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Pre Rigging the Tall Ship Model

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Pre-Rigging the Tall Ship Model

By Peter Jaquith


Some ship modelers prefer to erect the masts, spars, and rigging in much the same sequence period ships were rigged (e.g. lower masts, lower shrouds, top masts, topmast shrouds, etc.).  Other ship modelers pre-rig the masts, spars, and sails with blocks and standing/running rigging components before final installation on the model.  The following notes describe the pre-rigging process as applied to the construction of my Topsail Schooner “Eagle” of 1847 build:


Rigging Strategy – My rigging strategy for the Topsail Schooner “Eagle” build was to install all possible eyebolts, blocks, standing/running rigging lines and components on the masts, spars, and sails prior to erection onboard the model.  Where appropriate, I constructed sail/spar assemblies to further complete rigging work on the bench prior to erection onboard the model.

Rigging Planning – Using a markup of the ship’s rigging plans, each rigging component/rigging line was identified and assigned to its installation stage with due consideration given to maintaining flexibility for onboard adjustment.  Once the plan review was completed, check lists were prepared by mast, spar, sail, and sail/spar assembly to track these installations.

Pre-Rigging the Gaffs & Booms – Boom and gaff pre-rigging included yard bands, eyebolts, parrel assemblies, blocks, and standing/running rigging lines associated with the respective spar.  Examples include boom sheet assemblies, boom sheet, boom topping lift, boom footropes, gaff throat and peak halyards, gaff vangs, and gaff topsail eyebolts and blocks.

Pre-Rigging the Topsail & Lower Yards – Topsail and lower yard pre-rigging included yard bands, eyebolts, parrel assemblies, blocks, and standing/running rigging lines associated with the respective spar.  Examples include yard trusses assembly; parrel assembly; jackstays; footropes; brace pendants; halyards; clewline, reef tackle, sheet, and bunt line blocks.

Pre-Rigging the Sails – Sail pre-rigging included running rigging blocks and lines associated with the respective sail.  Examples include sail hanks, mast hoops, halyards, downhauls, outhauls, inhauls, tacks, sheets, clewlines, bunt lines, and reef tackle.

Pre-Rigging the Masts – Mast pre-rigging included mast/cap bands, futtock shrouds, mast hoops, boom rest assemblies, mast coats, eyebolts, blocks, and the standing/running rigging associated with the respective mast. Examples include lower yard clevis assembly, lower shrouds, futtock shrouds, topmast shrouds, backstays, main and fore stays, throat and peak halyard blocks/runners, boom topping lift, yard lifts, yard brace blocks/runners, halyards, and buntline blocks.     

Sail & Spar Assemblies – The fore and main sails were assembled with their respective booms/gaffs, the fore topsail was assembled on its topsail yard, and the main gaff topsail was added to the aft mast assembly.  These assemblies allowed further completion of the running rigging on the bench top vs. onboard the model.

Rigging the Bowsprit & Jibboom – Head rigging (including bobstays, martingale stays, bowsprit guys, jibboom guys, and the bowsprit/jibboom footropes) was installed onboard the model prior to mast installation.  Tie in of the fore stay, jib stay, and fore topmast stay will be accomplished after fore mast installation.

Mast Erection & Standing Rigging Completion – Following mast erection on the model; the main triatic and topmast stays were tied off to the fore mast and the lower shrouds, backstays, and fore stays were tied off and secured with deadeyes and lanyards.  The head sails were fitted to the fore stays prior to their connection to the bowsprit/jibboom.  Additionally, ratlines were installed onboard the model.

Spar, Sail, & Running Rigging Completion – The remaining sails and sail/spar assemblies were installed onboard the model working from aft forward.  All the remaining running rigging associated with the sails and spars were tied off and completed in the same sequence.  Flags and rigging coils were added after completion of other rigging tasks.


While the pre-rigging strategy described above does require some up front planning; it significantly reduces onboard rigging work resulting in improved access and reduced risk of damage to the model during the rigging process.  I find that pre-rigging makes the rigging process far more manageable, although I admit that at one point it seemed as though I would never ever finish all the pre-rigging check list items preceding mast erection.


Pete Jaquith







Pete Jaquith


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  • 11 months later...



I am interested in building a full sail model of the Fair American. I found plans by an Italian model maker "Edizioni Navimodellistiche of Brigantino anno 1780 "Fair American" which shows a lot of detail on the rigging. I would like to finf more information on this model, can anyone help.  I would also find information on the sails carried by the Fair American brig.

Thank you,


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