Materials of Rope
Ropes can be made of 3 main material - Natural fibre, Synthetic fibre and Metal wires.
- Natural Fibre
- Rots more easily under harsh sun and wet conditions than synthetic fibres
- Limited strength as natural fibres are relatively short
- Synthetic Fibre (e.g. polyamide/nylon, polyester, polypropylene)
- Stronger and lighter than natural fibres of the same size
- Tends to be more slippery than natural fibres
- More resilient to rot as they absorb less water/are waterproof
Type of Ropes
There are 2 types of ropes – Laid Rope, and Braided Rope.
Laid Rope (e.g. manila hemp, twine; Fig. 1)
- 3 or more strands twisted together. Each strand is made from yarns, produced by twisting individual fibres into a unit
Braided Rope (e.g. static climbing rope; Fig. 2)
- 3 or more separate strands interwoven in a diagonally overlapping pattern
Maintenance of Ropes
- As much as possible, keep ropes away from ultraviolet light and sunlight.
- Store ropes in a well-ventilated room.
- Ropes should be dry and clean before storage.
- Keep ropes away from chemical contamination.
- Avoid having ropes remain in the same position for a long period of time (e.g. coiling the ropes for long-term storage).
- Avoid overloading ropes.
- Handle ropes with care (e.g. by not dragging it on the floor unnecessarily).
Common Terms in Rope Usage
It is important to use consistent terms when teaching, to minimise confusion.
- Working end: The end of the rope that is active in the process of tying.
- Standing end: The end of the rope that remains inactive during the process of tying.
- Loop: Rope that is formed into a circle (via placing one part of the rope over another)
- Overhand loop: Formed when the working end is over the standing end.
- Underhand loop: Formed when the standing end is over the working end.
- Bight: Enclosed area formed by the rope
- Turn: The rope will complete half a round around an object
- Round turn: The rope will complete one and a half round around an object.
- To dress a knot: To arrange the cuts and bends of the knot such that it fulfils its function.
- To capsize a knot: To deform the knot such that it no longer fulfils its function.
- Ropes will be neater and easier to store.
- Ropes will not tangle up easily.
- Ropes can be coiled differently for easier differentiation between ropes of different lengths e.g. old navy coil to indicate ropes of 3m in length and simple coil for 5.5m.
Old Navy Coil
To prevent any point of the rope from further fraying.
- Lay a loop on one end of the rope
- Make a few rounds about the rope and loop
- Insert the remaining end into the loop
- Pull the standing end down to secure and hide the working end
- Finish off with a reef knot
West Country Whipping
- Tie a half knot around one end of the rope
- Tie another half knot at the reverse side
- Repeat this process of simple knotting on alternate sides
- Finish off with a reef knot
- Tape the end of the rope
- Flame behind the tape
- Cut off the burnt end
- Flame the tip again
Other Useful Pointers
- A knot uniting two ropes reduces the strength of the unit to about half that of the weaker rope.
- A rope that is twice the diameter of another has four times its strength.
- Never use two ropes of different materials together, as only the more rigid rope will work under strain.
- Do not use ropes that will float for anchorage in ports, as the propellers of motorboats would sever them.
- Repair fraying ends immediately; apart from looking untidy, they quickly consume yards and yards of rope.
Information and images provided by NPCC HQ