Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kjeip, kabe -- by either name they are cool!

I've already talked about kabes or kjeips on the blog before, but not since I installed them. I've rowed with them now for more than a year and I really like them.

I'm applying Stockholm tar to the gasket before serving.
Last week I made a little change, not to the kjeips themselves, but to the rope gasket that keeps the oars in place when you're not pulling on them. These have a Norse name, but I can't remember what it is... h-something. Anyway, they were originally made of plaited spruce roots, which would make them tough and stiff.

At first, I made mine out of quarter-inch synthetic hemp rope and tied it with a Zeppelin bend. I adjusted the size of the loop during several rows until I found the ideal size the gasket needed to be. Then, I laid up the four rope gaskets with 5/16ths synthetic hemp (made of polypropylene). Laying up the rope gasket was a little tricky because I had to work it through the hole in the kjeip and it was a pretty tight fit.

I liked the rope gaskets: They looked good and worked well except -- and this was almost a deal breaker -- two of the four developed a figure-eight twist in them that caused the gasket to work its way between the oar and the kjeip. It caused a ker-thunk, ker-thunk, ker-thunk every time you pulled on the oar. It about drove me crazy!
Here is the served gasket with the oar in place.

So last week I served the gasket with some light hemp rope. Since hemp will rot if it stays wet, I coated the gasket with Stockholm tar as I was serving it and then worked some of the tar into the hemp fibers. I love the way it smells. Nothing says traditional rigging like Stockholm tar.

Serving the gasket increased the stiffness enough so it stays proud of the oar and the kjeip and doesn't get caught between them. It will also protect the rope gasket from chafe.

One of these days I'm going to get around to harvesting some spruce roots and do it up right; but for now, this will serve.

Also this week, my friend, Giacomo De Stefano, posted some beautiful photos from the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. Among the group of photos are some wonderful pictures of kjeips.

This one just about stopped my heart when I saw it. Beautiful!

This is a Hardanger Fjord-style kjeip. Made for oars with a square loom.

Here are some kjeips being made.