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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?

image.png.20d1b7bd3c1ad54d240eb1c26b847c1e.png

 

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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Fuji,

 

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

84e301a93be647b56023b596714ec993.jpg.9469645abc68dcf3c41c9b0585cea330.jpg

 

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).

 

Calypso_7-768x1024.jpg.9fd33dc6469963d15f91c4c2a823c786.jpg

 

the-calypso-in-piriou-naval-services-shipyard-in-the-concarneau-harbour-B14CWT.jpg.fb455e3b01ec4062566601a4a89e9ea7.jpg

 

Yves

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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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23 hours ago, yvesvidal said:

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

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!

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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. 

84e301a93be647b56023b596714ec993.jpg.9469645abc68dcf3c41c9b0585cea330.jpg

 

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).

 

Calypso_7-768x1024.jpg.9fd33dc6469963d15f91c4c2a823c786.jpg

 

the-calypso-in-piriou-naval-services-shipyard-in-the-concarneau-harbour-B14CWT.jpg.fb455e3b01ec4062566601a4a89e9ea7.jpg

 

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

IMG_1094.jpg

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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

SP-350-diving-saucer-x640-640x420.jpg

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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.

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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

IMG_1107.jpg

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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

IMG_1137.jpg

IMG_1138.jpg

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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!).

IMG_1174.jpg

IMG_1175.jpg

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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!

IMG_1176.jpg

IMG_1177.jpg

IMG_1178.jpg

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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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