At the Regatta this past summer, I spent a lot of time in the company of my good friend and the man who really helped to suck me head first into the SubCommittee, the one and only Mr Jim Butt. Over the years, I've seen him run a variety of boats, but one he had with him really caught my attention, and has since turned into a minor obsession: the USS Blueback. Of the 220 or so photos I came home with this year, 48 of them were of Jim's 581. There was something about that tiny little boat that just made my eyebrows perk up. It's simple, yet sexy. I had to have one.
Just as I was about to order the kit from Small World Models, a posting appeared on the SubSwap forum. Someone was selling a 2nd hand Blueback. Problem solved. Money was exchanged, and much happiness followed. And after some searching and much help from a fellow SC member, several sets of plans and drawings arrived as well.
Enter UPS. Apparently, they do not know what the word "Fragile" really means. Though incredibly well packaged by the seller, UPS did one hell of a number on the box. When I opened it up and picked out the 83,425 packing peanuts and unraveled the 64 layers of bubble wrap (really, this boat was packed better than some vendors I've bought from), pieces started to fall out. The stern took the brunt of the damage. The tail cone was dangling by a thread. One of the dive planes was torn off. Part of the lower hull had been cracked off along the mid line.
Ok, fine then. Determined not to let my little dream boat get chucked into the bin, I've set out to restore and slightly modify the Blueback. And finally having a day off work today, the work has begun. Though it may not look like much now, much like the Cylons, I have a plan.
First, here are a couple photos of the damage that the evil UPS managed to inflict on this poor little hull. As you can also see, the first owner didn't make much of an attempt to open up the flood holes. Those will be addressed later as well. Finally, the mating of the upper and lower hulls was pretty poor. Again, enter the plan. You'll understand later...
The boat came with the SWM WTC, 3 scopes, motor, and prop, and painted with a layer of black primer. As you'll see in the coming weeks, I'm replacing the original WTC with a 2.5" SD that will be shortened a bit to better fit the hull. I also contacted Dave at SWM and ordered a new set of scopes, as a few were missing from this boat, as well as the stabilizers.
First, using a dremel and a sanding drum, i got rid of all the bondo putty that was used to make a seat for the original WTC. You can clearly see the scuffing job that did to the lower hull.
Next, I cut off the bow section that was attached to the upper hull. This is where alot of the mating issues were coming from, a bad fit. Once cut off, I tack glued the lower bow back onto the lower hull section. It didn't need to be a permanent bond. That will be taken care of in the next step.
I used some blue painters tape to cover the flood holes on the lower hull. After gluing the tail cone and dive plane back in place, I cut out a section of cloth from a 12" wide roll. Using West Systems resin and some black pigment from Fiberglast, I laid down a single layer of glass, making a new permanent bond for the bow section, at the same time bonding the tail cone back for good.
While the lower hull is setting up, next it was time to make a change in the upper hull. For my plan to work, the original cut at the stern needed to be moved forward about an inch. After aligning the hull, I used a simple (but perfectly square) jig to mark and scribe a new cut line. I didnt cut all the way through yet, just enough to use as a guide later. (The white plastic strips glued to the saw are there to offset the metal top of the blade, so that when rested flat against the cutting guide, it is perfectly level, and not laying against it at a slight angle).
Next I needed to make an indexing strip of sorts for the new new cut piece to rest on. Pretty simple. Blue tape, a little vasoline to act as a release agent, a couple laters of cloth tape. Done. Once it is fully cured i can pop it out and then complete the cut I marked out previously.
Thats it for today. I'll let the glass set up overnight, and continue a bit more tomorrow.