Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Truckers' Hitch - tied 3 different ways

Today on Repairs101 I thought I ‘d show you three different versions of the Trucker’s Hitch, otherwise known as the Trucker’s Knot or the Wagoneer’s Hitch or the Wagoneer’s Knot or the Wagon Hitch or the Wagon Knot or...


You know, when I was a young man my first real job was at Cedarvale Tree Experts Ltd. and I was an apprentice Arborist and I eventually became a Climber and Foreman. They were the oldest tree company in Canada at the time. I was fortunate enough that when I started there it was still owned by Mr. F. Earle Martin, who was the first and – certainly at the time – foremost Arborist in Canadian history. Mr. Martin told me about how when he started there were no trucks and there were no hydraulic lifts. He had a horse-drawn cart and lots of manpower. If they didn’t have enough manpower to lift a log up onto a cart, what they would do is lay their wooden ladders out and roll it up the ladders onto the side of the cart. And you can bet that this is exactly the kind of knot that they would have used to secure their load once they got that thing up on top of their cart.

illustration of wagoneers knot

Now you might have a pickup truck and let’s say you have a load of debris that you want to take to the dump and you’ve got to put a tarp over it and you want to secure your tarp.

illustration of the Truckers' Hitch on a pickup

Or maybe it’s your job to take the old Battle-Cruiser out and get a Christmas tree and, you know, you’ve got to tie it on secure enough that it isn’t going to end up on the highway and cause a ten car pileup behind you.

illustration of the Truckers' Hitch on a wagon
Or let’s say you had a sailboat and you needed to take your backstay down for some reason. Well this is exactly the kind of knot that you can use to put in enough tension to secure your mast.

illustration of the Truckers' Hitch on a boat

Truckers' hitch tied using a slip knot

OK so the first version I’m going to show you is based on a slip knot. You’re going to make a crossing turn and then you’re going to pass the running end up through that crossing turn to create a slip knot. Of course once you’ve got your slip knot you go and pass the tail end around an anchor point – I’m going to use the leg of the chair I’m sitting on and as you can see you can pull on it nice and tight and then you finish it off with a couple of half-hitch locks.

Truckers' Hitch tied using a sheepshank

OK the second version that’s widely used is based on the Sheepshank. Now, just make two crossing turns as though you were making a clove hitch and then pass a gather of rope up from underneath through the crossing turns and tighten that up until you’ve got a nice little loop on the bottom. Take your rope around an anchor point, pass it through the loop and then start pulling on it. You can pull on it pretty tight before the knot collapses but unfortunately it will collapse, given enough tension. OK so if you’re really going to tie this up tight I recommend the next knot I’m going to show you.

Truckers' Hitch tied using the Flying Dutchman

OK so this last one I’m going to show you is based on the slip knot, the same as the first one except it’s modified. Instead of just having one crossing turn at the top of the knot, you’re going to spin it around so you have several crossing turns. Then pass the running end through and then you’ve got yourself a nice little loop. Well I made kind of a big one here. Take the tail end of your rope and pass it around your anchor point – be it a cleat of a peg or the leg on the chair you’re sitting on – pass it through the loop and then you can start cinching down on that. OK lock it off with a couple of half hitches and that’s what it will look like.

OK say you have a house. Now it’s a small house but it’s a sellers market where you live. And now let’s say there’s a tree that’s been allowed to grow beside the house and maybe the tree got pushed over in a storm and it’s in jeopardy of falling on your house. So you’ll need another tree nearby to pull this off. You’re going to go up and remove some limbs, especially on the house side to remove weight and to add pull into the other direction. So you tie on a rope and you run it down around the other tree – the anchor point – and then you create what’s known as a trucker’s hitch. Install the trucker’s hitch well up the line, pull as tight as you can and start bending the tree towards where you want it to land. The get your saw out and put in a pie-cut. Then tighten up the rope some more and bend the tree some more. Then you can just secure it to the base of the tree. 

illustration of Truckers' Hitch used in tree rigging

Get your saw out again and maybe, I don’t know, get your kid brother to come over and do the back-cut while you get your camera out to make a YouTube video. You know… just in case. If you can get enough pull on the rope and your kid brother has learned anything you taught him about back-cuts, you can fell that tree with a great deal of control, narrowly missing your neighbour’s fence.
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