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Bottled Ship Builder

Kit Bashing Hannah, an American Armed Schooner


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I was lucky enough to win the Amati Hannah SIB Kit at the Yarmouth Convention. Amati are known for ship models so I was looking forward to building it for the Whitstable Convention. I had to make some changes during the build - called ‘kit-bashing’

The photo below shows the box.





Contents – the bottle is under images on the left.


The hull pieces – laser cut plywood



Photo-etch parts




There was also a small container of PVA glue, a strip of sandpaper, 4 self adhesive felt pads as feet for the bottle, 2 pieces of hardwood rod to be used with a length of brass rod and a metal hook as an insertion tool and a rigging tool, a small piece of MDF as the stand base and a small bag of white metal fittings such as the guns.

The hull pieces are pressed out and glued together sandwich fashion. I had to use the keel and bowsprit photo-etch to line them up. It was messy as the soot on the edge of the pieces where the laser had burned them mixed with the PVA glue and went everywhere.

During the constant handling of the keel piece it broke halfway up the bowsprit where it was half thickness to denote detail.


Photo-etch deck being used for sizing

I replaced the keel with one made from some of the excess plywood surrounding the hull pieces, and at the same time also decided to replace the flat photo-etch masts and yards with ‘proper’ wooden ones.


Photo-etch bulwarks being tried for fit

The photo-etched bulwarks were now tackled. This piece had to be carefully bent to the shape of the hull. There are tabs on the deck and the transom that fit into the bulwarks to help locate it. I had difficulty getting cyanoacrylate glue to adhere to the brass, no matter what I cleaned it with. Care also had to be taken with clamping it in place due to the very thin railing details. I ended up using Paraloid B72 adhesive. (see note at the end)


Masts, yards and bowsprit

Using the photo-etch masts for sizing, I made the masts, yards and bowsprit from some hardwood dowel thinned down to width. I used Hinckley Hinges for folding them.



Bowsprit attached with rigging started

I did some looking around on the internet for a paint scheme, and used acrylic paints as above.

The sails are very thin fabric that frays at a glance, so I used dilute PVA to ‘paint’ both sides of the fabric where the cuts where to be made. I borrowed my wife’s rotary fabric cutter to get sharp cuts and this worked well. The sails were then bent into the masts and yards using brown thread. I made the mast hoops from thin slices of plastic tube, drilled out a bit to make it thinner.


Sails and Ratlines

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Mast hoops and lacing to the yards



To make the lacing for the staysails I first lace them to a piece of wire, stiffen them with dilute PVA and then thread the stay through the loops when dry. This allows the sail to move on the stay when folding the masts.


Ratlines being made

It was at this time, during a dry run fit of hull, stand and mast with no rigging that I realised that the bottle was not tall enough inside to accom accommodate the SIB, by about 4 mm. I could have shortened the mast, but it would have looked wrong. I had replaced the stand base with oak instead of the grotty MDF, so I thought about thinning it out, but again it looked out of proportion. Also the bottle was full of ‘wavy bits of glass, would stand properly on the felt pads, so I decided on a new bottle and sea instead of a stand, after all the sails are set. So that’s what I did and am a lot happier with the result.

B72: Spotted this while watching a restoration on the British Museum website. Its acrylic beads mixed with acetone at different ratios depending on use. Its totally reversible if needed. I find it better than superglue in certain applications. Lots of info on the web.




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