The sheaves at the top of the whim - Shed 13

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Comments (4)

Bruce Comfort on October 3, 2011

These are the moving sheaves - they go up and the rope gets shorter by four (4) times the travel distance, as the ram is filled with pressurised water. The ropes are actually [hemp] ropes at this point, and not the stranded wire which runs backwards and forwards up in the roof and never bends. The rope is neatly wrapped in thin strips of linen or cotton and waxed or greased I guess to facilitate the flexing and bending and I also guess to keep dust and grit from getting inside the rope and reducing its life.

If anyone knows what this technique is called and how it's done, please comment.

Bruce Comfort on October 19, 2011

My good friend Mike Burch ex "Ngaio" owner and skipper and now Keri Keri resident, tells me that this rope (and I'm pretty sure it's rope not steel wire) has been wormed and parcelled and served a procedure which the Admiralty Manual of Seamanship Vol 1, 1939 describes as being the process for protecting a rope from fraying or chaffing. The full procedure inserts a spun cord or thin rope between the strands of the main rope (worming) to render the surface smooth and round for parcelling and serving. Parcelling involves wrapping the rope with tarred canvas strips between 2 and 3 inches wide in a spiral with the lay of the rope, each turn just overlapping the next so that the canvas spirals along the wormed rope. In a situation where this rope might be hauled up and down and be exposed to friction from other parts of the rigging, the wormed and parcelled rope would then be served by wrapping it with cord against the lay, as far as the point where wear was no longer a problem. The serving cord is pulled tight and hammered into place and this would generally result in a moderately stiff section of rope.

On the system in Shed 13 the rope has been wormed and parcelled and served but perhaps the canvas or linen parcelling has not been pitched, maybe treated with wax or tallow - something like that, to render it very flexible.

DB Wilson on January 7, 2012

Worm and parcel with the lay; Turn and serve the other way. This was (and still is) the aid to memory of this process. It is still used to this day on both soft cordage and wire. You will often see it on the shrouds and stays of ships rigging.

DB Wilson on January 9, 2012

A note to one of the WHB riggers resulted in the following reply;

"There is a slight probability that I did serve that rope. But I finished working in the Harbour Board around 1961 0r 62 and as these ropes were regularly checked and replaced and I don't know when the hydraulics were taken out of service, it seems highly unlikely that I did this one.

The wharf sheds were provided with such rams which lifted and lowered 8 ropes with hooks on them. They were used to move cargo off trailers for storage and then onto trucks. You can see them today in the renovated sheds 11 and 13.( Wellington wharf sheds were numbered such that even numbered sheds were South of Queens Wharf and those with odd numbering were North of Queens Wharf). Most of our maintenance on these was to replace the lighting ropes. We had to ride the hooks, perch on supporting wires, and replace the lifting ropes..a difficult job.

The riggers loft in the Harbour Board was above the stores building and next to the Boiler-Makers Shop, near the then "Hikitia"'s berth. It was a long room and we had a special set of hooks which we tensioned the wires.There was a handy-billy on one end to get the tension and three-quarters along the length we lashed another tensioning rope, which really made the wire rope VERY taught!

We didn't worm the rope, but smeared it with mutton fat or lanolin, I'm not really sure what...we parcelled it with sacking which was about100mm wide. Whilst I was there I did about 6 of these ropes. It was fun serving with Stockholm-tarred Marline rope.

The rope was set at the heigh of my arm pit, so I rested on the rope whilst serving it. This was the maximum height I could handle without lifting my feet off the ground. I know most books show that serving mallet have spools on them, but in reality because of the thickness of the Marline, you can get very little rope on the spool. The Marline came in hanks and we use these. Once you got the rhythm it was great going with this massive hank spiralling like a helicopter rotor.

Another point: That addage: "Worm and parcel with the lay...turn and serve the other way". I always found that if you did this, then whilst you were trying to serve, the parcelling gathered up and you would always have to stop and the adjust the parcelling.

I discussed this with John Barber in the UK(He was the Port of London's last Wire rope splicer). He agreed with me, and like me did not follow that adage! He always parcelled and served against the lay!"

Hope this helps

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on September 26, 2011
  • Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works
    by Bruce Comfort
    • Camera: SAMSUNG ES65, ES67 / VLUU ES65, ES67 / SAMSUNG SL50
    • Taken on 2011/09/11 12:34:20
    • Exposure: 1.000s
    • Focal Length: 11.20mm
    • F/Stop: f/5.600
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 1.00 EV
    • No flash

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