of weather, and says "tar" was a blackish liquid gum distilled from pine or fir trees. So tar was used to preserve rigging in the 1700s, but we already knew that.

 

I can't find anything in David Steel's "The Art of Rigging" (1796) or George Biddlecombe's 1848 revision for the US. Navy about tarring rigging. Likewise half a dozen other books that describe how to make masts and spars say nothing about the rigging other than giving formulae or tables of dimensions for the ropes.

 

I think wefalck described the process for making Stockholm Tar in some thread on the Forum. But we can be certain that not every ship had access to the real stuff from Stockholm. (Think of the early American Navy during the wars with England when American ports were blockaded) So some type of "tar" was probably concocted locally rather than using a commercial product being sold world wide. And that means local materials were used, and that means variations.

 

Chapman's "Architectura Navalis Mercatoria" (1820) mentions "coarse" and "Clean" Finland tar but says nothing about what it was or how it was made.

 

And that is all I have found describing period practices. There isn't much "fact" to go on. But I may well have missed something in the books I cited, and there most likely are other period works that I am unaware of. I will appreciate it if someone can provide other evidence to guide this discussion.

 

****

 

So with nothing else to guide me I intend to follow Bob's advice and use dark lanyards on my deadeyes. It is as good a choice as any!

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1 hour ago, Bob Cleek said:

This may be true... or not.

 

While archeological research can provide a lot of information, finds are far and few between and the flaw in your reasoning is that finding one, or even a few, ships of a given type still leaves us with little or no idea of just how representative the ancient vessel that was discovered is of the general class of such vessels. This phenomenon is quite frequently encountered, even with more modern vessels. In the U.S. in the 1930's, the government conducted the Historic American Merchant Marine Survey ("HAMMS".) Researchers were sent out all over the country to locate existing examples of old vessels of all types and record their lines and construction techniques. This archive, now in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. is an extremely valuable resource for those researching now-extinct working watercraft. However, as every researcher who has ever accessed this resource quickly discovers, questions frequently arise as to whether the vessel recorded was truly representative of the type. Where did it fall in the size range of the type? Was it's construction representative of the type, or was this example unusual in some, or many, respects. Does it represent the best of the type, or the worst, or somewhere in between? 

 

Look at my avatar. Thats me sailing a soling class on 2003 World Championships. This is a strict one-design class sailboat. How strict the rules are? For example if you put the mast horizontally onto a table, it's top must weight 10.35 kgs, +/- 2% if my memory serves me right - not less, not more.

So can we say that solings are identical? Not.

Not just because the different colors, decorations, but because the rigging solutions and methods. It depends on what the skipper prefers. Going to the stays, ours were bowden type, others like the monoline (wire). Our tiller was made from stainless steel. Other solings had wooden one.

If you find a sunken soling (you can do it in Lake Geneva for sure), how far it is represent its type? Even this is an one-design class, what is the true tiller: the metal or the wooden one? Therefore we cannot rely on typical ships. We will have dimensions (they must be identical for all soling), materials (almost same), solutions (some typical, some totally different). But hey, a tiller is still a tiller. If you find 4 sunken soling and all have tiller, some metal some wooden, can you say that all solings were steered by tiller? Yes. If any exception, you didn't find it yet.

Anyhow, you will be able to recreate the sunken soling at all way. You can see her materials. You can see the methods the materials put together. You can see her colors. You can see the rigging solutions and their purpose. At the end, you can sail the newly built soling like the sunken one ~40 years ago.

We are capable to rebuild the Vasa. We have the ship, our researches gave us excessive amount of data to build an identical ship. Down to her colors. The only question is whether we want to build her. I'm pretty sure the new one would capsize too if we'd follow the original, but we still able to do.

In other hands, there is no reason to seek the 'typical' ship. Even we have good written sources about the know-how, same shipyard will not build two identical ship, and those ships will change in the years.

Back to viking replicas. Modern archeology can pinpoint the country where the trees cut. Skudelev2 what Eberhard mentioned above built around 1042, and her trees cut from Glendalough, Ireland. Quite impressive to know, especially because this is the least preserved longship ever found. Comparing her to the Gokstad ship, they share the planking, keel, stem and in general hull design, even Gokstad ship is some 50 years older. Looking to other viking ships we found, we can say that all steered by steuerboard, if any exception we didn't find it yet.
So if i will use same oak, tar, hemp etc. and build a ship exactly same dimensions, methods, tools etc. will this ship be authentic? I vote yes.

 

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Darcy Lever says on page 24 of The Young Sea Officer's Sheet Anchor:   "The Laniard is well smeared with Grease..."    The Hermione photo in this thread seems to me to be the most accurate look. That is, darker than running rigging, but not as dark as the shrouds.  I think the really good replicas, Hermione, Endeavour and even Surprise, from the Master and Commander film, all thoroughly researched for accuracy, are very good sources for model builders.

 

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Part of our problem with ships of the age is that while we can find the evidence (Viking ships come to mind and all that follow) our knowledge is limited.   Much was not recorded because it was common knowledge back then.  Sadly, much of that common knowledge has been lost.  

 

Lost knowledge even hits us now...cars for example.  How many 20-somethings actually know how to drive a stick shift?  Change oil, spark plugs, etc.  Or adjust the points in the distributor?  The info is out there in books.  The problem is, there are no books from the deep past.

 

Bob, you have sea in your blood.  Many of us (most?) don't.  It's good that you do as you have a perspective that many of us don't have.

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Good Evening Everyone;

 

There has been quite a lot of discussion here about the colour of lanyards, and I am surprised that nobody has suggested referring to the works of the various marine artists who flourished for at least four centuries and recorded the actual things which they saw.

 

Below is an extract from Henrik Vroom's painting of the Prince Royal, with nice dark deadeyes and lanyards. Back then, interestingly, they were called 'deadman eyes'. 

 

A look through a book showing work by an artist working in the period in which one is interested would surely be a good first port of call for anyone seeking further information. 

 

On a slightly different topic, the deadeyes of royal yachts were sometimes gilded. 

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

 

image.thumb.png.4156f2ae93220bdb6bc63bd34c3afab4.png

Edited by Mark P
note about yachts added
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10 hours ago, Veszett Roka said:

So if i will use same oak, tar, hemp etc. and build a ship exactly same dimensions, methods, tools etc. will this ship be authentic? I vote yes.

Yes, but that really has nothing to do with the subject being discussed. The best anyone can do given your analysis is to build a replica of the ship which was found and it will be accurate only to the degree that the original artifact was intact. Building a replica of one of the Viking grave ships is possible because a few were very well preserved, as, you note, was Vasa. My point, however, is that one ship excavation doesn't prove a whole lot of specifics beyond that one ship. I really don't know how many models of Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria, Mayflower, or Noah's Ark, for that matter, before kit manufacturers admit their kits are just somebody's imaginary interpretation of the real ship. 

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12 hours ago, Dr PR said:

But we can be certain that not every ship had access to the real stuff from Stockholm. (Think of the early American Navy during the wars with England when American ports were blockaded) So some type of "tar" was probably concocted locally rather than using a commercial product being sold world wide. And that means local materials were used, and that means variations.

Rest assured, we know exactly what "Stockholm" or pine "tar" was, is, and always will be. It was a naval store about which much has been written. Sourcing it required political alliances with nations having pitch pine forests, hence, the Europeans called pine tar "Stockholm tar" simply because Sweden controlled the production of it. Pine tar was the only tar relevant to our discussion. When Britain was unable to secure tar from the Baltic forests, it focused on the colonization of the American Eastern Seaboard for naval stores, primarily shipbuilding timber and pine tar. North Carolina was the center of the British naval pine tar industry and to this day people from North Carolina are called "tar heels." It's not rocket science.

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Technology changes over time but basic Newtonian Physics does not.  I am excluding Quantum Mechanics, Nuclear Physics, etc.  Sailing ships of old had to confront the same laws of nature faced by sailors today.  Sailors back then had to deal with corrosion and rot just like those of today.  The problem has not gone away, sailors just have better technology to fight it.

 

When the lanyard debate was originally raging a number of forum members were building rigged longboat models.  The rigging on longboats might be an exception as the longboats were only rigged as needed for trips away from the mother vessel.  The shrouds, stays, and pendants, would have been made up, served, tarred, and stored away when not needed.  The lanyards, rigged as needed, did not require tarring for short time use.

 

Regarding replicas:  I defy anyone to name one that is a faithful replica of an actual ship.  Possibly Bluenose II?  The rest are either modifications of known designs to meet modern passenger carrying regulations or complete reconstructions based on sketchy information.  When William A. Baker designed Mayflower II, the only known fact was her tonnage.  If someone is building a model of one of these replicas;  Pride of Baltimore, Brig Niagara, etc. the color of her lanyards in 1812 is immaterial.  If you want an accurate model, color them the same as the replica since you’re not building the actual ship.

 

Roger

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Bob,

 

I agree that pine tar is pine tar, although there might be slight differences between species. It isn't hard to make - I made some myself when I was in high school.

 

What  am curious about is how it was diluted, and with what, and what consistency it had when brushed onto the  ropes. There is a wide range of possibilities, as discussed earlier in this thread. And this means the actual end results could have varied significantly over time and geography.

 

And I certainly agree that examining a small number of artifacts doesn't tell us how all ships were built.

 

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that the (relatively) long chain hydrocarbons in turpentine and tar have antibiotic effects. I'm not sure what the specific mode of action is (it has been a very long time since I studied this), but possibly it interferes with cell membrane integrity. This is something sailors of old wouldn't have had a clue about, but tarring the natural fiber rigging would protect it from microbial degradation.

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10 hours ago, Veszett Roka said:

So if i will use same oak, tar, hemp etc. and build a ship exactly same dimensions, methods, tools etc. will this ship be authentic? I vote yes.

Yes, but that really has nothing to do with the subject being discussed. The best anyone can do given your analysis is to build a replica of the ship which was found and it will be accurate only to the degree that the original artifact was intact. Building a replica of one of the Viking grave ships is possible because some were well preserved, as, you note, was Vasa. My point, however, is that one ship doesn't prove a whole lot beyond that one ship. I really don't know how many more "accurate" model kits of Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, or Mayflower, Golden Hind, Half Moon, and Noah's Ark will be sold before folks realize we have no historical record of what these vessels actually looked like. 

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BTW, Stockholm didn't actually control the trade in pine-tar. It was produced all over the eastern Baltic area and indeed in many parts of Europe, where there are pine-forrests - some days ago I posted on the forum a film that discusses how the Spanish ensured their domestic supply in the 18th and 19th century. The tar or pitch was not only used in a shipping context, but for a variety of other purposes, including medicinal ones. Stockholm exercerted a certain early type of quality control over the tar shipped from there by inspecting the quality and branding the barrels in which it was shipped - sort of 'Made in ...'. The tried to fetch higher prices through quality assurance and develop a sort of quality monopoly.

 

However, pine-tar was successively replaced from around the 1840s on by coal-tar that became available in large quantities as city gas for lighting was installed. Coal-tar behave differently and usually is also darker.

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