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US Brig Niagara by JerseyCity Frankie - Model Shipways - scale: 1:64 - as modern sail training ship of today

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When dry I now add more glue all around the edge of the deadeye and wrap the shroud all the way around, crossing at the top and with the two legs of the shroud heading in opposite directions. Again I pause here to allow the best possible glue joint by letting the glue dry thoroughly. Since I’ve got sixteen of these to make there’s a good long pause on each setup as I work my way around the model.

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Try to get the crossing to occur directly above the center deadeye hole.

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This photo shows the beginning of the final step and you can see the glue applied to glue the legs together, but pretend the wet glue isn’t there because once before I can glue the legs together  I have to let the glue holding the turn of the shroud around the rim of the deadeye DRY THOROUGHLY.

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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With everything dry I then glue the two legs together above the deadeye. This leaves the characteristic gap directly over the deadeye, as it appears on real world Throat seized deadeyes. Later, when the lanyards are cow-hitched directly above the deadeyes, the danger of having the non-existent Throat seizing pull lose will be nullified by the snug embrace of the cow hitch, as can be seen on the real-world Niagara photo.

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“Black” standing rigging. It’s darker than the running rigging but it’s not actually black at all. The “seizings” are very short strips of black tissue paper glued to the proper location and they provide no actual connectivity strength. Their contrasting color makes them visible, as on the actual ship.

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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Tgalant shrouds are on now and seized in in the tops, in contravention to the kit plans but matching modern Niagara. Then I put the lanyards in the topmast shrouds and rattled down. My deadeyes and lanyards are a mess, I have no idea how some of you guys can keep them so pristine and orderly on your models. To keep in scale I did not use actual knots on the ratlines, I simply glued the ratlines to the shrouds. I simulated the very slight bulge a knot or seizing would have by building up some white glue at these junctures, then I painted each juncture to match the shroud color. Every photo I found of Niagara showed fairly light colored ratlines so mine are cream colored. This is counterintuitive since many tall ship ratlines appear black in photos and certainly they are tarry. Modern  Niagara’s ratlines must have begun life being very bright white.

at the apex of the shrouds I switched over from ratlines to ratboards, as in real-world practice. The explanation is that you can only make a fiber rope ratline-with an eyesplice on each end- about 10” long. Any smaller and there’s no room for the tucks to fit, they meet each other in the middle at around 10”.  Also at the apex of the shrouds there’s not enough room to squeeze your foot between the shrouds. So at the top of the shrouds wooden ratboards are seized onto the outer surface of the shrouds and these make infinitely better steps for the sailors to use.

these ratboards are only about 1 1/2” x 2” so making them out of wood is not going to be easy if you want to stay in Scale and so mine are thick paper. For the same reason my topmast shear poles are paper too. 

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Looking forwards I’m not sure what’s the logical next step. I’ve still got two spars to make, the Gaff and the Spritsail Yard. After that I’ll be faced with rattling the lowers and once I do that I’m commited to closing up the deck and gluing all the fixtures on. As it is now, neither masts or the Bowsprit is glued in and I feel this gives me options. Once installed I’m going to be a little limited and commited.

I do intend to make my typical “sails full of wind” so perhaps my next step is to turn away from the ships structure and create the forms over witch the sails will be shaped? See my Constitution build log for an idea of what that process involves. My intention is to depict Niagara going to windward with the courses furled and clewed up. I’m leaning away from including the Royals but maybe I’ll depict them being swayed aloft and that way I can have some crew figures in the tgalant shrouds? 

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Beginning work on the sails. All my sailing ship models have sails, I believe it’s the only way to go. Bare polled models abound, and many are certainly excellent but I honestly believe if you don’t put the sails on your model you are stopping short of a true full representation of a sailing vessel. It’s a controversial and MINORITY opinion. If you look at all the build logs of all the Niagara models, there were 36 when I last counted, I think only one (user Carlmb’s) had sails set. Probably some had sails FURLED, but just ONE with sails set? I find this odd. This photo shows the look I’m going to be going for. I was 99% sure I was going to have both Lowers furled but as I scan online Niagara photos I often see the Fore set, and it looks real good.

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I have from the beginnings of my ship model efforts ALWAYS wanted the sails to appear to be drawing wind, to be full and with a belly and this means I’ve always struggled with finding ways to stiffen the fabric to make the cloth remain permenantly in the stretched-out round shape of a sail full of wind. Over the years I have tried nearly everything. All the techniques involve soaking the sailcloth in SOMETHING to make them stay stiff and I went through White Glue, a product called Stiffen Stuff, a product called Gac 600 and finally two-part clear Epoxy. To make the sails take on their shape I at first used holes cut in cardboard over which I would drape the wet fabric and gravity would form the curve in the sails. This technique can be seen in my HMS Victory build log. Eventually though I realized the only way to get the compound curves I wanted would be to stretch the wet fabric over a premade form and this is where I am now. You can see that technique in my HMS Leopard and Constitution build logs. What results from the epoxy-over-forms technique is the closest I’ve come to what I want: a ridged and durable thin shell of fabric that will permanently hold its shape and which can be painted to appear like a real sail. Here’s Constitution’s sails made using this technique.

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The creation of the forms is time consuming. You could carve them out if wood but that’s way too time consuming. I toyed with the idea of carving them out of spray foam insulation, but that stuff is hard to manage. I’m going with built up cardboard forms using hot melt glue to assemble. Fortunately for me, Niagara’s Fore and Main rig is identical so I need make only one mold for each square sail. But I still need to make individual molds for every staysail and the Fore and aft Main. So at least six have to be built.

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Paper mache with water and flour and cut-up paper grocery bags is now laid over the rough cardboard forms, the idea is to fair out the peaks and valleys and to fill up the nooks and crannies so that when I cover these with Durham’s  Water Putty they won’t take up twice the needed material. Then I paper mache over THAT with tissue paper, to smooth the lattice texture. Then set in a window to dry and hopefully they’ll be ready for the Putty by this evening. 

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EE7E6F2E-DE7D-4117-9BC6-697DAD1E8CB7.jpegStill wet in this photo....

B2F81935-1B7A-48B1-BC5D-F1A722C86597.jpegThe first layer of paper mache dried well but shrank in a way that accentuated the underlying ribs of cardboard so I put on another layer, this time with newspaper. This morning I shaved off the high points with a scalpel blade.

7A539890-0F3E-47CF-BB9F-945D4AA43C69.jpegLike so many ship model processes, it’s taking longer than I thought it would......

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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After applying the plasterlike Putty my intention was to put on a thin coat to help level out the peaks and valleys but then it occurred to me I could get the same result by stretching fabric across the surface and that’s the green fabric in the photos. Over this I stretched clingfilm as a glue resist. The actual sailcloth itself is the cheapest poly cotton blend bed sheet material. I don’t believe it pays to try to find ten thousand count Egyptian cotton since the weave of the fabric is going to be blunted considerably by first the epoxy and then the paint. All you need is fabric that is reasonably thin. No visible weave of any kind should be our goal at this or any other scale. I cut a piece of sailcloth fabric then I mix up a small batch of two part 5 minute clear epoxy, this I spread over the fabric using a scrap of flat plastic as a squeegee to try to force the epoxy down into the weave of the fabric. I place the wet fabric over the mold then stretch it as tightly as necessary to get all the wrinkles out and staple it to the back of the mold to hold it in place till the epoxy hardens.

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273502E8-3524-4275-8F5B-3EB0E74D6A74.jpegAfter peeling off the hardened sail the back of the sail, the part facing the mold, is completely smooth and shiny from being pressed against the cling film. This will have to be sanded in order to get it’s texture to more closely match the rougher surface on the front of the sail.

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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Frankie - I just got off the Niagara at the Tall Ships Fest at Erie - there are only two cannonades aboard and both use the screw type elevation adjustment and no train tackle as you pointed out previously. No one who was onboard when I was seemed too knowledgable about what happened to the other cannonades but I suspect they just "got in the way" one time too many. I could not get many photos of the rigging as they had canvas sun shades rigged midships and aft.

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6 minutes ago, cdrusn89 said:

Frankie - I just got off the Niagara at the Tall Ships Fest at Erie - there are only two cannonades aboard and both use the screw type elevation adjustment and no train tackle as you pointed out previously

Wow down to just two now. But I’m sure they don’t need them for their mission. As regards my model, now I’ll have to decide if I’ll go with two or four. I built four, and photos that were reasonably recent showed four. But now I’m a year and a half into this build and my refrence  material is becoming dated! 

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 I don't know how I have missed this log.                                                                                                                                            Your Brig is looking beautiful, with many ,many great tips to make it so.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I particularly love your photos of your building work a

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The sails are taking forever. And I’m still not done with them. But here’s where I am now: The raw sails get painted an ivory color on both sides- the inner surface gets some sanding to rough it up. The verticals panel lines are painted on, a khaki color that’s darker than the ivory,  with a stripping brush, two scale feet apart from each other. I’m not TOO careful to make each stripe perfect since more paint will go over them, the darker stripes will be barely discernible since I don’t want them to appear to be a very bold feature on the sails, I want them to be only very subtly discernible. So when dry I put a wash of ivory over everything with thinned paint. Reef bands are paper glued on with white glue. The actual sails have reinforcing patches at the corners and these are handled like the panel lines, with the same ivory wash put on to make them hardly discernible. These sails are difficult to photographe since they’re mostly white but with subtleties that are difficult to expose for. Gluing on the endless reef points, on both sides of every reef band, two for each panel as on the real ship, has taken a few sessions and isn’t enjoyable.  I debated drawing them on lightly in pencil and I think I could have rationalized the white-on-white nature of the very thin rope in question, but I knew I’d look back on it one day as lazy.

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25BB1113-107E-4201-882A-4BCA538B84B3.jpegI’m pleased with the panel effect, the seems are fuzzy subtle and organic without sharp edges, unlike ruled pencil lines. Which I had considered.

 

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Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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Boltropes. In my opinion you should never actually sew a boltrope onto a scale model sail, the stitches are rediculously out of scale no matter how thin the thread you use or how carefully you stitch. 

The inacurate practice of sewing big stitches with actual thread which may also go around the circumference of the  boltropes on model sails is being constantly perpetuated, I’d say about 95% of models that have fabric sails ALSO are sporting enormous out of scale stitching, using thread that is nearly the same size as the ships running rigging! It’s a practice you can see demonstrated in very well made very accurate models, even in museums, and it drives me nuts to see it constantly repeated everywhere. In my view using glue is the only realistic way to go.

more factors in favor of gluing the boltropes: it’s SO MUCH ESIER. it’s SO MUCH FASTER. It does not alter the way the sails behave-meaning it doesn’t cause unwanted wrinkling or puckering of the surface of the sail near where stitches sink through the fabric.

 

54AC20F8-819D-40F0-AC27-7036DE56F39B.jpegGlued on.

2CE82CCB-AECF-40DD-93D0-26FA065E51D4.jpegHere’s a drawing that demonstrates the lack of visibility of the stitches on a bolt rope. Also note hat the sail twine does NOTpass around the boltrope but only goes through it at the closest point to the fabric. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it: if boltropes were held in place by loops of thread encircling the rope, the thread would chafe away nearly instantly and release the boltrope from the sail.

6F4B62EF-2D4C-497C-8616-C4EACFCF08F4.jpegHere’s a hand sewn boltrope on a real sail. The visible stitches are only exposed on one side of the sailand can not be seen on the other.

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Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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Completed sails. They’re not perfectly smooth rounded surfaces, there are puckers and ripples but they aren’t too outrageous and I can live with them. These are the largest sails I’ve made using this technique. I’d thought I could scale up the process I used on my Constitution, but she was smaller and her sails had come out much smoother. The degree of brittle hardness is low, I can pop these sails “inside out” without damaging or creasing them. But they do hold their shape. was it worth all the time and effort? I didn’t work on these to a steady schedule but they did take longer than I imagined. I certainly thought that by mid September I’d be on to doing the rigging. Will I finish by Christmas? 

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I really like the look your method produces. Do you think it could be adapted to partially furled or brailed sails?

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25 minutes ago, Srodbro said:

I really like the look your method produces. Do you think it could be adapted to partially furled or brailed sails?

Not realy. To make wrinkly non-wind-filled draped or furled sails I use tissue paper soaked in white glue. Look at my Victory build log though I have the corse sails hanging in their gear and for that I used the same woven fabric. Results were so-so.

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I do not envy you cutting and attaching all those reefing lines. It was probably more tedious that rigging the tackle on the cannon you avoided.

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HI

I have been lurking for some time on various sites gathering information on modelling sails and just wanted to say how superb the detail and effort is on this latest model. The techniques being used by JCF following extensive historical research are innovative and are bringing a fresh approach and new ideas to the hobby as well as providing many useful tips and tricks for others to adopt.

I will try to follow some of them but doubt I could ever reach this level of skill...

Cheers

 

 

Edited by Pak75
typo

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6 hours ago, Pak75 said:

HI

I have been lurking for some time on various sites gathering information on modelling sails and just wanted to say ......

 

 

Wow, thanks Chris! I think you’re overstating it a bit though!  Amore fair assessment is that I’m investing a lot of time and effort in the making of the sails, not that I’ve got special abilities. Anyone could make sails like these and many of the craftsmen on MSW could do a better job than I do but they may underestimate the effort and time involved. A pie graph of the time invested in this model would show a huge slice devoted to the sails. I may have invested more in the sails than any other element? For instance I’m sure the hull construction and planking took less time and effort.

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I’m lucky there’s this publication free on the web, the Brig Niagara Crew Manual. A fascinating read if you’ve never crewed on a sailing vessel, it covers all the basic knowledge and tasks every crewperson must be familiarized with. But it also contains some rigging details like this inclusive Bowsprit rigging drawing. And a good pinrail diagram too. I have not compared the Model Shipways pin diagram with this version, likely they are very close. But I feel the one created for real-world use should be considered definitive.

https://brigniagara.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/crew-handbook-complete-final-version-5-8-2013.pdf

 

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Ive got the lower shrouds on with lanyards rove on turned-in deadeyes. Next logical step is to get the stays on with some tension so I glued and pinned the Bowsprit in and started rigging bobstays and I’ve even turned in deadeyes on Topmast backstays. This mirrors actual practice, putting on standing rigging that opposes each other to stabilize the spars. My next task will be to bend the futtock shrouds to the lower shrouds because it’ll be harder to get in there when the backstays are rove off.

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A lot more rigging is now in place. I snipped off a lot of loose ends and the clean orderly appearance that starts to emerge is welcome after so much chaos.

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72862656-83A7-4B70-8DEA-02D8519243A3.jpegNothing in this photo was painted pure black, it’s all varieties of grey and dark grey. If these elements were all painted pure black they’d be difficult to distinguish one from the other and also hard to photograph. 

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Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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Ratlins are just glued across each row of shrouds using Elmer’s Glue, no actual knots. Maybe it’s possible to draw up each Clove Hitch tight enough AND avoid distorting the shrouds too? But why risk it and using glue alone I’m sure to stay in scale. I glue each ratlins across and nip the ends close later. Surprisingly difficult to nip each loose end tight up to the shroud without leaving a little nub sticking out. The blobs of white glue shrink to invisible transparency so I put on a second and a third glue blob at each juncture,allowing drying between applications, to build up a lump that will represent the non-existent Clove Hitches. Then I paint all the ratlins to match the shrouds. But I note in photos of the actual ship the rat lines are often white and untarred in photos, so mine are lighter than the rest of the standing rig.

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FAF2E911-DB2C-4CC9-B3E9-B98DE8ED83A3.jpegFor positioning I paint tiny dots of light paint on the shrouds where the rat lines will go. Avoiding using a card clipped to the back of the shroud with ruled lines getting in the way.

E34386EF-FAE6-4AAD-AAB1-AA5A49BDD5A2.jpegThe four fresh globs of glue are the second application going on.

2E8CAAC0-71F6-4BD3-A1B7-6A5AD548291B.pngWhite ratlines. This is Niagaras current master. A very capable man.

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F878B589-7DB2-4663-A4A3-19469D5B0793.jpegThis is after three applications of Elmer’s Glue to each juncture then some acrylic paint, the finished look.

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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How do you keep your ratlines straight before and during gluing them to the shrouds?  Run them thru beeswax?  Maybe saturate with dilute Elmer’s and let dry?  

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On 10/7/2019 at 8:16 PM, JerseyCity Frankie said:

Surprisingly difficult to nip each loose end tight up to the shroud without leaving a little nub sticking out.

Frankie,

I have done this with polyester thread/rope.  To clean up the nubs, I use a temp controlled soldering iron with a very sharp tip and very carefully clean them up by melting them.

Edited by Gregory

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