This section is from the book "The Boy Mechanic Vol. 2 1000 Things for Boys to Do", by Popular Mechanics Co.. Also available from Amazon: The Boy Mechanic, Vol2: 1000 Things for Boys to Do.
The sketch shows the front end of a bobsled or double runner made of a plank bolted upon two sleds. The front sled is so pivoted on the bolt A that it may be turned to steer the bob, and to accomplish this result the steersman ordinarily sits with his feet braced against the projecting ends of the crosspiece and passes the steering ropes outside of his feet, with the ropes crossed as shown. The crossing of the ropes is supposed to add leverage, but that is quite wrong.
Ill: The Most Efficient 'Way of Attaching Ropes to the Guiding Runners of a Bobsled
The rope, running from B to C, has a lever arm from A to E. If the ropes were not crossed, the rope would lie along the dotted line BD, whose lever arm is the distance AF, which is always greater than AE, therefore the uncrossed ropes have more leverage.
Observe what takes place when the sled is steered to the left: The distance AE decreases much more rapidly than AF, and when the crossed ropes have lost all their power, the uncrossed ropes are still useful. Many a spill has been caused by turning the sled to a position from which the crossed ropes were unable to restore it to a central position, and most of such spills would have been avoided if the ropes had not been crossed. - Contributed by R. R. Raymond, Wilmington, Del.