How I Make Rails for Ships

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by Jim Krauzlis, Jul 5, 2004.

  1. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    I thought I would pass along some photos of the way I make railings for my ship models.
    It's really a very slight variation from the other suggested methods out there, not much difference except for my use of acrylic paint as the binder of the threads. I imagine this would work using CA glue if you could apply it without filling the voids in the rail with glue. That is one reason why I use acrylics, because if you find the paint has filled the void a dab of water and cautious dabbing will quickly remove the paint.
    Here is the jig I use, made up from popsicle or craft sticks. I had used foam board in the MkI version, but I found the board would crinkle and buckle under presure after a bit of use. No problems with the stick version yet, but I found it's pretty important to make sure the two adjacent surfaces are even with each other to ensure the point where the threads cross doesn't have a gap.
  2. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    The idea is to wrap the threads around the jig, first laying out the railings for the number of rails you desire, and then to wrap around the stanchions. It's a good idea to have an idea of the spacing your model requires, and you can even use a paper grid to help set up the proper stanchion spacing. You can make a good number or rails for 1/400 scale at one time using this sized jig, although you can probably make a bigger jig for larger scales to get the larger runs you would need for that larger scale.
    I start by taping the end of the thread in place near one corner, but close enough to the opening so it will wrap over the edge on the first run across the opening without being pulled out of place. Then you simply continue to wrap the threads around the jig, giving yourself the spacing you want. At the end, I then tape again before starting the runs that go across the threads I just laid down.
    Once the threads are in place, I like to put transparent or magic tape over the edges just to keep the threads from moving out of kilter. I found it fairly easy to keep the spacing right using a small tweezer as I went along.
    Then the fun take a small brush and dab the intersections gently to apply the paint, glue or whatever for the adhesive. I still haven't tried using acrylic wax like Future floor polish, but I think that will work fine as well. I find I like to dab the joints, let it set a few minutes to be sure the joint is binding, and then paint the area in between the joints. To avoid pulling the threads out of place I try to ensure the joints are all secure before painting the areas inbetween. This all takes time and is a matter of feel, but once you start you'll see what I mean. I usually then give it two more applications when using acrylic paint just to be sure the joints are pretty much sticking right. If you find you applied the paint too thick or the voids get filled, you can always dab a bit of water over the area, and then remove the excess by dabbing the brush gently over the void or glob, first wet, and then with a dried brush. You do have to work fairly quickly using acrylics to be able to remove the unwanted globs and excess before it dries, but that is what's great about acrylics, water keeps it from setting until it's exactly like you want it to be.
    Here is a picture of the jig with the finished railings already painted.
  3. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    After all is dried and you are sure the joints have set well, it's time to trim them from the jig.
    Oh, before I forget, I like to make the railings with an extra run of railing which helps in keeping the railing spaced properly and is very helpful as the part of the rail that gets glued to the deck. So, for a three railing set up I add a fourth run, and then attach the bottom run to the deck with glue. I have tried it without the extra run and found the rail sometimes is difficult to position and glue into place.
    You can also use parts of the railing for the railings on ladders too!
    Here is a photo of the railing cut from the jig and ready to be trimmed.
    Hope you find this tip helpful.
  4. Texman

    Texman Guest

    Now this is interesting. I like that the only thing you need is the
    popsicle sticks. (With 2 boys, no shortage of those!) Now, how
    do I hijack this idea to turn it into an aircraft radar antenna jig? ; >

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. jrts

    jrts Active Member

    :D :D

    Very sound way to do them Jim.

    Well impresed with the way they look.
    Good discription on how to do it as well, even I understood how to do them.

    I was looking at a web site the other day and found a photo of Yamato in harbour, and she was covered with the things. I might just give it a go when I have finished her putting rails on:shock:

    Keep giving us the tips


  6. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    I've been toying with a similar idea for making ship's radar arrays...still in the "tossing it about in my head" stage :? , but it should work if you could get the weave close enough together but carefully glued so the holes aren't all filled in; then add another layer of thicker open weaved threads for the supporting frame. If it ever makes it to the point of construction I will post something about it.

    I think this method should work fine for your Yamato but a bigger jig would probably be necessary to make them sufficiently long enough to be practical...gonna have to get a bunch of popsicle sticks my friend! :lol:
    Seriously, a frame made up of wood stock giving you an open area of 4" by 8" should be fine; you can always make a few batches until you have a good stock to work with.
  7. bwallaw

    bwallaw Member

    Hi Jim

    Thanks for the tutorial. This is a great process. Since you can use any color you need with the acrylic binder, you save a painting step.

    I tried the Future polish as an experiment, and found that it warped the thread I used. So be sure to have the thread seriously lashed to your jig.

    A question... what kind of thread are you using in your example? It appears to be very fine. I tried CA before with ship rigging thread and this added a significant thickness to the thread (plus a glossy-wet look). With 1:250 scale ships, finer thread that does not fuzz is a useful commodity.

  8. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Hi, Bill:
    I am using fly tying silk at about 6/0 size.
    I needed a very thin thread for 1/400 scale, and the acrylic paint builds up quickly after the second coat, so that size seemed to work out well for me. There are a lot of different sizes, so you should be able to find one that works best for your scale.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Future warping problem. I wonder type of thread you used in the experiment? I also found some snap back might occur, particularly using silk thread which is pretty strong for it's size, after the acrylic dried. I tended to wind the threads tightly around the frame the first few times, and when I cut the weave from the jig there was a very noticible jump to the piece similar to cutting a line that is under tension and suddenly parted. After that it was a matter of getting a feel for how tight to wind but not too tight to cause this snap. I think the tightness of the winding is what finished off my Mk I jig made of foam core, it just buckled half way through the winding. :shock:

    I appreciate any and all comments on rail making you and the rest have and would like to know how other types of adhesives work and how different thread types react to this process. :)

    The only problem I experienced using this jig with fly silk in the first wrap (before I put cardboard along the top and sides) there was a slight but troublesome gap between the crossing threads. :? I ended up pressing one set against the other as I applied the paint and held it there for a bit until the paint dried; luckily this acrylic dries fairly quickly, so I didn't have to wait too long for the joints to set. :) I gently eased up and the thread joints held. After the card board padding, so to speak, the joints seemed to line up better and I didn't have to repeat this, but the experience showed the importance of trying to make the plane of the jig even on both axis to avoid gaps in the joints.
  9. jrts

    jrts Active Member

    Hi all

    had a look around the local shops in UK. The Future polish over here is called (Clear floor polish). Works well.
    Love the way you have done this :D


    Here is one for Conny, with regards to rigging.
    Took about three hours to do molded around wires and groves put in just before the glue sets. Off topic I know :roll:


  10. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Way cool, Rob!
    What scale are these items?
    The WHV kit is about 1/200 but it prints out on my card stock at around 94%, so that puts it at what, 1/220?
    Roughly Z scale for railroaders, I believe.
  11. jrts

    jrts Active Member

    Hi Jim

    These are about 1/200

    They can bs done in any scale you want.

    These ones you can run rigging through them. I will rig one up tonight and post it on my thread when I put Yamato's up-date in.



    PS you want :?:
  12. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Oh, Yeah!
    I want, I want!! :lol:
    It boggles my mind to think I can use working blocks for the carronade tackles, halyards, etc.! :shock:
    Nice looking deadeye too!!
    I was looking over the sheets for this model yesterday and am itching to get started. I will have to modify a few parts like the quarter galleries because they are protrayed in a rather simple fashion, so the creative juices are starting to flow already...great feeling, isn't it? :)
    Thanks so much!
  13. missymouse

    missymouse Member

    one mthod i did experiment with on a 1:24th scale fiberglass and plastic kit from model slipway in england. to make the pipe type railing and posts is i took a chunk of unwarped sugar pine that i got at home depot and a screen tool, the one with the convex and concave wheels on each end. because sugar pine is quite soft i dug hard at it to make furrows to lay the upright wire in and then drilled holes a little larger than the rail wire and bent the ends and stuck them in and put a weight on them and moved the weight as i soldered the wires. the end result was strained perfect railing. i think it can be applied to smaller scale models down to 1:200 scale. i'll have to try it out on my admiral levchenko kit.
  14. Bowdenja

    Bowdenja Active Member

    Hey Missy................ long time no read!
  15. rickstef

    rickstef Guest

    ummm Carl, look at initial date of this thread


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