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Bottled Ship Builder

Bottle Measuring Techniques

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I have never really used any tools for measuring the inside height, width, and length of my bottles.  It has always been by eye and guess-timation, and  so far it has done pretty well for me.  I am curious though, as to how others measure their bottles?  Some of the ships I have seen, fill the bottle really well, and also come real close to the limits of the bottle.



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I also guestimated and eyeball measured bottle inside diameters for several years until I had to extract a partially erected model that was a bit too tall for the bottle. I still remember the re-work that had to be done and my vow to "Never do that again."


I use a strip of paper folded lengthwise taped to a rod, wire or dowel, trimmed until it just clears the bottle ID.



Bottle ID gauge. The paper folds for insertion in the bottle.



And opens out in use (sometimes with a bit of help).


I then extract and measure the gauge and use that measurement for the rest of the layout of the model. I subtract the planned depth of my sea and the amount of clearance I want between the mastheads and the bottle and use that final dimension to size a beam-end photo or drawing of the vessel I want to build. After printing that image, it also goes into the bottle to verify that my visual image matches up with the reality, mostly to check for length in the bottle.



Juan Sebastian Elcano standing in for her sister Esmeralda to check length and overall visual of the project.


I've seen a number of devices to measure bottle IDs but I'm a big believer in the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle and haven't felt a need to make something more complex when I can make one of these in a few seconds. Also, my tools have a tendency to get sucked into a black hole to reappear some time later when no longer needed.


Don't forget to measure the ID of the bottle's neck and not just at the mouth. I've had that one bite me more than once.

Edited by Dave Fellingham
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I take a vernier calliper and measure the thickness of the glass lip at the opening and times by two. Then I take and measure the O.D. Of the bottle and subtract the total measurement of the lip openings. This gives me a pretty accurate measurement of the I.D. of the bottle. I find most bottles wall thickness is the same as the lip opening or close to it.

I made a tool to check how round the bottle is on the inside and to my surprise bottles are not perfectly round and their wavy as well unless you spend the big bucks and buy laboratory glass.

I also do what everyone else does and photocopy the exact size of the drawing and hold it up to the side and guesstimate just to see how it's going to look like in relationship to the bottle etc.


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I've started using Dave's method with a small variation.  Instead of a stick I cut out the plans I've copied for the ship at the intended size and leaving a long strip of paper that runs out of the bottle.  I then push the plans in the bottle and look at the size.  When I want to pull them back out I pull the strip of paper coming out the bottle neck.  So far it's worked very well.  

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