Author Topic: The Backhanded Hitch variations revisited  (Read 237 times)

David R

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The Backhanded Hitch variations revisited
« on: September 02, 2019, 08:53:39 AM »
Not long ago, I came across this thread from 2012, which discusses several versions of the Backhanded Hitch (ABOK 1852, 1725, & 1726). The original poster, knot4u, points out that the version in 1725 reverses the roles of the end and SP, and is unstable. (At least without support. The ABOK entry suggests stopping or seizing.)
https://igkt.net/sm/index.php?topic=3753

In a reply, Sweeney points out several advantages to this swap. He also suggests the alternative finish in ABOK 1726, which uses a bowline in place of the 2 half hitches. (Note that Ashley's illustration for #1726 doesn't match the description. It has the standing part & tail swapped. But it does show the bowline finish.)
https://igkt.net/sm/index.php?topic=3753#msg21800

I'm wondering about the security of the bowline in this application. I'm aware of the challenges that modern cordage presents to the standard bowline, and also of the improvements created by members of this forum.

Can I assume ABOK 1726 has the same caveats in modern cordage as the standard bowline? Should I apply, for example Lee's or Scott's locks when using this knot? I doubt I'll be facing any life support issues, but I'd prefer to avoid damage caused by a capsized knot!

Your opinions would be most welcome.

Take care,
David

agent_smith

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Re: The Backhanded Hitch variations revisited
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2019, 12:07:59 AM »
Hi David,

The first thing I note - and would point out is that the so-called 'Backhanded hitch' is actually a #206 Munter hitch.

The Munter hitch is widely used in climbing/mountaineering as an improvised belay system.
The Munter hitch is an example of a 'knot' that is unstable, yet perfectly secure in its intended application.

At illustration #1851, Ashley has made a simple error - which can be forgiven when you consider that he wrote his masterpiece before the digital age and before desktop computers. He had to do everything manually - by laboriously hand drawing every image. Proof reading the entire volume would have been nightmarish (in my view).
There are lots of errors in ABoK - as others have discovered.

A #206 Munter hitch has the ability to 'reverse' - and this reversal is triggered by alternating the load from one rope segment to the other.
In #1851, the Munter hitch is set to 'capsize' - because the SPart is the rope segment on the right hand side.

In #1852, the Munter hitch is in a stable loading state.

In #1853, he made he same reversal error as per #1851.
In #1853, the Munter hitch is set in its unstable state - ready to capsize.

Now - it is possible that Ashley intentionally drew the #1851/#1853 images in this way - knowing that the Munter hitch is in an unstable transitional state.
Ashley is long dead - so we'll never know for sure what was going through his mind with regard to these drawings.

...

#1725 is also drawn 'back-the-front'.
The rope segment that is half-hitched should be the loaded part (ie SPart).
The way it is depicted - it is in a transitional state - the 'SPart' as shown in this drawing will trigger capsizing.

Note that #1726 is correctly drawn.

Again - we don't know what was on Ashley's mind with regard to some of these drawings. It is possible he intended for them to be tied in this load transitional state.
But, in my view, it is more likely an error with his drawing.
EDIT NOTE: Ashley may have intended to exploit the ability of #206 Munter hitch to capsize. In its unstable loading state, as it tries to capsize, it will tend to grip firmly around the host object. In so doing, one has to be careful that the loose end is properly seized so it can't 'escape' and release. By exploiting the tendency of the #206 Munter hitch to capsize - it will be caught in a balancing act.

I have attached an image showing how climbers use the 'Munter hitch' as a belay system.
The ability to reverse the direction of load is unique to the Munter hitch - and is what makes this particular hitch very useful to climbers.

Quote
Can I assume ABOK 1726 has the same caveats in modern cordage as the standard bowline? Should I apply, for example Lee's or Scott's locks when using this knot? I doubt I'll be facing any life support issues, but I'd prefer to avoid damage caused by a capsized knot!
Illustration #1726 is correctly drawn.
The use of a simple Bowline (#1010) is novel - but would be better served by using a double overhand 'strangle' around the SPart (as per #409 'Poachers noose' or #1228).
But yes - if you insisted on using a 'simple Bowline', Scott's lock is a very effective locking maneuver.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2019, 07:03:56 AM by agent_smith »

David R

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Re: The Backhanded Hitch variations revisited
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2019, 06:36:24 PM »
Hi agent_smit,

I want to acknowledge your response to my post. A more complete reply is in the works!

Be well,
David

Dan_Lehman

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Re: The Backhanded Hitch variations revisited
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2019, 01:34:14 AM »
Note that #1726 is correctly drawn.
Not per my then reading --do you have a corrected ABoK?!
Quote
NB:  #1726 IS WRONG --SPart & tail are swapped : this knot
cannot be tied as the text states, as the illustration shows
the SPart (rather than the tail) passing through the bight.
Ashley should've copied #1853.  (Yes, in the working of the
finished knot, it's a wash --the eye-knot loading legs equally--;
but in the tying, it's a matter of the 1 vs 2 passes.)
This is numbered among our collected Errata for ABOK .

--something to double-check, now,
thanks,
 ;D

agent_smith

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Re: The Backhanded Hitch variations revisited
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2019, 05:59:57 AM »
Quote
Quote from: agent_smith on September 03, 2019, 12:07:59 AM

    Note that #1726 is correctly drawn.

Quote
per Dan Lehman:
Not per my then reading --do you have a corrected ABoK?!

    NB:  #1726 IS WRONG --SPart & tail are swapped : this knot
    cannot be tied as the text states, as the illustration shows
    the SPart (rather than the tail) passing through the bight.

Maybe I have an updated edition compared to yours?
I have extracted the drawing for reference.
In #1726, The SPart - when loaded - will not spill/capsize the hitch.

However, in #1725, it is reversed.
If you load the SPart in #1725, it will cause the hitch to spill/capsize.
In my edit note, I have also surmised that Ashley may have intended it to be so. By exploiting the ability of #206 Munter hitch to capsize, extra grip can be achieved.
However, the loose/free end must be properly seized to prevent it from escaping.
The #206 Munter hitch will be caught in a 'balancing act'.

...

With regard to David R - I have no idea which version/edition of Ashley Book of Knots he has?

...

I would also make the comment that it is possible that Ashley intended these drawings to be presented as they are. That is, maybe he intended #1725 and #1726 to be just so?
Ashley is long dead - so we'll never know. By utilizing the tendency to spill, it will have a cinching effect - and this may have been Ashley's intention.
And thus, Ashley is exploiting the hitches ability to capsize as a means to increase its grip. The #206 Munter hitch is caught in a balancing act.

However, if you look at both #1725 and #1726, one is the opposite of the other.
In my edition of 'ABoK' - #1725 is shown in its unstable state - where loading on the SPart will trigger instability.
The Backhanded hitch is none other than #206 Munter hitch.
The Munter hitch has the ability to capsize back and forth - depending on which rope segment is loaded.

Also note that in #1726, a simple #1010 Bowline has been added, which turns the entire structure into a composite knot.
There is load balancing - the #206 Munter hitch component will be in equilibrium due to load being equalized across both rope segments.
The net result of this load balancing is that #1726 is stable.

Mind you, I am looking at this hitch from the point of view of a #206 Munter hitch - where a climber needs the hitch to be in its load stable state, so it can be operated with control.

Reading Ashley's accompanying text for each knot reveals a bit more.
#1726 can be tied around a axle as he describes.

In the description of #1725, it is also possible to tie in the manner written.
But in #1725, load on the SPart triggers instability - in that the hitch wants to spill/capsize.
Again - Ashley may be intentionally wanting to exploit this instability because the hitch will try to capsize - but is stopped from doing so on account of the the 2 half-hitches that are seized to the SPart. As the #206 Munter hitch tries to capsize - it will tend to grip firmly.

I think this subject matter is open to debate - because it depends on which viewpoint you are coming from.
You can achieve grip from the #206 Munter hitch either way, as there is a 'capstan effect' also in play.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2019, 07:02:44 AM by agent_smith »

Dan_Lehman

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Re: The Backhanded Hitch variations revisited
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2019, 09:16:36 PM »
Quote
Quote from: agent_smith on September 03, 2019, 12:07:59 AM

    Note that #1726 is correctly drawn.

Quote
per Dan Lehman:
Not per my then reading --do you have a corrected ABoK?!

    NB:  #1726 IS WRONG --SPart & tail are swapped : this knot
    cannot be tied as the text states, as the illustration shows
    the SPart (rather than the tail) passing through the bight.

Maybe I have an updated edition compared to yours?
I have extracted the drawing for reference.
In #1726, The SPart - when loaded - will not spill/capsize the hitch.
Thanks, I'll re-re-look to confirm (but at this point
of already making a double-check, 2 B sure, it must
be that we've different images : the original wrong,
and a correction made to match the text).

Quote
In my edit note, I have also surmised that Ashley may have intended it to be so. By exploiting the ability of #206 Munter hitch to capsize, extra grip can be achieved.
However, the loose/free end must be properly seized to prevent it from escaping.
The #206 Munter hitch will be caught in a 'balancing act'.
I'm pretty sure that Ashley did NOT intend for there
to be any "Munter"-like capsizing/transformation
and that YOU, only/first, are reading this into the book
AND THAT IT'S AN EXCELLENT POINT,
which then removes the concern --and seizing!--
that Ashley has put in!!  BRAVO!
Consider that, for Ashley, he has no reason/use
for the capsizing, unlike those using the structure
for belay or abseiling (well, in the latter one isn't
capsizing the structure, either).  E.g., he doesn't
show putting it in and then doing a capsize for
tightening it; at #206, the working direction isn't
specified or implied, and the orientation might
come rather randomly?

Yes, the just-tuck-one-bight ease can be done,
but then via the "Munter-like" capsizing that your
familiarity with the *static* crossing knot led you
to see, the desired more stable form can be had,
still!  --still, with the easy, one-pass-only tying.

In any case, you have given that realization to me,
and I've annotated my book with it.

Thanks,
(-;

agent_smith

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Re: The Backhanded Hitch variations revisited
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2019, 04:37:55 AM »
I am using the 1993 edition which was revised by G Budworth.
(Refer attached image for details of publication).

I've attached images from my 1993 edition of ABoK...

#1851.... loading the SPart will trigger instability/capsizing (but the loose end is seized to the SPart prevent slippage/loss).
#1852.... loading the SPart does not trigger capsizing (it is in its stable loading state)
#1853.... identical loading profile to #1851 (with addition of #1010 simple Bowline) - it is in a stable loading state.

However, it is well understood that #1010 Simple Bowline is not secure.
It could be made secure via a "Scotts lock".

I would again comment that (with respect to my 1993 edition of ABoK) - I cannot be certain what Ashley's intent was.
I don't have the original edition to compare against - so I don't know if Budworth has altered any of the original drawings.

If Budworth hasn't altered the original drawings - then it is open to debate as to what Ashley's intent was.
In my edition, Ashley indicates that #1851 is vulnerable to capsizing.
In #1852, he writes that it "does not require stopping" (presume that he means 'seizing' to the SPart).
This means that Ashley was aware that the #206 Munter hitch component has the ability to capsize and realign with respect to which rope segment/part is loaded.
It is within the realm of possibility that he intended to employ the tendency to capsize as a means to enhance grip (the #206 Munter hitch is caught in a balancing act).

Who knows?

It is of interest to me that the Munter hitch appears at various points in his book - of which he seems to be unaware or intentionally does not cross-reference to those drawings?
Eg #206, #1195, #1818.

Dan_Lehman

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Re: The Backhanded Hitch variations revisited
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2019, 04:14:18 PM »
Quote
Quote from: agent_smith on September 03, 2019, 12:07:59 AM

    Note that #1726 is correctly drawn.

Quote
per Dan Lehman:
Not per my then reading --do you have a corrected ABoK?!

    NB:  #1726 IS WRONG --SPart & tail are swapped : this knot
    cannot be tied as the text states, as the illustration shows
    the SPart (rather than the tail) passing through the bight.

We must agree to this : Ashley intended --per his words--
to show a bowline'd securing vice hitches of #1725; in the
course of this, he *capsized* the crossing knot structure
and rendered it something that can NOT be tied with the
brevity of his words --not w/o the insight you bring to
being able to capsize it into desired (mistakenly illustrated)
form!  So, Ashley is right if you help him tie it, but not
per his image as the directly tied thing.
(our books' images match)

And, yes, I too just remarked to myself at #1818.  His
#206 is bereft of much verbal information such as
which direction is one to be working.  In #1818, he
gives some peculiar setting guidance ("pull backward(s)
AND THEN forward(s) ..." which if I'm doing it correctly
will yield his image of a series of these attachments
only when working RIGHT-to-left !!  --which is against
the usual/English/(Western?) view of text & imagery.
.:.  odd.
(And getting such a series in good tension might
be not all so simple!  It is, after all, *unstable*.)


And, again, re "Munter hitch", nothing in Ashley
suggests a dynamic use such as rockclimbers have
--not of the capsizing, fall-arresting belay,
nor the more *static* force-reduction use of abseiling.


--dl*
====
« Last Edit: September 08, 2019, 06:35:31 PM by Dan_Lehman »