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Shrouds and deadeyes

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  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Greenville,Michigan
Shrouds and deadeyes
Posted by millard on Sunday, June 10, 2007 11:11 AM

 How doe everyone do there shrouds and deadeyes?Do you go front to back or back to front on your mast.And also do you go bow to stern doing your rigging?I always go bow to stern it seems to keep my rigging tighter.And I always do the shrouds and deadeyes on the model not off in a jig.Better control of the tension.

Rod

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: vernon hills illinois
Posted by sumpter250 on Sunday, June 10, 2007 12:11 PM
   I usually rig the bowsprit, guys, bobstay, footropes, backropes, etc. first, then set the fore lower mast, and hold with temporary shrouds while I rig the fore stay, and fore preventer stay(if applicable), setting these up to fittings on the stem. Then, the fore lower shrouds, forward starboard pair first, forward port pair next, and alternating starboard, then port, to the aftermost shroud. Step the main lower mast, set stays (with temporary shrouds to hold the mast) then main lower shrouds, same as fore. Mizzen last. Back forward for the topmast, and again as with the lower masts. I usually have decided just how well rigged the model will be, as all the fittings, eyebolts, blocks, mast bands, etc have to be in place before erecting the mast. I will complete the standing rigging, before I begin the running rigging. If beckets, or fairleads, need to be siezed to stays, or shrouds, it is done "on the model" not the bench. If sails are to be bent to the yards, I will usually do that before raising the yards to their positions on the masts. All the sail handling lines will be attached before raising also, Once each yard is in place, the lines are rove through respective blocks, fairleads etc. and belayed, before the next yard is installed. Once again, you have to decide just how much you intend to rig. Things like jib hanks, mast hoops, sheaves slotted into masts and spars, etc. have to be there before the mast is erected, and rigging can begin.

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

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Sunday, June 10, 2007 12:30 PM

If you want the shrouds and deadeyes to look "to scale," you just about have to start with the foremost one on a mast and work your way aft.  Shrouds (unless there's an odd number of them in a gang) are set up in pairs, looped around the masthead.  The loops ("collars")are seized firmly around the masthead, with one loop stacked on top of another.  The first pair to be rigged is the foremost pair on the starboard side; the collar forming that pair needs to be the one on the bottom of the stack.  Then comes the foremost port pair, then the second pair on the starboard side, the second pair on the port side, etc.

That seems to have been a general rule throughout the sailing ship period.

There were, however, some changes in the handling of the odd-numbered shroud (if there was an odd number).  James Lees's Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War says quite emphatically that the aftermost shroud in the gang, sometimes called a "swifter," was rigged individually with an eyesplice.  I've seen other sources that say the foremost shroud in the gang was the one treated differently, and that it started on one side of the ship, went all the way around the masthead, and went down the other side.  And the chief rigger at Mystic Seaport told me, many years ago, that the foremost shrouds on each side of the fore and main masts of the Charles W. Morgan were called "stiffeners," and were set up individually, with eye splices, so they could be slacked off to give the lower yard a little more room to swing when the ship was working to windward.  I've never encountered that explanation elsewhere, but it makes sense - and that gentleman certainly knew what he was talking about.

I've never had much success trying to set up deadeyes and lanyards off the model.  The key to a nice-looking set of shrouds is to set them up taut - really taut.  The only way I've ever been able to manage that is in the prototypical manner - by hauling them taut with the lanyards. You have to estimate how much the shroud is going to stretch when it's hauled taut, and locate the deadeye accordingly.  (You can cheat a little by leaving the seizing lines untrimmed until you're almost finished, so you if you get the deadeye in the wrong place you can move it.)  

I generally rig the lanyards before seizing the collar at the masthead, and deliberately leave a little slack in the shrouds when I set up the lanyards; putting the seizing on the collar then tightens them.  Another trick that I've found useful is to leave off the bolster - the quarter-round piece of wood that sits on top of the trestletree at the masthead, for the upper end of the shroud to run over - until all the shrouds have been set up.  I make the bolster out of a long (i.e., a couple of inches) stick, with a sharp point shaved on one end.  Shoving the stick under the stack of shroud seizings tightens the shrouds a little more, and the bolster can be trimmed to length afterward.  If the result is that the mast leans backward a tiny bit further than it should, so much the better; you can make the final adjustment when you set up the stay.  (The stay, with the exceptions of some ships near the end of the sailing ship era, has to be rigged after the shrouds.  The stay collar, running at a steep angle, has to rest outside/on top of the shroud collars.)

I don't think it actually makes much difference which mast you rig first.  (Exception:  sometimes one encounters a rigging plan in which the lower end of the mizzen stay is secured to the mainmast a few feet up from the deck.  In a case like that, the mast to which the lower end of the stay is fixed obviously has to be rigged first; you can't allow a wiggling mainmast to slack off the mizzen stay.)  The last few times I've done this sort of thing I started with the mainmast, because, being bigger, it's a little easier.  Then I rigged the mizzenmast because, having fewer shrouds, it breaks up the monotony a little.  With the main and mizzen done, the end is in sight and I can usually muster up the energy to do the foremast. 

In my experience, setting up the lower shrouds is the trickiest part of rigging a ship model.  The kit manufacturers have, over the decades, tried all sorts of jigs and other dodges to make it easier, but I've never seen one that actually worked.  (The system Heller used in its H.M.S. Victory, for instance, is pretty clever, but doesn't work because it assumes the distance between the upper and lower deadeyes is constant.  It isn't.  The aftermost deadeyes in a gang are considerably farther apart than the foremost ones, because the aftermost shroud runs at a considerable angle.  The upper deadeyes of a Victory model rigged with a Heller jig would lie in a line that sloped down by the stern.)  Model Shipways recently introduced a neat little adjustable jig that supposedly holds a pair of deadeyes a set distance apart while the lanyard is rigged.  I haven't tried that one; it may actually work.  On the basis of what the Model Expo website says about it, though, it looks to me like there aren't enough "distance settings" to cover the very slight differences in spacing encountered in a gang of shrouds on board a good-sized ship. 

I'd be receptive to any new ideas on the subject, but so far I haven't found an acceptable substitute for "doing it the old-fashioned way." 

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

  • Member since
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  • From: Chapin, South Carolina
Posted by Shipwreck on Sunday, June 10, 2007 6:46 PM
John, when you say that you loop the shrouds around the mask, and then you seize them. What is it you are doing when you seize them?

I just finished reading Biddlcombe's The Art Of Rigging. His chapter on the Progressive Method of Rigging, sounds a lot like the old fashioned way that you mentioned. He is talking about rigging a real ship; do you suppose that transfers to a model?

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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Sunday, June 10, 2007 11:41 PM

Biddlecombe's Art of Rigging is an extremely valuable book.  In most respects it's a revised version of David Steel's Elements of Rigging, Sailmaking, and Seamanship (which dates from the 1790s), updated to the mid-nineteenth century.  Biddlecombe is particularly useful for such vessels as packet ships and early clippers - though the latter introduced some variations that he doesn't cover.  And later clippers (e.g., the Cutty Sark), with their wire standing rigging, iron yard trusses, and other "modernized" gear, introduced still more.

The "progressive method of rigging ships" is, if I remember correctly, borrowed almost directly from the earlier Steel book.  It makes a good start for figuring out how to rig a model.  Some of the specific details aren't particularly relevant to the modeler (there's no need for a modeler to lash boat oars to the ship's shrouds for men to stand on while they're rigging the ratlines), but it provides a good, solid basis for an understanding of how rigging works.

Seizing is the act of wrapping a piece of fine line around a pair of heavier lines, as a means of holding them together.  In this particular case we're talking about "seizing an eye" - that is, forming a loop of fixed size in a piece of heavy line. 

The procedure for rigging a pair of shrouds, in a real ship, goes something like this:  1.  Seize a deadeye into one end of the line.  (To do that, loop the line around the deadeye, hold the ends of the line together, and wind a piece of finer line around them.  Each end of the fine line gets tucked under the last turn of itself, between the parts of the heavy line.)  In the case of a shroud seized around a deadeye, it's normal during most periods to use a "triple seizing" - that is, to make three separate seizings, spaced a foot or so apart.  (In the Cutty Sark, if I remember right, the seizings are painted white to give them a neat appearance.) 

2.  Run the other end of the heavy line (the shroud) up the mast (not mask, by the way; I imagine that was a typo), through the "lubber hole" in the top, around the masthead from front to back, and down again.  The first pair to be rigged is the foremost one on the starboard side of the ship. 

3.  Seize a second deadeye into the remaining end of the line.  (That part of the line is now the second shroud.) 

4.  Seize the bight formed by the two shrouds snugly around the masthead.  (For this job a single seizing is the norm.  In a model you can seize the two shrouds together a couple of inches below the masthead, then slide the seizing up until the whole setup is snug.)

5.  Rig the lanyards between the deadeye pairs.  Start by tying a Matthew Walker knot in the bitter end of the lanyard, so the line can't slip through the hole in the deadeye.  (In a model, don't try the Matthew Walker knot.  Just tie a reef knot - aka square knot - with a couple of extra turns in it, to make it nice and fat.)  Then pass the lanyard through the six holes in the two deadeyes.  Any decent diagram will show the sequence. (You'll notice, even on a small-scale model, an interesting phenomenon:  the lanyard runs freely through the two deadeyes, and the distance between the deadeyes can be adjusted quite easily, until you rig the lanyard through that last hole.  Then the whole system goes rigid.  If you want to adjust the spacing after that, you have to pull the lanyard through the holes one at a time - sort of like adjusting the laces on your shoes.)  There are several ways of securing the hauling end of the lanyard; the most common during most periods seems to have been to "expend it in half-hitches" - i.e., to simply knot it several times around the shroud just above the upper deadeye.

When you're done, the upper deadeyes in the gang should all lie in a nice, straight line parallel to the channel (or, in the case of the Cutty Sark, the rail to which the lower deadeyes are attached).   

In a model, the challenge is to get those upper deadeyes in line while simultaneously keeping all the shrouds taut.  (They need to be really taut; the rest of the rigging process depends on them.  In the real ship, the shrouds are a key component in the propulsion system.  The wind fills the sails, the sails pull on the yards and masts, and the masts, by means of the shrouds, pull the ship.)  Unfortunately there's no real secret to doing it, other than practice - and practice, believe me, is no guarantee that you won't screw up occasionally and have to start a shroud over.  The three little tricks I mentioned earlier in this thread (leaving the deadeye seizings to be adjusted late in the process, seizing the bight around the masthead after the deadeyes are set up, and shoving the bolster under the bights last of all) help a little, but there's no getting around the fact that this is one of the trickiest jobs in rigging a ship model.  It's made worse by the fact that, by definition, the shrouds almost have to be among the first lines you rig - before you get much practice on anything simpler.  (This is one of the many reasons why Olde Phogies like me urge newcomers to start with something that doesn't have many shrouds.)  The good news is that once you've rigged the shrouds the rest of the rigging gets easier.  And a nicely-set up set of shrouds and ratlines is a real asset to any ship model.

Hope that helps a little.  Good luck.

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

  • Member since
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  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Monday, June 11, 2007 9:21 AM

Hi Rod, 

For lanyards and deadeyes, I prefer to do my set-ups on a vice and using the wire jig.  It is easier for me then setting them up on the actual model.    After they are laid up and the shrouds pre-strung then they can be seized to the shroud and adjusted.  It was just the way I taught myself and how I interpreted the different methods which John had explained so well.

As far as direction of lay-up, I start with left to right then interchange as I go up the shroud.   In doing a rig, start with the lower mainmast, then lower fore, and lower mizzen, then the upper main, then out to the fore, and out to the mizzen, and then main top, foretop, and mizzen.  I tend to rig the bowsprit and jibs last.  My brain seems to function better if I start from the center and I feel I have more control over the adjustments of the rig by working from the Mainmast.

Scott

  • Member since
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  • From: Derry, New Hampshire, USA
Posted by rcboater on Wednesday, June 13, 2007 10:10 PM
 jtilley wrote:

 

When you're done, the upper deadeyes in the gang should all lie in a nice, straight line parallel to the channel (or, in the case of the Cutty Sark, the rail to which the lower deadeyes are attached).   

I've always suspected that the desire to have all the upper deadeyes in a nice straight line is one  of the artistic things implemented by ship modelers long ago, based perhaps on museum ships made to look good to an uninformed public. 

In practice on a real ship, the purpose of the deadeyes is to make the shrouds adjustable in length, and as a result, tension.  As the lines aged, they'd stretch a little, and need to be tightened up.  On a warship, where an old shroud could be shot away, a new one would have to be rigged, and it would be newer, and would stretch at a different rate than its neighbors.

Modern vessels use turnbuckles to tension the shrouds and tune the rigging- even on a small  sailboat you don't see all the turnbuckes at exactly the same length.  I would think the same principle applies to old sailing ships....

(And such an attitude means my deadeyes aren't out of line due to my ineptitude-- they're that way on purpose.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

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  • From: The green shires of England
Posted by GeorgeW on Thursday, June 14, 2007 1:42 AM

A real sailing ship in its proper environment has for its very purpose yards set at different angles, and as you say the deadeyes would not always be neatly aligned.

However, what is applicable to a real ship does not necessarily transfer well to a model, and unless the model is set in a diorama for specific purposes, a static model can just look plain untidy if the yards are not squared and deadeyes aligned.

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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, June 14, 2007 12:36 PM

We've discussed this interesting question before here in the Forum.  Everything RCboater says makes sense, of course - and it's always dangerous to make generalizations.  But the available evidence seems to suggest that, under normal circumstances, deadeyes did indeed lie in a straight line.

For one thing, during much of the sailing ship period each gang of shrouds was fitted with a wood or iron sheer pole, which was lashed to the shrouds just above the upper deadeyes.  (I'm a little hazy on the date for the introduction of the sheer pole.  James Lees' Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War,which is the first place I usually look for such information, just says [p. 42] that "to prevent the shrouds from twisting it was the practice, especially in the nineteenth century, to lash an iron bar across the shrouds just above the upper deadeye; this was known as the sheer pole.  It was carried on the outboard side of the shrouds and was about 2 inches in diameter."  I think the sheer pole made its appearance before the end of the eighteenth century (though if I were building my model of the Hancock again I probably wouldn't fit her with sheer poles), and it shows up in virtually every nineteenth-century ship painting, drawing, and photo I've encountered. Unless the deadeyes were pretty carefully aligned horizontally, the sheer pole wouldn't work.  Neither would the belaying pin rack that sometimes was lashed inside the shrouds.

The old master marine painters (the Van de Veldes, Pocock, Roux, etc.) invariably show their deadeyes lined up nicely.  (Those gents weren't in the habit of inventing things; if the deadeyes weren't lined up in the ships they looked at, their paintings surely would reflect the fact.)  And, most convincingly, we have plenty of photographs of sailing warships, whalers, clipper ships, and so forth from the mid-nineteenth century onward.  I'm sure there are exceptions, but I can't think of an example of a photo of an old sailing ship whose deadeyes weren't lined up (or mighty close to it).

In the latter days of the sailing ship (a prominent early example being the Cutty Sark), wire replaced rope for standing rigging - and wire doesn't stretch nearly as much as rope does.  (Admittedly, lots of those photos I referred to in the last paragraph had wire standing rigging.)

Just how they managed to keep the deadeyes lined up is an interesting question.  Logic suggests that even if somebody took the seizings off the shrouds and moved the deadeyes to keep the spacing even, the bitter ends of the shrouds (i.e., the leftover parts that were seized back along the shroud) would differ in length as they were adjusted.  But the contemporary paintings and the photos don't seem to show that phenomenon either.

I'm inclined to think that the rope they used for shrouds didn't actually stretch much.  (More probably, it got thoroughly stretched out before it got delivered from the rope walk - and still more thoroughly stretched on board the ship before the deadeyes were turned in.)  We do know, of course, that "setting up the shrouds" was a pretty regular part of the typical sailing ship's routine - i.e., that the shrouds were adjusted periodically.  It seems like the result of that adjustment would inevitably be that the deadeyes wouldn't lie in a straight line.  But it also seems like, if numerous ships were sailing around the world with crooked deadeyes, (a) some major marine painter would have noticed, and (b) the photos would show it.  Neither seems to be the case.

I'd love to have an excuse to rig a bunch of deadeyes every which way - and I'm certainly not going to criticize anybody who does.  But I'm afraid the evidence just doesn't support that approach.

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

  • Member since
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  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Friday, June 15, 2007 10:30 AM
 GeorgeW wrote:

A real sailing ship in its proper environment has for its very purpose yards set at different angles, and as you say the deadeyes would not always be neatly aligned.

However, what is applicable to a real ship does not necessarily transfer well to a model, and unless the model is set in a diorama for specific purposes, a static model can just look plain untidy if the yards are not squared and deadeyes aligned.

 

I  tried this explanation to some IPMS judges one time, but it didn't take.  I got docked (no pun intended) for having my yards stepped at 5, 10 and 15 degrees (scaled) to the mast centerline.  Fof some model critics, models should have all the yards strait, aligned, and at 90 degrees to the mast.  Unless a ship is aback, or in irons, all the yards should still be in a uniformed direction to one another yet do not have to be in horizontal and vertical alignment.  In fact, it looks strange to me for the yards to be at 90 degrees to the mast.  If the rigging, setting of the yards, and shrouds are done to scale, then realistc misalignments should not distract the appeance of the model but credit the skill to the modeler.

Scott

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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Friday, June 15, 2007 10:48 AM

Scottrc's post is a good example of the sort of thing that, quite a few years ago, made me decide to have nothing more to do with model competitions.  I've taken part in more than my share of them (and made a thoroughly obnoxious fool of myself in more of them than I care to admit), but I'm convinced that they do more harm for the hobby than they do good.  When deciding how to resolve problems that come up in the building of a model I take lots of things into consideration, but I refuse to worry about what some judge in a cometition is going to think.  Nor do I expect anybody to take my own personal views on stuff like this into consideration when he/she builds a model.

I'm a big believer in ship model exhibitions.  I always enjoy - and learn from - looking at other people's models, and few activities are more pleasurable than talking ship models with fellow enthusiasts.  But I don't see why competition has to be part of the picture. 

Some years ago, Mystic Seaport Maritime Museum held a ship model exhibition that, in my opinion, was on the right track.  The museum wasn't prepared to exhibit everything that anybody built; that's understandable.  So it set up a juried exhibition.  Modelers were invited to bring their models to the museum, and a panel of qualified judges identified all the models that came up to a certain standard.  Those models became part of the public exhibition.  But there was no declaration that one model was "better" than another.

The last contest in which I participated was the Mariners' Museum Scale Ship Model Competition of 1990, in which I was one of the three judges.  I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to look, up close, at so many fine models.  Some of them were among the finest I've ever seen.  But after hearing about the stupid, infantile behavior on the part of some of the people who didn't get the medals they thought they deserved, I came to the conclusion that such things just aren't for me. 

I suppose it's conceivable that, some day, somebody may sponsor a model contest in which the prizes are so juicy that I just can't resist.  (If, for example, somebody offers a brand new Rolls Royce as first prize and a new Corvette for the runner-up, I just might be tempted.)  Otherwise, my days as a contest competitor are over - and I'll never serve as a judge in a model contest again.

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  • From: vernon hills illinois
Posted by sumpter250 on Friday, June 15, 2007 2:25 PM

 In reality, the spars of a square rig are rarely ever 90 degrees to the centerline, and do indeed vary in angle, underway, as they go aloft. Fact, the winds are fairer aloft.  Ship model contests V ship model exhibitions, I have to agree with Prof. Tilley, and I would never, voluntarily, be a contest judge. I looked at a sampling of ship photos, including some I took of the Hesper, and the Luther Little, rotting away in the river at Wiscasset, Me.. Upper deadeyes, all, were in the same line as the sheer.  I might believe the forwardmost shroud, as a single, being slacked off to allow a better angle for a yard, but then, the yard would almost have to be set at "that angle". Consider also: Shrouds are set up in pairs, so a pair of shrouds would, if any, stretch the same. "out of line upper deadeyes" would almost have to occur in pairs. Stretching, pre- stretching, etc. would reduce the amount of variance, as would the more probable "equal strain" on each mast's shrouds. In modern sailoing craft, a strain gauage is used to set up the shrouds, so that each shares an equal load, in holding the mast in position. Finally, there was some pride in the appearance of the ship. Sailors kept things "shipshape", and aligned upper deadeyes would be part of that. If a shroud had to be re- siezed on a deadeye, to insure alignment, the "extra" would have been cut off after siezing. With the logically expected equal stretch, the tightening of the lanyards would have been also more equally spread, fore and aft, port and starboard, and would have been barely perceptible to the average observer.  When it comes to "details", hang around with the military modelers for a while. C'mon, the barrel of a 1:35 tank model has to be "rifled"?, yeah rifled replacement barrels are available for the more popular tank models! In comparison, upper deadeyes, aligned in equal height above the channel, or rail, is a minor "surrender" to detail accuracy.

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  • From: Lewiston ID
Posted by reklein on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 7:00 PM
I think in the name of things being shipshape and for no other reason, the deadeyes were aligned. When I was in USN bootcamp I remember that if one window in the barracks was open, all the windows were open an exactly equal amount. If the shades were partly drawn all the shades were equally drawn. The term is called "dressed" I believe. Logic like this tells me the reason the deadeyes were lined up or dressed ,if you will.
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Posted by styrenegyrene on Saturday, July 14, 2007 11:39 PM

Absolutely fascinataing topic!  Thanks to all who have posted here; you've pushed the boundaries of my education 'way out there!

Would you, Jtilley, or any of the other obviously well-seasoned modelers here, be good enough to share some close-up pictures of your shroud and ratline work?

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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Sunday, July 15, 2007 9:29 AM

Well, some time ago our good Forum friend MichelVRTG was generous enough to post some photos of three of my models (the only three sailing ships I've got at present - the Bounty, Hancock, and Phantom) on his website.  Here's the link:  http://www.hmsvictoryscalemodels.be/johntilleygallery.htm

I just bought a new computer, and I've signed a contract for a better, high-speed internet connection.  When that gets set up (supposedly within the next week), I'll try to sort out the intricasies of posting photos in this Forum myself.  My old, primitive (i.e., three-year-old) computer and dial-up connection weren't up to the task.

The Phantom doesn't have ratlines, but does have deadeyes and lanyards.  (It's based on the Model Shipways kit, which at that time was being sold with a cast resin hull.  Apparently that idea didn't sell well; the company has since reverted to the old machine-carved basswood hull for that kit.)  The Bounty is an extensively modified version of the ancient Revell 1/110-scale kit; the Hancock is scratchbuilt (with some manufactured fittings). 

Almost all the rigging of the Bounty, including the ratlines, is made of silk thread (which used to be much easier to find than it is now).  At about the time when I finished that model a friend gave me a spool of extremely fine (about .002") nickel-chromium wire that he'd found in a military surplus store.  That material turned out to be excellent for making ratlines - soft enough to be tied in a clove hitch, but stiff enough to be shaped so it seems to sag between the shrouds.  I used it for the ratlines on the Hancock, and I think the improvement over the ratlines of the Bounty is pretty obvious.  Unfortunately I have no idea where - if anywhere - it's possible to buy wire like that nowadays.  (Fortunately I've still got the spool Joe gave me back in the seventies - and it's still got a couple of miles of wire on it.)

 

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

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Posted by styrenegyrene on Sunday, July 15, 2007 12:46 PM

Flippin' awesome.  Truly museum-quality models.  I see what you mean about the difference between the thread and the wire ratlines.  It is amazing to see how busy those ships were, especially around the tops.

Thank you very much for the link, and for sharing such exquisite work.  A man doesn't achieve something like that without putting his soul into it.

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  • From: Walworth, NY
Posted by Powder Monkey on Sunday, July 15, 2007 6:24 PM
 jtilley wrote:

Unfortunately I have no idea where - if anywhere - it's possible to buy wire like that nowadays.  (Fortunately I've still got the spool Joe gave me back in the seventies - and it's still got a couple of miles of wire on it.)

 

McMaster Carr http://www.mcmaster.com/ has both ni-chrome and copper wire down to .003". Not quite .002, but close. If you call them, they may be able to get you .002" wire. They have lots of stuff not in their catalog.

  • Member since
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Posted by Michael D. on Monday, July 16, 2007 2:47 PM

McMaster Carr http://www.mcmaster.com/ has both ni-chrome and copper wire down to .003". Not quite .002, but close. If you call them, they may be able to get you .002" wire. They have lots of stuff not in their catalog.

 

Just wanted to confirm that you can in fact get this ni-chrome wire in .002...ordered a roll today. Thanks for the link Powder Monkey.

 

Michael

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  • From: Chapin, South Carolina
Posted by Shipwreck on Monday, July 16, 2007 5:14 PM
So, if we can get all this good wire for ratlings, why not use wire for the backstays on the 19th century ships that actually do use wire?

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Revell 1/96 USS Constitution - rigging

Trumpeter 1/350 USS Hornet CV-8

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

 

 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 12:08 AM

Wire - twisted iron or steel wire, with many strands - was indeed used increasingly for ships' rigging beginning in the mid-nineteenth century.  Almost all of the Cutty Sark's standing rigging, and some of her running rigging, is made of wire.

As a rigging material for models it does have its advantages.  Some of the finest modelers (especially those who work on small scales) use it for all their rigging.  The most notable example probably is Donald McNarry, who does astonishing work on the scales of 1/16"=1' and smaller.  It's sometimes hard to tell photos of his tiny models from photos of the actual ships.

I wouldn't, however, recommend wire rigging except to people with quite a bit of experience.  To do an accurate job of it requires spinning lots of strands of wire into heavier stuff before you do anything else.  (Many experienced modelers make up their own "rope" as well; I don't recommend that to newcomers either.)  Working with wire requires some different techniques of seizing and otherwise securing the ends than thread does.  And wire has an annoying tendency to kink.  If you bump a piece of wire rigging (that's already been set up), it's likely to kink - and when you try to straighten it out, it stretches and goes slack.

My personal approach has been to use that nice nickel-chromium stuff in cases where the available thread just isn't fine enough - especially for ratlines.  They're short enough that the kinking problem doesn't come up.  If I remember right, I also used it for a very few of the longer lines in that little Hancock model - near the end of the job, when I figured I could get the model done before I bumped them.  I recommend getting plenty of practice with thread rigging first.

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

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