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Modeling SIBs in bottles upright versus lateral?

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I've picked out two bottles for my first SIB scratch projects.  One is a half gallon beer growler with a 31mm opening.  The other is a tequila bottle with a 24mm opening.  I have a bunch of bottles that I've been collecting, and these are the two with the widest openings.  I figure i'll start wider rather than torture myself too much in the beginning...


I see that the preference for most SIBs is to lay the bottle on the side.  I'm planning on doing that for the growler, but am thinking of keeping the tequila bottle upright.  It seems like it would be much easier to add sea to a bottle that is upright.  Any pitfalls on using an upright bottle?   I imagine it could be a little tricky inserting and flipping the ship, and then raising the sails.  I haven't seen much in the SIB books that I own, but thought I'd ask folks here.


Thanks in advance!



Edited by Landlubber Mike
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To do a vertical SIB depends on the bottle and the ship.  Generally the ship is longer than it is high, thus the longitudinal way is the most common.  I did 2 verticals and in both cases the ship is as tall as it is long.  You want to fill the bottle.  For example the Cutter in Schouten's book is as tall as it is long so if you have nice globe shaped bottle a vertical display would be nicer.

collier brig


britsh cutter

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Biggest difference between bottling in a horizontal bottle and a vertical one is that the vessel is usually inserted stern first in a horizontal bottle while it is usually better to insert into the vertical bottle bow first. Also in a horizontal bottle many of the control lines are through the bowsprit while in a vertical bottle those lines come through the masts. This would apply to most of the center line stays. Vertical bottles are somewhat more difficult than horizontal but not too much. Vertical bottles with the neck down are challenging and require a very different approach and bottles without a thickened bottom (light bulbs, clear Christmas ornaments and some laboratory bottles come to mind).


The larger the neck ID the better, as you realized. I try to keep the ratio of the neck ID to the bottle ID around 1:6 or larger to avoid problems getting the vessel through the neck. At 1:4 (1 inch/25 mm neck and 4 inch/100 mm bottle ID) most full hull models will fit without using a two part hull. At 1:8 a two part hull is frequently required. Two part (or more) hulls are difficult and I avoid them like the plague.


Use the best quality bottles you can find. Most single use consumer product bottles distort the view of the models because the glass isn't uniform in thickness with waviness and surface defects. I've seen several very nice models (as far as I could tell) that couldn't be seen well because of wavy, murky, pebbly glass.

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I am currently making a model of "Bluenose" which is for a vertical bottle. I have made about six vertical bottle models over the years. The others were all with sea in the bottom. This one will be on a stand as it is a full hulled version. The way I bottled them was to put them in stern first, raising the masts whilst holding the ship in an home made tweezer. I then settled the ship in the modelling clay. The masts were then raised to their full extent by pulling the forestays (which are through the bowsprit) through a knitting needle which had been bent into a small U shape at one end. This held the forestays down towards the sea whilst pulling the forestays upwards. John Fox 111 has a method of doing it with a thin piece of wood on which you place the half hull, raising the masts whilst the hull is still in a horizontal position with the bottle on its edge then lowering the ship onto the lower hull part.  This is the method I will be using on this one. 

One of the bottles used many years ago was a large, almost bell shaped, brandy bottle. I filled the bottle with water and sealed it then used a glass drill to drill a hole in the bottle as close to the bottom as possible.  Once the ship was set and secured I passed a cable through the hole, and out through the neck, and secured it behind the ship on the bottle wall. I then attached a light fitting and added a suitable shade. It was for a friend of mine who wanted a different type of table lamp. I haven´t seen her for years but the last time I saw her she still had the bottle and it was always a talking point for visitors. 

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Thank you guys, this is all incredibly helpful.  Lots to think about!  I'm excited about scratch building a SIB.  It will be a nice mental break from my current stage of planking the hull of my larger build, a 1:64 model of the sloop Pegasus of the Swan class:



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  • 2 weeks later...

I edited an article on vertical models by Paul Stanton, of Nova Scotia, for Bottle Shipwright, and this taught me much of what I've learned about this option. It's a great alternative for presenting handsome vessels that happen to be taller than they are long, such as sloops, yawls and some schooners. I have been trying to combine the simple, natural wood presentation of a half model with a rigged ship in bottle. Here is one attempt, with the ever lovely Friendship Sloop in a liter bottle. The sloop is a small enough boat so that at this scale, 12' = 1", it allows for some working rigging. The topsides and cuddy are holly, there's an ebony wafer at the waterline and the hull below is pear. Deck planking is box and the cockpit siding is seasoned pine. The stand is oak, and it might not have been a great idea to carve this long a name into it. As David says, this lady did go in bow first.


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Beautiful Alex! The Friendship Sloop has very pretty lines.  


Thanks Gwyl. This sloop is right out of Chappelle's "American Sailing Craft". I've made at least 15 models from the same plan at various sizes, and it's always been a satisfying project, and always a vertical project. Here is another, smaller version in a glass ornament. I tried to upload the plan as well but got a message I couldn't load that kind of file. It's the 1900 sloop on page 39. Perhaps some one with better computer skills can load it here for everyone.


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  • 2 months later...

Hi guys, I'm a bit late picking up on this, but thought I'd add my fourpennorth.....

I've done a few ships in upright bottles over the years, the photos of 2 posted here on my introductory message (Cutty Sark and Marie Sophie)

For the latest model - Cutty Sark - I departed from the usual method of running the "raising lines" through a loop on the end of a wire to give the right angle for the threads, and instead made the bowsprit from a fine sewing needle, with the eye at the inboard end, fastened at the bow with thin wire. Thus the bowsprit was hinged; the forestays were permanently tied on, and as the masts were lowered onto the deck, the bowsprit folded back. Once inside the bottle, the bowsprit was pushed into position, raising the masts,sails and rigging in one fell swoop (with some manipulation.as usual!) Bowsprit was then glued in place - no delicate cutting of thread surplus needed.

Much easier than diverting multiple threads via a loop to give the right angle.

I hope this makes sense.


Cheers, Howard


PS. I now make my masts from fine sewing needles, the eyes at the level of the tops for the shrouds to run through.

Edited by Sojourner
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