Bluenose Canadian Schooner

Trestle Trees

May 28, 2017

Day 422.

The next big step on the masts is constructing the trestle trees.  These are assemblies near the top of the lower masts.  These form the ‘seat’ that holds the lower end of the top mast and hold spreaders that will hold various rigging lines in the right places.

These are nearly identical on the fore and main masts, but there are differences.  The information below will mix the two, but I’ll try to point out the differences.


The illustration above shows the general construction of the trestle trees.  Cheeks on the sides of the mast support the actual trestle trees, which in turn support the spreaders, with bolsters between the spreaders.  All of this is made from wood, but there will be a lot of metal work to create all the assorted hardware found on these.

However, before I can start on the trestle trees, I need to add a band to the main mast.  The main mast has a metal band below the trestle tree that the futtock shrouds (some rigging lines) attach to.  This band is only on the main mast – it is not present on the fore mast.

This band has two ‘shackles’ – one on either side.  A rod runs through the shackles for the rigging to attach to.  I tried multiple times to properly model those, and failed every time.  After five failed attempts, I ended up doing a very simplified design.


The futtock shroud band was simplified.

I made a band out of 1/64″ thick, 1/16″ wide brass strip and soldered it closed.  I drilled two holes on either side.  The band was glued in place on the mast, and bent wire was placed through the holes and glued into the mast.


The installed futtock shroud band on the main mast.

This gives me something to attach the rigging to, although it lacks the removable ‘rod’ that should go here.  Oh well.

Back to the trestle trees…

The first step is to flatten the sides of the mast where the cheeks and trestle trees will go. I marked the locations on the masts and used my mill to flatten them out.  You can do this just as easily with a metal file, but be very careful to get it flat and straight.  The flat portions must be on the port and starboard side, and must run perfectly parallel, or your trestle trees won’t be straight.


The masts were flattened where the trestle trees will be installed.

Next all the various pieces were prepared.  The cheeks are provided as laser cut pieces with the kit.  These have to be sanded to remove laser char, and sanded to give them the taper towards the point.

The bolsters were made from 1/16″ square stock, with one corner rounded off.

The slabs were cut from 1/32″ thick sheet material.

The trestle trees themselves were made from 1/8″ square strips.  They were filed down to be narrower around the mast and on the aft end.

The spreaders were cut to length according to the plans.  These were made from 3/32″ square strips.  The spreaders are tapered at the ends.  The larger spreader is tapered on the fore side, by 1/32″.  The shorter spreader is tapered on the aft end by 1/32″.  Both are tapered on the bottom by 1/32″.

These pieces are all identical for the fore and main masts except for the lengths of the spreaders.


The spreaders, cheeks, bolsters, slabs, and trestle tree parts.

The cheeks are glued on first, followed by the trestle trees.  It is important to be sure that the longer, wider ends of the trestle trees (which will support the longer spreader) face forward.


The cheeks and trestle trees are installed first.

The spreaders, bolsters, and slabs are then glued in.  I waited to flatten the mast for the slabs until the slabs were being installed so I could get a good fit.


The spreaders, bolsters, and slabs are installed.


The entire trestle tree assembly was then sanded, primered, sanded some more, then airbrushed white.

Holes were drilled in the spreaders, on both the fore and main mast spreaders.  The main mast’s spreaders will be left with holes, while the fore mast will have eyebolts seated in these holes.


Everything is painted.

With the construction of the trestle trees now complete, it is time to add all the hardware.  As with other hardware on the ship, I’ll be leaving everything as unfinished brass.  In practice, most of this would be either galvanized (silver), or painted.

I started with the iron gate.  This is a band of metal that goes around the fore end of the trestle trees and holds the base of the top mast in place.  It has pins at the back that slip into metal tubes on the trestle trees to hold it in place (similar to the pins in a door hinge).  Duplicating that detail at this scale would be difficult, so I simply soldered some brass rod onto the gate to simulate that connection.  The gate itself was made from 1/8″ wide brass strip that was bent to shape.


The iron gate is made from brass strip, with brass rods soldered on to simulate the connection to the trestle trees.

At the ends of the long spreaders, iron clips were made from 1/16″ wide brass strip.  These were bent to shape and given holes that will simulate the bolts holding them in place.  As with other places on the ship, once they are glued in I’ll use brass wire in these holes to create the bolts.

A notch or hole is made at the end of the spreader, inside the clip, where rigging lines will pass through.


Clips for the ends of the long spreaders are made fro brass strips.

Spreader rods are created from brass wire.  These run from the aft face of the small spreader to the bottom of the long spreader.  The ends of the wire were flattened with a pair of pliers.  These flat areas should have holes and bolts, but I didn’t think I could replicate that detail at scale, so I just glued them in place.


The spreader rods are made from brass wire and glued in place.

The gate, clips, and spreader rods are identical on both the fore and main masts.

Both masts have a few fairleads on them.  Ideally these would be fabricated and would look like actual fairleads, but I couldn’t make anything small enough that looked good.  I just used eyebolts for the fairleads.

The fore mast has six eye bolts in addition to the fairleads.  Four are placed in the holes on the top of the spreaders, and two go underneath the trestle trees.

The main mast has some metal bands attached underneath the trestle trees.  These are where the quarter lifts attach, and they can be seen on the main masthead detail found on sheet 6 of the plans.

I made these from 1/16″ wide brass strip.  I bent the strips into a U shape, and drilled holes to simulate the bolts.


To attach the quarter lifts, we need a shackle-like piece of hardware.  This was made from bent brass strip.

The brass strip would be a little too wide where the lifts hook on, so I clamped these down in the mill and made them a little more narrow.


The bent part was trimmed in the mill to make it more narrow.

After being trimmed in the mill, they turned out pretty good.


The completed mounting hardware for the quarter lifts.

These were then glued on the aft ends of the trestle trees, and given the typical brass wire treatment to simulate bolts.


The pieces were glued in place on the main mast.

This completes the assembly of the trestle trees for both masts.  I didn’t tackle the cranes as part of this – those require bands to be installed above the trestle trees, so I’ll get all the bands done before starting on the cranes.