One of the long-term projects that I have been thinkng about is re-rigging my boat as a traditional cutter. In order to complete that I need new shrouds, forestay and jib stay (in addition to a mast and bow sprit of course). When I was aloft on Quinnipiac I saw that they used an eye splice slipped over the masthead, rather than shackles to secure the shrouds and stays to the mast. Its right out of Darcy Lever's "A Young Sea Officer's Sheet Anchor", which I like to use as a reference because it was written in 1819 and therefore unquestionably traditional. I determined that this was the way that I wanted to begin the re-rigging of my boat.
Yes, Darcy Lever would have prefered three-strand hemp for standing rigging, but come on! It is the 21st century and my boat has a fiberglass hull. So, wire rigging is my preference! I've been practicing wire splicing on various projects; the Lettie G. Howard's footropes being the latest example. What I learned from these projects was that I hate wire splicing and I'm not particularly good at it. However, it's a skill that I want to learn - if not master - because it looks better than wire clips and I'm too cheap to get a professional rigger to do the work.
I'm most familiar with the Liverpool Eye splice, but I wanted to try the Molly Hogan splice for this application. The Molly Hogan splice has from 70-90% of the strength of the wire left after the splice, so it's just as good as a Liverpool Eye splice and almost as good as wire clips. I'd originally learned the Molly Hogan splice from a former mate on the Pride of Baltimore II (and schooner Pioneer), Mike Fiorentino. The Pride crew use the splice on one of their yards and it supports an incredible amount of weight. Mike had drawn a diagram in a letter to me and but it wasn't until he took me aloft on Pride to see it, I understood how the splice worked.
I still have Mike's diagram, but to be honest I found Brian Toss' "Rigger's Apprentice" and the US Navy Boatswain's Mate Manual much more helpful in completing a Molly Hogan splice. For the wire I used 3/16 inch diameter, 7 by 19 galvinized wire. The "7 by 19" means that it has 6 strands of 19 wires each around core strand of 19 wires. I would have prefered 7 by 7, because those 19 little wires manage to cut the crap out of my hands, but Home Depot didn't have any 7 by 7.
The following is the process as I understand it;
1. The first step is to break the strands into two groups of three strands each, then un-lay the groups to twice the circumference of the eye plus three or four inches extra. For my purposes, this meant a circumference of a little less than 6 inches, so 16 inches total for the two groups. I used red tape to keep the strands from un-laying too far.
3. Then you continue to lay the groups into the empty space of the other until you reach the neck of the eye. At this point you need to cut out the core strand. The US Navy suggests cutting out the core strand before making the eye splice. However, I prefer Brian Toss' method of leaving the core strand in one of the groups, so that it makes the splice stronger.
4. Then you wind the six remaining strands sround the standing part of the wire rope. The splice at this point is done, save for parcelling and serving.
I was actually pleased with the way this splice turned out, but will use the Liverpool Eye splice for the deadeyes. Not because its stronger splice - the weakest link will be the Molly Hogan splice - but because its a cool splice and I want to get better at it.