Jump to content
Bottled Ship Builder

Mast hinges

Recommended Posts

You can cut the wire off at the edge of the mast instead of have it stick out and bend down to the deck. I have even made tiny wood hinges this way. I have also used thread strung through the hinge hole in the mast. Make a shallow hole in the deck that the mast bottom will fit into. In the bottom of this hole make 2 tiny holes and string the thread through these tying off at the underside of the ship that will be glued down to the sea. They should hold the mast up when raised but springy enough that you can pull up just enough to lay the mast down for putting in the bottle. The thread is tight enough that when you raise the masts it kind of pulls it into the hole when you raise the masts. Glue holds them permanently after that. I like cutting a pin off at the edge of the mast the most. It doesn't hardly show- looks better in the end. You have to carefully put a very small amount of glue on the edge without it bleeding into the joint ( need to keep that hinge moveable!)

Hope this helps some.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure what hinge method Dan Berg described, however the late Jack Hinkley developed a hidden hinge called the Hinkley Hinge. A  bit fiddley to do, but produces great results. The attached article is something I came across a few years ago. A bit of overkill for making one, but the pictures illustrate the hinge nicely. I've done one freehand on cocktail sticks at 1.5 mm diameter with a bit of care and using a jig I made.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've counted as many as eight or more different methods.  An incredible ship in bottle builder and the only ship in bottle restorer I've seen Michel Bardet of France put together this image.  



The first one I believe is for detached rigging.  One would put the channels holding the back stays on after the ship is in the bottle.  It allows for piece by piece insertion which allows for better fitting but can be tedious reconstructing the model in the bottle.   

The second method is pulling the mast in place with a line.  This allows for masts to be more seperated from the hull than the hing method making them lay flatter to the hull when inserting.  The line helps pull them into place.  The only draw back I've seen is it creates a lot of extra lines coming out of the bottle which can be hard to handle.  

Three is the divot method.  It's my preferred method.  The mast is set in a shallow divot held in place by the rigging.  Again since the mast is separate from the hull it allows the masts to lay more flat for easier insertion into the bottle.  Once in the mast is mover to the divot while the lines are pulled tight.  It is tedious but I like it because the ship looks more real with out the hinge and it's easier to do then the Hinkley hinge.  

Fourth is the hinge method.  Probably the most common ship in bottle method.  I highly recommend it for beginners.  It keeps the mast in place on the hull which is one less thing to worry about moving around when setting the ship up.  When the lines are pulled the mast rotates on the hinge right into place.  It allows for quick set up.  Con's would be the ship doesn't look as realistic with a hing through the mast and masts don't lay as flat to the hull.  Both not a really big problem.  

Fifth is the Hinkley hinge.  So named as it was the preferred method of Jack Hinkley one of the founders of the Ship in Bottle Association of America or SIBAA.  Also note Ship in bottle day is October 4th which is his birthday.  This method is vary similar to the hing method but the hing is hidden in the mast.  The biggest con is that is takes some amount of work to set up since you have to create grooves in the masts.  Like the hinge method the masts don't lay as flat but it does keep the mast in place on the hull so setting up the masts is easier with this method.

A sixth method I use for miniatures is using flexible material for masts like paint brush bristles.  The bristles bend and pop back up once in the bottle.  Con's is this method can really only be used on miniature ships and occasionally the mast may bend or get a kink in it and not pop straight back up.  I want to say Jon Fox III has done a similar method using wire insulation.  He get's on occasionally maybe he can explain that process.  

A seventh method I've heard of is similar to method two only an elastic string is used to pull the mast back into place.  This eliminates a few extra lines coming out of the bottle.

Eight was probably John Fox III's method.  I'm sure there's more I haven't listed too.  There's no limit to what you can do just got to find a way you like.  I swear by number 3 Jack Hinkley preferred number five.  I've known others that swear by number two.  It doesn't matter really.  Try them all out and find a method your comfortable with.               

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Well, I haven't read Dan's book, but the method I use for mast hinges is decidedly simple, just a piece of thin-gauge wire run through a hole in the mast, then bent into a "U" shape, then I slot the two points of the U into holes made in the deck of the ship with a little dab of glue in them to hold the hinges in place. Once the ship is in the bottle and the masts erected, I then put a little glue at the bottom of the masts so they stay upright.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


The mast hinge method I use for really tiny models is the one referred to above. In those cases the masts are very small diameter, perhaps 1/16" or a bit more. The actual mast is made from the appropriate sized insect mounting pin pieces. Two pieces are used, an upper mast and lower mast, the lower mast is short and sticks into a hole in the deck and glued. The upper mast piece is much longer, basically just a bit short of the length of the entire rest of the mast, i.e. minus the short lower piece. I then find extremely fine electric wire insulation, i.e. from interior wires of a cable such as an old SCSI computer cable, or sometimes the wires that used to come with computer CD/DVD drives to feed the sound to a sound card in a computer. The hinge is simple enough, just cut the insulation the length of the total mast, glue onto the lower mast piece glued into a hole in the deck, then insert the upper mast piece into the insulation until there is a small gap between the upper mast piece bottom and the top of the lower mast piece. The insulation is flexible, so the mast will lower, and can easily be brought back up into position with the rigging lines inside the bottle/light bulb. I find that there is a limit to the number of times that one can flex the tiny insulation before it cracks or breaks, so I lower the masts as few times as possible. Also, the top of the lower mast piece and the bottom of the upper mast piece must be rounded, or else they will cut into and tear/break the insulation when bending. If you look closely at the first image attached you can just barely see a whiter area lower on each mast, this is the gap between the insect mounting pin pieces, and where the masts will "break" when lowered. Second photo shows a Constitution model collapsed to fit through the opening in a light bulb as an example of how it all works.

Hope that helps!

John Fox III

Lightbulb Connie 058.jpg

Lightbulb Connie 194.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...