Tag Archives: Rigging

February 9, 2022

Rigging the Amati Arrow Gunboat

I have to be honest. Aside from the Bremen Cog model that I completed about a year ago, I haven’t really done much rigging. My heart just hasn’t been into it. I’ve always loved researching model subjects and hull construction and detailing. But, when it comes to belaying lines to cleats and seizing lines around blocks and all, my mind just gets tangled in all the ropes.

With Japanese boat models, there’s very little of that, and maybe that’s why I’ve done so much work on them over the past few years. But, now I’m at the rigging stage of my Amati Arrow Gunboat kit. I thought, given the size and type of boat, that rigging would be pretty simple. But, it’s far more complicated than I would have ever expected.

It seems that just about every line on this model, save for a bobstay at the bow, is running rigging. Which means that all the lines have to get belayed somewhere. But, the model has 54 cleats, and from what I can tell, all but about 6 will need to be used.

This past week, I’ve just been working on rigging the backstays that support the masts, and that alone uses 24 cleats. I managed to get a little over half way through this task, before it wore me out.

I suppose I’ve become something of a rigging wimp…


Meanwhile, the Atakebune

While rigging may be getting me down a bit this week, I seem to be taking modifications of the Atakebunbe model, the Japanese 16th century battleship, in stride. I’ve gone ahead and removed the stern section of the box structure. Luckily, I’ve been using Original Titebond wood glue, which can be soften by soaking with water. So, this actually didn’t take a great deal of work, and I managed to free up most of the parts without breaking anything.

Meanwhile, I’m working on the roofing of the castle structure. Below, you can see the rounded roof that was included in the kit, which no longer spans the length of the extended structure. More on these later.

And, so that you can see how much of the castle structure is now done, here’s a pic of that.


A Little Sick

Now, I would probably have made more progress on the Atakebune model if it weren’t for the fact that I came down with stomach cramps and unpleasant other attendant symptoms last night, which continued today. It’s not actually that bad, but periodically painful and otherwise unpleasant.

Handed Down Projects

On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to mention that back in 2013, a ship modeling friend and colleague passed along two of his larger projects to me shortly before he succumbed to cancer. He hadn’t gotten very far along on either one, and I’ve kept them in storage for the time being.

The ship modeler’s name was John Nash, and he passed away on October 13, 2013. He was a member of both the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights, as well as the South Bay Model Shipwrights, and he was always very supportive of my ship modeling work and skills. I always figured that if I completed the models, it would really be a join project between him and me, and it gives me a way to remember and honor him.

It’s hard to imagine it’s been more than 8 years. But, I finally got myself organized to get his kits out again. Last year, I did a little bit of cleanup on one of them. Then, last month, I decided to redo some of the hull planking, which was only barely started and to reshape the bow blocks. The kit is Mantua Panart’s Spanish warship San Felipe, one of their most popular, large kits.

I haven’t done much to the model. Just took off the lower two planking strakes at the bow and started filing the bow block, which were left too bluff. I’ll also need to bevel the bulkheads and possibly add some kind of support or filler blocks between them. In the meantime, I covered the stem with tape to help protect it from stray bumps with the file.

Now the fact hasn’t been lost on me that this is a full-rigged ship with lots of shrouds and ratlines, and I just got through complaining about rigging. However, I’ve rigged a San Felipe model before and quite enjoyed it.

Anyway, who knows? I’m not trying to finish it, just to work on it in my spare time. It’s a potentially beautiful model when properly built. But, yes, I understand that the history of this ship is questionable. There’s a good post about it here: https://www.modelships.de/San_Felipe_1690_authenticity/San_Felipe_1690_authenticity.htm

At this point in life, I don’t really care about the accuracy of historic details. This kit makes a beautiful model. What’s more, it’s the original kit, before the manufacturer started pre-printing deck planking and all.

I found a photo on the Internet of a completed model that was posted on ModelShipWorld.com. Interestingly enough, I know the builder, Andy Poulo. He’s one of the people who attended many of the first ship model meetings I set up at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum starting in 2013.

Anyway, I’ll post more about this project over time.


Ship Model Meetings

Having just mentioned the museum in Vallejo, last week I contact the museum’s new Director and cleared the way to hold some ship model meetings again there. I started some meetings back in 2013, with our last one in 2019. I think it’s time to see what the old gang is up to now. Sadly, we lost one member a couple years ago, and I’m beginning to think that Andy Poulo, may also be gone. Still, it’s important to try to reconnect with those who are here, and I know at least three of us are still building ship models.

Also, with Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights still not meeting in person, it may lead some new ship modelers to join my ship model meeting in Vallejo. It’s always nice when there are at least 5 or 6 active ship modelers. Ω


AL’s Independence – Completing the Rigging

I’ve been working on this model for a long time now, and recently, I’ve been trying to focus on finishing her up. I don’t have too much to say about the model at this stage, except that it’s a lot easier to follow someone else’s rigging plan than trying to work it out from scratch, or even modifying someone else’s plan.

Colonial Schooner Independence nearly complete. Apologies for the ad hoc backdrop that needs ironing.

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AL’s Independence – Headrails and Rigging

Yes, I’m finally getting around to wrapping up the Colonial Schooner Independence. I’ve worked on it here and there, but hadn’t made any blog posts about in quite some time.

The last task that I was concerned about was to construct some headrails from scratch. Mostly, this is one of those tasks which is painful, because the brain says it’s painful. In actuality, it wasn’t that bad, but did take some mental work to wrap my head around where to even begin.

I found some examples that were more complex and finally found some that were simpler. I made sure that the images of those simpler ones became embedded in my brain. So, here’s what I came up with…


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HMS Alert – Project Update

I haven’t posted as often as I have in the past. Much of this has to do with the large number of issues and projects I’m dealing with at the moment. But also, I’m still working during the day, and for some reason this season has been oddly busy. Better that than oddly quiet I suppose, which it has also been at times. Also, I play Japanese folk music which has been demanding extra time this year. But, I’m sure you don’t want to read excuses, you want to know what’s new.


If you’ve been following my blog here, you are probably familiar with the paper model HMS Alert. The model inches ever so closer to completion! The biggest hold up on this model has been in dealing with the fashion trim at the stern and how it fits in with the boom crutches. While there are a couple images in the kit that show the boom crutches, it was not very clear what they attach to. These pieces are just simpl U-shapes with nothing to really to support them, except the taffrail. But it was difficult to find what was supposed to fit under the corner of the taffrail to support the crutches, let alone the weight of the boom cradled in them.

This required some creative ship modeling. What I ended up with seems to work, but there’s no telling if it is what was intended by the kit designers. But, this isn’t particularly surprising for any ship modeler. Those of us who have built even one ship model are accustomed to this kind of problem solving.


HMS Alert stern completed

In addition to the boom crutches, there is a fashion piece that runs down the side of the hull right at the stern. Clearly, there is some error in my model’s construction, because the parts provided in the kit didn’t fit properly. Again, I had to adapt and make new pieces that looked correct that would fit properly in place. It took me a while to do it, though it wasn’t particularly difficult to make. Mostly, it was a matter sitting down and making it.

Beyond these issues, I managed to finally mount the tiller, which is very thin and delicately attached to the rudder post. I also completed the bulk of the rigging, adding lifts, sheets and braces to the spreader yard. I still have to tie off a few things, but the trickiest parts are done.


Next are the braces for the topsail yard and the addition of flag and pennant. Also, I have yet to rig the jib sheets. But, that’s not too much left to do, so I’m hoping to be done by next weekend.

Part of the project is also to build a case for it, but as for the model itself, the end is near!

I’ll post next when all is done.

Knowing the Ropes

This is going to be my first entry for my new Shop Notes section. I put this together just the other day and put it into my own notebook. But, I thought it would make this blog site a bit more useful if I included the information here. Please use it as you see fit. Notes are not meant to be comprehensive. I just put together the information that I find useful.


Ropes come in right-hand twist (Z-laid) or left-hand twist (S-laid). But, the most used rope is right-hand laid, hawser laid rope.

Darcy Lever, in his book The Young Sea Officer’s Sheet Anchor (1808), describes 3 basic types of ropes as follows:

Hawser Laid rope is made up of 3 strands, each made of equal quantities of yarns, and is laid right-handed, or with the Sun.

Shroud Laid rope is made up of 4 strands, each made of equal quantities of yarns, and is also right-handed, or with the Sun.

Cable Laid rope is made up of 3 Hawser Laid ropes (right-handed), which are laid up together left-handed, or against the Sun. 

Modern Rope Make Up (from the Lore of Ships):

• Ropes start with fibers, which are spun together either Z-laid or S-laid into yarn.

• Yarns are spun together to form a strand, with a lay opposite that of the yarn.

• Strands are spun together to form a hawser. The lay of a hawser is opposite of the lay of the strands. Hawser is the basic rope. According to The Lore of Ships, left or S-laid hawsers are rather uncommon.

• Hawsers can be spun together to form a cable or cable-laid rope. The lay of the cable is opposite that of the hawsers.

Ship Modeling Summary

Given this information, the ship modeler is advised to stick to model rope that has a right-hand lay for running rigging, which most model rope is. Don’t worry about shroud laid rope. It isn’t really necessary as it is difficult to tell the difference between 3-strand and 4-strand rope.

According to Lees, English ships of war usually use cable laid ropes for the stays and sometimes for the shrouds, so you would ideally use large diameter left-handed rope for these.

San Felipe’s Cannon


In October, I received a commission to rig a model of the San Felipe, produced by Panart of Italy. The model has a drawn out history. It began as a kit purchased by a gentleman about 20 years. After realizing that he would never be able to tackle the model, he found someone to build it for him. That didn’t work out very well and years later, he found another person to work on the model. Unfortunately, that person got too sick to finish it, and that’s where I came into the picture.

The model arrived pretty much complete except for the rigging, though the shrouds were rigged. After starting work, I found there were several issues and, after a discussion with the owner, the project was expanded to include a repair of the guns on deck, and redoing a few details.


My goal is to get the work finished by April.