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Anyone else suffer from slipping bollards?


Cal Ando
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We're new to narrowboating but encountered a significant issue coming up the Thames.   Our previous Thames cruiser had cleats on the afterdeck but our narrowboat only has standard bollards/bitts.   Mrs Ando and I found that the ropes would slip off easily in locks and high landing stages - anywhere where the rope was inclined upwards.   Bloody dangerous in locks and landing stages in October's flood conditions and placing rope on the far side of the boat didn't help either.   

Has anyone else found the rope slipping off the bollards and what did they do?  

I'm considering mounting a cleat near to the bitt so that the rope is pulled horizontally before emerging upwards but not sure of the best place to put it in relation to the aft deck.   Would mounting on the square stanchion help?   Any non-painful suggestions regarding where I can put my cleat/fairlead would be welcome!bollard.jpg.4611793ac84f6170c019ee0265086591.jpg

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Thanks to The Biscuits for this suggestion - I had considered it but my instincts seem to baulk at the concept.   It doesn't seem safe to use the rails for something they weren't designed for.   With our Freeman in locks, if things got a little hairy with the sluices, we'd sneak a turn around the cleat providing a 2:1 pulley ration and giving us full control.  Looping the rope through the stanchions/bar wouldn't provide that quick assurance and safe control of the extra turn around the cleat.

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Yes those narrowboat bits are fairly common but they're also fairly crap. I'd love to meet the person who designed them. I wonder what they were thinking about at the time? I've never understood the point of them. It's almost like they were deliberately designed for the rope to slip off.

 

You shouldn't really have to use the rail posts unless you don't care about your paintwork. Also as you say, if you needed to take another turn of the rope around the post you can't easily do it. You need proper bits with protruding horizontal bars. Have a look on eBay for some stainless ones but near in mind most are for smaller, lighter boats so look for bigger ones and think about getting them properly welded on. I've seen some nice looking crucifix style ones that might fit the bill if you can find them big enough. Maybe locate one where you've got that patch of red oxide showing in your picture, and the same on the other side?

 

I added these to the bow of my widebeam on either side as I only had the T stud in the middle before. The big cleat is actually aluminium fitted with two M16 bolts that come up from underneath. I've put extra cleats on the stern too.

 

IMG_20200622_054021_811~2.jpg

Edited by blackrose
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6 hours ago, Cal Ando said:

It doesn't seem safe to use the rails for something they weren't designed for.

 

Looking at the paint damage on the photo, I'm fairly sure the previous owners only used the rail posts.  There is rope scarring of the paintwork both vertically and horizontally. 

 

I understand your initial thinking regarding strength but the rail is welded on at four points, presumably by the same chap who welded the useless bitt on at one point.

 

If the rail posts are secure you could lift the boat out of the water with them, and if they are loose they need fixing anyway.  A cleat would look much tidier though and as Mike says would protect the next paintjob more.

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2 hours ago, blackrose said:

 

IMG_20200622_054021_811~2.jpg

did you throw that drinks can into the river?      :rolleyes:

 

it seems these days that nowhere can be considered fit for humans to visit unless there is already a requisite number of discarded cans and/or plastic bottles in situ to welcome us.

Edited by Murflynn
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They are not great are they. Almost never had this problem and it took a while to think why not. When we had narrow boats I think the line was tied tightly to the bollard with some sort of crude knot and the rope was passed round the lockside bollard and back to the boat. Hardly good practice I suppose as a heavy boat really needs to be controlled with half a turn or more around the boats bollard. Something that could be improved I think

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Eye splice on the rope, pull a loop through the eye splice and drop the loop over the bollard, pull tight. Will not come off.

I thought everyone did it this way.

Just putting an eye splice over is asking for it to come off and leave you on your back.

TD'

Quote

 

Col beat me to it!

Edited by Tracy D'arth
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10 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Eye splice on the rope, pull a loop through the eye splice and drop the loop over the bollard, pull tight. Will not come off.

I thought everyone did it this way.

Just putting an eye splice over is asking for it to come off and leave you on your back.

Or, if this is too complicated, grind a 'flat' on the top of the bollard and then weld a short length of 12mm bar to the top to for a "T"

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3 hours ago, blackrose said:

Yes those narrowboat bits are fairly common but they're also fairly crap. I'd love to meet the person who designed them. I wonder what they were thinking about at the time? I've never understood the point of them. It's almost like they were deliberately designed for the rope to slip off.

Slipping bollards? Isn't there a cream available for that?

The stern bollards on narrowboats are derived from the ones on working motor boats. These were originally mainly used for towing a butty, or mooring up. The direction of pull was closer to horizontal, so no risk of the rope eye being lifted off. People wanted their narrow boats to have a look similar to a working boat, so these bollards have continued. When used in a deep river lock, they slip off as the OP has found.

The ones on my boat (Piper) has a very crude design of bollard, with a distinct lip at the top, but they seem to be very good at keeping the rope on under these circumstances if the loop is made close to the bollard size and has to be forced over the top.

Another possibility would be to larks foot the loop round the bollard as @Tracy D'arth suggests, assuming the eye is big enough.

Jen

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies
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33 minutes ago, Col_T said:

What we do is to pull a loop of rope through the eye-splice, then put the loop we've just made over the bollard on the stern, and then give it a sharp tug before throwing the rope onto the lock-landing for someone to loop over the bollard there.

 

works for us.

 

28 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Eye splice on the rope, pull a loop through the eye splice and drop the loop over the bollard, pull tight. Will not come off.

I thought everyone did it this way.

Just putting an eye splice over is asking for it to come off and leave you on your back.

TD'

Col beat me to it!

^^^^^ Wot they said!

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Another option is to splice the rope with a piece of bicycle inner tube pulled over the part forming the eye. This has the effect of making the eye itself more round. 

The butyl rubber used on inner tubes has a tendency to hold onto the bollards very well when pulled. 

 

You need to make the eye just a little bit smaller than the top of the bollard itself then force it over the top part so it doesn't just come off. 

As it is pulled it will clamp on and grip firmly. 

 

You do have to be able to form a good eye splice to do this. Always a handy skill on boats :)

 

 

 

Another way I have done it was to put the eye over one bollard and lead the rope to the other bollard where you put a really tight clove hitch and use the rope on that side. This does fill up the bollard somewhat though. 

Edited by magnetman
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As for controlling boats in Thames locks I have always used the lock side bollards for this never led ropes back to the boat hardware. Bow and stern lines always used. 

 

That's on a variety of boats from 20ft cruiser to my 58x12ft barge and several narrow boats all of which I have singled handed for the length of the Thames with no rope problems. You just have to keep on top of it and get it done. And have the ropes ready to use securely fitted to the boat's hardware, obviously. 4 ropes (2 each side so no need to ever change any ropes over).  

 

 

Edited by magnetman
Edit to clarify 4 ropes comment.
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I have always just dropped the eye splice over the dolly and never had any problems as long as (as others gave said) the eye is small enough to fit snugly. If the eye cannot easily be made smaller, a cable tie is good enough for the purpose because there is no strain on it. But remember to leave the aperture big enough that you can easily transfer the rope to the other side when you want to.

 

On the other hand I have had problems when going DOWN in Thames locks, when standing on the stern with the rope going to the lockside bollard and back. It is tempting to pass it around the dolly on its return, to make it easier to hold, but as the angle changes the spliced end of the rope can easily trap the free part and jam it so the boat gets hooked up - so don't do that!

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3 hours ago, TheBiscuits said:

If the rail posts are secure you could lift the boat out of the water with them, and if they are loose they need fixing anyway.  

What you're saying is "...If it won't move, leave it, if it breaks it needed replacing anyway"

Good detective work on the rope scarring by the way - never spotted this.  B

ut then that's why these forums are so brilliant!

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Thanks for all your support and replies.

We're going on a 2 week wander until she comes out of the water, then we're bringing the boat out!

We'll try the larksfoot for those 2 weeks as even some of the locks on the K&A are deep enough to give us hassle with ropes slipping.  any more issues and it'll probably be the additional bollard and crossbar.

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1 hour ago, magnetman said:

Another option is to splice the rope with a piece of bicycle inner tube pulled over the part forming the eye.

ooh, you are so 20th century!

 

these days we use shrink sleeve.  (it also can be used to tidy up the eye splice nicely).

Edited by Murflynn
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I have always larks footed the eyesplice around the bollard. Pull it tight horizontally first, and it never slips off under a vertical pull. I do the same with the bow rope around the T stud stem.

No need to pull the entire length of rope through the eye - you can just turn the eye inside out to create the loop (easier to demonstrate than to describe) which you then drop over the bollard and pull tight.

It's easy to slacken off the larks foot when you want to remove the rope from the bollard, which is more than can be said for an eye which is a tight fit over the top of the bollard, especially if your fingers are cold and wet.

And the larks foot can be done with any size of eye splice - which is helpful as I can never get an eyesplice to come out the exact length intended. I never know how people manage to get tight eye splices around thimbles - mine have always been loose.

Hard_Splice_Single_Header.800.jpg

 

Edited by David Mack
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2 hours ago, Col_T said:

What we do is to pull a loop of rope through the eye-splice, then put the loop we've just made over the bollard on the stern, and then give it a sharp tug before throwing the rope onto the lock-landing for someone to loop over the bollard there.

 

works for us.

Yep, same here.

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39 minutes ago, Murflynn said:

ooh, you are so 20th century!

 

these days we use shrink sleeve.  (it also can be used to tidy up the eye splice nicely).

Heatshrink is slippery. 

 

Bicycle inner tubes are made of butyl rubber which grips far better. 

 

Yes I have tried both. And stitched on leather but that is rather 19th century. 

Edited by magnetman
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