Leaky Tar Snake Whip…

Leaky Tar Snake Whip…

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:

snake whip

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!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

 

Snake Whip and Completed Riding Crop

Snake Whip and Completed Riding Crop

Yesterday I finally put the wrist loop and knot on the riding crop:

16 plait riding crop
riding crop

I also started work on a snake whip.  All that’s done is the shotbag and a short bolster:

snake whip core

Today I should be able to find the time to get a lot of the work on this snake whip done.  I did give the shot bag a little flick and it had a nice little crack (that surprised me!).

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Pocket Snake w/ sewn cover

Pocket Snake w/ sewn cover

Well today I did some more work on the snake whip with the sewn cover that I started a week ago.  the insides are all finished and I’m working on sewing the cover on:

pocket snake

Currently about 2/3 of the cover has been sewn.  Honestly I don’t know why anyone would make a whip with a sewn cover.  The sewing is killing my hands!  It’s a lot slower than just braiding the overlay.

However I can see a way to possibly make them faster.  I made this one with a leather shotbag, then a bolster.  If I didn’t use those and just filled the sewn cover with lead  you could probably bang these out pretty quickly…especially if you sew’d them with a sewing machine instead of by hand.   If it was made that way I don’t think you’d end up with as nice of a product, but it’d sure be quick and cheap to make!

Also the sewn cover would probably be a lot quicker to make if I used a different stitch than I’m currently using.  I used a stitch that looked clean, if I used a baseball type stitch I’d probably be done by now!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Signal Whip Progress

Signal Whip Progress

Yesterday I finished putting together the insides of a signal whip and I cut out the overlay:

Signal Whip

At the very least today I should be able to do all the strand prep.   There’s a low tide of -2.9 feet this afternoon, so I imagine I’ll be spending a good chunk of my day turning over rocks with my daughter.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Plugging a Shotbag

Plugging a Shotbag

One thing that I had a lot of trouble with when I first started making signal whips, snake whips or any whip that had a shotbag in it.  The first challenge was how to make the shotbag and  the second was how to plug that shotbag.

This will deal with plugging the shotbag.  There are basically three ways to do it:

  1. Fold over the top and bind it in place.
  2. Plug the top.
  3. Sew the top shut.

I’ve used the first two methods, but not the third.  The reason I’ve never sewn the shotbag shut is that my shotbags aren’t sewn, so sewing just the top doesn’t really make sense.

The first method works well, all you do if leave about 3/4 of an inch of the shotbag empty, then you fold over the top and bind it place.  I quite often use this method, but for the whip I’m making right now I used a plug.  Basically for the plug I roll up a piece of leather and shove it in the opening.  However before I put the plug in I put in a squirt of Gorilla Glue.

signal whip plug with gorilla glue

The cool thing about Gorilla Glue is that it as it dries it expands and really seals the opening.  Also the expanding fill in some of the space between the lead shot.

Once the Gorilla Glue is dry, some of it will have foamed up past the top of the shotbag.  Simply take a knife and trim off whatever overflowed.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Budget Signal Whip

Budget Signal Whip

This afternoon I tried making a four plait signal whip out of cowhide.  Since this is a budget signal whip I decided to go with a design that used a shotbag and bolsters (no plaited belly).

signal whip

Honestly I was very pleased with how this signal whip turned out.  I didn’t think it’d turn out anywhere near this nice…It’s got a great crack too!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Signal Whip

Signal Whip

Right now the whip I have in progress is a four foot 12 plait signal whip in natural tan.  Yesterday I made the shot bag, plaited belly, bolster and  a little bit of the overlay.

Here’s a picture of the set for the overlay (before any strand prep was done):

single tail whip

And here’s a picture of the finished signal whip’s guts:

signal whip 12 plait

Currently I have about 18 inches of the overlay finished (but haven’t taken a picture of it yet).

Hopefully I’ll find some time to finish the overlay today, I’ve got two shows this afternoon and they are about a two hour drive away!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Snake Whip Progress…

Snake Whip Progress…

Yesterday I got a bit of work in on the snake whip that I’m working on.  I braided the 4 plait kangaroo belly and cut out and attached the bolster:

snake whip plaited belly, core and bolster

If you look a the belly in the picture above you will see that I have a little extra wrapping of string around the handle end of the snake whip.  I do that area will take a lot of stress and in my mind it add just a bit mor reinforcement.

kangaroo snake whip

Another thing that I do on snake whips that I don’t do on bullwhips is bind the bolster down the thong of the whip.  I do this over the plaited part of the belly.  Inside a (most of my) bullwhips I don’t use a shot bag, so I don’t have to worry about the bag breaking over time, while it’s a very unlikely thing to happen in a shot loaded whip, it’s still something that could happen.

I do my best to reduce the possibility of this happening.  With a braided belly in the whip, even if the shotbag breaks, the shot isn’t going to go anywhere because the braided belly is holding it in.  Then you have the bolster on top of that being held in by the plaited overlay.  So realistically even if the shotbag was to magicially disappear with the braided belly, bolster and overlay in place the lead shot isn’t going anywhere.

So my binding of the bolster is pretty much just extra insurance and to give me a bit of peace of mind.  It’s something that doesn’t take that long to do, so why not?

Yesterday I also cut out the overlay for this snake whip:

12 plait kangaroo for a snakewhip

Today at the very least I’ll get the strand prep done on this snake whip.  I’ve got two shows today and a ton of phone calls to return, so I probably won’t get any actual braiding in until tomorrow.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Snake Whip Progress…

Snake Whip Progress…

Right now my project is a 12 plait 5 foot snake whip.  Last night I got more work done that I thought I was going to do.  I made and filled the shot bag, cut out the wrist loop, cut out the belly and did all the strand prep.

snake whips shot loaded core

A while ago I used to make my shot bags with the grain side of the leather out.  After talking to a lot of people and experimenting I switched to making them with the grain side of the leather inside.  There are a few of reasons for making the switch:

1. The grain side is smoother and you can pack the shot in tighter.  I got this tip from David Morgan.

2. Since the grain side of the leather is less stretchy than the flesh side, by rolling it inside you get a better fit to the bag.

3.  I think the binding will hold in place better when wrapped around the flesh side of the  shot bag because of the texture giving it more grip.  In theory that will reduce the chance of the shot bag breaking inside the whip over time.

Later today hopefully I’ll find the time today to plait the belly and put on the bolster to the snakewhip.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org