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"Rigging 1:1200 scale ships - a question." Topic

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grambo11 May 2013 1:53 a.m. PST

I have just painted up my first attempt at a Napoleonic ship and I'm a bit stuck on the rigging! I tried to follow the Langton guide but found it way too fiddly, especially those tiny mast knots. Then I found the War Artisans excellent site with its rigging guide PDF, it looks so much easier and very effective with its stiffened lengths of cotton thread.

Question – how do you guys rig your 1:200 scale ships? do you use Jeff's method or the Langton method of tying and knotting etc. I'm going to try the WA method myself to see if I can achieve better results.

Any tips appreciated,


Cold Steel11 May 2013 2:43 a.m. PST

I rigged over 100 ships using the Langton method. The knot seems hard, but actually works well once you get the hang of it. The first ship is the hardest. After that, I did them in batches. Practice a couple knots on an upright toothpick or plastic sprue.

You need a hemostat. Don't try doing rigging without one.


grambo11 May 2013 3:29 a.m. PST

Thank you Cold Steel,that's good advice, I'll do some practice as you suggest. I have now discovered that I'm using synthetic thread and not cotton so I'll replace that before I go any further. I'll persevere with the Langton method with this one and see how it goes.

I know that Jeff rigs the larger scale vessels but his rigging looks so good and I as wondering if anybody uses the method for 1:1200 scale?


Cold Steel11 May 2013 3:32 a.m. PST

Yes, the type of thread does make a difference. Spend a little more and get the best quality fine thread you can find. The cheap stuff will start to fray over time.

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian11 May 2013 3:50 a.m. PST

I use brush bristles.

Personal logo T Callahan Supporting Member of TMP11 May 2013 9:49 a.m. PST

I have used Langton's knots too. It takes some practice but after awhile you'll got the hang of it. I did take advantage of my Boy Scout knots knowledge but using the clove hitch as the starter knot. I used thin super glue to fasten them down permanently, I also used super glue on the ends to make a stiff portion of thread. As far as thread I used a good quality cotton thread. I would do a batch of three or four ships at a time like Cold Steel.

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP11 May 2013 2:50 p.m. PST

There are several good methods out there. I would suggest trying more than one of them to find the one that works best for you.

And, yes, I use the same rigging method for everything from 1:150 (10mm) gunboats to 1:1200 Langtons, to 1:2000 Valiant Fighting Sail, to 1:2400 Russo-Japanese armored cruisers.

Whichever technique suits you, Cold Steel is correct; a hemostat is a very useful tool to have.

Phil Hall11 May 2013 4:27 p.m. PST

I just did the standing rigging and wove it back and forth. I also took a tip from model boat builders and ran the thread through a chunk of beeswax. This both protected from fraying and stiffened it enough to make the weaving of the lines easier.

devsdoc12 May 2013 3:21 p.m. PST

Hi All,
DO NOT USE COTTON THREAD. it will stretch over time.I know it sounds bad but man made threads do work best. Unlike model ships which stand around looking pretty, we are useing and handleing the models all the time when playing. Hope this helps. I to use Mr Langton's book.
Be safe

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP12 May 2013 3:32 p.m. PST


A qualification is useful here: this may be true if you are tying the rigging, but synthetic thread will not work if you are using the glue-stiffened thread method. The glue will not penetrate synthetics and will merely form a sheath over the outside, which will peel off later.

I have never known any of my ships rigged with cotton to "stretch", although I have had to re-rig one ship which was left in a humid environment for months . . . the rigging absorbed moisture from the air and sagged a little. This is more likely to happen on larger models where some of the braces and backstays are quite long. I have never seen it happen on 1:1200 or smaller ships.

I have ships that I rigged with cotton over thirty years ago (and I have done hundreds of ships in that time) that look just as tight as the day I finished them.

Phil Hall13 May 2013 1:00 p.m. PST

War Artisan, that is a good reason to use the beeswax method. They don't fray and it provides a barrier to moisture.

devsdoc13 May 2013 3:49 p.m. PST

Hi War Artisan,
O.K. I have not done "hundreds of ships", but the odd one or two. Rod Langton In his book on rigging, in his catalopue and on his web-site. He says only use Viscose Rayon. As he was/is making this point time after time, I asked him why? He told me about cotton "stretching". I thought as he makes the ships and has done rigging himself on his own ships, he just may know a little about them! I saw the word "cotton thread" and thought I would pass on what he said to me. Maybe I should not listen to Rod Langton?????
Be safe

Volunteer Fezian13 May 2013 10:38 p.m. PST

I have used cotton, synthetic, monofiliment nylon, coated wire, and horse hair. All have pluses and minuses. Jeff is correct that the glue stiffening method will only work on cotton. Cotton stiffened with glue won't stretch, but doesn't tie ether and has to be glued in place like wire or rod. Rory is correct that cotton unstiffened with glue does and will stretch, and I have way too many ships with sagging rigging that started out nice and tight to prove it.

.0008 Firewire is very nice to work with but only comes in smoke colour and doesn't take paint well.
Monofiliment nylon fishing line also works pretty well but has to be painted after it is rigged, not before. I believe James prefers this one.
Horse hair is really perfect for the scale size, comes in the right colours, but is brittle and doesn't take superglue well (funny since it seems to weld my fingers together well enough).
I have settled on synthetic using the beeswax method Phil is talking about for the last several ships I have done. I still use horse hair for some applications like tow lines for boats.

So I guess what I am saying is there are many ways to do it. Use what works best for you.


grambo14 May 2013 12:44 a.m. PST

Thanks for the great response, it's given me a lot to think about but it's good to hear from experienced 'riggers'! I have persevered with my first little Frigate from Langton, and made a few errors which I'm sure you guys will point out (I welcome any constructive criticism) including using cotton thread for the running rigging (not yet completed). Something about those foresails does not look right either?

I'll try a few of the ideas mentioned above, horsehair I can get no problem! Beeswax sounds a useful tip as does the stretching and gluing of the cotton thread.

I spent an hour last night reading back through the threads (no pun intended!) here on the board and found it really useful with some amazing pictures.

Here's my effort so far, still working on the running rigging but must confess I find her rather beautiful.

Thanks all,




Volunteer Fezian14 May 2013 3:44 p.m. PST

Yes she is beautiful Lee. Now……how about some tips on painting 2MM Napoleonic troops, limbers, cannon, supply wagons, cavalry, etc? Pretty please?


grambo15 May 2013 2:05 a.m. PST

Thanks again Vol. As for painting 2mm figures etc I'll see what I can do, I do have a few general tips for painting small scale stuff that I have learned. What make do you use? Irregular Miniatures 2mm? I'm actually in the UK (down on the Kent coast, looking out across the English Channel towards France just 23 miles away!)and I think you are in the US. I'll order a few 2mm bits and paint them up to see how it goes and post some pics for you. A few main tips would be:

Black undercoat and make it work for you pick out your colours with a good quality brush (I use Foundry sables) and select shades slightly brighter than you would normally as that really 'lifts' small scale figures.

Find paints that give strong coverage in a single stroke or dot,I use paints from Vallejo, Citadel and Foundry, some cover well others don't.

I use a little method to 'steady' my brush hand by resting the handle on my thumb as shown on my blog here:
I find this really helps.

I have a 6mm painting guide (figures) too, it might help as I'd use the same method on 2mm blocks, hopefully you can see how good strong colours picked out works.

If you can bear with me Vol I'll do some 2mm Napoleonics to see if the same method works, obviously less detail but it will be interesting to see what I can achieve.


Volunteer Fezian15 May 2013 4:12 p.m. PST

Thanks Lee. I didn't expext that. I just assumed you had done 2MM before since you seem to be into the small scales. Yes I have Irregulars. I have been painting 25-28MM miniatures since 1979 and just started 1:1200 Napoleonic ships a little over a year ago. I was hoping 2MM would be about the right troop scale to go with the ships. The troops, limbers, and cannon seem right but Irregular's 2MM buildings are way too small, more suited for 1:2400 or 1:3000 scale. If you can make them look good I can see business coming your way from 1:1200 AoS gamers.


Ben Walton16 May 2013 11:17 a.m. PST

very nicely rigged sir.

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP25 May 2013 6:03 p.m. PST

I used to tie knots but gave it up. For me coating cotton thread with matt medium and gluing in place is quicker and easier. Once coated, I never had problems with stretch or sag.

I do not recommend bees wax. I used it on regular ship models and is sensitive to weather. It can attract dust which sticks. If in a case the model is fine, but it is not good for a playing piece. Others may have different experiences, but these are mine.

nightprowler05 Jun 2013 7:02 a.m. PST

I don't want to appear stoopid, but what do you mean by 'matt medium'.

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Jun 2013 10:54 a.m. PST

He's referring to a matte extender often used by artists who paint with acrylics. It's a thick liquid solution of acrylic polymer with excellent adhesive properties, which dries to a flat finish. It's available pretty much anywhere you can get art supplies.

It would have much the same effect as the white glue that I use, penetrating the cotton thread and drying stiff enough remain straight when cut into short lengths.

devsdoc06 Jun 2013 8:20 a.m. PST

Looking good, Lee.
Be safe

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2013 2:21 p.m. PST

War artizan is right. I also use a product called Mod Podge in place of Matt Medium. It is available in the US and is cheaper. It comes in different blends. All of them are similar to white glue and use the same polymer base.

Cutwater27 Jan 2017 5:30 a.m. PST

Great comments & information.just started 1200 scale napoleonic ships, thought 2 mm. may be a good scale for shore parties.Thanks to all.

Volunteer Fezian03 Feb 2017 9:23 p.m. PST

2MM is right for 1/1200. See TMP link

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