Coxcombing on RN vessels...

Discussion in 'The Fleet' started by frayedknotarts, Jul 15, 2009.

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  1. I don't know if the RN still does this... apparently the US Navy has given it up as a bad job, but at one time, any military vessel would have had exterior and interior companionway ladders' handrails covered in coxcombing and varnished or shellacked for preservation. This provided a secure grip when transiting the ladders and prevented the younger sailors who might think they were indestructible action figures from sliding down the ladders and breaking wither their own or someone else's legs.

    Now, provided I have this right, here is a picture of some ladder rails on an old ship which is being restored as a living history museum:



    This rail in particular leads from the 01 to the 02 (bridge) level and is probably original to the ship (1943). It has been so well used and varnished/painted so many times that when I first saw it, I thought it was actually a pick-seamed leathering!



    So: to my question:

    Are there any mates aboard who still know how / remember how to do this? I want to restore/redo many of the rails aboard her and need some clews as to making tight turns and doing both "Tee" and "X" turk's heads to cover the joints in the work.

    I'm also in need of suggestions as to what properly would do the best job of cleaning the existing coxcombs of grease and dirt. In the old days, I'd simply have requisitioned a couple of buckets of TCE (TriChlorEthylene, a common cleaning and de-greasing agent most often use to clean typewriter keys and electrical components) but nowadays, TCE is on the "No-No" list for environmental issues.

    Likewise, I would have requisitioned two or three "skulls" (non-rated sailors) and simply had a good field-day party with scrub-brushes and wiping rags.

    Alas, they ARE "The Old Days" and I shall not see their like again.

    Well. I've taken up enough of your time. Thanks for your kind attention and, should you know (or know someone who WOULD know) whereof I speak, do email me at the address in my profile, or send a PM.


    Vince Brennan
    Septic Extroardinaire
  2. Hmmmm.... guess it wasn't used.
  3. We have Cox'ns but that's slightly different ;)

    Splat Target Cox'n is a sought after position by impressionable youngsters...... :biggrin:

    PS: Your second picture of that black leather covered thing looks like something they used to hit us with at school back in the 1960s! :evil: 8O
  4. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Thingy: Come off it! I'm sure you've seen something long and hard wrapped in black leather more recently that the 1960s! :shock: :wink:
  5. Hi FKA,

    I do remember seeing this on some of the first ships I was on. I hadn't really put 2 and 2 together and worked out it was to stop people sliding down the handrails.

    I would presume that it would be the Seaman Spec's part of ship to make or replace these items of rope work.

    The RN seamanship School is now at HMS Raleigh, you could try giving them a call 01752 553740.

    Other than that all we used to do was give is a rub down and slap on some more paint.

    Kind regards


  6. I don't recall seeing anything along those lines during my time in the mob.
  7. I wasn't going to disclose our visits to the leather bars of Pompey, but now you've mentioned it....... :oops: 8)
  8. How can you slide down the hand rails with that on? It's just not cricket. Mind you Illustrious only had one guard rail per ladder which spolit the fun.
    Thankfully not seen on ships from '83-'97 in my case.
  9. flymo. As the man said;

  10. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    We could've done with some of this on Bulwark; when embarked the EMF had a habit of putting Swarfs on the handrails at night when they got bored, resulting in the Roundsmen falling arse over tit in a snotty heap at the bottom of the ladders... :oops: :evil:
  11. I used to do that outside the reg office on the massive, right after I had pissed in their kettle.
  12. Can't recall seeing any in my time (1952-75), but most of my ships were "new". Even "Ulster" was only 1943 vintage. It was customary to turn your head to the side, (to avoid chinning the hatch coaming), grasping both handrails, lifting the feet, and arriving tout de suite at the foot of the ladder. Never saw any serious accidents, but in roughers you could sometimes arrive quite suddenly at the bottom of the 'thwartships ladder leading to our mess on three deck.!

  13. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    No you didn't Rouge Derriere - you only served between 2001-2007... :roll:
  14. Ooooh! Good detective skills you must be SIB. :roll:
  15. Maybe he didn't, but I fcuking did.

    Edited to add: I've just taken a look at FrayedKnotArts the original posters previous posts and website.

    The man is a fcuking legend!

    Sir, I bow down to your handywork, you are a genius.

  16. Just had a look at the site too. That is some fine rope work shippers. I can just about make a monkey's fist but it never comes out quite right.
  17. Eigh! G'wan, th' lot o' yez! I'll no get me head thru the hatches now!

    Seriously, if you think I'm good, you should visit the ="http:/www./" [b]IGKT[/b] site and see what REALLY good people can do with a bit o' rope!

    Nonetheless, I just got meself a commission to do three stairwells (ladders) at a large US Navy Airbase... seems they've no-one on active duty as knows to do this any more.

    Sad commentary, that. Used to be that any decent Boatswain striker could whip up this or a bit of "Macnamara's Lace" for the quarterdeck in a trice!

    Well, more Brass for th' lad, then.
    [b]Here's[/b] a job I did for the US Marine Corps last year....

    Super Septic
  18. HERE'S a link to the work so far on those stairwells... coming along nicely, do I say it meself.

  19. I do have to say I am impressed. How long did it take you to do that one just above? I noticed in recent episode of Warship that the RAN had the same sort of coxcombing in their wardroom (or some sort dining room for senior officers, it did look rather small) so maybe they'r keeping it alive down under.
  20. O.D. is 1-7/8" actual on the rail, line is 5/32" dia. unstressed and there's 27 turns to an inch of linear rail. The whole thing (three pair of rails and one extra on the Quarterdeck Landing of 60") took 13 days of appx. 9 hours/day and another three days of 12/hr - day for the turksheads (see site). Rails against the bulkheads took about 1.7 as long as the "free" rails to do. (I now hate bulkhead mounted rails!)

    I discovered three important things:

    * Tourists not only slow the job up immoderately, they seem to reproduce like cockroaches.

    * Even with gloves on my hands rapidly became mincemeat. (Note to self: buy new hands.)

    * No good fooling myself: I'm not 22 any more.

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