Hello fellow modellers!
Having rigged around 100 model ships using stretched sprue- in ever finer diameters- and receiving much e-mail requesting information on how to rig with stretched sprue...
I felt it prudent to consign a few photos and thoughts to a permanent record here at MW.com.
Basic Principles.... Making stretched Sprueupdate! video clip here:http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v56/Livingston/Modelling%20Clips/?action=view¤t=StretchingSpruewithJimBaumann.mp4
This is a simple process that can yield enormous quantities of supremely fine modelmaking material-completely free!
Traditionally one would hold a piece of sprue over a candle and pull apart slowly.
For rigging this has the disadvantage that it often results in uneven thickness and can contain small lumps. This is because as the sprue is stretched one side cools-and the other then stretches-this unevenness is reflected in the final result.
It is also important to use 'good' sprue.
I have for years been slowly melting down the runners and parts of a black moulded Airfix HMS Victory for standing rigging--and the brown plastic spars of a wrecked Revell Cutty Sark...
The raw material for stretched sprue does not have to be sprue-it can also be the actual plastic parts
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When making stretched Sprue I recommend doing so in a room that is ventilated by a very gentle draft - ideally adjacent to workbench- the byproduct of smoke or smuts that can occur when heating styrene should be removed by the ventilating breeze-not the stretched sprue produced form the bench!!
My favourite method is to hold the sprue in my left hand-and the lighter in my right hand.
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Light the sprue by holding the flame to the SIDE of the sprue piece flame
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--allowing it to just catch light
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Drop the lighter on the bench, change hands whilst blowing the flame out and dab the molten end of the sprue onto the far end of a piece of white smooth card( I steady the card on the bench using my left hand)
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Initially for the first 2 inches( 50 mm) or so pull gently until the desired diameter is reached
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Once the correct gauge has been reached( within a split second) pull away swiftly as far as your arm can reach
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Stretched Sprue is free- so make as much as you can use in a given rigging session
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It can be made thick or thin to choice
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Preparing to rig with stretched sprue
Rigging a 1/700 modelship is a tricky thing to photo-document effectively. The following is in the main a text description.
Tools required for successful sprue rigging!
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Fine tweezers- parallel at the ends-all sharp edges polished to round using very very fine 'flour' abrasive paper-very light pressure action2
Fine tweezers- as above- but more pressure required- gives better feel when in delicate situations-prevents the tweezers 'sliding' out of grasp 3
Fine tweezers, as above but cranked at ends; ideal for threading in between tripod mast legs and existing strands of rigging without damage4
Sharpened cocktail sticks- use these for application of the cement- unlike pieces of wire these can be operated under perfect control - without flexing or springiness- and thereby not damaging the delicate rigging that may be adjacent to the piece of rigging being installed 5
Gas lighter- with controllable flame height6
Revell Proffessional liquid polystyrene cement- this has in my experience offered the best compromise so far with liquid poly adhesives- not so thin that it evaporates too quickly-not so thick as to leave blobs7
Plentiful supply of sharp blades. Knifes are a personal choice-essential is only that they are sharp- blunt knife edges crush sprue- and distort it before use8
Flat 'stamp collectors' type of tweezers- again has all edges reduced to soft radii by polishing- ideal for the application of very thin longitudinal horizontal ( antennae) sprue runs, where the weight( really!) of the sprue hanging over the edges of conventional narrow tweezers could kink the sprue pieceApplication of stretched sprue rigging to ship
Essential preparation...When constructing the model substitute plastic or resin masts and yard arms with metal replacements.
Rigging places cumulative loads on masts and yards-these can distort and pull out of alignment plastic masts.
Place a drop of the Revell liquid poly cement on a flat surface.
I use old CD's or DVD's as my glue pallete. I use a fresh pool ( 3 drops or so) of glue for each end of a piece of rigging; space and adequate supply of glue is important!
I rig midships outwards, lower rigging first working upwards. This generally prevents problems with access at the closing stages of rigging.
On the ship that is being used here as the example- HMS Scylla- the signal halyards terminate next to the flag lockers at the aft end of the lower bridge.
Select an over-length piece of tan sprue for running rigging, hold in tweezers, dip one end into fresh pool of glue; the sprue will start to melt and from a small ball.
Apply the 'ball end' to the LOWER end of the signal halyard position. Holding the model at a suitable angle, rest the sprue 'halyard' on to the chosen yard.
Make a new pool of glue. Dip cocktail stick in glue and apply a tiny drop onto the chosen position on the yard; and using tweezers PUSH-not pull the sprue onto the droplet of glue- it will grab immediately.
Using the same cocktail stick, dipped in a fresh pool of glue, apply the stick onto the yard to the side of the sprue; it will melt and kink,- remove the cocktail stick-complete with the waste sprue.
You should now have a clean attachment- with no odd ends or blobs.
On this model I applied small blobs of WHITE Glue( PVA/wood glue) to the underside of the yard to simulate the pulley-blocks for the signal halyards; ergo I needed to apply tan sprue to EACH side of the blobs- halyards go up as well as down!
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Do not worry unduly about getting it taut or straight...
The same procedures apply to all aspects of rigging standing rigging, braces and shrouds etc.
Once one side of the yards have been rigged-it is time to tension the rigging !
Many modellers have their pet techniques for this, ranging from dental hot wax tools to soldering irons to lighting a match and using the dying heat from the extinguished match...
I have no experience of the dental wax tool-so cannot comment.
The soldering iron has the disadvantage that the heat radiates in all directions- including where one may not wish to have heat!!
The match method has the inherent disadvantage that it is an inconsistent source- ie it gets colder unpredictably.
I use smoke... generated by Incense ( Joss) sticks in chosen aroma-sandal wood, apple etc etc!
Smoke is a directional source- ie heat rises- as does smoke. To get the smoke to pass across the chosen piece(s) of rigging the model must be held ABOVE the smoke....
For the smoke to rise vertically in a straight line we must eliminate all air movement in the room.
Take frequent breaks and ventilat at short intervals.
By inclining the model at different angles to the smoke source rigging tensioning can be carried out precisely on individual strands of rigging.
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Note I am holding the model above me-so that I can see the rigging silhouetted against the white ceiling-and can thereby tune the smoke line to my chosen piece of rigging
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This is easy with all 1/700 models- holding the 1/350 resin Roma Battleship above my head was more challenging!!
Attaching vertical lines to horizontal antennas should only be done using Matt varnish as an adhesive-otherwise the longitudinal will melt and snap if poly cement is used...
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If it is desired to have the longitudinals sag gently- as in real life; here is a cunning plan!!
All models made of plastic/resin expand as they get warmer. To try and create the above effect we need to make the model longer.!!
I heat the modelling/rigging room to a temperature that is way above that where the model is usually displayed; rig the longitudinals, and tension them to be straight-with the model and its base warm.
When the model cools to normal room temperature an even gentle sag will be visible!
Especially effective in 1/700 square rigged model ships
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Lines that split into a 2:1 purchase via a pulley-block-such as on sailing ship braces, can be easily simulated by setting up first one line, then a small dab of white glue-allow to set. add the second line , attach to the white glue using the sprue-dipped-in-liquid poly -as before. The fume will soften the initial line allowing the 'pulley' to fall square between the two lines
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Stretched sprue can also be used for 'structural' rigging- where it is collectively load bearing, such as on this SSZ Scout airship on my 1/700 HMS Furious 1917
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Good luck! Any comments or suggestions welcome