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I joined Model Ship World shortly after ordering the OcCre's HMS Beagle thinking that would be my first model. A few days after that, however, a family member asked, "Why did you order the Beagle when you've had that [unbuilt] Calypso model on your shelf for twenty-plus years?" I decided they were right, so I put the Beagle on my shelf to wait its turn and started to work, at long last, on the Billings' Calypso model that I've had so long I can't even remember when I bought it.

 

So this is my first build log. 

 

First off, I should say the the Calypso was designed to be an RC model, but that I'm not going that route. I'm building this for a static display (I loved Jacques Cousteau as kid) in my office. I've already kind of "gone off the reservation" with the kit, deciding that I wanted to plank the hull of the model to better represent what was in reality a wooden ship.

 

— John

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I'm so glad to see you are building this model, Leukutus. The Calypso is a model that I'm very interested in and I will be eagerly following your build.

 

Jacques Cousteau was a hero of mine. Someone I looked up to because of his fantastic documentaries that educated millions of people about world beneath the seas and our need to preserve it. During part of my 4 years in the US Coast Guard as a young man, I was stationed at the Captain of the Port Los Angeles/ Long Beach for a 2 1/2 year period from the fall of 1967 to my discharge in January, 1970. At one point the Calypso was docked in the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor and was lucky to get to personally go aboard the Calypso and speak with Jacques and his son about some important issues involving a worldwide LORAN program. We met on the mess deck and had a great discussion about the LORAN system and the Calypso in general. His son then gave me a tour of the boat. I was a recreational SCUBA diver at the time also and I was in awe of the amazing, futuristic diving equipment they had. They encouraged me to keep diving and I left with grand visions of maybe joining them someday but, of course, that never happened.

 

Cousteau was a visionary, ocean environmentalist and he did so much to enlighten the world about the importance of preserving our oceans.  Unfortunately, if he were still alive today he would be appalled at the pollution and degradation of our oceans and sea life he loved so much. 

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Wow, @BobG, that's awesome. I had similar aspirations (fantasies) of joining the crew, but the closest I got to that was a handshake-in-passing from Captain Cousteau during the Calypso's visit to Washington, DC. It's weird seeing that famous ship now, in such a state of disrepair…though I'm thinking some strategically placed rust stains and barnacles might make my model more interesting.

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I am very happy that you are starting (actually resurrecting) this build, of such an iconic ship. I built the Billing Boat kit quite a few years ago, with my first paycheck from IBM, when I was still on the French Riviera. I built it for RC and my model has sailed on the sea (Cagnes Sur Mer harbor) and many lakes, including Boston, MA and Raleigh, NC. I have been thinking about renovating it, but have been derailed by many other projects. I never thought about planking the ABS hull, but you have a fantastic idea, there.

 

Below is the presentation of my model, not a Build log as you will (hopefully) present us: 

 

Looking forward to seeing your progress.

 

Yves

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@yvesvidal, I think I can say without hesitation that my version won't be any where near as beautiful as yours, but I'm hoping that — from across the room in the doorway of my home office — it ends up looking reasonably decent.

 

How cool it must have been to sail your model! I would love to do that, but for me the RC part was too intimidating. I am thinking about trying to add some (LED) lights, however, to give it some "life".

 

John

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It will be nice to see a modern build of this almost vintage kit. Your choice of planking her will also make it much more realistic as all of the YMS mine sweepers were of course made of wood. 

 

Even though made here in the NW, (Seattle) the ship was Lend Leased to the British Navy and ended up in Europe at the end of the war. One of her somewhat sister ships, also built here, went to the US Navy and Alaska instead. She also was converted and became somewhat famous as the Wild Goose, owned by John Wayne. For years he kept her up here in Seattle for the most part and sailed on her regularly, but when he died she was sold off and I believe now operates out of Southern California.

Wild_Goose_John_Waynes_boat_by_Don_Ramey_Logan.jpg

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As I wait for more planking and CA glue to arrive, I found myself looking my model and wondering about "unnecessary detail". I have a 100-pack of too-small nails (pins) that I bought thinking I was ordering something else, so I was debating using them on Calypso to add a bit of detail that I don't actually see in any photos of the original vessel. Any thoughts on that sort of thing?

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The nails would look great but just a note. The Calypso was originally built as a minesweeper and used as little metal as possible. Hence the wooden hull and superstructure. If you look closely at her sister ship Wild Goose in the picture you can also see that there is no riveting visible on the hull planking. I do not know for certain but there is a possibility that these hulls went back to the old days and were held together with treenails not metal fastenings.

 

Possibly someone following this build will know for certain. Either way the build is looking great.

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It is not easy to see, but the planks were actually nailed with metal rivets: 

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Those rivets may have been made of aluminum to cancel all magnetic properties. Difficult to say.

 

Interestingly enough, Calypso was supposed to be restored in Concarneau (France) and the picture above shows the very slow work that took place. The French government and the Cousteau Foundation started arguing and the ship has been basically rotting almost untouched until 2016. At that point, Calypso was moved to Turkey where the Foundation found a shipyard willing to restore the vessel. Apparently, the French Government refused to sponsor the reconstruction of Calypso, even though the ship has been attributed the title of Monument du Patrimoine National as is the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.

 

Recently, the Turkish naval shipyard was making good progress when a fire caught up and destroyed all the newly restored section..... Tough luck for that poor vessel. The Cousteau Foundation is not giving up and has decided to continue the restoration. You can read more details in the French Trade press.

 

Yves

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Thanks for the details Yves. I had not seen the story about the move or the fire. You are probably right on the use of aluminum to secure the planks originally. Almost all modern minesweepers use aluminum extensively in their construction, even using aluminum engines in some cases. It will be interesting what they use in the restoration as a magnetic signature is no longer an issue.

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Sorry Luekutus, I am not trying to hijack your thread but found these interesting pictures of our beloved boat on the French sites.

 

Arrival in the Harbor of Concarneau in France: 

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Calypso in her way out of Concarneau, after the beginning of the restoration. 

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En route to Turkey.....

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Arrival in Turkey: 

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Renovation in Turkey: 

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More details in French: https://www.bateaux.com/article/25424/renovation-de-calypso-un-chantier-avance

 

YvesLa Calypso arrive en Turquie _ Mer et Marine.html

 

 

 

 

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It's weird that my memories, from when I got to go aboard the Calypso back in 1969, was that she wasn't as big as she appears in these photos. I'm not sure why but, over time, my memory of her overall size had shrunk!

 

So I looked up her size: she was 139 feet in length, 25 feet at the beam, had a draft of 10 feet and a displacement of 360 tons. Thanks for all the photos!

 

Bob  

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I ended up adding nails to most (and eventually all) the visible plank ends, after which I filed off the nail heads, leaving only the nail posts visible. What will ultimately be visible after painting remains to be seen (or not). I think my 1/4 planks are not to scale anyway, so the "authenticity" aspect is already lost...

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As a side note, I'm probably spending way to much time on planking what it is essentially plastic kit, but I'm actually enjoying this part. I love the feel of the wood after I add a few rows of planking and sand it down be flush with the rest. It's also starting to feel like like I'm making vessel rather than just a model of one… I'm guessing that's normal for this hobby.

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17 hours ago, Luekutus said:

As a side note, I'm probably spending way to much time on planking what it is essentially plastic kit, but I'm actually enjoying this part. I love the feel of the wood after I add a few rows of planking and sand it down be flush with the rest. It's also starting to feel like like I'm making vessel rather than just a model of one… I'm guessing that's normal for this hobby.

It is a great idea to plank this plastic model. You will not regret it.

 

Yves

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Minor Update: Planking is going slowly, thanks in part to my thrice underestimating the amount of planks I would need. I'm still enjoying this part even though it's getting a little trickier as the plank ends need to be trimmed to fit. I'm hoping that the eventual hull-painting will hide some of my novice-modeler planking sins… 

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Day 32: The hull planking is, for the most part, complete. I'm generally happy with it considering this is my first model in 40 years, but there a few spots that might need a bit more attention (or so says my OCD). Next up I'll add a few of the hull-detail pieces and then start shopping for paint. I'm debating between flat colors and semi-gloss, but I'll likely go with flat so I can make whole ship look just a bit weathered. I'm worried about starting with the above-deck features as that part will make or break the whole project. 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

How is your build of the Calypso coming along, Leukutus? I hope you have had some time to work on her. As one of my favorite ships ever, I look forward to seeing your model being built.

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  • 1 month later...
7 hours ago, Luekutus said:

I've stalled, @BobG. A botanical menagerie, aquariums, terrariums (with termite squatters) — I'm a jack-of-all-hobbies and a master of none! 😖

I fully understand, Luekutus. I have a lot of other interests also including photography, guitar and cycling. I've been riding my bike a lot but modeling is getting most of the rest of my time lately so I've been neglecting my other hobbies.  Nunnehi (Don) just completed a beautiful model of the Calypso. Have you seen it? 

 

I hope you will find time to continue building your model. She's a very special boat.

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No, I haven't seen that build! I'll look for it.

The other issue I had was that I got to the point where I had to start the side rails (gunwales?) on the deck, but the "parts" are basically just printed outlines on a very thick of piece of styrene. I had substantial difficulty cutting those out with a hobby/x-acto knife, so I kind of stepped away before my [lack of] patience got the best of my and I ruined something.

I was also a little overwhelmed by model light techniques, and I very much want to have the ship lit from within ( hopefully with something solar-recharged and light-activated so that It just comes on at night). :) I think it'll look best with various levels of brightness and color (depending on what light), and that's just going to take a lot of thought and planning. Best to figure it out now while I have access to most of the hull.

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