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Lower mast tackles, Burton pendants/tackles, top ropes


hamilton
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Hi there:

 

In doing more research on the rigging of the HMS Blandford (6th rate ship rigged post ship, 1719), I've been reading about (in James Lees' Masting & Rigging of English Ships of War) the following lines whose function I'm a little unclear on....

 

1. "Pendants, runners & falls of tackles" - a feature of the lower fore & main masts. Lees suggests that smaller ships had one pair on each mast,with a single block seized in the end hanging at the level of the upper catharpins. He then says that runners are seldom seen rigged on models and also that the falls are rigged with a single block used in conjunction with the double block on the runner....this would lead me to believe that the falls would not be rigged on the model, either, if the runners weren't. This would mean that the pendant would just kind of hang there.....Would it be correct to rig the falls in conjunction with the block on the pendant? And what is the function of these lines - lateral stabilisation?

 

2. Burton pendants and falls - mentioned in conjunction with the Mizzen lower mast and fore and main topmasts - Lees says that these were standard on most ships but that the falls were "made up" in the top with the end coiled up and lashed to the fall when not in use.....but what is the context of use? And should these be rigged on the model? 

 

3. Toprope pendants and falls - Lees shows the standing ends of these lines as being seized to eyebolts on the forward underside of the lower mast caps. From there it runs through sheaves in the topmast heel, then up through single blocks seized to eyes on the aft underside of the caps....the pendants end in thimbles. This seems straightforward enough. But Lees' description of the fore topmast toprope falls is confusing....He says that the lower block was made fast to the main deck on either side of the main hatch, with the falls leading to either side of the belfry....this makes no sense to me, as the belfry is mounted on the aft edge of the forecastle and the main hatch is, obviously, at mid-ships....I'm also unclear on the purpose of the topropes....

 

Anyway, sorry for the lengthy post, but any clarification on these points would be most helpful - thanks a lot!

hamilton

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I think of the Burton Pendants as being auxiliary handy places to hang something heavy from, and I do believe they just hang down under the tops when not being used in conjunction with a temporary lifting project. I know one of their uses was for setting up the lanyards on the deadeyes, with tackle hooked to the Burton Pendants to put tension on the lanyards, which in turn kept the shrouds tight. The lead from the Burton Pendants is PERFECT for this. I hear tall ships to this very day have issues keeping their shrouds tight- those few that do not use steel wire rope standing rigging, so this reason alone would be enough to keep the pendants on all the rigs. I am certain that the gear would be struck down after the job was done though so I wouldn't place anything on them on the model.

The toprope I would just leave off too. Its only in use when they are striking the topmast down on deck and I seriously doubt anyone would leave that line in place if it wasn't in use. Why risk the wear and tear on a line you REALY don't want to part? Striking or Housing the mast was certainly done often enough. I recall reading somewhere of an English frigate crew that had trained so well they could strike topmasts in a matter of minutes, but it was a big 'all hands" type of job and setting up the tackle would be just one part of the sequence of events. Incidentally the Top Rope is one of the Seven Ropes on a ship. There are only seven ropes on a ship, it is said. All the other ropes are properly called lines.

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 Thanks a lot Frank - so if I read you right - just have the pendants rigged as such - hanging loose? Or would they be secured somehow - Lees mentioned lashing the Burton pendants to the topmast shrouds for fore and main topmasts....I'm assuming this would go for the tackle pendants on the lower masts, too?

hamilton

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I was mussing on the presumed necessity of the pendants. With a capable boatswain, couldn't they just rig a strop of some kind when they needed a point from which to rig a purchase, like a selvagee? sure they could but it would always have to be attached to one of the other shrouds, which are already under some degree of strain and you wouldn't want to compromise any of those in any way- although you do see lead blocks for braces and things on them, and that is surely a strain, albeit usually lateral strain. And there are collars lashed around masts to direct the stays to the deck, and these are certainly under a lot of strain, why not an eye like one of those lashed up high? But the stay collars too have a mostly lateral strain on them and a vertical strain would probably make them slip down. The pendants are made off right around the masthead, an unambiguous strong purchase. Any strain placed on them would be translated directly to the strongest part of the ship aloft with no chance of damaging or carrying anything else away. "Nothing too strong ever broke".

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Mast Tackles were rigged to hoist cargo and gear into the ship.  The pendants on the fore mast and the main mast would be connected by a runner so that the tackle fall would hang over the main hatch.  Yard tackles would also be employed to swing the cargo over the side and lower away onto the pier or boat alongside.

 

The burton tackle is just the name given to the mast tackle on the mizzen.

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