June 17, 2014

Milton Vos shows people the ropes

By JONATHAN R. PITMAN The Oskaloosa Herald
The Oskaloosa Herald

---- — OSKALOOSA — The Nelson Pioneer Farm reveals an important lesson in making ropes during its Knots, Loops and Other Twisted Crafts event Saturday.

Milton Vos, who has been making ropes for the last 26 years, gave a rope-making demonstration. Vos said that he usually participates in 3 to 5 events a year in different locations.

“I have done events in Pella, Oklahoma City, Knoxville, West Liberty to name a few,” Vos said.

In order to make the ropes, one would typically start with twine, which is the material used in the rope-making process.

When constructing the rope, one will notice a box-like structure at one end and two rods spread far apart on each side where the strings, or twine, would be placed. From there, this ball that looks like a weight, creates the tension. On the box, one turns a handle that brings the ball closer to the other rod, and as it does this, the rope is formed.

“In order to start the process, it is important to spin the rope clockwise. Once it gets enough tension, there is something called the self-traveler, which allows the rope to counter twist,” Vos said.

Vos added the movement of the traveler allows the tension to build.

He said it is important the ropes have a certain tension, depending on what one would use the rope for. There are some ropes that are tighter and thicker because they might have to pull more weight. For example, if one were to pull a horse carriage, the rope would be significantly stronger than if one were using it to pull something that is lighter, or less heavy. During one demonstration, Vos showed a rope that was made from 46 strands.

“This is enough to pull a horse and carriage,” he said.

In a given day, Vos spends a great deal of time working on putting ropes together. Since he is used to the process, he explained that he makes about 150 ropes in one day.

In addition to thickness, Vos has constructed long ropes.

“If you want to make the rope bigger, you can expand the stands. I made one a couple of years ago that was 478 feet long,” Vos said.

Once the ropes are made, they will last.

“Back then, a rope would last quite a while if it was properly taken care of and even the ropes today will last for longer periods,” Vos said.

He also said in order to preserve the ropes, one must avoid leaving them in the rain.

“It is also important to ensure that too much dirt, water, and debris don’t built up in the rope. This will cause the fibers to wear out,” Vos said.

Toward the final stages of the rope-making process, he demonstrated that one needs to cut the ends off the rope.

“The ends are typically access. So you knot the end of it and make it into a hook by cutting the ends off,” Vos said.

City Editor Jonathan R. Pitman can be reached by email at news2@oskyherald.com.