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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. These bellropes took me an average of 70 hours to produce and complete.
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.
Three large bellropes have been made recently: for the USCGC TAMAROA (WMEC166) (2006), for the USS HARRY S TRUMAN
CVN 75 (2010) and most recently, for the ceremonial dedication of the largest cruise ship in it's line, the which will occur O/A/O
May 20th this year (2016). Each was made on order and specifically for the ship.
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 widest
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" TKH
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 14 hours to do. Third size transition is covered by an 11x10 square TKH and the end is done in a 13x11
square TKH which also "laps" or binds in the bottom cover, a box-braid which is finished off by a doubled-star knot.
eye lanyard and connexion
to body cover of 'over-2'
fender hitching to 7x6
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
covering transition in size
and theshift to a 'simple'graft
cover with 3x5 4-pass decorative
turkshead "filling the field"...
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 endplate.
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 did all sorts of
wonderful things, and his bell lanyards were
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 was Bud!)
Lovely finial "globe" knot, too!
RIP Charles "Bud" Brewer 3/17/10
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! BMCM David Considine explored my tutorial on bellropes and here's the results!
Damn nice work, Master Chief!
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.)
|All content these pages ©2004-2017 Frayed Knot
Arts and the respective creators of the ropework.
All rights reserved.
Reproduction or use prohibited without prior written
The set of three ropes were made for the USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN 75), commissioned by the Deck Department for her
quarterdeck and accommodation entrys. Below are pictures of the bellrope as installed on the main ship's bell. As always,
getting a picture that does the bellrope justice is extremely difficult unless using a professional photographer.
Sounds picky, but two - three weeks of work and I get somewhat protective of the impression "my babies" make, y'know?
|BELLROPE for the dedication
of Holland America's new