Its probably a bad idea to keep experimenting with mast solutions still half-way through the Jutland project, but I just couldn't settle on a good one. I started by using light wire, but they were always too thick and bendy. I also tried plastic broom bristles. These were straight and not as rigid as the wire, but they were too easy crimped and bent over. They also had inconsistent diameters, so finding a good number for all 200 ships was going to be a problem. So I needed to find something in between the wires and the bristles.
As Christmas approached I was wandering in the local mall. At this point, I need to come clean about something. I've a serious addiction of finding artificial plants at every $2 shop, I encounter. This is entirely the fault of a terrain project (or two or three) I did several years ago. I've long since completed that project, but the condition still afflicts me terribly. So as I wandered the mall, I got sucked into a $2 shop to check out the artificial plants.
That's when I noticed these Christmas garlands. I had a play with the bristles and they were tougher than those on the broom head. They are strong, straight and consistently the same diameter. So I bought a couple and gave them a try. After a trial on my HMS Inflexible and HMS Invincible, I'm happy to lock in a system for my masts going forward ....and (shutter) backwards...
So here's a quick tutorial on how I'm doing my masts these days...
Step 1: Drill out pilot holes with a pin vice.
Step 2: Bend mast anchors.
I still use wire to anchor the masts. This helps keep the masts sturdy and will make sure that they don't pop out of the hull. I bend the wire up into a J and cut them to length. Just make sure that the short end of the J is not longer than the thickness of the sheet that the hull is made from. Otherwise you it'll poke through when you push it through. I then file the points to remove the barbs
Step 3: Insert masts into the pilot holes with the hooks underside the hull.
Step 4: Push the J hook into the wood of the hull so that it's flush with the bottom. Then put a dab of glue on the bottom. After it dries, give it a sand to smooth out the bottom.
Step 5: Add any crows nests, etc. to the masts.
Step 6: Cut bristles to size using the plans and photos from the web to get the dimensions right.
Step 7: Starting with the vertical masts, I use my pin tool to add a small bead of superglue on the wire mast and then apply the cut bristle. Then add the horizontal spars to the masts.
Step 8: Add flag staffs to the bow and stern, first by poking pilot holes with a pin, then gluing in some of the bristle scraps.
And that's it!
...now I just need to add them to my previous 100 ships and carry on adding them to my next batch of 100...