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French Windlass

Hang up your Billy

I often set my billycans directly on the coals or with simple bars over the fire but when a little more control is needed there are a frew tricks and gadgets that can make life easier.

I call this one the “French” windlass because I first came across it in a book called “North” by French adventurer Nicolas Vanier and I thought if the French were ever to invent a windlass it would have something to do with cooking.

The idea is a simple way of holding a pot over a fire with a cord wrapped around a bar supported by two forked sticks.

The clever bit is the shaping of the ends into a triangular prism which stops the bar from rotating when a load is put on the cord.

A gentle lift of the bar allows you to rotate the bar and unwind the cord but when the bar is dropped back into the forks it remains secure and holds the pot at the height you have set.

Another elegant  solution is sometimes referred to as a “gypsy rig.” 

This is made from two rods, one with a ring at the top bent over at a angle and the other with a hook at the end.

The hooked rod is placed through the looped rod and when weight is put on the hook it is held in place simply but effectively.

When the rod with the ring is pushed into the ground the rig can be rotated over or away from the fire and the hooked rod can be lengthened or shortened according to need.

Used with a short length of chain like I usually carry in my billy and this is a very effective way of cooking.

In this picture I was working on a concrete fire area in a campsite  so a simple hole drilled into a lump of wood gave me a good solid base for cooking over the fire.

Gypsy Rig in post
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