Rope Tension Drums (part 2) (Job No: 1249)

A lot of rope has now arrived. In 1249: ropey drums (pt1) I started to dismantle and paint stuff whilst the materials I needed were on order.  Now they are here, I can start tackling the pile of drums and try to reduce its height.

When these types of drum are sat on the floor, the rope going around the counter hoop gets abraded.  Obviously this considerably weakens the rope until it snaps, but it also makes getting the rope off the drum all but impossible without cutting it anyway.

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What I get invariably are drums with various types of rope on them.  What I always notice is that some ridiculous made up knot is used to join the rope.  There is a guideline for rope work; “if it looks like shit, it probably is”.

So, what knot should you use?  One of the easiest, the Reef knot.  Used to join dissimilar ropes, also lies flat so it is also used for tying bandages and slings – so everybody should know it!  If you can play a paradiddle, then this knot is similar:

Right over left and under.
Left over right and under.

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Compare the two pictures, and you can see immediately what I mean when I say, “if it looks like shit…”  Without getting too in depth about why, but the reef knot is also a lot stronger, and a lot easier to untie after it has been tensioned.

I often get amused by how many of my life experiences get used in my work.  When I was a boy scout I learnt about knots, we had to know, we built everything we needed when we camped.  Then rope was a tool, and different applications required different knots.  Later as a rock climber I was using knots to protect myself and others, in two instances it was my skill that got fallen climbers off cliff ledges and into the back of ambulances (that makes me feel proud!)  Now I am reminded about all this when I am making drums.

So I will have been about eleven when I learnt to splice a rope, which simply means weaving rope together.  On these drums it is an eye splice that is needed to create a loop for the rope to feed through.

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The splice doubles the thickness of the rope, so it won’t physically go through the hole in the counter hoop.  So a back splice (just folded back on itself) wouldn’t work on the other end.  In order to stop the rope from fraying a whipping is tied.    

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The whipping is very tight, using special thread it actually compresses the rope.  It certainly makes it easier to thread the rope when assembling the drum.

With the rope prepared, the last part of the equation are the buffs or tensioners.  These are tied together with vellum or gut.

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If they are present but broken, I cut a strip of vellum off an old drum head, and repair them.

In the next post, 1249: Ropey Drums (pt3) I might even get around to assembling a drum!

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