Building a Beginning Billing Boats Kit, Dana Fishing Boat – Part 10: Rigging Preparations

Before I continue on with the rigging of the model, there is one more construction assembly to address. The railings on the Dana are made of brass wire, threaded through a hole in each of the brass stanchions. As I mentioned earlier, I painted the stanchions white, but I’m thinking to leave the rail itself bright brass. I haven’t made up my mind on this one. It’s probably easiest to paint them all white, and might be more accurate. Certainly, that’s what the kit instructions seem to show, and it looks good on the box art.

Now, it might be too early to install the rails just yet, as they may get in the way a bit while adding the shrouds and all. I could actually assemble the rails, getting everything bent to shape and all, and leave the final installation until later. However, I’m anxious to make some progress on the rigging and related fittings. So, I’m going ahead with adding some of the rigging detail.

Mast Bands and Eyebolts

The instructions seem to indicate that blocks are fastened to the masts by simply tying a line through the loop on the block and around the mast. I’ve never seen that done in real life. On my past models, blocks were tied to an eyebolt which was fixed into an iron band around the mast. Of course, on a model, this is only simulated, usually by a brass band or similar, which is drilled out and a wire eyebolt inserted through it.

Now, your model is your own, so you may want to keep it simple and just tie the blocks into place. But, mast bands are useful in helping to secure the shrouds and stays to the mast. These lines pull downward on the mast, and the mast bands help keep them from slipping.

On my model, I chose to add mast bands. But, to keep it simple, I cut them from black construction paper wrapped around the mast and glued into place with wood glue. Once they were in place and dry, I drilled them out and added eyebolts.

For eyebolts, you can simply make these from brass or annealed steel wire, about 24 gauge. I simply purchased a bag of them already made up. The ones I used are Amati brand fittings, AM4703, which come 100 to a bag. They are made from copper wire, so they will look best if they are painted or chemically blackened.

For blackening copper, I’ve been experimenting with Liver of Sulfur gel, which works very well to darken or blacken copper, though you need to follow the product instructions closely, and it smells strongly of rotten eggs. The finish seems to be a bit more durable than paint, though I coated them with a some clear acrylic sealer. Painting with an enamel model paint may be the simplest method, but sometimes it goes on a bit thick.

Rigging Line

The kit comes with 0.5mm white rigging line, which needs to be dyed to the desired color. I find that leather dye works well, particularly for the black or dark brown standing rigging. For the running rigging, which is used for handling the sails, booms and gaffs, you want a tan or light brown colored line (or gray for weathered rope).

The most common method suggested it to stain it with tea. It works well. But, just be aware that the acids in the tea will help to cause the line to deteriorate over the long term. Of course, if this is a first model, you might not care if it lasts for 30 years. To be safe, you can just use commercially available line of the appropriate color.

Here is one set of options from Ages of Sail:

Amati AM4126/05 0.5mm black line 

Amati AM4124/05 0.5mm beige line

If you want to add some visual subtlety to your model, you might want to use some smaller line for the running rigging (beige line), and include smaller line for some of the standing rigging, in particular, the guy wires that run back from the tip of the bowsprit to the sides of the hull, and also the topmast stay and backstays. These are the lines that run from the very top of the main mast. For these, consider using 0.25mm line

Amati AM4126/02 0.25mm black line

Amati AM4124/02 0.25mm beige line

In my case, I have some rigging line on-hand. It’s higher quality stuff, probably the best you can buy, but it is more expensive. It’s from a one-man company called Syren Ship Model Company, and the line is properly turned miniature rope – it’s great stuff to work with. I’m using their 0.63mm and 0.45mm original tan rigging line dyed black for the standing rigging. For the running rigging, I’ll probably use the 0.30mm tan rigging line.

Of course, you may decide to simply use the kit supplied line. You’ll still need to dye it. One option that I used to use a lot for dying line black, is Kiwi brand shoe dye. You can usually find it in grocery stores, hardware stores, and big box department stores like Target, etc.

I now use Feibings Leather Dye, which is more expensive, but one bottle has lasted me for several years, so far. It’s also available in different colors.

Waxing the Line

Before using the line, I should point out that rigging line gets fuzzy because of the short threads used. To minimize fuzziness, it helps to run the line through a piece of beeswax before using it. Now, this is where paying for this more expensive rigging line from Syren Ship Model Company comes in handy, it’s pre-waxed and pretty well fuzz free.


In addition to whatever rigging line you choose for the model, you’re also going to need a couple spools of sewing thread and a sewing needle. At minimum, you’ll need tan thread to attach the sails to the stays and the gaffs. Plus, if you’re like me and you seize the stays and shrouds into place, not just knotting them, then you’ll need black thread as well.

The thread I like to use the most is Gütermann polyester thread. Other threads may be okay, but I find they can often be fuzzy. So far, I seem to have the most success with this stuff, and it’s available at fabric stores and online.

Next Time

Next time, I’ll start adding the rigging lines to the model. This will be posted very soon, I promise!


3 thoughts on “Building a Beginning Billing Boats Kit, Dana Fishing Boat – Part 10: Rigging Preparations

  1. Greg knight

    Glad to see you back updating this build log. It’s been very helpful for me. Thanks for taking the time to do so.

    Your Dana looks great!


    1. catopower Post author

      Thank you, Greg, for the nice comments. Sorry for the delays in the project. I’ll be posting more soon, and hopefully finishing it up in the next month.


  2. catopower Post author

    Reblogged this on Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights and commented:

    HSPMS member Clare Hess is back to the build of his Dana Fishing Boat kit from Billing Boats, finishing up some details in preparation for rigging the model.

    As a reminder, this is an entry level Billing Boats kit that sells for under $80. It features a vaccu-formed plastic hull, wooden deck planking, masts and spars, and fittings in wood, brass, and plastic.

    Clare has been making some fairly simple modifications to it, but has mostly built the kit “out of the box”, using the provided materials and fittings.


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