Models in Bottles

Building ships in bottles from scratch

September 15, 2016

Ship in Bottle 3 (part 6)

Guess what? The friggin thing won't fit in the bottle! I don't know how I forgot to check this weeks ago, but I guess I did. The hull was just too wide, no chance this ship was going to fit through the neck of the bottle.

What's more, this isn't the first time I've made this mistake. Note the top picture of the finished product compared to the next picture which is me planning the ship using a different bottle. Yup, got everything built, tried to put the ship in the bottle, and discovered it didn't fit. Had to get a new bottle because I wasn't willing to rework anything. Today, I'm going to go the rework route instead.

I can't believe I have to say this, but seriously, when you're done shaping the hull, you're going to want to make sure the ship fits in the bottle. Otherwise, you either get a new bottle or fix the ship. This was fairly heartbreaking but it had to be done:

Resanded hull since model won't fit in the bottle
Sorry Lyman.

I'm hesitant to say this because I might be doomed to repeat the mistake, but "Oh well, lesson learned". I'll obviously have to repaint it after this sanding, but the only other thing I lost was the hull number which is fine--I was only 80% happy with the "729" anyway.

I've repainted since this picture and added a few for structures to the deck. Oh, almost forgot, I made sure it fits in the bottle now. That's important.

The USS Lyman K Swenson is getting there slowly but surely. I'd still rather be struggling with a model than sitting in the Pacific shooting down kamikaze pilots. I have it easy.

September 2, 2016

Ship in Bottle 3 (part 5)

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Well hey we're coming along nicely.

uss lyman k swenson model
Looking pretty cool

I've done a lot in the last few weeks, since we last spoke:
  • Rounded out the 3x2 5" gun mounts (the big 3)
  • Added a second tier for the superstructure
  • Created the bridge
  • Topped the bridge with a radio antenna
  • Added smokestacks
  • Added 10 torpedo tubes (5 between smokestacks and 5 at the back of the raised deck)
  • Stumbled my way through three of the eleven 20 mm AA guns (rear of ship)
  • Made two depth charge tracks at the back of the ship
Jesus, I should have blogged some of this along the way. Let's take a closer look at all the parts

uss lyman k swenson model in pieces
Bunch of pieces

In the foreground to the left you see the big guns which we already covered. Next you see the rear torpedo tube which is just made out of five lengths of wire, similar to paper clips, just snipped, glued side by side, and painted. I had a tiny dowel that I cut to make what I can only assume is some control apparatus that sits on top.

To the right of the first torpedo tube array are the depth charge tracks that sit on the back of the ship. The depth charges look like barrels that just roll off the back of the ship, sink, and blow up, potentially ruining a submarine's day. These are two separate tracks each with three depth charges made out of toothpicks. The real USS Lyman K Swenson had tracks that held 12 or 15 (can't remember which) depth charges but I can't fit anything longer than 3 because I'm an idiot.

Next to that is the radar that sits on top of the bridge. Looks like a desk chair. Then we have another torpedo tube array and the bridge.

The bridge was made using some wood wrapped in cardstock that is taller than the wood so as to create a fence or rail. Then I cut a smaller piece of wood and fit it inside.

The smokestacks were made from dowels cut at an angle and painted. The AA guns at the back were a pain in the ass and I'm not too sure how I feel about them, but I'm going to have to make 8 more of them. By the time I have 11 of them on this ship I'll definitely have a strong opinion. I'm just not yet sure if my design works or if it makes it look like a 10 year old made them.

I do want to show you a close up of the radio antenna I made. Fun fact: the easiest way to see if you're looking at a picture of a US Navy ship from WWII/Korea era or Vietnam era is that in the later war you'll see a satellite dish instead of a radar antenna. Neat.

radar antenna model
This took an embarrassing amount of time to make

I'll agree it looks kind of silly up close but once the whole ship is assembled I think it reads pretty well. It better, because it took me like 3 hours to make it. It's made from four pieces of folded and painted cardstock, two pieces of wire arranged like a cross, and a little piece of wood for a base. You can see in the background that this will get mounted into that hole on top of the bridge, but I'll have to do that once the ship's in the bottle.

Speaking of having to build stuff once the ship is inside the bottle, I tested the heights to see what I could actually start securing to the deck outside the bottle.

Always a good idea to test the fit

Well jeez, I'm going to have to assemble a lot of this ship inside the bottle. Looks like I can glue the big guns down, which you can see in the image above through the neck of the bottle, but anything the height of the bridge or taller is going to have to wait until I'm inside the bottle. Farts. Solution time.

model ship part mounting
For easy assembly of the ship inside the bottle

I decided I could get the most precise layout by drilling holes for toothpicks in the deck and in each of the pieces. This way I can slide the hull into the bottle, then slide the deck into the bottle, and finally, use some glue and some long pokies that I have, drop them into their final homes. This would be far easier than gluing stuff inside the bottle without a well defined layout. At least I can glue down the big guns, AA guns, torpedo tubes, and depth charge tracks.

I'll leave you with one last thing since the point of this website is to share what I learn as I build ships in bottles from scratch. The base of the antenna is a tiny piece of wood with a hole drilled through it. It can be hard to drill tiny holes, so I do a lot of this:

drilling in small wood tips

Secured it with plain old scotch tape. Until next time...