16th Century Sporting Crossbow with Cranequin

Hi it's Tod at Tod's Workshop and TodCutler here and today we're going to have a look around this mid-sixteenthcentury, mid to late 16th century sporting crossbow.

This is drawing around550 600 pounds in draw weight so it gives quite a kick, you might not thinkcrossbows do but in fact they do.

So because of that it's now looking at thenew technologies of guns really in a way so we're beginning to get sort of moreof a familiar looking gun stock so that it's not so painful on the shoulder.

Again you might think that guns would put crossbows out of use forhunting but they were fashionable really for hunting through until about 1750.

Butthis sports the relatively new and exciting feature of a bolt clip.

Becausewhat this allows you to do, is if you are in the woods a little bit, orriding or indeed if in earlier days if you had been pointing downwards with yourcrossbow and wanted to shoot down, you have to put your thumb on the back ofthe bolt here to hold it into position.

This allows that all to change, but whatit also allows you to do, is to shoot longer bolts so like this one here, whichnow sticks well out at the front of the bow and you see that in the manuscriptpictures a lot.

Now that's fine if you've got your thumb on it but for a gentlemanyou know that's no good at all so the bolt clip allows you to do that automaticallyreally.

Then we've got nice leather bindings at the front here, bit ofdecoration bit of hemp binding here, dyed nice bright orange red.

And somescrimshaw work, again which has got a little bit of paint work on it just tolift it up and give it a bit more.

Now the cranequin itself is an openwork cranequin.

Cranequins were invented 15th century, I think early15th century from memory, but they really only began to get into popular usetowards the end of the 15th but now into the 16th they've become sort of artforms in their own right, open work, this is a very simple onereally.

But completely open work encasement here so that you can seewhat's going on inside, you can see as you turn it what the gears are up to, andagain they often have inlaid panels and just works of art in their own rightreally.

But you need this heavy compound gearbox mechanism to draw the bowsback, because you know, it's 600 pounds; this is quite a weight.

They went up to1200, 1500 maybe even 2, 000 pounds.

If you look at the thickness of the bows onthem they were vast the drawl weights of these hunting bows.

So you need powerful and complicated bits of winch equipment to get them back.

Now this onehere, it's a bit of a handful to deal with, but basically you sit it onto theback of the bow here pulls on so it now is resting on these two lugs at the backthe two steel lugs.

Now it goes onto the string here and it sets the twoclaws onto the string.

The bolt clip here, you want this out of the way, they're quite delicate you often often see them broken off in museums.

It's justa standard thing that happens.

Now another thing to note very quickly is ifyou look at the string here going over the stock.

It rubs quite heavily on thetop of the stock.

I used to think that was a badly made bow, but actuallybecause of the the force lines, the way the cranequin worksit tends to lift the string off the stock of the bow as you're drawing itback and to counter that you have to have the bow pushing the string quiteheavily down onto the stock.

It means it's actually a pretty inefficient way ofdrawing it, it's it loses about eight to ten percent of its power or impactenergy rather, on the bolt.

So it's not something you want to do if you canavoid it but on a cranequin bow you do need to cant the string quiteheavily pushing down onto the stock.

The bolt clip was a revolutionaryinvention, a very small thing, but actually it transforms the way you canuse the bow and it allows you to shoot longer, more accurate, more stable, cheaperto make bolts, than was previously the case.

you know it's easier done.

Youcan shoot, I've got one here, shorter bolts, these are basicallyexactly the same bolt but one is 50 mm/ two inches shorter than the other.

I needthe shorter one for a different bow it's not for this bow.

I need the shorter onefor a bit different bow but it's not the choice that I would make if I had tothat choice, so it shoots and it shoots okay, but I must say and you can see theway it flies is just on the edge of being unstable.

So you could not, I could not go ten mm/ half an inch shorter than this, it wouldnot shoot so this is the absolute limit for this particular setup.

I'll just showyou the procedure for shooting the bow now so the first thing you do is set thebolt clip to one side, set the nut into the position there so that the stringwill engage it and rotate it around.

The cranequin hooks on the back and nowyou hold it into position for the first couple of winds, just so you can get abit of tension onto the string now, make sure everything's central.

Keep the buttof the bow into the joint between your body and your thigh, keep your fingersoff the top there, you just crank it around.

It's a bit of a faff, I can't sayI'm a great fan of cranequins and the trigger is now engaged.

Back it offa little bit and then I'm just popping the end of the bow here onto this chairbecause the ground is a bit wet.

Bolt into the groove and now the boltclip is engaged and then just shoot it as you would any other bow.

So straightin the centre.

The next thing I need to do now is completely unwind thecranequin, the sort of person who owned this bow would have handed the cranequin to his servant who would now prepare it ready for the next shot andto be honest probably would have loaded the bow for him and handed it to him loaded.

I'm short on servants.

Thank you very much.

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