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Bottled Ship Builder

Where do i start


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Well i have  built a flew model aircraft for some years but sadly decided that i was to down size home gone is the luxury workshop where i built and restored many vintage aircraft. on cleaning out our old house i found a book by Joop Van Schouten that had been given to me many years ago, I thought nothing of it but later that day i returned to the book and now my interest hags grown so i find myself now wanting to do thisI am based in the UK near Coventry in a little town called Nuneaton easy to find its the last turning on the left before jeruslam 

so any help would be great where do i start  what tools will i need and where do you guys get your bottles what do you use for the sea any help please will be most welcome


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Welcome into the Bottle, Paul

I, too, am a former Aeromodeller and until recently lived in Luttterworth, so know Nuneaton well.

Where to start?  Is there any type of ship you REALLY like?  I love RN cutters, and Bristol Channel Pilot boats, so that is where I am beginning.  Did anything in the book grab you?

All the inhabitants here are skilled, friendly and helpful - there are several threads in the discussions about sea

Tools?  small hand tools you probably have, a pin chuck is extremely useful, and a set of small drills.  Sandpaper (of course),  Patience (large bale)

Go for it




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Paul - My first ship in bottle wasn't much to look at and was made from parts around the house.  I got a better idea for it after i did a WoodKrafters kit.   They're in expensive and simple and give you a good idea on the process.  I'd steer clear of the Amati Hannah kit.  I've known a lot of people that tried it and stopped doing ships in bottles because of how difficult it was.  Ships in bottles don't have to be that difficult.  

  If you want to start out with out using a kit find a bottle with a wide opening.  I've found some teriyaki sauce bottles from the grocery store work well.  A bottle with a wider opening will help you get the feel for the process.  Grocery stores are a good place to look for bottles.  Some class soda bottles work.  I've also found thrift stores sometimes have good bottles.  If you have a glass recycling place thatch a good place to look.

I'd start with Plasticine clay sea.  It isn't the most realistic, if that's something your shooting for, however it's simple.  To get started it's an easy medium to use.  

As far as tools all the regular modeling tools, knives, rulers everything you used on planes.  I think the only specialty tools you will need is small drill bits like size 60 or so and a jewelers drill.  Some holes in ships in bottles need to be pretty small.  Tweezers are useful.  A coat hanger with three or four centimeters on the end bent at 90 degrees.  That's my number one tool to go to when putting ships in the bottle.  I use it for positioning, pushing the ship down, tugging at lines all sorts of things  That's pretty much it.  

Start a build log and let us know it's your first ship.  We'll be happy to answer any questions you have along the way.        

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Have  a search on utube for some videos on SIBing - that may give you a few ideas on the various techniques, then have a look at the books mentioned elsewhere on the forum. Some of these can be picked up cheaply secondhand via ebay or Amazon, some contain plans.




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The Van Shouten book should get you started.  For more information look for "Modelling Ships in Bottles" by Jack Needham available used at a good price (the shipping is usually more than the book).  Needham guides you through building four or five ships from a simple two masted schooner to a three masted square-rigged ship.

Look for a bottle that's about the same dimension in diameter as it is from the base to the shoulder where it narrows to form the neck and opening.  You also want a large opening relative to the diameter and a short neck.  Many of us have gotten away from using consumer glass (single use throw away bottles) in favor of laboratory glass bottles because the glass is much more uniform in thickness, which reduces visual distortion.  Whichever way you go, make it easy on yourself and go large, 1L or more in size.

Keep the first one simple and don't get distracted by adding a lot of fine detail.  It is basically an exercise in learning the mechanics of getting a ship model in a bottle, so don't invest a lot of time on it outside the bottle.  Getting the ship in the bottle is lot like launching a new plane for the first time - everything has to work right or it's back to the bench for a rebuild.

You have lots of help here, take advantage of it.


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