JerseyCity Frankie

S.V.Peking by JerseyCity Frankie -Bottle- German four masted barque

One day in mid June 2014 I got the oddest email. It had been forewarded to me by another local New York City ship model builder (Also a member of Model Ship World). A very large media company based in Times Square in Manhattan wanted someone to build a ship in a bottle model in the lobby of their building as part of what I can only describe here as a publicity stunt. They wanted me working in their private lobby every Monday and Tuesday in the month of July for two hours each day. They didn’t care which ship I chose and they were also clear that they didn’t expect a finished model at the end of the month, they just wanted the process of doing it to be visible to their employees and visitors. So naturally I took the job! Here is a photo of the desk they had set up for me in their modern office space.

So the office workers would understand what I was working towards, I brought with me my last Ship in Bottle Model the Carl Vinnan and you can see my build log for her on Model Ship World, I was to use many of the same techniques used on the Vinnan on the Peking.

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Edited by JerseyCity Frankie
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For my subject I decided on the barque Peking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peking_(ship)  since she would be the right size for the bottle and the actual ship is a Museum Ship in Manhattan, owned by the South Street Seaport Museum.

 

 I  already had on hand a suitable “classic” bottle I had picked up at a second hand shop, it had thick walls and a neck that was long enough but not too long. I built the base and inserted the “sea” on my own time at home.

 

 

With only two hours in which to work in each day, I did some prep work ahead of time and also avoided sawdust and dremel grinding in the nice clean office. I carved the hull from basswood and made the masts and bowsprit from brass rod at home. I spent the first day at the office installing deck details. So as not to duplicate information already available on my Carl Vinnan log I am only going to point out a few relevant things visible in the photos on this build.

 

Note the shrouds attached to the outer hull, those are paper strips white glued over the shrouds not masking tape. They are there to add additional anchoring strength to assure none of the shrouds will ever pull free of the hull. The shrouds keep the masts from tipping forwards on their hinges and so its important to make sure that they are very well glued. I will later “plate over” the hull with paper.

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Edited by JerseyCity Frankie
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In this shot you can see the mast folding concept, which most of the office workers were unaware of as being the “trick” which allows us to get the ship into the bottle. They had assumed I was going to build the model inside the bottle using long tweezers. I was a bit sad that I had to spoil their illusions, but they were for the most part very interested in what I was doing and had a lot of questions.


Here in this shot you can see the outer plating/bulwarks have been glued onto the hull. Pinched together at the bow it forms a very nice stem and gluing a sandwich of different colored paper allows for the inner bulwark color and the outer white and red details to be applied without the use of paint. In fact as I post this photo I see I have not trimmed the paper at the bow yet and you can see the square edge of the paper sandwich on the Port side all the way forward.  Painting tiny accurate stripes on a 1/700 scale model is a lot more difficult than simply cutting a very thin strip of contrasting colored paper and gluing it in place.


Visible in the background is my hand drafted "plan" showing my simplification of the stays and staysails. I did not include all the stays nor all the fore and aft sails for the sake of reducing the complexity. Probably going to spend some time in purgatory for that later.


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Edited by JerseyCity Frankie
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This was one of the many early test insertions where the model makes its way into the bottle to test if all the lines are going to run properly and weather or not the mastheads will clear the inside of the bottle. Those Flying P-Liners had a lot of canvas and their yards were quite wide. I did not think I was going to be able to get the squares on the mast for the trip into the bottle and I planed to put them in individually AFTER the hull was in with the masts erected.

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In this shot you can see the extent of the progress I was able to make working in the lobby of the Times Square building. I would not finish the ship by the end of my time there but at least I was able to get the ship into the bottle and have the office workers see SOMETHING of what I had been working towards.

If you look carefully to the lower right of the photo you will see my solution to getting the square yards rigged: I have broken each set of yards into two bundles for each mast with the corse yard and topsail yards in one bunch and the tgalents and  royals in another bunch. Each “bunch” has a halyard running from the sails outside the bottle, into the bottle and though a wire eye fairlead on the mast, and then back outside the bottle. I will pull on the hailyard to get the bundle of square yards into position on the masts within the bottle.

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Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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As I said above, I didn't think I would be able to have the square sails and yards on the masts for the trip through the neck of the bottle. I would have had to have had them configured in a vertical position on the masts in order to get into the bottle, then somehow rotate them back to the horizontal once inside. I couldn't think of a way to do this and still get the clues of the sails all in contact with the yards below without a pair of lines on each of the 18 yards, which would have meant 36 more threads to jockey.

So instead I divided each masts six squares into two "bundles" and with a wire eye on the mast where I wanted the crane iron or the parrel to be located and a thread glued to the slings of one of the yards in the bundle run through the eye and back out of the bottle, I could pull on the thread and guide the squares into position.

Here is a shot of one of the upper and lower topsails and course on the Main going into position. You should be able to just barely make out the hailyard used to pull the sails into position, its a pale colored thread.

Note that the two "bundles" of squares are in position on the mizzen and the clews of the t'gallents do not contact the upper topsail yards as they should. I had cut the square sails and fabricated the yards all together as a unit then cut them apart into the two bundles and they fit fine on dry land. But I had not spaced the wire eyes accurately enough and so in the bottle they failed to match up nice. But I can live with it and perhaps on the next model I WILL run clewlines.

The pale thread which is the hailyard for the Fore is visible in its position on the mast, the bundles of squares off camera outside the bottle waiting their turn. 

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Here is a bamboo skewer with a wire taped to the end used to apply some glue. We should send a certificate of appreciation to the Bamboo Skewer industry to express our gratitude for the great help their products are for us ship model builders.

The clews of the t'gallent once again don't contact the yardarms of the upper topsail yard. So when the glue dried on the parell holding the yards in place, I smeared a little glue onto the parts I wanted contacting each other using the stick with the wire on the end. After the glue gets sticky enough I will tap push and cajole the sails into contact.

 

You have to be in the right mood to push tiny objects around inside the bottle with the ends of sticks. Manuevering the various tools through the neck of the bottle, which remember is clogged with all the rigging still lead from the ship to the outside world, is difficult enough. Getting the tip of the tool into the proximity of the part of the ship you intend to poke without disturbing or snagging or otherwise blundering into all the other parts of the ship takes a calm mind.

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With everything  as you like it within the bottle, its time to cut the cord. Or in this case the numerous threads that were used to erect the mast and which are no longer needed. The threads came down from aloft on the model and were led Through holes in the deck and they simply run forward under the hull, sandwiched between the hull and the plastescene sea and they re-emerge at the bow. Now you must glue the threads in such a way that they will no longer "run" and then cut off the threads as close to the hull as possible. To make sure of the the threads being rendered immobile forever, I use two part epoxy. In the second photo you can see the clear epoxy on the end of a bamboo skewer about to be glomed onto and around the threads where they emerge.

In the third photo you can see another stick tool, this one with a broken piece of an X-acto blade in its end, sawing through the rigging.

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The cut off threads are like a lot of other small details on a ship in a bottle: Nearly impossible to see. Hard to photograph too. The nature of the glass distorts the view of the ship model enough to hide a great many shortcomings in modeling detail. This is only fair as it tends to counterbalance the difficulty in getting the ship in there in the first place. lapses in ship modeling fidelity can be forgiven somewhat. The same sort of lapses would never be tolerated if the exact same model was displayed outside the bottle!

But the ship still needed a bow wave to hide the threads, if they should be visible to the viewer so here is a shot of another dowel tool tamping down some white plastescene over and around the cut off threads, concealing them and giving Peking twelve to sixteen knots.

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I think its important in any sort of craft or art object to put some effort into how it will be displayed. If you have an oil painting leaning against a trash can in an alley, it looks like junk. If you put the same painting into a gold frame with one of those little goosneck lights over it and hang it on a wall, it looks magnificent. Its the same with ship models. In ships in bottles, the base should get some sort of attention. Not too much, not too little. I used a nice thick piece of discarded oak flooring, a cut off found in a trash can. Sanded stained and polyurithaned and with a strip of black paper glued to its edge. The black paper looked a bit stark to me so I decided to spell out the name Peking in signal flags. The flags are colored paper glued with white glue.

Traditionally one ties a turks head knot on the neck of the bottle. I MAY do this for the Peking model, but then again I may not. I didn't use one on my Carl Vinnan model, I judged that bottle to be just fine as it was. Its an aesthetic decision, and the complete look of the model includes the bottle too and I want a harmonious appearance.

 

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Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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I want to encourage every one of you to try a ship in a bottle model. Its likely that if you are reading this on this website then you already have the tools skills and materials needed to make one of your own. Its not difficult its just annoying at times. But the resulting model is very satisfying and they make really nice gifts. I would advise you to entertain the idea of building one while at the same time keeping your eyes out for a suitable bottle. Find one with a wide mouth and a short neck for a first time effort. Chose a simple rig at first too, a sloop or a schooner is perfect. THe three masted square rigger is going to be a bit more difficult but then again, look at which website we are on. There is a lot of talent here.

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Hi JerseyCityFrankie

 

Thanks for demistifying the secret wirld of SIB's for us. Your ship looks fantastic in her new home. I especially like the photo taken through the open neck of the bottle, because that, more than any other photo, emphasises just how difficult it must have been to achieve what you have achieved. It almost looks as if the ship's going to surge ahead through the neck of the bottle. Well done.

 

Cheers and all the best!

Edited by Omega1234
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She looks really good and I love your job on the sails. Did you use a paper medium for them? Also like the nice touch on the base with the signal flags. Well done and all around beautiful model Frankie!

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Great job! I did my first one years ago & swore I would never try it again. Now I have the urge to tackle another one or 2 & already have ideas for them.

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Great job! I did my first one years ago & swore I would never try it again. Now I have the urge to tackle another one or 2 & already have ideas for them.

Hi Jesse

 

I agree with you, too. I might try a SIB, too (although, I'd probably stuff it up). That's the beauty of this Forum. Seeing other people's work is a great motivating factor as it spurs us on to attempt things that we wouldn't normally even try under normal circumstances. Please post your work on this Forum when you do.

 

All the best.

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Frankie,

Would it be fair in saying a lot of the running rigging on the Peking would be similar to the Preussen? Why I ask is do you have any pictures of the Peking you could send me for reference on my build?

Please advise ... Jeff

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