The rigging was going to be a dramatic part of the whole project. I knew I wasn’t going to construct rigging all the way to the crow’s nest. The challenge was to make the rigging ‘stiff’ and have it stand straight up to give the impression of continued height with no actual top connection point. Another challenging aspect was that the rigging was all scratch built.

Based on my research the pulleys were key pieces, they would garner a lot of attention and be a key visual point. These were made the same way the canon rope pulleys were: Skulpy clay rolled in a snake, baked, cut, sanded, and grooved.

These pieces are a combination of two sizes of string, wire (string wraps holding the string together), wood, clay pulleys, styrene bits, and larger wire (lower pulley wraps).
I broke it down into its two major components – vertical lines with bottom pulleys and wire anchors with top pulleys. On the first assembly I cut lengths of string/line to length and wrapped each around a pulley. I used a bit of CA to hold the line in place and added a decorative wire wrap. The wire wrap mimics the real rope wrap/lash that holds it all together. I treaded the long end of each line with a bit of CA to give them extra rigidity.

The lower assemblies were made with long lengths of hobby wire. I used a set of round nosed pliers to help shape the loop around each pulley. I used the pliers in a slow bend method. I did not try to do one quick warp bend around an equal diameter of the pliers. I used them more in a scissor motion creating very small bends that formed a large circle. I wrapped the wire around the pulley and held it in place with small wire wraps and CA.

Once both sets of components were made I created a jig to hold them in place while I assembled the remaining parts: cross members, wooden brace, and pulley ties.

After measuring and drilling holes for the horizontal wooden brace I threaded all four vertical lines through it and taped them down. The cross ropes are actually fine thread twisted to create volume. I took a piece of thread twice as long as I needed, folded it in ½, wrapped it around the vertical line and tied it off. Then using tweezers I twisted it over itself, adding drops of CA as I went. The CA was so it would retain the twist. As I got to the next vertical line I tied the thread around it and repeated the process.

I painted the vertical lines using oils and stain in various viscosities. I then applied white and sienna oil based dry brushing applications.

The bottom pulley structure was made in a similar way. Each pulley was wrapped with a thick wire; then decorated with a thin wrap. I transposed the measurements of the top wooden brace to the bottom brace and threaded the pulley wires through. Then I matched up the two assemblies and taped down the loose ends. Having both ends taped down was invaluable. The process was simply to thread the line through the holes and add CA as I went from hole to hole. The CA would dry giving the thread rigidity and therefore the ability to support the structure above.

The additional details are just wire and styrene added after it was all dry. Even with all the concern and attention paid to adding vertical support via CA there was still an inward lean. I was concerned that the CA covered rope would not hold up over time and the whole thing would eventually lean over and fall. My solution was to add a structural detail – another rope. The difference would be that this rope would be made of wire and actually be a support piece.

Making ropes
I made a long length of rope using the drill twisting technique Major_Goose wrote entitled Making Tow Cabels. I made one with three strands and another with two strands to give a bit of variety to the ropes. This method is fast. Once you make one you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll make them all the time. Once made I simply threaded a line up around the outer most rigging line. I made sure to connect it to the base to offer more structure. I used the remaining line as added detail. The whole rope holding detail behind the bearded figure was added to provide a complete scenario for having a rope line stretching up the rigging. One thing about diorama building is attention to details.

You need to have reason for adding detail. I did not feel as if I could add the structure rope without some type of realism factor. Having the rope holding detail gives me that. It now makes sense that rope would/could be strung up the rigging from that point, it’s not a random rope out of nowhere.
  • 12_3_rigginga
  • 12_4_riggingc
  • 12_5_riggingd
  • 12_6_lowercomponents
  • 12_1_making_rope1
  • 12_2_making_rope

About the Author

About Scott Lodder (slodder)

I modeled when I was a teenager. College, family and work stopped me for a while. Then I picked it back up after about 12 years off. My main focus is dioramas. I like the complete artistic method of story telling. Dioramas involve so many aspects of modeling and I enjoy getting involved in the ...


Excellent article Scott.
OCT 07, 2006 - 08:09 PM
GREAT article Scott!! And great subject/model too! well, 14 pages is a lot for my english skills and i will have to start all over again but you prove that dioramas is the king of modelism genres because here you can really DARE, you are only limited by your imagination!
OCT 07, 2006 - 08:21 PM
Arrrrr!!! Nice work matey! It's got a great sense of action/motion. Excellent job documenting the build too! Cheers, Jim PS: About those links... try putting them back in. I need to see them in action to figure out why they are failing.
OCT 07, 2006 - 11:55 PM
Thanks for the complements It was a blast to build and I hope some people can learn a tip or trick. PS - the links are on page 14
OCT 08, 2006 - 12:46 AM
Hi scott, As somebody who has an interest in the subject of the time of the Pirates and often enjoy playing a variety of games, I have really enjoyed both the review and the pictures that accompany the text. I have often looked at the Pirates series by Verlinden and may well look again with an intention to buy as I feel a little inspired by the work that you have done. Many thanks, and this is my first visit to Model Geek, so I may now visit again. John
OCT 08, 2006 - 02:13 AM
Great article Scott, well written ,easy to follow with and great photography. I always wanted to do something with water and waves and I had read many others on how to achieve such, but your has a bit more since to it. You put in a ton of time and effort into this article feature, you deserve a round of applause. Joe
OCT 08, 2006 - 09:28 AM
Thanks Joe - the encouragement makes the work worth it Hopefully you jump in and try some water - just ask any questions, I'd be happy to help. John - pirates are Great, a bit of color, a bit of 'fantasy', total creativity, and you keep a bit of military base too. Hope to see you around MG more often - it's a fun place
OCT 08, 2006 - 04:12 PM
Great article and well executed dio. It's well worth reading and learning a few new tricks and also getting a reminder of a lot of features already showed on Modelgeek. Well done Scott Cheers Claude
OCT 08, 2006 - 06:03 PM