Part 3. Hemp Rigging
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65 Hemp Rigging Introduction Although hemp rigging is the simplest and oldest form of stage rigging, the word hemp is actually a misnomer. The term hemp rigging generally refers to any fiber rope used for attaching, supporting , or flying stage effects. The Hemp Systems A. Single-Line System The simplest system consists of a single rope, a head block, a loft block, a load (something to fly), and a place to tie off the rope (fig. 3.1). Rope. The rope has two ends: the load end, which is usually onstage, and the hauling end, which is usually offstage. Until the 1990s, ½˝, 5 ̸8˝, or ¾˝ Type M Class 1 Manila was the Part 3 3.01 3.02 66 rope of preference. Synthetic rope will eventually replace natural -fiber rope. Head block. The first pulley that the rope passes through, after leaving the rigger’s hands, is called the head block. Usually the head block is offstage of the load. See section 3.04.C. Loft block. The pulley that the rope passes through, directly above the load, is the loft block. It is usually onstage. Multipleline systems have more than one. See section 3.04.D. Spot block. A loft block that is easily movable and can be “spotted,” or placed anywhere on the grid, is called a spot block. See section 3.04.E. Pin rail. A rail with vertical pins of wood or metal, used for tying off the hauling end of hemp systems, is known as the pin rail. See section 3.05. B. Multiple-Line System Two or more lines attached to the same load make up a multiple -line system. The ropes pass from offstage through a multisheave head block (see section 3.04) to individual loft or spot blocks and down to a batten or other object (fig. 3.2). Fig. 3.1. Singleline hemp set Fig. 3.2. Multipleline hemp set 67 Batten. A pipe or wood rail attached to two or more lines of a rigging system is called a batten. Loads are attached to the battens. Wood or pipe battens are attached to the hemp lines with a clove hitch and two half hitches (fig. 3.3). Line identification. The lift lines or lead lines on a multiple line rigging system are identified with reference to their length from the head block. The line nearest the head block is called the short line; the one farther away, the long line (fig. 3.4). Starting from the loft block closest to the head block, typical line designations are four-line set: short, short-center, long-center, long six-line set: short-short, short, short-center, long-center, long, long-long A more common system for numbering lines, on sets with more than three lines, is to number the lines from the head block. The short line is number one, the next is number two, and so on. Fig. 3.3. Tying rope to a batten Fig. 3.4. Hempset lift-line identification 68 C. Sandbag and Arbor Attachment as Counterweight If the load is too heavy for a single stagehand to move, sandbags or arbors for metal weights may be attached to the hauling line. The weight devices are attached by using either a loop of steel cable called a sunday (fig. 3.5) or a trim clamp (fig. 3.6). See section 3.06. Fig. 3.5. Sandbag on a sunday Fig. 3.6. Sandbag on a trim clamp 69 The Rope Rope rigging in the theatre is generally referred to as hemp rigging . Several types of natural-fiber rope are casually referred to as hemp. This practice is confusing, because Manila, not hemp, is the preferred rope for stage rigging. As mentioned earlier, synthetic -fiber rope is being accepted rapidly as a viable alternative to natural fiber for rigging use. A. Considerations of Rigging Rope When choosing a fiber rope for rigging, the following characteristics of the rope should be considered. 1. Low Elongation The rope should not be too elastic. When hauling on the line, the load should raise directly in proportion to the amount of line being pulled, rather than having the line stretch and the load bounce along behind. 2. Flexibility The rope needs to be flexible enough to easily tie knots in and run over sheaves with a minimum amount of internal friction. 3. Durability The rope must be durable enough to withstand the abrasion of running through blocks, being tied off, and generally being...


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