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Bottled Ship Builder

Hannah, an Amati kit


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Hi Folks, I'm new to this forum, and also new to putting ships into bottles.

I bought the Amati kit of the Hannah, and I'm battling on with it.

So far, I have built the hull, it is "bread and butter" construction, all quite straight forward. sanded the hull, painted and glued on the photo-etched bulwark.

I am thinking of painting the hull with West System epoxy, so as to fill the end-grain of the ply, and using West "fairing filler" to give the hull a nice smooth finish. I have had good results with full size model boats, using this method.

There is an excellent set of videos by Gary Renshaw on the web, showing how to build the model, which I am using as an instruction manual!

Hopefully, all the more experienced modelers out there might find it of some interest, and hopefully point me in the right direction when I get lost!

I'll come back when there is a bit more progress.





Boat 5.JPG

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Nice job.

I won one of these kits at convention. Got the hull done, I found this messy to glue up as the glue mixed with the soot lefet over from the laser cut pieces.

I am seriously considering making a replacement set of masts and spars, as I think the flat photo etch ones will look somewhat strange. Its on hold at the moment while I do other things. I'll load some phots when done.


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A bit more progress,

Alan, I agree, the photo etched masts look a bit odd. I'v never seen a sailing boat with flat spars.

I glued some half round styrene strip to the masts, boom, gaffs and bowsprit, and painted them brown. 

They seem to turn out OK.



ps, the camera shoes up a multitude of sins!!!



Boat 7.JPG

Edited by MickyK
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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm back, Hi all.

Finally got her painted, and all the deck furniture in place.

There are a few issues, some I think are built into the kit, some are mine!

If anyone builds this kit, when you cut the slot for the photo-etched brass keel, take great care to make it very neat, and close fitting, especially around the bow area. I had to put in tiny amounts of wood filler to make it fair. If there was no filler, the laminates of the bread and butter hull would indicate planking, which could be varnished, or stained. I think the model would then look a bit more realistic,

The cateyes, which are a part of the photo-etched bulwarks, have a tendency to snap off as you bend them to shape. And I  think that the tabs that fold up to become part of the hinge for the masts may have the same issue. I'm thinking seriously of gluing a little block of wood to them, to give them a bit more strength. I really don't want them breaking as I'm trying to erect the masts inside the bottle!

And the supplied transom doesn't fit properly.

So I'll start on the masts etc, which I have been playing with.

I intend to make a few minor changes, nothing major, just so that the details look a bit more nautical.






Boat 8.JPG

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all,

More progress.

The masts are up, the sails on, since the photo, I've put the Ratlines on.....

As I said earlier, I glued some 1/2 round styrene strips to the masts, gaffs, boom and bowsprit, and painted them brown. I think they look a bit more realistic than square brass etchings.

The sails supplied with the kit I wasn't happy with, so I remade them out of very light-weight sail material. They are still a bit "chunky", however the entire boat is not perfectly to scale. I think they look OK! At least better than the originals.

I also tied them to the masts and gaffs, looks a bit like mast hoops.

The eagle eyed among you may see extra fore stays, they are temporary, just so that I can tension the rig while i tie the rat-lines.

And the anchor mount broke again! At the moment I've put a drop of areldite epoxy onto it, and now I have to wait 24 hours to see if it holds.

And yes, the masts fold down enough to go into the bottle!!

The kit supplies a stand to go into the bottle, however as the ship is displayed with sails hoisted, it should also be displayed sailing. (with a crew on board) That is  just my opinion, I would expect there to have been lots of discussion in the past regarding how miniature ships should be displayed, Sails up, sails down, on a stand, in the ocean, personally, I think it is up to the builder, after all, it's his model.

There won't be a lot of progress for the next 6 to 8 weeks, as I am going in to get my eyeballs up-dated to v.2.0 , to get rid of my cataracts.

Enjoy your builds.







Boat 9.JPG

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  • 1 month later...

Hi All,

Thank you for your wishes, everything went well, I now have better eyesight than most people 30 years younger than me!

She is almost ready to go into a bottle.

Some cleaning up of details etc.

I have been playing with the sea, (in a coffee jar), and it seems to be working  OK, the clay takes a few days to set properly, but it easy to paint. The clay does not stick to the glass, so when it is properly dry, I have to roll the bottle and put epoxy in and then move the clay sea back into position. A bit of a pain, but what the hell!

With my new eyes, I can now see all the bits that aren't good! However, I won't pull it all apart and start again, that will have to wait for the next project.

Enjoy your-selves!



Boat 12.JPG

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On 8/26/2019 at 9:15 PM, Jeff B said:

Hey, Micky,

1. Looks nice.

2. The coat hanger and string launch tool- does that grip good? 

I ask because I have a hard time holding on to my vessels once I get in past the neck. 

It's want to forge my own tools. 




I've started this kit (raffle prize) but its on the back burner at present, so I've yet to try using the tool. It looks as if it may be useful, as long as it doesn't slip. What intrigued me  more than anything was that some bits of the kit are what I would class as cheaply done, e.g; the stand supplied for the ship shown in the photo above is MDF and could easily, and far more pleasing, to have been hardwood. I have replaced it with oak.  However, the tool supplied is made from a very nice piece of hardwood and brass rod and is disposable assuming the kit is a once only build. 

I've had the same problems holding the SIB once in the bottle. When I did the Colvic Watson, (see build logs) I stole and amended a method that John Fox III showed a few weeks ago. No photos unfortunately, but an electronic sketch is shown, I used 3 wooden coffee stirrers, slotted and CA glued as shown to  follow the curve of the bottle. The SIB had two small pegs as shown (black) which passed through holes in the stirrer. These turned out to be a bit loose so I secured the hull by using a staple made from 0.5 mm brass rod, the points being sharp and just long enough to grip. Realistically, there is not a lot of weight to worry about. I had to re-enforce the stirrer joints with more glue a couple of times when it let go - I still think these are impregnated with something that affects the 'stick'. The  supporting stick was cut away where necessary  to accommodate the control strings.  Anyway, it actually worked well during launch, allowing masts etc to be positioned, glued and so on. When all was done, I released the SIB by gently levering out the staple with a length of plastic rod formed into a chisel point, then glued the SIB  into the sea recess.

Lots of room for improvement, but I'm certainly going to use this method again.

Best for now





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I think I can do that Alan. I'm looking for a way to securely hold the hull. My tweezers usually get caught up in the forward rigging.  You break off the piece attached to the keel  or slide it off?

I have pusher that has a hole on the end that the end of a bowsprit usually fits in. I can see pushing off with that. 

Are you setting directly into adhesive? It would seem a break off would be ideal. In theory.

Last ship, I tried to put adhesive in after the ship was in the bottle, and got some on the lines in the bottle neck and lost individual line control. I don't know what I was thinking. Huge brain fart. 

On second check with a real stir stick, I can't see cutting or breaking it off in the bottle- UNLESS it was mostly cut, but not quite. 

Set it on a glued down Popsicle stick with adhesive. Snap it off, with little force, maybe by pushing pushing forward and back once set. 

My tweezers usually get caught up in the rigging. I'm looking for a way to securely hold the hull.


Thank you Alan




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The original stand is MDF.  I remade it in mahogany, then decided to place the ship in the sea.

The tool supplied seems to hold the ship reasonably well. there is almost no weight in the ship, and the brass wire is quite soft and flexible, so it should be reasonably easy to poke the ship through the neck, and then drop it into the bottomless hole in the ocean. Plan A is to put some slow setting epoxy in the hole, and let the ship bed into it.

Sounds easy!!!!!



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Hi Mick, Jeff,

Mick, seems we had the same thoughts on the quality of the base and thanks for the info on the holder. Much appreciated.

Jeff, as a picture is worth a 1000 words and is definitely better than my ‘sketch’ here are some phots show how I do things. Not the only way by any means, but may give you ideas. I’ve used a hull of a clipper that I am building to demonstrate, ignore the peg sticking out of the bottom, that's temporary for holding in a vice.

The photos below show the brass staple in the stirrer stick. I drilled pilot holes in both the stick and the hull to ease the fit – there is still enough friction to hold.




The photos below show the stick pinned to the hull. The recesses are for access to the rigging when the masts are fitted. I would cut away some of the stick to gain access to the forward one. I’ve also glued a length of thread to the stick and then tied it around the hull to help support it. Its easily cut away when required.




The photo below shows the stick being removed by gently pushing a styrene rod shaped to a chisel point under the bow after the thread has been cut. I’m thinking about putting a dogleg in the styrene rod to make it a bit easier for access.


The phot below show some of the tools I use. Top to bottom-


  • Swab stick holder – a wooden skewer with some brass tube at each end (different angles) formed to hold a cotton swab. I use these with acetone to clean the inside of the bottle. Acetone removes plasticene (for the sea) and glue (both CA and PVA) that may have found its way onto the glass. I don’t think you are the only sibber to catch things when gluing up in the bottle.

  • Brass wire – on a length of glass fibre. Used to push, pull, poke, lift etc. I’ve also used it to place small amounts of glue where required because the brass bends easily.

  • Small brush – a small brush head glued to a length of brass mounted in a wooden skewer. I use this for touch up paints and glue (dilute PVA). The brass can be bent as required.

  • Two glue applicators – the top one used for in the bottle. Its a sewing needle, bent as shown, mounted in a wooden skewer and with the head ground down to a ‘U’ shape to hold the glue. The one below is similar but straight and only about 6” long that I use outside the bottle.

I’ve found that to reduce glue going astray in the bottle I have a ‘dry’ practice run to check that the applicator will reach where I want. I hold it horizontally with the ‘point’ towards me, and place the bend in the needle on the inside of the neck furthest from me as I (slowly) insert it. This helps keep it steady and the gluey point away from the sides. I’ve also tried using slips of paper to protect the control threads. If I do catch the side then a quick wipe with acetone gets rid of it before it dries – its quicker  when its wet.

Hope it helps

Best for now


Edited by exwafoo
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All,

I have a question,

"Has anybody ever actually finished this kit???"


I've been playing with my sea, and have come across an intriguing problem!

The OD of the bottle is 90 mm, minus 2 mm? thickness of the glass, leaves  86 mm clearance inside the bottle.

The ship, on it's supplied stand, is 88 mm tall.

According to my calculations, it won't fit, especially using the supplied stand.

My sea is about 4 mm thick, under the hull, and I don't want to find out, after I've poked Hanna through the neck, and glued her to the ocean, that the masts are too tall!

At this stage, it looks as though I will have to remove my clay sea, and then do something else.(Plan C!)

I'll have to ponder this!!






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Just started working on mine but I've known at least two other people that ran into the same problem.  I did some investigating with my bottle,  using a stick on a string I cut the stick down until if fit top to bottom where the ship would be. Your right on with the 86mm. 




So yeah if the ship is already 88mm and you have a 4mm sea its a problem.  Luckily your using a clay sea.  I've run into this problem before with another ship and decided that once the ship is in the sea no one is going to see the bottom of the ship. If you used resin they might but not with a clay sea. Get a dremel and take a couple milimeters off the bottom of the ship. It does mean cutting through the metal keel but if your careful it can be done pretty quickly and easily. Take the ship down to the waterline of you have to.  No ones going to notice once its all in place. 

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Glad this has been pointed out before I progressed any further. I'm a bit surprised because Amati make a lot of ship kits and I would have thought that they would have made sure that things would go to plan before marketing it. Something like this can not do a their reputation any good at all.


PS Think I'll select another bottle - the one in the kit is not exactly the best.

Edited by exwafoo
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My understanding is Amati's kits are good.  I finished the rigging on one of their USS Constellations and had a good time doing it.  Their instructions were good and parts made well.  Unfortunately I've found this ship in bottle kit has had more of an adverse reflection on ship in bottle building then it has on Amati.  I've talked to at least two people that wrote off ship in bottle building because of the trouble they had with this kit. So I've been critical of the kit it self. It will be interesting to try it out myself.  Then I do plan on a lot of kit bashing.

I agree the bottle isn't amazing. Clarity is OK but I don't like the curved back very much.  A different bottle would serve the ship well.    

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