Wawona build - Page 5 - RC Groups
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Feb 04, 2010, 07:51 PM
SCALE Sailor
JerryTodd's Avatar
You can cut it with scissors or a roller cutter, then seal the edges with a hot knife/soldering iron/wood burner, etc.
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Feb 04, 2010, 07:58 PM
Dragon Slayer
ropanach's Avatar
thanks, if it melts that easy a wire between two batterys would do the trick.
Feb 04, 2010, 09:32 PM
Registered User
I have cut Dacron with scissors and then run the new edges over the stove burner quickly. Use a scrap piece to find how long it takes to cause the fabric to shrink and distort before using sails.

Never had a sail unravel.
Feb 04, 2010, 10:53 PM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

Cutting Supplex Sails


No no no - none of the above.

For crisply, accurately cut sail patterns, do this.

First, get detailed patterns drawn. For flat sails, no big deal. But if you are going to attach to a yard at this scale, you really need to fold in a strip of styrene to stiffen the head. That means you have to add a tab in the sail pattern to fold over that strip.
Getting sails to look somewhat prototypical requires other pattern complications.
If you want bolt ropes, you can arduously sew them on all the sails, or add a tab of material at sail edges to fold over a bolt rope, which is then easily sealed with permanent fabric cement.
For the fore course, some additional tweaks are necessary to support the hardware/rigging that allows somewhat prototypical rigging.
The headsails need a small hem along the head where the small hoops attach.
You can add leech linings, buntline cloths, reef bands, etc. Some involve cutting extra material in the patterns, or some can be faked with paint and inks.
Bottom line, if you want sails with any detail, you have to accurately cut the patterns.
A temp controlled pencil type soldering iron with a 1/8" chisel tip is perfect to cut Supplex. (A sharp tip has too little mass and can't stay hot enough for the full length of cut) Get a cheap 2 x4 ft sheet of smooth 1/4" hardboard at the home store as a cutting surface. It wil get burned and scarred. Draw your sail pattern on the supplex. Use scissors to cut the piece out with about a 2" margin. Smooth and tape the piece onto the hardboard with masking tape. Use a straight-edge to guide straight cuts or a bow to guide curved cuts. These need to be wood. A metal straightedge will suck the heat out of the soldering iron cuz you have to keep the iron in firm contact with the cutting guide. Press firmly and slowly pull the the hot iron at an angle along the fabric. It will cut/melt/seal a precise edge. If it doesn't cut/melt, go slower or turn up the heat on the iron (or use the next size larger tip). If the fabric melts/turns black, iron is too hot or cut speed is too slow. After cutting, the edge of the supplex will be slightly welded to the hardboard. Gently pull it off after cutting is finished. Don't stop during a cut or you will get a black/melt spot.
Practice on scrap pieces. Once you get it, you can cut and seal very accuraetly in one step. Sounds complicated, but I ruined alot of sail material until I figured this out.
Look at a reference on sails. They are very complicated and if you want scale features, you have to do some planning and pattern making.
Note that the foot of squaresails isn't necessarily straight. To clear rigging (forestays, etc) the foot may have a substantial curve. Gaff sails also have non-straight edges. To cut these gentle curves, use a bow. Get a piece of 1/4" hardwood dowel. Attach a wire to one end. Drill a hole in the other end. Pass the wire thru the hole. Now pull the wire tight until the dowel takes the curve you want. Wrap and tie off the wire. Use the curved dowel as your cutting guide.
Sorry I took off on this, but I wasted alot of time and material before I slowed down and thought it all thru.
Note: I glued edge flaps/bolt ropes with clear permanent fabric cement. Still holding well after 3 years. No failure points at all. I also used ink for seams.
If I had to do it over, I'ld definitely sew everything like Ray, Don and others did.
Feb 04, 2010, 11:20 PM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

Linings on sails

For realistic looking sails, adding buntline cloths, reef bands, leech linings, mast cloths, etc is the way to go. But sewing on all these double layers makes a scale sail bulky, stiff and heavy.
An approach used on the Syren worked OK. I taped the sail flat, then masked off all but the area where I wanted a double layer canvas effect. Really press the masking tape into the fabric along the edge. Then use a tan paint the same color as the canvas (otherwise it will look too dark) and carefully paint in the feature. I tried spray paint, but that didn't work - stayed on the surface of the fabric. For a good effect you have to work the paint into the pores of the fabric (but not so much paint that it wicks under the masking tape).
I used Krylon sprayed into a jar and thnned as necessary with mineral spirits. Practice to see how muh you hav to thin the paint to get it to flow into the poes of the fabric and not wick under the tape. Use a stiff, short bristle brush and very little paint at a time. You have to apply it evenly or it will show blotches when the sun shines thru the sails. Krylon is good for this cuz it dries fast and it isn't stiff on the fabric. Your really staining the fabric with thinned paint vs painting a coat of paint on the surface.
All my sails were done this way.
Feb 05, 2010, 12:02 AM
Registered User
tbarjohn's Avatar
Dan, I have had good luck spray painting sails, use Design Master paint, it is made for painting silk flowers and works well on fabric, I have been using it on Dacron. I use it right out of the spray can for full sails and spray it into a quart jar to put it in a air brush to do fine work.
John R.
Feb 05, 2010, 12:29 AM
Dragon Slayer
ropanach's Avatar
Thanks I needed that, I had planed on sewing all the sails, painting looks like it would be alot faster than tring to overlay cut and sew but I don't have a sail plan, I am going off old pic's of the ship under full sails, but I think I can get most of them, I didn't know about the sails haveing a curve to them, Your instructions will come in quite handy,
Your sails look real. nice work

I put a bid down on Ebey for the sail stock I may need to get more if I win the bid that is, I hope two yards will do it.
Feb 05, 2010, 11:23 AM
SCALE Sailor
JerryTodd's Avatar
Sewing the panel seams will likely cause puckering along the stitch lines. That shouldn't be a problem with hem and chafe panels, but you're probably better off using a .001 permanent marker in black, brown, or gray. There's a way of pulling threads from the fabric to simulate sail panels that some static modelers use, in effect creating a 'run.' My concern with that is that it might weaken the fabric too much for a working model - maybe not.

Drawing panel lines also is easier on a light table; ie: plexi on a box with a lamp inside, or your glass topped coffee table, etc.

If you're gonna paint/airbrush weathering and other things onto the sails, you can straight edge the panel lines then.

Always try things on some scrap first.

On a 4 foot schooner I'd think 2 yards would be more than enough - Constellation will have 2,807 sq inches of sail, so would require 47 inches of 60" fabric. That's not taking into account how the various sail sizes and shapes need to be laid out on the cloth. Don't forget that you want the grain of cloth in line with the leech of the gaff headed sails.
Last edited by JerryTodd; Feb 05, 2010 at 11:29 AM.
Feb 05, 2010, 12:14 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
I've cut straight sides to my gaff sails. Pre-racing, few gaff sails had a curved roach, but were cut straight. You can add a curve to the foot of the sail if you are making loose-footed fore&aft sails. I don't because it has a tendency to catch on the boom when you tack in light air. The gaff and the mast side of the sails should be cut straight. Sloop racers add curves to these 2 edges, but unless you have a lot of experience/patience/willingness to recut, I'd avoid this refinement. Not really needed for scale sailing - who are you going to race, since you'll be a one-of-a-kind at your pond :-)

Best idea, for me, has been to cut sails out of newspaper and mount them on the yards to see how they set. Then adjust the newspaper pattern to get the shape you want. It's easy to get the angles wrong, so a paper pattern is a good way to catch mistakes.
Feb 05, 2010, 02:56 PM
Dragon Slayer
ropanach's Avatar
I'll need to try some of the tricks that have come out in this thread to see what will work the best, I don't think I will try pulling threads out though.

Haveing a one of to sail is normal I genealy sail alone the club I be long to in this area run mostly work boats.
When cutting out sails I use bucher paper for the patern, it has a firm edge to hold the marker next to so I don't slip of line.
Feb 06, 2010, 06:44 PM
Dragon Slayer
ropanach's Avatar
I won the bed on EBay for theSupplex nylon, no one made a bid for it, thank you very much, so now I can do more things to get the Wawona on the water just a little sooner.
Now how can I get out of work so I can keep working on the ship
Feb 06, 2010, 09:00 PM
Registered User
To keep the boss from checking on me,

I call in "Well! It's just too nice a day to work."

Worked great the frist couple of times. Now I work for myself.
Feb 06, 2010, 09:47 PM
Dragon Slayer
ropanach's Avatar
When I tried that, I had to work double shift.
Feb 12, 2010, 12:17 AM
Dragon Slayer
ropanach's Avatar
Update been slowly getting the planks laied a pic.

Got the supplex nylon for the sails today in the mail, it's a little too yellow for me, so is the an easy way to stain it just a little darker then it is?
Feb 12, 2010, 09:52 AM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

Dyeing supplex for sails

Supplex is hard to dye. Acid dyes can do it, but that involves nasty solutions, complicated process and steam setting. Pigment dyes can also be used, but I havent seen a good color.
But I've used fine pigment acrylic artist inks to color supplex and nylon line and it works great. You don't get a big color change - kind of an irregular tie-dye, washed-out, slight color change. But it looks great on sails.

To get the yellow look to a more tan look, try Liquitex Acrylic Ink.
Here's a link to the color chart. Try the #333 burnt umber transparent. Other browns will be too orange, esp with your yellow.


TEST FIRST. Add a small amount of ink to warm water with a splash of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol added (maybe 2 cups water, 1 small bottle of the ink and 1oz. of alcohol). Dip the fabric and let it soak fo a few minutes till the color wets and penetrates the fabric (supplex is water resistant - the alcohol helps wet the fabric). Gently squeeze out excess solution and hang fabric to dry. The look will be something like a very light tie-dye. There won't be much color, just a "tone" from the piment that gets trapped in the fabric.

Use Liquitex cuz it has real fine pigment and is pretty waterproof and colorfast. I tried cheap acrylic stains and inks (like for scrabooking and crafts) and it didn't work.

Use gloves or you will have stained hands....

Again, test to get the amount of color and the look you want. To get deeper color, increase the amount of ink in the solution.

Just thought of this. Inking the sails after they are made (if bolt ropes and other detail is being sewn in) would probably really look good. There would be color variation around the bolt ropes/edges, etc etc. Might work...a test is in order...

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