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The bellrope is a necessary ancillary to the ship's bell, long considered the 'heart' of a ship. Ship's bells are almost mystical
objects, especially for as superstitious a lot as are sailors. They are polished before all other items and are the last thing to be
removed when a ship is decommissioned or scrapped. US Navy vessels have their names engraved on their bells and when a
ship is struck from the list, the last Commanding Officer usually receives the bell for safekeeping.
The bell-rope is a symbol of the Pride in the ship taken by the crew... battleships and other major vessels will usually have the
fanciest bell-ropes, often the product of several hundred hours of labour by one or more expert knotters. The more detail and
embellishments, the more respect it engenders. This bellrope took me some 70 hours to produce and complete. It is not
particularly fancy, but it is probably the neatest I've ever made. I'd like to thank Marty Combs for the tips and hints contained in
his bellrope video... after nearly 40 years, I needed a quick refresher course in the steps required, and Marty's video was
"Johnny-onna-spot". Marty is also my source for the #15 codline used in the bellrope's cover and turksheads creation.
The large bellrope was made specifically for the Tamaroa Maritime Foundation which owns and operates the former USS Zuni
(ATF 95) / USCGC TAMAROA (WMEC 166) as a living history museum in the Richmond, Va., area. She is currently berthed in
the Newport News area of Virginia where she will act as a museum and instructional tool for Sea Cadet troops, Boy and Girl
Scouts and other organizations as well as local schools. It is also anticipated that she will be involved in Displays and Sail-ins
along the East Coast in the future. Visit their website HERE for more information on the Tamaroa/Zuni.
Interested in making one? Visit the TUTORIAL!
Bellrope of #15 cotton codline over a "laid" pudding (core). 20" overall from top of eye to finial knot, and 2.75" diameter at the
Eye is a 3-strand ringbolt braid (or Spanish Graft) of #7 sail-twine over five cores with a brass thimble insert, to a 5x4 "Square"
covering the thimble to body connexion. Upper two sections are done in a fender-woven "over 2" pattern cover (Thanks, Marty!)
with a 7x6 square TKH at the first size transition, and a 9x8 square TKH at the second size transition. The 3x5 TKHs are purely
decorative. At the second size transition, the covering changes from the fender-weave to a simple grafting stitch of "1-up,
1-down" which, while a 'simple' graft, still takes about 10 hours to do. Third size transition is covered by an 11x10 square TKH
and the end is done in a 12x11 square TKH (simply because I won't use anything with the number "13" on a bellrope) which also
"laps" or binds in the bottom cover, a box-braid which is finished off by a doubled-star knot.
First one I've made in nearly 40 years... came out just fine.
eye lanyard and
connexion to body cover
of 'over-2' fender hitching
to 7x6 'square turkshead
hitching to 7x6 'square
turkshead covering size
transition to 3x5 3-pass
to a 12x11
lapping the 3-strand
boxweave end with
a 9x6 finial 'filled' star knot.
hitching to 9x8 'square' turkshead
covering transition in size and
shift to 'simple' graft
cover with 3x5
Side view of the
end knots showing the
3x8 decorative turkshead
"simple' graft cover
to last size transition
under 11x10 'square'
turkshead to a 3x8 (5-
pass) decorative turks.
It's me... the idiot.
With ringbolt hitched eye over small thimble,
#15 "over-two" fender laid body cover and
various turksheads: flat knob with box-braid
Turksheads from top: 5x4 in #15, 3x5 in#12,
3x5 in #15, 3x5 in #12, 6x7 in #12, (2) 3x5 in #15
(4-pass), 7x8 in #15, 3x8 in #12 (4-pass), 9x8
(lapped over end) in #15.
Bud Brewer of Colorado does all sorts of
wonderful things, and his bell lanyards are
This one is done in black and white nylon,
but the most interesting thing is the
connexion from the lanyard to the eyebolt!
THAT is a SERIOUS nut! (So is Bud!)
Lovely finial "globe" knot, too!
David Largent has been involved with the B.S.A.
for most of his life... he is an accomplished
knotter and took the pictures of this beauty he
made for his Boy Scout encampment. Here's a
descriptive that he wrote:
"Description of Camp Red Wing Bell Rope
Completed and hung June 2005 by David Largent.
"[The Boy Scout Law and Oath are represented
in this bell rope numerous times. Can you find
"Total finished length is ~5'9". Made with (4) 50'
x 3/16" braided nylon cords. Each cord's center
point is on the center of the thimble, thus
providing the 8 strands used in all knots below
the thimble. The only cord added to the project
is the Turk's Head around the thimble.
"The following details the knots used in the
project (in sequence, starting at the thimble).
"Around the thimble - 4-strand Square Sennit
(tied in middle of 4 cords)
"Over the bottom of the thimble - 4 lead x 3 bight
Turks' Head (tripled)
"3/4" core rope starts at bottom of thimble, I
sewed through the end of the core rope and up
and around the thimble to help keep the core
rope from pulling away from the thimble.
"The 4-strand Square Sennit is joined together
to form an 8-strand Continuous Crown Sennit
"3 Double Matthew Walker Knots, reversing direction of spiral on each one... Continuous Wall Sennit (three times) - As can be
observed in the picture, I found it difficult to keep this knot tight compared to the Crown Sennit. It does provide an interesting
appearance, however, and thus its inclusion in the project. Continuous Crown Sennit (12 times), Doubled Alternating Crown
Sennit, using two strands at a time (12 times), Doubled Continuous Crown Sennit, using two strands at a time (12 times).
"(At this point, the knots repeat themselves in reverse order, working back to the DMW.)
"Doubled Continuous Crown Sennit, using two strands at a time, reversed spiral (12 times), Doubled Alternating Crown Sennit,
using two strands at a time (12 times), Continuous Crown Sennit (12 times), Continuous Wall Sennit (3 times), 3 DMW,
reversing direction of spiral on each one, Star, DMW, Star, Continuous Crown Sennit (36 times), Star, DMW, Star,
Continuous Crown Sennit, reversing the spiral in middle (24 times), Star, (The core rope ends here.), 4 plus 4 Continuous
Crown Sennit, using 4 strands to tie each layer, then the other 4 strands to tie the next layer (12 times), Star, Fringed cord."
I've got a long time in the mess line and I don't get too impressed too easily...David, you managed to knock my socks off! All the
pics (of course) will produce a larger image when clicked on, and there I've tried to put the knot descriptions over or below the
appropriate parts of the pictures.... hope I got 'em all right! Thanks you very much for sending this to the site, David!
See also some rope-end whisk brushes by David!
Well, I'm feeling quite the "Proud Papa" here! Dave Considine explored my tutorial on bellropes and here's the results! Damn
nice work, David!
Before varnishing After Varnishing
Here's another one he made in June of 2007: Neat, clean and looking finer 'n froghair.
OK. Then THIS comes along. Jim Coppard or Perth, UpSideDownLand wrote me about six months ago asking for some finer
points on producing bellropes and other work... Then he sent me a pic of a bellrope end he'd done using the "boxed" method in
my tutorial. I didn't hear anything from him after that until today.
HOLY SMOKE! WOTTA BEAUTY of a bellrope!
I'm going to guess it's about 19" long and 2.25" diameter at the end...an
absolute stunner! Looks to be made of #18 and appx. a #12 (smaller
turksheads and possibly the top covering) codline in cotton or linen
(most likely cotton) with the main body covered in a grafting and the
upper body done with what looks like an over-two fender hitch.
MOST excellent work! It's YOUSE lot is why I puts up all the tutorials and
spends the time doing these pages... Chief, Jim and the others who've
taken them and run with the idea, VERY well done!
Of course, Coppard, little rock star as he is, even inculded a picture of himself holding
his "baby" and looking just as smug as he has every right to be. (Ya Drongo! Outdo the
Old Man, willya?) Look at him... all of twelve years old, he is!
|Another "Proud Papa" moment.
John Frings of Aruba sends in one he made after reading the
(It ain't bad enuf he does better work than me, he ALSO has
to live in PARADISE?!!? There ain't no justice.)
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