Bluenose Canadian Schooner

Mast Bands, Cranes, and Caps

May 31, 2017

Day 425.

To finish up the lower masts I need to add a number of metal bands, the cranes on the mastheads, and the mast caps.

I started with the bands, since the first band on each mast will be used to anchor the crane.  I might as well make all the bands while I’m at it.

All the bands were made from 1/64″ thick, 1/16″ wide brass strip.  The bands will be soldered together, and will be drilled with holes as necessary.


The locations of all the bands were marked on the masts based on the plans.  For each band, I bent a section of brass strip around the mast at the marked spot.  (Since the mast is tapered, each band is a different size and has to be created to fit that specific spot.)


Bands are made by wrapping brass strips around the masts.

Once the general shape and size was formed, I removed the band from the mast and used some round nose pliers to refine the shape.


The bands are further shaped off the mast.

The extra length was trimmed off, and the band was test-fit back on the mast.  The band was always too big on the first try, and this was intentional.  This way  I could trim a little more off until I got just the right fit.


Once trimmed, the bands are given a test-fit, and the size is adjusted until it fits snug.

Once the band was sized, I clamped it down and applied some flux for soldering.


The bands are clamped together and prepared for soldering.

The band was then soldered closed.


A little solder finishes up the band.  The solder is cleaned up a little later with a Dremel and a grinding bit.

The bands were cleaned up with a grinding bit on my Dremel.  This removed any excess solder and smoothed out the edges.

The main mast has 5 bands – one for the crane and four for the peak halliard.  The fore mast also has 5 bands – one for the crane, three for the peak halliard, and one for the stay sail.  I made all the bands in one sitting, so I printed out page to help keep them organized.  I used double-sided tape to hold them down.  This kept them in the right order – moving up the mast as you go left-to-right.


There are 10 bands required – 5 for each mast.

Each band has one hole except for the stay sail band, which has two holes.  All the holes were drilled using a small vice and my Proxxon drill press.  I’m getting better at drilling precise holes in brass.


Each band needs at least one hole for an eyebolt.  Holes are drilled with a drill press.

Once all the holes were drilled, the bands were returned to their spots on the sheet.


Completed bands ready for install.

The bands were then slid into their spots on the masts.  Since they were sized just right, I didn’t need to glue them into place – they fit pretty snugly.


The bands are installed on the mast.  Note the peak halliard bands have their holes offset.

I used a pin vise to drill into the mast at the location of each hole, and glued in eyebolts.  The eyebolts will keep the bands from slipping.

The spring stay bail band near the top of the fore mast required a little more work.  It has a U-shaped band that comes off either side in addition to the eyebolts.


This was made from brass strip, with holes drilled to match the holes on either side of the band.  Eyebolts were bent according to the plans and glued in place on either side.  I had to be careful not to over-do the glue since the U-shaped band needs to stay loose so it can move.


The spring stay bail band is a little more complex than the other bands.

The cranes are identical between the main and fore masts with the exception of the links on the fore side of the masts, so I made both at the same time.


I started with the back plates.  These were made from brass strip, with holes drilled to accept the brass wire.


The backplates for the crane are made from brass strip.

The location for these was taken from the plans, then the plates were glued on.  I drilled through the holes and into the mast so the wires can be installed later.


Crane backplates glued in place.

The link for the main mast, according to the plans, appears to be a bent piece with two holes.  This was made by drilling two holes in brass strip, then trimming it, rounding the edges, and bending it slightly.


The link for the main mast’s crane is made from brass strip.

A hole was drilled at the same location as the hole for the back plate, but on the directly opposite side of the mast.  The link was attached using a small brass bolt.


The main mast link is installed with a brass bolt.

The link for the main mast appears to be twisted so the holes are at different angles.  To make this, I twisted some brass strip and drilled the holes.


The link for the fore mast crane seems, according to the plans, to be shaped differently.

The strip was then trimmed and rounded off, then installed on the fore mast using a small brass bolt.


The link for the fore mast is installed.

The crane itself was made from brass wire.  It has a loop at one end, so I started by forming that loop out of wire.  Then I soldered on another piece of wire.


The cranes themselves are made from brass wire that will be soldered together.

The piece was then trimmed to length and shaped to fit into the holes at the band and back plate.


The cranes are trimmed to length and shaped.

The completed cranes turned out pretty good.


A completed crane assembly.

On to the mast caps.  The mast caps sit at the very top of the lower masts.  They are the attachment points for a number of rigging lines.  They also hold the top mast in the right position.

The main structure of the mast cap is made from a band around the lower mast and a band around the top mast.  These are then wrapped in a larger band that holds them together.


The mast caps are very similar between the masts.  The main differences are:

I started with the fore mast cap.

First I made the bands that will hold the lower mast and top mast.  These were made just like the other bands.


The mast cap’s two bands (lower mast and top mast) are made first.

Once these were made, I wrapped them a piece of brass strip that will form the outer band and soldered them together.


The two bands are wrapped in an outer band and soldered together.

I made the link in the same way I made the link for the main mast crane.  The loop for the bail was made from bent brass strip.  The long links were also made from brass strip, but curled at the end to form loops.  Holes were drilled as appropriate.

The long links and bail really should be made from wire, but using brass strip here will make the holes cleaner and sturdier.


The completed parts for the fore mast cap.

The pieces were then assembled on the masts and bolts were glued into the sides to secure everything.  The links and bail move freely, while the mast cap is held securely in place by the bolts.

The top mast was slipped in, but not glued or secured in any way.  I’ll need to remove it later to finish up the details on the top mast.


The installed fore mast cap.

That completes the lower fore mast, which now looks pretty nice.


The completed lower fore mast.

The mast cap for the main mast was made similarly.


As noted, the link is on the other side, and this cap doesn’t have the long links.


The main mast cap is made in a similar fashion.

And that finishes up the lower masts!  The top masts still need some work, but they are nowhere near as complex as the lower masts.

This was also the first point where I’ve been able to set the masts in place and see how tall the ship will be when complete (now that the top masts sit properly on the lower masts).  This thing is going to be tall!