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How to Make a Bottle Boat

This is a neat little project that uses mostly recycled and used materials. It isn't hard to make and you should be able to build it in an hour or maybe two. I have also taken this project a bit further than normal and added some remote controls to it. You can do something like this if you have an old RC car or airplane you no longer use.


Bottle Boat

You have a lot of flexibility when it comes to using materials to make you boat. It is pretty much a little recycled boat. And you can use two liter plastic bottles which work the best but you can use any size plastic bottle that you want. Below is a picture of the same boat that I added a remote controlled rudder to so it could be steerable.

The completed bottle boat 

So let's get started. This picture shows the materials needed to make the basic bottle boat.

The materials

  • 2 - two liter bottles with the caps on and tightened.
  • A plastic shopping bag
  • 3 dowels or wooden barbecue skewers. 1 -14 inches long and 2 eight inches long
  • a thin piece of wood that is 8 inches square
  • String or wire
  • Glue or a glue gun

The basic assembly is pretty easy.

  • First glue the two bottles together side by side.
  • And lay them flat when gluing them so they are nice and even.
  • Then glue your board down to the bottles.
  • Drill a hole along the centerline of the board and about 1/3 of the way from the front end. The front end is where the bottoms of the bottles are. The pour spouts are the back of the boat.
  • Build your sail (more about that in a second)
  • Insert the sail assembly into the hole and down all the way between the two bottles. Glue it firmly in place both at the wooden surface and at the crevice between the two bottles. You need these two glue points to keep the sail nice and strong.
  • The following picture shows this basic assembly.
  • NOTE: You should build the whole sail assembly before securing it to the boat. So read through this whole page before starting.

Building the bottle boat


Now let's build the sail.

The Basic sail Assembly

This picture shows the layout of the three rods for the sail assembly. Tie and glue the two horizontal ones as shown. The first is four inches from the bottom and the second is twelve inches from the bottom.


Tie and glue the sail

When building the sail it is very important that you make it very strong so securely tie the pieces together and then put a liberal amount of glue on them. You don't want these to slip sideways - or the boat will not work. Instead of propelling the boat forward the sails will simply turn!

In the picture here you can see I tied it with wire and then applied hot glue to secure it. I also drilled 1//8 inch holes and ran the wire through that. No way my sail is slipping!


Making the Sail

To add the sail (I recommend you actually do this before you glue the whole thing to the boat). You can just slip the whole bag right over the sail structure and poke a little hole so the mast sticks through it. Then secure it tightly with string and tape at all four cornes and along both masts. If you want a better looking sail you can also lay your bag flat down on a table then use masking tape to make an eight inch square and cut it out.


The sail and guide wires

This picture shows the sail in place so you can get an idea of what the finished sail should look like.

Now let's talk about the guide wires

If your boat mast and sail are built very strongly you probably don't need these guide wires but I recommend you do them any way.

I simply drilled holes in the four corners of the boat and in the ends of all the masts. then I ran the wires. You can alternately use string.


Now paint it up and you are done! And you can add some fun little details like gluing figures to the surface of the boat or making yourself a little flag for the top.


Pirate Flag

I have modified this boat to have a remote controlled rudder so I can steer it. You can see how I did this by continuing on with the tutorial.


And Here it is out for a Sail


Gonzo Gizmos

Gonzo Gizmos: Projects & Devices to Channel Your Inner Geek - It's possible to use optics to roast a hot dog without electricity or a stove; to make a simple radio with just an iron, a few basic circuits and three shiny pennies; and to assemble a simple steam-powered boat with a plastic bottle, a candle, copper tubing and a nail. Of course, only die-hard science nerds would attempt these projects.


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