Memories in a Bottle

Introduction: Memories in a Bottle

About: I'm a mechanical engineer in the Eindhoven region. In my spare time I like to make random stuff, both usefull and especially useless.

Everybody is familiar with the ship in a bottle, so am I. Some time ago I saw this great instructable on how to make one. Where most bottles lie down horizontal, this one is place at an angle, a beautiful addition which made me decide I needed to build my own bottled 'ship'. In my case it became a memory of all the good times I had (and still have) during college.

My bottled memory is a scale model of one of the land yachts of my study association. I've been in the board of this association and during that time I was responsible for all the land yachts we owned. This specific one was added a year later. The land yacht, based on a DN type ice boat, was built by one of our former association members some 40 years ago. Since we've build all yachts ourselves, we could afford it to buy this one since it was made by one of our old members. We named it 'D'n Duvel', which translates to 'The Devil'. Due to this name we gave it a flame pattern and a Devil logo. For the Dutch people who are interested, I even wrote a Limerick about this land yacht some time ago, of course everyone is welcome to make a nice translation for the English speaking people out here:

Het strand wordt heel snel verkend
Door D'n Duvel, die vurige vent
Met vlammen van voor
Zeilt hij steeds maar door
Een lekkere wagen voor elke student.

At first I wasn't planning on making an instructable, since I was sort of following the instructable of the ship. But I still started to make pictures for my friends so they could follow the build. I also showed my girlfriend the progress and the ship intructable, and she convinced me to make a separate instructable. Why, because this build is a scale model of an existing land yacht.

In this Instructable you'll find a description on how I tried to capture the most important features of the real land yacht, so my fellow association members would recognice it as that specific land yacht. I also had some luck with my bottle, the large bottle neck gave me enough clearing to insert the land yacht as one piece. And finally I describe how I made the stand out of mdf to complete the bottle land yacht.

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Step 1: Materials


  • Bottle, after a couple of weeks of searching I was cooking diner and found this perfect bottle full of pasta just waiting for me in my own kitchen. Also when searching for a bottle, remember the dimension of the thing you want to put in. A land yacht for example, has another length:height ratio to keep in mind when searching for a bottle.
  • Cardboard
  • Piece of wood, I used glued popsicle sticks
  • Wood Glue
  • Small sail, I used the pocket of an old shirt
  • Thread
  • Things to color, I used colored pencils and markers
  • Sand, I used beach sand from De Panne in Belgium
  • MDF, for the stand
  • 2 bolts, for the stand


  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Dremel
  • Home-made steel wire tool for packing the sand
  • Scroll saw/Fretsaw
  • Drill

Step 2: Preparation

Before I started with the wooden miniature, I did some simple prototyping to decide on size and positioning. At first we didn't want a bottle on its side so I made a stand from some cardboard and hot glue. To see which size the land yacht needed to be I used a piece of cardboard and drew a land yacht on it. This seemed to work so I made a 3D version out of cardboard and hot glue and placed this in the bottle on top of some sand. The bottle gave me this opportunity due to the big neck. Just for fun, I also placed the bottle on its side. In my opinion this looked better, so I made it like that.

Step 3: Land Yacht

With finished prototypes, it was time to start the real build. The land yacht I was building is based on a DN type ice yacht. So to get me started without measuring the land yacht itself, I got drawings of a real DN type ice yacht which were available for me from my study association. You can get them here if you need them. With these build plans I could start with the correct dimensions. (The fuselage of the land yacht I'm building has a slightly different shape from the plans, but the lenght and maximum width are the same.)

The wood I used were popsicle sticks glued together for the fuselage, and single sticks for the rest. Using a dremel and chisel, al pieces were made to the correct size and shape. Getting the correct shape was one of the things to ensure recognition by other association members. In some pictures a steering rod can be seen, but this rod didn't make it to the final build, because it didn't add anything. After shaping all parts they all got their paintjob. I used colored pencils and markers to do it. Two main characteristics of D'n Duvel are the flames on the side and the devil on top. Before coloring, I made these shapes (outlines) with a black pencil.

After all the coloring, including the thread which was white, it was time to assemble the land yacht. I started with gluing the sail to the mast and the boom to the sail. The front and back runner planks were glued to the fuselage and the wheels were glued to the runner planks. The back of the seat was glued inside the fuselage. When all this glue was dry, the stays, made of thread, were glued as well and the land yacht was finished.

For more details on how to, take a look at the pictures.

Step 4: Bottle Assembly

Normally when you see a ship in a bottle, the material used for the sea (and shore) is some kind of oil-based or polymer clay. For me this is pretty logical, since water is not a real option and stones or sand for the shore are not good at the scale used for most ships. In my case however, I thought sand was a pretty good option.

When we go land yachting with my study association, we go to De Panne in Belgium most of the time. That's why I wanted beach sand from De Panne. The sand was mixed with some glue I had available at home. Using a self-made 'tool', I compressed the sand in the bottle so it became a flat beach. Make sure the beach is a little lower in the middle, otherwise you could end up with very little space between the runner plank and the sand. When the glue hardened, the beach was hard enough so the wheels wouldn't dig itself in the sand. It also was a bit darker like wet sand, but that's what we sail on most of the time because it's hard.

When the sand is dried, the land yacht can be placed in the bottle. Since the bottle neck is big with my bottle I could get my land yacht in it in one piece due to the flexibility of the stays. When placed on the correct spot I carefully lifted each wheel without moving the other two wheels and putting wood glue beneath it. For gluing I used another self-made tool, but I don't have a picture of this tool. While al the glue is drying, make sure you leave the cork out of the bottle for ventilation.

Step 5: Stand

The stand was built in a very short time out of mdf. The text "D'n Duvel" was cropped together so all letters touched. This text was printed and transferred to the mdf. Once on the mdf it was cut using a hand scroll saw (fretsaw?). A square piece was cut to put under the text, and another piece was cut and grooved to hold the bottle. As the original land yacht was brown, I decided to paint the stand brown. When the paint had dried, a bolt was inserted in the text and in the grooved piece (I used a threaded tube which I found). Two holes were drilled in the square piece to hold the heads of the bolts.

Step 6: Finished Bottle

After finishing both the bottle and the stand, I put it on a shelf in the pub of my study association. (Yes, you read it correct, we have our own pub in the building where we study.) During it's time there I got many great reactions from friends. "Wow, it looks so real.", "Where can I get one?" etc. Of course I answered the latter with go to Instructables in a month time and you're able to build your own.

All together it was a great build. After I hopefully finish my study in the next year I can enjoy all the good times I had when being a student, just by looking at this bottled land yacht.

Have fun bottling your own memories.

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    2 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Hey nice job. I build model ships in bottles from scratch but haven't incorporated any land into any of my models yet. Your tutorial will help me out when I eventually go to add some landscape like a shoreline, so thanks for posting this!