What are thimbles?
When you say ‘thimble’ the most common image that comes to mind for the majority of people will be the thimble used in sewing to protect ones thumb or fingers whilst stitching for a long time. However, here we are talking about quite a different kind, which instead of looking like a little bucket, looks like a hollowed out flower petal.
What type of thimbles are there?
- Torsion Rope Thimbles
- Sailmakers Thimble
- Plastic Thimble
- Wire rope thimbles
It is key to check that the type of thimble you are using is the right kind for the load it is working with. Some are appropriate for lighter duty applications only, whereas other stronger more durable thimbles can cope with a lot more stress. Thimbles are available in several types of material including titanium, stainless steel, acetyl, and aluminium. Each have their own uses and plusses and minuses. Steel and stainless steel ones for example are particularly useful in highly corrosive environments. ‘Hot dip’ designs are often sturdier and more resilient than the zink coated ones. There are also some brands that use complex alloys such as non corrosive, non sparking, nickel aluminium bronze alloys. These are particularly useful for specific rope types such as nylon, manila, and polypropylene, as well as the less well known of polyvinyl chloride ropes.
Where are thimbles used?
Thimbles such as a wire rope thimble, are used to protect wire rope from contacting with the load it is hoisting directly. It also has the job of keeping the eye from being crushed. When a wire rope system is terminated and it has an eye or loop at the end, a cable thimble is inserted to form the eye of the loop before the rope is finally secured. This protects the rope from erosion much like the more commonly known sewing thimble protects the thumb from the rub of a needle. Thimbles usually work as part of a wider system including a series of rings or ‘keepers’ which ensure that the rope does not escape from the thimble at an impromptu moment.
Thimbles come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You can get horseshoe shaped larger thimbles to teardrop shaped smaller thimbles. They can be found from as small as 3/8” to nearly 5 inches. The size of the thimble itself obviously must correlate to the diameter of the wire or rope that it is working with.
In what industry are thimbles used?
Thimbles are used in a number of settings, more than you would be lead to believe. As well as the most commonly known application of sewing, they are commonly used in sail and rigging applications. Galvanised thimbles are also used in the marine industry and can be found among the anchoring hardware of the sailor. The humble thimble can also be used for termination for fibrous rigging as well as used to stay’s yangs, blockless purchase systems, and in-haulers.