My New Buddy, ALVIN
Looking back, I realized that I've been terribly remiss in properly documenting my builds here. In an effort to follow up on one of my 2017 New Year's resolutions, I wanted to begin where January 1st saw me... halfway through the buildup of a wonderful FX Models ALVIN research sub.
I actually found reference materials to be very lacking in terms of photos, and to make things even more challenging, ALVIN has undergone a host of changes over the years. Fortunately, I was approached by a gentleman by the name of Tom Ryder who not only built an FX ALVIN, but make it fully functional and donated it to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for display there. Using his help and photos, my customer elected to mirror his buildup and the iteration of the ALVIN that Tom elected to model. The kit itself is really just two main pieces, the lower hull and the upper hull. There are also inserts for the viewports, a large, resin propeller, a dive platform and a chunk of pipe for the prop shroud. Almost everything else needs to be scratch-built. The viewport inserts need to be inserted into cutouts you need to make in the upper and lower hull, glued in place and fiberglassed for strength. Likewise, the dive platform needs to be glassed onto the upper hull section along with the rear cap. Getting the inserts to line up is a challenge, as they are actually part of both the upper and lower hull, with the hull split running through the lower section of the side ports. Detail pieces such as the tow hooks, sonar, current meter, rudder, floodlights, etc. were all modeled in 3D and printed on my home printer. The robotic arm is fully posable. The sample basket was fabricated from brass rod and stainless mesh. The entire rear prop assembly swivels about 30 degrees for exceptional yaw control. Twin Graupner thrusters will offer static depth control. Most challenging to me was getting the paint finish acceptable. For whatever reason, this gave me more grief than I care to dwell on. Let's just say that I now vehemently hate gloss paint and leave it at that. What you see below is the result of about 30 hours of work. This basically puts the hull at the "done" stage and I can move onto the creation of the watertight container and ballast system for the boat, which I will touch on here when I get a bit further down that path. For now, I hope you enjoy what you see here. It's been a challenging build, but a welcomed departure from the normal subs that I typically build up.