A while ago a person who had ordered a snake whip about 1 1/2 to 2 years ago from me sent me an email saying the whip was leaking a tar like substance. Here’s one of the pictures that he sent:
He said the that he’d clean it up, but it’d just reappear again in the next day or two. I’d never heard of anything like this before and set out to do a bit of research (calling my whip maker friends).
Pretty much everyone’s first reaction was that it was weather related. However that was just everyone’s first guess. No one had ever seen or heard of this except Paul Nolan! One of the vintage Cecil Henderson whips that Paul has also does this, but he doesn’t know why.
At this point I became very curious…personally I like to know why things do things (not just how). So I offered the snake whip’s owner a trade, I’d make them a new snake whip if I could take apart the old one to see what was happening.
Before I show you the inside of the snake whip, here’s a very good tip for any whip maker, You can learn a lot by taking apart one of your own whips! That’s right, I knew what was inside this snake whip, but I learned a lot about how my construction techniques hold up by taking apart a well used whip that was about 2 years old.
Here’s the whip dissection photos:
What was happening inside the snake whip was the tar was being formed at the core and because I plait very tightly it ran out of room in the core and had to go somewhere and that somewhere was outwards. So it found the seam in shotbag and exited there.
Next up was finding its way through the plaiting, which wasn’t a big deal because the plating is all seams. So it didn’t really stop there, it just sent straight out until it hit the bolster. Now here’s where something that I already did helped, I put my bolster’s seam 180 degrees from the seam in the core. So the direction it leaked from once it got through the belly hit the side of the bolster opposite the seam.
Unfortunately once it hit the bolster it started pooling there until there was enough of it to go all the way around the bolster and get to the seam where it finally made its exit through the plaiting where it finally emerged as the tar like substance.
Simply having my bolster seam 180 degrees from the seam of the core was almost enough to stop the leaking and in fact stopped it in several other spots on the whip. However after taking apart this snake whip I still don’t know exactly what was causing the tar to be created in the first place. I don’t know if it’s part of the natural breakdown of the lead, or environmental factors…but my money is on a combination of the two.
Hope you found this as interesting as I did!