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.)