Well the S-44 Replica has made a lot of progress this December. I now have the "pressure hull" cold molded to the superstructure. From here on out it is back to normal hard chine boat building (which I am really good at). I still have 1000's of screws to remove, holes to fill, etc. My next step is to remove 4 temporary frames, build the outboard well, finish the outboard tunnel, glass the sides and flip it up side down. If I can get this much done by the end of January I'll be pleased.
I now have a web site up for the project with a link to construction photos. You can view it @: http://www.s44.org
In other surprising news the S-44 replica will not be going to Atascadero Lake for Summer 2003. A couple of the Recreation and Park Commissioners in Atascadero have indicated that they do not want to see the request again. Apparently (a few - not all) lake front property owners don't want to see a "Military" boat in the lake. As a result there will not be a public hearing on the request (which I had been looking forward to). I do want to thank Geoff English (who has to answer to the commissioners) for going to bat for me in the first place. He went out of his way to help - including putting together a multimedia package for the first (and only) hearing that went as far as listing the original crew members on "Eternal Patrol" - Thanks Geoff!
I am not really viewing the Atascadero Lake rejection as a big loss. While I really enjoy being at the lake with my summertime outfitting business, my original intent for the S-44 Replica was to visit a different part of the country each summer - sort of a working vacation with my Family. I have made friends with a few Vets in the Los Angles area and know the folks at Redondo Beach Marina. I may try to find a working "Partner" for my Atascadero Lake business and possibly do a close shake down cruise in Redondo Beach. But first of course I've got to finish the project!
I will keep you posted as progress is made!
Progress has been good - all temporary frames have been removed, the outboard well and tunnel are built, the sides are fiberglassed and the hull has been flipped up side down. I had a boat flipping party here and had lots of help turning the hull upside down. My next step is to put the bottom stringers and keel on, fabricate the footwell for the viewing chamber, build and fiberglass the bottom, make a template for the trailer builder and flip it back to rightside up. I project 4 to 6 weeks of full time work to finish this next stage. If you happened to be in the area local TV station KSBY did a short piece on the sub replica that was on the news January 29th. Also the local "Gazette" is working on a feature article which should be out soon.
The deck gun is also under construction (you can view the preassembly at the construction site posted on: http://www.s44.org ). Bircher Arms is building not one but two 1/3 scale 4" deck guns. These units will actually work but only with blanks and not live rounds. Only one is going on S-44 the other is being built for sale as it is not too difficult to manufacture two at a time. So if any of you want a 6 1/2 foot long working deck gun replica from an old S-boat contact Bircher Arms @ (252)726-5470
Lastly, special thanks to Sam at Baywood Market for the free snacks and ice at the boat turning party. What a great guy! Not only did he come help work but he provide food too! I know that not everyone signed the construction log so if your name isn't here thank you just as much!
Below is a partial list of those who came and helped flip the hull:
Glynis & Eric Tinglof
Linda & Steve Ziraldo
Christie & Chuck Rawlinson
March 19th 2003
On Thursday March 27th @ 5:30pm will be the second boat moving of 3 moves. About 25 people will flip the S-44 submarine replica to right side up. It should take 15 or so minutes once we gather. A giant eatable "sub" will be on hand for us to eat along with refreshments. (Bring garden gloves if you have them.) If you can help give Lloyd a call @: (805)534-1640
The bottom went on fine. There was a bit of a challenge making the footwell for the viewing chamber blend into the rest of the bottom and the reverse curve in the front 3 feet of the bottom required double diagonal cold molding - like the pressure cylinder. The fiberglassing was straight forward - and boy is epoxy expensive! Working around the rain added a week or two to the project.
The next stage is to build the interior (before the deck goes on) and put the viewing ports in. I am going to take a month or so on this as it is looking like I might take the sub on a extended (8 month) cruise down the east coast. If I do it would be nice to have a small galley and living quarters!
Bircher Arms has finished building the scaled down 4" deck gun. It looks good and my understanding is that they will test fire it shortly. I may actually truck the sub to Bircher Arms and have them mount it along with some other fabrication if the trip east becomes a reality. I still have not shot up a whole roll but I should have more construction shot online before the next newsletter
Lastly, I got to talk with Wendy Whitemore whose father was one of only two survivors from the sinking of S-44. She contacted her brother Robert who wants to check out the project. I am going to set aside the space on the bulkheads below for old photos and stories so I am looking forward to hearing more about their father.
On Thursday March 27th @ 5:30pm about 30 people helped flip the S-44 submarine replica to right side up. It only took about 5 or so minutes once we gathered and felt a lot lighter than expected. It was fun hanging out afterwards talking with everyone and watching the giant eatable "sub" disappear!
April work was slowed down by our family getting a killer flue, rain and a real fun family vacation to Northern California, I was only able to put in 9 hard days of work on the sub. However - May was a kick butt month for building. The longer days (more sunlight) has really helped.
The interior is now finished (except for mounting of hardware & fittings). There is a aft crew quarters with a bench seat that has enough storage behind it for a basketball and guitar, a separate hanging locker, shoe locker and a bunk with storage under it. With the crew quarters bulkhead door left open you can lie in the tight fitting bunk and look forward into the larger viewing chamber which has 2 18" underwater viewing ports cut out on the starboard side and a bench seat on the port side. Going forward through the next bulkhead you come to the galley which is tiny with a sink and a single burner stove on the starboard side. There is a single seat alongside the galley. On the port side there is a empty space for the ladder which will be coming down from the con tower. Across from the single seat is another 18" underwater viewing port. Lastly there is a "Captain" quarters forward which has two feet more length than the crew quarters. It has a single seat with a chart table, a hanging locker with a clothes locker right next to it and a bunk with a hair over 2 feet of headroom and almost 36" wide.
While I was building the interior I was reading "Under Pressure" by A.J.Hill. In the beginning of the book he takes the reader through the interior of S-5. His description of the tight quarters was excellent. I've got to have him visit the replica as it is even tighter! I did spend one "Groggy" day working on the sub after staying up till 3am finishing his novel. It is hands down the best peacetime sub story I've ever read - I felt like I was on board while reading it. You have to read it - I'll loan you my copy if you can't find one.
After finishing and painting the interior I installed the deck beams & deck at which point I had a visit from Bob Whitemore whose father was one of only two survivors from the sinking of the original S-44. One of the more interesting things about his dad is that he spent time after the war trying to look up and visit a family member for each of S-44's crew members that did not survive. Bob is tracking down some of his dads old storage bins and we hope to put copies of some of his correspondence on display inside the sub. After Bob left I filled about a 1000 plus screw holes, sanded and fiberglassed the deck.
My next step is about a weeks worth of sanding before priming the hull then build the con tower. S-44 had 2 different towers in it's life. The first one lasted almost 20 years but in it's final year it was replaced with a more modern con tower. I am planning on building the original con tower as it was in the first 4 war patrols - if anyone out there thinks I should be building it with the con tower it had when sunk please let me know fast! Then comes the most nerve racking part - moving it out of the building shed and on to the trailer. I had so much help with the boat flippings that we are going to attempt a bigger party and try to line up 50+ people and actually carry the sub by hand and put it on the trailer! I hope to do this in about 1 month. The weight of the boat at that time should still be under 3500 pounds as I have done none of the outfitting and all extra parts such as doors, hatches, viewing ports, etc are removable. I'm also attempting to have S-44 crew member caps made to hand out to the work crew.
Bircher Arms sent a video clip of the test firing of the deck gun. I look forward to meeting the deck gun builder in September when I plan on trucking the sub his way after our first stop. It looks like our first stop will be at the U.S. Submarine Vets convention in Reno. The hotel there would like to put the S-44 replica in the convention hall! But first they need height #'s of the boat sitting on its trailer (which I just mailed a $5,000.00 deposit to have built).
You can view some more construction shots of the work at page 2 ( http://www.s44.org/page2.html ) these photos run about 2 months behind my building time as I slowly shoot up a roll of film.
Finally - Special thanks to:
Kevin & Nadja Byrne
Glynis & Eric Tinglof
All the rest of the crew who helped but names didn't get written down.