In 2001, after the worst rain storm in 20 years, and facing a deadline to prepare the NAUTILUS MINISUB for a DISCOVERY CHANNEL program about 20,000 LEAGUES, I am faced with the task of getting the submarine rebuilt and finish the scale exterior detailing.  And the producers want it yesterday….







The scratch-built trolley and heavy-duty roller cradle I made for the job.







Here I have test-fit my steel roller track to the submarine.  The track will turn over the roller cradle wheels, enabling me to rotate the submarine upside down when I need to work on the underside.  (The track was necessary because the fins and keel would keep the sub from turning on a simple roller cradle.)







After removing the roller track, I lifted the submarine off the trailer with a pair of  hoists; mounted it on the special trolley I’d built; and maneuvered it into the shop with my truck.  (As you can see, VULCANIA is in the midst of a beautiful forest.  What looks like soil is actually volcanic cinder: common in these parts.)







Here’s the submarine in the shop, mounted on the reinforced roller cradle.







Modifying the tail section to receive a larger, more powerful propulsion system.







Inside the tailcone: torching out the tack welds holding the floor plates in place.







In the pilot’s compartment: checking the fit of new life support blowers and the new motor potentiometer.







An in-process shot of the sub in the shop, while adding an external emergency cabin pressurization valve.







First step in improving the rakers: tracing the outline of the old ones onto cardpaper.







A cardboard template for the tailfin extension.  (The original fins were a little too small.)







Cutting a cardboard template for the new raker arch.  The plans were provided by William Babington, and are his accurized drawings based on measurements taken from Disney’s real 11-foot special effects model of the NAUTILUS, as seen in the movie.  I had them enlarged to the proper size for my submarine, mounted them on cardboard, and cut them out with an X-acto knife.







Here I have the raker templates positioned on the submarine to check the fit.







After the new raker outlines are transferred to steel with an electric engraving tool, I cut the parts  out with an oxy-acetylene torch, and did the close shaping with electric grinders.







The new rakers tack-welded into position prior to final alignment and welding.







Working on the rakers and new ramming spur.








The wheelhouse cover with a few of the estimated 14,000 simulated rivets that will eventually cover the entire hull.   No wonder my beard’s turning gray!  


(For a continuation of this project, see REFURBISHING THE NAUTILUS MINISUB PAGE TWO.)