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Michelnou

Schooner upper yards fastening

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Hello all,

I think that I have understood well lower yards fastening system with jeers, lifts ropes (tied to blocks) and parrel arround the mast. But concerning upper yards (top yards and gallant yards), il is fuzzy in my mind. I think I understand there is a simplified support system, maybe with only lift ropes and parrel ?

 

Maybe, top yards and gallant yards are not fastened in the same way ?

 

Can you provide to me some informations about this subject ?

 

I thank you

Mike

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Personally, I think it is a bit of a misnomer to say that the yards are fastened to the masts.  They are not at all.  They are hoisted by jeers/halyards: sometimes suspended by slings or lifts: and there movement is controlled by lifts and braces.  The parrels hold them confined in towards the mast and allow for smoother hoisting.

 

I think you will find that all square yards have a combination of the above in order to make them work.

 

Regards,

 

I suppose I should edit my response to say that in later years of steel ships some yards were indeed fastened to the mast with a fixed truss.

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Henry,

I agree with you about the vocabulary employed, the word "fastening" is not adapted for this spar.

Nevertheless, this do not change the meaning of my request.

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Mike, in basic terms, the lowering yards are supported by a parrel to hold them close to the mast and a halliard to hoist them, but there are many variations depending on country, period and type of vessel.  Exactly what type of ship are you thinking about?

 

John

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I meant no offense in my reply.  But, what I did mean is that every square yard is hoisted by some form of halyard and every yard is controlled by braces.  Unless you are talking about the very smallest of yards, like skysails, moonrakers or stunsails, they are going to have lifts and parrels also.

 

As you move up the mast and the spars get lighter they require less power to move around, so for lower yards you may have the halyards doubled whereas they will be single for the upper yards.  The parrels will get lighter as you move up the mast also, with the lower yards having perhaps three rows of trucks and the upper having two.

 

The circumference of the line employed will reduce commensurately.

 

If you have a particular ship in mind I could give you more specific answers.

 

Regards,

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Bonjour Michel/Mike :>)

Per the post from Henry, if you could identify the ship you have in mind or at least size/type/year/nationality, details can be shared more easily and accurately.   

Allan

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One would indeed need to know what (type of) vessel we are talking about. In European commercial vessels for much of the 19th century the light upper yards were often set flying, with no parrel. Sometimes also a kind of vertical stay parallel to the top-mast was used on which the yard ran with a truss into which an eyes was spliced. Weight of gear was important in trading vessels with small crews.

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Hello,

Thanks for your answers.

The ship is a Clipper of Baltimore (built about 1840/1860).

After deep reading of the book "The art of Rigging" writen by G Biddlecombe, I have learnt that the Lower yard, heavy and nearly static, was pressed against the mast simply with a rope named "truss" and his weight is held by means of tackles named "jeers". On the other hand, concerning Top-sail yard and Top-gallant yard which are lighter and more mobile, a "parrel" enable a vertical motion along the mast. I thought I understood that for these yards, the weight could be held by Lift ropes.

 

Mike

 

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Michel,

I suggest studying the excellent build log here at MSW on the Young America clipper (1853) by Ed Tosti.   Truss bracket pivots were used on the yards and he gives extremely detailed explanations and photos of how to make these.  Better yet, you may want to consider purchasing his books on the Young America from Seawatch Bookswhich which provide all the drawings and explanations you will probably need.   While it is not the same ship, it was built during the height of the clipper era and is likely to be the best source for details on rigging a clipper.    

Allan

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Mike, for the lowering yards, the lifts hold the weight of the yard when it is lowered.  When it is hoisted the weight is taken by the halliard.

 

John

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Smaller topsail schooners (50-80 feet between perpendiculars) usually had one top sail. Longer schooners had a top sail and topgallant, or lower and upper top sails, depending upon the period.

 

The fore yards were supported by slings attached to the fore top, and controlled with braces and lifts.

 

The highest yards usually were supported only by halliards and controlled with braces and lifts, with no parrels or attachments to the mast. They were lowered to the deck for rigging the sails and lines, and then hoisted aloft. This way no one had to go aloft to raise the sails, and you often see drawings and plans with no rat lines on the stays.

 

The gaff topsails were rigged in a similar manner, supported only by halliards and sheets, often with a top spar (gunter) that was hoisted in a similar manner to top sail and topgallant yards. Again, the sails could be rigged on deck and then hoisted aloft.

 

Some of the largest schooners (greater than 100-110 feet in length) had rigs more like the full rigged clipper ships of the mid 1800s.

 

Of course, these are just general "rules" and different masters and owners had their own variations. And in addition the standard sails they had means of hanging a lot of additional canvas in studding sails, water sails, ringtails, staysails, gunter sails, courses, bonnets and drabblers.

 

Howard Chapelle's The Baltimore Clipper is the best reference for these ships.

 

Lennarth Petersson's Rigging Period Fore-and-Aft Craft is an excellent reference for rigging small to medium topsail schooners - Baltimore clippers.

 

Harold Underhill's Masting and Rigging the Clipper Ship & Ocean Carrier is an excellent reference for mid to late 1800s clipper ships and coastal schooners, English style. But by then the design had evolved so everyone was building topsail schooners in more or less the same way. He provides very detailed drawings and descriptions for rigging these ships.

 

I have a bunch of the other "standard" references for ship rigging, but most of what they say applies only to large square rigged vessels. Topsail schooners were a breed apart, with a rig that evolved for handling by very small crews. However, these references are handy for deciphering the nautical terminology.

 

George W. Blunt's 1858 revision of Darcy Lever's 1808 The Young Sea Officer's Sheet Anchor described the American way of rigging ships in the early to mid 1800s. Again, it is mostly about square rigged ships, but it does describe how the lines were rigged and has quite a bit that applies to fore and aft rigs.

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I use the books of Howard Chapelle as well as Georges Biddlecombe too.

I have to be precise about the ship, she is certainly more a schooner, built near Baltimore during the transition phase 1780-1820 (which predated "Clipper period"), than a clipper. As you know, during this innovative transition phase, on East cost, new fast sail boats were designed in America.

This schooner was not at all a big ship : deck length about 65 feet, 2 masts with gaff, square sails with 3 yards on fore mast , racked masts, flush deck, 6 guns and a "Long Tom", certainly little rigging (small crew). We are far from big 1850 trade clipper with 150 feet deck length.

 

That is why, if the rigging is "light", I have a doubt about the components required to hold  Top-sail yard and Top-gallant yard, is it realistic to hold them only with lift ropes (without halliards) but with also braces and parral ?

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16 hours ago, Michelnou said:

The ship is a Clipper of Baltimore (built about 1840/1860).

Hi Michel,  Sorry for leading you astray on the Young America build log . I based my suggestions on your post describing a clipper ship of Baltimore  of 1840/1860 rather than a  schooner of 1780-1820.    It sounds like you  are   referring to a Baltimore Clipper which were topsail schooners that  came out very late in the 18th century and were used quite a lot during the War of 1812 and well beyond.  

Allan

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Mike,

 

A 65 foot Baltimore clipper would have a light rig. I am building a model of a topsail schooner from about 1815 that is 68 feet between perpendiculars, with six 6 pounders and a 12 pounder "long tom" pivot gun. I have been studying a number of references and have posted  some of my results for masting here:

 

 

Post #69 discusses the sails for a Baltimore clipper of this size. Most drawings of 60-70 foot topsail schooners show only a top sail. Larger ships had a topgallant, such as La Recourvance with an 82 foot hull has a topgallant. Belle Poule is about the same size but has only a topsail and no topgallant. Lynx, at 72 feet between perpendiculars, has only a topsail.

 

From what I have read parrals weren't used on the topsail and topgallant yards. These yards were lowered to the deck to work the sails. That way no one had to go aloft. Then they were hauled up again. So the yards were not attached directly to the masts in any way. The fore yard was attached to the fore top. I guess it was rarely, if ever, lowered.

 

I hope you post your work. I am very interested in these topsail schooners.

 

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Concerning the yards which were lowered on the desk to work on rigging or sails, what became of the links (braces, lift...) during this descent ?

 

 Were they untied ?

 

Mike

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Usually a yard that is set "flying": rigged from the deck: is hoisted aloft by its halyard. The halyard would be nippered along the length of the yard so the yard went up vertically and not foul the stays on the way up. There would be no lifts or parrels used at all.  The braces were either attached to the yard on deck or attached by the top men when the yard reached the level of the top where they would also cast off the nippers to allow the yard to swing horizontal again.

 

Regards,

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This layout is far from the rules that one can read in the books describing Rigging...

 

In this case without lifts, I wonder how the yard could be horizontal.

 

And I who believed that lifts could substitute halyard...

 

Mike

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Mike,

 

Schooner rigs were not "normal" with respect to square sail rigs, and virtually every "how to" book focuses on square sail rigs. Most of what the normally referenced sail and rigging books describe just doesn't apply to schooners. Everything about the schooner rig evolved to require the minimum crew and a minimum number of men aloft. The ships often did not have ratlines, and when a man had to go aloft he was hoisted or climbed the gaff sail hoops.

 

If you look at books on schooner rigs you will see that the fore/aft sails have minimal rigging. The masts also have just the basic shrouds and stays. There isn't a lot of rigging aloft to interfere with raising and lowering the upper yards. The lines for the jib and flying jib were usually attached to the fore mast above the spars for the top sail and topgallant. Only the fore stay was in the way of lifting and lowering the rigs. However, on larger ships the jib stay might be attached above the top yard and below the topgallant yard.

 

I have seen descriptions of the top sail rigs, but very little on how they were handled. But just looking at how they are rigged you can see that they had to be maneuvered around the fore stays. The sheets, cluelines, reef tackle, braces, halliards, bowlines, buntlines and lifts would have to be  rigged to the spars and sails on deck. Then the running ends would have to be led around the stays and shrouds or over the fore yard to avoid interference as the spar was lowered or hoisted. It sounds complicated, but if you think about it the process is no different from the procedure to replace a spar on a square rigger. But there were only one or two sails involved on topsail schooners, and they were much smaller than the sails on a square rigger, and the spars were much lighter.

 

It appears to me that the lifts and braces bore the force of the wind on the sails. Because often there were no parrels the lifts pulled on the fore mast and the braces pulled on the main mast. In a similar way the course sheets transfer part of the force to the hull. However, on some rigs parrels were used for the top yard, but these were detached for raising and lowering the yards.

 

Again, I recommend Petersson's Rigging Period Fore-and-Aft Craft as a reference for topsail schooner rigs.

 

Also, you can find some descriptions of modern topsail schooner rigs and rigging practices on line.

 

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Thank you for your post.

My ship model is a topsail schooner with one top on the main mast and one top on the foremast.

Your "Light rigging" description is it also valid for this Schooner's family ?

 

Mike

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Mike,

 

Good question! I do not have a certain answer. Here is my best guess.

 

With the hull length you gave - 65 feet - this is a relatively small topsail schooner, so the single sail and spar wouldn't be all that heavy. The rigging for the main topsail would be about the same as for the fore topsail, with the braces running forward to the fore mast top and then down to the deck. The main stays would present an obstacle for lowering the main topsail just as the fore stay was for the fore topsail. So I can't see why there would be much difference between the procedure or difficulty for raising and lowering either topsail.

 

Of course, given the number of lines running to either of these sails, there would be plenty of opportunity for getting things fouled up. But with the proper rigging and experience it should be routine. Why would they go to the bother? I guess it was because it took fewer men to rig the sail and spar on the deck and then haul them aloft. I also think I read where it was a very quick way to put up the sail when the wind was right and get it back down when the high sail wasn't wanted/needed.

 

On of the rather bizarre characteristics of the topsail schooners - especially the Baltimore clippers with their very large sail area - was nosing into a swell when hit from behind by a strong gust and suddenly plunging to the bottom. I have read two accounts of schooners with full sails set just diving into a wave and disappearing with all hands in a matter of seconds! When the Brits captured American Baltimore clippers they often reduced mast heights and sail areas because they thought the rig was too large for the relatively light hull. But this reduced speed, and that is what these ships were all about. When the British started increasing mast height and sail area on their topsail schooners to increase speed they lost some of them just like the American ships. In addition, there are accounts of schooners with the topsails set suddenly capsizing when hit  by a strong gust broadside. There was a price to pay if the top hamper was too large.

 

So it was very important to be able to get the top sails down in a hurry!

 

The Baltimore clippers had the broadest beam forward near the fore mast, instead of midships like most other sailing ships. The reason was the additional weight of the topsail and rigging, and sometimes a larger diameter fore mast to support the larger rig. The broader the hull the more weight it could float. This put the center of gravity farther forward, and that probably contributed the the reduced stability.

 

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Thank you again for these heated ideas on our subject.

 

But with all these informations, sometimes contradictory, it becomes difficult for me to decide which options to choose...

 

Especially, I still do not know if, assuming a light rigging on a topsail schooner, concerning top-gallant-yard and top-sail-yard on fore-mast, the halyard duplicates or not the lifts. In which case, only one of them would be retained.

 

Maybe that, for safety reasons, it is reasonable to fly setting the top-gallant-yard only (to quickly take off the sail).

 

Mike

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Petersson shows the following rigging for the fore topsail. P/S = port and starboard.

 

A. To control the yard:

 

1. The braces (P/S) are connected to the outboard ends of the yards and run to blocks at the main mast top (where the lower and upper masts double). From there they lead down to the deck. These are used to turn the spar to angle the sail to the wind.

 

2. Lifts (P/S) attach to the ends of the yards and run to a block at the fore mast top. From there they lead down to the deck.

 

3. The topsail halliard attaches to the center of the spar and runs through a sheave in the mast and then down to the deck. This is used to raise and lower the yard.

 

B. To control the sail:

 

1. The cluelines (P/S) attach to a single block fastened to the topsail yard outboard of the spar center. Then they run through a single block attached to the lower corners of the sail and back up to the block on the topsail yard. From there they lead down to the deck. These can draw in the lower corners of the sail for reefing the sail.

 

2. The sheets (P/S) are attached to the lower corners of the sail. They lead through a sheave near the end of the fore course spar, from there to a block attached to the canter of the spar, and down to the deck. These are used to pull the corners of the sail out for setting the sail. They work opposite to the cluelines.

 

3. The buntlines (P/S) attach to the lower edge of the sail about 1/3 of the way in from the sail corners. They lead up to a single block attached to the topsail yard near the canter and then down to the deck. They are used to pull up the bottom edge of the sail for reefing.

 

4. The reef tackle (P/S) attaches to the outboard end of the topsail yard. From there it runs down to a single block attached to the outboard edge of the sail 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down to the lower corner of the sail. It runs through the block and back up to a sheave near the outboard end of the topsail spar, then over to a single block attached to the mast above the spar, and from there down to the deck. It is used to draw up the outer edges of the sail when the sail is reefed.

 

5. Bowlines (P/S) had bridles that attached to the outer edge of the sail at several places below the reef tackle. The bridles attached to lines that led down to single blocks  on the bowsprit cap and then back to the deck. They were used to keep the upwind side of the sail extended when running close-hauled.

 

****

 

That's 15 lines for a single topsail and yard. To my inexperienced eye it seems a bit unwieldy to lower the entire rig to the deck. Either the port or starboard lines would have to be lead over the fore stay and the braces would be draped over the main course spar. A lot of rope would be needed! But there is no reason why it wouldn't work. It would allow changing the sail without sending men aloft. The topsail spar and sail could be lowered to the main spar where the sail could be tied to the spar along with all lines, and then the bundle could be lowered to the deck.

 

If anyone reading this actually has experience on a topsail schooner, please enlighten us to how it was actually done.

 

 

 

 

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The halyard and lifts perform two separate functions.  One does not duplicate the other.  The halyards sole purpose is to hoist the yard.  The lifts control the cant of the yard. The lift also supports the ends of the yard when in the lowered position.  For such light yards as could be set flying the lifts are mostly unnecessary.  The yard is kept in control with the braces and through the sail via the sheets.  Also unnecessary for these light sails are the reef tackles and bowlines.  These eliminations considerably reduce the complexity of hoisting the sails and yards from the deck.

 

Regards, 

 

 

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It is clearer.

 

- I note that the parrels are not quoted.

 

- In the case where I should have Halyard and Lifts, can you tell me for which element the block level is the highest on the fore-mast ?

 

I have sometimes difficulties with English expressions and nautical terms meaning, so :

 

1 hour ago, Dr PR said:

the port or starboard lines would have to be lead over the fore stay

- I suppose that this sentence concern halyard and lifts. What do you mean by "to be lead over the fore stay" ?

 

2 hours ago, Dr PR said:

the braces would be draped over the main course spar

- Do you mean that braces line must be belayed near the stern ?

2 hours ago, Dr PR said:

The topsail spar and sail could be lowered to the main spar

- Sorry, but which are precisely the spars and sails concerned by "the topsail spar and sail" ?

 

- I enclose the plan of my kit (which contains several errors) to make easier our exchanges.

Albatros01.thumb.JPG.0e3d8bffaa2772ce9c2bba92be26b2ff.JPG

Popeye2sea : I have clearly noted that for the top-gallant yard, the lifts are not essential.

 

Mike

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Mike,

 

That plan is very familiar! You are building the Mantua Albatros kit - it is the same as the one I am working on, except I am kit bashing it as a revenue cutter with just the topsail and no topgallant.

 

1. By "lead over the fore stay" I mean that as the spars are lowered, with all the lines attached port and starboard, the spar and sail must be lowered to one side of the fore stay, say to port. In this case the port side lines will come down without fouling other lines, but the starboard side lines will hang over the fore stay. It will be necessary for the starboard lines to be managed to avoid tangling and fouling other lines.

 

2. "The braces would be draped over the main course spar." Sorry, I meant to say the fore course spar - the lowest and largest spar on the fore mast. These braces run through blocks at the main mast top and from there forward to the topsail spar on the fore mast. Then the spar is lowered the braces will come down on the fore course spar and then continue down as the topsail spar and sail are lowered to the deck.

 

3. I have been describing only a single topsail. This is the sail that hangs between the topsail yard and the fore course yard. Again, I have mistakenly called the fore course spar the "main" spar. I suppose the topsail and yard could just be lowered to the fore course yard and tied to it to reduce sail without dropping everything to the deck.

 

If the ship also carried a fore topgallant above the fore topsail,  handling it would have been similar to the handling of the topsail. The same is true for schooners that had square sails on the main mast.

 

****

 

In post #66 in my thread for the Albatros kit I had a discussion with another fellow (Mike from t'north) who is building the same kit. He noted that there were many things that seemed way out of scale for a 1:40 scale kit. I agree, and we discussed options. The smaller cannons would have been 3 pounders, and the books say 6 pounders were about the smallest these schooners carried. The capstan would only be knee high at 1:40, and there were other peculiarities to the kit.

 

All of the Baltimore clippers were built along the same lines, so the kit can be built at any scale between 1:40 and 1:96.  1:40 would be a very small schooner, and certainly would not have carried a topgallant, at least from what I have read in a number of books. On the other hand, 1:96 would be a huge topsail schooner, and more likely would have had three masts. I chose to work at 1:48. At that scale the cannons will pass for 6 pounders, and the larger gun could be a 12 pounder - which some Baltimore schooners carried. It would be a bit short for a "long tom" cannon.

 

****

 

Henry (popeye2sea) makes a good point about the reef tackles and bowlines. They are shown in Petersson's drawings, which he made from a model of the Experiment in a Swedish museum. Presumably the model had all this rigging. But the topsails on schooners were much smaller than sails on larger square rigged ships, and the whole idea of the schooner rig was to reduce complexity.

 

Looking at photos and drawings of topsail schooners I definitely do not see the bowlines. According to zu Mondfelds's Historic Ship Models bowlines were no longer used in the later 19th century.

 

However I do see what appears to be reef tackles in photos of the Pride of Baltimore II. I also do not see lifts on the topsail yard.

 

But the La Recouvrance does appear to have lifts.

 

Lynx doesn't appear to have bowlines, reef tackles or lifts.

 

There are a lot of variations in topsail schooner rigs. Some have a boom for the fore gaff sail and some have a boom for the fore staysail. Others have neither boom. Some have a fore gaff topsail and others have a main staysail. There are three versions of the main gaff topsail. There is a lot of variation on the flying jib - if the ship has one. I am beginning to think you can rig your model any way you want and there probably was/is a real schooner that was rigged that way at some time!

 

I hope this helps. There is a lot of variety in the rigs of existing topsail schooners. I have been puzzling over the rigging for a few months now, trying to decide how I will rig my model.

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Very interesting rigging diagram.  In my opinion most of the lines for the fore yards are mislabelled, which would lead to much confusion. Here is what I see when I look at this rigging plan. 

 

On the fore yard (the lowest yard on the fore mast) the brace has been labelled as a flag halliard.

Also line number 37 appears to be the topsail sheet tackle.  If you follow it up from the deck you first come to the single block for the tackle then the sheet leads up through a block hanging under the yard( next to the number 36 on the diagram) passes along underneath the yard and up through a sheave at the yard arm and then up towards the block for line number 35, which appears to be the topsail clew.  This all makes sense if you are rigging as shown in the diagram with no sail set and the yard in its lowered position.  However, all of the  above has been labelled the fore sheet, which makes no sense at all.

 

The fore yard has lifts that lead up to blocks just under the cap, line number 36.  But there is no halyard shown for this or any of the other yards.

 

On the topsail yard( the middle one).  This is again shown in its lowered position with no sail set.  The brace is labelled as the upper topsail brace.  It has lifts (line 34) leading up to blocks at the collar at the top mast head. It also has no halyard shown.  However, the line number 33 which is the combined topgallant sheet and clew (similar to the topsail) is missing its lower lead once it passes through the sheave at the topsail yardarm.  It is mislabelled as upper topsail sheet.  

 

On the topgallant yard (the uppermost yard) , line number 31, which is the topgallant lift is labelled topgallant sheet.  Once again no halyard shown for this yard

 

With regard to the halyards, I do not know if they were led through sheaves in the mast or blocks seized to the mast but they should be placed above the point where the yard is at maximum height but below the attachment point for the corresponding lifts.

 

Also, in my opinion, the fore topgallant backstay (number 16,17) should attach at a point closer to the topgallant stay (thats the uppermost stay).  They should be working in opposition to each other.

 

Regards,

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Henry,

 

Thanks for that critique.  I have been puzzled by the rigging diagram in the Albatros kit. Some of it didn't make any sense to me (how can you have a fore royal stay when you don't have a royal?), so I decided to look elsewhere for topsail schooner rigging ideas. I really haven't put too much study time into it yet (way too many other things happening right now) so I haven't decided how I will rig my model.

 

Reading thorough Chapelle's books, and especially The Baltimore Clipper and Fincham's rules and Marestier's dimensions of spars listed for real ships, it seems to me that the mast and spar dimensions in the Albatros kit are rather strange. The lower masts are too short for a Baltimore clipper, and the masts are not raked nearly enough. However, the British thought the masts and sails were too large on the American schooners and often cut the mast down a bit on American ships they captured. So the Mantua model may be based upon a British  design for a topsail schooner - not exactly a Baltimore clipper, or "Goletta tipica di Baltimora" as the plans say.

 

This is something for Mike to consider. Is he building a European topsail schooner or an American Baltimore clipper?

 

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Thanks for all.

I appreciate that some good Guys focus on Mantua rigging plan which can product nightmares. I am less alone !

 

Henry, can you advise me (using the plan) about the lift block levels (on fore top-mast) for top-sail yard lift and top-gallant yard lift ?

Same question for halyard block levels for these two yards ?

 

I have put Lower yard halyard static block on trestletrees, is it the right level ?

 

I agree with you about attaching points level for topgallant backstay and  topgallant stay. It would be the same level.

 

Concerning the attaching method of "Backstays" on the deck, the kit Mantua designer has put brass piton on each side (P and T). What is the right method to attach the ropes to these pitons ?

 

Must I use the same rope diameter (0,85 mm) for stays, backstays and shrouds ?

 

Which rope diameter for halyards, lifts and braces (knowing that I have took 1/50 scale) ?

 

Have a nice day

Mike

 

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Mike,

 

My question back to you is this, are those collars on the mast already there or are they something you are expected to add to the masts yourself?

 

The reason for this is that those collars are what is going to support your rigging.  For instance, the topgallant stay, backstay, and topgallant yard lift blocks should all be supported by that uppermost collar.

 

There are other collars depicted on the masts that to me are superfluous and in fact would impede the raising and lowering of the yards.  For example, that first one above the mast cap and the small one depicted just above the level of the topgallant yard.

 

As for the level of the topsail yard lift blocks, since the topmast and topgallant mast are combined here as a single stick, it is up to you to decide the exact point to put the collar that represents the separation of the two.  you could arbitrarily locate it midway between the cap and the topgallant mast head collar.  Or you could determine where to place it based on how deep you want to make your topsail.

 

The other way to determine all of the above would be to do some research into mast lengths for this type of schooner.

 

Yes, the fore yard halyard or jeer blocks hanging at or just below the level of the trestle trees sounds right.

 

I am assuming that when you mention a piton for the backstays you are referring to some sort of ringbolt or padeye?.  Backstays should be set up with deadeyes or multiple sheave blocks at least.  I would seize, or hook,  a deadeye or block to the ring bolt and turn another in on the end of the backstay.  Connect the two with a laniard or tackle fall.

 

For the thickness of the stays, shrouds, and backstays, no you do not have to use the same diameter line.  Generally, the stay will be the largest diameter because it runs single.  Since there are multiple shrouds to spread the load they can be smaller than the stay.  For any given mast, the shrouds and backstays are going to be about the same diameter.  But, the diameters for the shrouds and backstays will get smaller as you go further aloft, i.e the topmast shrouds will be smaller than the lower shrouds and the topgallant shrouds will be smaller still.  This is due to there being less load on those lines from the smaller spars and sails.

 

I believe there are tables available in various sources that will give you the dimensions for all the rigging

 

I hope this helps.

 

Regards,

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