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Zheng He's Treasure Fleet by Glen McGuire – 1/1000 - BOTTLE


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As I was finishing the Independence build, my son who is a student of Asian history suggested that I do a Chinese junk ship in a bottle next.  So when the Independence was done, I started playing around with what to do for the project.  I came up with a few ideas for the display base, one being a sword holder, which my son particularly liked.  We found one on Amazon for a samurai sword with a Chinese dragon carving.  He really liked the design and I thought the shape would work well with the profile of a bottle - the neck would rest on the dragon’s head with the end of the bottle resting on the dragon’s tail.  

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Next was choosing a suitable bottle.  The base is just over 14” wide, so the bottle needed to be a couple of inches longer than normal.  I went to Total Wine looking for bottles and an unusual one caught my eye.  It was a bottle of Morey lemon liqueur that was the perfect length.  I wasn’t sure if it would really work for an SIB project, but the shape was so intriguing I decided to grab it.  I could always default back to a regular bottle if necessary.  I put it on the stand and it was a perfect fit.  Plus, I thought it looked really cool.  So I decided I had to come up with a suitable ship that would pull it all together.
 

 

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Edited by Glen McGuire
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Posted (edited)

In the meantime, we were trying to figure out what the 4-character inscription on the front of the stand meant.  We started by looking up a Chinese character chart but of course there were literally thousands of characters to wade thru.  Forget that!  But then I thought, “wait a minute, maybe the Amazon listing said something.”  Sure enough, it was right there in the product description.  Duh!!  The inscription means, “A Great Treasure in Your House”.  We thought that was pretty cool.

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So now it was time to decide on a ship.  I started researching historical Chinese junk ships and ran across the name Zheng He (pronounced "Jung Huh").  He was an official in the Ming Dynasty and a famous mariner of the early 1400’s.  He led a massive fleet of 250+ ships called Zheng He’s Treasure Fleet because they sailed to the east coast of Africa to trade things and bring back treasures.  I thought “Treasure fleet?  Great treasure in your house?”  Whoa!  This was almost too perfect!  


The main ships of Zheng He’s fleet were called “treasure ships” and they were massive – supposedly each one was nearly the size of a football field according to some accounts.  Other (smaller) ships in the fleet included equine ships, supply ships, troop transports, guardships, patrol boats, and water tankers.  Here’s one illustration of his treasure fleet:
 

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Edited by Glen McGuire
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Posted (edited)

And then the final piece of this project puzzle hit me.  Instead of just putting Zheng He’s main ship in the bottle, how about using the 3 bulbs of the bottle to give a representation of his larger treasure fleet?  So his main treasure ship would be on the far left, a guard ship in the middle and a small patrol boat on the right.  Something like this:327405464_ZhengFleet-Concept.png.84a706577425b73e727fa7fac394a491.png

My son’s reaction to the concept was, “that’s pretty ambitious, dad!”  I think he’s right, but what the heck!  Here we go!

 

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"Had I known the cabinet was for YOU, I would have chopped it into pieces with an AXE!!!"

 

Actually I'm now not sure it was Seinfeld, wasn't thinking of that soup-nazi episode; but somewhere a character gets a tattoo of Chinese characters thinking they have deep meaning then discovers that it just reads "soup". Wasn't that Seinfeld??😵

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I decided to start with water in the bottle this time, using the same Easy Cast epoxy resin that I used for the Aurora and Independence builds.  The shape of the bottle made it more of a challenge to get the resin in place evenly across the 3 bulbs without slopping it up the sides, but with a friend's help it worked out ok.  

 

For some reason, however, the bottle fogged up shortly after I got all of the epoxy resin inside the bottle.  That did not happen the other 2 times.    I used a small fan to provide ventilation, but after 2 days the bottle has not cleared up any.  I don't know what caused the fogging since I did everything the same.  Maybe it was the weird shape of the bottle?  Regardless, now I've got to figure out how to clear it up.  

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Edited by Glen McGuire
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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Keith Black said:

Is the Morey lemon liqueur inexpensive and/or any good? If so, simply starting over might be the easier option. Or you could go with a cloudy sky effect. :)

I was thinking more of a "smoke from cannons" effect.  NOT! 

 

The liqueur was $17 so not too bad.  Not sure if it's any good or not but a friend promises there's a bunch of nice drinks you can make with it.  The only problem with starting over is I'm not sure what I'd do different to keep it from fogging up again.  I'm thinking that after the resin is fully hardened, I could just wash the bottle out?  It appears firmly secured to the bottle and I wouldn't think soapy water would bother it.

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 It appears the top of the bottle is cloudy near the neck. You could try reaching in the neck with a Q-Tip soaked in different solutions till you find one that cleans the top of the bottle. You could go so far as to put resin in a throw away bottle, let it cure, and then see if the solution that cleans the fog reacts negatively with the test bottle. 

 

 How's the calf/young steer doing? 

 

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The fog on the surface is obviously off gassing from the resin.  I would let it cure completely.  Before pitching the bottle, I would try several things all based on the Chicken Soup remedy for curing illness. “It can’t hurt and it might work.”

 

Put a shop vac hose over the opening to draw a vacuum in the bottle.  At a lower pressure the fog might vaporize and be sucked out.

 

With a low heat source gently raise the temperature within the bottle to see if the fog vaporizes.

 

Put the bottle in the refrigerator.  The fog might precipitate.

 

With the bottle rolled over so that the resin is on the top, was the affected area with soap and water.  Rise it out and dry it with a hair dryer.

 

Roger

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Posted (edited)
36 minutes ago, Keith Black said:

How's the calf/young steer doing?

Little Shiloh is well on his way to becoming a steer as we put the band on him 2 Saturdays ago.  He walked a little bow-legged at first but he's doing fine now.  His momma and I gave him some TLC after the traumatic experience!  

 

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Edited by Glen McGuire
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12 minutes ago, Roger Pellett said:

Before pitching the bottle, I would try several things all based on the Chicken Soup remedy for curing illness. “It can’t hurt and it might work.”

Hey Roger, thank you for the suggestions.  I agree with your Chicken Soup philosophy and will try all those ideas after full curing.

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While waiting for the epoxy resin to fully cure, I started work on the ships.  The smallest one, the patrol boat, is first.  Not surprising, I’ve found a variety of illustrations of what it may have looked like.  So with full artistic license, my patrol boat is going to combine a few things from different versions.  


The basic profile I want is the ship on the left in the pic below.  However, it’s supposed to be an 8-oar boat so I’m going to add the rowing platforms from the middle image.  Side note - I could not figure out how the rowing platforms worked until I found the image on the right.  That must have been so much fun to stand out there and work those oars during rough seas!  
 

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Edited by Glen McGuire
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Posted (edited)

Here's where I'm at so far with the patrol boat build.  I'm doing another laminated hull.  All layers are basswood except the middle one for the rowing platforms.  It's a piece of .015" thick oak veneer I got from a site called "Cards of Wood."

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Edited by Glen McGuire
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34 minutes ago, Keith Black said:

You sure you don't have a laser printer tucked away somewhere? That looks fantastic, Glen! 

Thanks, Keith!  I wish I was better at wood carving.  Then I could carve one of these out of a single piece.  But I have much better luck with layers.      

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Referring back to my picture of the patrol boat, the deck fittings are pretty sparse.  Looks to me like there’s a cannon mounted on the bow, some quarters rearward, and that’s about it.  I did a bit of research on cannons of the early Ming dynasty.  They used one called a “crouching tiger” which is shown below on the right (cool name for a cannon).


When I was giving my longhorns their yearly vax a couple of weeks ago, I got the idea that the hollow needle (18 gauge) just might make a good cannon barrel.  So I cut a piece out of the middle to give it a try.  Then I used some photo etch sprues for straps and mounted it on the bow.  


For the quarters, I did my best to carve out a little shack with a traditional Chinese roof and its upswept corners.  Crude but passable.  I think.   
 

 

 

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Edited by Glen McGuire
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Some additional work on the ship.  Thanks to @Keith Black for astutely pointing out that my ship had no way to load the crouching tiger cannon.  The patrol boat picture I’m using as a model looks to have a small platform protruding from the bow under the cannon barrel.  So I added that.  Of course, I also had to add cannon balls on a tray behind the cannon.


I had a hard time figuring out what to do for the oars. Although I try to use wood for as many of the wood things as possible, the oars are just too small for me to whittle down.  So I ended up using some small brass nails (more leftovers from the Alabama kit).  I put the head of the nail into a vise and smashed it down.  I think they came out reasonably well.
 

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