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Start up or down on the sails?


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I am working on the sails of a plastic model.  Is it best to put the bottom sail on first and work my way up the mast?  Or should I start on the top sail and work my way down the mast?  Also, what is the best tool to use to punch holes in the bottom corners?

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With plastic sails, maybe pierce the corners with a hot needle or use a small drill in a rotary tool?


Not sure about rigging order, but I've found they generally follow how you would do it on an actual ship which would be from the bottom up.


I haven't built a plastic model in about 35 years though and am just on my first wood model so... :huh:



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I am not a seasoned boat modeler by any means but....


I've been using a dental pick which I heat with a candle, only downside is the candle flame will leave carbon residue which is easy to get on the sails themselves. Sometimes I need to tidy up the holes with a #11 blade used as a drill of sorts. I suppose a tiny drill in a pin vise would work better but I go with what I have.


As far as the order I start with the lowest sails and work my way up. Whatever order gives me the easiest access for tying knots. On that same note I start in the middle and work outward.

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I am sure it depends how complicated the rigging will be. If you add all the lines that were typically used on a frigate, for example, you could have as many as fourteen lines on a square sail. Multiply that by the number of sails and you have a nightmare. I am only adding three square sails to my Connie and I don't sleep well at night.

Because of all these lines (and how they are tied to the pinrails)I decided to start from the top on down. Once the royal and topgallant are rigged I can forget about them. If you start at the bottom you end up fighting all those lines below as you go up.

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Okay, what is a tiny drill in a pin vise?  Where can I get one?  I do have a dental pick I can try with the candle tip.  I can also try the hot needle.  Jay, I have been doing this Linberg model and the directions are very confusing.  They seem to have me doing the lines at different sections.  Like they want me to put up part of the sails, and then add more line and sails.  I guess I will start at the bottom and move up like most of you have said.

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Kimberley, I did not mean to scare you, but let me add one more suggestion.

You will find that if you can add what ever lines go from the sail to the mast(or spar) before the sail is attached to the mast, it will be a lot easier than if you try to tie lines after the sail is in place.


I have found that if you think the process through before each step you will be miles ahead.


A pin vise is really a small hand drill (not a vise). They are meant hold tiny drills (number 80 and thicker)and be twisted by hand to do the drilling. No speed involved, just a bit of care to keep the drill aligned while you gently push and turn. You can find them in any of the hobby supply houses.

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Thanks Jay.  I am starting to catch on to the idea of thinking things out before actually doing what the directions say to do. 


This Linberg Jolly Roger ship has been a nightmare for me.  The directions for the sails and the rigging, etc., are just too confusing for me, and I have found mistakes in the directions that I had to either fix or figure out myself.  Plus, I should not have ignored putting up all the little tiny eyelet rings it came with.  I just was not sure how to attach them onto the rigging.  I have all the sails up.  Right now I am just being creative at where to attach the bottom parts of the sails.  I am not even worrying about all the extra rigging they want me to try and put up after the sails are already up.  This ship has ended up being more of learning experience for me.


I still have so much to learn, but the challenge and the adventure has thus far been been very satisfying and rewarding. 


I just got my Revell Santa Maria in the mail, and that is the one I am really looking forward to doing my best to do it correctly.


By the way, the dental pick heated up worked great.  I will look for a pin vise next time I am at the hobby store.

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I thought you might be interested in a photo of various pin vises.


The one on the right is a nice one to use. The black handle rotates to make it comfortable to use. It has a set of collets with it (the black things). Each collet covers a range of drill sizes. I use this to drill holes. I also use it for my 14BA and 16BA taps.


On the left are a pair of cheaper pin vises. They each have two double ended collets, one enclosed in each end. One has a collet removed and on show. I use these for drilling holes. I also use them to hold very small parts when I am working on them. I either hold the vise in my hand whilst doing this or clamp it in the bench vise.


On the right is a box with the range of drill bits that you can use in these tools. 




On the definition of the hull, I think it is safe to say it is the body of the ship less fittings, masts rigging, armament etc. It is the fat thing at the bottom - or is that me?

Edited by ianmajor
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Thank you Ian.  I really appreciate you taking the time to describe and show me your pin vises.  Now I have a better idea of what it is.  I have to go get paint for my new Santa Maria, so I will look for a pin vise.  I also need to work on measurements.  I need to find a good ruler.  My math skills are very rusty.  I can probably find something online that will compute certain things for me.   


I think I got it now.  I totally finish my hull, the bottom part of the ship, and then work on the top part of the ship.  Is that correct?

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Right now I am just being creative at where to attach the bottom parts of the sails



Welcome to the world of modeling! Sounds like you have the right attitude :D


Why not just tie the bottom parts with thread? I don't know the model so just an idea. All the plastic sails on my Conny have been tied on with thread.


BTW, I saw you used the candle/dental pick tool, have any issues with the dang carbon getting everywhere? I smudged a couple of sails and the stuff will NOT clean off!. While I'm thinking about plastic sails, I found that spraying them with dull coat helps a lot with the 'real' look. I had a can of 'spoiled' clear matte spray that absolutely ruined many hours of work on painting minis but worked great on the plastic sails. If you do that make sure you test it on a piece of scrap to make sure it isn't going to melt the plastic, that would be bad :(


To me the 'hull' is the roundish part that sits in the water, also usually includes the decking, possible cannons, capstains etc. Pretty much the structure of the ship excluding the spars (masts), yardarms, ratlines, etc.


I know they sell model scale 'rulers' for model railroading, might find something for other models.


Here are some examples, maybe try Amazon etc...   http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=scale+model+rulers&qs=n&form=QBIR&pq=scale+model+rulers&sc=1-18&sp=-1&sk=

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Ian I bought a pin vise today at Hobby Lobby.  I got all my acrylic paints for my new Santa Maria also.  I started my build log for her today.  I have been told to paint everything first.


Steamwake I did not have too many problems with the hot dental pick.  I had some issues with a slight burning color around some.  It would get kind of stuck if I did not get it hot enough.  Yeah, I was wondering how to color the sails?  Thanks for the tip on the ruler. 

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Yea I like to paint most things first then glue.


I really only use the dental pic to get the hole started, I then drill the hole out with a #11 xacto blade to clean it up. Think of the pick as a center punch ;)



A tip, acrylic does not stick to plastic very well, I wash them thoroughly in soapy water with a tooth brush to get rid of the mold release oils, then I let them dry and 'dust' them with primer. Good old automotive enamel  grey primer works well and its cheap...


Just make sure to scrape the paint and primer of off surfaces to be glued together, a #11 blade and or needle file works good for that. Remember if its to be glued together raw plastic to raw plastic. Depending on how much solvent glue you use it may take up to 24 hours to cure...


Most of all patience, good luck and look forward to the build log!!!

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I would use a pin or a very small wire (heated or not) to punch the holes in your sails. The smaller the hole the better. Its even better if the hole is not seen.


I suggest you use a light brown or yellow acrylic paint to wash your sails. A wash is a mixture of water with just a little paint which you spread over your surface. How much water/paint is hard to explain, you need to experiment. If you don't like the result, use a cotton with alcohol to clean up and start again.


About the order, I may not follow the prescribed order, but I always do the hardest things first. That way, as I become tired, things start getting easier ;) So, with the sails, I would start from top to bottom. But that's just me. 


Hope this helps.

Edited by Ulises Victoria
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