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ratlines-At what scale do you just use an overhand knot?


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Ahoy Mates


When knotting ratlines,at what small scale do you just use an overhand knot in place of a clove hitch? This question just came up in our group meeting yesterday.


Would it be like smaller scales than 1/72? That's getting so small that it would be hard to see the difference.


If you have elves doing your building with tiny hands this question doesn't have to be asked. We are asking for the normal builder,not an OCD one who would do it down to 1/200 scale or smaller.




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at 1/72 or smaller, I glue the ratlines to the shrouds. Then add a blob of white wood glue at each joint to simulate the 'knot' and paint the whole thing matt black when dry.


In my opinion, actual knots at that size are hugely over scale and (to my eye) look rather clumsy.

Edited by overdale
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Like John, I clove hitch down to 1/96 scale. I prefer the way the ratlines hang when tied with a clove hitch. If you use an overhand knot, the line on one side of the knot hangs nicely, but on the other side, it starts with an upward wave.


Below 1/96, I would probably just consider gluing. But then, I've never built anything with ratlines smaller than 1/96.



Clare Hess

He's a -> "HE"

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As a regular (non OCD) modeler, I would suggest it is what the individual is comfortable with. However, I would think it is all to do with scale. At 1:70 something, the ratline thickness would be 0.20 mm to 0.30 mm thick (if memory serves). At that thickness you would be pressed to see the knot anyway (well, with my eyesight at least). Take a piece of cotton thread out of your partners sewing basket. Tie a clove hitch and pull it tight. Do ya see it?


Happy hitchin!


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Personal opinion: if one manages to do the overhand knot at a certain scale then the clove hitch is also possible without further complications. Just a small litte training and it works as well as the other one.



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I have always used a thread and needle to "sew" the ratlines through the shrouds and then glue them in, even on scales as large as 1:76. Right now I am working on a 1:47 scale ship (Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde from Euromodel) and will try the clove hitch method. Not looking forward to it though!

From about as far from the ocean as you can get in North America!

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Not so much a question of doability as finished look I think. At smaller scales the line is a maximum of 0.1mm diameter and generally less. Even at 1:64 scale the topmast ratlines on the Amati sloop are only 0.1mm.


Get the correct relationship between shroud and ratlines and then do a comparison test with clove hitch and overhand and choose which suits your eye.


I went with clove hitch on my 1:64 scale model, but overhand using very fine wire on my 1:150 scale Heller French Seventy-four. Courses for horses.


Personally unless a miniature model, I don't favour gluing lines across the shrouds.



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  • 1 month later...



It is interesting to come across this question because I have been trying to figure out the best knot to use also.

I have been trying different ways of fixing rat lines. I am building the 100:1 Prins Willem. 


I decided to scrap some standing rigging and do some testing. I tried quite a few options from just looping to a simple knot

and even considered gluing. None really seemed that good to me. I did some research and found that the figure 8 knot was used extensively

on the original ships in the 17th and 18th century. So I gave it a try and was amazed how well it worked for me. The knot is simple which makes it easy and quick to tie, looks and lays very nice and is easy to tension without over tightening. And it is quite easy to adjust and untie if needed.

I can see why it was used originally and it is perfect for models.

In my opinion it is the best.

Some times we have to relearn what is best.



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Making a clove hitch seems to be as easy, as an overhand knot. So why not using it ? If the ratline-material is thin enough, i.e. to scale, the knot will be at scale as well. The available yarns will be the limiting factor, not the knotting.



panta rhei - Everything is in flux



M-et-M-72.jpg  Banner-AKHS-72.jpg  Banner-AAMM-72.jpg  ImagoOrbis-72.jpg
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After tying several thousands of clove hitches, I find it even more difficult to tie an overhand knot.

There aren't but two options: do it FAST, or do it RIGHT.


Current Project Build Log: HMS Surprise 1790. Artesania Latina 1/48

Future projects already in my stash: Panart: San Felipe 1/75; OcCre: Santísima Trinidad 1/90;

Wish List: Le Soleil Royal, 1/64 Amati Victory


So much to build, so little time!



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