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Hi All,


I Was captivated by Chuck's thimbles on his Cheerfull build log and went so far as to to order the thin walled Albion brass tube. I wish, though I'd paid more attention to the size of the thimbles he created with the 1.5mm tubes. Unfortunately, I was hoping to use them with the shackles I made. They will not fit on to those thimbles. Does anyone have other ideas on how to make thimbles larger than Chuck's? Thanks.I'm


Best, John

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Thanks Chuck,


I don't know if it's that easy. The 1.5mm micro tube has a 1.3mm ID which equates to a wall thickness of 0.1mm. I think I need a 4mm tube and the only Albion brass tubes in that I could find in that size come nested as a 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm set. I think that means the the wall thickness would be 0.5mm. Do you think that walls that thick can peen over as easily and evenly as the 1.5mm tube? I bought the tubes at Sprue Brothers. Are there other suppliers of Albion tubing that may have a greater selection?




Edited by Landlocked123
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Absolutely......they dont even need to be thin walled.  I have made thimbles and flared regular brass tubing that was 1/8 or 3/32" in diameter with no trouble at all.   Brass is very soft.  Just buy any K&S brass tube and you can do it with the right sizes blunt punch.


See this





Read pages 3 and 4.



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John here's my tip, fast and cheap.

Take a piece of relatively soft wire at a thickness close to the side of the thimble you want to create.

By the "side" I mean the part of the thimble that it will stay uncovered when the thread (rope) is placed. 

Fold the wire in two pieces and make a loop around a rod in a proper - required diameter.

Cut the rest of the wire and apply some ca glue between the formed loops.

Then with a fine file,  make flat  the curved edges at the side and you've have your thimble...




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I agre with Chuck, I just made some thimbles from standard hobby shop K &S brass tubing although I used a somewhat different method- I hadn't seen his post at the time. From some solid brass round bar I machined male and female dies. The male die was just a cylinder with a nipple machined on one end. The diameter of the nipple a slip fit for the id of the brass tube thimble stock.. I left a small radius between at the shoulder between the nipple and the round bar. As long as the diameter of the round bar is larger than the of of the brass tubing the actual diameter is unimportant.


The female die was just the same round bar stock with a hole center drilled. The diameter of rhe hole a slip fit with the male die nipple.


To make,a thimble,I first chucked the tubing in my lathe's head stock with only a sixteenth or so protruding. I chucked the male die in the tail stock. After turning on the lathe I fed the male die into the hole in the tubing. When the shoulder between the nipple and the round bar came in contact with the tubing it flared it. I then parted it off with a razor saw.


I then reversed the piece of tubing on the male die so that the flared end was pointing towards the lathe headstock, and I chucked the female die in the headstock. I started up the lathe and fed the male die into the female die, flaring the second end.


It was much easier than it sounds.




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  • 1 month later...

Hi Guys,


Well I finally got my act together and made some thimbles using Chuck's techniques shown on the the Cheerful build log. Like so many other things in this avocation, it is both easier and harder than it seems.


Once I got the "touch" and made the appropriate sized blunt points to turn the collar it was easy to knock out bunches of them. The smallest thimble is made from Albion 1.5 mm thin walled brass tube. Chuck made the point that this stuff is very soft and easy to cut (there's a link to a video on the Cheerful log). This actually gave me more trouble than any other aspect of making these. I knew I was working with metal and it took a long time before I found out just how much of a soft touch it took. I was using so much pressure that not only did I cut the tube, but I scored the brass rod I had inserted into the tube. With the K&S I had on hand, I didn't have much luck rolling against the exacto blade, so I used a jeweler's saw to cut the blanks.


I made two blunt points of different sizes to roll the collars out of some steel common nails. I cut off the heads, chucked them into my drill press, used a file to create a rounded cone, and polished with some sand paper. A few light taps on the mandrel and done.





Ps. This was my first shot at seizing the eyes and I used some some of #8 synthetic fly tying thread. Neither CA or diluted PVA would stick to it and the clove hitches I used wouldn't hold. Next time around I used some #8 Unithread.....much better. J.





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I've used Flexament extensively, but it tends to sit on the surface of the threads and obscure the threads themselves. It's fine to create a head of the fly, but I would prefer to see the seizings. So Unithread with either 50/50 white glue and water or CA would be my first choice.




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Another perhaps limited way of making thimbles other than the rather complex method that I highlighted in my pilot cutter build

This is using some of the wire guadians findings that some of the craft stores carry. (it took forever to find the correct terminology, because I discarded the package a year ago)




This next picture shows the closed tube at the end of one side filed open




The guardian was held in one of my assortment of clamps for my third hand for filing with a sanding stick.




Next it was fitted with some rope (this was some polyester upholstery thread that i twisted a year or so ago)




A quick and dirty result, no where near as prototypical as Chuck's work, but an alternative way of creating the thimbles.




I hope this gives some ideas for all you great riggers out there.





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  • 2 years later...



Very nice work on the splicing! Working a splice in scale line is really difficult.


These are admittedly "picky" comments, but I share them with the thought that some who may be contemplating showing their models in competition or hoping to sell them for a good price may find them of value.  The type of "tear-drop" shaped thimble, bent open-ended as shown or closed-ended when cast in bronze, is of relatively modern design and intended for use with wire rope (cable,) not with fiber cordage. It's shape is designed to avoid the sharp bend in the wire rope that would be required at the throat seizing on a closed, round thimble which would cause a fatigue point that would weaken the wire rope and could result in catastrophic failure under load. These tear-drop shaped thimbles appeared concurrently with wire rope and cable coming into use. 


Modernly, the tear-drop thimbles are frequently seen used with fiber cordage simply because the round thimbles have become somewhat difficult to source. Their disadvantage in that application is that, as the eye "works" to and fro, the open edges of the tear-drop thimble tend to chafe and cut into the line, leading to catastrophic failure under load.


Round metal thimbles are themselves a relatively modern thing, although I'm not sure when they were first available. They are generally made of yellow metal, or sometimes of hot-dipped galvanized steel modernly, as rusting of ferrous metal promotes rotting of the cordage in contact with it.  On period rigging, they were of turned wood, generally lignum vitae, if available, or locust and similar tough species if not. The cordage forming the eye should be served before the thimble is inserted because the outer edges of the cordage around a thimble is particularly susceptible to damage from chafing, especially if shackles are placed through the eye.


This isn't a criticism of the workmanship, to be sure, but these "museum quality" details are the sort of thing that may be worth a few points with an eagle-eyed model judge or museum curator. They may not be particularly noticeable at smaller scales, but would surely be noted by judges on the full-sized classic yacht concours circuit these days.


Edited by Bob Cleek
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  • 2 years later...

Butting in here where I have no right to be, but, maybe my low-tech engineering will help some!


I am building a very humble ship: Soclaine's French oyster-lugger 'Trois Freres' kit. She is pole-masted with no standing rigging, but she has a lot of thimbles for her size.


Designed for the Bay of Morbihan rather than the open sea, and for an era before refrigeration, she had to be fast home with the catch, so the two lugsails are big. Caught in a squall, she needs to reef down fast, and there are usually only two men and a boy at most to handle her, and one of those is at the tiller. So she has some ingenious labour-saving devices: The leech of the sail has brass rings seized to the bolt rope, in line with the reefing-points. As the sails come down the relevant ring is simply hitched to the sheet tackle. The downhauls for the noses of the yards have corresponding eye-splices lined with round brass thimbles. (both sail's luffs are also bent to the downhauls with unlined eye-splices in the bolt-rope.) So, that's eleven thimbles in all, at about 5mm diameter (external) for the scale of this model.


My first thought was to make them out of KS brass tube or similar, so I sawed off some 3mm approx slices and tried some experiments:

I had some old stainless steel rivets with domed heads that I though might do the job, but I found that using one as a punch it was impossible to keep it centred. Next attempt was to use one of those multi-head lever-type leather punches, with the rivet slipped into the nearest size punch, and the tube slice resting on the 'anvil'. Wow! The flange popped into shape with a satisfying 'click'! Reverse the slice on the anvil and . . . no good. The punch, offset by the height of the slice of tube and the rivet head does not land quite straight, so the result was a nice flange, but at an angle to the first one!


Thinking again, I pulled out some rectangular T6 aluminum bar (originally bought for a 'studio scale' model of one of the 'pods' from 2001!). Sawed off two sections about 5cm long and drilled a hole in the centre of the widest face of each to take a rivet. I fixed these to the inside of the jaws of my bench vice, using double sided tape, taking care to line up the two rivet heads. This should work! Held a slice of tube in place with needle-nose pliers, nipped it between the rivet heads, then carefully wound the vice jaws in. Horrors! the tube slice just slipped sideways instead of remaining centred between the two domes. -As I should have known it would. OK, whipped out the two rivets, chucked them up in a drill and filed the heads to a cone. Back in my improvised press, offer up a slice of tube and . . . a perfect tiny brass round thimble!


Now for mass production! to create the tube slices I will be recreating a lashed up Dremel rig I last used to make porthole liners for superdetailing the Revell plastic kit of Cousteau's Calypso -but that's another tale. Sorry to go on so long. Hope this encourages others to improvise and experiment.



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