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    15th century saxon prods

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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Sat Jun 03, 2017 3:50 pm

    Evening everyone. Anyone any idea what draw weight late 15th century composite sporting crossbows would have been operating at?
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    Post by Geezer Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:18 am

    What weights for 15th century medieval horn/sinew crossbows.  Given that they're usually spanned with cranequins, I would expect over 500 lb.  Otherwise, why not use the simpler/cheaper gafa, or some sort of cord/pully or belt hook.  There are a few craftsmen in Europe who have successfully made horn/sinew crossbow prods.  Does anybody out there have more definitive date/guesses?  Geezer.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:24 am

    Anybody know where I can get an e-copy of the chapter on hornbows in Die Armbrust:ein handbuch ? Don't suppose anyone has a translated version in English???
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    Post by Geezer Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:50 am

    I have Harmuth's Die Armbrust, (in German) There were rumors years ago about a planned English translation, but I never heard if anything was done.
    As for power/draw weight of horn/sinew bows, mentioned above, Holger Richter's "Die Hornbogen Armbrust" might be helpful.  It too is in German, but there are English language precis' of each chapter in the appendix, that will give the gist of what's covered.  Holger Richter's books are a bit pricey, but well worth the investment if you're really interested in crossbows.  The photos/illustrations alone are worth the price. (I paid @ $70-$80 for my copy) Geezer.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:27 am

    Hi Geezer, slight change of tack, I am still working toward replicating the Ulrich bow. Any thoughts on the prod? I am not convinced the one on now is the original, it seems too chunky, and, looking at the  way the fittings interrupt the decoration, I also think the tiller has been shortened and retro-fitted for cranequin.
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    Post by Geezer Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:58 am

    I believe the armorers at the Metropolitan also believe the prod is not original.  A lot of really nice bows like this one had highly decorated prods as well as stocks.  May have been the case here.  As for being cut down, there would be advantages in having a shorter stock for cranequin compared with something like a compound pulley arrangement. If it WAS cut down, the craftsman did a clean job of it.  Geezer.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:12 pm

    It is a pretty big 'if', admittedly, but the horn does seem to overlay some of the decoration, if so then it might suggest it was a later addition.
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    Post by Geezer Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:25 pm

    In support of your theory about the Ulrich V bow having been shortened at some time, I note the stock's butt is not capped with a bone or metal plate.  Given the level of decoration on the rest of the stock, the omission rather surprises me. That's not to say it's proof the stock was shortened, but it does make me wonder.  Certainly I would cap the butt and decorate it.  Which isn't to say a medieval bowyer would necessarily do the same.  Disfferent aesthetics for different times perhsp.  Geezer, sitting on the fence.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:41 pm

    A cap could have been just damaged and lost but cutting it a couple of inches shorter kinda makes sense, imho. I also wonder if the prod on the Louis XII crossbow might be a good indicator of what might have been originally mounted on the Ulrich
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    Post by Geezer Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:48 pm

    I figure the Ulrich V bow was originally fitted with a horn/sinew bow. The Louis XII and Maximlian I bows are Very-very similar in all ways except decoration, and displayed side by side in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. All those bows have steel prods, and were probably spanned with a Spanish-style cranequin (the crank handle goes vertically rather than Horizontally, and the cranequin links onto the stock by a hook between trigger/tickler and the stock. )  There are plenty of other 15th century Germanic bows of similar shape and age that were fitted with horn/sinew prods.  That's not to say the Ulrich V Couldn't have been fitted with a steel prod.  There are plenty of bows from slightly later that have bound-in steel prods, rather than bow-irons, but I tend to associate horn/sinew prods bound in and steel prods with bow irons.  Geezer.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:45 pm

    Oops, that penny hadn't dropped! Agreed, bow irons for steel prods, just that profile looks rounded like a horn-bow, rather than the flat-bar of a steel prod. My mistake.
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    Post by Dennis Greenaway Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:13 pm

    If you want to check out, Elk Ridge Archery, Joe makes a Laminated Prod with horn ends, these are an alternative to steel prods. Just sharing
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    Post by Geezer Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:46 pm

    I have a laminated Elk Ridge prod on one of my personal crossbows.  It's beautiful and shoots smooth and fast.  Price is reasonable.  Geezer.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Sun Jun 25, 2017 3:26 pm

    I appreciate the sentiment behind the laminated prods but I would like to find out what a composite prod is like; any idea of the number of horn layers in the early Austrian type of horn bow?
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    Post by Geezer Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:14 pm

    Okay, I can't give you details on horn/sinew prods, but I have some hints.  There are two pretty good sources concerning composition of these european horn/sinew prods.  The first is an article on the Ulrich V crossbow (now in the Metropolitan Museum) Back @ 1893. the Baron de Cosson ( a big time collector and medieval-nut) owned the Ulrich V bow.  He published an article in the annual papers of the Society of Royal Antiquaries, in which there were pictures of the Ulrich V bow, and even more important for our purposes, he included a number of pages documenting a very scientific (for the period) disassembly of an old horn/sinew prod, along with some interesting speculation on how the prod was made. 
    Since then a number of enterprising craftsmen have attempted to make workable horn/sinew prods.  Holger Richter's work, Die Hornbogen Armbrust, has many excellent illustrations of horn/sinew medieval bows, as well as a fairly detailed description of how one modern craftsman has made successful ones.  The book is all in German, but there is an English translation in footnotes.  It certainly isn't a how-to manual, but i think it would be a good starting place. An enterprising correspondent might be able to contact Holger Richter and follow the research back to the guy who wrote the piece in the first place. 
    In addition, there's a guy in Europe named Sensenfelder (authored an excellent book on crossbows from the Dutch Army Museum) I'll wager the crossbow making fraternity in Europe is small enough that Sensenfelder would know who to contact.  If they're as enthusiastic about crossbows as we are, they'd probably be happy to answer respectful questions, don't you think? 
    As for me, the hints from Baron de Cosson and Richter are enough to tell me I don't want to make horn bows.  Geezer.
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    Post by kenh Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:16 pm

    IMHO composite crossbow prods would have been made the same way that composite handbows were made:  two or more pieces of wood core, taking advantage of different wood characteristics, plus a single layer of horn on the belly side, and multiple layers of sinew on the back.  

    The thickness of the horn and sinew are what control most of the draw weight of the final product. A friend in England recently made a short wood-horn-sinew composite flight bow in the Turkish style: 43" ntn, 80# draw and the horn was only 3mm thick.  A 36" crossbow prod wouldn't need any more than twice that thick of horn to yield hundreds of pounds of draw weight. 

    The whole thing, after it was properly seasoned, would be covered with some sort of moisture proofing -- birch bark, very thin leather or gut, lacquered silk, etc.
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    Post by Geezer Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:30 am

    Yes, that makes perfectly good sense, and there may have been simple composites made that way. However, a number of old composite prods have been carefully disassembled (like Baron de Cosson did, back in 1893) and it's much more complex than the system you have described.  I can only suggest those really interested should look at Richter's Die Hornbogen Armbrust, or go to a large library and dig up the Baron de Cosson's original article (I actually have a photo copy of it here somewhere) Geezer.
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    Post by Geezer Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:34 am

    Hmmm, looks like my post script didn't post.  You can find the Baron de Cosson's 1893 article (Society of Antiquaries) at Abe Books, online for a little over $10.  Those interested in horn/sinew prods might take a look.  Geezer.

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