Once my naval model interests started going back in time, reaching the late 1860's, the need for more rigging on models quickly became apparent. One of the biggest frustrations with sailing ships for all 1/600 and 1/700 scale modellers has been the need to attempt to replicate the foot ropes spanning the mast supporting shrouds (ratlines), so as to give the sail handling crew rapid access to the yards to set and reef the square sails.
I personally have in the past with moderate success produced ratlines
using thin wire for the shrouds and stretched sprue for the foot ropes,
the main problems being my inability to create PERFECT spacing vertically,
the inherent risk of damage to the existing ratlines/masts and detail whilst
doing so, along with keeping eyes in focus and temper in check....
|Having badgered Peter Hall ( the designer of all of WEM's
superb Photoetch) for a long time with the project of PE ratlines he finally
relented, found space in his incredibly busy schedule, designed and produced
this first class PE set in stainless steel.
This is available under his own label of ATLANTIC MODELS from White Ensign Models. The set has sufficient ratline material per fret to cope with most 3 or 4 masted ships for main as well as upper shroud ratlines, the waste from the lower shrouds can often be used for upper masts where applicable.
For scratchbuilders of seven masted schooners such as the Thomas E Lawson, five masted Preussen's or even SS Great Eastern's more than one set will be required...!
The perfect opportunity to experiment with these ratlines occurred after my 1/700 Gromoboi was dismasted at a competition.
The extent of the damage was such that I put the model in a storage glass case adjacent to my workbench, from where I was reminded of the task ahead of me, this always being put off by the thought of producing those ratlines again ... the photos show the wreckage.
After the completion of my 1/700 HMS RENOWN, ( the ratlines arrived midway through that build) I grasped the bull by the horns and proceeded to strip the remainder of the rigging, burnt all old sprue of the masts and repainted and replaced the spars.
The fret is arranged in such a manner that sufficient shrouds for one with and without deadeyes are present within it.
Previous experience with fine PE suggested that the best way of preventing paint buildup would be to use a black permanent marker pen, this also dries very quickly allowing a second coat to be applied within minutes without danger of clogging up the very fine apertures.
|I cut the shrouds to the required width using sharp scissors; this enabled me to trim off all the minute projections without fear of damage.|
|I then proceeded to rig the ship in my usual manner using
photographs of the original and similar ships as a reference.
The photos show the finished result with the ratlines installed.
This Photoetch set will be a boon to all the builders of early pre-dreadnought type ships such as produced by Combrig and Modelkrak, as well as for superdetailers of some of the early Airfix miniships, eg HMS Shannon, Cutty Sark and HMS Victory as well as some of the small Heller range.
I have no hesitation in recommending this set to any Modelers who has ever been daunted by the thought of producing ratlines in 1/700