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Rope Making Basics


mikiek
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Hey folks - I just got around to breaking out the Planetary Ropewalk I ordered a few months back. The assembly instructions were good as were the "how to operate" instructions. I even got some good suggestions from Alexey on the types of thread to try. So I'm good with all that.

 

Several of the books I have describe the different rope types - right lay, left lay, with cable, 3 strand, 4 strand, etc.    While there are a lot of good descriptions, I'm not finding much on the "why"  for these various types. Particularly when it comes to modeling a 1:64 build.

 

I'm hoping someone can point me to a book, write-up, white paper or something that helps with the why's. Some of it I get - at least on a full size boat - but what really matters in a small modeling scale?

 

For instance:

 

I've seen posts saying dont' bother with 4 strand on a model - not enough difference with 3 strand.

 

I can add a inner "cable" thread on the Planetary - do I care?

 

I assume thread has a lay just like rope. Does this matter? If the thread is a left lay should I only make right lay rope with it?

 

 

Again, what I would like is something that provides guidance about rope making as it pertains to our hobby.

 

 

 

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Most of the line you will find on a ship will be 3-strand right hand layed rope.  That is the basic, flexible type of rope.  Good for the running rigging because it bends nicely around pulleys.

Left hand layed rope was slightly stiffer, so you will see it used in some of the standing rigging; like shrouds.

Stays were often layed up around  a 'heart' strand.  This gave the rope additional strength.

Larger ropes were made up of three right hand laid ropes layed up left handed into a cable (cable laid);  an example would be the anchor cables.

 

While you can tell the difference at scale in right hand, left hand, and cable laid ropes you will never be able to tell if a stay has a heart.

 

Regards,

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Mike,

The fewer strands are in your rope, the thinner the rope is. For instance, two stranded rope is slightly thinner then three stranded one, which in turn is slightly thinner than four stranded rope. Of course, some of the bigger (thicker ) ropes on real ships were four stranded ropes like, like anchor ropes, some stays, etc.

 

If you can replace inner core in your model rope from another strand (thread) to a copper wire (some ropewalks let you do it), you can later on manuallly form your rope to look more "authentic" looking, let's say a sagging, loose piece rather than laying stiff and straight on a model, as miniature ropes tend to do.

 

Also, whether right hand twist or left hand twist, depends on what type of rope you intend it to represent. Some types of ropes were right handed and other left handed on real ships. If you care to do it more authentically looking, pay attention! If not, ignore it and make all of them the same. It is your model!  Have fun!   :)

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Does anyone know about that last question?  Thread must have a twist to it. So does thread with a right lay need to be used only for rope with a left lay? But then that begs the question - can you buy thread with a right or left lay?

 

I'm wondering this because a few times I have seen the thread from one of the three bobbins unravel as it travels thru the feed to be twisted with the other two. Maybe the thread lay has nothing to do with that. Just my screw up?

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The basic principle is that Right Hand Laid strands (threads, in model rope making) will lay up into Left Hand Laid rope- also called Shroud Laid or "S" laid. Full size running rigging line is always Cable Laid -also called Right Hand laid or "S" laid. If you don't want to use Shroud Laid Rope (Left Laid or "Z"laid)  on your running rigging (which would be inaccurate difficult to notice) you have to start with strands that are Left Hand Laid. But you can never find Left Hand Laid thread.

What you can do though is make your own Left Laid thread. Its laborious but it is possible to UNLAY thread, spin it in the opposite direction of its lay. Maybe you can do that to three strands at once on your rope walk? If you cant, use a reversible electric drill, chuck a hook into it, tie one end of one strand of thread to a chair and put the other end on the hook on the drill. Stand in a place that keeps the thread tight but not too tight. Turn on the drill, reversing the lay. The thread gets longer as the twists come out. You will reach a point when the thread is entirely untwisted. Keep going and lay the thread up in the opposite direction. There is no good way to know when you are done twisting, this will take trial and error. Now you have gheto Shroud Laid thread and this can now go on your rope walk to lay up into Cable Laid Rope. There is a facbook group called "Ropemakers" which is worth a look see.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm going to revive this thread for a question. All you rope makers out there -

 

Do you make small diameter rope - 0.010" to 0.015" ? Right lay or left?

 

I would really like to make some right layed of this size but of course that means I should be using smaller diameter left lay thread. IS THERE SUCH A THING? If you have some that was given to you or you found at a garage sale, please don't respond. I'm hoping to find an "actionable" source for this. There's gotta be some place.

 

FWIW - I've tried JC Frankie's suggestion of re-spinning right lay thread but so far it has broken every time.

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Gaetan, it's OK if thread like that doesn't exist or is not available thru retail. I just want to make sure that is the case.

 

At least from the pics, it looks like Chuck P's small rope (0.008 & 0.012) is right layed. It turns to left lay at and above 0.018.

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I'm going to revive this thread for a question. All you rope makers out there -

 

Do you make small diameter rope - 0.010" to 0.015" ? Right lay or left?

 

I would really like to make some right layed of this size but of course that means I should be using smaller diameter left lay thread. IS THERE SUCH A THING? If you have some that was given to you or you found at a garage sale, please don't respond. I'm hoping to find an "actionable" source for this. There's gotta be some place.

 

FWIW - I've tried JC Frankie's suggestion of re-spinning right lay thread but so far it has broken every time.

Have you considered using wire? McMaster Carr sells copper wire down to 0.003"

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Mike

I use DMC threads for my ropes. Most are right hand twist so either you will end up with somewhat stiff left hand twist or with right hand one made of several yarns and strands but it will be thick (and beautiful)

However, look for DMC perle, this is LEFT hand twist and come in various sizes and colours so with one pass through a ropewalk you can make RIGHT hand twist rope which can be very fine. DMC is expensive though! 

I experimented with silk thread which does not really have a twist and is very strong and fine but it is too difficult and too expensive to work with.

One other thing to consider is that cotton rope if set with some tension on the model it tends to loosen over time. I will try linen thread at some point.

Regards

Vaddoc

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Looking into DMC now. Assuming Perle and Pearl are the same thing? That definitely seems like a step in the right direction.

 

Gaetan you mention size 100. I see 3, 5, 8 and 12 (12 being the finest). I have not found any dimension for this.

 

Vaddoc, a while back I ordered some linen thread from a site here in the States. Two ended up being made in Germany, one in Ireland. The 2 German threads are left lay but are fairly thick - 18/3 and 28/3.  The Irish thread appeared to be a Coats brand and is right layed - 35/3.  All 3 are quite stiff and did not work well for me. The stuff is tough as can be, but it seems to be wound oddly.  The silk thread I tried (Gutermann) definitely has a right twist to it. What were you using?

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Try searching for Cottolin thread or Cotolin.   Venne Cottolin is a very good brand but limited by its retail sizes.  Just like Coats/DMC many of the sizes are only available commercially though...that means you have to order a minimum of $300 per order and $4000 per year as a Manufacturer or Industrial Distributor.  They wont sell to hobbyist.  It really sucks.  They wont even talk to you unless you commit t ordering the minimums.  I have to buy it whether I need it or not to make the minimums each year.  Colors are custom Dyed  Or you could go with White or Natural unbleached.

 

 

Its 60% cotton and 40% linen thread and can often be sourced left or right hand. Not sure about the smaller sizes though. You can even search for mono filament thread.   Its what I use although all of my small thread is left handed when I get it.   I also get two larger sizes in Right handed.  Its custom made in Ireland.  Not available retail.  The issue with the custom stuff is you have to buy a ton of it each time.   But I have seen it both ways I think online from specialty weavers and some small places.  But only in White or natural unbleached mostly.  And almost always in Europe although there is a guy in Canada that offers some.   But its a fuzzy mess.

 

If you dont mind going with synthetics...this stuff is really good and available in huge sizes for making larger ropes. 

 

http://www.coatsindustrial.com/en/products-applications/industrial-threads/terko-satin

 

But again...only available commercially in the oddball sizes you would want.  And the minimum orders are huuuuge!!!

 

That being said....

 

The issue is primarily with the machine you are using....  Or any self-running machine vs. the old fashion kind. Using a more traditional rope walk that the tension is controlled by you is easier to reverse any right hand thread so it doesnt break.  You can get a feel for just how much tension to use while walking the ends of the rope walk as the rope lays up.   I have very little breakage on thinner ropes because I have grown accustomed to how much tension and how tightly you can keep the thread while the rope lays up.  This is something not easily done with those self-contained machines.  One day I challenged myself to try and make a 30 foot length of rope laid up using YLI 100/2 ply cotton lace makers thread.  This is incredibly thin stuff.   I just wanted to see what size rope would result...I doubt stuff that small would stay in tact in those machines.  

 

Chuck

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Mike, here is a link to one stop shopping for threads to make ropes. This one has all the sizes however, the only colors for all are White or Ecru and will require dyeing black or brown. I have ordered Sizes 10, 20 and 30 in black and mocha brown of the DMC Corbonnet type inbound to me by UPS. Check out my USS Constitution for examples of test rope I have just made.

 

http://www.hhtatting.com/results-threads.cfm?SubCategory=27

 

I had no problem making rope first try.

 

Here is another link at the same site to get Lizbeth 40 and 80 sizes in colors Black and several Browns.

http://www.hhtatting.com/CategoryResults.cfm?Category=5

Edited by xken
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Chuck - I appreciate the feedback. When I was "unspinning" the RH thread I just had the thread tied to a nail at one end and was using a drill at the other - as described by JC Frankie earlier in this topic. The brute-force methods like that don't seem to provide much feel, at least with the fine thread I was using. BTW - I have an order of your rope on the way (all sizes) so this experiment is more long term.  Regarding the monofilament thread, is that colored or can it be dyed?

 

Ken - Hopefully this site may be what I'm looking for, although it's hard to say whether the Cordennet is right or left laid. If I am seeing your samples correctly, it looks like the size 30 sample is the only right laid. Can I assume you started that with left lay thread?

 

Honestly, I'm turning out decent left lay rope, obviously made from various right lay sources. Where I'm struggling is the small dimension cable laid.

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Thats the issue...I usually just tie it to the three/four hooks of my rope walk and spin it in the opposite direction.  It unlays and then after that it lays up in the other direction.    Just like that I now have left handed thread to make my right handed rope.  All in one step.

 

As it unlays initially.... the rope walk end is actually walked back...or the gap between the two actually gets wider. Before closing up again as it begins to twist in the other direction and tighten.   I dont do it ahead of time as you mentioned.   But I suppose you would have to in order to wound it up on those spools for the machine.

 

The mono thread comes in limited colors....I really dont use it for my rope.   I just know its out there.

 

DMC is the ultimate best stuff readily available for rope making.   The only draw back is that it has to be dyed.  I used it initially before deciding that I didnt have the time to dye all of the rope I sold.  It is all right handed.   If I wasnt selling 1000's of feet of rope each month I would still be using it.   It great stuff and I never minded dyeing it for just my own use.  

 

Rit dye is what I used.  It comes in many colors...great stuff.

 

Both lefty and righty ropes.

 

post-2-0-24785500-1417554831_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for clearing all that up Chuck. Sounds like I need to work on the unspinning angle. Maybe I should try thicker material first and work my way down to the small stuff.

 

Did you ever think of writing a book? :)

 

Your shipment should be here tomorrow, so I will have something to continue my build with.

Edited by mikiek
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That would actually be a great idea.......use the thicker stuff first.  That is how I taught my son to make rope.  He kept breaking the smaller lines until he got used to it.

 

 

Actually I was thinking of making a video...just have to convince my kids to shoot the video.    Ultimately I would like to offer my new rope walk to the masses some day....but there is a learning curve and you must get the feel for it.   The "feel" has a lot to do with it.  Something I think only a video could most easily convey.    I cant even get them to take out the garbage so its just one of those things on the "to-do List". 

 

Chuck

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I was trying to add some pics but keep getting error file too big message. Anyway I have been having great success making right and left hand ropes 3 strand thru as many as you want strands using 'single strand flat waxed nylon' fly tying thread. It's called Ultra Thread by UTC made in the USA. It comes in 70, 140,210 denier sizes and I get it at Sportsman's Warehouse locally. The 70 denier 6 strand, left hand lay is about .025" and is limp and heavy enough to hang in smooth looking curves.

This thread comes off the spool with no discernible twist, it looks a lot like dental floss.

Edited by wabass
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The DMC Cordonnet is right hand twist and the Perle left hand. 

There is a light twist in silk but negligible. It is very strong but very slippery too, really difficult to work with. Also the rope it produces is very stiff.

Synthetics and linen might be the better option. Cotton rope really stretches a lot.

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Mike

I have sizes 5, 8 and 12. Perle 12 makes a fine 0.6-0.7 mm rope, 0.8-0,9 mm with the 8 and 1.2 mm with the 12. This thread is more supple than the cordonnet. The finest rope I have produced is 0.5 mm left hand twist with 100 weight, it is quite rigid though. 

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