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UV Light affect on Rigging

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A few years ago I replaced most of the rigging on my dad's 1960's-built sailing models (Sovereign of the Seas, Cutty Sark, US Frigate Constitution) .  Much of the "natural" colored rigging broke when it was cleaned (dusted) or the yard were repaired.  I don't know if it was age, UV light or both.  I suspect all the rigging was cotton, flax or other natural fibers.  The models were only displayed in basements and bedrooms.

 

I just finished a Model Shipways Flying Fish using new synthetic and cotton rigging tread.  The only place I can display it is against a southeastern window that gets a lot of sun light. The window is a new energy saver window but there is no spec. on it's UV filtering capabilities.  I applied some UV window film to the case's sun-facing glass, but it doesn't look good on the display case.

 

Can anyone advise me on their experience with sunlight on the integrity of the rigging (not so much the color) or what they have done to mitigate any issue?  Thanks!

 

Jim
 

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Wood as well as fabric can be harmed by UV light.   I found the following regarding fabric that you may find interesting.   For a resolution to the problem, filters on the glass or just don't put a model in a window that gets direct sunlight.  I know this is easy to say, but not so easy to do for most of us.        Allan

 

Summary  -- As ultraviolet light is known to be detrimental to organic objects, the light entering galleries containing organic objects is filtered in many museums. Conservators have, however, noted that some textiles on permanent display have weakened significantly over time, a phenomenon that has usually been attributed to the deleterious effects of light. Th is study aimed to investigate the eff ect of light from which ultraviolet radiation had been fi ltered on the mechanical strength of cellulose-based textiles. Modern undyed cotton, linen and jute textiles were irradiated for 30 Mlux.hours in two different lightboxes: the fi rst lightbox was fi tted with a lamp that mimicked daylight and had a relatively high ultraviolet radiation content, whereas the second lightbox was fitted with the same fluorescent lamps as used in the galleries at the British Museum and from which all the ultraviolet radiation was filtered. Th e mechanical strength of the jute and linen samples aged in the lightbox with a high ultraviolet content decreased significantly, which was attributed to the high lignin content in jute and to the possible presence of photo-sensitizers in linen. Th e mechanical strength of the cotton sample was not affected by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. In contrast, none of the samples aged in the lightbox that used light free of ultraviolet radiation showed any signs of mechanical weakening. Th ere was a significant change in colour following light exposure for all the samples, although the change was higher when ultraviolet radiation was included. In particular, the jute samples yellowed, which can be attributed to their higher lignin content compared to cotton and linen. Th ese experiments suggest that visible light does not affect the mechanical strength of modern undyed cellulose-based textiles, although it is responsible for changes in colour. Until the 1980s, light-sensitive objects in museums were oft endisplayed in daylight without ultraviolet filtration on windows and skylights. It is possible that the mechanical weakening of textiles reported by conservators is a result of the exposure to ultraviolet light in the past. Alternatively, in the case of historical fabrics, this could be linked to a treatment applied to the fabric, such as the use of mordants or dyes.

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Unless the case has good ventilation, it could turn into an oven.  I think the effect is = visible light passes thru the glass, upon striking a surface inside it loses energy.  The lower energy is IR and it reflects from the glass and bounces around inside or increases the temp of any material that it hits. 

Man made fibers are catalyzed cross linked polymers.  UV can act as a catalyst to produce additional cross linking.  The more cross linking, the more rigid it becomes.  Rigid is brittle, until under any stress, even a change in temp, it shatters.   The location that you have chosen increases the rate at which organic materials follow Nature's imperative to return to CO2 and H2O.

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It is never a good idea to display a good model in a window, for all the reasons mentioned. Heat alone will differentially affect one side of the model, leading to hull distortion, shrunk wood and eventual structural failure. This is before even considering UV degradation of rigging!.

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Jibs,

Druxey has given you good advice. Your model looks like a nice one to me; were it mine, I'd definitely find another location, away from windows. There is more than fabric rigging at stake here!😧

Ron

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I'm no scientist, but if the scientific studies done some time back by the USN ship model conservation shop are any indication, the heat from light can have an affect on the out-gassing of various materials and wreak havoc with a model. Modern synthetic materials were particularly problematic. This problem is exacerbated in proportion to the lack of ventilation in a model's case. 

 

See: https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NSWC-Carderock/Resources/Curator-of-Navy-Ship-Models/Specifications-for-Building-Exhibition-Ship-Models/ and https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NSWC-Carderock/Resources/Curator-of-Navy-Ship-Models/Lead-Corrosion-in-Exhibition-Ship-Models/

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Im a conservator and can reiterate what everyone else has said.  Basically every cellulosic material used in the creation of that model and other non-cellulosic materials will be sensitive to UV exposure.  Putting the model in the window is problematic for these reasons.   As has been mentioned you can replace all the glass with Museum grade glass or acrylic and mitigate a lot this.   However, I would avoid filters or coatings.   Those have UV resistance properties but are consumed in the process and often discolor as they age.   They will lose their effectiveness rapidly and you'll be in the same situation.   In museum and conservation labs here we change our our filters regularly.    Museum glass is quite different in make and will last much, much longer but no forever sadly.   Tru-View would be a good supplier of custom cut museum grade material.  Not terribly expensive either. 

 

Secondly, the heat and rH fluctuations from a sealed case can rapidly speed up natural aging, acid hydrolysis and the photo-chemical degradation of UV exposure thereby doubling or tripling down on the problems you are having.   Make sure your case can vent, and keep it away from the window.   Don't put it over a heat vent or near a fireplace.   Put it somewhere stable, with moderate to light light exposure and it should last a very long time.

 

EDIT:  Im only noticing after the fact, that you have your model in a window, near a heat vent and next to a fireplace!  A triple threat!

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