Right now I’m making a Young Indy Style bullwhip. This is basically a David Morgan style bullwhip that’s all black except for a red handle. Here’s a picture of one that I’ve made in the past:
The Young Indy bullwhip above isn’t screen accurate. The handle is too long and it has a wrist loop. The one in the Last Crusade movie was one of David Morgan’s 450 bullwhips that was painted black and red.
I’ve made several Young Indy Bullwhips and what I’ve always done the coloring was to get a natural tan skin and dye it red and black. There are some problems with dying any bullwhip, the mains one are (which are similar, but different):
- Dye Wearing Off: Over time the dye on the point of the bullwhip will wear off from it touching the ground during whip cracking.
- Dye rubbing Off: The dye on the handle can rub off onto you hand where you hold the bullwhip. This will cause the dye on the knots and handle to fade and can discolor your hands.
- Dye Bleeding: Over time the dye from the black knots can bleed onto the red handle from the simply touching each other.
There’s a great little article on dyed kangaroo on whips at: http://whips.wordpress.com/2009/08/01/hand-dyed-kangaroo-leather/
What makes the Young Indy Bulllwhip different from most two tone bullwhips is that the two colors are on the same strand. Where most two tone whip’s strands are one solid color. So there are two ways to get the two colors for a Young Indy Bullwhip:
- Dye the strands
- Use a different set of strands for the handle and lash
Both methods are good, but have their own advantages and disadvantages. Personally I like the dyed method for how I make whips to do a Young Indy. However I wanted to try to reduce the amount of places the dye could rub off.
What I decided to do is make the bullwhip from tannery dyed red kangaroo. That will be the red for the handle and use tannery dyed black kangaroo for the knots. That will pretty much solve the problem of the dye rubbing off on your hands. It also solves potential bleeding because where the black knots touch the red handle are tannery dyed, the dye will be locked in much better by the tannery dying process.
As for the dye wearing off the point, that’s a much harder problem to solve. By using a kangaroo that’s darker in color than natural tan kangaroo the dye should last longer on the point simply because the color under it is fairly dark. That should make mild rubbing off of the color much harder to see.
Also having the whole bullwhip’s overlay made with one set of strands will be much quicker to make than using two…and only having to dye part of the overlay’s strands will save time from having to independently dye the handle and lash. Also it will reduce the time consuming part of trying to figure out how far out to dye the whip red and where to start the black.
As far as I know no other whip makers that do Young Indy Bullwhips are doing them this way.
Now here’s the construction of this bullwhip:
When I make my bullwhips I usually start by cutting out the two bellies and the core before I attach anything:
For the core I’m using an 8 inch spring steel rod. This is different from how I’d normally make a David Morgan style bullwhip which uses a spike. Visually I wanted this bullwhip a little bit thinner in diameter than I’d normally make my Morgan style bullwhips. It will have the same visual characteristics internally it will be slightly different.
Another thing that I’ve started doing lately with my cores that cover the whole handle is putting a layer of glue on the handle and the part of the core that covers the handle, then binding it in place. This gives me a very solid foundation to build over. I don’t do this on most bullwhips that have a steel spike as the handle.
After the core is attached and greased I add the inner belly:
The inner belly is 4 plait and it’s bound tightly to the handle, but aside from the core I don’t use glue on any layers. I guess you could, but once you have a solid foundation that won’t move on the handle as long as everything else is tightly bound on glue isn’t necessary.
The inner belly is braided and the strands are cut to the desired length and tapered. This taper will help contribute to the taper of the first half or so of the bullwhip. After tapering them I tie them off.
Next is the inner bolster and this is once again just bound to the end of the handle:
After the bolster is in place and greased I braid the outer belly over the whole whip. The I cut and taper the strands extending past the belly and tie them off.
Now I attach the final bolster. I don’t have a piece of kip long enough for the whole length, so this bolster will have to be splice from two shorter pieces. I’ve found that splicing bolsters is easier to do over a belly, so I try to cut the two pieces so that way. I could have gotten the splice further down the whip, but then it’d be much harder to do a nice clean splice.
Now it’s time for the overlay. The general rule I use is to cut my strands a bit wider than I think that I’ll need in case there is any surprise stretch. Then while doing all the strand prep I can resize them to a more correct width. Also I no longer split the overlays for my Morgan style bullwhips. I think one of the characteristics that visually give David’s whip the look they have is the thicker kangaroo. Some of that is lost when you split the overlay.
After the overlay’s strand were ready I braided the handle and then I wrapped the handle with electrical tape.
Once the handle was safely covered I hit the strands with Deglazer and then I gave them a coat of black leather dye. After three coats of dye I gave the strands a coat of leather dressing to put back any moisture that was lost in the dying process.
Some of you might be thinking why don’t I just braid the whip, then dye the finished lash. You could do that if you want the finished product to look like crap. The problem with dying the finished lash is that you can’t get complete coverage because of how the strands are on top of each other and move a bit when the whip is flexed…or as they stretch as the whip is broken in. The last thing you want is a bullwhip where a month or two after someone buys it to have all these undyed spots start to appear on the lash.
After the lash is braided dyed I took off the electrical tape to start braiding the lash. I could have left the tape on but then the transition from a diamond to 4 seam plaiting pattern wouldn’t look very good (this really doesn’t matter because it’s covered by a knot).
And a close up of the strands going from red to black:
Then I rewrapped the handle it tape to shellac the lash of the whip. The reason I rewrapped it was to ensure that no dye go loosened and smeared from the alcohol in the shellac.
As for a fall on this bullwhip I chose to go with a Red Latigo Fall. Based on the pictures of the Young Indy Bullwhip from the movie it looks like it has a very well used whitehide fall which from use had turned brown-ish. Also I think the fall had turned the color it was more from abuse or neglect than actual use, so the fall turning that color probably wouldn’t happen if the whip was properly cared for. So going with the Red Latigo gives it a more accurate look.
Finally built up the knot foundations
and tied the knots:
This was a fun bullwhip to make and I”ve got it listed on my IN STOCK whips page.