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Bottled Ship Builder

Alex Bellinger

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  1. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from James w rogers in Grinding off details on the outside of the bottle?   
    I recently had to deal with a situation similar to this, trying to remove the numbers and symbols baked into the surface of a lab Florence Boiling flask.  On the advice of Bob Prezioso, a superb craftsman I know through the Constitution Museum Guild, I first tried valve grinding compound.  The results were poor, leaving a much scratched up surface.  Then he suggested diamond compound, made by the Helical Lap Co. in Michigan.  This worked, using a Dremel tool at high speed with felt grinding pads.  The results were great, but there are a few downsides.  First, diamond compounds are expensive, about $60 for a small tube.  Secondly, it's time consuming, taking over an hour and a half to clean up the numbers and symbols in a section not much more than an inch square,  Thirdly, it goes through the pads quickly.  I used half a dozen.  Finally, as Bob suggested, don't wear a good shirt while you're doing this - it's messy. 
    However, my experience only has to do with something baked onto the glass.  I wonder if this technique would have any impact on the glass itself.
     
    Alex
  2. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Caleb in Schooner Eagle   
    It always seems remarkable when people ask how a traditional ship in bottle gets in there, because to us doing this for a while the story is so well known.  I hope the following will not be too much of a repeat of the familiar tale to those reading this.
     

     
    This is the beginning of the usual collapse. 
     

     
    Next it must come off the stand.  I usually attach the hull to the stand by gluing it to strips of brown paper, as from a grocery store bag, to the stand.  It will hold it firmly enough while working on it and gives it up without too much trouble when the time comes.
     

     
    As ever, this is when plenty can go wrong and usually something does.  Then it is a matter of what and how bad.  The crucial question is whether it’s bad enough to require a return journey through the neck, never a good idea, or whether all can be set right inside. 
     

     
    This a good trip and the masts are starting to come back up. 
     

     
    Finally all is up and done and this completed lady joins an older completed job. 
     

     
    Here is also a close up of the deck with features mentioned above, but rather briefly.
     

     
    For a sense of size, this is a shot of this 1 liter schooner with a 10 liter model of Constitution at the same scale.  They may be the same scale but here are years apart.  Eagle was launched in 1847 and this is how Constitution would have looked in 1812.  However, the fact both are in bottles on my dining room table further challenges any possible relevance in seeing them together.
  3. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Caleb in Schooner Eagle   
    Schooner Eagle
     

     
    Schooner Eagle and her sister Arrowsic were built on the Arrowsic River in Maine in 1847 by master builder Samuel Pattee.  Eagle went into the “packet” service between Bath and New York while Arrowsic entered the coastal lumber trade.   Both were considered good sailors with fast passages to their credit.  Arrowsic capsized off Block Island in 1860 from carrying too much sail in a gale.
     
    These schooners were examples of the kind of humble working vessels that kept the pulse of the American maritime economy going for most of the 19th century and well into the 20th.  Before the expansion of rails and roads, coasting schooners like these were the primary means of transportation and communication between many coastal and Down East communities.  Once a very familiar sight all along the seaboard, these coastal schooners were overshadowed by the glamorous clippers, adventurous privateers and racing fisherman and they could slip out of memory altogether.
     
    Fortunately, the half hull used for the design of both schooners was donated to the Smithsonian by William Pattee and Howard I Chapelle took off her lines and published them in The National Watercraft Collection.  Sometime in the 1970s Model Shipways created a kit reconstructing her rig and adding many details.  Tom Matterfis of Clearwater, Florida, kindly sent me a set of these plans along with others, and that got me started.  It was clearly a good vessel for the one liter bottles I was using for classes and it was an excellent project for an intermediate ship in bottler looking for a little more challenge in a second model.  This little ship has good features with a square sail and the variety of deck details adding interest, while neither rig or hull work is overwhelming.  I have used it twice for classes with students who have successfully finished a ship in bottle and hope those reading this now may find something of value in the project.
     

     
    This is the Model Shipways plan, appearing here courtesy of Model Expo. The sketch accompanying the plan was drawn by marine artist John Leavitt, who wrote and illustrated Wake of the Coasters.  The plan was reduced for a model about 4 3/8”  overall and 3 1/8” high, about 29’ = 1”.  
     
     
    I made my first model of her in 1990, not long after Tom sent me her plans.  I was still using plumber’s putty at the time, so now the sails are thoroughly “oiled”.  While they were changing color it wasn’t very pleasant, but now I do have to admit the soft translucence is nice to look at.  I made one or two more over the years but took her up again for a class in 2012.
     
    Please bear in mind what follows was not pictures and notes accumulated for this kind of format, so there are gaps.  If anything is not clear, I will be glad to try to better explain.
     

     
    The hulls are made up from rough blanks cut out in halves and glued together along the centerline.  Rob Napier’s half models inspired this.  This way the sheer can be cut a little more accurately on my extremely capricious Dremel jig saw and you never lose the centerline.  Starting out with 10 hulls, 5 went to the guys in the class and another was a replacement for one of the guys who wanted to make a fresh start.   I wound up working on 4, primarily to show the various stages in the progress for each model.  In this picture the hull furthest from the camera is the most basic, still a rough hull blank with only the quarterdeck bulkhead and main deck center planks glued in.  Next to it is the one with the deck planked and some general hull shaping begun.  The next has the general hull outline, plan view, done and the waterways and first “plank” of the main deck bulwark are in.  The closest shows main deck bulwarks complete with timberheads and cavils attached.  The cap rails become the waterway for the quarter deck.
     

     
    The next shot is much the same stage but some waterways are started on the second hull, first bulwark plank for the third hull’s main deck are done and the last hull has a short rail around the quarter deck, a splash rail on the bow rails and the outline of the stem and head are attached.  In the background is a form used for bending bulwark “planks” and a couple of bent “planks” waiting to be glued in.
     

     
    Here the hull is getting wales attached, made up of two strips of thin stock, each about 0.020” thick and 1/32” wide.  All of the hulls, the initial blanks, decking, bulwarks, rails, timberheads, etc, are pine, probably most cut from the same piece of wood.  The clips used to hold stock in place are from the advice of Ralph Preston.  He bought a package of these, from Radio Shack I think, and we added the extra extensions on the handles from flattened brass tubing.  This makes them a little easier to handle, adds a little more weight when one is used to keep tension on a line, but they were mostly added on so Ralph could give me a lesson on using epoxy.  These were made up almost 30 years ago and I doubt any project since hasn’t made some use out of these little clips.  Here they hold the wales to the stem and a section of the rail over the transom.  The little notch is the splash rail is for the cat head.
     

     
    Another shot of the clamps at work.
     

     
    Here the second hull has timberheads in place and is getting the upper “plank” of her bulwarks.  A clip is holding a section of the rail alongside the billet on the stem.  Another shot of the same step shows the trail boards of the bow rails and a jig on the left for bending the thin stock to make the tight curve necessary for this detail.  A similar shot shows getting the bulwark “plank” curve around the form.
     

     

  4. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Landlubber Mike in Rigging   
    Years ago I restored a model of a schooner rigged like this, with mostly a continuous line.  The forwardmost shroud from one mast would continue as the sheet for the sail of the mast ahead, then topping lift, gaff halyard, etc..  Eventually it led to the foremast where a couple more forestays completed the job.  That rig was no where nearly as complex as M. Bardot's restoration, which is most impressive.
    In general, I try to use a variety of weights of thread and line to better represent the variety of line in a ship's rigging.
  5. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from IgorSky in Rigging   
    That old ship in bottle repair with the continuous line was a glimpse into an old technique, but I don't feel there is much opportunity for it to work if you are trying to do a thorough job of trying to represent a ship's rigging.  This is a small model from a few years ago I'd hoped would have fewer lines coming out the bottle neck because it was a simple, basic design.  I was surprised to count 23 lines coming out of the hull and bowsprit when she was ready to go.  Barks are a little easier than ships because the mizzen braces all lead aft to the jigger mast.
    Since the model was small, a little over 2" high and 4 1/4 " long, I decided to use light gray thread for the lower standing rigging, light gray fly tying silk for the upper and light tan fly tying silk for the running rigging.  Sails here are cigarette paper, but I think I'll try something else when working at this size again.  In this case the cigarette paper didn't travel too well in the journey down the neck. 
     

  6. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from IgorSky in Rigging   
    Years ago I restored a model of a schooner rigged like this, with mostly a continuous line.  The forwardmost shroud from one mast would continue as the sheet for the sail of the mast ahead, then topping lift, gaff halyard, etc..  Eventually it led to the foremast where a couple more forestays completed the job.  That rig was no where nearly as complex as M. Bardot's restoration, which is most impressive.
    In general, I try to use a variety of weights of thread and line to better represent the variety of line in a ship's rigging.
  7. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Bruce Foxworthy in Archibald Russell   
    Finally the square sails could be added.  The material for the sails is much like what I have been using for years, a light weight paper colored with a warm gray magic marker.  Instead of using the point of a pin to scribe the seams or “clothes” of the sails I returned to an older idea and used a hard pencil.  Seams made with the pin tend to crack and split, and at this scale that could be quite a problem.  In spite of using a #9 pencil, the seams, only on the weather side, look a little too heavy to me. 

     
    The final details are the boats and anchors, and I almost always put these off until the last.  Good miniature boats can be nicely made of paper but I’ve had no success with that technique at this scale.  There are carved out of pine and have paper thwarts.  Like the catwalk railing, these details may be more a challenge at this scale than they are really worth.  But not having them no would look worse, I think, so the attempt is always made. 
     

     
     
    The bottle that renewed my interest in this project is a hand blown bottle by Michael Magyar from Cape Cod.  It is obviously intended to recall the classic pinch bottle, but happily is slightly longer and better accommodates a long ship like this bark.  My friend and fellow ship bottler Gerry Ross knows Michael and sent one of these bottles as thanks for getting John Guley to complete a prototype of a kit Gerry was trying to develop  John and I decided to give it to Charlie Ryan, another ship in bottler,  but John got in touch with Michael about ordering more.  After some back and forth we ordered 10 and split the order between us.  For the first of my five I bottled the 5 mast two topsail schooner Carl Vinnen. 
     

     
    The glass clarity is wonderful but the inside shape creates a couple of problems.  The narrow corners inside are a little difficult to fill with putty and then get a smooth sea surface.  It takes going back over a number of times.  The corner on top, above the ship, is so narrow I was concerned whether the upper yards would have been braced around far enough for them to fit in this limited space.  The indent on the side of bottle underneath the ship protrudes so far into the bottle the putty base above it is very shallow.  But with the deep corners, the bottle takes a surprising amount of putty.  But there was an unexpected bonus.  Two air bubbles on the port side wound up acting as miniature magnifiers
     

     
    The bottling took about a week between getting her in and feeling all was well enough finished.  Most of the difficulty was not having a secure enough bond with the putty sea, so that as I increased the tension on the stays, the model tended to head back towards the neck.  I got over this by fashioning a section of coat hanger wire bent to hold the hull in place and taped to the outside of the bottle neck with duct tape.  It is the first time I ever tried this, and I wonder if I’d recommend it.  But in this case, it worked.
     

     
    The putty was put in the bottle months before.  Because of the effects of oil staining sails, I have greatly increased the lead time between setting the putty in and finally bottling the ship.  In spite of this lead time, the slight contact with the putty surface when bottling this ship immediately doused lower starboard sails with oil.  This may eventually become lighter, but the effected area will always be more translucent than the rest of the sails.  It may also spread, though I have rarely seen this with square rigged sails.
     
    I first encountered this problem years ago when the late George Pinter from Halifax, Mass, recommended I use plumber’s putty instead of the glazing putty I had been using.  It took color well and was easy to shape into the bottle.  Unfortunately, the heavy oil content of the plumber’s putty began to stain the sails like this.  It also is supposed to never harden completely, and when the putty sea in a bottle I shipped to a gentleman in Texas became detached en route, that was it for me, and I returned to glazing putty.  Sadly, this oil staining has returned in the past couple of years, and I need to solve this.
     

     
    Otherwise, this particular model was especially satisfying.  We all have early dreams and visions that inspired us to take on this kind of work.  For many of us, these are now many years old.  This model does not succeed in many ways, and has a number of details that could have been, and should have been better.  But it also succeeds enough in fulfilling early inspirations of mine to be encouraging, and give me hope there may well be similarly rewarding models in the future.
     
     
     
     
     
  8. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Bruce Foxworthy in What's on your workbench?   
    These are a few shots of my recently completed Charles W. Morgan.  I'd been reluctant to post anything about this project because of serious doubts whether it would succeed.  It took far too long because I made a number of poor choices and had to go back and redo a number of things.  For example, this is the second hull and it took 16 whaleboats to get the 7 that finally went with the model down the bottle neck.  My eyes aren't quite what they used to be either and that has made rigging a much slower process.  The next project will not be as ambitious.
     



  9. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from James w rogers in What's on your workbench?   
    Thank you Mike.  The ship herself has lots to offer and I hope your Morgan will delight you as well.  Post some pictures sometime. I'm sure we'll learn from them.
  10. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Jeff B in What else do you model besides SIBs?   
    My desk has been tied up with an "out of the bottle" experience, my 4th and presumably my last, model of Flying Cloud.  At 1/24" = 1', the idea was to get the same quality of detail as you'd see on a typical 1/8" = 1' model of a clipper in about 1/3 of the space.  As with anything, some things worked out all right, others could have been better.  But it's good to have her done and in her case, and to get on my usual sort of work



  11. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Miro in What's on your workbench?   
    These are a few shots of my recently completed Charles W. Morgan.  I'd been reluctant to post anything about this project because of serious doubts whether it would succeed.  It took far too long because I made a number of poor choices and had to go back and redo a number of things.  For example, this is the second hull and it took 16 whaleboats to get the 7 that finally went with the model down the bottle neck.  My eyes aren't quite what they used to be either and that has made rigging a much slower process.  The next project will not be as ambitious.
     



  12. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Landlubber Mike in Deadeyes   
    If this worked, this is the pilot schooner Hesper with copper wire eyebolts clear on the rail. maybe a tad too obvious, with knot blocks for the upper deadeyes.  Fly tying silk is used for lanyards.  This is in a 2 liter bottle and is about 4" from waterline to top of the mast.
  13. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from IgorSky in Deadeyes   
    If this worked, this is the pilot schooner Hesper with copper wire eyebolts clear on the rail. maybe a tad too obvious, with knot blocks for the upper deadeyes.  Fly tying silk is used for lanyards.  This is in a 2 liter bottle and is about 4" from waterline to top of the mast.
  14. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Donald in What's on your workbench?   
    This is a project just back in the shop for a visit after an exhibit and back to her owner, who graciously loaned her for the exhibit.  She is the yawl Sandrala, an Alden designed "Off Soundings" cruiser, built in 1940 at East Boothbay, Maine.  Still afloat today, she has been lovingly restored by her current owners.  I was aboard in 2012 and was inspired to look up her lines and create this model in a 5 liter bottle.  The scale is slightly smaller than 1/8" = 1', which allowed working blocks in her rigging.  Rather than represent her as she appears today, this model shows her as she looked when first launched.  To avoid painting, I built her up of natural woods, using aspen for her pale topsides, redwood for her lower hull, boxwood for the boot topping and a variety of pines for her planking, cabin and rail.  The stand in the bottle is oak and the standing rigging is a fly tying line called "French tinsel".  It was a satisfying project that took 137 hours (including one abandoned hull) which I look forward to repeating when another suitable design turns up.
  15. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Gwyl Blaser in My first SIB: Dimond   
    Very handsome bark, good to see someone's finally getting around to bottling her.  Looks like a great start.
     
  16. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from Bernard Kelly in My first SIB: Dimond   
    Very handsome bark, good to see someone's finally getting around to bottling her.  Looks like a great start.
     
  17. Like
    Alex Bellinger reacted to IgorSky in Pilot cutter Jolie Brise in a bottle - Scale 1/240   
    Next, I glued the posts to the inside surface of the bulwarks. Because The bulwarks themselves gradually reduce their thickness in the process of sanding them from the outside, then their additional strengthening will be very useful. In addition, they will be very useful and to increase the area of gluing when installing gunwales.






  18. Like
    Alex Bellinger reacted to IgorSky in Pilot cutter Jolie Brise in a bottle - Scale 1/240   
    Then I glued another belt of plating the bulwark from the black hornbeam.




  19. Like
    Alex Bellinger reacted to IgorSky in Pilot cutter Jolie Brise in a bottle - Scale 1/240   
    Next update.
    On the bulwarks above the scuppers there is a narrow red strip. In order not to worry about drawing these strips, I decided to make them too from hornbeam.





  20. Like
    Alex Bellinger reacted to IgorSky in Pilot cutter Jolie Brise in a bottle - Scale 1/240   
    Then I proceeded to planking the boards.









  21. Like
    Alex Bellinger reacted to JerseyCity Frankie in Multiple S.I.B. models of the ship Wavertree   
    Over the summer of 2016 I was fortunate enough to be involved in the restoration and re-rigging of the full size three masted full rigged ship Wavertree,  an historic iron hulled Museum Ship owned by the South Street Seaport Museum in Manhattan. I made some good friends among the riggers but at the end of the project we all have gone our separate ways. As a way of expressing gratitude for the shared experience and comradery I got form working with these people, I decided to make some of them Ship In Bottle models of the Wavertree. But I didn't want to go too crazy so I decided to make the models small modest and easy to make. I had seen a Ship in Bottle model made in a mini liquor bottle at the the Noble Maritime Center in Staten Island ( they have a pretty good model collection) and it stuck in the back of my mind that I should try making a tiny S.I.B. model one day, so this was the perfect opportunity. I'm starting this build log November 10th 2016, lets see if I can finish these models by Xmas. Here is a photo of Wavertree taken over 100 years ago in San Fransisco.
    If you are curious about what it was like rigging the Wavertree, here is a link to my flicker page which has over three hundred photos I took while working on the ship: https://www.flickr.com/photos/140039433@N06/sets/72157671511288900
     

  22. Like
    Alex Bellinger got a reaction from IgorSky in My first SIB: Dimond   
    Very handsome bark, good to see someone's finally getting around to bottling her.  Looks like a great start.
     
  23. Like
    Alex Bellinger reacted to IgorSky in Diorama "The Old Man and The Sea" in bottle. Scale 1/72   
    Then I have painted the old man's clothes. I wanted to get an imitation of simple clothes from the canvas.






  24. Like
    Alex Bellinger reacted to DSiemens in Pirate Ship Scavenger   
    More rigging done.
     
     

  25. Like
    Alex Bellinger reacted to IgorSky in Diorama "The Old Man and The Sea" in bottle. Scale 1/72   
    Also I have made one more patch on the sail

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