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Rigging progress comments

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  • Member since
    February 2006
  • From: Boston
Rigging progress comments
Posted by Wilbur Wright on Tuesday, December 26, 2006 2:08 PM

First off, Happy Holidays to all on here.

 

I have done most of the standard rigging on my CSS Alabama model, and although I'm sure I've made some mistakes I think it looks good and I'm satisfied thus far. Every single Revell padeye that I touched broke......so after about 10 I just broke all of them off and replaced with homemade wire padeyes, after drilling out the deck. If you recall I had installed the originals before I learned on this forum I should have done this first. I have also decided not to install the grossly out of scale ratlines, and have instead used a smaller thread to replace them running straight up. Not real ratlines however it looks ok and in scale. 

I've been using a fine, stamp collectors tweezers to do all this and they work quite well. I'm having difficulty in how experienced ship model builders tie the thread around the belaying pins. It seems a daunting task where the distance between the pins is almost the same diameter as the thread. I've used the Revell large black thread for the shrouds etc. Their tan thread for the running rigging seams way too thick to work with. I'm sure to break every pin I touch.

Do you folks replace kit thread? Do you prefer cotton to nylon etc, if you do buy other thread???  I used a smaller thread to replace the ratlines and ran it through beeswax as suggested and that seemed to work well seeing it was my first time at it.

I'm also super gluing a small amount from a pin, on every knot and at times just using super glue and no knot if I find it impossible to tie.

Comments appreciated 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Tuesday, December 26, 2006 4:17 PM
First of all, it's been said many times before in this Forum but it needs to be borne in mind by everybody: what matters is what satisfies you, and what you enjoy doing. The day a modeler gets intimidated by somebody else's standards or opinions is the day the hobby ceases to do what it's supposed to do.

I honestly don't know what kind of thread Revell packs in its boxes nowadays, but my suspicion is that it's not very good. Experienced ship modelers spend lots of time arguing about the best material for rigging. My own first choice is silk, but my supply of it has dried up. I like the "cotton-poly mix" that's sold by Model Shipways (via Model Expo - www.modelexpooonline.com ); it has a nice, rope-like appearance, good color, and seems to tie well. Some veterans insist that linen is the only "proper" rigging material, but I disagree.

In any case, one of the easiest ways to improve the appearance of a sailing ship model is to introduce a big variety of rigging line sizes. In a real ship the sizes number in the dozens. That's probably more than you want to worry about at this point, but if you use three or four different diameters - with the ones that came in the kit being the largest - you'll be surprised at how much better your model looks. Prototype practice regarding rigging diameters can get kind of complicated - especially in a ship like the Alabama, which (if I remember correctly) used wire for some of her standing rigging. (Wire rigging, generally speaking, is thinner than rope rigging used for the same job.) The general rule, though, is: the higher up, and the lighter the job, the thinner the rope. (It's actually quite a bit more complicated than that, but I suspect that'll do for your present purposes.)

It's almost always a good idea to replace plastic eyebolts and belaying pins. Styrene is wonderful stuff, but it has its limits; by nature it isn't ideal for parts that are subjected to the kind of breaking strain that comes on fittings of that sort. If you've already cemented all your pinrails and fiferails into place, you may decide it's too late to replace the pins. If you want to give it a shot, though, it's not difficult. Slice off the plastic pins, sand (or file) the top and bottom of the pinrail smooth, and drill a series of holes of the appropriate diameter with a pin vise. For the pins themselves you have a couple of options. Aftermarket suppliers, such as Bluejacket (www.bluejacketinc.com) sell some nice turned brass belaying pins - but they aren't cheap, and even the smallest ones on the list (1/4") are pretty big for that particular model. The less expensive option is to use lengths of brass wire, stuck in place with superglue. That arrangement can be made to look pretty good - especially if you round over the tops of the pins, and blacken them (with either a metal toner or paint).

Looping lines around belaying pins is indeed a little tricky, but (like most such tasks in sailing ship modeling) it gets easier pretty fast with practice. One trick: form a loop in the line in such a way that the hauling end passes over the standing end, then slip the loop around the pin underneath the pinrail. Pull the hauling end and the line will be locked in place firmly enough that you can take three or four turns around the top and bottom of the pin in a figure-8. Then put a blob of white glue (e.g., Elmer's) on the top of the pin and arrange the remaining line around it in a loose coil. (Some modelers spend lots of time making rope coils off the model, and glue them to the pins afterward. That works, but I personally have always found it easier simply to coil up the end of the line itself.) I strongly recommend white glue as a rigging adhesive. It doesn't stiffen the line as much as superglue does, and, most importantly, it can always be softened up with a drop of water. You'll appreciate that point the first time you decide to rerig a line, because it either got busted or mysteriously went slack.

Various companies make "rigging tools" to help with such jobs. Some experienced modelers swear by them, but I personally get along fine with four: a small pair of tweezers with sharp points, a much longer pair of tweezers that can reach all the way across the ship, a sharp-pointed metal probe to apply small dots of white glue, and a small, sharp pair of scissors. It's vital that the tweezers be of high quality, with points that match up precisely and clamp effectively at their very tips. Small scissors can be found in various places; again, the key is to find a pair that will cut thread right at the tips of the blades. (Rather surprisingly, perhaps, the scissors on Swiss Army knives work beautifully - though the big red handle makes them a little clumsy.)

Another tool that may come in handy is one you can make yourself in a few minutes. Get hold of a big darning needle and break it at the midpoint of the eye. (If the two sides of the eye don't break evenly, either grind the long one down or get another needle and try again.) Shove the pointy end of the needle into the end of a dowel or stick that's long enough to reach across the ship. The "V" formed by what was the eye of the needle can be used to shove recalcitrant rigging lines under pinrails.

Hope that helps a little. Ship model rigging is full of fairly steep, but short, "learning curves." Stick with it and you'll get better at it - remarkably quickly. Good luck.

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

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by Yankee Clipper on Tuesday, December 26, 2006 6:25 PM

John,

I have always enjoyed your responses to inquiries of the ship building fans out there, this thread included. Have you ever thought about doing some "Shop Notes"?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Yankee Clipper

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Tuesday, December 26, 2006 10:48 PM
Yankee Clipper - many thanks; that's a nice compliment. I have thought about writing a book about ship modeling. Maybe that would be a good retirement project for a few years down the road.

My biggest reservation concerns finding a good publisher - one who understands what scale modeling is about, is willing to put some money into a project that wouldn't be a big-seller overnight, and has the wherewithal to reproduce pictures (drawings, photos, plans, etc.) to a high standard. I've had a couple of less-than-happy experiences with book publishers in the past; I wouldn't want to undertake another book unless I were confident that the publisher would do a nice job with it. Maybe, one of these days....

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

  • Member since
    May 2006
  • From: Chapin, South Carolina
Posted by Shipwreck on Wednesday, December 27, 2006 5:12 AM
I hope that some day is soon. Thanks for sharing, John!

On the Bench:

Kinetic 1/48 MQ-9 Drone

Revell 1/96 USS Constitution - rigging

Trumpeter 1/350 USS Hornet CV-8

Revell 1/48 B-1B Lancer Prep & Reasearch

 

 

  • Member since
    February 2006
  • From: Boston
Posted by Wilbur Wright on Wednesday, December 27, 2006 1:00 PM

Thanks for the info John............too late to replace the pins on inner side of hull on this model, however I did replace the mid deck pinrails. I had to, they were total flash. It is quite true even in looking at the few photos of the Alabama on deck that the lines vary in size, and that using different thread size really makes the ship look much more authentic.

If you look at the Constitution either in person (I am fortunate to live about an hour from) or in the many HQ photos available online you can see the many different sizes of line contributing to the awesome look of the ship.

I hope C/A doesn't deteriorate as my masterpiece is my CVN-65 with extensive GMM fittings....all super glued. I'd like to believe my future grandchildren will get the ship in its whole form as built.

Anyway I know everyone on here would buy your book, including me. Better to wait and do it right as you say, there certainly are some very bad photos in modeling books. 

Cheers 

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: vernon hills illinois
Posted by sumpter250 on Wednesday, December 27, 2006 3:17 PM

I have thought about writing a book about ship modeling. Maybe that would be a good retirement project for a few years down the road.

I'll put that one on my wish list now!

Lead me not into temptation ..................I can find it myself

  • Member since
    September 2006
Posted by mdonovan on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 7:57 PM

This was very helpful to me as well. Thanks!

  • Member since
    May 2006
  • From: Chapin, South Carolina
Posted by Shipwreck on Thursday, January 14, 2010 1:03 PM

Lets try an application. If I use six different size ropes  (.005 to.017) on my 1:96 Cutty Sark, I would have to get them from various vendors (Model Expo, Historic ships, Blue jacket, and Micro Mark). They will not all be the same! How would such a mix look on a completed model?

On the Bench:

Kinetic 1/48 MQ-9 Drone

Revell 1/96 USS Constitution - rigging

Trumpeter 1/350 USS Hornet CV-8

Revell 1/48 B-1B Lancer Prep & Reasearch

 

 

  • Member since
    February 2006
  • From: Boston
Posted by Wilbur Wright on Thursday, January 14, 2010 2:56 PM

Do yourself a favor and go to the local sewing shop, or big box sewing center wherever you live to get the thread. They will have every size in every color and material and will be comparatively cheap.

The thread sizes are supposed  to look different thats the point. Look at the Cutty Sark photos on the web, you can see this first hand in the photos. All the line types are different.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, January 14, 2010 3:01 PM

Shipwreck

Lets try an application. If I use six different size ropes  (.005 to.017) on my 1:96 Cutty Sark, I would have to get them from various vendors (Model Expo, Historic ships, Blue jacket, and Micro Mark). They will not all be the same! How would such a mix look on a completed model?

That depends on the particular case.  The various brands of line are available in several different sizes; there may be enough different ones of a given brand to look satisfactory on a specific model.  (Remember that, in most cases, there will be variations not only in size but in color.  You're right, I think, in implying that it would be best to stick with one brand as much as possible.  If that doesn't work - if, for instance, the smallest size in the brand you like isn't quite small enough, you need to order that size in the brand you can get, and compare it with the larger ones.  Your eye and judgment have to make the decision.

There's no getting around the problem completely:  the manufacturers simply don't offer enough different sizes of thread that works well for ship model rigging on all scales.  But there's enough good stuff on the market these days to do pretty well.

The best solution, of course, is to make the rope yourself.  My little models of H.M.S. Bounty and the Continental frigate Hancock ( http://www.hmsvictoryscalemodels.be/johntilleygallery.htm ) have rigging that started out as one diameter of silk, several dozen spools of which got spun up on a crude, homemade "rope-making machine."  (Exceptions:  some of the very finest lines on those models, most notably the Hancock's ratlines, are wire.)  Making such a gadget isn't as difficult as some people probably think, but making up the rope for a good-sized model does take a good deal of time.  In the case of a relatively large-scale model, it also takes a good bit of space.  The individual strands making up the topgallant backstays for my 1/100 Heller Soleil Royal (a model that, as I've explained ad nauseum in other threads, I fervently wish I'd never built) were about twenty feet long - with the two parts of the rope-making machine set on opposite sides of my parents' basement.

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

  • Member since
    December 2005
Posted by Bigboat on Thursday, January 14, 2010 8:36 PM

Hi Prof Tilley,

Following on the discussion of rigging, I am building the Seeadler in 1/232 scale. It seems to me that if I were viewing the actual ship from a reasonable distance I would not be able to make out the blocks on the rigging. I know that some people just blobs of glue to simulate blocks but I had a another idea which was to use very small opaque matt glass beads to run the rigging thread through, At a scale distance, I thought they would look realistic. Any thoughts about this idea? How do other ship modelers deal with with small scale rigging components other than thread?

Best

Barry

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Friday, January 15, 2010 2:24 AM

My personal opinion, for what little it's worth, is that 3/32"=1' (i.e, 1/128) is about the smallest scale on which it's practical to rig a ship model using "genuine" blocks and deadeyes.  I suppose it could be done at 1/16"=1' (1/192) if the specific ship's rigging was fairly simple, or if one gave up on "genuine" blocks for the lighter lines - but for my eyesight and fingers 3/32"=1' is just about the limit.

The "bead" idea is a good one.  Don't rule out the "knot" approach either, though.  I've seen it used quite effectively.  My favorite material for that purpose is Franklin "Titebond For Dark Woods."  It's brown in color, and somewhat thicker than traditional "white" glue.  A tiny blob will start to set in a minute or two, and in its partially-dry state can be gently shaped with a toothpick or a pair of tweezers into something that, to the average eye, looks remarkably like a block or a deadeye.

It sounds like Bigboat may be working on the old Revell Seeadler kit.  It's not for me to say yea or nay about what kits are and aren't worth building but, on the theory that a modeler is entitled to go into such a project with eyes wide open, I do think anybody tackling that one in particular ought to take a look at this thread:  /forums/t/123717.aspx .

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

  • Member since
    December 2005
Posted by Bigboat on Friday, January 15, 2010 11:43 PM

Prof Tilley-

Thanks for the thoughtful response. One more question on rigging and then a response on my choice of the Seeadler. I read  a post from you some time ago a  in response to a question on whether the yards on a 1/96 scale plastic model ( the Constitution, I believe) should be switched for wood due to fears of the plastic yards sagging under the tension of the rigging. Your response was that you felt that the plastic is strong enough.  How about a model like the Seeadler in 1/232 scale?  If you recommend switching to wood, how would I create all of the molded fittings on the plastic pieces? If I kept the plastic, which I prefer, should I try to strengthen it in some way. Thank you in advance for your opinion as well as to any other members who could offer ideas.

Regarding the Seeadler, I am already aware of your criticism of the lack of authenticity of this model from earlier posts. But the answer to my wish to build it links  to the tradeoff between enjoyment of the hobby and strict authenticity which you refer to occassionally.  I am now 57 years old. When I was about 11, I was visiting a friend of mine who had on his shelf a finished model of the Seeadler.  I thought it was so beautiful and I often thought about making one but never got around to it although I did make other models. A couple of years a ago I decided to look for one and found it on ebay and was thrilled! Thus I am looking forward to creating something I have thought about for 46 years! Also, for the first time I will post pictures of my build.

Best

Barry

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Saturday, January 16, 2010 7:16 AM

Bigboat

Prof Tilley-

I read  a post from you some time ago a  in response to a question on whether the yards on a 1/96 scale plastic model ( the Constitution, I believe) should be switched for wood due to fears of the plastic yards sagging under the tension of the rigging. Your response was that you felt that the plastic is strong enough.  How about a model like the Seeadler in 1/232 scale?  If you recommend switching to wood, how would I create all of the molded fittings on the plastic pieces? If I kept the plastic, which I prefer, should I try to strengthen it in some way. Thank you in advance for your opinion as well as to any other members who could offer ideas.

Regarding the Seeadler, I am already aware of your criticism of the lack of authenticity of this model from earlier posts. But the answer to my wish to build it links  to the tradeoff between enjoyment of the hobby and strict authenticity which you refer to occassionally.  I am now 57 years old. When I was about 11, I was visiting a friend of mine who had on his shelf a finished model of the Seeadler.  I thought it was so beautiful and I often thought about making one but never got around to it although I did make other models. A couple of years a ago I decided to look for one and found it on ebay and was thrilled! Thus I am looking forward to creating something I have thought about for 46 years! Also, for the first time I will post pictures of my build.

Best

Barry

I'm afraid I don't have a straightforward answer to the question about plastic vs. wood spars.  There are several things to take into consideration.

The last time I built a model on a small scale using the kit spars (a l-o-n-g time ago) I didn't have any trouble with the spars bending.  Remember that the system of rigging is designed to prevent such things from happening in the real ship.  On the other hand, I've read all sorts of horror stories in recent years about the declining quality of the styrene some of the kit manufacturers are using nowadays - and I've seen photos posted on this forum that support those stories.  On the other hand, a Revell Seeadler kit is, by definition, several decades old; I have no idea how flexible the plastic in it is.  (For that matter, some of the parts may have warped, putting you at a disadvantage before you start.)  

Another consideration:  just how much of the rigging do you intend to represent?  This is a full-rigged latter-day sailing ship; reproducing every piece of rigging on that tiny scale would be an enormous project - and one I don't recommend for any but the highly experienced.  You might want to consider only including the standing rigging and the most conspicuous and basic of the running rigging:  the braces, lifts, halyards, and maybe a few others.  For most people's eyeballs that would be plenty for such a small model - and it shouldn't be too hard to keep the line tensions balanced with no more lines than that.

Scratchbuilding the spars of a latter-day sailing vessel on that scale would indeed be quite a challenge.  If I were doing it I'm not sure I'd use wood at all; I'd probably make them out of brass.  (The real ship probably had steel lower and topsail yards - and maybe steel topgallant yards as well.  The royal yards probably were wood.)  I think my suggestion is to use the kit parts, unless that just turns out to be impracticable.

I sympathize completely with your choice of kit.  In all the comments I write about the dubious accuracy of kits (and the wood kit manufacturers, let it be noted, have perpetrated far more horrors in that regard than the plastic kit companies), I've tried to emphasize that such decisions always need to be up to the individual modeler.  I just think modelers need to go into such projects with their eyes open.  I vividly remember my disgust when, during the last phases of my Heller Soleil Royal, I started to realize how wretchedly inaccurate it was.  If I'd done my homework in advance - or if a web forum like this one had been available - I never would have bought the thing - let alone spent all those hours on it.  But, as the various forum threads about that kit have demonstrated, other modelers feel differently about it.  To each his (or her) own; it is, after all - for most of us, at any rate - a hobby.

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

  • Member since
    December 2005
Posted by Bigboat on Saturday, January 16, 2010 1:12 PM

Hi Prof.Tilley.

Your advice and suggestions are, as usual, very thoughtful. I will follow them and will provide feedback on the result.

Best

Barry

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