A nylon cow whip is a pretty tough critter, but sometimes cowboys can be tougher. This week, I had a whip sent to me by a cowboy in Yukon, OK. His old whip needed a new tail (aka tapering twist). I don’t know who originally made it, but it was up to me to fix it anyway. Some might think a whip in this shape is beyond repair, but really it’s not.
This is how older cow whips look when they’re sent in by cowboys who’ve used them hard for many years. As you can see here, the tapered twist is long gone. The nylon that remains is in very poor shape and will need to be replaced as well.
Before I cut it off, the owner had rigged up the end with a popper so he could still use it. Cowboys will normally rig and re-rig until there’s no other choice but to call in a professional.
I suspect this whip started out as a sparkling white, but there’s not much hope it will ever get cleaned, so I will repair it in tan nylon so it will somewhat match the rest of the whip. Often when I tear into an old whip, there will be dust and dirt that has worked into the plaits. Sometimes they even smell like things you find in a stockyard!
When I received it, the whip was less than 9ft long. I unplaited it back to about 7ft, in the middle of the section where the thong was at an 8 plait. I do this because I will begin re-plaiting the whip and gradually change out old material for new. It would be mistake to try to do a bunch of splicing at one spot; the idea is for the repair/transition to be as unnoticeable as possible. If the owner receives his old whip and it works as well -or better- than when it was new, I feel I have succeeded in making a good repair.
It’s always interesting to do this kind of work on whips made by other people because you can see how different plaiters have their own techniques. Blending my ways with theirs is sometimes a challenge. I found that the person who made this whip used yellow tape in the bellies of his whips. Other than that, no major problems while working on this one.
Here’s the finished product! The tapering twist has been restored. Not only was the twist restored, but from the 7ft mark forward, new material begins to replace old so that by the time the thong is back to a 4 plait, there is nothing but new material being plaited. The whip now measures 11ft long and the repair is not all that noticeable to the untrained eye.
A repair like this is normally runs $35-$50, depending on how much trouble I encounter. For some cowboys, this really beats buying a whole new whip. Normally, I’m able to repair every whip that’s sent to me. The majority of the cow whip repairs I do are on whips made by other plaiters and sent in by cowboys who use them on the ranch everyday.
[Update 01/29/2010: Mission Accomplished! The owner of this whip called me a couple of days ago and said he was very pleased with the repair and that his whip was just like new.]
If you have an old cow whip that needs a new tail, give me a call at (912)-685-6759 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.