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Thread: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

  1. #1
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    Default ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    A few years back I lashed a dinghy to my car roof rack with an old and beatup length of 1/2 inch sta-set (a brand of low stretch double braid polyester line). The rope had been some bit of running rigging on a big sloop, then it had been a docking line, then it became a tie-down line. I tied up the dinghy to the rack with simple square knots and they seemed solid. On the drive I stopped a few times to check the load, and it never shifted, not even slightly, over 200 miles. That taught me something about lines and knots: with a fat supple line, a square knot can be secure.

    Soon, I went off to good ole West Marine and got me some sta-set in various sizes. I decided to re-rig my sailboat with fatter lines and simpler knots. It didn't work out so well. The problem was that new sta-set is slippery stuff and the knots didn't last very long before they un-tied themselves. The old sta-set was soft and hairy. It was increased friction made knots stick like glue. That's what I want! I was thinking about ways to 'age' my line. Putting the lines in the sun didn't help. This stuff is UV-resistent, to a point, and it will take a while.

    My neighbor, and engineer not a sailor, came up with the solution: sandpaper. And it works. A few light passes with 150-grit over my line will make it plenty hairy, and yes, the line holds knots very well. You might say but it reduces the strength of the line. True, it does, but I don't care that much about tensile strength. Sta-set is super strong. But I need it to have more friction, especially where it gets knotted or cleated. I won't sand my whole halyard. Just the tail that I cleat.
    Last edited by photocurio; 07-04-2017 at 10:13 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    I don't know what stay set is but I think braided rope gets its strength from the stuff in the middle. The braid is just for chafe and UV protection. So a little sanding won't weaken it at all.

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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    StaSet is a brand name of New England rope. It's a double braid polyester where both the braided core and the braided sheath share the load. It's designed to knot securely and I'm surprised you had a problem.

    No matter what the line, assuming it's polyester, it's undoubtedly so much stronger than any load you'll put on it that I doubt you've weakened it significantly.

    So, starting with the simple, is the core of your new rope braided?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    Sta-set is a braided dacron aka polyester core and cover. To my understanding, it gets about half of its strength from the cover, unlike higher tech lines with different core materials. There's plenty of simple knots that will hold in it just fine even when new. It's never let go from a cleat for me either. Setting up a know nice and tight does make a big difference. Not that a reef/square knot should be relied upon for much. If your lines are oversized for hand feel, I guess the strength doesn't matter much. Otherwise, I wouldn't weaken a line at it's weakest point (the knot.) If you like a line with a bit more grip, 3-strand "spun" polyester is cheaper than sta-set and comes pre-sanded . Of course, it's 46% the strength of Sta-set and 63% the strength of continuous filament 3-strand. Modern ropes get much of their strength from the long length of their fibers.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    marujo.sortudo raises a good point [#4] about the size of the line. A reef knot is more likely to bind down on itself in smaller sizes line. It's not a knot I'd ever use to secure any load to anything.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    I don't know what stay set is but I think braided rope gets its strength from the stuff in the middle. The braid is just for chafe and UV protection. So a little sanding won't weaken it at all.
    In a braid on braid polyester rope load is shared between the core and the cover. In ropes with high strength fibre core (spectra, dyneema, vectran etc.) the polyester cover is generally there for protection and handling purposes only.

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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    I hardly ever use a square knot any more, having replaced it with the
    Carrick Bend (ABOK #1439) (LINK)
    Ashley's comment on this bend, from article 1439 of The Ashley's Book of Knots: "The Carrick Bend ... is perhaps the nearest thing we have to a perfect l bend. It is symmetrical, it is easy to tie, it does not slip easily in wet material, it is among the strongest of knots, it cannot jam and is readily untied."
    How-To-Tie The Carrick Bend (video) (LINK)

    Just experiment with it a bit to see how long the tails need to be, there's some slip in drawing it up. For a really secure or permanent application, seize the bitter ends to the standing parts.
    Last edited by sharpiefan; 07-05-2017 at 07:06 AM.

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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    I like fat lines and I cannot lie...but if the knots aren't holding it may be time for different line, different knots, or even hardware. If you like the traditional look, R&W Rope sells Hempex which is nice and soft (and hairy).
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    I know more now than I did yesterday. About braided line anyway. Whether I've forgotten more in the meantime, I'm not sure.

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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    Sharpiefan, its true that the Carrick Bend is awesome, and its not hard to tie. But I don't see how it can be a replacement for a reef knot. They have different uses. Would you tie a Carrick Bend in the reefing points? Or on the robbands fixing a sail to a yard?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    Quote Originally Posted by marujo.sortudo View Post
    Sta-set is a braided dacron aka polyester core and cover... There's plenty of simple knots that will hold in it just fine even when new. It's never let go from a cleat for me either. Setting up a know nice and tight does make a big difference. Not that a reef/square knot should be relied upon for much..
    I've never had Sta-set let go from a cleat either, and I cleat it very often. My halyard cleats to a horn cleat on my mast. On the other hand, it didn't feel 'sticky' until I sanded the tail. It always used to feel a little too slippery, even after I bore down to set it up tight. I suspect most sailors use winches or cam-cleats if they have modern line.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    marujo.sortudo raises a good point [#4] about the size of the line. A reef knot is more likely to bind down on itself in smaller sizes line. It's not a knot I'd ever use to secure any load to anything.
    This used to be my view on square knots also.

    But see the red line used to lash my mast to the foredeck on my lugger:


    This is a portion of the same vintage 1/2 inch sta-set referenced in the story above. The line is tied with merely a round turn and a square knot. This is an unstayed mast—only the lashing is keeping it from falling down!

    A carrick bend, or even a sheet bend, would not be suitable here: I need to be able to tie it or untie it very quickly. And, even more important, I need to draw it tight as I'm setting up the mast. This is something only a square knot will do.

    This lashing proved solid on many sails, including sailing triple-reefed in rough water. Since the photo was taken, I've gone up to a 5/8 inch line, for even more security.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    photocurio shows an excellent application of the square knot [#11] in that it holds well when tied against something, especially something convex. And the square knot's ability to jam and become very hard to undo is mitigated here by the round turn and the fact that it's undone every day so the knot never really binds up. In this application it's a great way to pull the lashing tight.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    It's odd, but some knots, like the Prusik, or the reef/square knot, get more secure when tied in slippery-fashion.

    I've lost fenders when tied to a lifeline with a straight Prusik. But never when tied with an extra bight to be released with a simple pull.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    Quote Originally Posted by photocurio View Post
    Sharpiefan, its true that the Carrick Bend is awesome, and its not hard to tie. But I don't see how it can be a replacement for a reef knot. They have different uses. Would you tie a Carrick Bend in the reefing points? Or on the robbands fixing a sail to a yard?
    Sorry to be late -- I missed your post.

    In your OP, I had the impression you reef knotted two lines together, which is what I was responding to. To hold stuff down on the truck, I usually use a trucker's hitch or rolling hitch.

    I'm a 3-strand dinosaur, following the gospels of St. Ashley and St. H. G. Smith. Robands are toggle-and-becket, reef points a variation of same, toggle-and-button. (Think of a long soft shackle, cut in half, each half stitched to the reef bands.

    Dover (LINK) has reprints of some of the classics of marlingspike seamanship, like Verril, Biddlecombe, and Smith's The Arts of the Sailor (LINK).



    The Hempex (LINK) that Thorne mentioned is nice stuff; I use 5 passes where the books say to use 3, because synthetics are slippery, and paranoia and line are cheap compared to the consequences of gear failure.

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    You can't have one knot in your quiver.

    Take a tight lash-down. If you essentially have two things connected by rope - a tent guy line peg to tent, a lashing holding a box on a flatbed, a mooring line, joining two lines - a square not is not the thing. Rather you might use respectively a tautline hitch, a trucker's hitch, proper cleat knot or lighterman's hitch, and if not a moused Carrick bend, then a sheet bend or zeppelin bend or such.

    A square knot is hard to beat where you want to draw things tight and the knot will lay against something, as in #11 or (made double slippery) as your basic shoe knot, or, strangely, on reef pendants.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: ..and presto, the new rope is old again!

    If extra security is wanted with a square knot, you can give it "bosun's balls." Take both free ends and tie overhand knots in them as close to the square knot as possible. Set up everything tight. Stays easy to untie unless the square slips and is very secure. I use this frequently in twine to finish some seizings. That mast looks like an acceptable application of a square knot, despite what I said earlier. Of course there are other knots that you can set up under tension, but only half hitches are as simple as a square knot. Another fun trick with double braid is to remove the core entirely. It spreads load over more area (nice on soft wood) and seems to give knots a bit more grip. Must reduce the strength by at least half, though. Also, rolls less under foot. Useful for some applications.

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