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Rigging Tension-how do you do it?


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This subject has kind of come up previously, but I wanted to ask it a different way.


When tightening the standing rigging (just before tying if off permanently), what methods do you use to determine if it's tight enough or too tight? We know (on standing rigging) that you don't want the line to be slack, but not tight enough to bend things out of alignment. Still, that leaves a pretty large range of tensions.


So what do you do to determine your standing rigging is tight enough?





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"by feel" is easy to type and hard to describe.


One thing to keep in mind, would be interested to hear other's experiences, is keep in mind the temp and humidity when you're doing the rigging.  In Houston, we get some wide swings in temp and humidity through the year and I can see spars move.  If you make it tight when its hot and moist (Houston summers bless us with "air you can wear" it's so humid), come winter when it's dry and cool, the lines will really sing and pull things out of alignment.  waxing the line before rigging helps a lot from humidity standpoint, still moves a bit with temperature changes.


best teacher is experiment....  take some scrap, buy a dowel and fiddle with tying knots to gauge how tight you can make things.






Currently building: Model Expo AMERICA, A/L KING OF THE MISSISSIPPI


Completed: Mamoli Victory cross-section, Revell LSM (Plastic, in memory of Dad), A/L SANSON tug, MS Longboat (awesome model Chuck!), Dumas 1949 Chris-Craft 19' Racing runabout, A/L SWIFT, MS ELSIE, Constructo ELIDIR (now LOUISE), Midwest Muscongus Bay Lobster Smack, Amati 1:80 Yacht ENDEAVOUR, Mamoli CONSTITUTION cross section, Revell VIIc U-boat (1:72 plastic), lotsa other plastic ships 


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I know it's mainly a judgement call. I was wondering if anybody had any specifics.




I agree that temperature and humidity make a big difference. The type of line does too (linen, silk, cotton, polyester, nylon). The scale of the model, i.e., spar size and line size also make a difference.


I'm thinking of a couple different things here. One is tight enough that it "twangs" like a guitar string. On a small model you probably can't achieve that, but it might make sense on a 1:24 RC sailboat. The other is a tensiometer used in rigging airplane flight control cables. But that is tension in hundreds of pounds. However, it is a way to measure tension.


Like I said, I'm curious what you do.





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All good advice here.  My squishy addition is snug but not tight.  If you are pulling the mast it's probably too tight.




Current: Sergal Sovereign of the Seas

Previous builds:  AL Swift, AL King of the Mississippi, Mamoli Roter Lowe, Amati Chinese Junk, Caesar, Mamoli USS Constitution, Mantua HMS Victory, Panart San Felipe, Mantua Sergal Soleil Royal

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  • 2 weeks later...
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tensioning Standing rigging, how I do it....


I think it depends on the thread material used, the sequence of what rope(s) must go first, staggered what next, how to secure the knots, seizings, work symetricly, check alignment of masts, etc....


A proven sequence can be : 


begin with the mizzen, and the shrouds.... left right, left right... always check the mast behavior inbetween, very slightly Tension the mast to rake backwards 1-2 degrees. The shrouds are tensioned by the deadeye laces. The ratlines get attached much later. Use a "dead" thread material, eg. Polyester thread. A natural thread based material will be a bit elastic and may turn out with slag afterwards, unless that is specialy wanted. Secure all knots with a drop of CA , because Polyester has the tendency to slip the knots (use toothpick for application, the CA in a lttle plastic cap)


put on a preliminary dummy stay at the ship middle axis to Support the mast Forward-wise in this Position. Put on symetricly one or two backstays (mast in this Position)


Now put on the actual mizzen stay and Tension in Forward direction, until you get the final and wanted rake.  You can feel how all the before backward orientated shrouds and backstays become tensioned, Always intermeduiate mast alignment check necessary

Result is a wonderful tight Mizzen-rigging and a straight mast.


Proceed likewise with the other masts, shrouds, stays and backstays




Current builds

Steamship Ergenstrasse


"Mississippi Lady"  sternwheel steamer 1:30 kit build fun boat as Xmas present

"Zeesboot"  heritage wooden fishing small craft around 1870, POB  clinker scratch build scale 1:24

Pilot Schooner # 5 ELBE

Chebec "Eagle of Algier" 1753--scale 1:48-POB-(scratchbuild) 

"SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse" four stacker passenger liner of 1897, 1:144 (scratchbuild)
"HMS Pegasus" , 16 gun sloop, Swan-Class 1776-1777 scale 1:64 from Amati plan  (scratch build)Pilot schooner #5 Elbe

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"Gorch Fock 2" German Navy cadet training 3-mast barque, 1:95 (scratchbuild) 

"Heinrich Kayser" heritage Merchant Steamship, 1:96 (scratchbuild) 

"Bohuslän" , heritage ,live Swedish museum passenger steamer (Billings kit), 1:50 

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