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Apr 17, 2011, 06:40 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
If you add backstays, I bet you will reduce load on the servo/mast joint. I use only backstays (no shrouds), and have not lost a mast yet. You'll have to devise a way to let the mast rotate while supporting the backstays, of course. But you've showed enough ingenuity so far to make me believe you could figure out how to do it.

Boyle's 1930's article has a lot of good info for today's modelers, I feel. He's the one who first exposed me to the idea that backstays are sufficient.

Boyle's 1930's square-rigging tips:
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Apr 17, 2011, 10:20 PM
Registered User
Jpop Andrew's Avatar

Well I've decided to file the rotating mast idea into the it-was-worth-a-shot trash bin.

I already removed the servos and "learning masts" and tore up the decking down to the deck support with its two big access openings. Haven't seen that pear wood in awhile.

So time to re-read all of your threads again and learn the art of rigging.
Apr 18, 2011, 08:02 AM
SCALE Sailor
JerryTodd's Avatar

Brace yourself...

I can't say I agree with "it-was-worth-a-shot," but I certainly agree with "trash bin." Sorry, I'm terrible on toes - I seem to step on them all the time...

On a model your size - it's possible to pull off what you were trying, but the complications of supporting the mast without interfering with their rotation can get more complicated than just bracing the yards outright.

I've found that the best way is almost always the way it was actually done and working on Constellation reinforces that with every part of her I start to work on. The trick part is scaling it down. In my case I want it to look real too - but that's me - you can often adapt the function without needing to adapt the appearance.

Look through the SC&H Brig thread and you'll find more useful information on bracing the yards than you can imagine. A great deal of learning was posted in that thread - foot prints in the mine field for you to safely follow.

The attached images are from The Radio Controller Square Riggers Catalog and demonstrate what's probably your best bet for the Beagle

BTW: if you use a pointed soldering iron to make any holes you need in the Supplex, you'll get a "grommet" that's less likely to fray or tear as the heat melts the cloth around the hole.
Apr 18, 2011, 12:03 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Like Jerry, I, too, have found that when in doubt, looking at the real ship practice often solves the problem. I have simplified real brace rigging, using ideas from Boyle and Phillip (of the beautiful brig, schooner, and frigate kits). All kudos to those gentlemen (and to the bright guys on this forum).

"Simplify as much as possible, but no further."

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
Apr 19, 2011, 08:50 AM
Registered User
Jpop Andrew's Avatar
Quick question. I'm pondering how to redo the masts. What are the advantages/disadvantages of using a single dowel for the whole mast, versus the Beagle's actual three stacked sections for the fore and main?
Apr 19, 2011, 09:08 AM
SCALE Sailor
JerryTodd's Avatar
Real ships do that because it's just not possible to make masts in one piece. The lower masts, especially, were built up and banded together to get size and strength - there's no way to find a single tree to make a lower mast for a larger ship.

There's no reason you can't do it other than aesthetics. Mast sections with doublings, tops, caps, etc, look more like the prototype. It's up to you how far down that road you travel.

One issue a single piece mast may have is warping and twisting - especially if you use a dowel. Just look through the bin of dowels at the store to see what I mean.
Apr 19, 2011, 09:33 AM
Registered User
Jpop Andrew's Avatar
Jerry Todd

Yup I noticed that when I was picking out dowels before, especially at the thinner sizes. I guess the question is, is it more difficult or less secure to attach the upper spars to a thinner mast section?
Apr 19, 2011, 09:39 AM
Registered User
Jpop Andrew's Avatar
Another quick question. Brooks advised using 20-30# Sectra-based Spiderwire for standing rigging (pre-stretching it yourself and using glue on knots). And to use cotton wrapped polyester carpet thread for the running rigging (what color should I pic btw?). Sounds good to me. Any other ideas?
Apr 19, 2011, 10:33 AM
SCALE Sailor
JerryTodd's Avatar
Your mast should be supported on 3 points at each yard. The 3 points are port, starboard, and forward.

When the wind strikes the sail, the mast will be pulled where the yards attach - you need to brace the masts at those points. Looking at real masts you'll see that each section generally corresponds to a sail and the rigging generally attaches to the masts where the sections overlap (the doublings).

Even if you use a single stick for a masts, you'll still want back-stays and fore stays to attach where they would have if you had used a sectional mast.

Basically, just follow the sail plan you have for the Beagle. You don't have to have lower shrouds and ratlines. Ratlines are for the crew to climb to work in the rig - not an issue for a model. The aft-most lower shroud or two should be plenty of bracing for the lower portion of your masts.

You'll want stays that you can adjust and remove. Hang your line up with weights to pre-stretch them before making them up. They should attach to the mast in a way that you can take them off without completely disassembling the model and to the hull via something that allows adjusting their tension; bulls-eyes and lanyards, deadeyes, turnbuckles, etc.

You'll see that several folks that have non-scale, or semi-scale square-riggers, often use buttons for deadeyes. Some have an eye in the hull and a ring at the end of the stay and lace it up (bullseye and lanyard).

You can also use bowsers (oft called "bowsies" for some odd reason). Bowsers are a usually a flat thing with 3 holes. The stay feed through 2 holes, through an eye in the hull, then ties to the bottom hole of the bowser. Friction holds it in place. A two holed version is usually made of wire with an eye in each end just big enough for the line to pass through and 2-3 times the lines diameter apart. This sort was often used on tent stays as far back as the 1600s. A taut-line hitch, or midshipman's knot, works much the same.

As for colors: Standing rigging was tarred to protect it from the elements. Running rigging was left natural - a reddish tan - darkening as it got tar on it from handling.
Last edited by JerryTodd; Apr 19, 2011 at 10:42 AM.
Apr 19, 2011, 01:14 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
I agree with most everything Jerry said. Where I differ is amount of support needed; I don't run a backstay to each yard; With both my larger squareriggers, 2 or 3 backstays per mast seems to do the job. His Constellation is much bigger than my ships, and for a big ship you need all the lines.

When rigging, roll up your sleeves and remove your watch - otherwise you'll surely catch something as you are reaching into the spider's nest of lines :-). Move slowly when rigging, that will limit damage; also be sure the hull is not precariously perched on the table, hate to knock it off. Don't nail it down, though, better if the hull and rig can move some to absorb a blow. I tie red ribbon to the jibboom to remind me it's sticking out.

You will need forestays as Jerry said, though, at least for the foremast. Follow your real Beagle diagram; they will be sufficient, and they will look right. You can hang staysails from the forestays (called jibs off the jiboom). So, putting in the forestays from the real ship will allow you to set real ship sails. For the other masts, 1 or 2 will suffice, though you can put in all of them if you wish.

Forestays will need to be tied to the mast above each yard, far enough above to give it room to swing. Too high, though, and they interfere with the foot of the sail hanging from the yard above (btw, the foot is cut in a shallow curve, partly to duplicate the look of real sails, and partly to clear the forestays). I generally just find the location by trial and error. If you put a mouse on the mast, it will stop the forestay from sliding down when it's under tension. A mouse is just a wrapping of thread to build up a ledge. Coat the mouse thread with thin CA and it'll stay put. W/o a mouse, you will be continually having to adjust the forestays, sliding them back up; been there done that :-)

Backstays can be tied just above the screweye yard hanger (if you go that route). This aft leading pair of stays won't interfere with the yards swing; in fact, they will keep the yards from over-rotating. But their lower end must be positioned on the hull so as to not over-constrict the swing of lower yards. Tape them to the bulwarks, then swing the lower yards to make sure you get at least 30 deg swing from the hull centerline (60 deg from square). Move the tape as necessary.
Multi part masts look great, but are a bit of work to get the mast caps made. Drill them in pairs, is one trick to keep the two masts parallel. Single masts (called the poleacre rig) are easier to make, and have a superior yard swing geometry. See Harland for details. You might compromise - 1 dowel for lower and topsail masts, and another, smaller diameter dowel for the topgallant and royal masts. I made a 2 part mast for Aldebaran. One nice thing about multipart masts: the mast overlap gives you a prototypical place to tie your backstays. In a real ship, they were made in pairs, the loop dropped over the mast before the upper cap was installed. I just clove hitch mine around the mast, leaving ends long enough to reach the bulwarks port and starboard.
btw, I applaud your candor in posting your mistakes. That's how we all learn from one another.
Last edited by Brooks; Apr 19, 2011 at 01:36 PM.
Apr 21, 2011, 09:17 AM
Registered User
Jpop Andrew's Avatar
Holy cow this is a lot to figure out all at once. Looks like you need to have things pretty much planned out before you even begin.

So I need to drill holes in the deck around the masts and insert thin brass tubes for the rigging to move through, and let those stick up a bit so water on the deck won't just flood in. Then I install brass screw eyes into the bottom of the hull to direct the rigging to the servo points. Then I install brass screw eyes on the masts to direct the rigging over to the next mast's spars. And at some point in each rigging line I use an adjustable connection point to control any slack that creeps in.

Then I figure out some kind of single bar hinge or hanging hook to secure the spars to the masts.

Looks like a long walk through of Lowes coming up. Anymore advice?
Apr 21, 2011, 10:27 AM
SCALE Sailor
JerryTodd's Avatar
You should really go look at Brooks Pamir threads and Meatbomber's Somers thread - these are two models that are pretty much what you seem to be after. The Somers thread is especially close to your project.

It's not a "lot to figure out" - it's already been figured out, and documented just for you.
Apr 21, 2011, 07:49 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
There is a method in the madness; once you perceive it, then the spider's nest will start to make sense :-).

There is a lot of rigging and RC planning that must be done before you start drilling holes for screweyes, deadeyes, zillion-eyes :-). I use a lot of blue masking tape while working everything out. I think I rigged a mast just stuck in a board clamped to my table the first time. Making test rigs is a respected technique to illuminate kinks and pitfalls. Subsequent squarerigger builds will go faster. You are delving into a technical profession with 1000 years of background study and testing, you'd not think that was going to be as easy as programming a computer, would you *grin*. I've been studying squareriggers for 50 years, and I still am learning neat things every time I build (from old salts and neophytes both), it's a great hobby.
To perhaps answer your question about small yards + small masts (missed it before, sorry) : I've yet to have a failure of 1/8" topgallant masts or yards at sea. The sails supported by the thinnest yards are small; and the masts are supported by stays, fore and aft. And if the wind is strong, you are going to strike those yards/sails anyway, that's just good seamanship.

I use the smallest brass screweyes available at Ace Hardware for yard hangers. Steel ones are a lot cheaper, I just prefer the look of brass.

If I am end drilling a dowel, I plan on reinforcing the dowel end with a wrapping of thread+thin CA (it's called a "doubling" or a "serving" in nautical speak). Sometimes I'll double first, before drilling.

Drilling through-holes in small dowels is easier if you hold them in a V-block (made from V's filed in a chunk of wood, different size V's for different dia. dowels). The drill will try to wander, especially in the small drill sizes necessary. Two tricks: a) file a flat on the dowel where you intend to drill b) rotate the yard in the V-block to counter any skidding of the drill bit - a little practice will show you which way to rotate. I drill with the "sensitive drill attachment" on my Sherline mill. I can use the handwheels to help position the V-Block . There are fancy ways to ensure your flat (or your un-flatted dowel) is precisely centered under the drill bit (to stop wandering), but I find it simpler and faster to do it by eye, handwheel, and rotation of the dowel.

WEAR SAFETY GLASSES. Drill break, sawdust flies, etc.
Last edited by Brooks; Apr 21, 2011 at 08:08 PM.
Apr 21, 2011, 09:02 PM
Registered User
Jpop Andrew's Avatar
Thanks so much everyone for all the help. Much appreciated. I've been re-reading through the Somers and Pamir threads.

I rigged a mast just stuck in a board clamped to my table the first time. Making test rigs is a respected technique to illuminate kinks and pitfalls.
That sounds like a VERY good idea for me to do.
Last edited by Jpop Andrew; Apr 21, 2011 at 11:14 PM.
Apr 22, 2011, 08:34 AM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
If I remember correctly, AndrewH built a multimast test rig on his benchtop, spacing the masts just as he planned for his hull.

My bottle brig has a better solution (than Pamir) to the boom & gaff jaws construction (for your spanker). Brig uses a loop of brass wire and a serving, in place of the pair of screweyes on Pamir. The new jaws' advantages: Less jamming and less force trying to turn the mast itself. Of course you can make the jaws out of plywood, and be even more realistic (Seaworthysmallships kits). Brass or stainless steel wire would probably stand up to BB's better than plywood, perhaps steel screweyes better yet.

Bottle brig:
Last edited by Brooks; Apr 22, 2011 at 09:26 AM.

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