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Sloop-of-War USS Alaska by josh44 - BOTTLE - 1/1000 - Finished

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I am choosing this as a gift for my friend, Brynn, who is from Alaska.  Couldn't find too many ships named Brynn, and i kind of like what is going on with this particular ship.


Apparently, a sloop-of-war is not a sloop that I think of in the civilian or recreational sense (eg a single gaff-masted cutter); rather a sloop-of-war I believe could be any unrated (ie under 20 guns?) two- or three-masted ship.  The two-masted sloops-of-war were typically configured often as either main-mizzen-ketch or fore-main-snauw.


This USS Alaska is a three-masted square-rigged ship, was the first of four US Navy ships named after the territory / state, and was launched in 1868.  


As far as pictures, i  found these two dreary ones, and i suspect that they only hint at the splendor she would carry when at full sail:


Image result for uss alaska sloop of war


USS ALASKA (1868-1883)




If anyone can refer me to any other photos or pictures of any kind, then i would be grateful.  

Otherwise, i will do what SIB builders do, which is to blend two shots reverence with one shot imagination.  

(Fair warning  - if someone produces authentic picture with hideous colors, or all gray, then i might balk and choose my own). 


With three masts, four yards each, gaffs on each mast, and a bunch of lifeboats, this will be fun!


Will probably look for a thinner sail material than i had with the Annie.


Thanks for reading!

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1 hour ago, vossiewulf said:

Sounds neat. Is it just me, or the angle, or are the masts on that ship not straight? It looks like they rake well aft on the mast and topmast but the topgallants and royals look like they're almost vertical.

Not sure, but I do see what you mean.


I found a couple other pictures, none terribly helpful with the model, but still:

image.png.76149eb17b5882113325a48120d2a885.pngCool commemoratove stamp, and


the original crew! I presume thats Cmdr. Homer Blake in the middle.  


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6 hours ago, Omega1234 said:

Hi Josh


I’m in.


I’m not quite sure, (or should I say, totally bamboozled), how the devil you’re going to hinge and raise those masts once the boat’s in the bottle, but, I’m sure as hell going to stick around to find out!





Thanks Patrick! I am really excited about this one.  Been giving all the gaff and yard hinges a lot of thought: I have a few new ideas, and something is  bound to do the job better than tying all those wobbly knots.  Viewing the other posts on this site has really inspired me to elevate my process.  

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Hull blank and general outline


Not much out there to guide me on the details of USS Alaska, other than pictured above.  So I looked at similar sloops-of-war from that era, including built from the same shipyard. These included the USS Austin, Eerie, Constellation and Portsmouth.


After about 2 days research - life is cheap with SIB! - I cut out the hull blanks from bass.  



For the square gun holes   / port holes - what are these called? - I was inspired to to cut them out instead of just painting them black; to do this I make saggital slices of the hull. I wich I had done that from the start. Mine became a clunky hybrid of hull blank + saggital slices.  


After tons of sanding and redos and repainting, I settled with this look.


I made the hull deeper and more square on purpise - this time ia m going to try the silicone sea as was perfected by IgorSky - I need a big broad hull for purchase of the rubber and silicone glue.

thumbnail_IMG_6658.jpg.d88bef8147cf37c4cdc34a7ec62983b3.jpgthe Foremast

thumbnail_IMG_6660.jpg.f0b9a4336fdc36e4ad65e349ead93fad.jpgHow I make the mast hinges - cord ends for bead works, straightened and clipped.


thumbnail_IMG_6661.jpg.e32b554dc47b94a11e2f7e4b82d50f2d.jpgtill you get this.

A solid, smooth mast hinge is critical to my piece of mind with these little guys and gals.  


I added some mahogany strips for bulwarks, and a scratched painted faux deck.  A real strip deck was just not in the cards for this one. 

thumbnail_IMG_6666.jpg.e04b02ae87bc5c8f6ff45ec8e4c94a07.jpgThe Bulwark cleans her up nice enough.




I been going crazytrying to figure out how to better attach square rigged yards to the masts.  I founf some tiny chain link in the beading store, cut two links and...


secured with a little CAthumbnail_IMG_6668.jpg.834751d30c43e0be075759af317a07fc.jpg

But how does she lay down?

thumbnail_IMG_6669.jpg.13bf93de4ef0388b6abbd48cdf1ec3d9.jpgVery easily!

thumbnail_IMG_6670.jpg.d123331fc3f547526cee7f8442fc6222.jpgand again.






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10 hours ago, josh44 said:

For the square gun holes   / port holes - what are these called?


They are called gunports.

Building: 1:64 HMS Revenge (Victory Models plans)

1:64 Cat Esther (17th Century Dutch Merchant Ships)

On the building slip: 1:72 French Ironclad Magenta (original shipyard plans)


On hold: 1:98 Mantua HMS Victory (kit bash), 1:96 Shipyard HMS Mercury


Favorite finished builds:  1:60 Sampang Good Fortune (Amati plans), 1:200 Orel Ironclad Solferino, 1:72 Schooner Hannah (Hahn plans), 1:72 Privateer Prince de Neufchatel (Chapelle plans), Model Shipways Sultana, Heller La Reale, Encore USS Olympia


Goal: Become better than I was yesterday


"The hardest part is deciding to try." - me

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I'm excited about this post because it gives a sample of the error and fixes that can occur with SIB.


After the formast and sails were installed, I put on the shroud rigging.  Fortunately, the real Alaska has what looks like large belaying rack external to the ship. I prefer these over drilling holes in the sides of the ship.  I usually do three runs per side.



then I moved on the the main mast and sails..

thumbnail_IMG_6679.jpg.89fb9056b2bf1e00cd712aa0ecbe4285.jpgI tried a new technique for the main sail, drawing patterns on the muslin, and coating the entire sail in CA. So here was my dilemma: The Main sail looks so much better than my  completed - but sad, shaggy, and too narrow quite frankly! -  foremast and sails.

A good problem I suppose, one that required denuding the foremast of its sails

thumbnail_IMG_6680.jpg.115206bd8d6bfb15fed4b0909b237176.jpg and then completing the main sails


thumbnail_IMG_6682.jpg.2077152cc63f9d832a410b6e8145c049.jpgtill it looks much better.

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Well, Redoing the Foremast and all four sails with the shrouds and gaff in place was no small headache, but the end results were worth all the eye straining.

For the  Main mast, the gaff was added, plus her shroud lines and belaying racks.thumbnail_IMG_6692.jpg.29c269d515ab7763decf1b9064241f6c.jpg

But each of my SIB posts would not be complete without some form of break or malfunction; The starboard mainsail belaying rack pulls off after the shrouds are set:


No worries. I have a new toy: Bondic - a liquid plastic welding product. Squirt some of the liquid pre-plastic

and then expose to its UV light pen for about 5 seconds,


thumbnail_IMG_6694.jpg.bca1ea37afec59dd59c2446fe3251104.jpgand it instantly sets into plastic without mess.  Much easier than CA in some instances.

thumbnail_IMG_6695.jpg.022366b4527d75354cb64c060781b062.jpgAfter the bondic! (no, I dont work for them).

Has anyone used this type of product yet? So far, its very cool and works well.  


Fore and main masts are set;  the bow is prepared with a pin vise hand drill and so the bowsprit is glued in.  Some of the running rigging is brought through: I decide to start it from the gaffs.  

thumbnail_IMG_6700.jpg.f3f79d907de03d018ee7d8e43985f76d.jpgthumbnail_IMG_6699.jpg.008c72493165d1443d117bcece258001.jpgThe Main gaff needs a little anchor by way of a flattened cord end. 

Next stop: Mizzen mast, spanker, and tacks.  




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13 minutes ago, IgorSky said:

WOW, Josh!
One more new project!
I look forward to continuing!

Best Regards!

 Thank you, Igor.  I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but I review your posts as inspiration to take my projects to a higher level! I have many new ideas and am excited to share them.   

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36 minutes ago, josh44 said:

 Thank you, Igor.  I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but I review your posts as inspiration to take my projects to a higher level! I have many new ideas and am excited to share them.   


Thank you, Josh!
I think the most important thing is not to be afraid to try to do something new!
Good luck and my best wishes!


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Mizzen mast, tack / brace lines, jib, and stay sails:


I keep the mizzen sail furled



thumbnail_IMG_6880.jpg.9c8791877ec82a64c8699f37eb263e6d.jpgBirdseye view of gaff threading

thumbnail_IMG_6884.jpg.895cc8dafd738d54e61f01e672594d09.jpgstanding tall 


thumbnail_IMG_6889.jpg.7d625a14f325b4bb5cfa7bd838966a5b.jpgworking on the mizzen shrouds

probably the second time around (since I accidentally cut them all the first time).


I plastic welded some brass crimp beads to the lee side of the main and mizzen masts, so that they could serve as pass-throughs for the tack / brace lines from the fore and main sails, respectively.




Of course, one of the beads toreoff during a trial of collapsing the masts

thumbnail_IMG_6898-1.jpg.328f68ea7e2f061ed9c1b443c88351b5.jpgnot good.

But Fixed with a new set of line and plastic welding.


I opted for a jib and fore stay sail, plus 2 main stay sails, and zero mizzen stay sails and zero tack / brace lines for the mizzen mast - its getting kind of crowded in there and I cant junk it up any more.   


Next.. the life boats,  and clean up.







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Completion of main ship work, rigging, lifeboats, and pendants:


Going by the few available photos, it looks like the Alaska had 2 darkly painted lifeboats mid ship, and 4 lighter ones aft.



thumbnail_IMG_6924.jpg.23a759bf2f4acdd1e2d665323fe7788f.jpgNot sure why I initially chose yellow for the aft lifeboats.

I bought some great, 0.8mm brass rods which I used as their rack.


Eventually, better taste prevailed, and I repainted the banana boats white with a red stripe.



thumbnail_IMG_6931.jpg.24c2714f0fa012117047cb21e3b60680.jpgThe life boats at mid ship I chose a jenkins green,

supported by 0.5mm brass rods




thumbnail_IMG_6933.jpg.4bde62f21e49c2c861485a4fa2bd8d64.jpgMaking and attaching the tiny pendants.

I chose primary colors. Not sure what they would have been in 1866. It wasnt laundry, was it???  


After a couple of weeks in and out of the craft vice, she gets a little sand down,  a fresh coat of paint and acrylic vanish.

My SIB only have a finite number of times I can drop the masts without things breaking or popping or going too slack.

Top-gallant sails driving me crazy...



Next: acrilyc stand and the silicone sea.

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4 hours ago, Omega1234 said:

Hi Josh


She’s looking very shipshape, now.  I especially like the pendants.  They really ‘pop’ and add another visual point of interest.


Nicely done.





Thanks Patrick!

I’m very pleased with the pendants since tiny scale is typically not my bag - those chunky life boats testify to that. 


Im still truly wondering if the real Alaska had pendants or laundry or something else... they look kind of ragged and misshapen. 






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Hi Josh


An interesting comment you’ve made in reference to the pendants - ”they look ragged and misshapen..”.   


Your comment got me thinking.  In my mind, the beauty of SIB’s is that it’s not all about historical accuracy or strict adherence to realism.  It’s about capturing the viewer’s imagination, leaving them to wonder how on earth they got it into the bottle in the first place.  Additionally, it’s the overall effect that’s more important.  Having said that, the pendants, when viewed as part of the whole model, look just right to me.  So too do the ‘chunky lifeboats’.


Nice job, overall!





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Great work.  I love the pendants as well.  Its a very nice touch.  She'll look great in the bottle.

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1 hour ago, DSiemens said:

Great work.  I love the pendants as well.  Its a very nice touch.  She'll look great in the bottle.

Thank you, Daniel! I was pleasantly surpirsed with pendants.  I colored three small swatched of paper, then cut a bunch of tiny triangles with an exacto blade, and glued the best ones onto some thread. Then coated with CA for some heft and gloss. 


I got sidetracked with my new project The Flying Dutchman, so launching the Alaska is geting delayed for another week.

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After completing the Flying Dutchman I could now return my attention to the Alaska. All she needed was the Launch.

thumbnail_IMG_7073.jpg.ca5cd8c198f04ab539347109aa228290.jpgPedastal plastic welded to the inside with Bondic - much better than AC for this job! No sticky glue flopping all over the place.

thumbnail_IMG_7074.jpg.19c46b833ca37b927e5e15057d0c0e2f.jpgI chose this WH Harper Decanter for the job.  Its definitely fussy and obscures the view, but I wanted to give it a try.  Acrylic dowels in the pedastel won't stand out in the semi opaque silicone sea.


thumbnail_IMG_7075.jpg.1fe567aade673db08cf9508a1fd83442.jpgIn she goes! Not so much snapping of spars this time - the aperture was a generous 2.5cm.  I chose this bottle ahead of time, knowing that this would be a bulky job, not amenable to a super-flat collapse.

thumbnail_IMG_7080.jpg.92e59d4cf2d41e937b900c128b78b8d9.jpgThe only break was the bowsprit - fixed with bondic, while she was breeching.

thumbnail_IMG_7082.jpg.9ad6f17c0aca697745ec423cf9e622d7.jpgwaiting for the Encapso-K silicone.thumbnail_IMG_7085.jpg.9f9a7ac8c063a1492f935e3bcdae3208.jpgA mix of blue and green silicone pigment. thank you IgorSky!

thumbnail_IMG_7087.jpg.129fc6bd9ef1e094a5af6585280a35b0.jpgfrom the Back / Lee side. All the rigging stayed intact and fairly taught.


thumbnail_IMG_7090.jpg.4f8c1c397caae2ab9cb60bab68d46831.jpgThe foresail and Jibs.


thumbnail_IMG_7091.jpg.cacffbb86f622a2b3035444c8eddb34b.jpgMainsail and fore lifeboat.

thumbnail_IMG_7092.jpg.a5541f1c2cadc78106cd4c33cec731ce.jpgMizzen and pendants.




All in all, I'm pretty pleased.  Although the detail on the glass is a bit distracting - especially in photos - in person it tends to draw your eye in to look closer.  So in that way it quite unexpededly makes the viewer pay attention a bit more to what's inside.  (At least with the Wifey and kids).  I  learned a lot between this and the Flying Dutchman. Still encountering some major issues with the yard hinges, Finished Sail product (although these sails came out bigger and better than the FD), and positioning the ship on the pedastal posts.  The silicone is pretty easy to use, and the looks are kiff!  


Will take a break for while. Have some more ideas for the next go-around.

Thanks for reading!

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

Say, have you guys thought of cutting up tea bags to use for your sails? I've seen empty tea bags by the dozens over on ebay. They're cheap and thin and easy to shape with diluted white glue.

a.k.a. Rick

'Don't fry bacon in the nude'


Current Build: Billing Boats, S/L Livingstone, a.k.a. African Queen (When it arrives that is)


Next Up: La Nina

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9 hours ago, thegrindre said:

Say, have you guys thought of cutting up tea bags to use for your sails? I've seen empty tea bags by the dozens over on ebay. They're cheap and thin and easy to shape with diluted white glue.

Have not heard of that but I just took one from the cupboard. Seems promising.

Am always looking for new tips and tricks to elevate the process; for sure my use of satin and muslin sails has not lesad to ideal results.  

Will try the tea bags next - thanks!

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