Author Topic: A Helping Hand  (Read 5374 times)

DerekSmith

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A Helping Hand
« on: November 14, 2006, 09:39:55 PM »
This last weekend, I gave a neighbour a hand to remove some Leylandii stumps from his drive.  He had hired a chain saw and had taken all the trees down to what he felt was a tidy 18".  No 6ft stumps left for leverage, no side branches to tie onto, just smooth short tapered stumps.  The root crowns were over 2ft across, and with no trunk to apply leverage with, we had to dig around the crowns and cut through the roots as we exposed them.  Tools were a spade, an axe, a truck, two 4ft lengths of 3x4, a chain and a length of old hauser I had found on the beach.  It is laid synthetic (possibly polyprop) and has had such a battering that it is totally soft and 'lifeless'.  It was probably much thinner when new, but now it has 'fluffed out' to about an inch - inch and a half.  I used it because it cost me nowt and I thought whatever I used was likely to get bust at some stage.

Throughout the day I used just two knots - the KC Hitch on the tapered stumps and the Slippery Hitch (ABOK #82) to hitch to the truck.

The KC Hitch 'slipped' only once.  On that occasion, the pull was so great that the whole stump was debarked by the wicked grip of the 'KC'.  Once the bark was stripped, the stump was shiny white and as slippery as if we had greased it.  I fetched the chain, but I had little hope that we could fix it to the stump - I had visions of having to try to put a loop around the root crown.  However, I put the chain onto the slippery stump using the KC Hitch.  It was sloppy, but as I opened up the first scissor loop the chain bit hard into the wood and held firm.  We looped the chin over the 3x4 'A' frame and tied it with the rope to the truck.  As the truck put on tension, the scissor section opened further and the anchor part bit into the wood so hard that the links were bedded in by nearly a quarter inch.  A dozen lops with the axe later and the stump popped out like it was on springs.

This was the first time I had put the KC Hitch to real work and it performed like a real dream.  I made one small change to the hitch from that shown in the earlier forum post.  Under hard tension, the closing knot would become tight and in this old rope was hard to release.  I considered making a sling out of a piece of the old rope in order to make the KC Sling Hitch variant which has no problem with release.  I decided not to because a) I never like to cut a piece of rope, even old worn-out stuff and b) the stumps were so short I would probably have had a job getting the sling hitch on the stumps.  I finally solved the problem by passing the loose end in Slippery Hitch fashion back under itself turning it into a slipped KC Hitch.  Even though this fix was moving up the stump as the scissor opened under tension, the end was held reliably in place until tension was slacked off, then it released the 'KC' in seconds.

Having worked now with the KC Hitch I can see it is possible that it could pick up a few nicknames.  The first could be the 'scissor hitch' from the way that scissor action opens up and racks on the grip, and the second is the 'indefatigable' or 'indi' because this brute just never gives up.

Oh, and that old piece of beach rope worked just as tirelessly, and is now back in the shed, having earned its place neatly coiled and hung on a peg instead of just being dumped on the floor in a bag.  Is it silly to admire and respect a bit of old rope?  I often wonder what tales it could tell.

V.V.V.V.V.

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Re: A Helping Hand
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2006, 12:44:55 AM »
Sounds like one hell of a fun weekend!

Dan_Lehman

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Re: A Helping Hand
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2006, 02:15:44 AM »
Derek, you say that the tree stumps were a mere 18" (!), but with what diameter?
Getting 1.x" hawser to grip that does seem a big challenge.  Getting the chain
to work with the hitch maybe is even more surprising, for I'd think there'd be
the risk that the links would lock and defeat the movement of the chain to
tighten (except by the tilt of each defined ring of chain--well, though, that
is a main mechanism for it, isn't it?!).

As for the beach rope, do you do much such beachcombing collection?
Is it all of one fibre (and not a combination of polyester & polypropylene)?
If the material burns w/o continued support of a flame (lighter, say), it
should be PP or PEthylene--the former is sad to burn more vigorously
and yield droppings that can be stretched thin, and PE burns slowly
and has hard droppings.  Both burn w/black smoke.  Polyester also has
black smoke (and it comes in multifilament, like nylon), but should go
out once the flame is removed.

Yeah, sounds like some fun, and a happy day for the found rope to have
a good use!

--dl*
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DerekSmith

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Re: A Helping Hand
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2006, 03:18:42 PM »
Sounds like one hell of a fun weekend!


Hi V.V.V.V.V.

It was damn hard work, and although I hate killing trees (not an issue here because that job had already been done) , there is something deeply satisfying about lifting tree roots and a huge exhilaration when the crown eventually yields to a humans puny strength augmented with the power of our brains.

There was definitely something 'primordial' at work here - both my neighbour and I thoroughly enjoyed the work and the achievement, despite the fact that he could easily have hired a JCB to do the job in a fraction of the time that we both took.  Today, I think most people would think of us as a pair of nutters, but then they would be people who had not experienced that strange elation of beating one of natures perfected pieces of  engineering.

Lasse_C

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Re: A Helping Hand
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2006, 04:50:46 PM »
Ehhh...
I am not totally at home in knot nomenclature in the English language, and even less so when it comes to abbreviations...
"KC hitch"?  :-[

Lasse C

Dan_Lehman

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Re: A Helping Hand
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2006, 05:26:48 PM »
Derek, I see the diameter--"over 2' across" (oops)--; that's quite a spread
for 1.5' height of the stump!  (Btw, watched a fellow take down some trees
the other day:  Running Bwl, ProhGrip(aka Blake's) H., and maybe that
was it?  Oh, groundie tied on rope to be raised & used to hanging rope
w/Sheet Bend.)

Lasse_C, "KC" originated as an honour granted resident "KC" (which some
think stands for "Ken Casey", though it might mean "Knot Crazy", which
might not be what he has to oft' assert  :P ), back on 29 September in
thread http://igkt.net/sm/index.php?topic=542.0.

--dl*
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DerekSmith

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Re: A Helping Hand
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2006, 07:35:25 PM »
Getting the chain
to work with the hitch maybe is even more surprising, for I'd think there'd be
the risk that the links would lock and defeat the movement of the chain to
tighten (except by the tilt of each defined ring of chain--well, though, that
is a main mechanism for it, isn't it?!).

--dl*
====

Dan,

My going in thought was exactly as yours - I could not see myself being able to 'set' the KC in chain so that it could grip, also, there is much less surface contact area with the chain than the old rope had.

In practice, three things went in favour of the chain.

The first was that the links seemed to mesh with one another much like the teeth on a gear and once 'meshed' they were effectively locked into place.  I finished the 'knot' by a bolt link which again locked the assembly dimensions.

The second was that the chain had virtually no elasticity - at least compared to the rope -  the consequence of this was that the chain did not stretch as the force was applied.  As the scissor opened (i.e. the loops tilted) and the path of the chain took a longer path around the timber, it could not stretch so it had to shorten it's diameter by sinking into the wood.

The third was that the chain was much harder than the wood and did not deform as the rope did, the chain simply bit into the wood, locking itself in place where it has point contact.

In practice, the chain was easier and better to use than the rope, but it damaged the wood which was OK in this situation.

Again, you are quite right that the 'tilting' or 'opening' of the loops is the mechanism for tightening.  When you start to put a tension on the first loop which attempts to drag it open, the mechanical advantage is nearly infinite, so the loop opens making it take a slightly longer path around the  load.  By the time the loop has opened up by about 1/10th of a diameter, the mechanical advantage has dropped to around 60:1.  This is still a very big leverage and it is likely that the first loop will continue to open until the mechanical advantage has gone down to about 6:1 which is when the first loop has opened up by about one diameter.  At this point the cord has been forced to stretch to become about 5% longer and the force to make it stretch has gone into a tight gripping tension present throughout the whole of the 'KC'.  You can verify this by checking the tension in the anchor loops which should not have opened at all, yet they should have gone rock solid under the levered tension.

This means that very stretchy ropes/cords are not good for making the 'KC' but very 'unstretchy' materials (i.e. a welded link chain) are very good at implementing the gripping power of the 'KC'.

DerekSmith

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Re: A Helping Hand
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2006, 07:59:07 PM »
Derek, I see the diameter--"over 2' across" (oops)--; that's quite a spread
for 1.5' height of the stump!
--dl*
====

Sorry to mislead, the root crowns (solid timber in the ground) were ca 2ft across, the stumps quickly tapered up from these crowns and we had about a foot of usable stump from 8" to a foot diameter - heavily tapered.  The guy had done a lovely job of taking down and clearing the ground thinking that we would not need too much to get hold of!!!

DerekSmith

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Re: A Helping Hand
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2006, 11:41:50 PM »
snip...
As for the beach rope, do you do much such beachcombing collection?
snip....
--dl*
====

In the UK, I live in a spot tucked in the back of The Wash, a very old town with a connection to the fabled King John's Treasure.  Local folklore has it that King John was duped by local guides, leading his party across the Wash mudflats from King's Lynn, into sinking sand, just as the tide turned.  The sight of the sea racing in over the Wash mudflats is capable of putting fear into the stoutest of hearts.  Rumour has it that the King and his party were spooked into running for their lives, leaving the treasure stuck firm in the carts (perhaps on a promise to return to recover it at the next low tide), but hiding in the nearby creaks were accomplices who calmly made off with the treasure as the king and his party fled in panic.  Such is folklore.

The back shores of the wash are flotsam storehouses - everything from Jet and Amber to the occasional dead whale ends up here.

Walking these shores you become aware that three types of people frequent them.  The first are sky gazers, heads in the air transfixed by the birds, the clouds and the wide open sky.  The second are the wanderers, their gaze follows the horizon and the ships plying the navigable ways into docks such as King's Lynn and Boston.  The third group walk stooped, transfixed on the jewel box at their feet and yes I belong to this group of hopeless collectors.

I found my piece of beach rope on one such walk and stoutly towed it back to the car.  It had been pounded by the beach pebbles to an amazing softness.  I thought it would be useless as a working rope, but I wanted to collect it because of what it was rather than what it might usefully do.

My best find though beat me.  When I spotted it, it looked like a giant snake crawling up onto the beach.  It was a great laid hawser easily a foot in diameter with about 30ft drawn up on the beach leading down into the waves.  As I spotted it, my good lady must have seen my eyes glaze over or something, because her immediate reaction was - NO, YOUR NOT PUTTING THAT THING INTO THE CAR.

So much rope - it was the ultimate treasure, short of finding a bit of King John's booty washed up on the beach.  But she needn't have worried.  I couldn't even lift more than 2 ft of the end of it off the beach it was such a monster.  It would have needed a crane to have lifted the thing and a lorry to cart it - and who knows how long it was - it just snaked out into the sea like a giant beached conga eel.  I toyed with the idea of trying to hack off a few feet and then try to haul it back to the car, but the idea struck a nerve because I hate cutting up a rope.  Eventually I left the mighty beast to gradually become part of the beach, evidence for some far flung archaeologist that some civilisation, who's culture was based on giant ropes, once existed and fashioned huge lengths of rope and buried them at sea.

Short question - Long answer.

Derek

DerekSmith

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Re: A Helping Hand
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2006, 11:53:25 PM »
snip....
If the material burns w/o continued support of a flame (lighter, say), it
should be PP or PEthylene--the former is sad to burn more vigorously
and yield droppings that can be stretched thin, and PE burns slowly
and has hard droppings.  Both burn w/black smoke.  Polyester also has
black smoke (and it comes in multifilament, like nylon), but should go
out once the flame is removed.
--dl*
====

Dan,

I do not know if this topic has been put to the forum already but if it hasn't then perhaps members might find it interesting.

We all have chunks of cord that we have no idea what they are made from and yet I am sure we would like to know more about.

The topic of identification or analysis of a rope or cord could be one which the IGKT might formally adopt.  Your quick burning test is a great starting point (providing the PC'c dont object to the odd open flame and the risk of burning gobs of molten plastic and toxic fumes).  I feel this is the meat for a new thread.

Derek