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Calling all builders of sail ships!

11 replies
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  • Member since
    February, 2015
Calling all builders of sail ships!
Posted by BKR1888 on Sunday, July 16, 2017 2:08 PM

Hi to all,

So I'm coming back too modelling after some time away and have developed a particular interest in the age of sail. I've been looking at a whole range of kits from frigates to ships of the line. I have built the Revell 1/50 Viking ship and enjoyed that but I have noticed alot of the ratlines and shrouds on age of sail ships are molded in plastic which I don't mind but they are smooth with no texture which doe's annoy me abit.

This is what I have seen especially on the Revell 1/146 USS Constitution and the Revell 1/150 Vasa which have drawn my interest. I was wondering if there is a way to either apply a rope texture to the smooth plastic or would I have to modify the plastic in some way so the Deadeyes (I think that's what there called) are still plastic but connected to the masts via rope. I hope this makes sense :)

Any help is appreciated.


  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Sunday, July 16, 2017 2:40 PM

Welcome! Yes what you say makes sense.

It is also very wise to build kits on a level such as you suggest.

The big kits for Victory, Constitution and Cutty Sark are often started but rarely finished.

Another very nice kit that has recently be re issued is the America racing yacht.

Keeping the deadeye assemblies and rigging line makes sense and is easily explained.


  • Member since
    January, 2007
  • From: Narvon, Pa.
Posted by fox on Sunday, July 16, 2017 5:13 PM

My 2 cents (for what it's worth). I have tossed out the ratlines and plastic shrouds on any ship that I have built and replaced them with thread of various sizes and colors. I've tossed out the Deadeyes too and replaced them with wooden ones from Model Shipways. In my opinion, thread and wooden Blocks and deadeyes look 100% better than the plastic ones any day. It takes a little practice to get it right but it's worth it.

Jim  Captain

Photobucket Main WIP: Rebuild of Monogram 1/8 "Big Deuce" with 1/8 Pocher V-12 in rear - 10%

   On the Bench:   Revell 1/48 Ju 52/3m - 50%;  Revell 1/96 USS Kearsarge - 20% 

I keep hitting "escape", but I'm still here.

  • Member since
    July, 2012
  • From: Douglas AZ
Posted by littletimmy on Sunday, July 16, 2017 5:42 PM

Fox is right ! The time and effort it would take to alter the kits plastic ratlines will drive you nuts ! I have even had a few kits where the ratlines are vynal. Vinal?... Vynel ? That stuff they used to make records out of.

It's way easier to just make your own with scale rigging line and wooden deadeyes.

 Dont worry about the thumbprint, paint it Rust , and call it "Battle Damage".




  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Sunday, July 16, 2017 8:38 PM

Yes to new shrouds and ratlines but no go on new deadeyes and lanyards. Especially on a big fully rigged ship.

You will never get it right.

And before I get flogged, this is a builder new to ships, people.

No sense in setting a high bar for frustration.


  • Member since
    November, 2016
Posted by cabrown1 on Monday, July 17, 2017 7:58 AM

littletimmy : Vinyl

I too am returning to modeling after several years hiatus. I have Lindberg's "Jolly Roger" a.k.a. LeFlore on the work bench. I was thinking the same thing. I have the Airfix 1/180 HMS Victory on the shelf and it has a ratline jig included. I was planning on using the Lindberg deadeyes and making my own ratlines using the Airfix jig. Any thoughts/suggestions?

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Monday, July 17, 2017 8:28 AM

I do it both ways- replacing the deadeyes with aftermarket ones and thread for shrouds and ratlines, or adapting thread shrouds to the plastic deadeyes.  The adaption depends a lot on the particular kit and how the deadeyes are made, but it can usually be done with not too much work.  I find modifying the deadeyes takes far less time than actually rigging the shrouds and tying the ratlines, so whether you replace the deadeyes or modify the kit ones is usually not an important issue.  If I use kit parts where the deadeyes and lanyards are cast as one piece, I can usually do a decent job of painting the lanyards so they look separate from the deadyes.

On smaller scale ships I often just drill a hole in the top of the top deadeye and glue in the shroud.  For larger scale models I find some way to loop the thread around and wrap it, even if I have to drill a hole through the lanyards below the deadeye.



Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Monday, July 17, 2017 9:21 AM


 That would be Vinyl . Oh , by the way , Once I figured out Heller's rigging tool , plastic and vinyl ratlines became history .The Blocks and other necessary items came from such places as Bluejacket Shipcrafters and other places .

     Most of what I do when I do them now , are Chebeques and Down-Easters such as the Getrude Thebaud and the Bluenose , lots of Skipjacks too , and of course the America . Why ? Square Riggers , although busy and detailed , take up to much shelf space side to side .

 Plus they seem to always land on the rigging if they fall . Making a long and tedious task of re-building . I haven't had that problem with my Schooner rigs .

  • Member since
    July, 2012
  • From: Douglas AZ
Posted by littletimmy on Monday, July 17, 2017 2:29 PM

Vinyl..... Vinyl...Vinyl.

Thanks for the "spell check " guys ! You should have seen the mess I made ripping my hair out trying to spell that,

I usually only get dyslexic when I check my "empty" bank acc. and still see money in it !

     Dislexik? ... Dislexic ?... Dysllexic?... Oh NOOOOO......

 Dont worry about the thumbprint, paint it Rust , and call it "Battle Damage".




  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, July 17, 2017 3:38 PM

Once again though. Hand rigging the shrouds and ratlines, or adding the deadeyes and lanyards; to a 1/150 Wasa is not for the beginner. I sure would never take that on, and I've built a few ships in my time. Wasa like most large ships of the era, had a LOT of shrouds.

A good time to learn those skills in on a reasonable model, like a brig or a topsail schooner on 1/96 scale or bigger.

Those vinyl things are not too swell but can be made usable.

Tanks you are the ONLY person I've ever known that was able to make sense of the Heller tool. What for instance do you do with the top of each shroud? I suppose the one reasonable thing would be to seize it to itself, but that'd create a big mess below the crosstrees.


  • Member since
    February, 2015
Posted by BKR1888 on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 8:54 AM


Sorry for such a late reply but that's Virgin Media for you :)

Thanks for all the responses and suggestions. It seems on kits like the Vasa, Revell and other manufacturers should just give the builder alot of thead and plastic landyards/deadeyes with a nice video tutorial/step by step guide as it would improve really round out there kits and give said modeller actual skills for bigger ships with more detail. Though for a kit like the vasa my main concern would be the painting. 

I did have the chance to get the Heller Le Royal Louis a month ago but the rigging did put me off and the distinct lack of cannons which I don't really get.

I'll have the ability to get these kits in my hands in the next few days so I'll probably make a decision on the best course to take as you have given me good options. I did have a play around with some leftover sprues making my own rigging which turned out not too bad for my first attempt so I guess abit more practice would get that too a good standard. 

I also believe I have found an alternative method though tedious, could actually work. So instead of outright scrapping of the smooth ralines what about wrapping them in very thin thread at an angle so it looks like rope. I did this last night and it didn't look bad at all.


Has anyone tried this or is it just my invention :)


  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 11:54 AM

Hi ;

 What I usually do in that instance is leave a quarter inch or more of the vertical threads . When ready to mount them , I mount them Before the Platform and then in such a way that they can be seized for and aft over the crosstrees .

 This way I don't have a mess of heavy thread seized in one spot . It may not be accurate , but , It keeps an area from looking to  "Knotty ".

 Now for the cross threads , I run a fine sewing needle through the heavier vertical  thread and then give the whole thing a wash with Vaseline and India ink twice .Then with a wash of paint thinner and a final coat of heavy semi -Gloss Brown / Black.

   This imparts the tarred look to the standing rigging .    


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