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The Young America
(circa 1851 AD)
(Around 1951 for model)

 

Click for 600-pixel-wide version - Completed The Young America and its builder

The completed Young America and its builder 

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This model of the Young America is now in the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia. Most of my tools and techniques have been greatly changed down the years, and today these methods are still open to change. The method demonstrated here is now referred to as the Modern Method, as opposed to the traditional method, often called the Umbrella Method. (The photos were taken by Bernie O'Day before my first annual 29th birthday.)

~ Details ~

Click for 600-pixel-wide version - ''First the model was built outside the bottle...'' Click for...
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First the model was built outside the bottle, complete to lines, rigging and partial painting. At the time, the hull was painted after splitting. In later models, the hull would be built of four or more parts, which made the splitting much easier. In this picture, the hull has been drilled to locate dowels to aid in alignment during assembly. The hull in this case was split into four segments.


Click for 600-pixel-wide version - ''Once the ship was built, the hull was split apart...'' Click for...
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Once the ship was built, the hull was split apart, and the rigging was removed from the hull and set up on what I call the hat rack. The number of splits is dependent on the size and shape of the hull and on the inside diameter of the bottle neck. Each line of the rigging was removed from the outer, more accessible end, and then the hull was painted.


Click for 600-pixel-wide version - ''In go the ways.'' Click for...
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In go the ways. The shipways forms the top of the ship's base. It must be accurately located since the rear of the hull nearly touches the bottom of the carboy and the bowsprit protrudes into the neck.





Click for 600-pixel-wide version - Lower port section of the hull being placed against the starboard section Click for...
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In this picture, the lower port section of the hull is being placed against the starboard section. The ways have already been glued down, and the keel has been attached. The long tweezers are holding onto a flat pin that has been driven into the port segment. Standard tweezers have been brazed onto a section of steel tubing, through which a pushrod actuates the tweezers.


Click for 600-pixel-wide version - ''Like most teenagers, I was not orderly...'' Click for...
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Like most teenagers, I was (am) not very orderly. My ship-in-bottle work was done on an upper bunk in my room, which was "super cluttered" (both the bunk and the room!). In an attempt to put things in order, my mother would frequently move a model, bottle and anything else she felt was out of line. This usually capsized the contents of the bottle, often with disastrous results if the glue happened to be wet! The note on the bottle asks her not to move the bottle: "Don't Move. Loose Parts."


Click for 600-pixel-wide version - Nudging the coach house into place before the fast drying glue sets Click for...
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Here I am nudging the coach house into place before the fast drying glue sets. These were the pre-epoxy, pre-super glue days. The flat pins in the coach house were needed to maneuver the parts. After the glue had dried, the pins were pulled out. These early tweezers-tongs were quite crude and would not grasp a larger part.


Click for 600-pixel-wide version - ''All but the top yard on the mizzenmast have been released from some of the supporting lines...'' Click for...
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All but the top yard on the mizzenmast have been released from some of the supporting lines, leaving them free to be rolled about the mast. The top yard was short enough to pass through the bottleneck without hanging loose; this was not true of the others. The lines to the ends of the yards and corners of the sails have been left loose to allow the yards to move and be folded flat against the mast, yet locate them accurately against the mast inside the bottle.

The mainmast is leaned against the mizzen while a glue rod lines the deck socket with glue. The mizzen is partially rigged. Some lines go from the mizzen to the main; these cannot be attached until the mainmast is properly located in the hull. After the "intermast" lines are attached, "puckers" are removed from the sails to eliminate the sagging effect. 


Click for 600-pixel-wide version - Hypodermic needle applying glue Click for...
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This picture of the hypodermic needle applying glue recalls an amusing incident from my childhood. I got the idea that an hypodermic would be a good glue applicator. One Saturday night, I walked into a nearby pharmacy in Newport, a tiny city on Vermont's border with Canada. The pharmacist was a cheery white haired woman who always had a smile for children. She asked, "And what can I do for you?" I replied: "I want an hypodermic needle." A look of absolute horror came over her face. She placed both hands on the counter, leaned forward, and stared over her rimless glasses and looking down at me. "And what do you want with an hypodermic needle?!?"

Nearly everyone in my home town of Lowell knew of my fascination with ship and airplane models. "For glue for my models," I answered, or words to that effect. Her pose and expression relaxed. She smiled, and looking down at me through her glasses, she said, "you know, I believe you." She then retrieved for me the hypodermic.

I remember that incident as clearly as though it were yesterday: The pharmacist, her rimless glasses, her halo of white hair, but probably more than anything, her piercing eyes staring at me in disbelief. Going to the pharmacist by myself may not have been such a good idea, but it became a pleasant and amusing memory.


Click for 600-pixel-wide version - Cutting a loop free Click for...
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Here I'm cutting a loop free. To pull some lines taut, a weight may be added to an extension of the line. The line is then glued to the appropriate point and the extension cut free using a piece of razor blade glued to a wooden rod. These sails were made of crepe paper stretched over a globe and lacquered to hold their shape. 


Click for 600-pixel-wide version - The finished job Click for...
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The finished job. This model of the Young America is now in the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia. 
Built by Ralph W. Preston.
Photos by Bernie O'Day.

1998-2007 Ralph Preston / Web Design & Maintenance: Nate Orshan
~~~ Hit the bottle! ~~~