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Build the Preussen and the Zwarte Zee

- by Frans Dekker

The scene that I show you is one of two models. They were tightened to each other with a very heavy rope. It’s a tug and the only 5 mast square rigged ship of the world, (until 2001) the Zwarte Zee and the Preussen.  


boekje5 018.jpgShe was built in 1902 at the shipyard from Joh. C. Tecklenborg near Geestemunde in Germany. The company Laeisz has given her the name Preussen. All the ships of that company has a name that started with a P. (Pommeren, Pamir, Padua, the Russian bark Kreuzenstern, Passat, Peking, Potosi. Therefore that company was even so called as “Flying P Line.

The Germans wanted to impress other sea-going countries with a sailing ship as no one has ever seen before. There were many 5 mast ships but not one with all mast square rigged. On deck there was standing the most new equipment like a small steam donkey and Jarvis winches. When there was a lot of wind 8 sailors had to be on the steering wheels.

The size of the PREUSSEN was:

Length (over all) 147 meter
Wideness 16,4 meter
Deep going 8,3 meter
Mast height 68 meters
Speed 16/17 knots (30 km/u)
Crew 48
Number of sails 46
Square meters of sails 5.560
She started her last voyage on 31 October 1910 at Hamburg. On the 6th of November she got rammed near Beachy Head by a steamship named  Brighton. The captain tried to sail her off the coast but because of de lost of the foremast she good not manoeuvre anymore. She ended on the rocks by Dover.

The Zwarte Zee:  

Holland started their glories sea-time in 1898 with building sea-going tugs. One of them was de first one with the name Black Sea. Finally we had four tugs with that name, following each other with their names. When one was sold there was immediately built a new one that was given the name of Black Sea. This model is the first one, built in 1898. It was sold to the Russians in 1906.
Because of the difficulties with sailing ships of that size in the Noordzee (North see) (it takes too long to sail over the other side) the tug was bringing her to the south of England. There, she sailed on her own to the other side of the world. When she came back there was always a tug on station that was bringing her in again.
On the 3de of February 1903 the Zwarte Zee was bringing the PREUSSEN to the south of England. That was the first and last time the where together. 

Building the models

Making a model of the Preussen is very difficult and takes some time. The hull is made of Lindewood, offen used by sculpture makers. The sides above the deck are also made from this wood. These kinds of ships are so called “3 island ships.” At the stern, in the middle, and on the front of the ship are 3 “higher” places.
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After the hull was ready, I made the small parts for the deck. I like to make as much details as possible on the deck. I made 4 sloops, davits, 2 great winches (from very small parts of an old watch) deck houses, lights, anchors, hatches, blocks (1 x 1 x 1 ½ mm with a hole of 0.3 mm in it and it works) rail, chain plates, and bridges to walk from the stern to de front without climbing a stair.
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I have made rat-lines on the stags (shrouds) from deck to top, and from top to top, with a very thin wire, we call it fishermen’s line.  All of the knots are placed and tied as they are on the original Preussen. I can see what I do with the help of a magnifying glass on my head. Because of the number of stags (shrouds) it was very difficult. The masts are so thin that drilling holes in it to let true the stags makes the masts very breakable. 2 masts did break down when I put them on the deck.
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boekje5 019.jpgIt took 8 months to built this model. (I worked on it almost every day). When it was ready and while I was putting it in to the bottle, 3 shroud lines broke. (I heard them breaking and it almost hurts me really).  I had to repair them in the bottle. It took 3 whole days to glue the ends to each other.(and now you can not see were the were broken.). I was very lucky to have a book with a drawing of the Preussen. That made it possible to make so many details. The model is 20 cm long.
The making of the Zwarte Zee was not so difficult. The hull is also made of Lindewood.  The top of the deckhouse and the whale gang is made of what we call aeroplane triplex – a very thin wood made out of 3 lays (0,4 mm). When you make it wet and apply heat you can do almost anything with it.  I did not have drawings for the Zwarte Zee but in the bottleship museum in Enkhuizen there was a great model of it. So I took some pictures of it and built it smaller.
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boekje5 012.jpgWhen I was ready to put the models into the bottles I started with the Preussen. Every mast had a hole in the bottom. I glued a thin wire in it through a small hole in the hull so that I could put them in their places. It was not possible, because of the deckhouses and the “bridges” boekje5 015.jpgto turn the masts backwards (fold them down) with a small iron pin true the mast.
When every thing stood as it should, I made a rope on the bolder of the foredeck. I drilled a hole in the glass of the bottle and there I put the rope through. Then the rope was guided into the sea some further on getting out of the sea, (between the two bottles) going through the hole in the second bottle and then under the bottom of the tug. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the tug at the place of the belaying cleat keven. Then I put the tug into the small bottle and keep the rope in my hand. When the tug was on his place I cut of the rope near the belaying cleat keven. On both the bottles a cork and a Turkish knot and it  was ready.
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