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HMS Victory Rigging Conundrum


gjdale
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This post is intended for anyone who has built, is building, or is contemplating building HMS Victory, whether in kit form or scratch built.  Others with an interest in Rigging generally may also like to chime in.

 

I've come across an interesting conundrum regarding the rigging of Victory that other Victory builders may be interested in.  I spent several hours poring over documentation to try and work out the use of Yard Tackle Pendants and Brace Block Pendants.  I consulted several sources, but my primary reference for any assertions here is Longridge.  I also sent a PM to Gil Middleton to seek advice on his approach to this aspect - his reply is posted within Gil's own log (as we had a problem with the PM system), so I won't repeat it verbatim here.

 

First up, as far as I can tell, Yard Tackle Pendants are only used on the lower yards of the Main and Fore Masts.  Longridge talks of these in the text descriptions for each of the yards, and this is matched by the drawing of the Running Rigging by Campbell (Plan No. 7 in Longridge).

 

Secondly, I don't believe Pendants were used for Braces except for the Cross Jack Yard.  Longridge specifically states (pg 258), in his description of the Cross Jack Yard, that "Here is the only place in the ship where Brace pendants are employed."

 

I also checked over McKay's AOTS book, and as vague as it is, it does seem to match Longridge as well, with the exception that it does not show brace pendants for the Cross Jack Yard.

 

I got terribly confused by all of this as Antscherl (in TFFM) employs brace pendants on all yards, and although he shows the Yard Tackle Pendants, he doesn't say much about them.

 

The Mamoli kit plans, as bad as they are, actually do match Longridge (now there's a turn up for the books!), with the exception of the Cross Jack Yard Brace Pendants, and belaying of the yard tackle pendants.

 

I got further confused when I looked back over Gil's excellent log, where he has employed brace pendants on all of the upper yards.  So I asked Gil about his sources and choices.

 

Gil's response was (in essence) that the Jotika plans showed them this way, and that this matches his photographs of the actual ship (see Gil's log for these photos).  He opined that Longridge was basing his version on the 1922 restoration and that this may have been different to the more recent restoration to (supposedly) the "Trafalgar" state of the ship.  Gil also quite correctly points out that different Captains changed rigs to suit there personal preferences, so unless we can go back and interview Captain Hardy, we might never know for certain.

 

In the meantime, Gil has chosen to stick with the Jotika/Trafalgar restoration version, and I have decided to stick with the Longridge version on the basis that if Longridge is wrong, then I'm happy to be wrong with him.   ;) 

 

 

I've also been confused by the belaying of the Fore Lower Yard Tackle Pendants.  Longridge, in the text (pg 242), is quite vague saying, "The pendant...is a 7-in rope with its lower end spliced round a 13-in double block which is connected by its 3 1/2-in fall to a 13-in single block which hooks on to an eyebolt in the side of the deck."  In the diagram (Plan No.7) "the side of the deck" seems to translate to the Fore Channel, and this matches the drawing in McKay (pg 109), though neither actually show the final belaying point clearly. In checking the text again, Longridge's Belaying Plan (Plan 10, pg 266) and his Table of Belaying Points (pg. 270) both show that it belays to the "7th timber head, side of forecastle". But this raises another question for me - how does the line get to this belaying point without going through the shrouds/ratlines and/or the hammock netting and consequently becoming fouled?  It would make more sense to me to belay it on the Fore Channel, outside the shrouds, as seems to be indicated by all of the diagrams.  Does anybody have an opinion on this?

 

For interest, general discussion and further opinions as appropriate.

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Hi Grant,
 

When in doubt I always refer back to Steel, writing in 1794.
This is what he has to say
 

YARD-TACKLE-PENDENTS are next put over the yard-arm, with an eye, as the former. In the lower end is spliced a double block, connected by its fall to a single one, strapped with a hook and thimble, to hoist in the boats, &c.
 

YARD-TACKLES are sometimes carried aft and hooked to eye-bolts in the side, and used to prevent too great a strain on the braces in bad weather.
 

Lees also covers yard tackle pendants in his book:
 

Comprising a pendant and long tackle block, the pendant being a quarter of the yards length.
The tackle fall comprised the pendant block and a single hooked block. When not in use the  tackle was hooked to the Futtock shrouds, and made up along the yard (by the use of a tricing line.)

 

This is how I have always chosen to display the yard tackles.
 

On Victory today recent photos show the Starboard yard tackles hooked to the Futtock Shrouds and the port tackles  are shown extended and  attached  to the lifting rings of  a boat.
 

Brace Pendants
This is what Steel has to say again writing in 1794.
 

BRACE-PENDENTS are next put over the yard-arms with an eye, as above; in the lower end is a single block, through which the brace reeves. Sometimes, in the navy, and oftener in the merchant service the block is lashed to the yard-arm without a pendent.
 

TOPSAIL-YARDS.
 

BRACE-PENDENTS are next put over the yard, as on the lower ones. The fore-topsail-braces reeve through the block in the pendent, and then through a block lashed on each side the collar on the main-stay, a little below the fore-braces; the standing-part makes fast to the stay below the block with a hitch, and seized. The leading-part leads from the block upon the collar of the stay through a block lashed on the stay abreast the fore hatchway, and through a block strapt with a thimble into an eye-bolt in the aft-part of the forecastle, and belays round an iron pin in the boat-skid.
 

MAIN-TOPSAIL-BRACES reeve through the block in the pendent, and the standing-part makes fast to the collar of the mizen-stay. The leading-part reeves through a block in the span round the mizen-mast-head below the hounds, and leads down through a sheave-hole in the mizen-topsail-sheet-bits, abaft the mizen-mast, and belays there.
 

THE CROSS-JACK-YARD
 

BRACE-PENDENTS are stopt to the yard about four feet within the cleats at the yard-arm; the brace then reeves through the block in the pendent. The standing-part of the starboard brace makes fast to one of the middle shrouds on the larboard side with a hitch, and the end stopt; and the leading-part reeves down through a single-block lashed to the same shroud a little below the catharpins; it then leads through a truck or double-block seized to the middle shroud, and belays round a pin in the fife-rail, and the larboard braces the contrary.
 

This is the link to the online work of Steel
 

http://hnsa.org/doc/steel/part7.htm#pg201

 

It is interesting to note that  Monamy Swaine in his painting of Victory at Sea in 1793 shows Brace pendants used.

 

Lees writing about Brace Pendants says on the lower yards they were fitted until 1815, and on the Topsail/T’gallants until 1805.*
*I have a slight niggle as to whether this is a typo error.
 

Marquardt (18th Century Rigs and Rigging) indicates that the attaching of the brace blocks directly to the yard using the dog and bitch connection became official in the Royal Navy in 1815.
 

Victory currently has brace pendants. Older photos of Victory show her without pendants, and Bugler writing in 1966 shows no brace pendants in his rigging plans etc.
 

It is the case that certain features on Victory extant in the days of Longridge and Bugler, were changed prior to the Bi-centenary in 2005, removal of the stern davits, changing the name detail on the stern etc; it may well have been thought that 1805 was too early to fit the dog and bitch connection.
 

Although unofficial changes were often made a fair time in advance of the official adoption, Steel's comment in 1794 that ‘sometimes’ in the Navy the block is lashed to the yard without a pendant, suggest to me that it was the exception rather than the norm at that time.
It does however give some leeway to choose not to fit brace pendants.
 

Personally  on balance I would fit pendants until the post Trafalgar era.

 

 

Hope this helps.

 

B.E.

 

ps; I have copied this also into your log .

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Thank you so much B.E.! Once again you are a font of information - that all actually makes sense! Thanks also for the online link to Steel. I'll give this some more thought now as I'm still at a point where I can change my mind........hmmmmmmmmmm............

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  • 6 years later...

I came upon this conundrum too rigging my little AIRFIX Victory... I ended up following Gil and the current rig at Portsmouth (i.e. with yard pendants).

 

Noel Hackney's Victory rigging method also suggests no pendants were used except for the Crossjack braces, but this was written in the 1970s.

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