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Author Topic: Free Enterprise V - From buying the kit to sailing the model  (Read 516 times)

FerryNostalgic

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Free Enterprise V - From buying the kit to sailing the model
« on: November 15, 2019, 06:46:33 PM »

Hi everyone,


After a very enjoyable weekend at the International Model Boat Show at which I displayed and sailed my model on an indoor pool for the first time, I decided to chronicle the entire build of the model here on Mayhem. Enjoy!


The Actual Ship


In this first post, I'm providing some background on the actual ship and a few pictures of her during her 40+ year career.


This ferry was built in 1970 for the newly merged "Townsend Thoresen" but was delivered in the original green Townsend company colours. She operated on services out of Dover, Calais, Boulogne and Zeebrugge. She was one of five sister ships named Free Enterprise IV to VIII. After the "Herald of Free Enterprise" disaster in 1987, she was hurriedly renamed "Pride of Hythe" and repainted in P&O colours. She operated between Dover and Boulogne until the route closed in 1993 after which she was sold. She then operated mainly in the Mediterranean, changing ownership several times before being scrapped in 2011.

















In my next post, I will talk about the kit and my first steps to build it.
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roycv

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Re: Free Enterprise V - From buying the kit to sailing the model
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2019, 08:04:14 PM »

She looks far more elegant in the original pale green hull, well to me anyway.  More like a much larger ship.  It looks almost like a different boat with the lettering down the side.
regards Roy
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carlmt

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Re: Free Enterprise V - From buying the kit to sailing the model
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2019, 11:48:59 PM »

Looking forward to this JP!!!!  :-)) :-))

FerryNostalgic

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Re: Free Enterprise V - From buying the kit to sailing the model
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2019, 11:06:43 AM »

She looks far more elegant in the original pale green hull, well to me anyway.  More like a much larger ship.  It looks almost like a different boat with the lettering down the side.
regards Roy


Roy, as you will see, I did in fact choose the original pale green for my model.  :-)
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FerryNostalgic

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Re: Free Enterprise V - From buying the kit to sailing the model
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2019, 10:26:03 AM »


The Kit and first steps building it

In this week’s post, I’ll talk about starting construction and two of my customisations.
The model was built from a superbly detailed kit supplied by Linkspan Models. It comes as a fibreglass hull with pre-cut sheet plastic parts for the decks and superstructure which help keep weight to a minimum. Other parts are made of wood, resin, as well as 3D printed plastic and brass for the very fine details. The instruction manual is very clearly laid out with large diagrams.



Work was started in November 2016. The first steps were to cut out all the windows and other openings in the hull and superstructure, whose positions are marked by bumps in the fibreglass. After drilling, they were filed to the correct shape using a steel ruler as a guide. The next step was to fit the prop shafts and the rudder.












Bow & Stern Vehicle Deck Doors

The kit provides for basic functionality (i.e. working propellers and rudder) but it allows plenty of scope for enhancements if you feel like “pushing the boat out” (pardon the pun), so I chose to add working bow thrusters and set myself the challenge of creating working bow and stern doors for the vehicle decks.

The mechanisms for the bow and stern doors would become inaccessible after the decks above them were glued in place, so a “snake” (consisting of a semi-rigid rod sliding through a tube, much like a bicycle brake cable) was employed to operate these from servos that would be located some distance away in the hull.

The bow door proved particularly challenging as it was necessary to create a bascule with a pair of swinging arms that hold the door and lift it in a circular motion, much like that on the real ship. The best axis of rotation was first determined, then a pinhole drilled through both sides of the hull at this point and a 2mm diameter steel rod inserted through the holes, around which the bascule would rotate.

On photos of the real ship with its bow door open, you could clearly see the hydraulic rams that lifted the door, but these can’t be scaled down easily, so I chose to hide my mechanism behind the starboard bulkhead just inside the vehicle deck. The snake simply pushes an arm linked to the bascule to rotate the bow door into the open position. You can view a short YouTube video of how this works here: https://youtu.be/bkqhi3wr09I















The stern ramp proved a little easier to devise and uses a similar 2mm steel rod between the bulkheads at the stern vehicle deck entrance, around which the door rotates upward. The rod was bent into an L-shape and soldered to a brass arm which is operated by a snake. You can view a short YouTube video showing how this works here: https://youtu.be/ffSNDl_MNHc








A removable hatch was created in the vehicle deck, just inside the stern door, to allow access to the rudder’s tiller arm, so that this could be adjusted in the future. The vehicle decks were painted at this early stage as they would be difficult to reach once the decks above were fitted. Unlike the real ship, the lower vehicle deck doesn’t run through the length of the model, so a watertight bulkhead was fitted a few centimetres into the vehicle deck fore and aft, and then painted black.

Bath Tests and Upper Decks

The next step was to test the model in the bath, using old batteries for ballast. The bow thrusters were tested to ensure they didn’t leak and plenty of water was poured into the bow and stern ends of the vehicle deck to check the watertight bulkheads.




Once the bath test was completed, it was time to glue down the fore deck and poop deck, but as parts of these would later become difficult to reach, they were spray-painted first. Before gluing these in place, the servos that operate the rudder and stern door were also fitted.




Wooden supports were then glued to the inside of the fibreglass hull at the promenade deck level and clamped while the glue set. These are both to support the removable upper decks and superstructure, and to ensure the width is correct, since the fibreglass can bend out of shape.





In the next post, I will describe the electrics and lighting.
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mikelimajuliet

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Re: Free Enterprise V - From buying the kit to sailing the model
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2019, 12:02:10 AM »

This is a great build  - looking forward to the next installment :-))
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FerryNostalgic

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Re: Free Enterprise V - From buying the kit to sailing the model
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2019, 07:39:37 PM »


Electronics and Lighting

In this instalment, I describe the radio control electronics and lighting.

Access to some parts of the hull can be a little fiddly on this model, so the layout of all the electrics and electronics such as the battery, servos and speed controllers was planned at this early stage, before the upper decks were glued down.

Supports were created for the various circuit boards, servos and battery, as well as an “electronics deck” in the forward part of the hull. All of this was made of 2mm plastic sheet. Each of the electronic modules in their plastic cases were fastened to the electronics deck with double-sided sticky Velcro to allow them to be more easily removed if necessary.

All the motor-controlling modules are made by Action Electronics and available from Component Shop. These provide “smart” control of the three main motors and rudder using just two RC channels and, together with the bow thrusters on a third channel, help make the model very manoeuvrable. Pushing the rudder to starboard while underway for instance, slows down the starboard motor while speeding up the port one, and vice versa when steering to port. Operating the rudder with the throttle at neutral makes the port and starboard motors operate in opposite directions, assisting the ship to rotate on its own axis.

The two servos that operate the bow and stern car deck doors are each connected to the receiver through a module called a "Servomorph” (also available from Component Shop) that allows the reaction speed of a servo to be slowed right down as well as adjusting the range of movement. For these I used two “non-proportional” channels that are operated by toggle switch on the transmitter. This means that the doors open and close slowly at the flick of a switch, just like on a real ferry.




Interior lighting, outside deck lighting and navigation lamps were all made to work with LEDs. Some of the LEDs lighting parts of the upper car deck can be seen in the photo above.

Most LEDs are designed to run at very low voltages and are easily burned out if connected to too high a voltage, even for a couple of seconds. Most white LEDs for instance, have a nominal voltage of 3.3V, but this model is driven throughout by a single 6V lead-acid battery. The usual solution to this scenario is to solder a resistor in series with each LED. Since this model has dozens of LEDs all over it, a more convenient solution was found:

A voltage reducer (also from Component Shop) was used to drive all the LEDs. It input connects to the model’s battery and its output which drives the LEDs, can be set to the required voltage with a screw adjustment. The voltage reducer’s display shows the output voltage clearly, so there is no risk of damage and the screw adjustment works just like a dimmer.

Wherever interior lighting was used, the interior bulkheads were painted in a dark matt colour so as to just give a warm glow from the lighting and avoid unnatural glare.



The outside deck lighting on the real ship consisted mostly of 60cm fluorescent tubes in watertight housings. This was mimicked by cutting short lengths of plastic extrusion and gluing micro LEDs into the centre of them with clear glue. The finished result, whilst not perfect, gives a pretty good result.










As the superstructure was built, the LED lighting in each area was tested using batteries before gluing the next deck above.


This ship had the company name “TOWNSEND” above the bridge in large letters, the insides of which were fitted with fluorescent tubes. On the model, the letters are supplied as part of the kit, in clear plastic. To replicate the lighting effect, white micro-LEDs were glued to the underside of each letter and the backs and sides were painted white. The tops and bottoms of the letters were then glued into a plastic L-shaped extrusion that hides the wires.










Since the masts on the model are made of hollow plastic tubing, the navigation lamp LEDs were conveniently threaded through them. The ship’s fore mast has two radar scanners perched in “crows nests”. The plastic fittings for these come as part of the kit but are designed to be static. To make the scanners actually rotate, the fittings were drilled out, the post was replaced with hollow tubing and the scanners themselves each attached to a length of clear plastic rod running through the leg and down into the compartment below which conveniently houses a pair of tiny geared motors, obtained cheaply on eBay.

The fished result can be seen on this short YouTube video: https://youtu.be/Oh1o2YPuTLc





Finally, to allow items such as lighting, navigation lamps and radar scanners to be switched on and off by radio control, these were connected to the model’s power supply through electronic switches that connect to the receiver. The selected channels are operated by toggle switched on the radio control transmitter.
 
In my next instalment, I will describe some of the fine detailing on the model.

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