Shrouds

Day 544.

It has been nearly 100 days since I worked on the ship.  I had the masts installed, and rigging was ready to go.  I sat down the next weekend to start attaching the shrouds to the deadeyes, and realized I didn’t want to work on the ship.

I’ve learned not to force it.  Sometimes on a long project like this, I just need a break.  If I try and force my way through it, I end up rushing and the quality suffers.  So, I stepped away from the build.

Finally, after 3 months, I was ready to dive back in.  The first step?  Shrouds and deadeyes…my least favorite part of rigging.

Shrouds

The shrouds run from the top of the lower masts down to the deadeyes that were installed with the chain plates.  These lines hold the masts in place on the starboard and port sides.  The Bluenose has four lower shrouds on each side of each mast.

shroud

Each set of four consists of two lines.  Each line wraps around the mast and forms two shrouds.  A little bit of wrapping around the line seizes the shrouds around the masts.  If we number each shroud 1 to 4 (from bow to stern), the first line of each set forms shroud 1 and 2, and the second forms shrouds 3 and 4.

shroud-masts

The shrouds were made with 0.025″ black rigging line.

Before the lines were installed, they were served where they will wrap around the mast. Serving is simply wrapping the rope in thread, giving it a protective layer to prevent chafing.  I did this using the Domanoff serving machine.  You don’t need a serving machine to wrap your rope, but it makes it way easier.

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The Domanoff rope serving machine.  This helps to wrap the rigging line thread.

I found the middle of each line, measured how far the serving needed to go to get around the mast, and served it.

The lines were then wrapped around the lower mast, right above the trestle tree and seized together.  The shrouds for 1+2 go on the bottom, followed by 1+2 for the other side, then alternating the shrouds for 3+4.

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The top of the shrouds.  A single rope is run around the mast and seized to itself, forming two shrouds.

The shrouds run down to the deadeyes that were installed with the chain plates.  But it isn’t as simple as tying them off…they need to be seized to more deadeyes, which get laced using lanyards.

shroud-rigging

The upper deadeyes that will attach to the shrouds are different than the ones used for the chain plates.  These upper ones are heart-shaped on the Bluenose instead of round.  The Model Shipways Bluenose kit provides these as laser cut pieces.  They were cut free, sanded, and stained.  Note that there are two sizes – the larger size is for the 16 lower mast shrouds, and the 4 smaller ones are for the 4 top mast shrouds.

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Heart shaped deadeyes provided by the kit.  These are the upper deadeyes for the shrouds.

I had issues early on with the shrouds slipping off these heart-shaped pieces while I was trying to tie everything in place.  To make it easier (while avoiding the temptation to just glue them in), I filed some light grooves in the sides.  This gives the shrouds a little ‘channel’ to sit in, and helps keep them in place.

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I found that putting a slight groove around the deadeyes helps to hold the shroud in place.

Since the deadeyes are connected by lanyards, it is critical that they are even.  This is almost impossible to eye-ball.  The standard way to keep the distance consistent is to use a piece of wire to hold the pair of deadeyes.  The wire is shaped so that the distance between the deadeyes matches what is shown on the plans.  I made mine slightly (about 1/16″) longer so they would end up at the right height as I tightened the lanyard.

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A simple wire jig to hold the upper deadeye at the right height.

I used two wires instead of one.  The addition of the second wire means that this will stand straight (a single wire will simply fall over if you don’t hold it in place).  I’ve seen some other, more elaborate jigs for this that do an even better job.  Do some searches on Model Ship World and you’ll find several.

Next I took the shroud and wrapped it around the upper deadeye.  I used some tape to temporarily hold the loose end in place.  Using some tan thread, I seized the shroud right above the deadeye.  I repeated the seizing about 1/4″ up, and trimmed off the extra line.

The lanyard was made with some tan 0.008″ line from Syren Model Ship Company.  It looks a little confusing until you’ve done it, then it’s really easy.

Start by tying a knot in one end of the lanyard line.  I also like to dip the other end of the line in some CA glue – this stiffens the end and makes it easier to thread through the holes.

Deadeyes---Lanyards

The line is fed in from the back of the upper deadeye, using the lowest, fore-most hole.  The line then runs down to the corresponding hole on the lower deadeye, going through the front (outboard side) and out the back (inboard side).  Next it goes back up to the center hole in the upper, then back down to the center hole for the lower.  Finally, back up to the last hole on the upper and through the last hole on the lower deadeye.

You should end up with the loose end of the line coming out the back (inboard), aft hole on the lower deadeye.  To finish it off, run it up behind the top deadeye and tie it off where the shroud is seized.

This is repeated for each of the four shrouds in each set.  Be sure to keep the shrouds straight and tight.  Do not let any of the shrouds cross.

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One set of 4 shrouds installed.

Note that I have not yet installed the four top mast shrouds.  These shrouds run from the top of the top masts down to the smaller deadeyes.  As this point, I haven’t installed the top masts yet.  I’ll do that after I get the rest of the lower mast standing rigging installed.

Things to remember about the shrouds:

  • Don’t cross the lines.
  • The upper deadeyes need to be even when you’re finished.
  • Pull the shrouds tight, but be careful they are not so tight that they bend your mast to the port or starboard.

And while we’re at it, a few thoughts on rigging in general:

  • Use the right color for your lines.  Generally speaking, use black for standing rigging, and tan for running rigging.
  • When seizing a line, if you want the seizing to disappear (like a fake eye splice), use thread of the same color as the line.  When you want the seizing to stand out (like the two seizes holding the upper deadeyes in place), use the other color of thread.
  • NEVER use CA glue on rigging line (except to make a stiff ‘tip’ for running through stuff that you’ll cut off).

It is REALLY tempting sometimes to use a drop of CA glue to secure something while rigging.  Don’t.  CA glue will instantly turn your rigging line into a stiff piece of plastic.  It won’t bend.  It won’t wrap or tie off.  It will be shiny, or even worse, white.

I do use glue to secure a lot of my rigging.  I use a PVA (white glue) that is for general crafting.  This is basically a fabric glue.  I picked it up for about $5 at a local craft shop.  You can also use normal PVA (white wood glue), just be sure to dilute it with water.  (This craft/fabric glue is basically just pre-dilluted glue).

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This is basically diluted white PVA glue, but it works great for securing rigging.

The shrouds are the biggest piece of the standing rigging on the lower masts.  The next step is to finish up the other (few) pieces of standing rigging, then add the top masts.