How does a boatswain splice natural-fibre rope and strengthen this with a metal rigger’s thimble?
Where great forces will be exerted on a spliced eye in a rope and chafing damage can be expected this eye can be strengthened using a metal rigger’s thimble. The boatswains have the tools required for this. All necessary ropes and other requisites are present onboard. To achieve the required break strength the splice is ‘tucked’ back into the standing end five times.
We shall first look at the implements, machines and tools that are required. The splicing will then be explained in successive steps.
Tools and implements required for undertaking a splice using a metal rigger’s thimble...
A distinction is made between rope made from natural fibres and synthetic rope.
• Natural fibres: manila, sisal, cotton, coir, hemp, flax…
• Synthetic: polyamide, polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene, …
The example discussed below uses natural-fibre rope as shown in the photograph on the right.
Leather hand palm with thimble
The hand palm protects the boatswain when working with needles and sharp fids/marlinspikes. A metal thimble is fitted to provide extra protection when sewing with a needle. This thimble has an upright edge to prevent the needle from slipping.
Whipping twine or spun twine is used to whip the strands.
Metal rigger’s thimble
The metal rigger’s thimble protects the rope against chafing or from becoming wedged.
The needle is used to draw the whipping through the strands. The needles have a slight curve so that they go through the twisting strands better and easier.
This hard tallow is used to grease the rope and the fid to make it easier to push through the strands.
Successive operations for making a splice with a metal rigger’s thimble.