Matthew Walker Knot

Arthur Jenner
25th January 2009, 23:44
I came across a bit of a story that I started to write a few years ago. I never finished it but I thought I might put it in, After I read it I began to wonder if I could still tie a Matthew Walker knot so I went into the garage and found a piece of line and tried it. I succeeded although I didn't make a perfect job of it. Now, I am wondering if I could still do a liverpool splice. I don't have a spike and I don't know where I could be likely to find a lump of wire rope.
I don't suppose they splice wires any more, do they? I expect that thing we used to call a yankee splice would be all the go now


Matthew Walker Knots
by Arthur Jenner

“Bloody sailors you call yerselves, yer wouldn’ make a sailor between the lot of yer.” Thus spake the boatswain.
We knew he didn’t really mean it so we humoured him. After all there wasn’t any point in arguing. He was a decent old bloke really. He’d been at sea since the year dot and it must have been a miracle that he was still allowed to go to sea at his age: he must have well over seventy. I suppose the average age of the rest of the deck crew must have been about twenty five; ranging from Lazy Harry the deck boy, who was fifteen, to ‘Grandad’ Robinson who must have been nearly forty.
“Well bose, what do you expect. When you went to sea I suppose it was sails and salt pork and splicing the mainbrace, wasn’t it,” said ‘Lofty’ Cole, “We don’t need so much seamanship nowadays, do we. So long as we can splice a wire or a rope, rig a derrick, handle a paintbrush and steer the bloody thing we can manage swimmingly, even though half of us can’t bloody swim.”
“They couldn’t swim in my day neither,” said the boatswain “There wasn’t any point. It would only prolong the agony if you fell over the side. Splicing the mainbrace? That was a Navy thing. It wasn’t often we got a tot.”
“Ha,” said Smithy, “It’s no better now. When do any of us get a free tot of rum? Christmas day, that’s about it, I suppose the Mate gives you a little drinkie now and again, Bose, doesn’t he”
“None of your business my lad”, responded the boatswain. “Anyway I didn’t come here to talk about my drinking habits, nor about yours.”
He looked at me, “I’ve got a little job for Jonesy here. Jonesy, since you are now the dayworker, I want you to make a new rope ladder. It has to be a really good one. I’ve got the rope, the rungs and the spunyarn, it’s got to be ready by Thursday morning when we pick up the Sydney harbour pilot.”
As the boatswain had said, I was the dayworker. Most of the deck crew were allocated to watches, four hours on and eight off, three men to a watch. There was usually one extra AB who was dayworker. The dayworker worked eight hours a day, five and half days a week and usually got all the best jobs. Most seamen seemed to prefer watches, though I could never understand why. I was to spend the next week leisurely making a super-duper rope ladder. Better than being on the bridge steering in the middle of the night or sitting on a baking hot steel deck, chipping rust. which is what the others would be doing.
“And by the way, Jonesy, I want you to finish it off with a Matthew Walker knot on each side at each end. That’s four in all”.
I knew that he was trying it on; expecting me to ask what a Matthew Walker knot was. I had learned to tie a Matthew Walker many years before when I was in the Sea Cadets, so I asked him, “Double or single, Bose?”
I guessed he would say double and I was delighted when he replied, “double”, because I had no idea how to do a single.
The only problem was that if you made a Matthew Walker towards the end of a rope you would need something at the very end. A whipping or a back-splice wouldn’t look very exciting so I asked him if he would like me to put a Turk’s Head on the ends instead of a whipping.
The deck boy started to look worried until Alec explained that we weren’t going to execute four of the Turkish firemen for the sake of a rope ladder

John Briggs
25th January 2009, 23:57
Finish it off Arthur, I like it!

shipboard
26th January 2009, 02:27
Yes Arthur finish it off. You are right no more wire splicing all come aboard with your yankee splice, mention a ozzie locking splice these days and you are talking language from another planet.

shipboard.

billyboy
26th January 2009, 03:59
Great stuff Arthur. Keep it going mate!

sidsal
26th January 2009, 17:21
Just looked at Brown's Knots and Splices. Can't remember doing a Mathew Walker. I still use eye and back splices to the amazement of some. I used to have a palm and needle set with a wooden fid and steel marlin spike.
Long gone.
Happy days
Sid

jmcg
26th January 2009, 18:08
Still got mine + a serving board and a ball of spunyarn. Could do a Matthew Walker too. Knowledge and materials of a bygone age.

Shell (Stanlow) still practised limited wire splicing in 1993. Although the vast majority of wire slings etc were made on site the 4 riggers in the main "loft" had a swauge machine to form the eye and create the splice. It was very much quicker and more strong than a traditional eye splice.

A representative sample of the finished wires would be proof tested to a factor of 6:1 the SWL

A new coil of wire would have a sample tested to destruction on the same machine under controlled conditions.

Usual "hand made" wires would be used in lowering and hoisting the flare tips .


BW

J.

Pat Kennedy
26th January 2009, 19:05
Arthur,
I tried my hand at putting an eye splice in a length of wire I picked up off a diving crew working on Birkenhead Docks a few months ago. I found its like riding a bike, forty years since I last did it, and it was just like a fortnight .
The only thing was my fingers dont have the strength and dexterity they once had, but otherwise a piece of cake. It was nice getting the old knife and spike out again after all these years.
Best Regards,
Pat

Arthur Jenner
26th January 2009, 20:33
I have long regretted that when I left the sea I gave away my palm & needle as well as my knife and it's macramie-decorated sheath. I did have occasion to do a few wire splices when I worked for Waygood Otis installing escalators in Swan & Edgars, Piccadilly (in 1954). I made some wire slings from old lift ropes much to the surprise of the foreman. I still have occasion to make eye splices and back splices in small ropes. There is nothing quite like doing a splice in a big mooring rope though, is there,

Pat Kennedy
26th January 2009, 21:17
I made a couple of bell ropes for friends a while back, and made a pair of rope bow fenders for a friend's narrowboat some years ago, that was an interesting little project, but I havent put a splice in a mooring rope since I was AB on the Agapenor in 1963.
Pat

jmcg
26th January 2009, 22:27
I have long regretted that when I left the sea I gave away my palm & needle as well as my knife and it's macramie-decorated sheath. I did have occasion to do a few wire splices when I worked for Waygood Otis installing escalators in Swan & Edgars, Piccadilly (in 1954). I made some wire slings from old lift ropes much to the surprise of the foreman. I still have occasion to make eye splices and back splices in small ropes. There is nothing quite like doing a splice in a big mooring rope though, is there,

I could NEVER master the multi strand polyproplene moorings. Just could not manage it. Arthur- have you "done" these type.

Pat - do you recall the four stranded rope used in BF. Seem to recall it was refered to as "small stuff". What was it used for? I think it had a special application -the reason for which I can't recall either.

BW

J

Pat Kennedy
26th January 2009, 22:32
I remember small stuff, but not what its designated use was. flag halyards maybe?
Pat

jmcg
26th January 2009, 22:41
I remember small stuff, but not what its designated use was. flag halyards maybe?
Pat


Yes halyards but there were other uses too. Memory is recalling "special duties" like sea bags and other fine stuff for the elite.
BW

J.

Pat Kennedy
26th January 2009, 22:47
And, now I think of it, didnt we use small stuff for lashing the boat deck awnings, bridge dodgers etc.
Pat

stevie burgess
26th January 2009, 22:55
Have all my tools of the trade yet but seldom use them all except for the Swedish fid nowadays. Did quite a lot of fancy ropework years ago especially bellropes but not done so for nearly 10 years,still keep my hand in with the wire splicing though...required today or not i still enjoy doing it.

jmcg
26th January 2009, 22:56
Bridge dodgers - yes. Dont recall the BD awnings although very likely.

Was it just to appease and please the favoured.

Could splice a 4 stranded rope - same as three stranded except the first tuck involved two strands.

BW

J

jmcg
26th January 2009, 23:02
Stevie B

Not heard of the Swedish fid. How does it differ.

BW

J

Pat Kennedy
26th January 2009, 23:11
Yes John, its coming back now, we used small stuff for all manner of tiddly jobs that required a neat finish, boat covers and that sort of thing.
Braided rope, now I never saw that while I was at sea, but I watched the riggers in Lairds splice it, and I was full of admiration. I dont think I would like to try it.
I do remember making a pilot ladder on one ship. The chippy made all the timber parts and I spent two days putting it all together, laid out on the foredeck crossing the Indian Ocean while the rest of the crowd were painting the forepart of the bridge, and the old lampy was sitting in the shade giving me unhelpful advice. Never been so contented in a job.
Pat

ROBERT HENDERSON
26th January 2009, 23:32
PAT
You refer to small stuff in Blue Flue, is that the same as referred to as boat lacing in most other companies?

Regards Robert

Pat Kennedy
27th January 2009, 07:48
I suppose it is Robert, it was I think, a generic term for anything smaller than heaving line. However, I dont want to be too dogmatic about it, it was a long time ago after all.
Pat

DURANGO
27th January 2009, 08:30
I suppose it is Robert, it was I think, a generic term for anything smaller than heaving line. However, I dont want to be too dogmatic about it, it was a long time ago after all.
Pat Ah , the old Agapenor wonderful ship long gone now , worm and parcel with the lay turn and serve the other way ,

sidsal
27th January 2009, 10:15
On one ship I was on the 2nd Mate decided to make an uniform out of canvas. He was a dab hand with the palm and needle and he did indeed make a creditable job of it. He sized it and painted it black and painted buttons on it. However he could hardly move in it as it was so stiff.
Daft beggar !!

Arthur Jenner
27th January 2009, 10:40
I could NEVER master the multi strand polyproplene moorings. Just could not manage it. Arthur- have you "done" these type.

Pat - do you recall the four stranded rope used in BF. Seem to recall it was refered to as "small stuff". What was it used for? I think it had a special application -the reason for which I can't recall either.

BW

J

Multi strand polyproplene? Never heard of it. Our mooring ropes were usually four inch, three strand sisal or (I think) sometimes hemp.

jmcg
27th January 2009, 11:08
Multi strand polyproplene? Never heard of it. Our mooring ropes were usually four inch, three strand sisal or (I think) sometimes hemp.

Arthur

I guess we would be all hard pressed to find Sisal, Manilla or Terylene mooring ropes nowadays. They are all Poly Prop. Came in in late 60's to my knowledge.

They were considered dangerous during mooring operations as you were not supposed to "surge" them on the winch or windlass drum. If you didnt "surge" (out of the mate or 2nd mates eye) the tension created on warping could cause heat build up and BANG - you lost the lot. No warning. Just the sound of rifle like fire.

Three turns only allowed on the drum end - any more and trouble you had as above.

Strong and versatile though and didn't break your back when wet.

BW

J.

dom
27th January 2009, 11:18
Arthur

I guess we would be all hard pressed to find Sisal, Manilla or Terylene mooring ropes nowadays. They are all Poly Prop. Came in in late 60's to my knowledge.

They were considered dangerous during mooring operations as you were not supposed to "surge" them on the winch or windlass drum. If you didnt "surge" (out of the mate or 2nd mates eye) the tension created on warping could cause heat build up and BANG - you lost the lot. No warning. Just the sound of rifle like fire.

Three turns only allowed on the drum end - any more and trouble you had as above.

Strong and versatile though and didn't break your back when wet.

BW

J.

as you say dangerous,nylon ropes had the habit of melting and sticking to the drumend when surged,never no more than three turns

DURANGO
28th January 2009, 11:33
as you say dangerous,nylon ropes had the habit of melting and sticking to the drumend when surged,never no more than three turns I can well remember having to use a sledge hammer on nylon ropes on the Eleuthera to let go in Central America . just a thought when the rope hit the water the mozzies hit the ship and there we were in shorts and boots ,some of the deck crowd wore japanese sea boots the mozzies had a great time whilst we were trying to lash down the ropes

trucker
28th January 2009, 12:19
nothing better on a long voyage,repairing pilot ladders or making new ones.end for ending the mooring ropes [if needed ]and resplicing eyes especially 8 stranded polyprop.always used locking splices on wire,if i remember a liverpool splice was another name for a 3-2-1.don,t think there is much wire splicing done on modern ships,as they have to be tested and certicates have to be aquired.long time since i ve heard the old serving board mentioned.(EEK)yankee splice =3 bulldog grips. 4 strand rope was used general purposely,nothing in particular.marlin for servings ,and pilot ladders.long splice used quite a bit of wire.the old monkey,s fist in the heaving line,s.put a couple of steel nuts inside,for a bit weight.

jmcg
28th January 2009, 19:35
Durango

You were a brave chap having a go at it with a hammer. Not for me I'm afraid.


Trucker
Surprising the number of (non ex seamen) who even today cannot apply Bull Dog Grips correctly. Always Bow to Tail and never alternating.

Caused ructions in the refineries where the Yankee boys were. Show them a Crosby Clip - totally confused.

BW

J

trucker
28th January 2009, 19:59
Durango

You were a brave chap having a go at it with a hammer. Not for me I'm afraid.


Trucker
Surprising the number of (non ex seamen) who even today cannot apply Bull Dog Grips correctly. Always Bow to Tail and never alternating.

Caused ructions in the refineries where the Yankee boys were. Show them a Crosby Clip - totally confused.

BW

J

thought a crosby clip is similar ,but more tailor made to fit the wire.

shipboard
29th January 2009, 02:53
One of the reasons habour tugs stopped using ships poly prop ropes for towing and insisted on using tugs towing spring, to many accidents absolutley lethal under strain. however shipowners not very happy as in them days you had to pay extra for using tugs wire.

dom
29th January 2009, 06:49
nothing like seeing everybody on the fo'xcle scatter when the old type nylon stuck on the drumend and it started to stretch,remember one time at shell where Minnie beck's ??was on the Tyne,an Ab had his arm broken in two places[not in the pub] hanging on the line

jmcg
29th January 2009, 09:40
Seem to recall a rig movement from Cammel Lairds when a line parted (not sure if it was Poly). Crewman had his leg sliced in two, one part into the Mersey. Pat K may be able to comment.

J,

trucker
29th January 2009, 10:36
don,t know if the moderators will allow this .but idont know who is playing funny buggers.no i never sailed with b.f.but i was a good seaman over 30 years at sea. 14 as bosun.try point line for halyards or latter small cordage polly prop.[=P]stop taking life too seriously.get a life. if it doesn,t concern you .you wont be offended.don,t be so childish checking up on what i post.i.e replying to certain posts.fairy stories are not my thing.any one can talk a good job.

Pat Kennedy
29th January 2009, 12:56
John
I remember well that accident when Lairds launched that Rig, Sovreign Explorer I think.
It was one of the sailor gang, Harry McCamley from Birkenhead, an ex BF AB,
Who was caught by the backlash when a poly rope parted and flung into the Mersey, minus an arm and both legs.
I last saw Harry in the Meadows in Conway St, in a wheelchair, but seeming quite happy with life. A remarkeable bloke.
Pat

jmcg
29th January 2009, 16:06
This thread is interesting.

Who was "Matthew Walker" and what did he bring to the party and when?

J

trucker
29th January 2009, 16:27
could be; bull dog walkers ,cousin or is it crosby walker.(Bounce)

Pat Kennedy
29th January 2009, 16:46
According to Wikpedia, this is the history of this particular knot, or one version of it.

The FULL or DOUBLE MATTHEW WALKER KNOT. Lever in 1808 speaks of "MATTHEW WALKER'S KNOT" and describes the knot which Alston in 1860 calls the "DOUBLE MATTHEW WALKER KNOT." A refinement of the original knot had in the meantime taken over the original name , which is now generally modified to "a MATTHEW WALKER.. Lever's familiar expression, "MATTHEW WALKER'S KNOT," suggests that he may have known the inventor, who was possibly a master rigger in one of the British naval dockyards. Many myths have grown up around Matthew Walker, "the only man ever to have a knot named for him." Dr. Frederic Lucas, of the American Museum of Natural History, once told me the following story of the Origin of the knot, which he had heard off the Chincha Islands while loading guano in 1869. A sailor, having been sentenced to death by a judge who in earlier life had been a sailor himself, was reprieved by the judge because of their common fellowship of the sea. The judge offered the sailor a full pardon if he could show him a knot that he, the judge, could neither tie nor untie. The sailor called for ten fathoms of rope and, having retired to the privacy of his cell, unlaid the rope halfway, put in a MATTHEW WALKER KNOT, and then laid up the rope again to the end. So Matthew Walker secured his pardon, and the world gained an excellent knot.

I think its a good yarn whether its true or knot, who can say.
Pat

jmcg
29th January 2009, 17:17
Thanks for that enlightening yarn. Will dwell on it later with a Johnnie Walker!

BW

J

Pat Kennedy
29th January 2009, 19:30
Durango

You were a brave chap having a go at it with a hammer. Not for me I'm afraid.


Trucker
Surprising the number of (non ex seamen) who even today cannot apply Bull Dog Grips correctly. Always Bow to Tail and never alternating.

Caused ructions in the refineries where the Yankee boys were. Show them a Crosby Clip - totally confused.

BW

J

This Crosby clip John, is this the Crosby fist grip, which is similar to a bulldog grip but has nuts top and bottom rather than both on same side?
Yanks should know about them, Crosby corporation is based in Tulsa.
Regards,
Pat

jmcg
29th January 2009, 20:35
Pat
Similar in appearance. Saddle is unique in so far as it must be fitted to suit the lay of the wire. Wrong application to lay and it is effectively useless under tension. There was a great tendency to ignore the latter and many an incident followed in my days in Riyadh (SAMAREC). Always coloured Orange or Red. Think KUPLEX chains was part of the same US group at one time. They were not extensively used at Stanlow but very much so in other Shell refineries. There are variants of the original.

BW

J

Pat Kennedy
29th January 2009, 21:08
Kuplex hooks and chain slings, my son used them a lot when he was steel erecting. I think the manufacturers were somewhere near Birmingham. I used to visit his sites if they were on Merseyside and drink builders tea in the site office when I was recovering from a hip replacement operation.
Regards,
Pat

jmcg
29th January 2009, 21:26
Kuplex is still in the Black Country. The best chains ever made. Have a few here for logging and other essential purposes. Used one over the beams in an old (18th Century) cottage to haul a wardrobe up a spiral stairs for a lady "friend".

She looked on in amazement as it was successfully hoisted with a set of Yale 1/2 tonner c.b. into her bedroom.

All I got for my reward was a cup of tea. Deserved more than that!!

BW

J.

jmcg
29th January 2009, 21:39
Back to title of thread - Matthew Walker.

Any more knots that carry the inventors legacy. I cannot think of any. Carrick Bend?

J.

Pat Kennedy
29th January 2009, 21:44
Tirfors, John, another good piece of kit, I'm sure you used them in Shell.
Pat

makko
30th January 2009, 12:34
Tirfors, John, another good piece of kit.
Pat

Pat,
And guess what they are called in Mexico in steel erection - Tirfors!! Very useful also when vulcanizing large conveyor bands!

Rgds.
Dave

Pat Kennedy
30th January 2009, 12:42
dave,
I guess a Tirfor is a Tirfor all over the world.
I had one hanging up in my shed for years, but sadly never needed it for anything. Eventually I swapped it for a pipe bending machine which does get plenty of use.
Rgds
Pat

E.Martin
9th May 2009, 18:18
Multi strand polyproplene? Never heard of it. Our mooring ropes were usually four inch, three strand sisal or (I think) sometimes hemp.Multi strand known as Squareline, 8 strands,4 righthand lay,the other 4 left hand lay,easy when you know how, get the first tuck right then it is left hand lay follow left hand lay, right hand lay follow right hand lay, we always did 5 tucks, most mooring ropes are now Squareline.

trucker
10th May 2009, 18:40
another way i was taught to splice multi strand,was 2 strands under 2 ,left handed then 2 strands under 2 right handed.then the same again.then split the strands [single]then over one under one .when finished if spliced properly it looks really neat and seamanlike.after a couple of thumps with the fid to square it up.if started off incorrectly ,although it will do the job it looks like a bunch of b------ds. last one i spliced was a messenger from the shuttle tanker to the loading arm. [north sea],used to heave the loading hose onboard.

Thistle alpha
1st August 2013, 08:03
Those new ropes could be very painful when they jumped on the drum end and caught you in the privates.Easy to stow though and if having trouble getting alongside put more turns on drum and get out of it they stuck to drum.