Zeppelin Bend / Rosendahl Bend / Zeppelin Loop

David M. Delaney, June, 2010

A bend is a knot for fastening two ropes end-to-end to make a longer rope, or to make a rope into a loop by joining its ends.

The Zeppelin bend is a relatively new knot (twentieth century).    It is exceptionally reliable and easy to untie after having been subjected to heavy load. Of all well known bends, only the carrick bend, ABOK 1439, and the Alpine butterfly bend are as consistently easy to untie after heavy load. See Jam testing several bends. The  carrick bend is easier to tie than the Zeppelin Bend, but its structure is harder to remember. It is probably less secure than the Zeppelin Bend in stiff or slippery rope.

The Zeppelin bend is said to have been invented by a US naval officer named Rosendahl, who made it the standard for mooring airships, hence the name Zeppelin. The Zeppelin bend was unknown to Ashley, so was not documented in his famous Ashley Book of Knots.  Of all important knots, the structure of the Zeppelin bend may be the easiest to remember.

The mnemonic for the structure of  the Zeppelin bend is "b over q". See the first four photographs below. You make a q with the right hand rope with the descender of the q on the far side of its standing part.  The q's standing part extends to the right. The descender of the q goes down.  You make a b with the left hand rope with the riser of the b on the near side of its standing part. The b's standing part extends to the left. The b's riser goes up. You place the b on top of the q.  The riser and descender should be on the outer sides of the stacked b and q. You wrap the descender of the q up and back through both loops and bring it around to align with its standing part. You wrap the riser of the b down and back through both loops and bring it around to align with its standing part.. You pull at and fiddle with the knot until it assumes its compact working form. Thus:

zeppelin-lubbers-method-01.jpg zeppelin-lubbers-method-02.jpg zeppelin-lubbers-method-03.jpg zeppelin-lubbers-method-04.jpg


The b over q mnemonic makes it easy to remember the structure of the Zeppelin Bend and to reconstruct a means of tying it when needed, but the knot  is slightly awkward to tie with no further instruction.  

If you start by wrapping the top of the b over and through the baseof the b before even creating the q, as shown in the first and second second photos below, you have the start of a slicker way of tying the Zeppelin bend that can be remembered with the same b and q mnemonic. The third photo adds the q, the fourth photo wraps the tail of the q.

zeppelin-bend-b-and-q-vizualization-10.jpg zeppelin-bend-b-and-q-vizualization-20.jpg zeppelin-bend-b-and-q-vizualization-30.jpg zeppelin-bend-b-and-q-vizualization-40.jpg zeppelin-bend-b-and-q-vizualization-50.jpg

Once you have the above method in mind, you don't need to hold the ropes so precisely. We can exploit the fact that the "wrapped" b in the first and second photos above is just an overhand knot to get an even slicker method. Once we slightly expand the lefmost of the three "holes" in the overhand knot, as in the second photo below, we can see that the overhand knot is just a distortion of the wrapped b in the second photo above.  The third and fourth photos below form the q. The fifth photo wraps the tail of the q by taking it through the knot beside the wrapped top of the b, but in the reverse direction.

zeppelin-bend-jcs-10.jpg zeppelin-bend-jcs-20.jpg zeppelin-bend-jcs-30.jpg zeppelin-bend-jcs-40.jpg zeppelin-bend-jcs-50.jpg zeppelin-bend-jcs-60.jpg

The above methods can be adapted to tie the Zeppelin Loop, a superbly secure and unjammable fixed loop for the end of a cord.  Start with an overhand knot as far from the end of the cord as the circumference of the desired loop and slightly more. 

zeppelin-loop-jcs-10.jpg zeppelin-loop-jcs-20.jpg zeppelin-loop-jcs-30.jpg zeppelin-loop-jcs-40.jpg zeppelin-loop-jcs-50.jpg zeppelin-loop-jcs-60.jpg

When you look at roo's diagram for the structure of the Zeppelin Loop, you will see where much  inspiration for the above came from. The rest of it came from J.C. Sampson's verbal procedure for tying the Zeppelin Loop as given in the thread, "For those familiar with Zeppelin Loop & Zeppelin Bend", at the forum of the International Guild of Knot Tyers, the same thread that roo created to introduce his diagram. See also JCS's verbal procedure for tying a Zeppelin double loop.

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