Some Hints On Making Your Own Lines
...By Lynn Harrison
The making up of Lines is both time-consuming and precise. However,
if you are prepared to make the effort yourself, considerable savings
can be made with the added advantage that you can effect instant repairs.
Most materials/fixings needed can be obtained from yacht chandlers,
sports shops and hardware stores. The rest, e.g. brass trigger hooks
and quick-release hooks, from other husky folk or imported via mail
Probably the most hardwearing of materials is three-ply polypropylene
rope. The drawback is that ends must be spliced (individually woven
back into the rope in such a way as never to come undone). Splicing
is an art and incorrectly done will result in quick unwinding of the
rope; a seasoned seafarer could instruct. Yachting/waterski rope made
of lightweight tubular nylon, etc. is very popular as ends are simply
looped and fed back into the centre of the rope to lock, although
care should be taken to use a securing stitch in the process to make
sure. The drawback is that this material can stretch and weaken itself
to snap. It cannot take very much abrasion either and therefore needs
to be completely renewed on a regular basis.
The length of the lines used in a Hitch is dependant on the type of
collar and harness used. Sometimes the type of terrain to be covered
and the idiosyncrasies of an individual dog need to be taken into
consideration too. For the purpose of the measurements below, it is
presumed that 3ins-check team collars and harness rings situated at
the base of the tail are used, and that dogs are hitched in the common
Inch measurements are overall, i.e. they include the length of the
neck- and backline trigger hooks.
All joints are made by looping, allowing an inch or so for the working
of each loop. If gangline loops are made first and then connected
together by knotting, allowing 4ins per knot, the Hitch type illustrated
can be very flexible, i.e. easily disjointed or added to, to vary
number of dogs in the team, or effect quick replacements. All necklines
are usually made from a smaller diameter rope (approx. 6mm) than the
gangline and backlines (approx. 8mm).
For added strength, the backlines of the wheeldogs can be taken back
with the gangline to where it is attached to the rig/sled instead
of joining the gangline first, with just a single length of gangline
to the rig/sled. These wheeldog backlines therefore need to be slightly
longer than any others, to allow a safety margin from rear of dogs
to rig/sled. Should a large dog, or one with a harness ring situated
behind the dog, or one with a longer check team collar, be in the
team, his individual backline can take a loop around the gangline
to take up the slack. Likewise, should you require one of a pair of
leaddogs to be a 'head' behind the other, his backline can take a
loop or two around the other leaddog's backline.
When running a single leaddog, both backlines are clipped to his harness
ring and the lead neckline discarded. When running a single team/wheeldog,
both backlines at his station are clipped to his harness ring and
both necklines are clipped to his collar ring.
N.B. When running a team with a pair of leaddogs without a neckline,
their backlines are often shorter than those shown but the length
of the gangline mid-section between these backlines and the necklines
of the following dogs should remain constant.
Necklines can be attached to the gangline loops; backlines to the
gangline mid-section loops. If using one length of rope for a pair
of necklines or backlines allow approx. 3ins extra for the centre
neckline securing knot and approx. 4ins extra for the centre backline
securing knot. Waxed whipping twine can be used to 'stay' the knots
until the rope 'bites' into place after use; it can also be used to
make very small hoops in the gangline for neck- and backline hook
tidies. Caribineers should be those with a sprung sleeve, or other
mechanism, to prevent them accidentally opening. Trigger hooks should
be easy to clip and unclip.
Rig hitches are usually attached to the brushbow, sled hitches always
beneath the brushbow to a rope line via the crossmembers.
Shock Absorber and Safety Line
Any rig/sled fitted with a Shock Absorber (approx. 1ft long and usually
of very thick elastic or rubber, e.g. mooring snubber) must also have
a Safety Line fitted. Should the Shock Absorber break, the Safety
Line takes up the slack without fear of team and rig/sled parting
The Safety Line must be of similar diameter rope to the gangline and
longer than the Shock Absorber to allow the Shock Absorber to stretch
and lessen the jerk-pull of the dogs. It is a good idea to coil the
Safety Line loosely around the Shock Absorber to restrict drag and
Sled Bridle Line
To effect a substantial point of connection for a hitch to be attached
to a conventional sled, a Bridle Line (of similar diameter rope to
the gangline) is run from one side of the rear crossmember, around
the same ends of any others, to the centre, and about 9ins past, the
front crossmember; then back around to the other ends of the crossmembers
to the rear crossmember again. A large U-bolt can be fixed underneath
and centre of the front crossmember for the Bridle Line to run through.
With a toboggan sled, the Bridle Line emanates from a strong eye bolt
below each end of the front crossmember, extending forward by about
A heavy-duty ring (stainless steel; approx. 6mm diameter/55mm internal
diameter) is usually attached at front-centre of the Bridle Line in
both cases for easy connection of the hitch; the ring needing to be
accurately centred. It can be secured to the rope by using waxed whipping
twine - a seasoned seafarer can show you the best way. Should you
find that your sled tends to run to one side, setting the ring slightly
off-centre can counterbalance the tendency.
The Snubline should be made of similar diameter rope to the gangline.
On a rig it is better connected to a substantial part of the chassis
framework to avoid interference with the wheels; on a sled it must
never be connected to any framework but to the ring of the bridle
A Snubline should be of adequate length (min. 25 ft.) to stretch from
the rig/sled, around a tree or post, and back to itself. A quick-release
hook is required to be attached to the Snubline in a location where
the driver can release the Snubline from his normal driving position
(letting the line run out behind him to later reel in, in the case
of a rig).
Snowhook and Line
A Snowhook is most effective in deep snow. It should be attached to
one end of a length of rope of similar diameter to the gangline. The
hook itself is stored on the sled near the handbow; the other end
of its rope being attached to the ring of the bridle line. The hook
is then put to the ground alongside the driver and driven home by
a foot, without getting off the sled; pulled out while the driver
is standing on the sled.
Great care should be taken when storing the Snowhook - it has been
known for them to swing around and cause injuries in tumbles.
Sled Driver Harness and Line
Some drivers wear a body Harness with a Line running from it to the
ring of the bridle line. Should they fall off the sled, or need to
get off and move up to the dogs, they will not be left behind. It
is essential that a quick-release hook attaches the Line to the Harness
for emergency release from the sled if needbe. The Harness Line should
be long enough from the attachment at the bridle line ring to allow
the driver to reach the leaddogs without having to unclip.
NB It is not advisable to use a Driver Harness when riding a rig -
being dragged through snow is less likely to injure you than along
the bare ground.
It is extremely dangerous to attach yourself to a rig or sled just
by a rope line without any quick-release mechanism. Looping a line
around your wrist will result in a broken wrist at best. Looping a
line around your neck doesn't bear thinking about (this is no exaggeration,
it has been seen in this country, on a rig too, but fortunately the
driver did not take a tumble).