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Rigging Ratlines


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I've reached the point on my Scottish Maid that I need to rig the ratlines.  I remember reading a method here on Model Ship World that involved using graph paper to make a template to keep them properly spaced.  Before posing, I searched for those posts and couldn't find them.

 

Anyone recall that method?  It made all kinds of sense when I read it, but I need a refresher to actually do it.

 

Thanks!

 

Dan

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Just take a piece of poster board and rule lines across it at the intervals of the ratlines. Clip it in place on the back side of the shrouds so that it is properly aligned and rig the ratlines to match the lines on the poster board. Any such material will work. A piece of a file folder would do it. I think I use poster board and a paper clip. I reckon a small clothes pin will do as well.

 

Russ

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Yes, the method helps to maintain consistant spacing between each ratline.  The trick is to acheive proper tension.....I'm also in the midst of attaching the lines on my WVH but I've hit some sort of wall...I find myself procrastinating.......dreaded ratilines!

 

JP

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Dan,

 

I've just finished my ratlines. Here's a link to my log. If you scroll about half way down the first page you'll see the card template in use.

 

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/163-hms-victory-by-grant-dale-mamoli-scale-190/?hl=%20victory%20%20grant%20%20dale

Edited by gjdale
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Dan,

 

Another tip for your ratlines. In order to maintain fairly even tension and avoid creating an hour glass shape in your shrouds, tie every fourth ratline first, then go back and do each one half between the first lot, then finish the remainder. I found that using a highlighter pen to colour code the template worked a treat (not shown in the photo on my log - I only worked it out a bit later).

Edited by gjdale
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Based on the recommendations from you gentlemen, I started on the ratlines.  Scottish Maid is in 1:50 scale, so the spacing between the ratlines should be 0.32 inches.  Luckily, I have a ruler graduated in 10ths and 100ths of inches, so ruling those lines on a piece of cardstock was simple.

 

Then I cut templates about 1.5 inches wide, whcih will fit nicely behind the shrouds.

 

You can see the final result.

 

post-1141-0-87591200-1363267821_thumb.jpg

post-1141-0-38509100-1363267877_thumb.jpg

post-1141-0-02670200-1363267891_thumb.jpg

post-1141-0-23564800-1363267905_thumb.jpg

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Last night, I started tying knots.  I found this picture somewhere on Model Ship World.  (I'm sorry, but I forget where...)  And I liked the looks of these knots.

 

Two things became clear pretty fast.  First, it was hard to tighten the cow hitch.  I'd put some tension on it and it'd look good, but as soon as I let go, it loosened up.  Second, I'm not sure how to tie those clove hitches.  Mastini recommends simple overhand knots in his Ship Modeling Simplified book.  Those are certainly simple, but they don't look as good as those clove hitches.  Not sure which way to go on those two issues.

 

Also, Mastini recommends using tan thread for the ratlines and that's what's shown in this picture, but most of the models I've seen use the same color for the ratlines as for the shrouds.  I think I'm going to go with the darker color, but I'd be interested in the opinions of others.

 

Finally, getting the right tension on the ratlines between the shrouds seems to be a challenge.  Anyone got a good method for that?  Or is this just a task that requires a lot of fiddling to get right?

 

 

 

Dan

 

 

post-1141-0-90127500-1363268395.jpg

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Dan,

 

I think that picture is from Danny Vadas' log of his Supply build. It certainly shows clearly how the outer clove hitches should be tied with both "tails" pointing inwards. Getting the right tension is a matter of trial and error, and lots of practice! I found that after loosely tying the hitch, I was able to hold the shroud with a pair of tweezers and then pull the hitch tight. Sometimes I found it necessary to pull the first half of the clove hitch reasonably tight first, and then do the latter part. I find this difficult to describe on words, but it is much easier in practice. Aim to get just enough tension to take out the slack in the ratline, without pulling the shrouds together. As for colour, that will come down to personal choice. We had a quite a discussion about this prior to the "crash". David Antscherl, in TFFM vol 4, says they should be the same colour as your shrouds. The current official Victory site says the ratlines are "lightly tarred", but that doesn't necessarily mean they would be black, as some tars are more of a "natural" colour. Gil Middleton did his Victory ratlines in a "natural" colour, but says on reflection he wished he'd done them black as he finds the contrast with the black shrouds somewhat distracting. It was this comment that clinched it for me in deciding to go with black. As I said, it comes down to your choice.

Edited by gjdale
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Thanks for the tip on wetting the ratline thread.  I think I'm going to have to do that, based on my work last night...

 

First, I learned how to tie the two knots invoved in rigging the ratlines:  the cow hitch and the clove hitch.  I found a good video explanation of the clove hitch and as you can see in the photo below, those knots look pretty good.  (Here's a link:  http://www.ehow.com/video_2355229_tie-clove-hitch-knot.html)

 

As for the cow hitch, that one was pretty easy to figure out, but hard to get to lie correctly.  You can see that in the photo too.  Maybe wetting the line will help that out.  I'll try that tonight if I can fit it in.

 

I tied four knots last night.  Took me about 30 minutes.  I'm going to have to get faster at that if I'm ever going to finish this job.  That said, most of my time was spent figuring out how to do it.  Repetition is going to speed this up a lot.  I'm also going to take the suggestion of putting the vertical lines on my template.  I can see how it would be easy to pull the ratlines together and distort the shrouds without some kind of guide.

 

 

Dan

 

 

post-1141-0-75337700-1363357178_thumb.jpg

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Looks like you're off to a good start there Dan. Don't worry, it took me a while to get it all fixed in my head. Once you do, and after a little practice, things will speed up considerably. Don't rush it though, or you'll end up having to re-do one or more lines (guess how I know!). Don't forget to put a tiny dab of diluted white PVA glue on each knot after completing each row.

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Thanks again to everyone for all the help.  I've learned a few things, as the photo below illustrates.

 

  • Get the thread a little wet before using it.  That'll get the kinks out of it and make it a lot easier to work with.
  • Use a template to get the vertical spacing right.
  • Use a template to ensure the shrouds aren't being pulled together.
  • Do every fourth ratline and then go back and do the rest.
  • Things tend to go a little faster with a little experience.

 

Although it probably won't make much difference to people looking at the model, I really do like the idea of not having loose ends hanging off the sides of the ratlines.  I was determined to get the cow hitch - clove hitch - clove hitch - cow hitch series right.  I've found that it's not that tough once you get the hang of it.

 

  • Box 1 shows my first attempts:  loose knots and ... what's that?  A string ball?
  • Box 2 shows subsequent attempts:  properly tied and tighter.  (These were done after I learned I should get the thread a little damp to take the kinks out of it and make it easier to work with.
  • Box 3 shows what I consider to be properly done ratlines.  The knots are tight, the they're not pulling the shrouds together and the knots are properly tied.

 

If I can just replicate Box 3 about a thousand times, I'll be good to go!  Honestly, this is about the most mindless part of my entire building experience.  It's pretty relaxing.  Once you get the hang of the two knots, it goes pretty quickly.

 

I'm a little anxious about rigging the foremast ratlines.  Scottish Maid is a clipper schooner, so I have the foremast yards right in the way, along with all the other rigging.  I'm hoping my experience with the main mast will serve me well on the trickier foremast.

 

Next time, I'm going to do all the ratlines when I step the mast and rig the shrouds...

 

 

Dan

 

 

post-1141-0-55826900-1363615020_thumb.png

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Jan:

 

I found that too.  I had the picture of the knots next to me as I went along.  After a row or two, it was second nature, but how those knots are tied ... well, the forgetting curve is a lot faster than the learning curve.

 

One thing I left off my last post...

 

I tried using dilute white glue to hold everything together after completing a row.  I can't figure out if I'm diluting too much or too little.  Seems like using the glue actually loosened everything up.  The ratlines in Box 3 have no glue on them.  There is glue on those in Box 2.  (The ratlines in Box 1 just need to be replaced...)

 

 

 

Dan

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Nice start to the ratlines Dan. As for glue, I used white PVA diluted about 50/50 with water. It seems to have worked just fine.

 

Good luck with the rest of it. As you say, once you get the hang of it, it's a pretty mindless task, and you'll be done before you know it. Just don't rush!

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Just a quick progress report...

 

I finished rigging the ratlines last night and applied some dilute white glue (50/50) to the whole thing.  I still have to trim the excess thread from the first and last knots, but that will take just a minute tonight.  The shrouds look a little wavy in the pictures.  In real life, they're less so.  As I went along, I checked alignment against the templates and found I had to push and pull them around a little bit to keep them even.

 

Overall, I'm happy with the results.  The process did speed up as I went along because I got really fast at telling when I'd tied a knot incorrectly and could correct the error before it became a problem.

 

The starboard side is done.  Now it's over to the port side to finish this part of the model off.

 

 

 

 

Dan

 

 

post-1141-0-30674300-1364402377_thumb.png

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Something I always look at in a ship model is how the ratlines are tied. In actual practice on ships that used rope ratlines the clove hitch was used for all the inner shrouds but the ends of the ratlines were not tied or knotted to the shrouds, each ratline end terminated in an eye splice. These eye splices were lashed to the shrouds with small stuff. Its my opinion that using a knot for the termination of the ratline ends leaves too big of a lump- the eye splices and lashings were more of a smooth taper that did not protrude outboard or inboard of the shrouds at all. Its an unpopular opinion I know, but I believe you should avoid knots at the ends of the ratlines altogether- unless you are working to a very large scale and then you are cursed to tie hundreds of tiny lashings on all your shrouds. A solution that would avoid the bulge of the knots at the ends would be to sew the end of your model ratline through the shrouds at the ends and use a spot of glue to anchor them. Or perhaps unlay the ratline stuff at the end and glue the fanned out strands to the shrouds? As I say, this is an unpopular opinion and I have not seen the process I have just described put to use on any model under  1/4" scale, and rarely even then,  but I assure you this is how it is done on actual ships.

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie
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