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Tightening rigging

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As I work on the very complex and difficult (at least for me) running rigging on my CW Morgan build, some of my standing rigging has gradually stretched, and some that I have "twanged" while trying to work in inaccessible places have slackened.

Are there any tricks for tightening a line short of snip and reattach? Doing this will not be easy or in some cases of multiple stacked stays in tops now crowded with multiple eyes, blocks, and rigging even possible.

Looking at pictures I realize the standing rigging was not uniformly taut, but I'd like to improve the appearance a bit if I can do it without causing more eyesores than I'd be addressing.

Thanks for any experience or thoughts.


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I am also embroiled in rigging in tight places at present and it can be a frustrating exercise; snagging previously rigged lines is an ever present hazard.


Personally I don't mind a degree of slackness in the centre line stays, provided the slackness looks natural, in fact I try to contrive it to impart a look of 'weightiness' on my models, the same thing applies to the braces and pendants.


I take it that the slackness has nothing to do with humidity, and as you say re-rigging can be very difficult without backtracking many stages, without any guarantee that the same thing won't happen again.


In the past, given such circumstances, I have resorted to using very fine line attached to either the collars  or leads of stays to  pull them tighter  to the mast, and tried to hide the means in the mass of other rigging.


Cutting the line to re-attach rather depends on how much slack you have, I can't imagine that you would have sufficient to make re-attachment an easy option, or sufficient to make an authentic seizing or eye around the mast.


Slack Backstays are not such an issue because the lanyards to the deadeyes can be re-rigged.


I rather think there is no magic bullet to address this problem.



Edited by Blue Ensign
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As a rule....I dont glue any of my lines to their final belaying point.  They are made fast to their pins and cleats but because it is inevitable that you will need to re-tension the lines,  this makes it very easy to do.   There is no really good reason to glue the line permanently.  It will stay in place just fine and makes fixing the lines or even replacing them much easier later on.   I have restored models that are over 100 years old and they rarely glued the ropes to the belaying points back then.  This meant it was as simple as pulling a belaying pin and re-doing it with proper tension.  No need to cut anything.  It was a pleasure compared to models which had the ropes glued and hard to work. 


I am currently rigging my model and have routinely adjusted the tension on many lines as it progresses.  Once completed I will add rope coils over the pins with the smallest dot of white glue.  They will be easy to remove if needed later.  And the line can be adjusted as described.

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Here is another "denken experimenten" (thought experiment):

After the lines are taut - What would be the long term effect of

treating them with a liquid that hardens - making them stiff?

I am not sure what it would be - it would need to have a flat finish,

not promote (and inhibit if possible) oxidation.

An alternative would be to have the central core of the line be a

thin copper or brass wire.

Natural vegetable fiber is going to react to changes in heat and humidity

as well as undergo some relaxation of friction at the micro level of the fibers.


Synthetic substitutes would also be subject to oxidation as well as continuation

of the original polymerization reaction that produced it - the rate may be much slower

but the "plastic" characteristic will become more rigid and brittle over time. So

these are not really superior to traditional fibers.

NRG member 45 years



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That is something I would not recommend.   Eventually they will get brittle and break.   Its just not something you see on ship models and it would adversley effect the look and texture of the rope.

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That is something I would not recommend.   Eventually they will get brittle and break.   Its just not something you see on ship models and it would adversley effect the look and texture of the rope.



Amen to that Chuck.


I remember restoring a whaleship model from the 1920's that had been heavily sprayed with varnish/lacquer over decades. A few lines had detached and it look a fairly simple fix but some sort of chemical reaction had taken place and virtually every other line I touched was so brittle it crumbled if I so much as looked at it.


I would also advocate the use of beeswax on line as it does offer some natural protection as well as keeping the 'fuzziness' at bay.



Edited by overdale
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Just to be clear with your first post above, you do not permanently glue any of the lines where they attach to the ship, including the standing rigging?  So for example, on your Cheerful build, once the tension is where you want it with the shrouds, you will not secure the lanyards running through the dead-eyes with glue?


I like the idea of not using glue to secure the belaying points.  It's easier to correct the line tension, and you can better minimize the discoloring of the scale rope that seems to be an inevitable result of gluing.




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FWIW,what I do is cheat by passing the line through the hole for the belaying pin then push the pin in. This allows you to adjust any later line slackness by removing the pin,retensioning the line,replacing the pin then belaying after finishing work in that area. No one can see this as it will be covered by the rope hank anyway.


Just my tuppence worth.


Dave :dancetl6:  

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That is correct.  I use a simple knot appropriate for the job.   It is very rare that I will need to use glue.  At the very most I will use some diluted white glue on the knot or hitch afterwards.   They key is not using rope that is too slippery and difficult to secure without slippage.  For example,  the nylon stuff that comes in many kits is too slippery and this would work.   Many synthetic materials will be too slippery to simply use a clove hitch or granny knot to secure.  They come undone on their own without much help.


But its not a problem with the cotton/linen rope I am using.  No slippage or undoing of knots at all.  For the deadeye lanyards above the deadeye....this is one instance where I would apply a dot of watered down white glue.   Not enough to be permanent but enough to lock the granny knot in position just in case.   Its not under any tension if you can believe it because the deadeyes hold the rope pretty good once you have them all rigged in every hole.  Again...a slippery rope material wouldnt behave like this  however.

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It is also a question of the scale at which you are working. The larger the scale and the closer you are with the rigging material to the 'real' thing the less likely you will need to secure belayings etc. Where on the prototype they would have slapped tar over it, I would use black/brown paint. On small-scale models, where synthetic material would be the only practical material, you will need to secure knots and belayings because the material does not provide enough friction to hold (as pointed out by Chuck). In such cases I use a drop of light solvent-based varnish - if the need arises, the thread can be softened again by applying a drop of solvent and lines can be tightened or loosend.



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Thanks all for the pointers.

There is much I will do differently on my second fully rigged ship based on this feedback and my experience.

The main problem I have with the Morgan is the relative inaccessibility of the majority of the belay points making tying any kind of secure knot without glue an impossibility at least for me. Unfortunately I glued the pins in (what WAS I thinking?).

Oh well, the first build is an education.

Edited by Bruce Evans
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