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Any comments on the Cutty Sark article in July's FSM?

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  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Harrisburg, PA
Any comments on the Cutty Sark article in July's FSM?
Posted by Lufbery on Thursday, June 16, 2005 9:36 AM
Hi all,

Has anyone else read the article on the Revell Cutty Sark kit in this month's FSM?

I thought it was very good, but a little short. There were some good tips in there on using, modifying, and replacing kit parts, but rigging got short shrift.

What did you think?

Regards,

-Drew

Build what you like; like what you build.

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, June 16, 2005 12:21 PM
I agree with those comments. I also thought the photography was a little dark, which made it difficult to appreciate some of the work he'd done.

However, I'm glad to see that they put a plastic ship article in the magazine, since my current main project is a 1/196 Revell USS Constitution and I need all the help I can get Wink [;)]
  • Member since
    March 2004
  • From: Kincheloe Michigan
Posted by Mikeym_us on Thursday, June 16, 2005 1:30 PM
you lucky dog having the big Cutty Sark all I have is an un built Cutty Sark which is also Revell and I think its close to 1/720 scale or at least 1/500 scale from 1977.

On the workbench: Dragon 1/350 scale Ticonderoga class USS BunkerHill 1/720 scale Italeri USS Harry S. Truman 1/72 scale Encore Yak-6

The 71st Tactical Fighter Squadron the only Squadron to get an Air to Air kill and an Air to Ground kill in the same week with only a F-15   http://photobucket.com/albums/v332/Mikeym_us/

  • Member since
    January 2003
Posted by Jeff Herne on Thursday, June 16, 2005 4:53 PM
Glad you guys liked the article...keep something in mind though...we only get a certain number of pages to work with...and it's real easy to write an entire book on building the Cutty Sark (having done one myself).

Course, if I were to get my way, we'd have nothing but ship articles!! Big Smile [:D]

Just kidding of course...

Jeff
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, June 16, 2005 10:48 PM
So, I realize you're presumably not supposed to be hawking product on this discussion board, but do you want to say more about the book you wrote?!?
  • Member since
    January 2003
Posted by Jeff Herne on Thursday, June 16, 2005 11:01 PM
Well, actually, I wasn't referring to writing a book...I was referring to having built a Cutty Sark...

But...since you asked...I wrote the first in the Warship Perspectives Series, Fletcher, Gearing and Sumner Class Destroyers in WWII.

Jeff
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Greenville,Michigan
Posted by millard on Friday, June 17, 2005 7:40 PM
I thought it was a good article.I always pick-up a few new pointers which is great.I do enjoy these kind of articles.Keep up the good work Jeff.Tell the powers to be more ships,more ships, more ships.
Rod
  • Member since
    March 2004
  • From: Kincheloe Michigan
Posted by Mikeym_us on Friday, June 17, 2005 7:49 PM
heck how about a roundup of sailing ship kits

On the workbench: Dragon 1/350 scale Ticonderoga class USS BunkerHill 1/720 scale Italeri USS Harry S. Truman 1/72 scale Encore Yak-6

The 71st Tactical Fighter Squadron the only Squadron to get an Air to Air kill and an Air to Ground kill in the same week with only a F-15   http://photobucket.com/albums/v332/Mikeym_us/

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Lacombe, LA.
Posted by Big Jake on Friday, June 17, 2005 10:24 PM
What do you mean "round Up"?

Jake

 

 

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, June 18, 2005 2:25 PM
i liked the article, it inspired me to rebuild my cutty sark (same kit) its no small undertaking though...i built it when i was much younger, so it has: a lot of missing pieces, warped pieces, broken ones, no paint (in original black plastic), the masts are warped, really bad rigging, sails missing, and some pieces have too much or too little glue on them....idk what i got myself into...*gulp*
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Monday, June 20, 2005 9:53 AM
I liked the article, and I thought the finished model was pretty impressive. The author/builder knew what he was doing.

I got the impression that he deliberately imposed some limitations on himself. Ship modelers often do that; if they don't, a project like this one can take an inordinate amount of time. In this particular case, the author got rid of those horrible plastic-coated-thread "shrouds and ratlines," but he did use the plastic "deadeye and lanyard" assemblies. The model would have looked a great deal better if he'd replaced them with wood or metal deadeyes and thread lanyards - but I don't blame him for taking the approach he did.

It's a grand old kit. It is also, however, a product of its age - 1959. Many of the details in it aren't up to modern standards, and it makes a lot of compromises with accuracy for the sake of simplification.

Those "deadeyes and lanyards" are a prominent example. Apart from the fact that the "lanyards" look only vaguely like rope, the "deadeyes" are about twice as thick as they're supposed to be. That problem produced a sort of chain reaction in the design of the kit. The actual Cutty Sark's lower deadeyes have iron strops, which are riveted to the insides of the iron bulwarks. Revell's "deadeyes" are molded integrally with completely hokey, heavy plastic bars that are glued to the pinrails - and the pinrails, in order to accommodate those pieces, are about twice as wide as they ought to be. This may not be clear from the pictures in the article, but if you take a look at the kit you'll see what I mean. The pinrails abreast the fore- and mainmasts are twice as wide as the others. The real ship has a beautiful varnished teak pinrail, of consistent width, all around the main deck. The Revell version has enormous, ugly jogs in it. To fix that problem would be quite a project - the sort of thing that would make the builder think about working from scratch instead.

I'll stick my neck out a little and say that, in my opinion, this is the best article on building a sailing ship from a plastic kit that FSM has run. (Note the way I phrased that. FSM has carried some nice, brief articles on scratchbuilt sailing ship models - most notably those by Peter Speir.) May there be more like it. This phase of the hobby is just about dead; it would be nice if the magazines would help bring it back to life.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, June 20, 2005 2:46 PM
Reading all this is rather daunting!
I have Revell's large-scale Cutty Sark and Airfix's Royal Sovereign in the loft (both bought very cheaply
at second-hand sales), and, though sailing ships aren't an area I'm usually interested in, I always intended
to build them one day when I had the space. They looked, to my inexperienced eye, like very impressive, detailed kits.

However, from all the things I've read here about the general level of accuracy of the Cutty Sark, Victory and other
old plastic large-scale sailing ship kits, it seems like building any of them "out of the box" would be more or less equivalent to building a model of a Spitfire, sticking Sidewinder missiles on it, painting it olive drab, and applying World War 1-era RFC roundels.

What do I do?
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Monday, June 20, 2005 10:05 PM
Drawde -

What do you do? Well...I'll offer three basic suggestions. One - have fun. Two - don't get intimidated. Three - learn as you go.

Nowadays I have trouble recommending particular plastic sailing ship kits to people just getting into the hobby, for the simple reason that so few such kits are still on the market. My standard advice regarding wood kits is: start with a small vessel on a large scale. But I have trouble thinking of many - if any - currently available plastic sailing ship kits that meet those criteria. In principle, you're better off with something that doesn't have an enormous amount of rigging. And small scales present particular problems: the quarters for moving your fingers around get mighty tight, the rigging line gets fine, and the plastic spars become so flexible that they can't withstand the pull of the lines. (Many experienced modelers replace plastic yards and masts with wood ones.)

Though I haven't seen them in person, I've heard that the recent Trumpeter Golden Hind and Mayflower kits are good starters - pretty big, and reasonably well detailed. The Airfix Golden Hind seems to be fairly common in the hobby shops; it's smaller than the Trumpeter one, but looks like a decent kit. Other good choices might be the Heller Nina, Pinta, and/or Santa Maria.

I'm a long-time believer in plastic sailing ship kits, but the manufacturers are shooting themselves in the feet these days. About the only kits that seem to be widely available any more are very small representations of big ships (the Revell and Airfix Victory's and the Airfix Wasa) and a few huge kits that, though good kits, really aren't suitable for newcomers (the big Revell Constitution and Cutty Sark, and the Heller Victory). There was a time when one could find a decent assortment of schooners, sloops, and other small-to-medium-sized sailing vessels in plastic; those days seem to be gone.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Monterey Bay, CA
Posted by schoonerbumm on Thursday, June 23, 2005 6:44 PM
My hat's off to Mr. Lipkin and FSM for a beautiful presentation of Revell's venerable Cutty Sark.

What's missing from the article, though, is Mr. Lipkin's secrets for tuning the rig. How did he use the plastic masts and yards and still keep ALL of his standing and running rigging TAUT?

Most of us who have tried to tackle Revell's 1/96 monsters would find this subject worthy of an article in itself.

Alan

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin

  • Member since
    October 2004
Posted by gleason on Thursday, June 23, 2005 11:27 PM
Excellant idea..

Let's hope Mr. Lipkin is a reader of this forum, and maybe FSM can talk him
into writing the article....

<Gleason>

QUOTE: Originally posted by schoonerbumm

My hat's off to Mr. Lipkin and FSM for a beautiful presentation of Revell's venerable Cutty Sark.

What's missing from the article, though, is Mr. Lipkin's secrets for tuning the rig. How did he use the plastic masts and yards and still keep ALL of his standing and running rigging TAUT?

Most of us who have tried to tackle Revell's 1/96 monsters would find this subject worthy of an article in itself.
  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Lacombe, LA.
Posted by Big Jake on Monday, June 27, 2005 7:32 PM
I had a chance to read the article ( Thank You Rod Millard) I like the smaller detail he placed on the model. I did the same thing with my deck sections to give better support. On this model I had no problem getting the rigging just right. The plastic has enough mass to keep from bending. I did the samething to the ratlines by hand tying them . I wish I could mak one of the heller jigs work out for this model, but because you need to rig over/under it's hard to fit the shrouds through the lubber holes. Mr. Lipkin must have had a fit trying to get the rl's rigged with the mast inplace? The model was l ong overdue for some attention in the magazine. Well Done, Mr. Lipkin.

Jake

 

 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 10:33 AM
Jake - I think you underestimate yourself. In my opinion you made a wise decision in rigging the ratlines by hand.

I haven't built the old Revell Cutty Sark for many years, but on the basis of quite a few other models I have to say I don' t think rigging the ratlines on this one would be much of a problem. This ship, in fact, might be a good subject for learning how to do it - simply because she doesn't have many shrouds. (If I remember right, the Victory has about twice as many.) With all due respect to those who've gotten good results with them, I agree with the considerable number of people who think those Heller-style jigs are a waste of time and effort.

The Great Ratline Problem has been confounding plastic ship model manufacturers and their customers for more than fifty years now. It's high time for somebody to reveal the truth: rigging ratlines to scale is easy. It takes a certain amount of time, but not nearly as much as many people seem to think - and probably not much more than using those jigs. Ratlines don't require any more skill or dexterity than plenty of other rigging jobs. If your fingers and eyesight are up to rigging a ship model at all, and if your patience can handle the assembly of all those gun barrels and carriages on the Heller Victory, you won't have any trouble rigging ratlines to scale. I'm convinced that most modelers can do it - if they have a little confidence in their fingers, and are willing to spend just a little time learning how.

Different modelers find different sequences work best for them. For my particular fingers, the easiest sequence is to step the mast, then rig the lower shrouds, then rig the lower stay, then rig the ratlines. That way there are, to all intents and purposes, no other lines to get in the way of the ratline operation.

The key part of the process is to cut a piece of stiff, white paper (a file card works well) so it fits between the upper end of the shrouds and whatever the lower deadeyes are fastened to (in this case the pinrail). On that paper rule a series of parallel lines, the same distance apart as the ratlines are to be (in this case about 1/8"). The paper serves two purposes. It helps you put the ratlines in the right places, and it keeps your eyeballs from confusing the shrouds with any lines in the background.

For the ratlines themelves, use the finest thread you can find. (You're unlikely to make them too small). If you're right-handed, you'll probably find it easiest to work from left to right. Take a length of the fine thread about 8" long and tie one end, using a reef (square) knot, around the left-hand shroud, lining your knot up with the appropriate line on the paper. Then tie it in a clove hitch around the next shroud, and the next, and so on, finishing off with a reef knot around the last one. Put a tiny drop of Elmer's glue on the first and last knots (not the intervening ones), and snip off the ratline, leaving half an inch or so for the time being. Then go on to the next one. When the glue dries, snip off the ends. (That's actually the most nerve-wracking part. If you accidentally cut through a shroud, you have to start over.)

I think what discourages people about all this is that there's a fairly steep, but short, learning curve involved. Rigging that first ratline probably will take you ten minutes or so, and if you count all the ratlines in the ship you'll get depressed. But if you keep at it you'll discover that the next one goes faster - and by the time you get to the masthead you'll be rigging one ratline per minute.

My guess is that rigging the ratlines on the lower masts of the Revell Cutty Sark would take two or three admittedly rather boring evenings. (One of the most valuable tools in my workshop is a cheap stereo system. Good music, or an audio book, makes ratline rigging much more tolerable.) That's not a lot of time, considered in the context of the whole project. And the improvement in the appearance of the model will be enormous - as Mr. Lipkin's article demonstrates. I can't think of anything that can improve the look of a sailing ship model more than a nicely-rigged set of ratlines.

I don't think many modelers will have much trouble using this method on 1/96 scale. On smaller scales some good, experienced modelers prefer the "through-the-shroud" method. In this one, you use a needle to shove the ratline thread through each of the shrouds, instead of tying knots. That obviously isn't as realistic, but on small scales it can be made to work pretty well.

To all those who are intimidated by ratlines, my suggestion is - give it a try. I think you'll be surprised at how easy it turns out to be.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Monterey Bay, CA
Posted by schoonerbumm on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 3:44 PM
Expounding on Dr. Tilley’s comment to use as fine of thread as possible for ratlines, I would go even further…. Human hair or 36-gage wire would be more appropriate. Based on Steel’s Elements of Mastmaking and Rigging (no serious sailing ship modeler should be without), ratlines were 1.5 inch in circumference (0.477 in diameter), regardless of the size of the ship. Scaling to 1/96, this is about a 0.005 inch diameter. Coarse black hair ranges 0.003 to 0.007 in. dia. I’m not sure what the finest thread diameter that is available. Scaling down to the 1/150 (Heller) range, fine blond hair would be more to scale.

As a square-rigger sailor, my personal view is that more models, especially plastic kits, are ruined by ratlines than benefit from them. Everyone knows that ships had them, so everyone wants to include them, more often than not, resulting in distorted, knarly shrouds. When shrouds and stays are concerned, the modeler must focus on TENSION… These lines are the ship’s primary structural elements, and should be prioritized as such. The ratlines should be installed in such a manner that the shrouds are unaffected (suggesting that a drop of glue may be safer that tying for most of us).

One option is to leave them off completely (especially for the smaller scales). In many of my photos, the ratlines aren’t even apparent. Many 18th and 19th century painters, who had opportunity for real time observation of their subjects, did not include ratlines in their renderings.

Another consideration for ratlines is the number/spacing of them. A five foot sailor would have to use them as a ladder… a four foot spacing would be a challenge, yet it is not unusual to see 6 feet (or greater) steps on models.

Another shroud tension issue for plastic models is the pre-molded lanyard/deadeye assemblies. On the ship, these were integral, flexible tension members with the shrouds, meaning that their alignment was perfectly linear. This is self correcting when rigging with separate blocks and lanyards on most wooden kits. On plastic kits, these are usually molded as integral assemblies, and unfortunately on most the kit designers were not too particular about the angles of the lanyard/deadeye assemblies in either plane. This is evident in figures 21 and 23 of the FSM Cutty Sark article. There are unrealistic kinks where the shrouds attach to the upper deadeyes.

One solution to this problem was offered in Revell’s old Charles W. Morgan kit. The shrouds were connected at the channels and the lanyard/deadeye assemblies were later glued to the shrouds. This technique can be applied to other kits with a little surgery. The lanyard/deadeyes will want to twist, but the axial alignment can be restored by replacing the shroud batten (that little beam above the top deadeyes which will have to be trimmed of anyway for realignment) with a length of brass wire, bonded to the top of each deadeye.

For those interested in throwing away the kit rigging completely and rerigging from scratch, I’d recommend Phillip Reed’s “Modeling Sailing Men-of-War”. The book runs ~$45-60 new. They are hard to find used (tells you something).

For those interested in buying the finished ship illustrated in the book, HMS Majestic, Michael Wall’s little shop in Salem has it available…. For only $45,000.


Alan

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 5:41 PM
I agree with everything Schoonerbum said - with one small, tangential caveat. Human hair probably would be ok for ratlines, which are supposed to sag between the shrouds. In other applications it has a big problem: it's affected by humidity. Modelers who've used it to rig small-scale models report that it looks great in the beginning, but as soon as the humidity changes the hair starts shrinking and expanding. I don't speak from personal experience; those accounts have scared me away from the stuff.

One of the most valued possessions in my workshop is a spool of nickel-chromium wire, .0025" in diameter, that a friend found about thirty years ago in a military surplus store. It's a heavy-duty, industrial spool; I have no idea how many miles of wire are on it, but I'm zealously protective of it. This stuff seems to be just about ideal for ratlines on fairly small scales. It's soft enough to be tied in a clove hitch, but stiff enough to retain the "sag" (introduced with tweezers) between the shrouds.

Photos of a couple of my models are posted on the Drydock Models website ( www.drydockmodels.com ), and illustrate what Schoonerbum and I are talking about. The frigate Hancock's ratlines ( http://gallery.drydockmodels.com/hancock ) are made with that nickel-chromium wire. Those of H.M.S. Bounty ( http://gallery.drydockmodels.com/album207 ) are made of the finest silk thread I could find at the time. (My friend gave me the spool of wire a year or so later.) There's not much doubt which looks better.

Some remarkably fine nylon and other synthetic thread - considerably finer than the silk on the Bounty - is available these days. But until I use up that spool I think I'll stick with wire.

I also agree about the old Revell Charles W. Morgan. At that point Revell had just about figured out how to do a sailing vessel. The company still seemed to be wedded to those plastic-coated-thread "shrouds and ratlines," but somebody had figured out that rigid plastic deadeyes and lanyards looked phony. I wish that kit would reappear. It was one of the company's best efforts.

For those working on small scales and not wanting to rig scale deadeyes and lanyards, there is a partial solution. Bluejacket makes cast britannia metal "deadeye combo" assemblies. Each represents a pair of deadeyes and the lanyards between them; they have small holes cast in them, so the shroud can be attached to one end and the chainplate to the other. The problem is that all the "combo units" in a given deadeye diameter are the same length. In a big ship, with lots of shrouds, the deadeyes at the after end of the channel are considerably farther apart than the ones at the forward end. The Bluejacket parts, though, probably could be made to work pretty well on a model that didn't have too many shrouds - e.g., the Cutty Sark.

There's at least one other very interesting approach to the problem of shrouds and ratlines on very small scales. Some time ago I bought, via the web, a 1/700 cast metal model of H.M.S. Victory from a British company called Skytrex (www.skytrex.com ). The hull is a beautiful casting - one of the most accurate renditions of the ship in kit form. And the shrouds and ratlines are photo-etched brass. I'm not completely happy with them; they're a little heavy for the scale, and the ratlines are the same thickness as the shrouds. But the idea seems to have a good deal of potential.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

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