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How I designed and fabricated a DESMI Scale Model Octopus skimmer

Monday, January 25, 2016

How I designed and fabricated a DESMI Scale Model Octopus skimmer

The opportunity to design and fabricate a fully functioning, scale model size Octoptus skimmer as a project is always exciting for a third year apprentice.

First, I studied the technical drawing and photos supplied by DESMI to understand how the skimmer was developed from the two other popular skimmers. My initial plan was to fabricate it out of metal as it will be easier to weld on site, however, after the first prototype, I decided to switch to plastic as it was lighter.


Utilising 4 inch drain pipes to create the main three pods of the skimmer, I then enclosed each end with acrylic sheets. The next step was to fabricate the main body (which houses the radio receivers for the controls and motors) with more acrylic sheets and impact adhesive. With this new acrylic housing, the motors can then be mounted at the rear end and makes the skimmer a neater look. Coupled with car body filler and several hours of manual sanding, this got the joints and edges smooth.


Have you ever played with Lego as a child? The interconnecting plastic rods and parts from Lego Technics were perfect to replicate the 360 degree rotation movements of the skimmer arms! The biggest challenge at this point was to utilise a material that not only look like the real brushes but also move in a similar manner. I experimented with household door draught excluders and strips of rubber. These materials look the part, but they will not work right. What I needed was a small, durable link belt and with some luck, I stumbled across some sewing machine motor drive belts! These strong belts performed beautifully and with the help of some black spray paint, they also matched the life size skimmer. The final touches were a coat of silver paint and some DESMI and OSRL decals.


The completed 1/10th Octopus skimmer scale was displayed at Seawork, the largest European commercial marine exhibition held at Southampton in June. The scale was also displayed at several school career events with DESMI in Hampshire region.


I am humbled by this experience and found it a very rewarding project to work on. My sincere thanks to the team at DESMI and my mentors for their guidance.



<Views or opinions represented are Author's own and do not necessarily represent OSRL in professional capacity, unless explicitly stated.>

Author Bio(s)

Tom Gillespie

Team Leader

Tom joined OSRL in 2012 as a mechanical apprentice and has now achieved an NVQ Level 3 qualification. In 2013, Tom was named OSRL Apprentice of the Year.

Tom is now carrying out an advanced apprenticeship while working on his Higher National Certificate (HNC). During his time at OSRL, Tom has been influential in redeveloping the equipment hire packages, with design, fabrication and delivery.