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Bottled Ship Builder

US Lexington 1776


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I have long had a fascination for the US Lexington 1776. It is the subject of Charles G. Davis' book "The Built Up Ship Model" that I've had for forty years now. I never imagined that I would ever be able to have the skills let alone find the materials to be able to build a from scratch plank-on-frame ship model. However, after I got the book I used the ship diagram in the book to build a nice from scratch, to scale SIB of the US Lexington 1776. I built it for a gift upon request for a ship-in-a-bottle and after I gave it away I never saw it again. I always thought it was my best made model and I could never find another bottle that could hold the ship's dimensions.



So I recently purchased a Mamoli kit of the Lexington to build as a scale plank-on-frame which will be my third POF and my forth scale model sailing ship.





But before I start the plank-on-frame model I want to build another scale scratch build SIB since I want to re-purpose the Dutch flask bottle that I didn't use for my Airfix Cutty Sark SIB kit.




I found a nice depiction of an of-the-period naval battle scene and I want to either attach it inside the bottle of maybe more pragmatically outside the bottle.




I made some scale drawings that confirm that the ship is about as tall as it is long and hence I need the rectangular size of the Dutch flask bottle.




I began this carved hull quite awhile ago and I realized that I couldn't get it to fit in any of the bottles I came across so I laid it aside until I found the AIrfix Cutty Sark kit.




So slowly I'm making some progress with it.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally made some more progress on this. I had used an old watch gear to make a ship's wheel the last time I made this SIB so I reprised that method and also made a capstan out of a gear. Then I found some watches that I think I might be able to repair and got sidetracked repairing all my old watches and bands! Another hobby for another forum I suppose.

Well here is my current progress. I have the deck detail done so now it's on to grinding down dowels for the masts, yards and spars. I left the ship's boat loose on deck to see if it doesn't interfere with folding down the foremast once I've installed it.


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  • 2 years later...




I finally got back to this model. I've gotten as far as rigging the mainmast, next onto the foremast and jibs. I couldn't decide if I should use paper or cloth for the sails so I used both. I first cut paper sails, I didn't like the way they looked so I pasted cloth on top of them. The paper provides rigidity and the cloth has a better look. I used coffee to stain the sails for a taupe effect. I hope to paste the picture of the sea battle into the bottle as a backdrop.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, it can't be always skittles and beer. I was closing in on the home stretch and was about to start adding the jibsails to finish the rigging. I decided that I needed another hole in the bowsprit and I ended up cracking it. When I was trying to remove and replace it, my finger accidentally flicked the mainmast and cracked that. So, I may be able to salvage the foremast but I'm in for some extensive time in dry dock before she'll launch into her glass encapsulated sea. Gees, this taking me forever to finish!WIN_20230114_15_38_44_Pro.thumb.jpg.f76ea1ecca806a6e4aeed5a2fba47780.jpg

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Well here's the battle damage: completely rebuild the bow sprite; I only need to replace the lower mainmast below the truck; The yard arms and sails, spanker and foremast are all salvageable; I damaged the life boat davits during de-rigging; and most of the rigging needs to be redone. 

I'm glad I used PVA glue during the early stages instead of cyno since this seems to break apart more easily. I may try dipping the replacement sprite and mast section in cyno before I drill them to give them more strength. Live and learn...WIN_20230115_07_37_43_Pro.thumb.jpg.0ff42fc61bcf53687eb7c20d64ef86b8.jpgWIN_20230115_07_38_08_Pro.thumb.jpg.794bc881bfba01c0dd53ce65109545f8.jpg

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