Make Your Own Rope Rigging
by: Den Holmes
Crewmate Den Holmes shows us his method of making your own rigging using a "Rope-Walk" in this Step-By-Step feature!
The term ropewalk drives a horrible fear into many ship model builders, and it becomes almost a matter of
avoiding the subject at all cost. However, for a very small "cost" and a little effort you can make your own
ropewalk. With only a few minutes of further time you can learn to use it productively. This ropewalk is 3' long,
and made out of pine.
RopeWalk: Rope being laid-up
This photo shows how the rope is made. This is 3 strands of waxed linen being laid-up.
This is one of the shrouds being made for my current British Ship model.
RopeWalk: Handcrank Side
Making your own ropes to rig your model ship is easy, cheap and fun. This Ropewalk will work by turning either end of the hand cranks... By turning this end of the crank the top will slowly come towards the crank.
Laid Rope, explained...
Thanks to Mr. Charles Hamel, excellent site,never again should you have to scratch you head about understanding the apparent contradiction about RIGHT / ANTI-CLOCKWISE and LEFT / CLOCKWISE Right and left is the direction of the LINE of the lay Clockwise- anticlockwise refer to the direction of the ROTATION used to make the rope.
Reel coiling, S lay & Z lay
Photo courtesy of Mr. Charles Hamel. Excellent site about Knots, Ropes & Cordages visit, http://charles.hamel.free.fr/knots-and-cordages/ropes_cordages.html
I strongly recommend that you use a hard wood such as oak, and to clamp down both ends of the board to a table. By turning this handcrank the top will slowly move away from the crank. This rope walk will not work, if you use weak strands of thread.
How the Top is Supported
This photo shows how the Top glides on the two black strands of rope. This just keeps the Top from any rotation movements, although it will work with out them.
RopeWalk: Side View
This photo shows the rope being laid-up. Very easy and cheap to make, although I would suggest you to use a hard wood such as Oak, so the board does not bend as much. Both ends must be clamped down to the table, works great.
This photo shows the shroud being made for my current British ship model. This is 3 strands of waxed linen being laid-up into one rope, which will be my upper topsail shroud.
ROPEWALK PLAN - small view
All the photos of this Ropewalk were made by the use of this plan, click on the other plan to view a larger print. The ropewalk and plan made by: Dennis Holmes.
ROPEWALK left end
To practice with the ropewalk, clamp the wood base to a table, so it dont move while working. Place, one, three or four pieces of common thread ("yarn") on one of the hooks, on the right end. This thread goes to the single rod on the left end. There should be some tension in the threads, and the tension should be about equal between the strands.
This part is called the top...
This photo shows the birth of the new rope being made. This part is called the Top, as the rope is being made, on the left, the Top moves to the right creating the rope.
The Top has 3 grooves, on it so that the strings will glide in the grooves. It also has a 1/8" hole drilled through the center of the Top, for a 4 stranded rope.
ROPEWALK, right side
Place, one, three or four pieces of common thread, strings or("yarn") on one of the hooks, on the right end. This thread goes to the single rod on the left end. There should be some tension in the threads, and the tension should be about equal between the strands.
View the Rope
This shows how the Top is stabilized, by a block of wood with an eye hook on each end that glides on the black strings.
ROPEWALK, single crank
This is a photo of the left end where all the strings are tied to a single rod. There should be some tension in the threads, and the tension should be about equal between the strands.
The rope being laid-up...
The Top has three grooves scored on it so that the string will lay in the groove and come to the point of the Top, that is where the rope is laid up.
ROPEWALK, side view
The hand cranking method is satisfactory for shorter length of rope, in the range of three to six feet. For ropes longer than six feet there are definite advantages to the motor driven ropewalk, the motor would be mounted on this end, with gears.
ROPEWALK, right crank
This shows the right side of the hand crank, without the motor and gears, the old fashion way. The metal rods are 1/8" coat hangers, the crank can be turned to the right or left.
As you turn the left end will try to move toward the right end since the rope is shortening due to the twisting of the yarns. Let the movement occur, but do not let the rope go slack There should be some tension in the threads, and the tension should be about equal between the strands. Shows the Top gliding along the black strings, as either the right or left crank is being turned.
You are now ready to use good material such as linen to lay up the required rope for a model. The model rope laid up on a ropewalk will have an appearance similar to the full-scale rope, and will be much better than large diameter single thread material available in sewing shops.
Twist and shout...
This photo shows the rope being made and the right side crank.
Voila! Custom made rope to your specifications!