Author Topic: Why did Ashley missed those tight hitches ?  (Read 5749 times)


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Why did Ashley missed those tight hitches ?
« on: December 07, 2012, 08:58:18 PM »
   A tight hitch is not a hitch that becomes tight while it is loaded :) ALL secure hitches and nooses will become very tight, while they will be loaded by a very heavy load - as long as this load remains in place. The tensile forces that are induced into the knot by the pull of the standing end, will be transferred to the round turns, and the round turns, by their turn, will grip the pole. The stronger the pull, the stronger the grip on the pole, and the tighter the hitch will become. However, in most hitches, the moment the load will be reduced or removed, the round turns will not grip the pole as tight as before.
   A tight hitch is a hitch that remains as tight as it became when it was loaded - even after the initial load is reduced or removed. So, a tight hitch is a hitch that, once heavily loaded, will never lose its strong grip on the pole.
   To achieve this effect, a hitch should incorporate some locking mechanism of the standing end. That is what Ashley missed, because, if we read his book carefully, we will see that he is trying to figure out all the conceivable ways to secure the tail - and not the standing end ! He tries to tie secure hitches, not tight hitches. If a secure hitch happens to be tight as well - in the sense described above - he acknowledges it, but his main purpose is security, not tightness. No wonder that his lengthwise-pulled hitches , in Chapter 22, are few and mediocre ( with the only exception of the #1755-6, which is based on another, very different gripping mechanism ). I have seen that a pre-tightened hitch will be able to withstand a subsequent lengthwise pull much better, for reasons that are still not very clear to me.
   Of course, Ashley is Ashley - he is the inventor of the Constrictor, one of the tightest knots we have. However, the Constrictor is meant to be a binding knot, not a "proper" hitch, so, if used as a hitch, it has its drawbacks. It can be severely deformed if the direction of the pull is not perpendicular to the axis of the pole and tangent to its surface - much more than the less tight Strangle knot.
   A proof that Ashley was not concerned with the issue of securing the standing end, is the ABoK#1683, where the tail of a Cow hitch is secured by making a U turn and going under the two riding turns. This way the Cow hitch is transformed onto a very secure hitch, indeed. However, if Ashley had in his mind ways to secure not only the tail, but also the standing end, he would have made the small step to pass the tail not omly under the riding turns, but under the standing end as well - and he would have tied the tight "Locked Cow hitch", where the standing end is nipped in between the two opposed U-shaped bights, the one of the round turns and the second of the tail.
   I will not discuss here the minor issue, if the ABoK#1683 hitch and the locked Cow hitch are two variations of the same knot, or two different knots. I believe that, although they look so similar, they are two different knots - because the later incorporates one more mechanism that the former does not : the mechanism that secures the standing end, allows any accumulated tensile forces that are induced and stored into the hitch to be kept locked, and so allows the hitch itself to remain as tight as it became when it was loaded, even if /when the initial loading is reduced or removed.
   Of course, if Ashley had understood the significance of securing the standing end, and if he would had tied the Locked Cow hitch, he would also had tied the Double Cow hitch, with 4 or 6 wraps, and he would had enriched his Chapter 22 with a hitch greatly superior to the few mediocre hitches presented there.
   If we attempt to classify the hitches according to the mechanism by which the standing end is locked in place, we can possibly distinguish the following 5 classes :

   [The standing end is secured by passing] :
   1. Under a riding turn. (Clove hitch, Constrictor knot, almost all ABoK s hitches and binding knots ! )
   2. Through a bight, in contact with the surface of the pole. ( Cow hitch, ABoK#1683 )
   3. Through an overhand knot, a fig. 8 knot , or any other nipping structure ( "simplest hitch" , nooses, arthroscopic lockable knots )
   4. Through a nipping loop ( Through an *O*) ( simple hitch a-la-Gleipnir )
   5. Through a bight and a segment of the rope  perpendicular to its legs ( Through an *A*)
( Andalusian hitch, Locked Cow hitch)
   6. Through two opposing bights ( Through two *U* s) ( 2 U s hitches, Double Cow hitch, dL s S hitch,  TackleClamp hitch )

   I might well have missed something - so the reader who will spot a hitch where the locking of the standing end belongs to a different kind of mechanism, is kindly requested to report it here.

   P.S. Of course, the not-at-all-never-ever-interested reader will keep parroting that all those hitches belong to the "countless tangles" that have been already " looked", " evaluated", and discarded/rejected for "real practical use" , by "knot-enthousiasts". I hope that Ashley, in after life, will forgive all those " knot-ethousiasts" ... :) I am sure that, if he was still with us, he would be glad to tie all those new tight hitches - and then some !
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 09:07:07 PM by X1 »


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Re: Why did Ashley missed those tight hitches ?
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2012, 02:35:35 AM »
A good hitch to examine here that you did not mention is the munter hitch, and various derivatives of it, like the zigzag hitch.  In a munter hitch, the tail is by design not secured, and only the standing part is secured.  This makes a unique knot that is probably the best embodiment of your second category.  A cow hitch, and everything based on a cow hitch, is in fact a munter hitch with extra mechanism added to secure the tail.  However, the munter hitch does not tighten when loaded, because the tail is free, enabling the knot to be effortlessly untied. 

In light of this fact, I would reword the definition of a tight hitch, or define separately a category of hitches that just secures the standing part, and does not secure the tail, or makes no explicit effort to.  I would define what you describe as a tightening hitch, ie, one with the capacity to tighten, should the tail be secured so as not to slip as well.  Although there may not be much practical purpose for a tightening hitch alone, as without securing the tails you can't have a knot stay, from a theoretical standpoint a tightening hitch would amply describe these stading part locking mechanisms.  The two simplest tightening hitches i can think of are the munter/zigzag hitch and the simple tension-less hitches, where the rope is just wrapped around the pole several times.  There are also hybridizations of these two, like the beginning of a shipping halyard bend.

I also believe that these tightening hitches would be advantageous to the study of knots like the taught line hitch, as the main biding mechanism for those is a  tightening hitch around the rope, with the bulk of the hitch on the side inside the loop.  However, this seems somewhat like a stretch; all these knots really share is their ability to bind the standing part, and to my knowledge taught line style hitches are much less common than tight hitches, an likely much less useful.

On a different note, aren't tight hitches a pain to untie in most context?  Would they show such a noticeable difference in strength to offset this handicap?  Of course, they could always be slipped, but that can have some unforeseen complications, and doesn't always make it that much easier to untie, when the rope is really sinched down. 

Any thoughts?


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Re: Why did Ashley missed those tight hitches ?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2012, 04:01:12 AM »
the munter hitch, and various derivatives of it, like the zigzag hitch. 

   You mean the Zig-Zag hitch ( ABoK#1195 ) ? The Munter hitch is the less tight " hitch" of all - it is designed to be so. I would nt characterize it as "a hitch" at all, if it was not already known in the climbing world by this name... just like I do not call "a hitch" two round turns - although they, too, have some gripping potential, and they can serve as a belay device. It is more of a crossing knot component, which, using friction, prevents the free movement of the standing end. So, I  do not see the Cow hitch as a double Munter hitch, because, for me, the differences between any two hitches, where the tails are somehow secured, are much smaller than between a hitch and a belay device
   Now, what really makes sense is to add another class, where the standing end is secured by a crossing knot. However, the definition of the "crossing knot" ( in relation to the "nipping loop" ) is not easy, and a previous attempt I have made had not attracted any attention...
   Another problem is that a crossing knot usually prevents the movement of the standing end both ways - so it prevents any (further) tightening of the hitch by a pull of the standing end as well. The tight hitches I have shown can be tensioned as much as we wish and can, they accumulate and store all that tension continously, without any added lock at the end of the tying process. They are, in a sense, adjustable noose-like tight hitches - but they do not look like nooses at all !  :)   

aren't tight hitches a pain to untie
 Of course, they could always be slipped

   Yes, they are often very hard, or even too hard / impossible to untie without a tool - because, in a sense, they are meant to be tightened to such a high degree that their "locking" mechanism jams. However, I have seen that the slipped version of a too hard to untie hitch becomes very hard to untie, and the slipped version of a very hard to untie hitch becomes just hard to untie - which is quite an improvement !  :)

« Last Edit: December 08, 2012, 04:26:23 AM by X1 »