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Chuck

Gutermann Polyester thread for making rope.

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I was quite surprised about 4 months ago with the prevailing thought about only using linen or cotton for scale ropes. This has been the requirement of Museums and collectors for quite some time.  Synthetics are frowned upon.  But I think there is some movement and acceptance starting with these folks. 

 

 I was hired by a major well known museum in Europe (I wont mention their name) to make several thousand feet of rope for them.  They were going to use it to restore a contemporary model....and also to rig a newer model.  But they told me they have now decided that polyester scale ropes are being used from this point forward because of its longevity and its crispness and beauty.  It really lays up like real rope.  They have (like all of us) been unable to find good quality linen  or even cotton that isnt fuzzy or lumpy or that requires custom dying.   This makes it very time consuming and expensive to make in large quantities with sometimes inconsistent results.  The custom dying opens up a whole host of other issues for them.

 

So anyway,  they specified polyester rope made the same way I make my other rope which they have purchased many times before.   But this time they also specified the brand and color they wanted for the polyester thread I was to use.  They created a new standard for themselves.  I did have some adjustments to make and it took some time to get used to working with material that is a bit more "stetchy".

 

It does unravel like mad.....just like morope....BUT they are aware of this and use a conservatoires glue that is used to stop fragile textiles from fraying and deteriorating on it before they cut it.  They seemed to have a whole plan set up for now accepting the use of this material.

 

Below is a photo of some of that rope I made for them.  Its beautiful and I like its appearance and handling more than the rope I sell.  I even considered switching to it for all of my rope from Syren.  Come Jan 1st, the prices for linen and cotton as a commodity are increasing pretty drastically (about 20%) because of the Trade wars now underway.  DMC has even decided to STOP production of many sizes of their Cordonnet Cotton thread.  That is a shame.   But then I thought model builders wouldnt get used to how it unravels.....it really unravels if you dont glue or burn the ends.   Just thought I would share this with everyone.  There are actually two colors they specified for all running rigging.   Both are in the photo.  No fuzz and no lumps and it laid up the best I could have asked for.

 

But for those of you who have a ropewalk....you can order 

 

Gutermann Mara Thread...color 2899 and 265 for running rigging and color 696 for standing rigging (very dark brown).

 

But you need to go to the industrial division to get the sizes which arent available retail.

 

You will need Mara 120 .....Mara 70.....   Mara 30.... and Mara 15..... thread in these colors to make it but they have so many colors to choose from.  Unfortunately there color charts do NOT accurately reflect the true colors of the thread when you get it so beware of this.

 

I experimented after making the rope and found that if you knot off the ends and place them on a cookie sheet,  place them in the oven at 200 - 275 degrees for 7-10 minutes.   You must watch closely and set the stove on the lowest setting because polyester has a low melting point.  The rope looks the same afterwards and wont unravel at all.  In addition,  when your wife finds out you did this and gets mad....another method I used when experimenting was to use my hair dryer and a very hot setting and heat up the rope for a minute or two.  Dont be afraid to get close to the rope when you are doing this .  This method works very very well....because its easier to watch whats happening and not melt your rope.  But you can only do smaller quantities at a time.

 

polyrope.jpg

 

I was able to replicate all of my current sizes of rope ranging from ,008 to ,080 in diameter using various strands of the thread sizes shown.  I even managed to make a huge cable for them 3mm in diameter.  It was just a matter of experimenting with the number of threads and either 3 strand or 4 strand.  Once you have your recipe established for each size you can easily replicate the sizes with great consistency and accuracy.

 

Because there was some interest in this topic I started a new one rather than post it in another members build log.  I will take some more photos of the packages I still have remaining to show the size variables and give you guys a better idea of what the rope looks like.

 

Feel free to ask me any questions.  Happy New Year !!!

 

Chuck

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Just a thought: if you use a ‚hot knife‘ to cut the rope after laying it, you have done the cutting and the melting at the same time.

 

BTW: did you mean 275 F or 275 C ?  I have a hot-air soldering iron that can be adjusted from 100 C to 400 C and should try it, while rope is still on the rope-walk.

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Looks very nice Chuck.

I have used Morope a fair amount and as you say the definition with Polyester superb.

The only downside for me is that it is all but impossible to get a natural slack in the line which I like to see in certain lines such as braces, and some stays.

On the upside very little pressure is required to get a taut line, and I love the smaller diameter Morope lines for seizings.

B.E.

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I was testing at 200 - 275 F

 

After a few test I found it better to go with the higher temp for a much shorter time.  But if you get distracted you will have a mess on your hands.  In the end I found the hair dryer worked the best.  Unless you have to make thousands of feet at a time like me I would suggest you stick with a hair dryer on the hottest setting.  Just clamp the rope gently so it doesnt blow all over the workbench.

 

Here is a photos of what I have left in terms of sizes.....you can get very very thin rope using Mara 120.   Remember that the lower the mara size the larger the thread is.   Its the opposite of TEX sizes.  Ultimately I was using Tex 25, 40, 100, and Tex 200 for those familiar with Tex sizes. The lighter color is the 265.  

 

gutpolyrope.jpg

 

I though about a heat knife but then I thought about how much cutting you do on the model.  Its hard enough navigating through a web of rigging with a sharp blade and I though a hot blade would be even more dangerous.  So I discounted the idea in favor of stabilizing the rope first so you didnt have to worry about it at all.

 

Here is a look at both colors sitting on my model.  Just to show it in a real life setting on a model.  The rope on the belaying pin is my cotton/linen blend rope....as good as that rope is it just cant compare to the crispness of the poly rope.   But yes...it is poly and I wonder about the stigma attached to it and whether folks would shun using it.  So I stopped considering switching over to it.  But I may still in the future should there be interest.   I just could never make rope in both materials....its just impossible for one person to make that much rope.  

 

gutpolyrope1.jpg

 

 

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B.E.  you would be surprised how well it hangs once you get accustomed to it and the tricks you would use.  Once again....no need to wet down like you would cotton or linen with diluted white glue while getting it to hang properly.  My tests included hitting it with the hair dryer to relax it in any shape....

 

No need to stretch it at all.

 

I go back and forth with which of these two colors I like best.   Which do you guys prefer? Should I decide to use it I would select only one for the same reasons.  

 

Getting back to the heat knife.  My experiments were pretty exhaustive.  I found that if you didnt knot the ends before heating it in the oven or using a hair dryer,  the rope would just unwind horribly almost its entire length.  So my thoughts were that using a hot knife would also have the same effect.  If you touched the end and it didnt immediately seal,  it would unravel like crazy.  The sam is true for dipping rope untreated with heat in water,   either hot or cold.  The rope would just unravel badly.   Some glues worked but I dont know which ones the guys were using at the museum.  That seemed to time consuming to me and if you forgot to do it when cutting you would regret it.   Same is true if you didnt get a good bond.   

 

So there are trade-offs.  The poly does have a slight sheen which I dont like.  But its not noticeable really or distracting.  It is also very stretchy.  That is not a problem but you will need to get used to it.

 

If not for anything else....I found it important to post my findings and experiments here and every can give it a try and make up their own minds.  Its worth the effort.  I am hesitant to not use any material just because its the current "rule" or traditional line of thinking that MUST be observed because well known builders and institutions have said so.  Times are changing and the traditional materials are getting more and more expensive and less and less high quality.

 

There may come a time where we must adapt.  As a business I this stuff is constantly on my mind.

 

Chuck

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Thanks Chuck for the starting a thread and posting the info above. I am thinking of getting a ropewalk so even if I can't talk you into carrying polyester maybe I can give it a spin myself. But I think you should support polyester:), maybe make it a premium special order or something where you'll only make what people order and they'll have to wait a bit for delivery.

 

As for colors, one is pretty green and the other is a more saturated yellow, I prefer that one from an aesthetic standpoint but the green one may be more realistic.

Edited by vossiewulf

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Thats the issue really....it boils down to economy.  The cost for cotton and linen as a commodity is going through the roof this year.  Many think I charge too much for my rope now.  So I cant raise prices and now must absorb the price increase for my catolin thread.   If I made the polyester stuff and charged more because I would then be making natural fiber rope in 4 colors and 36 sizes by hand.....along with polyester in two colors and 18 sizes.  Its just impossible.  I can only do one or the other.  

 

Consider that I must make at least 800 feet of rope every single day right now to keep enough in stock.  Its maddening.   I may however cut down on the current colors and drop two of the catolin colors and just make light brown and dark brown moving forward so I could offer two choices of polyester rope.   But then the people wh o love my light tan and black rope would be upset.  I would lose a lot of business.  Other than that, I just cant even consider it.   So before I make such a decision....I must gauge what interest is out there for this stuff.  I literally just ordered $1000 worth of cataolin before the price goes up on January 1st.   That is about a 3 month supply.

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I’ll stick with the venerable old Syren Rope. Just the thought of the rope unraveling after ten minutes of trying to place through a block and then clipping is enough to stop me. It is pretty but to many things can go wrong. And if the economy drives the price up so be it. My 2 cents.

Edited by Jim Rogers

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I have also asked my current supplier to dye me a batch of the current thread I am using in the same colors as the polyester rope.  So I am excited to see what that will look like.  Once I get it I will experiment with it and see how it goes.  Not to get off-topic but I amy as a business decision to help moderate the time and labor involved in rope making,  select another color for running rigging.  I like the poly colors a great deal.   Then I will discontinue the current colors and go with just one for running rigging.  We shall see...much to think about in the coming year.

 

Chuck

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I use the guterman stuff for bindings an seizings etc. Nice colors, but it needs ca-glue or some kind of paint to fixate the knots. Pva will not hold.

 

Is the unraveling the result of how the thread itself is laid (left in stead of right), or is it the result of the material itself?

I ask because when using it as serving-material the direction of the winding mattered.

 

Jan

Edited by amateur

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Your present non-unravelling line is fine. If I wanted unravelling line, I'd buy Morope!

 

In terms of commercial business, would it keep your costs down by packaging line in longer lengths, therefore lessen time spent handling many small quantities?

Edited by druxey

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It sounds like you need a rope making subcontractor! 

 

I am a complete novice at rigging but will be buying rope from you in the next 3-6 months, so I have some questions/comments.

  • If the polyester is a little stretchy I assume that makes it easier to use?
  • Does the polyester maintain its tautness during summer/winter environment changes? 
  • Would using both types help for different things (say polyester for shrouds and cotton/linen for ratlines)
  • I would definitely have to "heat treat" it, suddenly unravelling on me would be a nightmare.
  • Does it take CA to hold knots or would pva do?
  • I do like your current rope (although I've only used about 12" of it so far!). I had decided not to use the tan and black I already have - I prefer the newer colors but knowing that a color change was coming would be good.
  • Which brings me to another question, how much would people suggest I over-order to allow for wastage (20%, 50%, 100%, ...)? I don't mind have left over rope but I'd hate to be 2 feet short at the very end. 
  • Although know one likes spending more, a small price increase would not stop me buying your rope. Eventually I'd like to make my own but for my current build no (a man has to know his limitations).

I hope you have a great Christmas!

 

Thanks,

Richard

 

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Good day all,

very interesting discussion!

Ropes looks very good! 

I didn't try Mara,but use Tera same maker... looks they are the same looks in results...

By my experience, Gutermann is very nice materialI for rope making...

  I prefer to use it white...and later,when rope made- to paint it in suitable color...

mostly ,for standing riging -I used acrylic umbra + small drop black and dark brown+ acrylic matt varnish... and for running rigging - same mix as for standing,but less portion+more ochre and add matt varnish again...

when polimeraised ,this "tar" prevents rope from unraveling...

but actualy acrylic paint is not too suitable material for rope painting, due to easy could be fall apart when rope pulled trough the blocks for example...and later on damaged area need to be repainted...

Much better result gives artistic oil paint ubra ,and umbra +ochre for running rigging deluted in artistic oil (?danish oil?) or suitable thiner...

on this model by Dmitry Shevelev ,all rigging painted in this way(base thread color was white)

https://www.shipmodeling.ru/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=65&t=28865&start=330

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I know little about thread, but there is such a thing as "cotton wrapped polyester" thread. It supposedly offers "the best qualities of both." It's just a completely uninformed thought, but might the cotton component in "cotton/polyester" thread make it less susceptible to unraveling. One thing I do know is that cotton swells (the lay tightens) when wet, while polyester doesn't. Does anybody know if cotton/polyester might work better than polyester thread for laying up scale line? I have no idea whether this solves the skyrocketing price dilemma, of course.

Edited by Bob Cleek

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I have a lot of time to think about what I am going to do.   At the very least I will think about adjusting the color but for the foreseeable future nothing will change.  As mentioned,  I asked my current supplier to match both colors and send me samples.  I will see how that goes.   In the end though,  eventually I will have to decide on whether I will continue to make black rope any longer.  Its not a very good choice for standing rigging at all.  Just removing that one color would be a huge help to keep costs and time in check.  Folks have just gotten used to it being available in kits and use it out of habit rather than based on what actual tarred rope looked like.  

 

That may be the way to go and it will save me a bundle and let me continue using the catolin in the 3 remaining colors.  OR it would allow me to try and make another custom dyed version that would allow me to to just choose one for running rigging.  Time will tell.  But for now and probably the next six months or so....nothing is going to change.  I am nearly fully stocked with rope right now too!!

 

But alas...the info provided is good for others to consider should they want to make polyester rope.   

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Chuck said:

 In the end though,  eventually I will have to decide on whether I will continue to make black rope any longer.  Its not a very good choice for standing rigging at all.  Just removing that one color would be a huge help to keep costs and time in check.  Folks have just gotten used to it being available in kits and use it out of habit rather than based on what actual tarred rope looked like.  

There's really nothing easier than dyeing scale rope black with India ink. For short lengths, I've even "cheated" and used a black permanent "Magic Marker." Truth be told, I don't think anybody would miss the black, and if they did, they could dye it themselves. It's not quite so easy to dye polyester, though.

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I think the kit people got builders hocked on "black" as it's the color of tar.  Road tar that is.   Personally, I'd drop the black.   

 

As others have said, want black, it can be dyed.   I did use black on my Constellation since that was how she was rigged in the photos when I built her.   Hindsight, I should have went with browns or maybe off-white.   

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19 minutes ago, mtaylor said:

I think the kit people got builders hocked on "black" as it's the color of tar.  Road tar that is.   Personally, I'd drop the black.

 

Ditto, I’d drop the black too. No real reason to keep it IMHO.

 

 

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Black vs. brown is really a question of period (and region perhaps). From about the 1840s on large quantities of coal tar became available from the production of city gas and coke for steel making. So from the middle of the 19th century on black became more dominant. 

A dark brown might be a good commercial compromise, as it can be ‚tarred over‘ on the model with black ink.

 I never use CA or PVA for stabilising knots. A fast drying varnish is preferable, as the stabilisation is reversible using a drop of solvent. I am using the kind of varnish that is used to prevent silverware or brass from tarnishing. It stays a bit flexible.

 I also use this to coerce ropes into the desired curves.

 I make my own rope from polyester fly-tying thread and did not have serious fraying problems, when soaking the end in the varnish. Similarly, I soak the area of a cut before cutting. One needs to use sharp blades or scissors in order to avoid squashing the rope, which leads to fraying.

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I had a quick look, Gutermann Mara thread is pretty much unavailable in the colours and the small quantities we need, at least this side of the pond. Shame, I always believed that the "ideal" scale rope would be from man made fibers.

 

 

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Chuck,

 

There's a fabric glue that has not been previously discussed on MSW, called "Beacon Fabri-Tac"  It's used by the fashion industry, applications include costume design and gluing sequins to wedding gowns.    

I've experimented with it and I'm really happy with the results:  It's quick drying, doesn't stain / discolor or spread like CA glue does.  When it cures, there is a very slight amount of stiffening, but the fabric remains fully flexible.    

 

A plus feature of this glue, it's acid free.

 

It comes in 2 oz, 4 oz and 8 oz bottles and mini tubes.

I purchased it at JoAnne Fabrics or it can be mail ordered.

https://www.beaconadhesives.com/product/fabri-tac/

 

Dee Dee

 

Edited by Dee_Dee

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Fabric glues in this age of organic solvent-free glues and paints seem to be acrylic dispersions, so your acrylic varnish may do the same job.

 

For a reversible solution to shaping ropes one may also consider sugar. Back in the days  before hairspray and -gel people used sugar solutions to keeps their hair in place. Just mix a bit of powder sugar into alcohol and brush on. It needs to be a dilute solution only - you don’t want to put an icing onto your ropes ;)

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8 hours ago, wefalck said:

For a reversible solution to shaping ropes one may also consider sugar. Back in the days  before hairspray and -gel people used sugar solutions to keeps their hair in place. Just mix a bit of powder sugar into alcohol and brush on. It needs to be a dilute solution only - you don’t want to put an icing onto your ropes ;)

Although a horde of ants climbing in your rigging might be a bit disconcerting for some! :D

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Chuck, since I switched over to using your rope exclusively instead of the kit supplied, I find that I much prefer the look of your dark brown rope over the black.  So dropping black from your inventory is okay by me.

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