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Calypso by Fuji - Billing Boats - 1:45


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I'm off on a new build of Billing Boats 1:45 scale model of Jacques Cousteau's research ship Calypso!

 

I've always wanted to build this model ever since I saw it back in the early 1980s but could never seem to find the time (nor the money!). Of course now that I have time (and now that by children are grown and on their own) and more income for fun, I couldn't find the Calypso model anywhere! I read that Billing Boats only make a handful of kits of the Calypso every year and what kits you can find are well over $600 USD!

 

I finally was able to find a model on eBay from a seller whose late father had this unopened kit in storage. When the kit arrived I went through the contents and everything appears to be there and in pristine condition!

 

I'll be going through the instruction manual and studying the assembly illustrations for the next few days. Meanwhile, any words of wisdom or advice from any MSW members on building this kit would be appreciated!

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I have always loved Calypso as well, a few years ago I bought a set of plans thinking one day I would scratch build one.  a quick look on e-bay just now I found a set of plans available for $29 

they might be of help in your build,  which I am excited to follow and wish you the best of luck with it.  

here is the link: https://www.ebay.com/itm/CALYPSO-SHIP-PLANS/193473045731?hash=item2d0be464e3:g:p4wAAOSwFMZWtT3S

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Excellent choice of model. I built that model about 35 years ago and enjoyed it very much. It combines plastic and wood assemblies, which makes it very interesting.

The model can be radio-controlled (mine sailed in the Mediterranean sea as well as multiple lakes in France, Boston and North Carolina. I still have that beautiful boat and would need to rejuvenate it a little bit.

 

 

If you are looking for a challenging build, you could try to plank the hull with wood. A few people have tried it. I am not sure they ever finished it.

 

I will be following your build with a lot of interest.

 

Yves

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Has anyone noticed the bow thruster on the Calypso and if so, also included the bow thruster on their build of the 1:45 Billing Boats Calypso?

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I'm researching ways to add it to my build and I have a few ideas, one of which is to drill through the underwater observation chamber and inserting a small diameter PVC tube with a small prop scavenged from another model kit. Would also add a small screen on both sides using aluminum window screen material painted the same tone of red as the hull.

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On 8/13/2020 at 5:26 AM, Fuji said:

I'm off on a new build of Billing Boats 1:45 scale model of Jacques Cousteau's research ship Calypso!

It's great to see another build of this historic ship! I'll be following along. Will you be making it fully RC or a static display model?

 

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 Station 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 I was lucky to get to personally go aboard her 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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On 8/13/2020 at 12:26 PM, yvesvidal said:

Excellent choice of model. I built that model about 35 years ago and enjoyed it very much. It combines plastic and wood assemblies, which makes it very interesting.

The model can be radio-controlled (mine sailed in the Mediterranean sea as well as multiple lakes in France, Boston and North Carolina. I still have that beautiful boat and would need to rejuvenate it a little bit.

 

 

If you are looking for a challenging build, you could try to plank the hull with wood. A few people have tried it. I am not sure they ever finished it.

 

I will be following your build with a lot of interest.

 

Yves

Hi Yves-

 

Thought about making the Calypso a RC build but decided against it.

 

Thank you for the suggestion though!

 

Fuji

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On 8/15/2020 at 10:47 AM, yvesvidal said:

Fuji,

 

 The underwater observation chamber allowed one person at a time to look underneath. 

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Yes, the bow thruster may have been added later on and would be a nice addition to the model. Billing Boats missed that point (and so did I).

 

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Yves

Hi Yves-

 

Thank you for the photos! They are awesome and quite detailed!

 

Based on the photo I believe the port for the bow thruster is just about the same diameter of the "frame" of the underwater observation chamber viewport.

 

I'll have to eyeball it once the observation chamber is installed so I don't undermine the structural integrity of the chamber by making the bow thruster port too large.

 

More to come!

 

Fuji

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Day 2 progress photo!

 

I've completed trimming the ABS hull and am in the process of sanding down the imperfections.

 

Since the instructions shows to leave 3mm from the outside of the hull to the edge of the trimmed ABS for the upper-fore portion of the hull I decided to just score along the "corner" of the excess trim and remove the ABS above the score line.

 

As the saying goes... "Measure twice... cut once!" or in my case "Better to undercut and sand later than overcut and fill later!"

 

Having fun so far!

 

Thank you all who will be following along to watch me build the Calypso!

 

Fuji

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So I've started looking ahead and noticed the diving saucer included in this kit is lacking some detail.

 

Fortunately in my "past life" I used to build models while working at an worldwide engineering company. So when I noticed the model version of the diving saucers excludes the maneuvering nozzles I immediately thought of using insulated solid wire and tapering the end of the wire to mimic the jet nozzle.

 

Sounds easy peasy but the truth will be in the modeling when I get there!

 

Fuji

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3 hours ago, BobG said:

Everything you do that adds details and authenticity to the model will contribute to it being very special when it's done. The details bring ship models to life. Without them the models just mimic the real vessels.

Hi Bob-

 

Yes I agree!

 

Since this is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime model for me I want to make it as accurate as possible!

 

Fuji

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On 8/15/2020 at 12:06 PM, BobG said:

Amazing photos, Yves! You certainly wouldn't want to be down in the observation chamber in shallow waters when there was a risk of going aground!

Hi Bob-

 

This will be a static model.

 

I've already decided this will be a new family heirloom! LOL!

 

Fuji

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Day 3 Progress Photo!

 

After cutting, sanding, filing, sanding some more (and yes a little cussing!) I finally attached the underwater observation chamber to the bow!

 

The gluing of the two halves of the chamber was a little difficult (or maybe I made it more difficult!) as I glued them together before attaching the chamber as a single unit to the hull.

 

The fit wasn't as smooth or easy as I thought it should be. I ended up using a dowel wrapped in fine grit sandpaper to sand the opening where it attaches to the hull until getting a satisfactory fit.

 

I'm going to let the glue dry for a couple of days then will fill in the visible gaps. I'm thinking about using Bond-o as it does adhere to plastic and will not crack once dried.

 

Once I get the gaps filled and sanded I'm going to attempt to add the observation portholes and (gulp!) the bow thrusters!

 

More to come!

 

Fuji

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 4 Progress Photo!

 

Spent the day drilling the holes for the Underwater Observation Chamber portholes!

 

Measured the hole locations twice then drilled a 1/16" pilot hole. Was expecting the holes drilled on the seam for the upper, lower, and center porthole to split the glued seam so I wasn't surprised when that happened!

 

Once I was happy with the pilot hole placements I drilled a 3/16" hole using the REVERSE direction of my drill to minimize the grab of the drill bit.

 

Once those holes were drilled I used a micro round file to file off the excess ABS plastic until the brass porthole frame fit snugly into the hole(s). It took quite a bit of fitting and filing but I'm happy with the results!

 

I still need to add the porthole just above the underwater observation chamber but I'm saving that for another day. The weather here in Illinois is nice right now and the great outdoors is calling me!

 

P.S. Looking at the modeled underwater observation chamber and the pictures of the bow thruster I can see that adding the bow thruster will require me to remove the horizontal "vanes" along the side of the chamber and remodel the vanes about 3/16" higher. Not too sure if that is a good move or not. Need to think on this one as it'll require quite a bit of surgical cutting and patch work but knowing me if I don't do this I'll always look at the model and think "I should have..."

 

More to come!

 

Fuji

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  • 3 weeks later...

Day 5 Progress Photo!

Got back to the build today!

I installed the observation port on the bow AND I figured out a way to add the infamous bow thruster!

Found some 3/16" diameter copper tubing and viola! it was the perfect size!

Drilled through the underwater observation chamber as close to where I believe the thrusters are based on the photos found on the internet and cut the tubing to length.

Next I'm going to file/shape the tubing to match the profile of the underwater observation chamber. Once that's done I'll ask the wife to cut a propeller shape out of thin acetate that will be small enough to fit in the tube using her Cricut and will paint and install it to mimic the maneuvering thruster (nothing fancy!).

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Day 6 Progress Photo!

 

I'm glad I used a copper tube to depict the bow thruster as it is very easy to file down to match the contour of the underwater observation chamber! Literally took 10 minutes using a set of micro rasp files to get the shape I wanted!

 

BTW - The bow thruster is a bit forward of where the photos show as I used the bow of the hull as my reference point. The copper tube actually touches but does not go through the bow. That took drilling a small pilot hole to find where the bow actually is inside of the observation chamber and adjusting accordingly.

 

Now it's time to sand down all my seams and glue blobs on the underwater observation chamber to prep for a quick primer coat to check for irregularities before moving on to drill the holes for the propeller shafts and rudders!

 

Speaking of... does anyone know why we are asked to drill holes for the shaft guide shown in Step 1? The instruction manual and parts list do not indicate we are supposed to add bolts and nuts to install the shaft guides so why drill the holes? I'm tempted to just mark the points shown in the instruction manual and align the holes of the shaft guide to epoxy in place.

 

The days here in Illinois are starting to get cooler, so I think I'll be working a lot more on this build in the upcoming months!

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9 hours ago, yvesvidal said:

Now, you need to place a small propeller inside that tubing.

 

Yves

Hi Yves-

 

Yes! Fortunately my wife has a Cricut which can be used to cut just about any shape from a thin acetate sheet! Just need to find a propeller shape and scale it (wwaayyyy) down to fit inside the tube! :)

 

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  • 3 months later...
Posted (edited)

Happy New Year all!

 

I hope all of you survived 2020! All I can say is what a wild ride 2020 was and I hope 2021 is going to be much better.

 

I had set aside my build for a few months. I got really frustrated with this build as the instructions are pretty light to say the least. The straw that broke the camel's back was trying to figure out how to attach the propeller shaft guides to the hull. NO part numbers shown. NO illustration provided. Just a diagram saying to drill two holes 2mm in diameter 58mm from the shaft exit hole in the hull and 8mm and 24mm from the base of the keel.

 

Well I was surfing the internet the other day and came across a journal of this same build and viola! The builder showed pictures of the mounted shaft guides!

 

I looked through the part blister packs and lo and behold there were 4 small bolts with nuts! And ONLY 4 bolts and nuts in the entire set of blister packs. So I guess I could have guessed what the bolts and nuts were for, but maybe I was just frustrated to begin with, with all this COVID-19 stuff, that I just needed to step way for a bit.

 

So here are some progress photos of the Calypso! I still need to clean up some of the messy epoxy work but so far so good!

 

To be continued...

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Edited by Fuji
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Posted (edited)

Fuji,

 

If I may say this, I think the axles are exhibiting too  sharp an angle. You may have an issue installing the electric motors and their universal joints. If it is not too late, I would relocate slightly the shaft supports on the outside of the hull, soften the epoxy with warm water and try to re-orient the shafts to be more parallel. If you do not intend to navigate the model, then no need to change anything.

 

Yves

Edited by yvesvidal
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In addition to Yves suggestion's  you might consider placing some reinforcing blocks over the screws that go through the hull. Again, that is only if you intend to Run the model. If you are just building for display then it is not really an issue.

 

Nice work so far, looking forward to your progress.

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On 1/4/2021 at 1:58 PM, yvesvidal said:

Fuji,

 

If I may say this, I think the axles are exhibiting too  sharp an angle. You may have an issue installing the electric motors and their universal joints. If it is not too late, I would relocate slightly the shaft supports on the outside of the hull, soften the epoxy with warm water and try to re-orient the shafts to be more parallel. If you do not intend to navigate the model, then no need to change anything.

 

Yves

Hello Yves

 

Thank you for your comment!

 

I also thought that the angle of the propeller shaft was too steep of an angle, but I rechecked the centerline of the shaft guide vs. hull penetration angle before epoxying it all together and it is pretty close to the section view provided. I believe the issue is incorrect forming of the prefabricated shaft guide. It could have been corrected by spreading the location holes for where the shaft guide attaches to the hull (and thereby decreasing the shaft angle), but since this model is intended to be a static display I decided to just build it as directed out of the box. Of course now I'll always direct my eye there! LOL!

 

For those also intending to make this build as a static model be aware that the platform intended for the RC receiver and servos and the motors still needs to be installed as a forward bulkhead is attached to the platform.

 

Another word of caution is to try and get this platform as level as possible to avoid a lot of trimming and sanding of the forward bulkhead as it will eventually be used to support the forward deck.

 

Working on the main deck now!

 

More to follow!

 

Fuji

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Worked on planking the main deck over the weekend.

 

Bought a pastel pencil and used it to emphasize the edges of the plank. Also used a five plank scheme to define the stagger of the planks and it seems to come out okay. Now only need to lightly sand away any excess glue and give the deck a couple of coats of polyurethane.

 

While planking the deck I decided to cut off the wood pieces which I had previously installed as per the instructions. The wood pieces would have been used to define the inside edge of the structures, but I removed them as I can tell they did not dry perpendicular to the deck. Instead I'm going to glue the wood pieces to the inside of the structure walls once the structures are assembled and painted to help center them to the holes in deck.

 

More to follow!

 

Fuji

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  • 3 weeks later...

Working slowly on the Calypso build.

 

Started working on the main deck cabins and I became baffled on why there is what appears to be a small alcove between the two main deck cabins.

 

I watched a couple of Jacques Cousteau's shows to see if I could figure out what was actually there. No luck.

 

Then I stumbled across a photo of the Calypso's deck plan and viola! I discovered that what is modeled as an alcove is actually a passageway between the port and starboard side of the main deck! Now this makes sense!

 

So I'm altering the model to add planks all the way between the port and starboard side and actually built the passageway using scrap board which used to be where the aft cabin cutout is on the main deck.

 

Also finished gluing the posts on the port and starboard railings and will start adding the top rail sometime this weekend (it's supposed to snow like the dickens this weekend!).

 

Photo of the deck plan I found (see the lower right plan.. that's the main deck and you'll see the passageway), Photo of the model instructions showing the alcoves, and photo of the dry fit of the forward cabin passageway wall.

 

More to come!

 

Miles

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Edited by Fuji
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Good catch Miles. When I built my Calypso, 35 years ago, there was not much info available and there was no Internet. 

If I ever go back and restore my model, I may add this feature.

 

I suspect that Billing Boat designed the boat in this fashion, to allow a better and larger access to the inside of the hull, since this model was created first for Remote Control and navigation.

 

Yves

Edited by yvesvidal
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Since it was single digit (and even in the minuses) temperatures over the weekend I was able to get some work done on the Calypso.

 

As I mentioned previously I found that the alcove on the main deck cabins was actually a passageway between the port and starboard sides of the main deck.

 

Since this build is a static display (and because I never make models straight out of the box!) I decided to create the passageway using scrap material from the kit.

 

The first picture is the passageway planking and a dry fit of the scrap built walls.

The second picture is a shot farther away so you can see how narrow the passageway is and some orientation to the main cabin walls.

The third picture is how this will look with the side railing in place.

The final picture is how the passageway will look like with the upper deck in place.

 

I plan on adding double doors in the passageway to each the fore and aft cabins. Since the passageway is so narrow (my guess is about 4 feet wide) I assume the doors into the cabins open INWARD, so I will scribe the doors into the walls with a 6" wide column between the doors and add square windows on each door using the door pattern for the exterior doors.

 

Also note that while watching a Jacques Cousteau's TV shows I noticed that the forward bulkhead which in the model dead ends on the main deck actually has a door with a square window on the starboard side. I assume there is a door with a window on the port side so I will scratch build the two doors using the plastic scrap material and will add them to the forward bulkhead before gluing down the bulkhead to the deck and the forward upper deck to the hull.

 

A note for anyone who is currently building (or will someday build) the Calypso - I discarded the 1.8mm x 2mm wooden sticks which were supposed to be used as the railing supports and used 0.80" x 0.80 Evergreen Styrene strips instead. The wooden sticks were inconsistent in size (and shape), but the styrene strips were uniform and so much easier to cut to length and attach to the railing.

 

It's supposed to be another cold and snowy weekend so more to follow!

 

Miles

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