With the lower portions of the masts complete, the next step is to install the mast hoops. These need to go on before anything else is attached to the masts. Once work is started higher up the masts (bands, trestle trees, etc.), it will no longer be possible to slide the mast hoops on. These need to on now, or never.
Mast hoops are simply hoops…that go around the mast. The mast hoops are where the sails are tied. Since the mast hoops move freely on the mast they allow the sails to remain attached to the masts while also being free to be lowered and raised. On ships from this era, they were typically made from wood.
The Model Shipways Bluenose kit provides laser cut mast hoops. They come in two sizes. The larger ones are for the lower masts, while the smaller ones are for the top masts. However, both are pretty small and delicate.
Like all laser cut pieces, the mast hoops need to be sanded to remove the laser char. This will be a little tough/annoying because these things are so small and fragile. It will also be annoying because I need 37 of them just for the lower masts.
First, I sanded the faces of all the hoops before removing them from the sheet. I just ran some sandpaper over both sides of the sheet. Why sand individual pieces when you don’t have to?
Next, I cut them free from the sheet. I was careful not to remove the center portion of each hoop – I’m leaving that in while I sand the outside (hoping it will increase the stability of these things during sanding).
To make it easier to sand the exterior, I lined a bunch of them up and clamped them together.
While clamped, I went to work with a flexible foam sanding stick. It took about 5 minutes to get them sanded down enough.
Next I removed the inner pieces from each hoop and started sanding the inside edge. I used a foam sanding stick for this.
I was able to hold about 5 hoops together and sand them at once using the method shown in the above photo. This was faster than sanding individual hoops, but still an annoying amount of sanding.
Once they were all cleaned up, they were dipped in some wood stain. I’m staining these to match the reddish-brown used for the roofs of my deck structures. This will make them stand out from the masts, but they won’t look too out of place.
Finally, the hoops are slipped onto the masts. The main mast gets 20 hoops, and the fore mast gets 17 hoops. For now, they just sit bunched up at the bottom.
While I was working on the mast hoops, I also replaced the metal sheet I installed on the main mast. I had previously made that from copper tape, but I wasn’t happy with it. On a recent trip to the hobby store I was able to find some 0.005″ thick brass sheets. I cut a strip of this to use as the metal sheet.
To simulate the nails, I just punched tiny holes in the brass. I didn’t bother trying to glue in wire since these were so small.
Of course on the actual ship this was galvanized steel (like much of the metal work). But since most of my metal fittings are made from brass, I’m leaving them that way.
Now the lower portions of the masts are done, and I can move on to the upper parts of the masts, where all the fun stuff is.