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Bottled Ship Builder

How to design?

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I'm completely new to this, so I'm going to start with SIB kits. I'm hoping to get to the point where I'm making mine from scratch. My question is- how do you guys design the plans for your ships? I want to make ones that are as historically accurate as possible. I know that's probably a stupid question, but I'd love to hear from you guys- your SIBs look amazing!

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For the most part, I rely on the plans for the original ship itself if I can find copies of them,  usually looking for what is called the "General Arrangement Plan", which shows the exterior of the ship from the side and from the top down, which I find useful in translating the 2-D image of the plans into a 3-D model. For sailing ships, there is a similar kind of plan called a "Rigging Plan", but this usually only just shows the side of the ship, but it's helpful seeing how all the sails and spars are rigged when the ship is underway.

If I can't find the plans, well the next best thing is to try and find some photographs or drawings/paintings of the ship in question that show the same angles as the General Arrangement Plan, from the sides and from the top down, these can also help determine what colors the ship needs to be and what flags she flew. You can never have too much reference, and besides books, a good place to look is online. Try searching for the name of the ship in question in an image search, you might be surprised as to what you can uncover!

As for planning how to put the ship in the bottle, well the bottle itself largely determines the overall size of the model. The diameter of the neck determines how big the hull and other sections can be, and the height inside the bottle determines how high the superstructure, masts, funnels, etc can be, and these can be measured and marked off on a piece of paper you can then hold up to your model to determine whether or not it's going to fit once everything is in place inside the bottle (don't forget to allow for the height of your "sea"!). The usual way I build a model is to start with the hull, I carve it out from a block of wood into the correct shape and sand it down as required until it slips down the neck easily, then as I add features on, I double-check to make sure everything still fits as I go along, trimming or sanding as necessary, then I paint it, collapse it and get it secured in the bottle, then re-erect it and do the final adjustments before sealing it off. You really build a ship in a bottle twice, once outside the bottle and once inside it!

It is entirely possible to cheat a little bit and build a ship that's too big to go down the neck of the bottle by building it in sections, each section being able to go down the neck on its own, and that slot into the other sections using little pegs that go into holes drilled in the section below. That's how I've built big liners like the Titanic and the SS United States. The hull is a section, which goes in first, then the superstructure is another section which goes in second and slots into the hull, and then the funnels and the large deck features like cargo cranes slot into their places on the superstructure one by one, then the masts (if there are any) come up and get tied off and glued so they stay up, and then the cork goes into the bottle and it's done.

Hope this helps!

Brendan O.



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Hi Roonil!
Sometimes it is quite difficult to find drawings of a particular ship. But usually there are no problems to find drawings of known ships, including the theoretical drawing of the hull, side views and from above, details of some individual elements.

I think, first you can decide model which  of the type of ship you want to make. Then it will be easier for you to find the necessary drawings and additional information.

Best Regards!

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