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Iron chain for yard slings

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I have a question about mid-to-late 18th C Royal Navy warship rigging.


I searched but didn't find anything here regarding the use of iron chain (links) for yards. I've read in several novels about how rope rigging used for main course yard slings were sometimes replaced with iron chains when anticipating action. I understand that the jeer ropes and related hoisting tackle was "slackened" and the yards were mainly supported by the rope sling and this was the same for the chain slings.


I'm considering using chain to sling my main courses on my current build (HMS Ardent/64, 1764). What size chain should I use (size of links) and was there any special way of rigging the chain that differed from the rope equivalents?


Any thoughts or facts on this would be greatly appreciated.



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I  have wondered about the use of chain slings when rigged for battle myself. I have suspected that the chains that were rigged were basically safety chains that were limited to that role only. In that role the normal rigging would remain in use and in place with the chains used to catch the yard in the event of damage to the supporting rigging. Nothing but an opinion about what I would use them for were it me making the decisions. Add safety while not changing the familiar and working rigging, those chains were probably not rigged because of their weight high in the rigging without good reason.

Hope someone will provide some documented information about the use of chains.


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Thanks Jud, good thought about the subject. You could be right about keeping the rope slings in-place and adding the chains. I would imagine they were quite heavy and difficult to rig but better than having the jeers shot away and then losing the main yard during a battle. Apparently, one of the French tactics was to "aim high" in order to disable their enemy's propulsion.


Any more ideas or info out there?

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Hi Ron, per the book by James Lees-The Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War 1625-1860, ISBN 0870219480, slings came into use about 1770 and were used as an addition to jeers.  These rope slings were changed to chain slings during war time and eventually replaced rope slings altogether, generally from 1811 onward. 

With either rope or chain slings, the jeers were slacken when the slings were rigged so the weight of the yard was borne by the slings.  I think the rope sling was removed when chain slings were rigged but I have not found a specific reference.  It just makes sense to have only one sling.  

The chain sling were secured to the strop by a slip which looks like a clasp to a lady's necklace or wrist bangle, like the jaw of an alligator.  Around the yard was a double chain strop which had two shackles thru which the slip was fastened.   It may easier to see the graphics than to describe it. 


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