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Hydroplane NOTRE DAME by WoodButcher - FINISHED - small & popsicle built

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In my previous build (Riva Aquarama) I said I would never again make the bulkheads from popsicle sticks. I've proved it can be done but (as a commentator pointed out) the unevenness and asymmetry of my model may be due to uneven or asymmetrical frames.

So for my next build (hydroplane - no motor) I decided to use plywood instead for these.

This is what a well-made model looks like.


Notre dame.jpg

I found precision cutting the plywood was much easier than shaping the Popsicle frames and I thought there was a reasonable chance that  this model might be tidier than the previous two.

ply bulkheads.JPG

The plan has stringers running fore and aft on the deck side. My first deviation from the plan was to cut notches at the bottom of the bulkheads for stringers running the full length again - the stringers (top and bottom) were to hold the bulkheads in position so the numerous Popsicle sticks would be in the right place.

The above photo shows the start of the deck stringers, with an extra stick at the bow to give a surface for the sticks to glue to (a necessary addition since I'm not using a single sheet for the decking).

Edited by WoodButcher
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Thanks Piet.

The purpose of this build was to try out the plywood frames as enablers of precision and symmetry. Thus I chose what I thought would be a simple model to prove the enabler worked. Some simple model - it is a nightmare with Popsicle sticks!

The first problem is there is no keel, so lining up the bulkheads correctly was my first challenge. By sitting them on the plan and propping them in place while the glue on the stringers dried I managed to get something I was not too ashamed of.

For the deck build - on a properly-built model one would stick the plan templates to the sheets of balsa and excellence is guaranteed. But with this model the deck is so wide (12" at the widest point) that ,while I could lay the cut-out deck plan on top of the roughly-shaped deck and mark the final shape, the cutting had to be done with the deck upside-down (unmarked) because of all the extra sticks (joining pieces, frames) would get in the way of the saw table if I did the cutting topside up.

This is what I mean.



So the shaping involved a lot of guesswork. In the end it doesn't look too bad from a distance.

deck 1.JPG

deck 2.JPG

But I don't guarantee symmetry.

Edited by WoodButcher
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Not too shabby Woody and quite symmetrical too!  Looks fantastic all the way from Florida.  A similar method was employed by the old Dutch ship builders. They started from the keel laying the planks butting against each other to wards the bottom of the bilge, NO frames!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The hull has been the real nightmare. The design has internal curves, acute angles and sharp obtuse angles. Some of the sticks require double curves and keeping these the same curves (where they must butt up against each other) was difficult.5a975d6dc8a6f_insidecurve.thumb.JPG.c5d570f6551ee27f08f23e7e64c4e2ec.JPG


But the major problem I had was that my clamps often were too short to keep planks in place. Eventually I thought CA glue might have solved this problem but the quantities would have been prohibitive. So I pressed on.5a975e74e9295_holding1.thumb.JPG.4fb0d83bdeb661acd937fba666243d81.JPGI had to sand and fill the tunnels before they were complete as my finishing sander wouldn't fit once both sides were on: 

Tunnels before sanding.JPG

with sanding:5a975f8f7712d_Tunnelswithsanding.thumb.JPG.9bdf6e8a05763bf3b3cb4a5a6ee09fe2.JPG

But now I'm nearly there with the hull - a couple of difficult pieces to add. Much last minute gluing and filling and sanding, but its just about time to put a single spray paint coat on to see where the defects really are.


Tunnels with sanding.JPG

Edited by WoodButcher
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nice to see you've started another project.  Billing Boats has a model called the Slo mo Shun.   I've been trying to get the admiral to let me get one,  but so far no dice  ;)    I have the instructions though for it,  but just don't have the time to do a scratch build.   count me in to follow along :) 

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  • 4 weeks later...


The hull was complete with only a couple of coats of paint needed to finish. I left it out in the sun to bake, forgot it and it rained. The problem was not so much that the glue dissolved; it was that the wood expanded and - in the tight alignments - warped. My beautiful smooth surfaces are all wrinkly.

disaster 2.JPG


It it salvageable? Dunno - the warping is a real problem. I'll dry it out and see.

Edited by WoodButcher
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yup........this is about as bad,  as when I thought the wind would clean the dust from my first build of the Revell U.S.S. United States.   I left it on the porch and the wind blew it from the porch,  to the driveway below.   it wasn't salvageable.   so sorry to hear :( 

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Repairing damage can be a rewarding experience to know that you can do it. That said looking at the damage to the mode that you have made, I personally would be inclined to begin

again and take all the small lessons that were learned during the build and apply them to the new build. A positive and constructive endeavour rather than a salvage and potentially frustrating one.



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  • 3 months later...

After a couple of weeks of careful drying it didn't look so bad. While the glue was still unstuck the wood sticks shrunk back to normal size, albeit with some pieces still being slightly curved. It took two months to rescue the hull, but its not too bad.

The deck looks OK - you can see from the uneven sanding that some curvature needed to be smoothed down.

rescued deck.jpg

The underside isn't so good because "walls" encouraged what were effectively "pressure ridges" and so it is more uneven. I only had to replace a couple of pieces, though. But because of the uneven surfaces the areas of power sanding were limited. 

rescued hull.jpg

In some places the wood is now paper-thin; in a couple of places I've gone right through.  i'll see what things look like after a couple of coats of paint - that should show up areas that need more sanding or filling.


But I haven't been idle while waiting for various bits of hull to dry; I've tackled the really hard stuff - the superstructure - which has lots of curves. As I've mentioned before, Popsicle sticks and tight curves (especially double curves) don't play well together.

It took me a month to complete the cockpit and tail. Because it is often necessary to glue a single piece, then wait for it to at least bind before gluing the next piece its a time-consuming process. There are 39 separate pieces go to make this up, and a good half-dozen sticks were broken in the process.


It took me another month to build the engine cover - this time (although there are a lot of pieces) the delay was more bending the nose and roof pieces to the correct curves. I broke a good dozen sticks before I got it right.


Mind you some double curves are easy, if time-consuming. The top of the nose is 14 individual pieces glued in top on each other and sanded into a curve.

building cowling curve.JPGCowling smoothed.jpg

Its nearly ready for final painting and assembly - if the painting shows everything is smooth enough!










building cowling curve.JPG

Edited by WoodButcher
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  • 4 weeks later...

Finished at last. I'm sick of it!


nd stern.jpg


It looks OK in the photos but the finish is terrible up close, and I gave up trying to rescue it. The white paint is uneven probably because the deck is uneven from the rain damage. Popsicle construction is not suited to large expanses such as the deck. The hand painting (blue) doesn't come out well and the pinstripes are awful. I used sticky tape for masking and the uneven white paint cause the blue to leak under the tape. So various corrections tried with sandpaper and white paint and the corrections with blue paint. And so on - I'll never do pinstripes again! The paper labels look like paper labels.

As noted I spent weeks building the engine cover, but I think it looks better without it - I'm reasonably pleased with the engine and (in the absence of the cover) it draws the eye away from the numerous decorative defects.

The irony is that the plans didn't have an engine cover at all and I had to make it from photos.


Never mind! It is the build that is the important thing and I have learned a lot (mostly what not to do).


Edited by WoodButcher
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Apparently, you are not too happy.

Am I still allowed to say I like the result? Many of the issues you mention are not very prominent in the pictures, so all I see is a nice model of an unusual (at least, atMSW) ship.


with respect to the masking tape: tamiya sells a masking tape that is rather flexible, so that is easier to stick to curved, and slightly uneven surfaces.

When paint does bleed, I discoverd that scraping using a sharp knife most of the time works better that sandpaper: scraping does not damage the surface, sandpaper does.



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considering what happened to this hull,  I think it came out great :)   I agree that most of the nuances you speak of aren't really visible in the photos.

    the pin striping didn't come out too bad.......perhaps a different method might have produced something more to your liking.   perhaps a different type of tape?  they also sell pin striping by the roll......different widths and thicknesses.   then there are decals and programs out there to make them....I have one....done a lot of neat things with it so far :) 


personally,  I think you've done well for a first try........no one says you can't do another.   don't be too hard on yourself  ;) 

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