Prolyte Campus Blog: Tying the Right Knot

Some people do it on a daily basis, but 'tying the knot' is what most of the people do only once or maybe twice or in a lifetime. Getting married is like buying a house, not a thing we do as an everyday routine. On the other hand 'tying the knot' is what riggers do every day, lots and lots of times per day. The next question might be: "What is the specific type of that knot?" Well, there is no such thing as 'the right knot' (unless maybe your favorite film actress is willing to tie it with you).

In rigging we might know around 25 or the 300 different knots, but in real life we only use a hand full. A knot is tied for a purpose, to lift a small object or to tie down and secure something. Entertainment Rigging is not the Japanese Art or 'Shibari', although the last can be very entertaining. Entertainment Rigging is: getting the lifting machinery into the required position in a safe and quick way. After it has been installed, move it with the load attached to it. During the load-in, the rehearsals or the programming, during the show and eventually during the load-out.

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Which of all those knots?

In a recent inquiry on Facebook I asked among riggers which knots they tend to use and which order or frequency they were using them. About 40 people answered and the answers, all pretty much confirmed the general idea that has been around for decades:

  1. Bowline
  2. Clove hitch
  3. FIG. Or 8
  4. Sliding
  5. (Alpine) Butterfly

And obviously some very obscure or exotic hobby pops up in such an inquiry. After all we are only human and we want to be different from 'the other guy / girl'. Thus the "Randy Robin Return Hitch" or "Sneaky Snake slides into the Slot Knot" are not very common to say the least. 

A closer look. The Bowline is by far the most used knot / hitch. Some Bowline advantages are: 
Prolyte Campus blog tying-the-right-knot

a) It's easy to learn,

b) It is relatively strong,

c) It is easy and quick to make a required length; 

d) It stays taut when under load, and

e) It's easy to undo when the load is off.

Disadvantages are

1) that it can load during dynamic (alternating / changing) loading.

2) it is impossible to tie the bowline when the rope is under tension.

Don't you know a Bowline?

Anyone that calls him / herself a ground rigger should give back that title, if they don't know how to do a Bowline. Making the up-rigger to terminate his rope with a carabiner, generally an act or despair for an up-rigger. As well as him understanding that the pace of the load-in is hampered by the grounders incompetence. The Bowline is the knot, that is covering 95% of all the rigging situations. FIG. 8 knot is the knot that is the strongest and the first to be used when dealing directly with human life. It takes more time and knowledge to make the Fig. 8 knot, but when 'safe and secure' are the main requirements the time is negligible.

If you don't know the knot, make sure you can run a lot

However sending up a Fig. 8 where the up-rigger has asked for a 'Bowline'. That is seriously gambling with the up-rigger's temper. Once the up-rigger decides that he must come down to set his grounder straight, it's the best for the grounder to become an instant 100m Olympian Champion. 

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Another great Campus. Like always, Matthias is able to bring the rather complex and dry facts in a very interesting way. Thumbs up!

Ben Dehmer CB Akustik