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HMS Speedy by Delf - Vanguard Models - Scale 1:64 - Master Shipwright edition

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18 hours ago, SpyGlass said:

these look great value

They certainly are great value and thanks again to Glenn and Ryland for recommending them. They're so much better than my old ones that I've been going back over some of my rigging and re-trimming annoying little bits of line. They really do cut perfectly flush but you have to be super careful - I've just spoilt 10 minutes work by cutting through a topgallant shroud as well as the seizing I was trying to trim!


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I'm a long way off from doing the rigging on my Diana but the nail cutters I have been using are no longer very good so I have ordered some too while I the reference is freshin my mind. Thanks for the recomendation ... had to break off for a knock on the door - they have just arrived!

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1 hour ago, drjeckl said:

could you provide the US Amazon link to these cutters? 

John, the original link I used was in Glenn's Cheerful log (here). I just searched Amazon UK for a similar product.



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1 hour ago, drjeckl said:

Glenn, could you provide the US Amazon link to these cutters?  Dereck's link is to the UK Amazon.  And I can't find where/if Ryland posted a link.





In Australia I bought mine a while ago in my local pharmacy ( I think you call them "drug stores".





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Topgallant shrouds & Backstays


Fairly straightforward parts of the standing rigging here, with one particular point of interest. Although there is an odd number of shrouds - three - on both sides of both masts, the shrouds are still set up in pairs - two each side. That's because the aftmost leg of each pair becomes the topgallant backstay. You just have to remember that this leg needs to be considerably longer than its companion. I'm not sure this practice is recognised in the kit instructions where the topgallant backstays seem to feature as separate items, but my understanding is that this was the way it was done at the time.


Straightforward or not, there were still a couple of decisions to make. First, I chose thinner line than the kit-recommended 0.5mm. The shrouds on a ship Speedy's size would have been about 2.5" circumference, which equates to around 0.32mm diameter. I used DMC Cordonnet #50 thread which is around this size, and dyed dark looks in scale to me.  As always, if in doubt I always prefer to go a size down rather than a size up. 


Second decision was around serving. The middle few feet of each shroud pair would have been served, but I knew my normal seizing thread (Guterman) would be far too bulky so as an experiment I tried18/0 fly tying thread. It worked, in the sense that I was able to make a perfectly neat serving, but I questioned whether it was worth the effort on such small ropes, with the difference between served and unserved rope virtually invisible to the naked eye:



In the end I concluded it wasn't, but there may be situations in future where I'll decide to use the fly tying thread to avoid bulking up a rope. But not a long length of rope - it takes ages to serve, given the tiny diameter of the thread.


Before seizing the shrouds to the topmast shrouds, I realised I needed to sort out several blocks under the crosstrees. First, I mentioned earlier that I couldn't make satisfactory sister blocks to sit between the tops of the first and second topmast shrouds. I decided instead to go with an alternative sometimes used at the period, which was to suspend blocks to hang just beneath the crosstrees. These would normally be lashed to the masthead, but as my masthead was getting very 'full' I cheated by seizing the strop of the block to the stays, the strop being long enough to let the block hang about its own length below the crosstrees. 


At the same time I changed the tie blocks which, in the instructions, were shown as 3mm singles tied to the middle crosstree on each side. I felt these were too small for the 0.5mm rope to reeve through, and that they were too tight up against the crosstrees. I therefore set up 5mm blocks with long strops that would allow them to sit more comfortably between the stays:



This shot shows the 5mm tie blocks and the 3mm blocks tied to the stays at either side.


The shot also shows the topgallant shrouds seized to the topmast shrouds. I nearly had kittens trimming these with my new super-sharp cuticle cutters - I had visions of  inadvertently cutting through the wrong line with disastrous consequences 😬.

Fortunately I didn't.


The last job was turning a 3mm deadeye into the ends of the backstays and rigging them to the remaining deadeyes on the stools. This was standard stuff, but I'll just mention one variation. Despite all the care and measurement I invest in getting deadeyes to sit level I never quite manage it. The wilful little critters have a mind of their own and seem to delight in ending up all over the place. Anyway, I decided I'd been over-thinking the problem in trying to solve it so I went back to basics. I started with a simple throat seizing:



Before fixing it with CA, I held the deadeye in place then just moved the rope through the seizing in the direction needed to get the deadeye to the required height. At that point I CA'd the throat seizing and then added the two round seizings. Luck or not, it seemed to work as the deadeye came level with the topmast backstay deadeye next to it:



I can imagine dozens of people reading this and thinking "but isn't that the obvious way to do it?" As I say, I sometimes tend to over-think and over-complicate things. All I need to do now is figure out how to stop the deadeyes twisting when I rig the lanyards. Other people seem to get all their deadeyes to sit nice and parallel to the hull; with me it's more random.


Next, on to the topgallant stays.




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That’s a lot of informed customization.  I’m challenged enough sorting out scaled vs. actual, too much math. 

I’ve found I can influence the set of the deadeye by where I set the lanyard knot, twisting it left or right on the shroud.  Not really a reliable process but it works some the time, and it may not work on a served line, but anyway...


Once again your nautical knowledge is impressive, as well as your always excellent craftsmanship.  


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29 minutes ago, DelF said:

All I need to do now is figure out how to stop the deadeyes twisting when I rig the lanyards.

There must be some spring tension on the shroud that is causing that.  Not sure how you would go about solving it without undoing the lanyard and somehow reverse the tension on the shroud..

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4 hours ago, glbarlow said:

I’ve found I can influence the set of the deadeye by where I set the lanyard knot

Useful tip Glenn, I'll try that.


3 hours ago, Gregory said:

Not sure how you would go about solving it without undoing the lanyard and somehow reverse the tension on the shroud

Thanks Gregory - I might try unreeving the lanyard on a particularly bad example and rotating the deadeye one complete turn against the twist to see if that'll help.


3 hours ago, glennard2523 said:

your Speedy build is looking amazing

Thanks Glenn. When I've finished the standing rigging I'll post a few general shots to show progress to date.


Thanks to all the likes as well - much appreciated.

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Topgallant stays


Like the t'gallant shrouds and backstays, these were rigged using DMC Cordonnet #50 thread (c. 0.32mm), dyed dark.


Main mast


The stay is seized round the top of the t'gallant mast, tight enough so it doesn't slip down over the shoulder. I suspect it would have been spliced in real life but at this scale it's hard to tell the difference, especially when fly tying line is used for the seizing. The stay leads down through a 3mm single block lashed to the fore topmast head then ends in a thimble near the foretop. This thimble is rigged to another hooked to the foretop, to allow the stay to be tensioned.


I didn't relish rigging the thimbles in the foretop with all the clutter already in the way, so I decided to rig the stay in reverse - i.e. starting with the thimbles off the model:

IMG_3506.thumb.JPG.5dd7d47db2f22b04cbc0c2f9b0b7bc32.JPGThe next two shots show the two thimbles being lashed together, then the line tied off with a half hitch:


I decided to make my own thimbles from brass tube as described earlier in the log, but this time I was able to use the new tool Glenn (@glbarlow) recommended - or at least the nearest I could find in the UK. This tube cutter (here) impressed me when it arrived, being surprisingly weighty and well made. Here it is with the handle attached ...


...and with the handle removed and the tool clamped in a bench vice, as Glenn suggested. Here it is cutting a 1.5mm length of 1.6mm o.d. tube for a thimble:


The fold-over lever held the tube securely whilst my finest jewelry blade went through it easily and neatly. The hardest part was picking up the cut piece (I used a needle). The whole process was much less stress-inducing than using the Preac saw, and not much slower. The picture shows you can do 45 degree cuts as well, and the tool can obviously handle a range of different sizes of tube and solid rods, and various lengths down to 1.5mm (or less with a bit of ingenuity).  A very good buy.


Back on the model, the rigged thimbles hooked on to the first starboard eyebolt in the foretop, aft of the mast:



It was then a quick job to lead the stay up through the block at the foremast head then seize it to the main t'gallant masthead:



I forgot to take these photos until after I'd started rigging the royal backstays, but in reality I did the rigging in the correct order (honest!).




Speaking of correct order, I soon wished I'd left off rigging the spritsail yard until later, as I struggled to weave the thimbles through a cat's cradle of lines to hook them on an eyebolt in the bows. As with the main t'gallant, I started at the thimble end and worked backwards. Here are the thimbles in place:


From here the stay reeves through a 3mm block lashed to the bowsprit near the heel of the jibboom, through a hole in the dolphin striker, up through a sheave (i.e. a drilled hole) in the end of the jibboom, then up to be lashed to the head of the fore t'gallant mast.


Next, on to the royal backstays and stays.



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Royal Backstays


I was initially dubious about fitting royal stays and backstays, thinking too much top hamper on a small vessel wouldn't look right. In the end I decided to go with the plans, making sure the lines were to scale and that seizings were done with fly tying thread to avoid bulky knots. I think I made the right decision as the standing rigging overall looks well-balanced.


The backstays are set up with a pair to each mast, with the plans showing them lashed to eyebolts on the stools. Full scale practice had royal backstays rigged with deadeyes for tension adjustment on larger ships, and probably with thimbles and lanyards on ships of Speedy's size.  The eyebolts are just behind the deadeyes on the stools, and I suspect Chris wanted to save modellers the hassle of trying to rig anything fancy in such a confined space. Being a glutton for punishment I decided to go for thimbles.  


I won't repeat my thimble method, but it may be worth a bit more detail on how I rigged strop round the thimbles with hooks. I think this is similar to the figure-of-eight method many modellers use, but I find that technique difficult with small fiddly components, hence the variation. I started with a tiny dab of CA on a thimble to hold the rope (0.5mm here) in place:


Then, I applied a short seizing with18/0 fly tying thread, tying simple overhand knots alternately above and below the line:


I worked towards the thimble in order to make sure it was held tight in the strop. Next, I threaded a hook on the long end of the strop, then bent the long end round so that it passed back alongside the thimble - hopefully the picture explains that better:

IMG_3538.thumb.JPG.4f14d7dc47fb36f01a346456aac43f6e.JPGThen, using the same piece of fly tying thread I worked the seizing back towards the hook, this time capturing the long leg of the strop as well:


After a generous application of thin CA and trimming with the new cuticle cutters (did I say how much I like them?😁)


For the stays themselves I used 0.25mm dark line, with a single length for each mast seized in the middle round the top of the royal pole. I neglected to photograph this step before I started rigging the stays, hence the odd lines in the picture. Hopefully the picture shows the tiny seizing on the backstay, which is nearly invisible to the naked eye:


To decide where to set the thimble in each end of the stay I hooked the first thimble on the eyebolt, having first unreeved the lanyards on the t'gallant and topmast backstays to ease access:


With a thimble turned into the end of the stay it was then relatively easy to rig the lanyard and re-reeve the deadeyes:


The rigging on each side and on each mast was identical. Looking at these lanyards I think I might need to use smaller line on the smaller deadeyes and thimbles. Plenty of scope for that as nothing is finally rigged yet.


Next job the royal stays, and that'll be the standing rigging finished.




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Royal Stays


These final elements of the standing rigging are similar to the topgallant stays in the way they are set up, and as with the latter I found it easier to start rigging them at the thimble end then work up to the top of the royal poles. For both masts I used 0.25mm dark line.


Main Mast


I started setting up a pair of thimbles on one end of the stay, just as I did for the t'gallant stay:


This time, the lower thimble hooks onto the first portside eyebolt on the foretop:


The stay then leads through a thimble lashed to the fore topmast head then across to the main royal pole:





This starts with an identical set up, this time with the pair of thimbles hooked to the first portside eyebolt in the bows:



Incidentally, in terms of scale it's worth pointing out that the blocks in this shot are just 3mm, with one 4mm double. I'm glad I went for the pear block option in this kit - the quality is excellent.


Again similar to the t'gallant stay, the royal version now reeves through a 3mm block on the bowsprit, down through the lowest hole in the dolphin striker, up through a sheave (ie hole) in the end of the flying jibboom then up to the fore royal pole:


I'll do some more photos tomorrow to show the overall state of play now the standing rigging's finished and before I move on to crossing the yards and getting on with the running rigging.


Thanks again for the likes and kind comments.



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Clipper Wars (a brief intermission)


No, this isn't about Cutty Sark and the 19th century tea trade. It started when cuticle clippers and toenail clippers were recommended on the forum by Glenn & Ryland respectively (@glbarlow& @Ryland Craze). I got the cuticle ones first on Glenn's recommendation, mistakenly thinking the original tip came from Ryland. Ryland put me straight, and sent me some helpful photos and links to the toenail clippers. The latter were outrageously expensive in the UK due to shipping and duty, but I found a similar-looking pair made by the same British firm that makes my cuticle clippers.


The toenail clippers arrived today so I've tried them both out on Speedy and will share my initial impressions.


First, the only real negative. My wife thinks I'm going through a midlife crisis buying all these personal grooming products and I'm having trouble convincing her they're just for ship modelling! I just hope none of you guys come up with a must-have use for eyelash curlers or hair dye😬.


Seriously though, both tools are well made from stainless steel:



The cuticle tool's cutting surface is just 7mm long, compared to 16mm for the bigger version. Possibly slightly easier to get into tight spaces. Having said that, the toenail jaws are more sharply pointed which gives it a slight edge in really tight spots.


One slightly awkward feature I've found with the cuticle clippers is the angle of the jaws. When I first used it I held it at the angle I'm used to and cut through something I didn't want to. I've learned to change my 'angle of attack' but I still have to be extra careful to avoid collateral damage. The toenail clippers on the other hand have a flat base on the cutting side which feels much more like the flush cutters I'm used to. 


In operation, both clippers cut much better than other cutters I've used - they really do cut flush. Both tools cut effortlessly through thread down to a very small size. The only difference I found today on Speedy was when I came to trim fly tying thread. The cuticle cutters snipped it off as cleanly as any other line, but the toenail clippers didn't get through first time and I felt I had to chew the thread a bit to get through it. That may just be this brand or this tool so I can't draw any general conclusions.


In summary, both these tools are excellent and much better than alternatives I've used. I shall keep both of them on my workbench and I'm grateful to  Glenn and Ryland for their recommendations. 



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Nice summery Derek .. Will have to investigate these.. I have a cuticle cutter which I will liberate and attack my Ballahoo with (sudden visions of cut rigging flying everywhere, and me curled up in the corner rocking back and forth whimpering .. 😂😂)



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Posted (edited)

I thought what I have IS what Ryland recommended, especially given they were described as cuticle cutters, clearly I was wrong.

Nice review but I think the essential point is both cut clean and close, except maybe not on fly fishing thread. I’ve made the adjustment for the angle, that’s no longer an issue. I too ordered the toenail version because you just can’t have too many sharp thingys.


Nonetheless I’m happy with my passing on what I thought was Ryland’s recommendation. Angle aside they are great for close cutting.  Having either one is a step up for rigging work. 

Edited by glbarlow
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Great work, thanks for the supplemental manual on how I will build Flirt when I get to it. 

As A photographer I would like to find something as good to say about your photography......I’ll keep thinking about what that might be....🤣😂

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