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Rigging Tightness

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I've started on a project that I need to get done fast that involves rigging a Constellation.  I'm wonder about how tight the rigging lines should be.  

 

I'll give some background.  I am mainly a ship in bottle builder.  The tension of the lines in ships in bottles is extremely important.  The line tension sets the rake of the mast and can also be used to keep a mast straight side to side.  I use flytying thread that has very little stretch so I know exactly where my masts will be when the lines are pulled tight.  

 

My current project is not a ship in bottle.  Its a larger ship model so I can set the tension where ever I like.  What I'm running into though is the lines for this kit are very stretchy.  I'm not used to that at all.  Also parts of the kit weren't built to the best standards so the masts tend to sit to one side.  I've used the back stays to bring the mast back in place similar to what I've done in ship in bottle building but I want to check if this is a good solution on the long run.  Will an overly taught shroud cause problems later?  Mostly in the effect of when the model gets old will overly taught lines break faster than loose lines?  If tension is a problem what should I be aware of to make sure the lines arent too tight.  

 

 

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You don't say what scale you are working in. In general, kit-supplied rigging thread is not very suitable. I would look into making/getting a rope-walk to make your own rigging material. At smaller scales the very fly-tying yarn you use for your bottle-ships would be a good starting point. For other materials, there are a lot of suggestions here in the forum.

 

Coming back to your actual question: in real life, the standing rigging would not look like drawn with a ruler, but would be sagging under its own weight, forming some sort of shallow catena. This is not so easy to reproduce in a model, it can turn out looking like sloppy workmanship. In general, the standing rigging shouldn't be used to pull masts etc. into position. The masts have to aligned properly all along. Prototype practice of course is different and the standing rigging may have been used to 'trim' the masts. On a model changing temperature and humidity may throw your mast and rigging out of 'trim' or worse, can even break a mast, if set too tight. They are not strings on a guitar. So, I would set the rigging just tight enough to look neat, nothing more.

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Things go badly when model rigging line is too tight. Certainly standing rigging shouldn't droop MUCH, But it should not be made as tight as it's possible to tighten it. Also, what you will discover as you rig is that tension set into one part of the rig at the beginning of the work is going to trouble you later over on another part of the rig.It's best to get ALL the stays and backstays on the completed masts BEFORE you set up all the tension. You are going to have to tune the rig at the end to get all the masts in line and not leaning one way and another, and you won't be able to make any adjustments if you cement every rope end in place as you work your way up. Tie the stays and backstays with knots you can untie and adjust at the final stage of rigging. THEN make them permanent only after you have sighted down the centerline of the model AND gauged the rake of all the masts. This advice will seam overblown as you are working on the lower rigging. But as you go higher the thinner spars are very flexible and they WILL bend in ways you do not want them to so keep all your tensioning options open until the last minute.

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By the way, I mentioned knots above. In my opinion the best knot for a temporary and adjustable knot to tie on say, a backstays, is the Rolling Hitch. Take the backstays down to the lower deadeye or whatever then around and up and tie a Rolling Hitch  back on itself. It's a knot that will hold where you put it but one which you can easily adjust by sliding back and forth on whatever you hitched it to, without having to losen or untie or make any adjustments to the knot itself. You need to leave the backstays and all other standing rigging you want to be adjustable longer than necessary in order to have enough extra line to tie an adjustable knot in the end. The Rolling Hitch is ludicrously easy to learn and tie. 

IMG_3075.JPG

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Wow great advice.  I wish I had seen it sooner.  I'm almost done with the standing rigging at this point.  I can say I didn't pull things to much but I agree the way a model sets over the years can have huge impacts on what happens and ultimately getting the masts straight in the first place is very important.  Fortunately the ship is only moving a few miles away so major humidity change won't be a problem in the forseeable future.  

 

 This model wasn't built by me I'm just doing the rigging so I've done the best with what I have and so far the original builder is happy with it.  Some day I'll do a larger model from the beginning and I'll know what to look for.  The scale of this ship is 1:85 and is over three feet long, so much bigger that I'm used to.  

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As stated by wefalck in his reply above, overly tight standing rigging can do a job on a mast (see the pic). In this case, I had returned to my model of Connie that I started 50 years ago, to finish rigging her. A styrene mast that sat in the attic for decades found a way to slightly warp, and I thought I could straighten it out with tight rigging. I was successful up until about a week after I completed the model, when there was an audible "ping" in my study, and an odd cant to the mizzenmast. 

IMG_0421.JPG

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Ooops ... I would have probably re-enforced such masts with a steel wire of suitable diameter right away.

 

If you are lucky, you might still be able to drop a wire in that just sticks out a bit over the fracture and lift the upper part over it, so that it serves as a locating pin before glueing the parts together again.

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One trick that has helped my with the re-adjustment of lines before final setting is (this works mostly on belaying pins) I pass the thread through the hole of the belaying pin and then use the pin to "plug" the thread in the hole. This way it is just a matter of loosing the pin with a tweezers and the line becomes loose so it can be re-adjusted later. Hope this makes sense.

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Ive restored a lot of old broken models and they usually come to me with a broken Bowsprit and broken tgallants or topmast. Always the broken Bowsprit, ALWAYS. I used to assume this was from the model falling off a shelf but now I’m not so sure. The first thing I try to do is to simply glue the broken piece back using the existing rigging. Again and again when I try to dry fit the busted spars back into their proper place the rigging is too tight to allow the jointing together of the pieces at the point where they broke. This leads me to believe it’s the RIGGING SHRINKING -over time- that breaks these spars, not the cat knocking the model off the shelf. 

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