Author Topic: Big John Steel Cable Loop  (Read 17003 times)

James Petersen

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Big John Steel Cable Loop
« on: March 14, 2013, 05:59:50 AM »
I am not certain where this should be posted, so if necessary, please move it to the appropriate area.

I have on several occasions noticed the phrase "in the wild" in reference to knots seen in use in the real world -- presumably in contrast to the theoretical or academic. I would like to present a knot which I have never seen in any book/article/referenced. It is an end-of-line loop used in steel cable.

I learned it from my father working in the woods during my childhood/youth. I assume but do not know that he learned it during his years working in Oregon and Washington for the Oregon American Logging Company. We used to use a Cat (Caterpillar brand bulldozer) with a winch and fairlead mounted on the back to drag logs. The  5/8" or 3/4" cable with a loop and a bullhook (a large hook which the loops on chokers were attached to -- in high-lead logging it was called a butthook) on the end. Several times over the years, while logging, we broke the cable somewhere near the loop (the part of the cable which, obviously got the hardest use). Ideally, nowadays, the loop at the end of the line should be made with a flemmish eye splice with a metal sleeve hydraulically pressed on securing the ends of the strands, or with a simple fold back splice where a the line is folded back on itself and secured with a metal sleeve, again using a hydraulic press.  But this was 30 to 40 years ago, and we were not a large operation -- just a father and his sons -- and it wasn't convenient to stop work so my father could go and splice the loop. And we couldn't afford to have the loop pressed. So my father tied a loop at the end of the line, and we continued dragging trees.

Now you might object, saying that it is beyond puny human power to tie a knot in 5/8" or 3/4" steel rope. And you would be correct in most cases. This knot, however (my father called it the loggers' knot -- I am calling it the Big John Loop, in his honor) this knot draws up reliably when loaded. The working end has only to be kept from slipping too much at the beginning of loading. In logging, we loaded the knot by attaching a turn of logs to the hook and pulling (slowly) with the winch.

The knot is tied by first making an overhand knot. The working end is then passed through the eye of the hook or through ring that will be attached to it (if one is to be attached -- this was never an issue for us). the working end then continues around through the center of the overhand knot two more times, making the topological eqivalent of a triple overhand knot. When the hook attached to an anchor and the standing end is loaded. it reliably pulls up into a loop.

The knot seems to behave just as reliably in other types of rope and cordage, but I have not done any extensive testing. I have tried the loop with 6 lb. monofilament and it did slip slowly -- one more pass through the center solved that. I believe this knot could be used in many practical situations if more people knew it.

If anyone has seen this knot in use or described, I would certainly like to know. If not, I would like to call this the Big John (Steel Cable) Loop, after my father, who has recently been diagnosed with 4th stage prostate cancer.

The photos show a hook attached to a (much smaller) cable using this loop knot. The working end was left free during loading. The knot has not yet been completely tightened -- I didn't have anything at hand that needed that hard of a pull from the comealong.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 06:04:31 PM by James Petersen »

James Petersen

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2013, 06:01:00 AM »
Here are three photos taken during tightening.

X1

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2013, 12:39:51 PM »
  I do not understand why the first overhand knot was not tied through the eye - perhaps because the standing part was offered a wide first curve that was able to absorb some tension, before the wire comes in contact with the hook (?). The knot tied on the wire cable would never "close" as it would have done were it tied on a rope - so the interweaved round turns would be able to absorb some portion of the excessive tensile forces during a sudden pull (?).
  See a bend that is using the principle of the interweaved round turns - I believe that two links made the same way, would work the same way, too. I had called it the "trefoil bend", because each link is  topologically equivalent to the trefoil knot. ( By the way, I am not sure that the term you used "triple overhand knot" is correct... I think that by a "triple overhand knot" we can also mean that the working end makes three round turns / three parallel rims,  before it gets "over" and back, and penetrates them all from the same direction for a second time. )
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 12:41:52 PM by X1 »

James Petersen

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2013, 05:47:48 PM »
  I do not understand why the first overhand knot was not tied through the eye - perhaps because the standing part was offered a wide first curve that was able to absorb some tension,...

The hook shown in the photos is not a bullhook. I made these photos attaching a hook (about the size used on a comealong) to very small cable (also about the size you might see in a comealong). The hooks used in the past in logging lines had eyes with a diameter not much larger than the line. With this arrangement, the hook could be rotated or moved one way or the other in the eye to grab the eyes of chokers without having to  fight to move the entire cable to adjust the angle of the hook. With the loose-fitting eye of the hook attached to the line in the loop of a EOL loop, you could get "pitch" as well as "yaw" without having to make major adjustments to the position of the main line. The only axis not simplified by the loop knot was "roll", in which case you would have to "roll" the main line itself. With a knot tightened down onto the eye, the main line would have to be moved to adjust for "roll," "pitch," and "yaw". 

And a major advantage of this knot (and in my view, the only thing that made/makes it practical for use in steel cable) is that in order to tighten it, one merely has to attach the hook to something (in the case of logging, that would be a choker or chokers attached to a log or logs, or a stump or tree) and pull on the mainline. The knot virtually dresses itself. I don't know how the bend you suggest would behave when tied in steel cable, but I doubt it would be so simple. (Does it dress itself when tied in rope?)

Quote
The knot tied on the wire cable would never "close" as it would have done were it tied on a rope - so the interweaved round turns would be able to absorb some portion of the excessive tensile forces during a sudden pull (?).

Actually the knot did close up when heavily loaded (if my memory serves correctly -- it has been at least 25 to 30 years since I have seen this knot in use). I'll have to find something to pull on with this one.
 
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 05:53:13 PM by James Petersen »

X1

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2013, 07:59:10 PM »
With the loose-fitting eye of the hook attached to the line in the loop ..., you could get "pitch" as well as "yaw" without having to make major adjustments to the position of the main line.
   I see. But then you could use an intermediate ring between the hook and the triple loop, that would be able to pass through the eye of the hook, and encircle the three wire rope diameters, would nt you ?
   Are you sure Big John had not in his mind something like what I have supposed ?

   Does it dress itself when tied in rope?

   It depends on what you mean by "dress itself". If you hold the tail while you are pulling the standing end, I believe it does. Try it !  :)
   I do not have the slightest idea of what will happen if it is to be tied on wire rope... The wire rope is more slippery than the rope, but it is also so much stiffer that I can not predict if it will be able "to dress itself" without any manipulation of the tail...

   Actually the knot did close up when heavily loaded

   I have to see it to believe it !  :) Even a single round turn loop can not shrink by the pull of one end and turn around, say, one rope diameter, without severe local damage of some strands. A triple, interweaved round turn will never "dress itself" and shrink around one rope diameter - it would have been ruptured well before this stage, I believe. However. I can seldom predict the behaviour of the normal ropes I tie all the time, let alone of the wire ropes I do not... :)

 ( If you are going to do tests with wire ropes, I have yet another bend to suggest : the Symmetric Sheet bend, which I think that it can be used as an ad hoc wire rope bend, if there are not any U-bolts available at the site. However, I do not know if it will be able to "dress itself" and be tightened and locked, before it would let any end slip through it ...)
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 08:01:35 PM by X1 »

James Petersen

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2013, 06:31:21 AM »
With the loose-fitting eye of the hook attached to the line in the loop ..., you could get "pitch" as well as "yaw" without having to make major adjustments to the position of the main line.
   I see. But then you could use an intermediate ring between the hook and the triple loop, that would be able to pass through the eye of the hook, and encircle the three wire rope diameters, would nt you ?
   Are you sure Big John had not in his mind something like what I have supposed ?
Absolutely sure.
Quote
   Does it dress itself when tied in rope?

   It depends on what you mean by "dress itself". If you hold the tail while you are pulling the standing end, I believe it does. Try it !  :)
No, I mean that you don't hold the tail. Pull on the loop and standing end only.
Quote
   I do not have the slightest idea of what will happen if it is to be tied on wire rope... The wire rope is more slippery than the rope, but it is also so much stiffer that I can not predict if it will be able "to dress itself" without any manipulation of the tail...

   Actually the knot did close up when heavily loaded

   I have to see it to believe it !  :) Even a single round turn loop can not shrink by the pull of one end and turn around, say, one rope diameter, without severe local damage of some strands. A triple, interweaved round turn will never "dress itself" and shrink around one rope diameter - it would have been ruptured well before this stage, I believe. However. I can seldom predict the behaviour of the normal ropes I tie all the time, let alone of the wire ropes I do not... :)
Unfortunately, I don't know where I could find a winch that still has the line and the BJ Loop and bullhook still attached. Like I said, I haven't seen this knot in use in probably 30 years.  I guess I'll have to find a suitable anchor and give the one in the photos a good stiff pull.
Quote
( If you are going to do tests with wire ropes ...)
???.....  :o  ..... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! You're killing me! Would that I had the the equipment and finances for such an undertaking! I could die a happy man!
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 06:41:09 AM by James Petersen »

James Petersen

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2013, 07:07:42 PM »
I made a video of the tightening of an untightened  Big John Loop tied in some old 200 lb. test monofilament. I loaded it fairly quickly and pulled until failure. This is to give an idea of how well this knot dresses itself in stiff line.

https://archive.org/details/BJLoopIn200lbMonofilamentToFailure

X1

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2013, 08:40:46 PM »
   I think I understand Big John s idea now... Better late than never ! The trefoil knot is tightened by the standing end, from the one side, and by the hook, from the other.
   Of course, the difference between the monofilament and the wire rope is huge - but I believe that the knot tied on wire rope will behave in more or less the same way.
   Thank you, J.P.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 01:41:54 AM by X1 »

James Petersen

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2013, 10:29:10 AM »
  ... knot is tightened by the standing end, from the one side, and by the hook, from the other.
   

Precisely. In this way, the equipment tightens and dresses the knot, which would be impossible under human power alone, or with other less well behaved knots.

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2013, 08:55:01 PM »
This looks ugly / hurtful, IMO.  There's gotta be a better way!
It also looks to be quite affected by the lay of the wire.
 ???

--dl*
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James Petersen

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2013, 01:26:09 AM »
This looks ugly / hurtful, IMO.  There's gotta be a better way!
...
--dl*
====

Ugly? Sure. No one made claims of beauty. Performing a tracheotomy using a ball point pen casing for a breathing tube is also ugly, but it gets the job done when there are no other options.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 02:17:34 AM by James Petersen »

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2013, 06:52:02 PM »
... when there are no other options.

But is there none?

I'm being recently amazed that utility-pole guy lines of
wire cable are sometimes secured by separate eyes of
open twists of cable --which are just wrapped (in a close
fitting way, with per-line-diameter-sized eyes) around
the guy line!!?  Huh, that works, w/o slipping?
--apparently so.

So I think that there might be some more both
decorative and less-harmful ways of bending the
wire to the hook --some sort of carrick-like lacing
and so on.  (And that tail's exit seems too brief,
though loaded, it does take on more bend.)


 :)

James Petersen

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2013, 12:12:37 AM »
... when there are no other options.

But is there none?

I'm being recently amazed that utility-pole guy lines of
wire cable are sometimes secured by separate eyes of
open twists of cable --which are just wrapped (in a close
fitting way, with per-line-diameter-sized eyes) around
the guy line!!?  Huh, that works, w/o slipping?
--apparently so.

I don't quite follow what you mean (cable size, etc), but it sounds intriguing.  Have you got pictures or sketches?

Quote
So I think that there might be some more both
decorative and less-harmful ways of bending the
wire to the hook --some sort of carrick-like lacing
and so on.  (And that tail's exit seems too brief,
though loaded, it does take on more bend.)
 :)

There are always more options, but in the scenario in which this loop was used ( and it was  used) -- tramping around out in the woods, without the tools at hand for properly handling/splicing/cleanly cutting/etc. the somewhat large diameter steel cable -- many/most/all of those options weren't available. The tools that were always available were human power, a means for loading the cable ( the winch on the cat), and anchor points (trees, stumps , or logs.) for the cable. A Caterpillar logger's field expedient, as it were.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 07:18:41 PM by James Petersen »

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2013, 05:06:57 AM »
I'm thinking that if that overhand knot can be accepted
taking the SPart's full load, then it ought to be the case
that Ashley's #1033 "Carrick loop" would work, with an
extra course of tail-wrapping (to put bulk of diameters into
the turNip).  One might, e.g., thread a bight through the
hook, and take bight tip and tail through the turNip as for
#1033, giving a 6-dia bulk around which the wire will crunch
with full force (and twin diameters through the hook,
each getting a quarter of the tension, roughly)!?

.:.  The design goal is to form the eye --possibly with twin
strands-- so that the turNip is pretty much in a plane
that includes the axis of tension (and conceivably its parts
would just slightly NOT touch --a minimal helix); i.e., one
doesn't want the going-into-eye end of this loop to be
bent against the SPart (a hard (aka "SS369"-) setting
of #1033 will do this, turning the turNip into a more
of a crossing-knot form, which collars itself).

This will consume much more material, but the hope is that
it's stronger and kinder to the material, easily untied.


--dl*
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Dan_Lehman

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Re: Big John Steel Cable Loop
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2013, 07:17:08 PM »
[ 2013-12-05h : edited to delete duplicate of photo#1,
and to add --it will be last, now-- intended photo#2. ]

I'm being recently amazed that utility-pole guy lines of
wire cable are sometimes secured by separate eyes of
open twists of cable --which are just wrapped (in a close
fitting way, with per-line-diameter-sized eyes) around
the guy line!!?  Huh, that works, w/o slipping?
--apparently so.

I don't quite follow what you mean (cable size, etc), but it sounds intriguing.
Have you got pictures or sketches?

Voici!

(And I've one with a larger line & hence 5?-strand ribbons
in the eye strips.)  NB : the square washer & bolt only hold
the protective metal shield in place, not secure the line.


--dl*
====
« Last Edit: December 05, 2013, 04:26:15 PM by Dan_Lehman »