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No modern materials for sails?


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I'm going to be playing my noob card for a couple months here, this being no exception so please forgive...

 

Been reading up on this stuff and the whole "no way to make true-to-scale sails, especially stitches" thing.  And it got me pondering: has no one come forward with some super modern woven from nano fiber cloth, or space age crazy-thin thread, or some such?

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The best way I have found to find suitable sail material is to go to a fabric store, like Jo-Ann's, and look through the remnant bins for the cloth with the finest weave you can find. You should be able to find very inexpensive bolt end-remnants with enough material to do several models. They'll certainly have stuff that is better than the standard-issue kit material.

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I gather the problem with a lot of fancy and novelty materials is that they are (still) prohibitively expensive. They may also not be sold over the counter or in small quantities.

 

The second question would also be for what application fabrics in real life would be used that would be fine enough for modelling purposes. OK there are a lot of uses of materials the average person isn't aware of, or even wouldn't dream of.

 

Still, there are also technical limitations to the weaving of very fine materials, regardless what the thread is made of.

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Well Sun

I see the windmills of your mind are turning, as I guess like mine and others have. I know for me I start reading, and thinking, and pondering, and the next thing I know I come to the conclusion that we can only make things just only so real.

It's all a matter of scale, if you are building 1:24 or bigger then you can be very real, crank up those windmills.

Things become complex when you are building in 1:80 or smaller. Then the other thing is, like others have said, is money.

I am working on the Robert E Lee in 1:150 scale. On one hand something like build scale stairs is almost impossible, on the other hand, painting this model with those little bottles of paint would cost about $85.00.

This is a great hobby, you will learn a lot, may even go broke, and never be the same agian. Now that can be a good thing, or a bad thing.

But the time will come when you start wondering about yourself.

When you get to this point you have reached the pucker factor. This is the point of no return

Let me know when you are there, because here I am.

Joe

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I've had this problem for as long as I have been modeling.....40 years.  Recently I have found a material that is promising...I still need to find the manufacturer.  It is used in nuclear clean applications and it is lint free..very small tight weave.  Ill post an image of it.  I'm sending a sample to a fellow in Australia who needs it....he is stuck with silk span.  It is too transparent for realism.

 

Rob

post-2739-0-80512400-1469164260.jpg

post-2739-0-68533400-1469164272.jpg

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Depending on the scale you are the windmills have to really churn.  I found in an artist store very thin rice paper that worked ror a greek galleass I built a long time ago.  I usually go to a fabric store and look in the areas for fine embroidery.  Also fine handkerchiefs aloning an old pillow case.  Drafting linen can be used if you can find a supplier.

David B

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Thanks all for the thoughts and suggestions.

 

Tom, the silkspan article is a great resource, thanks, but my understanding is Sig discontinued the product?

 

Rob, looks promising.  Do you think it would work with pull-one-dyed-threat method of simulating stitching?

 

I guess on the whole I'm just surprised that while you can cover a model in PE detail and someone has even come out with a credible 3D 1:350 crew, that someone like ModelExo hasn't come forward with "the thinnest, finest woven fabric on earth" or something to cater to the sail ship hobby. :)

 

B

Edited by B Flo
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Huh, interesting question!

 

Actually in our space age, with our computers and robots and stuff should we be able to do something like a very fine cloth. But is there any need for this, except for modelling purposes?

 

The only answer which comes to my mind is not new, but rather old: the fabric which was once used to reinforce the backside of transparent papers used to copy plans on it.It is a kind of material which I believe was discontinued in production some time before Second World War, or slightly after it, when the use of new material like plastics developed.

 

A friend of mine has a piece of such old transparent paper which he keeps jealously and uses to put pieces of it into water for a long time, until the transparent part dissolves and leaves only the fabric. It is then ready for use as sailcloth for ship models!

 

Another answer for fine fibers may come to mind from the books which we all read as kids. Do you remember Captain Nemo and the clothes of his crew? Jules Verne talks about fine tissue done with fibers taken from mollusks, which he calls byssus. While the Nautilus itself was only a fantasy story (but what a story!) the byssus thing is not. See it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_silk

 

However, insofar I know today there are just a couple of people in the islands of Southern Italy which know how to make such tissues, and I am not sure if it's good enough for our modelling purpose.  

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A very high "DIN point" pillow case or handkerchief should provide you with enough material have the admiral wash it many times and to age the sail a TEA bag in cold water will do the trick the darker the longer as any tea drinker can tell you after you have finished your needle point to dye the stitches.

Andy

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"I guess on the whole I'm just surprised that while you can cover a model in PE detail and someone has even come out with a credible 3D 1:350 crew, that someone like ModelExo hasn't come forward with "the thinnest, finest woven fabric on earth" or something to cater to the sail ship hobby. :)"

 

Purely for technical reasons ... you cannot weave scale cloth, neither in 1:100 or let alone in 1:350 scale. The thinnest (usable) natural fibres are the yarns taken off the cocoon of the silk worm and have 0.005 to 0.01 mm in diameter. Indidividual hemp cells have a similar diameter, but would need to be spun into a yarn to be useful. Man-made nanofibres could go down to 0.0001 mm or less in diameter, but still are prohibitively expensive.

 

In any case, the individual fibres need to be spun into yarn, the thickness of which is much greater than that of the fibres. So, I think for the moment we are stuck with the finest silk cloth. However, natural silk should be avoided in modelling, as the protein of the fibre is prone to relatively fast degradation.

 

Realistically, I think that non-woven fibrous materials, i.e. paper-like materials, are the only solution for small-scale sails. Paper can be produced from relatively short individual fibres and does not involve the mechanics of weaving, for which a long yarns are needed. Therefore, paper can be much thinner than the thinnest cloth.

Edited by wefalck
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Huh, interesting question!

 

Actually in our space age, with our computers and robots and stuff should we be able to do something like a very fine cloth. But is there any need for this, except for modelling purposes?

 

The only answer which comes to my mind is not new, but rather old: the fabric which was once used to reinforce the backside of transparent papers used to copy plans on it.It is a kind of material which I believe was discontinued in production some time before Second World War, or slightly after it, when the use of new material like plastics developed.

 

A friend of mine has a piece of such old transparent paper which he keeps jealously and uses to put pieces of it into water for a long time, until the transparent part dissolves and leaves only the fabric. It is then ready for use as sailcloth for ship models!

 

Another answer for fine fibers may come to mind from the books which we all read as kids. Do you remember Captain Nemo and the clothes of his crew? Jules Verne talks about fine tissue done with fibers taken from mollusks, which he calls byssus. While the Nautilus itself was only a fantasy story (but what a story!) the byssus thing is not. See it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_silk

 

However, insofar I know today there are just a couple of people in the islands of Southern Italy which know how to make such tissues, and I am not sure if it's good enough for our modelling purpose.  

 

In reference to the drafting material- Are you referring to Starched Linen? 

 

My Professor in college always used to tell us how his mother would wash the starched linen cut offs from his fathers office and make doll clothes for his sister. His father was a well regarded Naval Architect in the early 1900's.  It has a very fine weave that seems appropriate for most ship models. From a quick google search it looks like you can still find starched linen available through book making suppliers (listed as starched linen), though i do not know if this is a modern substitute material and not the real thing we are talking about. 

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Hello Andrew,

 

Thanks for your input. Actually I do not know how this material my have been called properly in English, but it seems to be the same material I was talking about.

 

Using your hint I have found a wikipedia reference on it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drafting_linen

 

It is a very fine textile, however even this one can only be used for large scale models ranging from 1:10 up to 1:50 or something. Beyond this I believe Wefalck's suggestion on using paper instead is the only correct alternative!

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Andrew, I don't think they're the same thing. You can see a brief description of drafting linen here. It is presently very hard to come by. I have a small stash myself. It has to be prepared in the manner previously described -- kind of labor intensive. The sails on my HMC Sherbourne in the gallery are made from it. 

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Although the original question was about novelty fabrics to be used in very small scales, it may be worthwhile to explore the aid materials for book-binders and restorers. In these trades very fine cloth (and paper) often is used to double up fragile original materials without detracting much from their appearance. I seem to have seen various around the WWW, but did not follow through, as I didn't have any needs.

 

Incidentally, many mid-19th to mid-20th century ship's drawings have been done on drafting linen, particularly when they were meant for reproduction.

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The following is offered for what it's worth, without getting into a discussion about exactly constitutes scale. I went through a variety of materials in my stash and measured thicknesses with a set of digital calipers. Results are approximate for a number of reasons including the amount of pressure on the calipers. I tried ro keep it light.

 

No. 10 duck canvas left over from a canoe restoration job. .032in. At 1:32 scale that I am building to, this would require a material of .001in.

 

Unidentified tightly woven unbleached muslin type material from a fabric shop. .005in

 

Drafting linen (or cotton) with the starch washed out. Some actually liberated from the old US Navy Bureau of Ships trash. This has a nice even weave with no "pics".

.002in

 

Oriental rice paper .001in

 

Lightweight silk span from a 30+ year old model airplane kit. .001in.

 

I am building a 1:32 navy longboat that I plan to display with furled sails. I will probably use drafting linen for the main sail and stay sail and rice paper for the flying jib.

 

Roger Pellett

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If SilkSpan is unavailable, try Esaki Plyspan, also from SIG. Correctly handled, I've found it to be highly satisfactory for both sails and flags - see my scratch build log of the Greenwich Hospital barge. I've tried to use drafting linen but, unless you are working at very large scales, it is too bulky and doesn't drape nicely.

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