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TonyD

Sailing ship without sails?

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I'm building the Revell USS Constitution and am thinking of finishing it with full rigging but without the (vacuformed) sails provided in the kit. I like the look and I've seen some models displayed like this but am wondering if real ships would have 'bare spars'.

Just looking for opinions; would it be more 'correct' to try and simulate furled sails? How would one go about that?

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Yes, a sail-powered ship may have bare yards.   This may occur during a docking period when there is no need for the sails.   They are struck and either carried below or taken to a sail loft for repair.

uss-constitution-002.jpg

Doing a model without sails on the yards may actually be simpler.   Generally only the standing rigging (black tarred) lines are in place.   Most, if not all, of the running rigging (natural hemp) lines are with the sails.  There will be empty blocks on the masts & yards.   Sounds like a research field trip is in order.

Furled sails;  consider a roman shade type window treatment at your house.   Multiple lines feed from the top to the foot.Draw up these lines and the sail (shade) folds onto itself as it is raised.   Release the lines and the sail unfurls as the foot is lowered (gravity at work)  This allows the crew to shape the sail as needed to catch the most efficient wind.    Sailors go up to the yards to tie/untie lines around the bundled/furled sail package as needed.

To make furled sails - the stick and string guys may know more - start with some fine fabric cut to the size and shape of the sail.  Hem or treat the edges to prevent fraying.   Paper may be too firm to present a "canvas' appearance.   Make folds 1 to 2 times the diameter of the yard and stack.  Iron as necessary.   Wrap and tie fine hemp lines around the sail packages and tie to the yards.   You may also need to deal with the running rigging lines on the sails through blocks down to the belay points at the deck level.    There are multiple books on rigging period ship models

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Thanks for the information, Ed! That's a great photo, exactly how I would like my model to look. I think I'll go with the standing rigging/no sails on this one and 'graduate' to furled sails on my next one. I understand your explanation of how they operate now.

I'd love to see one in person but I live in Phoenix! I'll have to start thinking about taking a vacation someplace...!

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Just  wondering:  Which Revell Constitution are you building?   The big 1/96 scale (3’ long) or the smaller 1/196 scale kit?   

In any case,  I have two resources to recommend:

1. The ships forum at FineScaleModeler.  That seems to be a place where builders of plastic sailing ships seem to gather. There are some amazing build threads for Constitution, especially for the big kit.

2.  Modelshipworld.com.  While primarily a wood “sticks and string” ship site,  there are a lot of build threads for plastic models, too.  And your rigging and modeling questions are equally applicable to both wood or plastic sailing ship models.  I’m sure your specific question has been discussed there many times...

It was not uncommon for ships to stow their sails ashore when in homeport for an extended period.  Getting them out of the weather prolongs the life of the material, and allows the sailmakers to make repairs, etc.  

If you decide to show furled sails,  you don’t need to start with a full-size sail.  Any material you use will be thicker than scale— so you only need about a third to a half of the sail to create an appropriate “furled” look. 

-Bill

Edited by rcboater
Fixed typos, added new ones

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