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Shrouds, Not the the Burial Type!

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  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Shrouds, Not the the Burial Type!
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Thursday, May 19, 2022 9:59 AM


      To those of you who build these beautiful Wooden and Plastic works of Art, My hat is off to you! Building Sailing Ships of any size or type takes the kind of Patience Many Modelers just don't have. Sorry Ladies and gentlemen, It's true. What with either the frames and keel etc. of a wooden version or the Decks and Sides and fiddly parts of a plastic one,They are Not simple examples of what came before.

     A sailing ship is not just a model, It is the culmination of Years, Months and Weeks of extreme patience. Now, in that, what catches everyone's eye first? Of Course, the Rigging!! The manufacturers of plastic kits first gave us injection molded sails with the spars attached. Then they went the other way and gave us bare spars!

 Then a few gave us Injection Molded Ratlines (or Shrouds) and some gave us Plastic coated soft shrouds, which were supposed to help you. Well, they did in a way. It helped you get around the major rigging part that was most obvious! The ratlines (or Shrouds) and get your model built faster! Some( Heller)gave you a loom tool to make your own out of thread! If you were careful, Before the days of C.A. a wee dot of Fabric glue on the intersections of the vertical and horizontal threads you could build an acceptable set.

       The Purists used  Needle and Thread of the proper scale size and threaded the Horizontals through the Standing Portions and that took hours Then someone got the bright idea to give you vac. formed sails. That's fine if your model is in a diorama with the crew complement visible on deck and in the shrouds and the ship displayed in water!

     Ships like that in port were bare Poled and sat with Spars Akimbo( that means they were slanted one way or the other, Why? For the rain to run off! Remember iron or such for spars and masts didn't come along till the Clipper days, Late in that era. Why, Have you ever seen a ship at full sail. I am talking a Clipper especially. Have you ever wondered how the men get up there into the Shrouds? brave sailors or foolish ones, would go around and under the platforms, while the less brave or experienced would go up then go through the "Lubbers Hole" on each side of the Mast Platforms. They would challenge each other to runs up the shrouds to a cetain spar to see who was the fastest.That guy usually was the leading seaman on his mast and watch.

 Then they would run along lines suspended from each spar. To furl, unfurl or unrig that sail and lower it to the deck. Where, if dry and cleaned from salt spray, It would be put below out of the weather. They weren't cheap back then as ship gear was priced  The Shrouds were then Cleaned of salt rime(Coating) and were either served( Wrapping much smaller line soaked in Pine tar) where damaged or just re-coated with that stuff to preserve and make impervious to damage the Shrouds which were woven of various layers of line then wrapped and served as well. Now you know why sailors of the day were called JackTars or just Tars!

       The "Ratlines: The Horizontals were then Set through holes made with a Marlin Spike. (Each Sailor had one of those and a good knife) These were then secured. I don't remember how but I believe the outside ends were secured with Splices( Splice the Mainbrace?) into the vertical lines thus securing them in place. Remember Shrouds held the masts steady side to side, allowed the men up into the rigging, and allowed for the setting or unsetting sails and repairs aloft if needed.

     Most masts also had standing rigging, of which the shrouds were a major part. Then there were Fore and Aft Braces to support the masts while under sail, from the immense strain a good wind could subject them to through the sails! You also had the running rigging,(controls) (in Tan on a model). These went to each Sail and Spar. In modeling them you don't want any color but black for the shrouds.. You also want to run them through a block of Bees-Wax.This takes the fuzz off. Threading the horizontals is not easy, But in scale after you've trimmed all the loose ends they can make your ship stand out. Yes, It's a particularly onerous chore. But the rewards are worth it!


  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, May 19, 2022 4:28 PM

That's a good article there, mate.


Also, just rigging the shrouds but not the ratlines is entirely reasonable.



 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.


  • Member since
    March 2022
  • From: Twin cities, MN
Posted by missileman2000 on Saturday, May 21, 2022 8:53 AM



     Ships like that in port were bare Poled and sat with Spars Akimbo( that means they were slanted one way or the other, Why? For the rain to run off!


True for civil ships, not entirely true for naval ships, however.  Yards were as parallel as they could get them.  Shipshape, the Captain wanted.

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Saturday, May 21, 2022 2:50 PM


           Yes, On that I will give it to you. Everywhere but in the American Navy this may have been a strict Captain's rules. But he worried nothing about more than his standing at Admiralty or what passed for one! When You twist and stress Yards with sails they develop cracks, Water from the morning fog and rain sit in cracks and cause rot!. Letting them "Stand Proud" he was opening up the rigging to early stress failure.


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