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Gluing or attaching to rope


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I am working on a Mantua Models kit from the 1980s. The kit supplies some pretty nice looking "rope." The instructions call it "canupa" or "rigging yarn." In one place it is called "hemp." Now you know as much as I do about it.


I wanted to use this for the breeching lines for the cannons, and I wanted to create a cut splice to fit over the cascabels on the cannons. This was common practice in the 1800s for cannons that did not have a breeching ring.


The rope is only 0.026 inch diameter, so I have no intention of trying to create a true cut splice by intertwining the individual threads!


With all other threads/twines I have used it was a simple matter to just cut the rope and glue the cut ends to the opposite cord, creating the cut splice. I decided to use cyanoacrylate "super glue" because it sets up fast. The instructions on the tube said to hold the pieces together at least 5 seconds. After a minute the glue had not set to hold the two strands together (however, it was trying to glue my fingers together)!


I tried white glue, with the same results.


Then I tried Duco Cement, a glue that works well for gluing wood. After the pieces were held together 20-30 seconds the glue did set up a bit, but it was not holding the threads together very well. After applying more glue and holding the pieces together for about a minute enough glue hardened around the lines to hold them together. After leaving it over night I did get a fairly strong attachment. But I think it is only because a film of glue has hardened around the threads of the rope.


This was a new one for me - a totally unanticipated problem.


Any thoughts or suggestions why nothing seems to stick to this rope?


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It looks shiny as if it is polyester or nylon.  What happens if you put a match to it?  Does it melt?


Unless you have a glue that has a solvent in it like old time plastic glue it wont bond..   Just like putting a dab of non solvent glue on a plastic surface.

When it dries, you can peel it off..

Luck is just another word for good preparation.


Current builds:    Rattlesnake (Scratch From MS Plans 

In the Gallery: Yacht Mary,  Gretel, French Cannon

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2 hours ago, Dr PR said:

I wanted to use this for the breeching lines for the cannons, and I wanted to create a cut splice to fit over the cascabels on the cannons. This was common practice in the 1800s for cannons that did not have a breeching ring.

It was also common practice in the 1800's for the word "cut" in "cut splice" to contain the additional letter "n." "Cut splice" is a fairly recent Bowdlerism that was certainly never used by seamen in the age of sail. I know of only two common uses for this splice. One was, as you note, to keep a breeching line over the ball of the cascabel, and the other was on a lifeline with the splice being pierced by the outer ends of weather deck capstan bars. This kept the crew manning the capstan in heavy seas from being washed overboard.


I don't know what scale you're working in, and hence the size of the line you have there. In the photo it appears white, which wouldn't be the actual color of hemp cordage, which was the standard in use and is fairly dark brown. From the photo and your description of its gluing characteristics, it's likely a synthetic and that's the cause of the problems you're having. If and when you find something that will stick to it, I suggest you splice the ends, each into its opposite's standing part, using any of the customary techniques for "faux" splices.  Without some "weave" of  the strands into the standing parts, you'll find little success trying to glue the end of one line to the side of another and getting a sufficiently strong bond to do much of anything for  you.

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I have also seen the term "cont splice."


The rope is a light tan color, and really isn't very shiny. It burns readily leaving ash, without melting, so it isn't nylon or polyester. It definitely is a fiber of some sort. But nothing seems to soak into it. It doesn't feel waxed, but it does burn like a candle wick or a fuse - it would make a good fuse - so it must be impregnated with something.


The Duco Cement contains acetone and that should penetrate wax, but no joy! Super glue also normally soaks into threads. With ordinary thread the cement penetrates the fibers and does make a fairly strong bond - not something that would take a lot of strain, but good enough for a static application like the breeching lines on a model. I normally use glue to fix siezings, rat lines, etc.


I am working in 1:48 scale, and the line is 0.026 inches diameter, or 1.25 scale inches. That may be a bit undersized for the breeching lines.


Biddlecombe's "The Art of Rigging" shows serving over the splices in a cont splice. Maybe I will just use extremely small diameter copper wire to sieze the splice and paint it to simulate serving.


Edited by Dr PR
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On 8/15/2019 at 10:45 PM, Dr PR said:

Biddlecombe's "The Art of Rigging" shows serving over the splices in a cont splice. Maybe I will just use extremely small diameter copper wire to sieze the splice and paint it to simulate serving.

Perfect solution! If you have a serving jig, the job would be a piece of cake. Fine thread, as sold for fly tying, should work fine at that scale, as well. Apply shellac to the serving and it should hold quite well.

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I tried 0.006 inch diameter copper wire. Although I did get a pretty good wrap around the two pieces of rope the serving was not tight enough to hold the pieces together. In the cut splice only a very short part at the end of one piece lays against (spliced) to the other piece. The serving did not hold this short end and it just pulled out of the wire coil. In addition, even this tiny wire created an objectionably large lump. Handling anything smaller than this would be difficult!


I have tried several more glue types and nothing adheres to the rope - or absorbs into it.


Even if I used a very small (0.003 inch) cotton thread for serving a shellac or other paint would "glue" only the cotton, producing another hollow tube the rope could pull out of.


Too bad. The rope is a nice tight three strand weave that looks pretty realistic.  I briefly considered trying to create actual splices, but gave that up. Trying to push fuzzy ends of the tiny strands of one piece through the strands of the other doesn't seem to me to have a high probability of success.


I'll have to find some other "rope."

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Hi Phil,

Heres how I do it :- Get a suitable size of needle and pass one of your threads through the other. Then do the same by passing the other through the first. It should resemble then the lower example in your pic. The ends can then be served to the threads. If you're really fussy you can taper the fake splice by thinning the strands of the through piece to simulate the taper then serve and glue. Thats how I do cut splices on odd numbers of shrouds etc haven't had one pull apart yet.


Hope this helps.


Dave :dancetl6:

Edited by davyboy
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I'll give your method a try. It may be easier that what I describe below.


In the mean time I just didn't want to give up without a fight, so I came up with a way to fasten things together. I used a 0.003 inch (0.08 mm) silk thread of approximately the right color (all I had on hand) to serve the splice ends. The silk was a bit springy but it worked. Very fine cotton would probably be better.1402712514_Cutsplice2.jpg.724133440edc810d11743e7f57aff39b.jpg

Here is a photo of a 1:48 scale 6 pounder cannon sitting on a US penny for size reference.


1. I unraveled a short section (1/16 inch or 1.5 mm) of the end of one piece of the rope.


2. Using the thin thread I placed a simple overhand knot near the end of the unraveled piece without pulling it tight. This knot was near the short end of the thread.


3. Then I looped the long end of the thread back through the first knot and created a second overhand knot loop without tightening it.


4. I pushed the second piece of rope through the second knot far enough for the cut splice.


5. Then I pulled both knots tight. This attached the thread to both pieces of the rope and pulled them together tightly.


6. I pulled the short end of the thread into the gap between the two pieces of rope, under the unraveled ends. This way the serving will wrap around it also and prevent the knot from becoming untied. To keep the short end in place while I continued I made another overhand knot back along the standing part of the rope some distance from the splice.


7. Then I placed a small drop of glue on the thread and rope where the raveled ends of the first piece of rope were, and pulled these ends around the standing part of the second piece of rope. I used Duco Cement, but just about any glue will do if it soaks into the thread. You want a cement that takes a few minutes to set up.


8. Working quickly I wrapped the long end of the thread around the two pieces of rope, working along the unraveled ends. I pulled the thread tight around the unraveled ends and down into the glue. Occasionally I used tweezers to push the thread loops together into a tight winding.


9. When I had wound the thread past the unraveled ends of the rope I tied it off with another overhand knot around the standing part of the rope.


10. Then I applied cement over the turns of the thread and worked it into the thread with my fingers (super glue wouldn't be a good choice).


11. After the glue set the loose ends of the thread were cut off and a bit more glue applied to hold them in place.


That finished the first half of the splice. I used about 2 1/2 inches of thread, including the ends that were trimmed off.


12. I pulled the rope "Y" tight around a drill bit that was slightly smaller than the diameter of the neck of the cannon's cascobel.


13. The open ends of the rope "Y" were pulled together tightly and I repeated steps 2 and 3 to make overhand knots around the two pieces of rope, pulling the knots tight.


14. I pulled the assembly off the drill bit and placed a small drop of glue at the join.


15. I repeated steps 6 through 8 to fasten the two ropes together.


16. Before I had progressed very far - several turns - I clipped the short end of the rope to the proper length and unraveled the ends.


17. Then I finished wrapping the thread past the raveled ends and tied it off as before.


18. Finally, I clipped the loose ends of the thread and rubbed glue into the turns of thread and let it set.


I used a "fid" to open the loop in the splice - a muscle separator dissecting tool works very well, but any wood or metal rod that tapers to a point will do. Then the loop was forced over the cascobel. It was a tight fit and the cut splice stays in place on the cannon without having to use glue to hold it.


This scheme has the advantage that the thread is attached to the rope pieces with knots, preventing the rope from pulling out of the serving. The glue holds the serving in place. What you see in the photo was my first attempt, and it came out acceptable. I'll do six or seven more and use the prettiest on the cannons.


I will also use the same thread for serving to attach the breeching lines to the ring bolts on the bulwarks.


Fortunately I have only seven cannons to rig!


Note: Dave's suggestion gave me the idea of using a needle to pull the thread through the two pieces of rope in the initial steps 2 through 5 of tying them together. This should produce an even better attachment of the thread to the ropes.

Edited by Dr PR
Corrected typo.
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