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Actual serving stuff was made up aboard from old rope that had been reduced to its constituent yarns and then twisted up again, with tar added, to form a cordage that was as thick as a bootlace. After the service was put on it was once again painted with tar, which will soak in and leave some of the color of the original rope its made from, a dark brown. After it had been on the ship for a while, it would receive more coats of tar, eventually forming a crust, which was black in color. The service was put on as tightly as possible and the coats of tar tended to fill in the valleys between each turn of serving so in a scale model the serving should not look too much like a line with ribs along its length, so use thread that is not too thick. If you go too thin with your serving thread, you won't see it at all since it will be quite small.

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