Calypso Billing Boats - RC Groups
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Oct 02, 2004, 02:15 PM
Registered User
WiltP's Avatar

Calypso Billing Boats

I'm a first time boat builder. As a kid I built many car models and always enjoyed it. Recently I quit smoking and as a diversion I went to the local hobby store and bought what looks like a pretty complicated model. It's the Billing Boats Calypso.
Found out right away that the instructions are not as complete as those Revelle Models I built long ago. I came to realize that you need to know a little about the boat your building. So, I looked around the internet and found some history and specific features about the Calypso. For instance the lower front (bow) of the boat has an observation cone where I would have expected the sonar to be. The little circles they show in the intructions actually need to be drilled first which is not mentioned in the instructions.
Additionally, it looks as though the sequence of the building instructions need to be changed depending on whether you want to add RC to the model and the painting you want to do.
Speaking of RC. I know nothing about it. I again started researching the subject and found my way here.
If it's ok, I thought it would be cool to create this thread to show my progress through the coming winter months.
I already started the build. I drilled the holes and installed the Prop shafts, the rudders, the nose cone. I cut the hull and mounted the hull stabalizers(?). I had some problems when the PVC cracked in places during the cutting. I used two part auto body putty to fill the cracks and all the imperfections from the original vacume molding. Sanded and painted with grey primer. I then installed the lower deck (where the motor and RC electronics get mounted) and the fan tail deck.
Now I'm in the process of additional sanding and priming of the hull. The instructions say take your time here, so I am. I found that the auto body putty got a little bit hard to use on the very small imperfections so I tried Elmers Redi-Spack Lite which seems to work really well. Hopefully after this last coat of primer I'll have all the imperfections removed. I been at this about three weeks and have gone through serval cans of primer but it's starting to look nice.
Last edited by WiltP; Oct 02, 2004 at 02:18 PM.
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Oct 02, 2004, 07:08 PM
Registered User
P. Tritle's Avatar
Will, Progress is looking great. BTW, a good putty to use for those small imperfections is the red Bondo brand spot glazing putty. The stuff is cheap, and last a long time, and is available from you local auto parts store.
Keep the progress photos coming, PAT
Oct 02, 2004, 09:42 PM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
First time builder!! You guys kill me!! lol...

Pat, I needed some putty recently and somebody told me to get Squadron putty. I know nothing about the various putties. So I bought green and white Squadron. Is there any difference besides the color? Is the Bondo red a better putty?

Wilt, your boat is looking awesome! Geez, when you get some experience you will be dangerous!! lol...
Oct 02, 2004, 11:43 PM
Registered User
P. Tritle's Avatar
Wil, You can't miss with either the Squadron green or white. Both colors of Squadron dry harder then Bondo red, but I use Bondo because I can buy a 1 lb. tube for less then the cost of a small tube of Squadron. But, I typically use 4 or 5 tubes of Bondo a year, so for me, it's purely economic.
K, I agree with you, when Wil "gets good at this stuff", he'll be giving some of us old timers a run for our money for sure! It really does my heart good to see this new crop of very tallented builders coming out and sharing their work. Mike (over on the Orca thread) is another one we need to keep an eye on, he's already shown me a couple tricks!
Oct 05, 2004, 01:32 AM
Registered User
Nice work that the Calypso as in the Cousteau Calypso? If so I gotta check this one out. I grew up watching Cousteau, and those shows started a deeply rooted love for the sea and its creatures, and scuba diving in me. lookin foward to seeing your build progress, keep the pics coming.
Oct 05, 2004, 11:10 AM
Casey Thrower
C Thrower's Avatar

Bondo vs.Squadron green or white

[QUOTE=P. Tritle]Wil, You can't miss with either the Squadron green or white. Both colors of Squadron dry harder then Bondo red, but I use Bondo because I can buy a 1 lb. tube for less then the cost of a small tube of Squadron.

I find that the green is a lot easier to sand than Bondo and doesn't leave a buildup. I don't know why, but green sands smoother, IMHO.
Oct 05, 2004, 09:34 PM
Registered User
P. Tritle's Avatar
Casey, The green and white both sand easier then the catalysed Bondo body filler, but the putty I'm refering to is the non-catalyzed red spot glazing putty that comes in a big tube. Personally, for larger or deeper areas, I prefer the white putty, fot small scratches or seems, the green works best. The Bondo red works well for both, but needs to be applied in thinner coats because it shrinks more then either white or green.
Oct 12, 2004, 01:01 AM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

Calypso Info

I'm seriously thinking of starting the Billing Calypso. Experienced RR modeller, but not ships. New to this site - it's great!
What's with the hull? From other sources, and from your comments, the hull seems to be inferior to the quality of the rest of teh kit.
What "cutting" step is necessary? Trimming flash, or major surgery? Why all the bondo?
One builder had serious difficulty with the hull, another describes teh kit as easy. Your thoughts or comments from others?

Sorry about all the questions - want an enjoyable build and don't want to pop $250+ without some clarification of the hull status. Here are some good info links for this kit: (Beatiful work - animated) (Big time hull problems) (Another Calypso start)

Keep up your great posts!
Oct 12, 2004, 06:07 AM
Registered User
WiltP's Avatar


Thanks all for responding.
I'm still working on the hull. My autoparts store sold the Bondo glazing & spot putty(the red stuff) but not the others so I didn't get to try the white or green yet. The red works well, much better than the two-part Bondo and Elmer's Redi-Spack Lite. I'm glad you guys spoke up. At $1.99 it's worth it.
I'm now in the middle of painting the hull red. The gloss shows more imperfections so I'm at it one more time or two.
To respond to Dan L. The hull requires minor trimming. It looks to be made of vacuum-molded ABS. The process stretches the ABS around corners and bends which will make some parts of the hull thin (cracks easy) and thick. Also the holes in the hull mold leave tiny marks in the hull that have to be filled. Vacuum molding tolerances aren't that tight either. Visable dips as shown in the link you submitted, and on my model, need minor attention.
As I mentioned, after cracking the hull during trimmming, I installed the lower deck and the fan tail deck. This really firmed up the hull and made it easier to work with. Also, I am not adding wooden hull features as was shown in one of your links.
Hope to post pics of my painted hull soon but now back to sanding, which is already in progress.

Last edited by WiltP; Oct 12, 2004 at 06:16 AM. Reason: Fix spelling
Oct 12, 2004, 08:46 AM
CG Bob's Avatar
About 20 years ago, when this kit came out, one of the club member built it. He sheathed (skinned) the hull with thin balsa or bass wood planks, I think he used 1/16 square or 1/32 x 1/16 inch. The three main reasons he did this were: stiffen the hull; hide all the little cracks and dimples; a better scale like look. The real CALYPSO was converted from a WWII wooden hulled minesweeper.
Oct 12, 2004, 11:44 PM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

Hull sheathing

Given all the work it takes to smooth the hull and that it has weak spots and dimples anyway, what do you think of the idea of covering the hull, not with wood planking as CG Bob suggests (Bob, I'm originally from Lakewood), but with styrene sheet.
Plastruct makes a 0.02in (0.5mm) thick sheet with wood plank pattern in various plank widths.
Anyone work with this material? Would it be easy to form over and bond to the base ABS hull? Forming to compound curves would be tough.
Large sheets can be purchased (7"x24").
Here's the catalog page:
Are there embossed papers or fabric out there that would provide the desired effect?
Last edited by DanL; Oct 13, 2004 at 12:12 AM.
Oct 13, 2004, 08:35 AM
Registered User
WiltP's Avatar
I was in the US Navy, '77'-'83', and saw Mine Sweepers during my time in Charleston. I was on a tin can. Although you can tell that the surface of the hull is not metal, the planking on the minesweepers I saw was not visable. At the time, I thought they used plywood. I don't know anything about the specifics of the Calypso style minesweeper. Are there any history buffs that can provide specifics? I want to create a reasonable scale look on the hull before I get to far.
Oct 13, 2004, 08:06 PM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

Joining the effort...

Just got home with the Calypso! I see why its so much work - many parts need to be cut/carved/shaped/sanded etc from styrene sheet.
At first glance, looks excellent.
The hobby shop let me inspect the hull before purchase. It looks perfect. I see no signs of mold marks, no blemishes and no exceptionally thin spots. There are a couple very slight "waves" in the hull, but only barely noticeable when eyeballing directly down the length of the hull.
The hull does seem overall fragile and thin, so I'm still thinking of "wrapping" it with 0.5mm styrene sheet with appropriate plank spacing just to beef up the hull. Evergreen makes sheets that are 0.5mm thick and very, very flexible - should be able to apply relatively easily and the hull curves shouldn't complicate the plank pattern too much.
A question, please: What adhesive should I use to attach the Evergreen styrene to the ABS hull with no risk of solvation or deformation. The large continuous bonding area concerns me. Could anyone point me to an established technique?
Thanks much.
BTW, I'll also post some pics and any significant mistak....uh...learnings along the way.
Oct 14, 2004, 06:13 AM
Registered User
WiltP's Avatar
Great Dan. This is very cool. Since you've got recent RR model experience, I hope you share all of your techniques. After much thought, since I already started before knowing about the hull planking and that this is my first shot at scale boat modeling, I decided I'm going to continue on with the smooth look.
The model blew me away when I opened it. I thought I might have got in over my head. So far its been 4-5 weeks and I'm just taking my time. I probably spend more time thinking about my next move than anything else.
I'm looking for a permanent drydock for my Calypso project. I've been kicked out of the kitchen and now the back porch by the boss. I have a work bench in the garage, but I've got a lot of cleaning up to do first before I can use it.
Are you going to make it RC? If so, what are your plans?
Oct 14, 2004, 08:54 AM
Tinkerer in Training
RGinCanada's Avatar

It's funny how some people have such a different perspective on what constitutes art, isn't it? My wife banished me from the kitchen after a bottle of plastic cement spilled onto the table and added a new texture to the tabletop...

Keep the photos coming...



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