Rudder Chain

Cutting BrassI had completed most of the rudder straps but needed to replace the top one because I broke off the arm that holds the rudder chain  😦 I took the existing one off of the rudder and it still looked serviceable so I decided to go ahead and try to use it.

The first step was to cut a piece of brass strip to the proper width. I have found that the way to get the cleanest cut is to score the brass with a blade many times and then break it by bending it back and forth. If it’s not as smooth as you like, you can file the edge.

Actual assembly on ship As you can see in this picture I took in Boston of the ship, the connection between the bracket and the bar is in the middle of the bracket. Because of the thickness of the brass I used, I couldn’t get a good solder joint in that position so I decided to fudge it a little. If I could, I would have preferred to cut a slit in the bracket and insert the brass slit for the Rudder Chain, but because of the thickness of the brass, I wasn’t able to figure out a way to do that. I decided to go with an “L” connection. By using an “L” connection, at least I’m pretty confident that I won’t knock it off again.

Silver soldering is a pretty straight forward process. Actually, because I don’t use hard silver solder, silver brazing is the more correct term. The softer solder melts ~425° while the hard solder melts at around ~1250°. Although the process is similar to the soldering you might do in electronics, there are enough differences that I had some trouble at the beginning, but learned by watching a CD lesson by Bob Hunt at Lauckstreetshipyard. I actually use a butane torch rather than the full torch setup he demonstrates. One of the major differences in that silver solder does not contain a flux core like many of the electronics solders, so you have to flux (and anti flux) what you want to join. It also won’t fill gaps very well, so the parts must match up very closely.


Silver Solder Loops ready to be soldered onto rod

The brass “L” and the bracket lined up for soldering

The piece of solder in place The loops ready to be soldered on (note the anti-flux on the pins)
Bracket after soldering Bracket compared to plan Test fit on rudder
The entire assembly after soldering The entire assembly next to the plans The test fitting of the assembly to the rudder

After filing down the “L” to make it thinner and degreasing the part in vinegar, the next step was to blacken it. I have been using “Blacken It” up to this point but because parts seemed to come out a bit uneven (could certainly have been my technique) I was looking for other alternatives. In an article on the Ship Modeling Forum the author suggested Birchwood Casey Brass Black and that is what I used for these parts.

After the initial blackening, it is time to make the rings. The first step is create loops of the correct size. I chose to use 28 gauge annealed wire. I use rods from the Ring Lord chain mail shop as mandrels for all of my rings. I bought a selection of 5 rods for about $10. They also have a nice selection of the proper size tools to use, which makes the job a whole lot easier. To make the loops, I wrap the wire tightly around the wire with each wrap being as close to the next one as possible. Then I pull this off of the rod and cut the wire with straight edge shears. This leaves loops that just to be straightened (their ends aligned) and closed. In this case, they had to be added to the assembly and then closed. Once on the assembly, each ring was soldered closed, filed smooth and the whole assembly reblackened.





The wire wrapped on the rod (note the rudder “bolts” at the top right. These are the old bolts pulled when I removed the assembly from the rudder)

The wire being cut with straight edge shears The “raw” rings
IMG_1356_ThumbNail IMG_1358_ThumbNail IMG_1361_ThumbNail
The starboard ring after soldering The port ring after soldering The entire assembly mounted on the rudder.

Take care – happy modeling!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: