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1) lurker10 
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Saturday, 12 August 2017 06:40 AM Permalink

20306) JD, Bill K

If I had to go out and build a rack using just wood, leather, animal glue and rope, it wouldn't look anything like the various fantasy racks, either as the illustrations or the movie props, that turn up here. No foot stocks, no elevated windlass brackets, no massive construction, and very little metal. And it would NOT have a windlass on each end.

The working range of a rack is less than a foot; there is very little stretch in a human body before things begin to come apart. Natural rope breaking strength of a ton or so requires a diameter of 1/2" - 5/8". This strongly dictates a windlass diameter of no more than about 4", one turn giving a bit more than a foot of motion. It also helps very significantly with the mechanical advantage and the control.

The windlass does not need to be very long; a full-width windlass is another artistic affection and a structural weakness. It *is* useful to make it out of a hardwood like oak, ash, maple and the like; the shaft of a polearm weapon or a farming tool.

Windlass bearings can be very minimal; again, range of motion. We're not talking about a wagon axle here.

Locking the rack doesn't need a ratchet; a piece of rope and some pegs in the wheel/levers and the frame will do nicely.

The Hidden Pleasures rack is a fairly good design for something real and almost completely of wood. I think it might be a little light for the Inquisition, but that's easily corrected. And the elevated windlass bearings are dumb.

Re chain vs rope; iron chain is *expensive* back in the "good ol' days". Rope scraps, which is all a rack needs, not so much. JD has a point about the usefulness of rope's elasticity, as it tends to mach the elasticity of the human body, which chain does not. Also, rope can be used for flogging.

P.S to JD: "2 turns of the wheel" means an iron windlass or axle, 2" diameter or less. It also implies wire rope or fine welded chain.
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