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Author Topic: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships  (Read 8430 times)

Greggy1964

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A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« on: February 17, 2011, 04:10:00 pm »

Reading Diegan Sherman's topic on BALANDRA evoked long forgotten memories of a boy spending happy times with his parents and family on a Holiday in Scotland.

We spent two weeks in a small B&B in a tiny place called Balmaha on the shores of Loch Lomond at the height of summer.

Many a balmy summer day was spent to the clatter of childern's shoes on the jetty and the creak of mooring ropes tugging at the boat stems.



Of course there were lots of boats and dinghies bobbing at their moorings along the jetties and the clear shallow waters by the shore showed a fine gravelly bottom.



All of this stirred the emotions of a small boy interested in boats and I started casting about for materials with which to build my own little model boat.

All I could find were discarded beer cans and pop cans, lollipop sticks and string, and other discarded bits and bobs but this did not deter the fired imagination of an 8 year old boy with a passion for all things boats!

Mother was nagged and mi-thered until a small tube of Bostick Contact adhesive was procured and I set off to make a little ship not dissimilar to the one you see below . . . .



The hull was made from the longest can I could find upon which a booted heel was rammed into the side adjacent to the pour opening . . . .



This created the deck . .  . next a mast was required and the nearest thing to hand was my brothers stick from a recently scoffed ice lolly :-))



More sticks were found for rudder and most importantly two bits glued about 1/2" from one end of the mast stick to stop it slipping through the hole cut in the deck with the trusty pen knife that all self respecting boys carried in their trouser pockets along with bits of string for all sorts of emergencies - like rigging! {-) O0



The rudder was fixed through a slit in the poop deck and out through the pour hole and through the ring pull (these also made excellent mini Frisbees fired from the bent pour hole cover long before Frisbees were invented! - remember them?)



A paper sail stolen from my Mothers writing pad came next . . .



And a very serviceable sailing ship was created which in fact sailed very well with a following wind . . .

In fact she could put on quite a turn of speed to my delight as I unwittingly created a well balanced model which would sail off to the far bank in the little bay as I tramped and splashed around the shoreline chasing her.

When the wind became too strong the ship tended to nose dive but this was quickly remedied with a pebble or two coated in Bostick and dropped in through the pour hole. This ship was then upended on her stern in the tall grasses by the Loch bank until the glue set ok2

The sail sports a Maltese Cross as I was also interested in Knights of the Realm and Crusades at the time. Later sails that week sported a Skull and Crossbones motif also :-))

The loop in the backstay was for the crew to hold on and a plastic army soldier was press ganged into service borrowed from the boy that lived at the B&B, but just now I can't lay my hands on such a character for the photo shoot! {-)

Many a happy day was spent that summer with such models and laid the ground work for many a model boat to come  :-) :-))
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kiwi

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2011, 05:57:02 pm »

Damn, that's brilliant.
What a neat way to get kid's into boating. Everyone make one for the wee kids or grand-kids.
Excellent concept
kiwi

ps, who's going to r/c one?
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2011, 06:29:25 pm »

Necessity is the mother of all invention!  O0 ;)

I'll take the one I knocked up today down to the beach tomorrow and see if I can't find a puddle on which to sail her.

And I'll make a short video just to prove the concept and post it on Youtube :-))

I'm going to name her Tini-tintanic though I can't pour beer over her bows at her launch as I've already drunk that while doing the writeup :-)) {-) {-)

Incidentally I forgot to mention that putting pebbles in the stern makes her very stable . . . . . but the downside is that if she crosses the wake of a passing boat there is a very good chance that she'll founder.

This is because as she bobs over the waves she dips her stern allowing a small slosh of water to enter her hold through the stern porthole with each successive wave.

This happened to us as kids on Loch Lomond and she sank stern first to the calls of Cool! Wow! Did you see that? Awesome! from the short trousered & be-freckled onlookers! {-) {-)

Also we had great fun watching them become ship wrecked on a lee shore and at the end of the holiday all the ships we'd made were set free and then subjected to an Ariel bombardment of stones from the shore until they sunk!

But all this was no problem as another sister ship could be knocked up in about half an hour! :D

Such is the imagination of small boys!  %)

P.s. can you get servos that small these days? :o
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Wetwater

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2011, 11:11:44 pm »

   Brilliant.  :-))  Looks a bit beyond my building skills though.   :((  Might be possible if I had
   a set of full size plans with step by step instructions.  O0

   Would also need to find an already dented can, which would save a lot of work.   :-)
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2011, 12:36:50 am »

 {-) {-) {-) Great minds think alike!  {-) {-) {-)

Being as daft as a plank O0 I thought it would be fun to produce a plan :o

Soooo . . . . . . . . .

Your wish is my command! :-))





By the way, I used to waterproof the paper sail by nicking my Mothers hairspray when she wasn't looking! and giving it a good dousing :o {-)

It made it a bit stiff when dried but kept the water off a treat :-))

I waterproofed the current sail using scotchguard shoe spray, it has the same effect! O0 {-)

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kiwi

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2011, 01:10:20 am »

Now that we have full construction info plus plans, should be simple to r/c it for the advanced modeller.
Footy class now has an official competitor class -  "Ally Can Racing", by greggy1964.
Rules as setout on this forum
'Brilliant that man'
cheers
kiwi
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2011, 01:21:46 am »

You lot are as crazy as me O0

I feel right at home :-))

In her current rig she's only capable of down wind performance but with the addition of a fin keel set well aft  . . . . .

and the weight currently inboard at the stern shifted to the bottom of the fin keel . . . . . . .

hmmmm . . . .

yes! and a high peaked gunter sail rig and a small jib on a bowsprit O0

She may just eat to windward afterall :o O0

 {-)
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Jbird

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2011, 10:29:02 am »

I don't drink beer any more. Would a soda can work? {:-{
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2011, 11:47:31 am »

Yes,

This works with any ring pull drinks can aluminium or steel:-))

When I was a kid, drinks cans were made of a heavier gauge steel than the namby pamby super thin walled things of today. You had to give the can quite a clout with the heel of your shoe to get the shape of the hull.

Yesterday I just held my beer can in my hands and pressed the shape into it with my thumbs.

My lady assistant (eldest daughter) will demonstrate the technique :-))

To get the hull shape, take you drinks can/beer can and place on a flat surface with the pour hole uppermost . . . .



Place hands either side of can curling fingers under and at the same time place thumbs on top of can about 1/2" apart just past where the can transitions from cylindrical to the shoulder below the former top of the can . . . . . . this area will form the short poop deck through which the rudder stock will pass O0

Whilst gripping the can between index fingers, push downwards and outwards with your thumbs and nipping the resultant short gunwales between thumb and index fingers to form a crease about 1" long, this forms the sides of the deck deck platform.



Don't go too mad because the whole object of placing the can on a flat surface is to preserve the rounded wide hull shape formed underneath. If you grip too much between thumb and index fingers whilst creating the gunwales you risk denting the underside of your new ship hull in these areas.



This is what your looking for on the underneath of the hull O0 you can see the edges of the short gunwales port and starboard %) and the wide rounded hull shape preseved

Just be gentle or you'll hurt your new ship and your lad will be cross! {-) O0

It takes one or two goes to get it just right, but hey before this you squashed your beer cans flat before tossing them in the trash! So now practice beer can sailing ship forming before this step! {-) :-)) instead.

Take things easier with aluminium cans as these are easier too wreck than steel ones O0 >>:-(

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Wetwater

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2011, 12:29:29 pm »

   Wonderfull stuff.  First a plan and now step by step, or is it finger by finger, instructions  :-)
   Thats most of the technical problems taken care of.   :-))

   Just need to find a local group of larger louts to hang around with now.  :embarrassed: Should be lots of free
   cans to practice with.  O0

   Alan.
   
   
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2011, 12:37:04 pm »

Shouldn't be a problem . . . .

Here in Bridlington East Yorkshire UK, we're a small seaside town with a population of only 34,000 and a stones throw south of Scarborough but we have 45 pubs!

Try here! :-)) {-) {-)
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2011, 01:51:54 pm »

The thread is meant to be a little tongue in cheek and a bit of fun :-))

But the introductory story is a true one about a little boy with a passion for boats and the desire to build scale models that fired his sense of beauty and form.

But there is a serious side to it also because that simple little tin can sailing ship led him down a path to build bigger and better boats, and in todays world of X Box's, Nintendo and Mobile phones, kids are missing out.

But more importantly it shows how an 8 year old boy with ten thumbs but with a drive found someone with the patience and skill to teach him what he needed to know in order to progress :-)

Now some 38 years later I have the confidence to tackle any ship I desire and if necessary design a model from the ground up.

I hope the photo below shows what can be achieved with basic tools and a kitchen table top and the stark contrast between the little beer can boat built by a boy and where it led him.



This boat is an old lady now of some 15 years and back then I needed to build clinker built (or lapstrake) models so I learned what I needed to know and got on with the job.

She is a scale model of a sailing canoe I designed and I still plan to build full size one day. O0

She is very sleek and fast and in the right conditions can show her stern to many modern model yachts O0

Of course nowadays with modern technology we have computers and forums like this, where folks can learn from others and I may hopefully put something back :-))
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2011, 04:38:20 pm »

Okay . . . . . . .

When I promised a video of my little tin ship sailing . . . . .

I envisaged a beautiful blue sky day, the seagulls calling in the back ground, sun glinting off the waters surface and Tini-Titanic bobbing gently by on the breeze :-))

What did we get?

Well none of that! :o :((

It was freezing cold, leaden grey skies and it was blowing a south easterly gale {-) {-) :o

But my daughters and I braved all of that so you could see what a great little ship we have here.

Now bearing in mind that the poor thing sailed in what could only be described as hurricane conditions for her size . . . . . .

She performed just how I remembered :-))

Enjoy :-))

Just a quick note, no the footage is not speeded up!! :o %)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8A6L61uO7g

You'll have to excuse the manic laughter at the end of the footage because this is the first time I'd seen such a model sail in 30 odd years and I was thrilled  {-) :-))

(little things please little minds I know - I told you I was quite mad!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY1QIOleVOA

As you can plainly see, she performs wonderfully considering the strength of the wind, you can see the white horses on the sea in the back ground in the footage :o

So you can see why as a boy I was ecstatic with my creation O0 {-)
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kiwi

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2011, 06:27:43 pm »

Well that's it then, the whole kit & kaboodle.
The background, the build, the plans and the sailing vid.
Magnificent.

Unfortunately, when I was a wee lad, in our neck of the woods I only remember beer in glass bottles. Kids where not allowed in a bar, and only bottles of various sizes from half-pint to flagon ever appeared at home. Now with the multitude of can sizes we could see everything from the tiny 100ml cans right upto the tall 500ml and even bigger.
What a sight that would be on the local pond.
Everyone fire up your imagination, provide the materials and let the kid's loose, and by kid's I mean all and every one of you out there, from knee high to a grasshopper to the 90year old kid's at heart. I fit somewhere up the top 30% somewhere, now where did i put that can?

Well done Greggy1964, thanks for sharing this wonderful memory of maritime history and the subsequent Tini-Titanic invasion around the world causing mayhem on the model boating ponds. And it's all your fault doing.
cheers
kiwi
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Netleyned

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2011, 03:53:13 pm »

Magic Greggy  :-)) :-))

The old party 7's would be ok for a Humber Keel  %% %%

Ned
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Wetwater

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2011, 11:23:32 pm »

   Fantastical vids Greggy.   :-))  Hope you are well insured.  Just imagine the damage your
   masterpiece would cause if it were to hit another boat.   <:(  Especially at the speed it was
   travelling at.

   Found an empty can in the gutter today.   :-)  Undamaged and just waiting to be squished.   O0
   Just need to save up for the other materials now.   %%


   Alan.
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2011, 12:25:10 am »

Hee  :-)

Yeah I know Tini-Titanic was really moving! O0

Would you believe she has 3 M8 nuts glued in her hold right in stern weighing 11 grams each and I still had to use gravel from the flower beds around the boat pond where we were at to stop her pitch poling in all that wind! :o

An empty beer can weighs  36 grams, 3 grams for top hamper, 33 grams for nuts so I have 6 grams of gravel in the hold  to total of 80 grams! :o

I have posted video of her sailing helter sketler across the boating pond but she capsized and sank :((

I didn't put a link up earlier because the quality is not very good  . . . . . . . . but what the heck! :-))

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bjkLT84Zx8

I though she did rather well considering she was sailing in hurricane conditions right up until the squall capsized her {-) {-)

An air pocket in her bows allowed the wind to carry her to the side and rescue to sail another day! {-) :-))

Good old fashioned drama! :}




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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2011, 12:25:36 am »

I'm working on a high peaked gunter rig and foresail model that I intend to fit a fin keel to.

I need to work on the sail though, I'm using ripstop nylon.

Mk1 sail is flat and I don't think it'll work so I'm working on another where I'm going to use shaped panels superglued together to form a contoured sail.

But here's what I've got so far



I'm nuts I know but its a light break from the sailing trawler build and a bit of fun :-))
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2011, 01:25:04 am »

What goes here is all in the name of science and the development of beer can sailing ships you understand :-)) O0

Its Saturday night/Sunday morning and beer cans have been drained . . . . . well I need more hull material don't I?? O0 {-)

And I had a brainwave,  :o why not sacrifice one of my tins and make a fin keel?



Airfoil symmetrical section section and all :-))

Ive folded the tin sheet in on it's self and crimped the trailing edge.

I cut slits in the top edge of the fin and folded them out petal fashion to give me some gluing area to bond the fin to the hull . . . .

I've attempted to bond it to the hull with JB Weld and Sellotaped it in place so I could see through it and control what the JB Weld was doing to some extent O0



If it has worked later on today I'll attempt to bond some lead sheet inside the keel for ballast :-)) ;)

Its a work in progress at this point so I can't guarantee to outcome but fingers crossed :-))
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2011, 11:10:41 am »

Well the fin keel has bonded securely the the underside of the new hull surprisingly well.



Now for ballast . . . . we know the Mk1 Ship all up weight is 80g and the hull and top hamper on this one add up to 45g so that leaves a max of 35g to swing at the bottom of the fin and she'll still float.

But for starters I'm going to add 26g of ballast and go from there



I'm using lead flashing and I've borrowed a strip from my collection of ballast for my Master Hand project  O0, she won't miss 35g :-))



I've folded it in half and crimped it over the trailing edge of the fin, folded it forward and bonded it in place (not forgetting to give the area to be bonded a good sanding to form a key) with more JB Weld, wrapped the job in more sellotape and molded the whole mess with my fingers to get a reasonably smooth shape to try and reduce sanding later O0



I also peeled back the flange running up the trailing edge of the fin, gave it a good sanding for even more JB Weld and clamped everything down to get a good seal.



Now where did I stash all those oak planks for the other job?

 :-))

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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2011, 10:21:10 pm »

Fore and aft works too  :-))



Sailing video comming soon :-)



Though the only video I can take is with my camera so I apologise in advance for the quality! {-) O0
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Diegan

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2011, 02:44:26 am »

WAUUUU !

He is beautiful !!!
I like idea!  :-)) :-)) {-)To the children are going they to like much, because it is very simple  and to construct it.
I believe that I go to do it in the next weekend. I will take and it to sail Sunday to the pool.
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2011, 10:32:15 am »

That's great Diegan :-))

Its a simple boat that the kids can make with their own hands with a little help from Dad/Grandad O0

I hope they enjoy building them as much as I did as a kid ;)

I confess I quite enjoyed re building them if I was honest!

Sailing them too :embarrassed:



I added some additional lead to the bottom of the fin keel and the all up weight now is 118 grams but she's very stable now - no capsises this time :o

The additional lead was added to the rear of the fin to shift the weight back a bit.

What I intend to do is to take her to the pond and trial sail her and trim the new lead until I get the best performance out of her :-))

I've also added simple bowsies to the sheets so that I might trim the sails so she can sail different courses with respect to the wind.O0

Tini-Titanic Mk1 could only sail down wind, Mk2 can sail into the wind  :-))

I checked with a bath full of water and my daughters hair dryer for wind {-) {-) :}

By pointing the hair dryer from forward and 45 degrees to one side I could make her sail up the bath yay! :D
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Greggy1964

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Re: Tini-Titanic MkII A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #23 on: February 22, 2011, 07:45:35 pm »

As promised I've made a video of Tini-Titanic Mk II :-))



Last time I made a video it was blowing a gale :o

I trial sailed Tini-Titanic Mk II this morning in a stiff breeze but sadly I'd neglected to charge the camera battery >>:-(

I sailed her again this afternoon after charging the battery but there was hardly any wind >>:-( >:-o.

Typical! O0 {-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnvzWs5mmx4

In the video I rant on about eddies in the water . . . . I'd better explain that there are water jets set in the sides of the pool under water.. . . . . heaven knows why?

That's Architects  for you! {-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93J5r7VV9Lw

Now I've proved the concept I'm building a Mk III version ;)
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Greggy1964

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Re: A Nostalgic look back at Beer Can Sailing Ships
« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2011, 12:42:23 am »

I been playing again! :D O0

I decided Tini-Titanic Mk III needed proper contoured sails for the best sailing efficiency into wind  :-))

Mk II's sails are cut flat and they're okay but I want better >>:-( <*<

The big boys cut sails  from shaped sailcloth panels sewn together . . . . .

We build a hull by first making a form on which to lay planks . . . . .

So I made a contoured form on which to lay my proposed sail panels . . .



Here are all the sail panels taped down ready for the superglue treatment  :D

I made the form from cereal box card supported underneath at maximum chord by bits of wood bonded to the cardboard with superglue.

The form is then taped at all its edges to a flat formica board. Master Hand's screive board to be precise!  {-)

I discovered superglue don't like sellotape nor polythene shopping bags so I used both to stop the sailcloth panels sticking to anything but what I wanted.



Here is a shot of the form with a straight stick of wood laid across it so you can see the funished sail shape . . .

By laying a straight edged steel rule so it crossed the form from foot to head supported on battens so the rule cleared the form I could draw seam lines on it (I used the steel rule width for my sail cloth panel widths)

I then took some ripstop nylon and cut out panels roughly and laid them over the form one after the other and taped each in turn over the form. I then traced the seam lines onto the sailcloth panel, when lifted away the seams were slightly curved :-))

I trimmed to the seams allowing a small overlap to the next panel.

I repeated this process for all panels laying one seam over its neighbour as I went from luff to leach.

The cellotape was useful in taping the whole panel to the form except over the seams . . .  :-)) this kept the cloth firm and steadied it while I lifted the seam edge poking my fine superglue nozzel into the seam . . . . (I'm using Blue Spot 20 gram bottled stuff bought from Boyes - good stuff for this job  :-)) )

Running a bead of glue down the seam, with a polythene gloved finger I rubbed the glue into the seam where it soaked through and set. Rubbing a small amount of water (spit  :o ) into the seam immediately allowed the seam to bond very well  O0

Because the sail is so small I'm not bothering with boltropes, Ive just glued a strip of cloth to each edge first gluing to one side and then folding it over the edge and bonding to the opposite side and I finally added strengthening patches at the corners.

The sail will be attached to the boom gaff and mast in the traditional manner and I will be forming cringles by smiply passing a heated panel pin (cherry red!  :o ) through the sail at their chosen postions . . .

This melts the cloth forming a sealed edge to the cringle - rough but it works  %)



The finished result . . .  its a bit rough and my panel seams are a tad uneven but its my first attempt at this method and I'm working on improving the proccess ;)

I used a grubby part of the cloth from the roll to start with because I wasn't sure if my crazy plan would work but I'm pleased with the result.

Now I know it works I'll take more care with the foresail . . . .  :}

Can't wait to set it up on the ship and go sailing . . . . . . but I must wait till I've made the foresail!  >>:-( >>:-(

In the meantime here's a quick bodge of the sail in place on Tini-Titanic Mk III  :-))



On this model I can raise and lower the jaws of the gaff and its head to put shape into the sail and the running rigging for this run to two tiny cleats at the base of the mast!

 :-)) ;)
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