Jump to content
Bottled Ship Builder

Preussen Clipper


Recommended Posts

Life has been exceedingly busy. I rarely get into the man cave these days as work has me going constantly. As well I have a big shut-down coming up which will require me to work 20 days straight to supervise the safety aspect and I will be on-call 24/7. However every once in a while I do manage to get a bit done regarding the planning and implementation of the Preussen build.


Lately I have been working on building a few special tools for inside the bottle work. My seas are ready to install but… I needed two special tools to proceed, and one more for inside the bottle finesse work.


The first is a tool to touch up the cracks/seams with some modelling paste. The second tool is to then mask the paste with some acrylic paint so henceforth an inside the bottle paint brush system with interchangeable brushes.




I went out and bought some more piano wire and some brass tubing.






I heated some piano wire with a propane torch to form the modelling paste. I love piano wire it's very usefull for building tools.




The third tool is still in the design stage. It will be a spring loaded grabber type tool to maneuver stuff around inside of the bottle like yards, masts, sails, rigging etc. I purchased some brass tubing and bullet proof piano wire. I love the wire as I can heat it and beat it into whatever shape my heart desires. The tool for painting inside of the bottle is designed to incorporate interchangeable paint brushes. I just soldered some brass pipe on the wire and I can cut off the tips of paint brushes to use as desired. So there you have it for now ... Jeff



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  I've heard bicycle spokes well spoken of for making tools to work inside the bottle, but prefer ordinary black iron tie wire like what's used to tie rebar; it bends readily and is useful in dodging around rigging and getting into tight corners. That being said, I too have a great affection for music wire, especially the very small sizes, which are useful for making small drill bits and the jigs used in some aspects of rigging.






Link to comment
Share on other sites



I wish I could have the time to knock off a model quickly however time is at a premium these days. Between being a Dad, taking care of aging parents, building a muscle car with the younger son, the wife, other side projects, not to mention work it's all a balancing act. Yes patience is the key!




I too have heard of bicycle spokes but never tried them. The music wire I purchase is dirt cheap from the hobby shop.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


Just wondering why you picked the most complicated sailing ship ever built?      If I were about to start a SIB, I would try something simple, such as a schooner without any square topsails!     

I wonder if the Preussen has ever been bottled before?     I have seen four-masted barques in bottles, but never a four-masted full-rigged ship, let alone a five-masted one!    

I first wanted to build Preussen in 1973, but it was not until 2007 that I felt confiedent enough to start, and that was in a case, not a bottle!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Dave,

I have just Googled it  as well, and found lots of Preussen's in bottles, as well as the above.       I am no authority at all on SIBs, but  feel that undertaking Preussen as a "first SIB", especially when spare time is at a premium, is more than a bit of a problem.   But I am speaking from my own point of view, as someone who has very little patience!      Looking forward to see how it goes.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the things learned from reading Harold A. Underhill’s books is his methodology when it comes to naval design and thinking. For a while I was struggling with how to run all of the ratlines and backstays for the Preussen. The Lord works in mysterious ways and last night the answer came. I will devise a lever in which everything will attach to and the lever will be allowed to pivot downwards to apply tension.


The masts will be stepped into a piece of brass tubing in the decking and will be removable. Once everything is inside the bottle then the masts can be inserted into the tubing one by one from the rear mast forward. Then all I’ll have to do is pull one control line for each mast and all of the back-stays and ratlines will be tightened and secured.


Option 1 is to run each individual control line through a hawsehole or …option two is through a hole drilled in the front of the hull. I am leaning towards option two as I probably will run all of the running rigging through the hawse holes. 30 lines X 5 = 150 lines. God’s way is always perfect I’ll only need 5!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

There will need to be more than 150 lines.   As well as the standing rigging shown above, all the fore-and aft-stays with seventeen fore-and-aft sails (attached image), plus 30 square sails with 60 braces (one each side of each yard).       A daunting task.      Also looking forward to seeing how it is done.




Edited by Shipbuilder
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can rig all the shrouds and backstays outside the bottle but you won't be able to set the masts into a hole or tube. You can use either hinges at the bottom of the masts or use one of two variations on what I call the "divot" method. For this just drill a very shallow hole - just up to the shoulder of the point of the bit the same diameter as the mast - leaving a shallow "divot" to locate the base of the mast. The base of the mast has a matching shallow cone to fit in the divot. Glue a length of thread into a small hole drilled in the center of the mast base and pass this thread through a small hole drilled through the hull at the center of the divot to draw the base of the mast into the divot. The thread can be omitted if you don't mind guiding the mast into place from outside the bottle. I've used both variations but prefer the thread when there are deck obstructions. It is possible to rig an entire vessel outside the bottle, pull the masts out of the divots which collapses the rigging like a pup tent. Inside the bottle, all that is required is to move the bases of the masts back into the divots. However, this method requires clear space forward of the mast locating divots to allow the mast bases to slide on the deck into position. Having some stays loose will allow moving the mast bases into the divots around or over obstacles.


Conventionally, all of the fore-and-aft stays (six on the foremast, four on the other four) will have to be routed out the bottle - 14 to 22 total, depending on how they're rigged. Here's three sketches of what happens to the fore-and-aft stays.



A brig with three yards on each mast, other spars (spanker boom and gaff) and all rigging but the fore-and-aft stays have been omitted. There are two variations on rigging these stays. First is to have the main topmast stay (middle one on the aft mast) route through the foremast (and becomes the forestay) and through the deck. Similarly with the main topgallant stay (the upper one) through the foremast (and becomes the fore topmast stay) and through the bowsprit. You won't be able to glue the fore topmast stay sail to the stay, it will have to slide on that stay. The alternative is to rig the main topmast and topgallant stays more realistically by passing the stays through eyes glued to the aft side of the foremast and down through holes in the deck and out the bottle. They can be routed through the same hole as the mainstay. Of course, all the forestays start on the foremast and go out through the hull and bowsprit in this variation.



Here we have the two variations on masts. The upper has the bases of the masts fixed in place by hinges. The stays are all the same length as those on the first sketch. Notice how much more line will be needed in order for the masts to fold down. If the stay continues through the foremast then the shortages are added together and it also shows why many staysails can't be glued to the stays when continuous stays are used.

The lower sketch has the mast bases loose. It seems possible to attach the stays at both ends to the mast and deck as shown but I would plan for the stays going through the bowsprit being control lines. On a five-master, the main mast stays going through the deck may need to be loose as well. This could cut the number of stays out your bottle down to six or eight, maybe ten. I've never tried the divot method (with none of the stays being control lines - just like erecting a tent using nothing but the tent poles) on more than two masts. I've learned that Murphy takes special interest in ship bottling and I prefer having options when - not if - something doesn't go as planned.


If you're intending to rig the shrouds and backstays loose and draw them with the pull of one string, it would depend on 150 tied and glued knots not failing. You would need to glue off all of those threads individually inside the bottle to make sure the standing rigging doesn't go slack if any of those knots fail with time.


Depending on how complete you intend to rig Preussen, I see eight or ten control lines in the fore-and-aft stays and two control lines for the spanker boom. Braces, yard halliards, topping lifts, clew lines, bunt lines, leech lines, reef tackles, etc. can be rigged outside the bottle and won't need adjustment inside the bottle, with a few exceptions such as tacks (and those are easy in the bottle but rarely done). I don't see any point in doing up-hauls, down-hauls and both the sheets on all the stay sails (and much of the listed running rigging) on a model of Preussen that isn't much longer than Bob's pen. You're going to have a problem keeping the diameter of the rigging to scale; simplifying the rigging somewhat will help balance over-size lines. Even the finest fly tie thread is grossly out of scale for stay sail lines and many other small lines.

Edited by Dave Fellingham
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's two more options you could consider.  I've seen lines run through a tube (often a coffee straw) that come up out of the sea.  The lines are glued down on the deck and then the lines cut at the end of the tube.  Sea is then placed over the lines once cut.  The advantage to this is you don't have to take as much care in cutting the lines.  It there's some strangling piece cover it with paint and clay.  Your wood sea might make that a bit trickier though.  


Other option 2  Often deck houses need to be inserted after the ship is in the bottle.  I've see others run the line up through the deck and then when the lines are glued and cut they place a deck house or hatch over the exposed lines.  This is another method that hides straggling lines.  Once cut short enough any left over is covered by the deck house.     


Here's an idea of that from Michael Bardets website.  He also used the method David described.  This ship in bottle was a restoration built in the late 19th century.  http://michel.bardet.pagesperso-orange.fr/indexa.htm








Lots to think about on this one.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Life has been crazy busy at work and being stuck in the sandwich generation makes life challenging at the best of time. I have three projects on the go right now. Building a board game, writing an article, and of course the Preussen. I haven’t done much on this clipper however I hope to get a lot done over the Christmas holidays as I have two weeks off. :P


If the Lord is willing and I don’t get too many intrusions a lot can be done on her. I plan to supper detail her and hopefully Saint Nick will bring me a Miniature punch set from RP Toolz out of Budapest.


I found a dealer in British Columbia that carries this wonderful set of punches ranging from .5 mm to 2mm. THE TOOL is great for punching out circles for portholes, and making miniature blocks/tackle. I was turned on to this set at a meeting I attended with Michael Mott of Model Ship World. I have learned a ton from Michael.


The following pictures show the Artwox decking installed, an anchor winch modelled and spotted, some deck hatches in place, and 4 out of 5 of the mast locaters in place as well. I apologize for the pictures I took them with my IPhone as my digital camera is at work.  More to come at Christmas … Jeff







Link to comment
Share on other sites

Today was a big win for me. I hummed and hawed about purchasing the tool from RP Toolz for $134 CDN funds. I just couldn’t justify paying that kind of dough for punching out small plastic discs.  


So being the frugal guy that I am I made my own to experiment with?  To my pleasant surprise it turned out well. I used a piece of stick pin for my first size of .5 mm or about .020” in diameter and installed it into a piece of wooden doweling.


Then I cut two pieces of thin Plexiglas and pinned them in place with some piano wire. I drilled a .5 mm hole in the middle. I put a couple of pieces of Popsicle sticks underneath and glued them in place. I punched 5 pieces out of 0.10” clear styrene and painted them flat black to represent portholes on the Preussen as a trial. Acrylic paint was used.


Also to my surprise I flipped the discs over and I get a shiny glass looking appearance with the flat black on the backside to show some depth. It’s hard to see in the photograph but it’s there.

Note: those dots you see are half a millimetre in diameter. I used my iPad to magnify it so you can make them out.


If you look just below the dots you can just make out where I punched them out of the styrene. Look closely … Jeff








Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Today I had a chance to get back to the Preussen SIB. First picture is a little holder I made to hold small part(s) while I work on them and then paint them up accordingly.




Second photo is another holder I made for painting and this photo shows two scratch built chicken coups on the tips of the tooth picks less paint that are located beside the anchor winch on deck just underneath two ladders on each side that head up to the forecastle. Coups will be painted brown with some straw color.




Below picture shows a piece of thin plastic that I will eventually punch port holes into to show the portholes that are located in the forward bunk area underneath the forecastle deck adjacent anchor winch. Portholes will be 0.2mm in diameter.  I needed to glue the strip on temporarily to figure out where to wrap it around the upper part of the structure that supports the deck. BTW those two chicken coups you see measure 1mm X 1.5 mm.




Next two shots show the forward entrances to the area underneath the mizzen mast where there are crew quarters etc.. There are 3 man hatches and each hatch has a 0.2mm porthole modeled and the other three are bigger windows at 0.5mm in diameter. First shot picked up some yellow light from the deck and looks weird. Second photo shows it more clearly against a white background. Not bad for an I Phone. If you look really closely I even modeled the base board underneath the hatches that lies against the wall and deck.






Last but not least ‘a close up shot of the bowsprit inserted into the hull.’ This is going to get really interesting as… at this scale I have to drill holes in it for jibs et al. Also… there are metal fittings for rigging from the sprit to the hull. She’s going to be dicey at this scale however I think I can pull it off.



Edited by Chasseur
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I could never work to that scale!     Bad enough at 25 feet to 1 inch with something as complicated as Preussen.    And making it all fold down and up again is totally beyond my comprehension!     This is how I fitted my bowsprit, in a socket!




Edited by Shipbuilder
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

In order to get ‘some scale port holes’ small enough and to add some realism to the Preussen I set upon this little project to make myself a small bore tubing cutter.




As a bonus it can nip off spars and masts as well.


I have to commend Igor Sky as his post on Model Ship World got this project rolling as he was struggling with the same issue in trying to cut small piping without crushing it. The following photos show the process of installing the blade assembly, blade cover, piping receiver, and thumb screw assembly to put some pressure on the piping when cutting it off.










The candidate for the project is 1/32” brass piping purchased from K and S out of the USA. Also I had one small piece left from my Father in Laws aeroplane modelling days to play with as well. The small screws came from an old smart phone that cratered on my eldest son. Smart phones are a treasure trove for small scale project's as the shapes are miniature and square to the earth!




I also had to heat the cutting blade cherry red then dip it in some motor oil to temper and harden it. In order for the tubing not to slip out of my grip a ‘Tee Handle’ was soldered on so I could cut the piping off. I made the blade cover removable by removing three screws and then quickly swinging it out of the way to change up blades as I go.










So there you have it a nice little tool to aid in the build of small scale port holes ... Jeff

















Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem with portholes at this scale on a black hull is that they will be virtually invisible.      They can be seen on the white plating quite easily.     I just drill them in with a fine drill, and leave it at that.      To get an overall appearance of accuracy, it is far more important in my opinion to get the masts and spars fined down to a correct scale thickness, although I feel this would be virtually impossible on a ship the size of Preussen in a bottle because they would become too delicate to drill to ensure they could be pulled up again without breaking!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Bob,


Thanks for the link to the photograph. The picture is interesting as most models I have seen depict the masts, spars, and bowsprit painted a light yellow ocher color yet in the attached photograph the aforementioned appear to be black in color. Can you please verify the latter if possible?


The picture shows the banding plates on the hull for which I am grateful as I was struggling with trying to find an accurate photograph of them. Regarding the port holes I think I might leave the natural brass color to show against the black for contrast and just weather accordingly. For the masts I will use John Fox's technique of laminated cherry wood strips turned down to the appropriate scale. In areas where the control lines go though these areas will be wood. The wood will be inserted into fine brass piping supports to keep the integrity in these areas. Spars will be mostly wood, some metal, and on the gallants they will be carbon fiber turned down on ends to keep the scale somewhat accurate.



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...