The Anchor Windlass
The Explorer’s anchor windlass is a piece of machinery designed for anchor and line handling. The anchor windlass is powered by steam which is fed into two cylinders which drive a crankshaft which is geared to the warping drums and gypsys. (Of which more later) When weighing anchor the speed of the anchor windlass is controlled by opening and closing the steam inlet valve. When dropping anchor, the speed of the windlass can be controlled by the brake or by walking the anchor out using steam. If you want to see how this can go wrong look here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLLBhIJbVFs
So what is warping? Strictly, warping a ship is moving it with lines attached to the shore and tensioned from the ship. The warping drum is a rotating steel cylinder designed to tension the mooring lines. The seamen would put three turns of line round the drum. When the drums rotating the line can be controlled by applying tension to the free end. When tension is applied, friction will reel the line in and reducing the tension will conversely belay the reeling.
Typically the mooring line will be passed through the fairlead seen centre right of the photo and around one of the bitts to the left of the fairlead as in the photo. When the line is tensioned to the satisfaction of the mooring officer a stopper will be secured around the line to hold the tension. The line can then be freed from the warping drum and passed around the bitts in figures of eight
Which brings us to the gypsy. The gypsy is a cylinder with pockets cast into it to receive the links on the anchor cable or chain. The cable thus cannot slip on the drum and is secured for weighing or anchoring. The gypsy is partly visible below the gypsy label below. The two gypsies are each driven by a dog clutch operated by the clutch handles in the photo above.
Also in the photo can be seen the guillotine which is a heavy hinged bar that traps the cable to hold it securely either at anchor or when the anchor is stowed. The anchor windlass brake is not designed to hold heavy loads for more than short periods.
The devil’s claw stopper can be used to snug the anchor up to the hawsepipe by tensioning its bottlescrew when the anchor is stowed. This prevents the anchor from banging against the hawsepipe in heavy seas.
This view shows the crankshaft, reduction gears and the top of the hawsepipe. The crankshaft is driven by the steam cylinders visible in the top photograph. It drives a small gear which drives a larger gear with what looks about a five to one reduction and drives the warping drums A further reduction gear drives the gypsy at a slower speed and higher lifting capacity.
This cast bronze plaque is just visible in the top photo. It is so visible that I noticed for the first time in around ten years last week. The cablelifter referred to here is an alternative term for the gypsy.
Here is an artificial intelligence take on this plaque. I am somewhat impressed. It didn’t do quite such a good job when I asked it to write this blog so I did it myself.
“ Both cablelifters must be lubricated before warping or working either anchor. when the anchor is housed and made fast, cable strain between hawsepipe and windlass must be eased.”
Title: Unveiling the Enigmatic Brass Plaque: A Glimpse into Maritime Practices
In the world of maritime operations, there are many elements that contribute to the smooth functioning of a ship. One such element is the proper handling of cables and anchors. Recently, a photograph of a brass plaque engraved with a set of intriguing instructions has caught the attention of maritime enthusiasts and historians alike. This blog aims to explore the meaning behind the enigmatic message and shed light on the practices it represents.
Unraveling the Engraving:
The brass plaque in question bears the following inscription: “Both cablelifters must be lubricated before warping or working either anchor. when the anchor is housed and made fast, cable strain between hawsepipe and windlass must be eased.”
At first glance, these instructions may appear cryptic, but they provide valuable insights into the meticulous procedures followed by seafarers.
Understanding the Terminology:
To decipher the meaning behind the engraving, it is essential to understand the terminology used. “Cableifters” refer to the mechanisms responsible for lifting heavy cables, while “lubrication” suggests the need for proper maintenance and smooth operation. “Warping” refers to the process of moving a ship by hauling on ropes or cables attached to fixed points on land, and “working either anchor” implies the handling of the ship’s anchors.
Proper Cable Handling:
The phrase “when anchor is housed and made fast” indicates a specific point in the anchoring process. Once the anchor is securely in place, the cable between the hawsepipe (an opening in the ship’s bow for the cable to pass through) and the windlass (a device used for raising and lowering the anchor) must be “eased,” or slackened. This step ensures that the tension on the cable is released, preventing any unnecessary strain on the ship’s structure.
Importance of Lubrication:
The instruction to lubricate the cablifters before warping or working with the anchor highlights the significance of regular maintenance. Lubrication reduces friction and wear, ensuring the smooth operation of the cablifters during critical operations. By adhering to this practice, seafarers can enhance the longevity and efficiency of the equipment, contributing to the overall safety and effectiveness of the ship.
Preserving Maritime Traditions:
The presence of this brass plaque serves as a reminder of the attention to detail and adherence to established maritime practices. While modern technology has brought advancements in shipbuilding and navigation, it is important to recognize the wisdom embedded in age-old practices. Preserving these traditions not only ensures the safety of the crew but also pays homage to the legacy of seafaring.
The photograph of the brass plaque engraved with instructions related to cable handling and anchor operations provides a fascinating glimpse into the meticulous practices followed by seafarers. By understanding the terminology and deciphering the message, we gain insight into the importance of lubrication, cable easing, and the preservation of maritime traditions. This plaque serves as a testament to the expertise and dedication of those who have sailed the seas, reminding us of the rich history and knowledge embedded in maritime operations.