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Mirny, shipwreck and salvage


tazam0827
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Hi everyone.  I've been a member on this site for a few years but rarely post.  This build log is going to be for only my second ship, the Mirny.  I built my first ship three years ago with moderate success.  So of course, emboldened with beginners hubris, my second build was way way way too ambitious.  This is a tale of a shipwreck, a salvage, and a relaunch.  I know how the story ends because I was too afraid to write this log until it was complete, in case it was a total flop.

I found these drawing on the internet, printed them out and scaled them with a set of calipers.  I think the scale ended up being about 1:480.  The hull ended up being about 75mm long and 18mm wide, and 210mm from the waterline to the top of the main mast.

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I carved the hull out of a small piece of bass wood, mostly free hand.  I think I went through 3 or 4 blocks before I got a shape I was happy with

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I made the decking by taking a bunch of wooden coffee stirrers, coloring the flat side black with a magic marker and gluing a bunch of them together,  The black that seeped into the wood was just enough to look like the caulking between the boards. 

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I glued this to the top of my hull and sanded it down about a millimeter or 2, and carved it back so there was a small lip on top of the hull.

 

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I then took a full width coffee stirrer, wet in and bend it and glued it on top of that lip to make the gunwales.

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I then stained the deck with normal household wood stain and painted the hull with regular Testers model paint.  Added a toothpick Bowsprit, a dolphin spanker made from a straight pin, and a toothpick spritsail yard.  I let the spritsail yard pivot on the dolphin spanker for placement in the bottle.

I drilled holes in the side rail for the 20 deck cannons, but found I cold not make the cannons small enough to fit through the holes, so I cut them into notches.  I made the deck cannons out of little chips of bass wood and brass wire, but I had a heck of a time gluing them together and getting the paint to look decent.  I know there are a few other methods on this site to make better looking cannons that I'll try next time. 

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I made the other deck furniture from small bits of wood and wire and glued them to the deck.  I made the golden eagle figurehead from the foil from a wine bottle.  I added the martingale stays and the other lines on the bowsprit for which I used regular sewing thread, which I used for all my lines.  I added the chainplates out of strips of coffee stirrers, which was the start of my downfall, because by now the width of my ship was almost 20mm, and my bottle neck was 19.5mm.  more on that later.

 

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My masts and yards were all toothpicks. I think I tried using bamboo skewers towards the end.  Straight pins for the trucks on top of the masts.  I used various methods to attach the yards to the masts, but none of them gave me the movement I needed to pivot the yards parallel to the masts for insertion, mostly because I insisted on building the tops and cross trees on the masts.  The method that seemed to work the best for attaching the yards was to use thread and make a cow hitch in the middle of the yard, then pass both ends of the thread through a hole drilled in the mast and wrap both thread ends around the mast and knot them, then hit it all of it with a drop of glue to secure everything. 

I saw a method of making thread blocks on another post that I'm anxious to try, but for this one I just drilled holes with my pin vise in the yard ends for the running rigging to pass through. I drilled the holes before I tapered the ends of the yards.  I had a heck of a time getting all the holes to face the same direction on each yard, (some ending up parallel to the water line, some parallel to the masts) which caused me some problems during rigging.  I'll need to come up with some sort of jig in the future. 

I had a hard time getting the ratlines attached to the shrouds in an even way.  I ended up stiffening some thread with glue and letting the dry, then cutting the thread into short lengths, gluing them to the shrouds with super glue while the shrouds were on the masts, and clipping the ends with cuticle clippers.  I'd be happy to hear any hints on a better way of doing that.

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I learned  a trick or 2 just reading your build! 

Coffee stirrers! What a splendid idea!

There is a post titled "how do you make Ratlines?" That shows the neatest example using a jig.

i believe you can type "ratlines" in the search query and it will give help you find it. 

Nice work. Btw.

Have you peaked at Jack Needhams, Modeling Ships in Bottles.? 

Heck of resource. If not for the 4 models or 5 models he walks you through, it explains the steps (which can be used for all ships) and lots of secrets- deck furniture, life boats, deck houses, etc. 

Best of luck. 

Jeff

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I was concerned that with the placement of the lifeboats, capstan, hatches and the cabin,  and with the mast tops and cross trees, I wouldn't be able to fold the masts down flat to get it through the bottle neck if I used a wire hinge for the masts.  I made the mistake of on the main mast and fore mast, trying to use the method of making a divot in the deck and a line from the bottom of the mast through a hole in the center of the divot to pull the mast into place.  I planned to completely separate those 2 masts completely from the hull and putting them in the bottle separately, after inserting the hull with the mizzenmast. This meant that all the standing rigging like the shrouds and the backstays had to be moveable.  I ended up with around 67 separate threads that had to come out the bottle neck and be managed.  It looked great while on the work stand.

 

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For the sails I used regular typing paper stained in tea.  I made the lines representing the stitch lines by scoring the paper with the point of a needle and a ruler.  I made the reefing lines again with regular sewing thread.  I wet the paper and bent it around a dowel to give is a little curve.

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To attach the jibs and still let them slide on the jib stays, I pre-punctured small holes on the luff edge of the jib with a pin and sewed them onto the jib stays with sewing thread. 

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Flags were again typing paper folded around the main truck or the stay. 

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I had a hard time keeping track of all the lines, so I numbered and lettered them and wedged them into slots cut into paperboard which was tacked to my stand, each slot labeled with the line number/letter.  Later I resorted to taping little paper flags to the end of each line with the proper letter/number, but this made it very hard to untangle the lines once the got crossed up.  I'll have to find a better method, or more likely, not have more than 10 or 20 lines!

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That was quick building (wink). I see a hinge on the mizzen. Are you making a traditional hinged model? 

Tip I learned from a member on this forum. In a hinged model , put the hinge above the cabins.

Jack Needham recommends cabins and lifeboats can but put in after she goes in the bottle, so as they are not in the way during insertion. 

I have a problem with tangling threads as well. As few lines as possible is a good goal. 😀

BR, 

Jeff

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Jeff,

Yea, I had to go back to my archives and old phones to find the pictures to recreate the build!

There's a hinge on the mizzen.  After my first failed attempt, I put longer hinges on the main and fore masts to get them above the cabin.  On my next build, I'll definitely put the cabins on inside the bottle.  Live and learn!

Paul

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Now to launch the ship. Mizzen mast folded down....

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Main and Fore masts separated totally from the hull...

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Hull goes in first...oh oh....

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Followed by the other two masts.....I suspect at this point I'm doomed

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And disaster.  A total tangle.  After and hour or two tring to untangle my mess, I gave up.  Dejected, I broke the bottle with a hammer, put the shipwreck in a box and put it on the shelf for a year and tried to avoid thinking about it

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A few months ago, I wanted to do another ship but knew I had unfinished business.  I glued the wrecked ship to a mount, stripped everything off, re-glued the broken bowsprit, and totally re-rigged the ship.  This time I put the main and fore masts on long wire hinges that would clear the cabin and other deck furniture.

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I still had the problem of a ship slightly too large for a regular whiskey bottle opening. I searched in vain for a few weeks on line and in stores for a corked bottle with a wider neck with no luck.  I finally settled for a cheap jug wine bottle (Gallo or something like that?).  It had a screw top, which i hated, and the quality of the glass was not great, but I went with it anyway.  I used Plasticine clay for the sea, mixing grey, green and blue in varying amounts to give it a slightly uneven color and white clay for whitecaps.  I glued two blocks to the glass using Aleen's multi-surface adhesive that I purchased at Michael's craft store.  Dried quickly and held fast!

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Because i no longer had to have the standing rigging mobile, I glued all the shrouds and stays into their respective holes and cut them underneath the hull where they emerged while outside the bottle.  I went from something like 67 threads I had to manage down to around 23 or 24

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After 2 or 3 weeks' work, ready to launch again

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I glued the ship to the 2 blocks and built up the sea around the hull.  I glued the running rigging in place where it left the foremost yard arm.  I used a broken bit of razor blade glued to a wooden dowel and used that to cut off the thread.  I unfortunately broke a few threads in the wrong place trying to cut them and had to try to glue 2 ends of a broken thread together while in the bottle and eventually got them so it didn't look two bad...one advantage of a wavy glass bottle.  I finally got the process down to slice the threads without ruining the model...I made three different slicing tools with razor blades at different angle and used a sawing motion against the thread, and eventually it cut through cleanly and gently.

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And finally, I covered up the ugly metal screw cap with sealing wax I bought at Michael's, melted in a double boiler.  Inspired by those Maker's Mark commercials :)

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And that's it.  Not museum quality, but nice enough for the mantle after I build a stand.  And I can rest easy at night and start planning my next project! thanks for reading along and all the encouraging comments.

 

Paul (Taz)

 

 

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"Broke the bottle" - been there and its not a nice feeling. Superb recovery though and the bottle looks good.

I've done a couple SIBs with the masts going in separately. (one at present which I'll upload in the near future). First attempt ended in the bottle break. For the second attempt I put the masts in first placing the bottoms in holes drilled in a piece of wood at the back of the bottle pressed into the sea (Plasticine - can be reshaped afterwards). This requires the threads to have enough length for working. It also meant that they were not doubled up passing through the neck. Then put the hull in drawing up slack as I went. I also used a control thread from the bottom of the masts through the hull to help pull them into place once the hull was in. This thread also has the effect of helping stop the bottom of the mast looping around others and if it does its easier to untangle. 

The other thing I do with threads is follow a tip I picked up from a book, I can't remember who by, where I draw a deck outline on a piece of card and then stab a pin hole through where the control thread goes through the deck. I then feed the free ends of the control threads through their respective holes. It keeps them neat, untangled, on the SIB side at least, and I don't have to search for the one I wish to adjust. The card is fixed to a suitable point in front of the bottle when launching.

I've also found that cutting the threads is trickier than it sounds. Has anyone out there actually built and used the hot wire thread cutter that there are plans for in various SIB books and magazines? It would be interesting to know.

Best

Alan

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Nice recovery, Paul.ship looks good. I like the Gallo bottle. 

2 hours ago, exwafoo said:

 Has anyone out there actually built and used the hot wire thread cutter that there are plans for in various SIB books and magazines? It would be interesting to know.

Best

Alan

I burned some lines off. There was smoke. I spent a good amount of time cleaning smoke off the glass. 

I prefer a razor. 

I opened up a Bic  razor and cut that up, and mounted on bamboo sticks. They are flexible. Never busted a real razor blade. I reckon that's difficult and scary. 

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4 hours ago, Jeff B said:

Is the Mirny a ship you wanted to build because it has historical value and it's important to you, or did you just like the way it looks and want to build it?

Asking for a friend.

Jeff,

I wanted to build a ship A) that had an interesting story and history, B) that I could find detailed diagrams of, C) was a three-masted square rigger.  I thought it was cool that it was the first to discover and circumnavigate the Antarctic.  I originally planned on building an ice shelf or iceberg into the surrounding sea, and in the first bottle I actually had a few quartz stones embedded to simulate sea ice, but I never followed through with that in the second bottle.

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