First of all, let’s acknowledge what appears to be the source for this easy-to-execute design, the website for: Scouts South Africa where you can download a pdf of the design and directions. The activity surrounding the construction of this launcher incorporates sound square lashing technique, teamwork (of course), a geometric study of angles and trajectory, some concentration, and lots of laughter. The ensuing fun can be a real blast, indoors or outdoors*.
Here’s what each patrol will need:
six Scout Staves
seven 6-foot x 1/4-inch lashing ropes
three short lengths of cord (to secure the shot holder to the structure if your using surgical tubing)
one pre-made “shot-holder”
large supply of newspaper and masking or scotch tape
large enough room to spread out
In a nut shell, here’s what happens:
An indoor or outdoor area is set up so there’s plenty of room to launch the “shots.” Each patrol is provided the necessary materials along with the design drawing. They are each assigned their own designated area (about 10′ x 10′) in which they must stay. On signal, they race to build their Scout Stave Launcher. Using the newspaper and tape, they will also have to set to work and make a supply of “shots.” As soon as they are ready, they can proceed to launch tightly, taped-together newspaper “shots” at designated targets in the shooting area. They can also launch the “shots” for distance.
It should be noted, the “locking bar” (refer to the drawing) is only lashed to the bottom crossbar of the A-frame. The angle of fire is adjusted by moving the “locking bar” up and back. Printable Diagram
Each launching can serve as a point of reference to adjust the “locking bar” and, if necessary, the position of the elastic bands. Remember, the patrol must stay within their duly designated area. Used “shots” can be retrieved at defined intervals, during which no further launching can take place until an “all clear” is sounded.
Making a Shot Holder—the most simple approach:
Cut out an equilateral triangle with 12-inch sides from a piece of canvas. 10-oz canvas will work if you double one triangle on top of another.
Place a grommet on each corner of the triangle(s).
Reeve a 24-inch length of surgical tubing through each grommet and make a loop by joining the ends of each with a tight knot.
If you choose, you can add another grommet to the middle and use it to fashion a pull line.
Tin can shot holder—another approach that works well is as follows:
For each shot holder, you’ll need a can and a length of surgical tube, inner tube, or some kind of stretch band. Six feet works well with Scout staves.
Prepare the cans. Using 12.5 oz. cans (commonly filled with canned chicken or beef) cut three slits in the bottom the same width as the rubber strips or more narrow if you’re using surgical tubing. Flatten the sharp edges as much as possible against the inside of the can and then apply tape to serve as a cushion between the slits and the stretch material.
The stretch material. One bicycle inner tube can be cut into three to four 6′ strips each of which are just the right size for one shot holder. If you can’t easily obtain inner tube, heavy duty exercise stretch bands work okay, but are less durable. What works best by far are six foot lengths of 1/4″ surgical tubing! They’re the most stretchy and can withstand a lot of strain. Surgical tubing can be purchased through scuba supply companies.
Attach the rubber. Tie together the ends of the rubber strip or surgical tube making one loop with a circumference of approximately six feet. Feed the loop through one slit in the can. The objective here is to extend an even-sized loop through each slit, by forming bights in the loop and threading them through the other two slits.
*Outdoor action can give rise to a host of variations. “Shots” can consist of tennis balls, and targets can be set up at varying distances. Depending on the elastic bands used to make the shot holder, this simple design can easily launch well over a hundred feet.
NOTE: Eye protection and supervision by an NCS trained shooting sports director is required for this activity.
A Swing Boat is a fairground ride in which pairs of riders pull ropes to swing back and forth. At the national jamboree, it’s one of the pioneering area’s favorite features. Click here for more information. This is a smaller, more boy-sized version, but still lots of fun and plenty big enough.
ALL LASHINGS MUST BE VERY TIGHT! (This is an appropriate occasion to start the Japanese Mark II Square Lashing with a clove hitch in the middle of the rope around the upright, under the crossing spar, before proceeding with the wraps.)
Build the A-frames. Using 20-foot ropes, lash two identical A-frames. The tops of the shear lashings needs to be approximately 3 feet below the tips of the 12-foot legs. (In lieu of shear lashings you might want to join the legs at the top with looser square lashings applied with the legs held at 90º after which the legs can be brought into the desired position to add the ledgers, but in doing so, make sure there won’t be too much strain applied to the top rope and the spars.) The 10-foot ledgers need to be approximately 1.5 feet above the butts of the legs. Lash on an additional 6-foot cross spar for extra support on each A-frame.
Join the A-frames together. Stand up the A-frames and holding them in place, use the remaining 12-foot spars to join them together. Lash these on as low as possible so they don’t interfere with the action of the swing.
The following steps can be carried out using an 8 to 10-foot folding step ladder or by laying the structure on its side. Either way, strong crew members will be needed to hold the spars in place.
Add the Center Spar. With a TIGHT square lashing, lash the stout 10-foot center spar to the inside of one leg of each A-frame, about 1 foot from each end where the tops intersect. This will provide a good, inward lean to the A-frames. (If you are using rope grommets with steel rings, attach them to the center spar with a prusik, about 6 inches from the legs of each A-frame.)
Lash on the top support spars. Join the tops of the A frames by tightly lashing a 10-foot spar on the legs of each A-frame, about 6 inches from the tips. (It’s a good idea to start these lashings with a constrictor knot to minimize slippage during use.)
Attach the pull rope spar and pull ropes. At right angles, lash a 10-foot spar across the center for the pull ropes. About 6 inches from the ends, tightly tie a 15-foot pull rope to each end using a roundturn with two half hitches.
Attach the swing. Attach a swing rope to each end of the prepared plank with a scaffold hitch. Using a roundturn with two half hitches, tie the ends of each swing rope securely to their corresponding ring -or- directly to the center spar about 6 inches from the legs of each A-frame.
Add the guylines. Using a roundturn with two half hitches or rolling hitch, attach a 36-foot x 3/8-inch guyline to the top of each leg. (If, the structure has been on its side, it’s time to stand it completely up.)
Prepare the anchors. Drive in pioneering stakes for four 1-1 anchors extending 20 feet out from the legs at 45º. Attach the corresponding guyline to each using a rope tackle. Also, drive in a stake about 6 inches in at each of the four corners so they will intersect with the A-frame ledgers. Lash each stake to the corresponding ledger with a square lashing.
Make adjustments. Level out the plank to the desired height and adjust the swing ropes so the swing hangs evenly.
6 12-foot x 4-inch spars
6 10-foot x 4-inch spars
2 6-foot x 3-inch spars
18 20-foot x 1/4-inch lashing ropes
2 36-foot x 1/2-inch swing ropes
4 36-foot x 3/8-inch guylines
12 pioneering stakes
4 tent stakes and lengths of rope or binder twine for 1-1 anchors
1 2-inch x 8-foot board (sanded and notched about 6 inches from the ends)
It’s a pretty safe to say most Scouts love to climb things. So, it makes sense that if a monkey bridge is combined with something to climb on, it will be even more fun. The challenge in constructing a project like this is to assure the structure can safely support not only the weight of those climbing on the platforms, but also the continual stress created by repeatedly crossing the rope bridge. Building this version of a double platform monkey bridge entails quite a few subassemblies and a procedure with many steps. Basically, with the materials listed, the ropes span a distance of 25 feet between two identical square platforms 4 feet wide and 8 feet high. At the front of each platform is an X-brace just under 5 feet high, providing a V for the foot rope. The hand ropes run through the junction where the X-braces intersect the top of the front legs, and then extend down joining the foot rope at a log-stake anchor 10 feet behind the back of each platform.
Here are the materials needed to construct the project:
eight 8-foot x 4-inch spars for platform legs
four 8-foot x 3-1/2-inch spars for X-braces
four 6-foot x 2-1/2-inch diagonal side braces
eight 4-foot x 3-inch spars for side base spreaders (4) and platform supports (4)
sixteen 4-foot x 2-inch spars for ladder rungs (10), handrails (4) and X-brace leg spreaders (2)
twenty-four 4-foot x 2-inch floor spars
two 4-foot x 4-inch log and stake anchor logs
sixteen 30-inch pioneering stakes for 2 log-stake anchors
sixteen large wooden stakes for the 8 guyline 1-1 anchors
sixteen small tourniquet stakes
two rope grommets with large O-rings
one 70-foot x 1/2 or 3/4-inch manila foot rope
two 70-foot x 1/2-inch manila hand ropes
eight 8-foot x 1/4-inch manila spanner ropes
thirty-six 15-foot x 1/4-inch manila lashing ropes
twenty-six 20-foot x 1/4-inch manila lashing ropes (for X-braces, base spreaders and platform supports)
eight 25-foot x 3/8-inch manila guylines
four 35-foot x 1/4-inch manila lashing ropes for floor spars
six burlap or canvas saddles (for the foot rope and hand ropes)
two large mallots
• Participants should be well-acquainted and experienced in the skills required for building this project.
• Select a project leader who will divide the participants into work groups, assign tasks, and oversee operations.
• Before proceeding, position the materials in proximity to the location where the project will be placed. It’s good to organize the materials by the tasks for which they’re needed.
• Depending upon how many Scouts are participating (will there be a small group of 6 Scouts, or a large group of 24), many of the subassembly steps needed to finish the project can be completed simultaneously. This division of labor can enormously streamline the project’s completion.
• If the opportunity presents itself, it can very helpful to initially lay out the hand and foot ropes, in conjunction with completing Task E, before proceeding with Tasks A & B.
• The following tasks can be completed at the same time:
Tasks A 1 & 2 / B 1 & 2 / Tasks D 1 & 2 and E
Task C 1 / Task C 2
Task F 1 & 2 / Task H 1 & 2
Tasks I & J / Tasks K, L & M
• If one task is taking longer to complete, workers from other groups can lend a hand and help finish it up so the next step can commence.
• Placing a 4-foot spar underneath the spars lying on the ground, in a strategic position, will raise the project sides up and make lashing much easier.
• There are 64 square lashings in this project and, for stability and safety, they must be tight! For speed and efficiency, the Japanese Mark II Square Lashing is highly recommended.
TASK A – 1 & 2: Building the ladder sides of the platforms. 1) Lay out two 8-foot legs side by side. Space the spars apart so that the distance from the middle of each spar, at both the top and bottom ends, is 40 inches. Use a tape measure. Also, make sure the butt ends are at the bottom and absolutely even. Starting 6 inches up from the butt end, connect the legs by lashing on a 4-foot ladder rung directly above the 6 inch mark, with tight square lashings.
Using a tape measure, measure 5 feet up from the butt end of each leg, lash on another ladder rung, directly below, just touching, the 5-foot mark, ON THE OTHER SIDE (what will become the inside) of the legs. See the diagram on the right.
Right in the middle of these two ladder rungs, lash on another ladder rung, and then, between the middle ladder rung and the top and bottom ladder rungs, lash on two more. Use tight square lashings.
2) Repeat the whole process on two other 8-foot legs for the other platform.
TASK B – 1 & 2: Building the X-brace sides of the platforms.
The premise for these sides is the X-braces have to cross each other just under 5 feet for the foot rope, and they have to intersect the tops of the legs equally on each side for the hand ropes. Because of the size of the spars involved, and the necessity for very secure connections that do not shift, use 20-foot lashing ropes and two Scouts for each X-brace square lashing.
1) Lay out two 8-foot legs side by side. Space the spars apart so that the distance from the middle of each spar, at both the top and bottom ends, is 40 inches. Use a tape measure. Also, make sure the butt ends are at the bottom and absolutely even. Starting 6 inches up from the butt end, connect the legs by lashing on a 4-foot ladder rung as a leg spreader, directly above the 6-inch mark, with tight square lashings.
With a tape measure, mark 56 inches up from the butt end of each leg.
Temporarily stretch a piece of binder twine over each 56-inch mark and tie it to each leg to help define where this intersecting line lies. It’s at the middle of this line where the X-braces need to cross so that the foot rope will extend just underneath the floor spars of the platform.
Lay out an 8-foot X-brace spar diagonally in such a way that the top end lays over one leg about 4 inches from the top of the leg, and extends out approximately 6 inches from the side. Angle the spar so that it will cross the middle of the intersecting line (56 inches up from the butt ends of the platform legs). Line up the bottom end of this X-brace so that it is positioned under the bottom of the opposite leg. Lash the spar in place with tight Square Lashings.
Lay out a second 8-foot X-brace spar on top of both legs so that it creates an X. Angle this spar so that it will cross the middle of the intersecting line (56 inches up from the butt ends of the platform legs). Make sure this spar also extends out approximately 6 inches from the side and that it intersects the leg at the same distance from the top as the X-brace on the other side. Lash this spar in place over both legs with a square lashing. It’s between the top of the front legs and the extension of the X-braces that the hand ropes will be supported.
Now, with a diagonal lashing, lash the middle of both 8-foot X-braces springing them together where they cross, using a 20-foot lashing rope.
2) Repeat the whole process with the two remaining 8-foot legs.
TASK C – 1 & 2: Connecting the Ladder and X-brace sides. (If Task E has already been completed, before joining the ladder and X-brace sides, carry the two completed sides for each platform to the approximate location where they will eventually be positioned.)
1) Turn both a ladder side and an X-brace side up horizontally, parallel to one another. On the X-brace side, make sure the leg spreader and the X-brace spars are facing out. Space the legs apart so that the distance from the middle of each leg, at both the top and bottom ends, is 40 inches. Use a tape measure. Also, make sure the butt ends are absolutely even. With tight Square Lashings, join both sides by lashing a 4-foot side base spreader to the legs just below the bottom leg spreaders with a 20-foot lashing rope.
On the inside of the platform, using a 20-foot lashing rope, lash a 4-foot platform support to both legs so that the top edge comes up to 58 inches on both sides (directly under and as close as possible to the top ladder rung on the ladder side.). We will be laying the floor spars on top of this support.
Lash a 4-foot hand rail (same as ladder rung) to the top of both legs.
Lay a 6-foot diagonal side brace diagonally over both legs, between the base spreader and platform spreader, and lash in place using square lashings.
To join the other side, carefully lift and roll the platform over 180°, supporting the spars as much as possible, and repeat the above steps.
2) Repeat the whole process to join the ladder side and X-brace side of the other platform.
TASK D: Stand the platforms upright. With three Scouts lifting at the ground-level handrail, and two to three pulling on the other handrail, raise the platform to an upright position. If TASK E has been completed, we can proceed to Task G.
TASK E: Site preparation. Begin by stretching a length of binder twine along the center line of where the ropes will span. Drive a tent stake into the ground marking the center.
Working from the center, measure 12-1/2 feet toward each end and drive another tent stake to mark where the X-braces of each platform are to be placed. They should be 25 feet apart. Then with two other tent stakes, mark out another 14′ to where the anchors are to be built.
TASK F – 1 & 2: Build the anchors. The foot and hand ropes will be attached to anchors at both ends.
1 & 2) Build a log-and-stake anchor (also known as a log and picket holdfast), 14 feet from where the X-braces of each platform are to be placed. To make the log-and-stake anchors, place one of the 4-foot x 4-inch logs perpendicular to the pull of the line, 14 feet from where the X-brace side will be. Drive in a row of four pioneering stakes spaced evenly in front of the log, leaning them back at a 45° angle. Slip a rope grommet through an O-ring and then slip the ends of the grommet around the log (see diagram). Drive a second row of pioneering stakes 24 inches behind the front stakes. Then anchor the front pioneering stakes to the rear pioneering stakes with a tourniquet made of binder twine or rope using four tent stakes. After twisting the tourniquet tight, hammer the tent stake into the ground to keep it from loosening.
TASK G – 1 & 2: Position the platforms. All hands on deck! Move both upright platforms into position no more than 25 feet apart. Place them on the binder twine that marks the center line of the bridge, making sure the X-braces of each are facing each other 10 feet from the center mark.
TASK H – 1 & 2: Lash on the floor. Lay 4-inch floor spars on top of the platform supports so that the ends extend out evenly on each side. Using the Double Floor Lashing and the 35-foot lashing ropes, lash the floor securely in place.
TASK I – 1-8: Add anchors for platform guylines. For added stability, we’ll be adding four guylines to each platform. To start, measure 10 feet, 45° out from each leg and drive in a 1-1 anchor.
TASK J – 1-8: Secure the platforms. Attach one of the 25-foot x 3/8-inch guylines to each leg, directly above the floor spars, with a roundturn with two half hitches.
Extend the guyline down to the corresponding 1-1 anchor and attach it to the anchor with a rope tackle. Repeat this process at each leg.
TASK K: Foot rope. First place a piece of heavy canvas (called a “saddle”) in the top V formed by the X-braces. This will protect the foot rope and allow it to slide a little as needed.
If the foot and hand ropes are not already laid out during Task E, two Scouts will be needed to stretch the foot rope out, aligning the center of the rope with the center stake along the binder twine.
Next, lay the ends of the rope over the saddle in the V formed by the X-braces on each platform. Then, maintaining the rope’s center alignment between the platforms, extend the rope under the platforms, through the ladder sides and pulling it somewhat taut, thread the ends through the O-rings attached to the log-and-stake anchors. Tie these off temporarily with a roundturn with two half hitches.
TASK L: Hand ropes. Two Scouts will be needed to stretch the hand ropes out on either side of the foot rope, aligning the center of each with the center stake along the binder twine.
Climb the platforms and place saddles in the crotch between the X-brace extensions and the front legs. Maintaining the center alignment between the platforms, place one hand rope over its corresponding saddles. Then extend the rope down, crossing it over the outside of the top ladder rung, pull it taut, and thread the ends through the O-rings attached to the log-stake-anchors. Tie these off with a roundturn with two half hitches. Repeat the process for the other hand rope.
TASK M: Stringer ropes. Now add the stringer ropes that will go from the foot rope to the hand ropes. Start by tying the center of an 8-foot long stringer rope at the center of the foot rope, using a clove hitch. The stringer rope is tied around the foot rope so that both ends are 4 feet long. Add two more stringer ropes on both sides of the center stringer rope (so there are five stringer ropes in all), tying them about 4 feet apart.
Tie one end of each stringer rope to one of the hand ropes, again using a clove hitch. Then do the same with the other ends of the stringer ropes, attaching them to the other hand rope.
TASK N: Tighten the foot rope and hand ropes. Now you can put a strain on the foot rope. Undo the Roundturn with Two Half Hitches, and make a rope tackle on each end of the foot rope. Two Scouts will need to adjust the tension at each rope tackle so that the middle of the rope stays midway between the platforms.
As needed, adjust the tension of the hand ropes by tightening them at the anchors and retying the roundturn with two half hitches.
Final testing. With caution, one crew member can get on the bridge as all lashings, anchors, and knots are observed by the safety officer and all other crew members. Make adjustments as required.
Safe operation calls for only one Scout to be on the foot rope of the monkey bridge and up to two on either platform at a time.
You’ve got to love this design. It’s compact, it’s sturdy, and it’s ingenious!
This drying rack is based on suspending two concentric, equilateral triangles to make six cross sections for hanging wet clothing or towels during a long term encampment, and there’s no reason you can’t put it up on an overnighter if there’s a practical need. All that’s been said before regarding the advantages of this kind of campsite improvement apply to this simple camp gadget:
It takes up less space while drying more wet things.
It eliminates the clutter of clothing and towels haphazardly strewn around on tables, tree branches, tent platforms, or overcrowded on a disorganized array of drooping clothes lines.
It can be set up in a location where there is the most sunshine.
It’s especially useful when camping in an open area with few trees.
Materials (adapt these as you like)
three 4-foot x 1-inch sticks
three 5-foot x 1-inch sticks (Scout staves are ideal)
one 6-foot x 1-1/2 to 2-1/2-inch straight pole for the upright (or an additional 5-foot Scout stave)
one 30-inch pioneering stake
eight camp gadget lashing ropes (6 to 10-foot)
three 15-foot lashing ropes
three small stakes
Lash the triangles. Start by lashing together two equilateral triangles, one smaller for the top (three 4-foot sticks), and the larger one for the bottom (three 5-foot staves). Use square lashings. One easy way is to lash two at 90° and then bend them in and tie the third square lashing to make the triangle. This yields a nice, tightly-lashed triangle, (but be careful you’re not putting too much stress on the ropes and poles when preparing to apply the third lashing).
Erect the upright. Pound in a pioneering stake and lash the 6-foot pole to it securely with two tight strop lashings or round lashings. Making this upright stand up vertically without moving or wobbling at all is a key to a good and sturdy clothing dryer. So, solidly pound in the stake and make sure it’s as straight as possible. Also, make sure the lashings are well-tied and tight.
—> ALTERNATIVE APPROACH: A clothes drying rack can be erected without having to either pound in a stake or sink the center pole, by using the same principle as when erecting a flagpole. The key is using the support ropes as guylines. SEE PHOTO.
Attach the triangles. Lay the triangles on the ground over the upright, first the larger triangle, and then the smaller one on top.
Tie each corner of the smaller triangle to a support rope so it will be suspended about 5 feet above the ground. Use clove hitches which can be adjusted as necessary to assure the triangle hangs evenly and the 4-foot sticks are horizontal. Continuing with each of the three support ropes, repeat this process for the larger triangle so that it will hang about 4 feet above the ground.
Anchor the support ropes. Hammer in a small stake a foot or so out, in line with each corner of the bottom triangle. Using the remaining length of the support ropes, attach them to the stakes with a simple taut-line hitch. This will further stabilize the clothing dryer and enable you to make fine-tune adjustments to the way the triangles lay. (You can also just make them fast to the stakes with a roundturn with two half hitches, or another clove hitch.)
Please refer to the “sales pitch” provided in the Tool Rack post spelling out all the advantages inherent in building one of these simple camp gadgets. It is a good-looking campsite improvement project, but mainly, it’s got major functionality.
The main difference between this version and the other is with the first tool rack, all the tools are hung, suspended by a cord from the upper cross piece and are supported by resting against the lower cross piece. In this tool rack, the tools’ handles are slipped in between two parallel cross pieces. This way, they’re held very nicely in place, and any shifting or wobbling around, often experienced in the first rack, is eliminated.
The two racks are also constructed in like manner, again refer back to the Tool Rack post. No need repeating it here. However, in this version, the diameter of the two 6-foot uprights need to be a little larger than the diameter of the thickest handle of any tool you’ll be hanging.
When you’re ready to lash on the cross pieces, lash on the first higher than the longest tool. It needs to be at a height easy enough to comfortably place the tools on and take the tools off the rack, without needing to reach up too high or bend over. Secure the first cross piece in front of the uprights with a couple of tight square lashings, and then secure the second cross piece to the uprights in exactly the same position, but on the other side of the uprights. You’ll be tying a tight square lashing here too, and there’s plenty of room to wrap and frap. That’s all there is to it.
By the way, if you’d like to erect a cover over the tool rack, lash another cross piece to the very top, and rig up a tarp, using this third cross piece as a ridge pole.
GOOD, OL' FASHIONED, OUTDOOR, SCOUTING FUN FOR THE 21ST CENTURY!