Dr. Vegetable's Workshop
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Sometimes you look at a single LEGO piece and an entire model forms itself in your mind. A stack of white hull pieces that I was about to put away inspired me to build the Calypso, a small ocean-going research vessel. It started out as a luxury yacht, but once I had outfitted it to carry diving equipment, and decked it out with a radar dish and fancy navigational gear, it seemed a bit more appropriate as a research vessel.

I built this boat in a single sitting and have made very few modifications to it over time. I tried to pack in the luxury items while maintaining that cramped feel of a boat. The upper deck lifts off the model to reveal the interior of the ship's hold. Clips protruding from the walls provide storage for any diving gear that does not fit in the storage lockers. The covered first deck contains a small lounge area behind the primary controls. The upper deck has a second set of controls and a host of navigational gear. The modular seating (yes, you can re-arrange the deck chairs) are all comfortable swivel chairs for those long hours at sea.

The interior of this "ship" is a bit lacking in detail. For example, there are no sleeping quarters or sanitary facilities on board. There is a small dining area on the covered deck, but no galley in which to prepare food. It is not really clear how the minifigs, with their limited leg geometry, go between levels on this ship, since there aren't any stairs, ladders, or even an access hatch to the hold anywhere to be found.

The Calypso doesn't really get out to sea very often; I just don't have that much blue baseplate. I had originally built a display stand for it that had an "underwater" portion beneath a blue baseplate. The undersea had the usual shark, octopus, whale skeleton, and treasure chest along with a bit of seaweed. A framework of Technic beams supported a blue baseplate above this to serve as the water surface. It was a neat way to display the model, but proved to be a bit unstable. I rebuilt the boat, but the mangled remains of the stand are still stashed away in a bin somewhere, awaiting reconstruction someday.

These days, the Calypso stays in the Le Gorge river basin, conducting private fishing tours and assisting the local coast watch in sea monster control. The NELUG train layout has a storm drainage pipe that is said to be home to a large beastie with tentacles that have lifted police boats right out of the water. If this creature can be captured alive, we could learn much about what lies beneath the blue baseplates.

The 9-Volt micromotor that makes the radar dish rotate is a newer update to the top-deck electronics. I had been trying to find simple ways to use micromotors to add life to train displays. The electrical wire is disguised as an anchor chain, and leads off to a battery box or other power source that is hidden off the display. I could probably have put the battery box in the cargo hold, but I would have had to sacrifice the interior of the ship to do so.

Back to the Workshop

Diver down!
Electrical disguised as anchor.
Baiting ze Great White.
The crow's nest.

Copyright (c) 2003 by Christopher Phillips. All Rights Reserved.
LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies, which does not sponsor, authorize, or endorse this site.