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Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

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Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:33 am

Circa 1950s 2-man Army sub. Huh? Army submarine?

That's what I said to myself when I stumbled upon it a few years ago while visiting the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. While walking around the outside display grounds looking at all the giant rockets, there between two of them resting on a boat trailer, was this little sand colored submarine, small enough to fit in my garage.

I made my way directly to it like a moth to a flame, unaware of anything else around me, including my family. They wondered where I was going, and then they saw it. "Oh, no!" they exclaimed, "He found another submarine." As most of you have probably experienced in cases like this, I was the only one interested in this display.

That thing was cool! I took a bunch of pictures with the hopes of being able to build a miniature R/C version of it one day. Well, that day has arrived.
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If you can't read the picture of the plaque, here is some sparse history I know of this submarine. The Space and Rocket Center is a museum where this sub sits, on the grounds of the Redstone Arsenal (Rocket range-www.redstone.army.mil/), where the U.S. ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and space program rockets were developed after WWII. When they tested them, firing them into the Pacific atolls, they used this little sub to hunt down the rockets and their pieces. I'm gathering it was sand colored to blend into the bottom of the ocean so it couldn't be spotted by roving Russian eyes in planes above.

The first place to start is with 4-view drawings and cross-sections that I can use to build it. So from the photos and some on-the-spot guessturements, I developed them. I wanted to make it big enough to capture the cool details of a machine from that era—screws, bolts, weld lines, etc., but small enough to handle and transport easily, and maybe even small enough to run in my above-ground pool. My 1/96 nukes can run across my pool, but that takes place in 3-4 seconds, and they can't turn. This thing is about 16 feet long, so I figure 1/8 scale, making it about 25 inches long, should be just right.

Here's a sample of the plan:

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If there's enough interest, I may even produce this as a SubmarineWorks original kit for sale.

For those of you who are just getting started in submarine building, or don't have any of that fancy Computer Aided Drafting software and CNC equipment, I'm going to build this in a way that shows how almost anyone can make a model. This is a technique I learned from the great Steve Neill and Kevin McLeod. They've's posted a few of their builds here, and in The SubCommittee Report (great magazine), using the same technique. It's been called "The Lost Foam" technique, but I'm not going to lose the foam. I'm going to keep it inside and just use this method to build masters to make molds from.

I started with the spine-board I made to build my 1/96 Ohio model on. Then I spray-mounted loose cut-outs of the Xeroxed cross-sections from my plans onto cardboard to give them some rigidity. Then I cut them out to exact size. These cross-sections were taken in 2" sections to work perfectly with 2"-thick styrofoam. Here they are just placed along the spine-board.

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You use the cross-section cut-outs as guides for a foam cutter. Place a chunk of foam between two successive cross-sections with a light coat of spray mount. Line up both pieces/side with the groove cut out to fit over the spine-board. I mount one section first. Then cut out the groove. Then mount the opposite section lined up with that groove. Then cut out the piece by pressing the cutter against the edges of both cross-sections.

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Here you can see the successive sections taking shape.

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Then you just sand them smooth while keeping the sections in place. I just use a little Bestine Brand Rubber Cement Thinner to remove the sections, then use the one needed on the next piece.

Multiple sections then glued (spray mount) together.

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I left these pieces in larger sections, instead of gluing them all together for the full boat's shape, so that when I sanded them I could use a long, straight sanding board and sand right down to the edges of the cross-sections, using them as guides as was done for the foam cutter. This also kept me from over sanding down the foam, which can happen very easily. Then they will work the same when putting on plaster to fill in low spots and imperfections in the shape. I'll use a trowel across the edges and screed out the plaster. I use plaster first, before applying fiber glass, because it is easier to sand and less expensive than the bondo step on top of the plaster. Although I have to wait longer to let it dry, at this stage I feel it's worth it. Laying the fiberglass over the plaster-leveled foam will require much less and shallower layers of bondo on top of the fiberglass to get the final shape later.

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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Rogue Sub » Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:09 am

Alright Pete! Glad to see you started this.
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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:09 am

More progress to see at the build contest on subpirates.com.

http://www.subpirates.com/showthread.ph ... rry-PC-3A1
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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:20 am

I've made more progress. I finished shaping the stern section after filling in the foam with plaster, then fiberglassed over it.

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Then I began working on the crew cabin section. I tried to shape both semi-circle ends by hand, but they didn't turn out close enough in shape to each other. So I made a mold of the best end, and cast a duplicate match of it. Then attached it to the other end of the crew cabin. So now they match.

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More details at the following link:

http://www.subpirates.com/showthread.ph ... #post48539
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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:24 pm

Started work on the port holes.
I got some more PVC pipe that matched the diameter of the port hole extensions on the side of the crew cabin. I cut a piece down the a thickness the distance these extensions need to stick out from the side of the crew cabin. But because they were cut flat, and the side of the crew cabin is curved, I had to make it form to the curve. Then I used a separate piece of the PVC pipe, which the crew cabin was formed from, as a form to get the right curve on the port hole extension.

I plan to make one of these pot hole extensions for the port and starboard sides and one for the big curved forward end of the crew cabin, each fitting a different curvature on the crew cabin, then make a mold of each and produce the number needed for all of the port holes. Again, this way they should all look identical.

This is an image of the extra piece of large pipe with lines marked on it marking where the port hole extensions would fit onto the crew cabin.

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I first coated the pipe with some PVA (poly vinyl acetate) mold release. I get this from Fibre Glast developments corporation. (fibreglast.com)

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I put a glob of body filler onto the pipe form over top of the drawn circle, then placed the small cut piece into it, pushing it down to achieve the right depth and angle. The body filler will stick to the small piece, but not the pipe form, so when it's cured I could just pop the new part off easily.

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I cleaned up the edges of the part, put a little more mold release onto the pipe form, and reapplied the part to it. Then I filled the inside with just enough Alumilite to cover the pipe form in inside the ring. This is to make the mold for the crew cabin be easier to release. Not having the mold go down into this little tube (all 12 of them) will put less stress on it, hopefully making it last longer.

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Once popped off again, I made a RTV mold of the new part.

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Here you can see the port hole extension made for the front of the crew cabin.

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This is the actual port hole with the stainless steel ring that holds the glass in.

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I will make a mold of this. The actual port hole glass will be cast in clear Alumilite. It's not actually called Alumilite, but they have another name for that product. Then for the final model the stainless steel retaining ring can be painted.

Oh, a little more explanation. When the finished crew cabin is cast, that brown portion you can see in the middle of the port hole extension can be cut out to allow the port hole glass to be placed into it. Then you would be able to see through into the cabin.
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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:36 pm

Back to the crew cabin construct.

I wanted to add the weld seams that are rather large and obvious on the real sub. There are welds on the ends where the straight tube section meets the curved ends, where the hatch tube meets the crew cabin, and around the port hole extensions. So I've seen some ways to do this, but I knew I needed to be able to apply something that could be applied in different thickness/sizes. ANd it would need to dry hard and be paintable.

I remembered an article in the SubCommittee Report that Lyle Price had done showing a good way to do this, but I couldn't find it. Actually, I was too lazy to spend the time looking through old issues, and would rather experiment on my own to find what would work best. I'm not sure what material Lyle used, but this technique is basically the same as his.

I tried three different materials to see which was easiest to apply, and looked the most like the real welds. The liquid used to create leading in faux stained glass, wood filler in s tube, and liquid nails in a small tube—not a caulk gun tube. And this liquid nails is white.

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After testing them all, and letting them dry (because all of them shrink when drying), I chose the Liquid Nails product.

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Here you can see it applied to the crew cabin.

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I cast all the port hole extensions needed and attached them to the crew cabin. I also needed to make three more smaller ones—one for the front and two for the back. Then i added the weld seams to them all.

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It's so cool to see how much this is looking like the real thing.

Next, when I placed the crew cabin on top of the hull in position, I found that the top was a little uneven. So I'll be leveling it out with body filler. When I get the hull shaped better and coated with primer, I'll show its progress.
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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:51 pm

A little A.D.D. on sticking to one thing at a time here. Kinda depends on how much time I have to work in one sitting as to what gets worked on.

I finished up the bow cap. I split the original piece I made in half by cutting it on the band saw. Then cut the center support out of a piece of home made G-10 circuit board-type material, and glued the cut halves onto it.

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Last part was putting scale bolts into it.

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I also did some work on the stern cap. After looking at my reference photos some more, I found that I had the shape wrong, so I had to do some work to reshape it. Here is the new result. Still some fine tuning to do.

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After applying some more filler primer, I put a "guide-coat" of spritzed primer of a contrasting color on it. I didn't get a photo, but here is the stern section again showing what it looks like.

I worked a little more on the hull—getting it to its final shape and cleaning up the texture from the glass. Here, I've put a number of stages of body filler on it and sanded to shape. Then layers of filler primer, and sanded some more. This picture shows the hull near the end with glazing putty applied to some final trouble areas removing pits and low spots.

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I block-sanded the hull surface this same way, and it showed up a few more areas needing some glazing putty. You can see it here where the ruddy brown primer is left in the low spots, and the rest is sanded of to the gray.

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Did some more work on the stern section as well.

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Here I tried to create the same kind of steel center section in the stern that exists on the bow. I did this by gluing on a piece of styrene to represent it. On the bow, I cut it in half and added a piece of home-made fiberglass sheet on it. But that one has the center piece all the way through it. THere stern only gets it down to where the prop shaft exists.

This would have worked if I could get the styrene piece on straight, but because of the curve I could not.

So I used a laser level to indicate a perfectly straight line down the middle. I marked the line and then cut a slot the correct width with my band saw just down to the prop shaft housing. Inserted the fiberglass sheet and marked its shape, then cut it out and glued it in place.

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Here is the piece in place. Just a little filling along the edges of it to go.

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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:01 pm

Well I think I finally have a final shape on my hull. And I needed to build a somewhat proper stand to hold it so it doesn't get all dented and scuffed up while I keep working on it. Here it is.
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I got what I think is salvage air connections added to the crew cabin, fore and aft.

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A.D.D.
Next I worked on these little bumps toward the stern that fit across the transition from the main hull to the stern covers. I started with a few pieces of dowel rod, sanded them to an angled point, and sanded the opposite side flat on the belt sander. I glued these together at an angle that fit against the curve of the hull pretty well (you can see it in the second photo).

I made an outline around it in place on one side, then applied PVA mold release, globbed some body filler over the outline, then pushed the dowel rod piece into it in position. Again, using the body filler to fill the contour of the hull completely accurately.

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Then I put more body filler over the part to give me enough material to sand down to the proper final shape.

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I popped the part off and shaped it. Here it is placed back into position to test the fit.

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This image is it all shaped, filled and primed. This part will be used to make a mold to make two identical parts, one for each side. I'l show the simple mold process again with this.

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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:07 pm

When I started to build the structure that holds the bow planes i was using square styrene tubing because it's easy to cut and glue.

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But after completing this much, I quickly realized it would not hold its shape when it comes to molding. This thing needs to be rock solid when manipulating to mold or the cast pieces won't fit the final model. As you'll see, it's crucial to how the bow planes' shaft lines up with the hull for them to operate freely. So I switched the material to brass square tube.

Because the brass needs to be soldered, the pieces could not move at all while soldering, again to get the exact form. So I made a jig to form each half, then solder the halves together.

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Some more photos showing progress to this point. You'll see the bow planes bracing set on the bow. I have photos of the making of this in the camera. I need to download them and post later.

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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Bigdave » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:10 pm

So Pete!
Any updates on this bad boy? BD. 8)
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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:17 pm

Unfortunately not. When I have gotten a chance to work on subs, I've been working on making a new set of hard fiberglass molds for my Ohio kit. The original soft Rtv molds gave out and stuck on the last pull--even with mold release--and ripped big chunks out of them. Got the new molds finished, but haven't had a chance to cast any new hulls in them yet.

Wish to get back to this soon. It should be sooo much fun when complete.
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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:18 pm

Thinking of finishing it in chrome to see if it will disappear in the Carmel pond.
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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Bigdave » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:15 pm

Very cool!!
An invisible sub!
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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:03 am

Yea! I'm back to working on the Perry sub! When I said I'd be back soon, I didn't think it would be 10 months later.

Made progress on the stern cap. Think it's ready to make a mold of it.


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Last edited by Pirate on Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Perry PC-3A1 — 2-man mini sub

Postby Pirate » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:10 am

Next I made the beaver tail, which is the horizontal stabilizer on the stern instead of traditional elevator planes. It is always static. Here you see it next to the phot of the real one.



Here's a photo of the little hydrodynamic piece that goes aft of the crew compartment on the top stern of the hull.
Carved it out of foam, and this shows the last piece of epoxy-glass applied.


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Last edited by Pirate on Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
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