Tying Ratlines - advice

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15 men on the dead mans chest..... yo ho ho and a bottle of rummmm Drink and the devil... done for the rest.... yo ho ho and a bottle of rum....There are 6 more versus.... look 'em up...
 
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Elements & Practice said:
RATLINGS are fastened horizontally to the shrouds, at regular distances, from the futtock-staff downwards, and small spars or boat-oars are seized to the shrouds, about five feet asunder, for the men to stand upon. The first ratling to be thirteen inches below the futtock-staff on the lower shrouds. The ratlings are fastened round each shroud with a clove-hitch, except at the ends, which have an eye spliced in and seized round the shroud. Each ratling is placed thirteen inches asunder. The fore and aftermost shroud are left out for the first six ratlings down from the futtock-staff; and like-wise the six lower ratlings next the dead eyes. The topmast-shrouds are rattled in the same manner; the first ratling thirteen inches below the futtock-staff, and rattled throughout. The swifters on the lower shrouds are then removed lower down, half way between the dead-eyes, and bowsed tight, there to remain.
Has anybody tried any other knots than clove hitches for ratlines? I know that's the true replication, but does something else avoid the up and down waviness induced by the hitches at our scales? Or is it all down to stiffening with nail varnish / PVA to get them looking right?
 
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Clove hitches are still the most popular knots used in models. If the model is very small, sometimes the ratlines can be passed though the shroud using a needle. Because thread defies gravity and the tension is far higher in scale models than real rope at full scale, watered down PVA is commonly used to freeze the lines in the desired, downward hanging loops, and also to prevent the clove hitches from coming loose.

There are many methods for ensuring that the ratlines come out as nice, even and level rows at equal distance apart from one another. Many use a white cardboard background with regular horizontal lines on it, inserted behind the shrouds while tying ratlines.

I use a wooden alignment jig that clamps onto the shroud and fits precisely between rows of ratlines. It has 300 grit sandpaper glued to the inside surfaces so once clamped onto the shrouds, it won't shift. I found that when tightening each clove hitch, you pull the thread away from the shroud straight toward you with a light tug while holding the shroud with needle pliers just above the knot, with the spacing tool just below the knot, then tug the line in a direction parallel with the ratline, in the direction you are working. The knot is small and tight. I tighten each knot as I go, and then slide them up or down on the shroud if they need straightening. The spacing tool makes sure that the row is mostly in the correct angle, but properly spaced between rows, so few adjustments are necessary. Every three rows, I check the height and location of the ratline to the channel, and compare that measurement to the ratline on the opposite side of the ship, so they line up. Use of the spacing tool made these measurements usually come within 1mm from port to starboard, so adjustments are quite small to match the ratlines. It's good to apply the thinned PVA glue to each row before making the next one, so none of your finished knots get loose. It took me about 200 knots to get a system down.

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Below is the alignment jig in use, using clamps, before the jig was modified to use wire staples, making it much lighter and easier to use.
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Thank you Kurt. I need to make a mark 2 of my tool with sandpaper on the inside. And I need to practice a lot!
After the first 200 knots, you'll be a pro. Tip: mount your ship in a keel vice so you can work at a comfortable height with the ship's masts angles toward you. It gets really tiring holding both arms high up in the air trying to tie ratline knots! The keel vice in use below can tip the ship fore and aft as well as port and starboard. The ship was trapped in that vice for almost three years, only released when the ship was complete and display table was ready to accept the ship.

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I see a lot of you guys using wax for rigging line, but it attracts dust even in a display case.

Its far better to run your lines through a candle flame to remove the fuzz.
 
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I see a lot of you guys using wax for rigging line, but it attracts dust even in a display case.

Its far better to run your lines through a candle flame to remove the fuzz.
Yes, and on the top of it the beeswax covers most of the details of the line, the details, for which we fought so hard...
János
 
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