Norton Rig




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By Dan Beard

The Norton Rig is a double sail, and might be called a schooner rig.  It is in many respects superior to the somewhat cumbersome single sails, the chief advantage being the fact that the crew can see in every direction, and thus avoid running foul of any other craft or skater.  Another improvement is the double main spar which, without increasing the weight, affords a stronger support for the cross pieces, or fore and main masts. 

The main spar may be made of spruce pine or bamboo.  Cane fishing-poles are inexpensive, and can probably be readily obtained by most boys.  

Select two pieces, each about ten feet long, and bind the butt or large end of one to the small end of the other; lash the other ends firmly together in like manner, so that the two poles will lay side by side firmly bound at each end.  For the fore and main masts or cross yards, Mr. Norton recommends bamboo, five-eighths of an inch in diameter, but American cane will also answer for that purpose.  Pick out two pieces five-eighths of an inch in diameter at the smallest ends, and let each be four feet six inches long. 

Near the ends of the cross yards fasten metal buttons or knobs, and fasten similar knobs near the ends of the main spar.  Make a small cleat for the middle of each cross spar (A, A, A, Fig. 191) and lash it firmly on. 

Make the sails of the heaviest cotton sheeting, if it can be procured; if not, take ordinary sheeting and double it, or what cloth you can procure.  Mark out the sails, making allowance for the hem, and let them measure four feet across the diagonal after the hem has been turned down; bind the sails with strong tape, and see that the corners particularly are made very strong.  Sew to the 11 clews " or corners small metal rings, or loops of strong cord, to fasten on the buttons at the ends of the spars. 

Attach the sails to the cross spars by slipping the rings at the clews over the buttons at each end of the spars.  Spring the main spar apart and slip the cleats of the cross spar between the two pieces, so that they fit as shown by Fig. 191.  Fasten the outside clews to the buttons on the ends of the main spar and bind the two inside clews tightly together with a cord as shown in the diagram, and you are all ready to give the novel device a trial.  Go to the nearest sheet of ice, put on your skates, and after seeing that they are securely fastened, take up the sails and let yourself go before the wind, steering with your feet. After practicing awhile you can learn to tack, and go through all the maneuvers of a regular sail-boat. 

A most beautiful "rig" is described by Mr. Norton, in which the main spar consists of four pieces of bamboo joined at the middle by brass fishing-rod ferrules.  Brass tips are used for holding the small ends of the bamboo together at the ends of the main spar.  This rig can be taken apart like a jointed fishing-rod, and, like it, put in a comparatively small case, occupying not much more space when the sails are rolled up than an umbrella.  Sails maybe made of fancy striped cloth and brilliantly colored pennants rigged to their corners; combine this with a suitable uniform, and the winged skater will present a most striking and dashing appearance as he goes flying over the ice.






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.