Tag Archives: skinning spars

Lashing Ropes and Spars

Addressing the basic and ongoing quandaries, HERE’S A VIDEO:

Some Questions and Some Answers about Rope for Lashing:

  • What kind of rope should we use? For most projects, 1/4-inch manila. Refer to: Rope for Pionering and Camp Use
  • What length(s) should we cut the rope into? Depending on the diameter of the spars and what you’re building, 15 feet is the most common, 20 feet is often called for. For camp gadgets and many Scout meeting challenges, 6-1/2 and 10-foot lengths are good for working with Scout Staves.
  • Where can I get manila rope? 1/4-inch is commonly available at Lowes and Home Depot, but Get Pure Manila Rope and Don’t Be Fooled! For larger quantities, procure a box containing 1,200 feet from a reputable rope supplier.
  • Can I just tape the ends? Sure, but that’s not going to last long. Learn to tie a Sailmaker’s or West Country Whipping to assure the ends don’t unravel during use. Refer to: Whipping

Some Questions about Spars:

  • What kind of trees make good spars? Whatever’s growing in your area that will yield a straight spar with a minimum of taper will work. Pine is widely used because it grows so straight and when stripped of its bark and dried out, it makes spars that are not too heavy and suitable for “Boy-size” projects. Hardwoods can also be used and because of their strength, slightly smaller diameters can be selected to save on the weight. Refer to: Pioneering Kit
  • Where do we get them? In most parts of the country, there are large, forested areas where with the proper permission and clearance we can harvest the spars we need. Most natural and planted stands require thinning at certain stages of their development in order to sustain good tree growth throughout the life of the stand. Thinning is beneficial to the overall health of a stand of trees.* Refer to: Stumbling Block 3
  • What lengths and how thick? Depends on what you’re building. Most projects, that already have been happily built, come with a list of materials which detail the size of the spars you’ll need. 6, 8, 10, and 12-foot lengths are the most commonly used for “Boy-size” projects. Diameters vary from 2 to 4 inches at the butt end. Start with what you need to complete the project(s) at hand.

Forest Stewardship

Jamboree Pioneering Area: Initial Preparations

Our Inimitable Quarter Master: Benny Poedjono waits on RIck Strong.
Our Inimitable Quarter Master: Benny Poedjono waits on RIck Strong.

Ropes. For thirty different pioneering projects and structures, plenty of rope had to be measured, cut, and whipped for lashings, anchors, and guylines. We had plenty of manila and appropriate synthetic fiber rope in a variety of diameters on hand, and thanks to a well-organized storage arrangement and experienced quartermaster, ongoing supplies were readily available.

“We’ve got spars!” Of course the spars for our pioneering projects were a major consideration. Where would they come from, and how would we get them? By emailing this photo (on right) with the simple statement, “We’ve got spars!”, our director, Jim Keller let us know that spars for our projects and structures had been delivered to Garden Ground Mountain! Naturally, before we could build anything, they’d have to be skinned!

Spars were waiting to be skinned and utilized up on Garden Ground in readiness for the arrival of the Jambo Pioneering Staff.
Spars were waiting to be skinned and utilized up on Garden Ground in readiness for the arrival of the Jambo Pioneering Staff.

Skinning Spars. Starting full swing on the 11th of July morning, and continuing through the end of the 12th, amidst pouring rain with steadfast purpose and draw knives, a full crew persistently and methodically set upon the pile of heavy, hardwood spars. In spite of the tedious and often bent-over, backbreaking work, sloshing through mud in water-logged boots, spirits were high! There was something about working hard up on that mountain along with a like-minded, jovial crew that kept us going in fine form up to and after the very last spar had been relieved of its bark.

Notice how the pile is progressively getting smaller! (Photos taken in between periods of rain.) Click for larger view, and click again for detailed images.
Notice how the pile is progressively getting smaller! (Photos taken in between periods of rain.) Click for larger view, and click again for detailed images.
Spars are selected from a centrally-located area and often cut to size in accordance with the needs of each project
Spars are selected from a centrally located area and often cut to size on the spot in accordance with the needs of each project
Spars Situated and Sorted
Spars Situated and Sorted

After spars were skinned, they were transported to central locations throughout the pioneering area and selected by crews in accordance with their length and diameter to meet the material requirements for specific pioneering structures and projects. Most often, they’d be sawed to the desired lengths before being carried off to various construction sites. The total pioneering area was later dubbed: Peschke Field (named after pioneering legend, Adolph Peschke).

Why skin the spars? Basically, there are three reasons:

  1. If tied on top of bark, lashings are prone to slip, if the bark shifts or loosens under the strain during use.
  2. Skinned spars last longer than those left with the bark on. Unskinned spars are more subject to rotting from moisture and more susceptible to weakening from insects.
  3. Pioneering projects with skinned spars look really nice.
Butterfly Knots are tied in the dragging rope to form handholds.
To retrieve the poplar flagpole, butterfly knots were tied in the dragging rope to form handholds.

Transporting heavy spars. An extra long spar for the flagpole and larger-diameter spars for the climbing area had to be moved by entire crews. The 30′ poplar flagpole was dragged by tying butterfly knots for handholds in the dragging line. The uprights for the climbing area were lifted and carried by joining the ends of a rope and threading it under the log so that a series of two carriers grabbing a hold of the rope could walk the spar along on either side.

Carrying a heavy spar in pairs, along each side.
Carrying a heavy spar for the climbing area in pairs, along each side.

JAMBOREE PIONEERING AREA: MAIN PAGE