MOVIETONE NEWS, DECEMBER 1, 1941:
"THE KEEL OF USS HARDER, SS-257, WAS LAID DOWN TODAY IN OF ALL PLACES, LA MIRADA, CALIFORNIA..."
Yes, friends, the hull halves went together today, so I'm off and running. As mentioned, I decided to replace the kit's feeble styrene joining/positioning pins with segments of brass rod. I did this after experiencing Blueback
's hull break apart at SunNFun years ago after weakening from improper transport and then suffering a well-placed collision. (Remember, Paul?) I therefore want Harder
's hull to be as robust as possible.
To cut brass rod into pin lengths, I first tried the traditional little rod cutter tool. It took ages to even get close to achieving one decent cut. (This thing was designed for cutting brass tubes rather than rods, I figure.) I therefore abandoned that method for a cutoff wheel and my trusty Dremel. This too took far too much time and effort; heck I'd need seventeen
of these little pins over the course of the build! Finally I remembered the bolt cutters in my household (not hobby) tool box, and they really did the trick. Filed the ends for a while then remembered to use the Dremel to grind off the burrs instead—and I was quickly good to go.
Here's a shot of my brass pins (including some extras) all lined up and ready for business. They're 1/8" diameter, so I did have to ream out their receiving holes along the hull a little bit for them to fit properly.
Note in the above shot you can see one of the three styrene kit pins I've installed across the top edge of the hull to temporarily hold it together (when the brass rods will be curing along the keel edge). They'll eventually be removed along with the top of the hull, of course.
So, I then went ahead and glued the halves together by brushing liquid weld-type styrene cement on all the pin and hole locations. The halves mated very well fore and aft, but I find there's a there's a thin gap along the middle third or so of the keel. This was not unexpected, based on my reading, so Evercoat here I come (eventually). The brass-pinned joint is curing now. Here's a shot:
The hull was too big for clamping, so I made do with rubber bands and twist ties. Next time (next week?) I'll cut some access space into the top of the joined hull so I can get in with epoxy and fiberglass strips along the inside of the keel joint.
Sure writing is easy: just sit staring at a blank page until the drops of blood start forming on your forehead.