http://www.columbian.com/article/200902 ... /702079970
Model makers dive into subs
Vancouver firm painstakingly researched details on nuclear submarines
Monday, February 9 | 8:24 p.m.
BY TOM VOGT
COLUMBIAN STAFF WRITER
The U.S. Navy had a big challenge for John Geigle: Build an 18-foot-long model of a nuclear submarine.
It's going to be the biggest creation to emerge from the Vancouver model-making shop.
But here's the real challenge: The Navy wouldn't tell Geigle what a nuclear submarine looks like. Not the interior, anyway, and that was pretty much the whole point of the project.
Geigle's fabrication crew is adding the final touches to a scale model of a Los Angeles class attack submarine before it heads for Connecticut in a few days.
The model is destined for the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Conn. — the only submarine museum operated by the United States Navy.
The model includes a cutaway hull so museum-goers can peek inside the submarine's interior. And that's where things started to get complicated. The Navy wasn't about to loan Geigle its blueprints for a nuclear submarine.
"The Navy said we would have to get our own reference materials," Geigle said.
Geigle has gone through this sort of thing before. Two years ago, his team built a full-sized replica of a Mars rover. Because of tight security, they built it without benefit of NASA's plans. That was a three-month project.
The team's success on the Mars rover project was part of winning the Navy contract for the submarine.
Masterpiece Models has been working on the submarine assignment for a year. That includes about three months "getting stuff off the Internet," Geigle said.
He was able to tap some knowledgeable hobbyists, including a group of radio-controlled model enthusiasts who had some submarine expertise.
There also are images available showing living areas such as the sleeping quarters, galley and ward room.
And, a lot of it is guesswork, he said.
The model doesn't represent any one particular member of the Navy's submarine fleet.
"These are still active," Geigle said. "There is a Catch-22. You want to be accurate, but generalized."
At 18 feet long and 20 inches in diameter, the model is about 1/20th the size of a 360-foot-long Los Angeles class attack sub.
The fabricators at Masterpiece Models created their version using about 400 pounds of styrene plastics and about 100 pounds of urethane resins, crafted around a steel spine.
There also are tiny light-emitting diodes throughout the submarine that illuminate the interior.
For a project that started out as an exercise in the unknown, the fabrication team has been able to fill in a lot of blanks. That's turned into another challenge.
"There is so much of it," said fabricator Ed Warmack. "This has got a lot of detail."
The $106,000 model still won't capture the cramped environment of a real submarine, Geigle said.
"It looks palatial," Geigle said as he examined the interior. Inside a real submarine, there are pipes and wires everywhere.