Ohio Class, Ballistic Missile Nuclear Powered Submarine, USS Kentucky SSBN737

The basic hull. (Aft, middle & bow):

The main (middle) section:

  Take out your drawing and measure the length of the center hull, e.g. the length of the pipe from the point where the hull first starts to curve towards the bow, and all the way down to the point where the hull starts to curve towards the aft end. In my case, this is 46,55" (118,24 cm) long, extending from directly under the dive plane on the sail, and all the way back to where the missile deck ends. Ensure that the pipe does not have any scratches or dents prior to buying. Cut the pipe, and first smoothen the edges, then "saw tooth" the ends as shown in the picture. This gives the later applied resin a much bigger surface to adhere to, than if the cut were left plain. The end edges are then protected using masking tape to ensure that the later following resin will have a clean surface to bond with! This is rather important!

Also, notice the small wheels that the hull is resting on. They allowed me to rotate the hull while working on it, and proved to be a perfect idea. Making it round, applying resin, and later sanding was easy! I had to secure the hull using masking tape when sanding, but other than that, the idea was the only way forward, I think.

The bow and aft parts:

  First you need to build the bow and aft section mock-up's, and it should look something like this. Also make two templates from the drawing, and repeatedly hold it up against the mock-up, checking that the 1/4" clearing is pretty much consistent all the way around. (The later applied resin will make the parts "grow" into the desired size, matching the tube.) Also, The bump on the nose should be part of the later produced missile deck, not the bow it self. Making it a part of the missile deck makes it way easier to do a perfectly shaped bow, and a nice fit to the missile deck later on. Again, the measurements should be double checked! The center of the mock-up's are made of wood and expanded polystyrene, and the covered in duck tape or similar, so the resin (epoxy) will not stick.

  But first a little test. "Does the resin adhere to the duck tape, or is it possible to take them apart afterwards?" The resin components are West System 105 resin, and 206 hardener. It's a 16 hour cure time, but as mentioned earlier, there is no way around this. Besides, after only a few hours, you can apply the next layer of cloth, and resin. However, sanding etc. is not possible until after at least 16 hours!

  I then applied two layers of resin on to the duck tape covered hull, and when this was pretty dry, I put on the class fiber cloth, and shaped it. Because the resin was not completely cured, it was pretty easy to fit the cloth.

I then wetted the fiber cloth. Be careful to wet it completely, and to place the two layers with cloth with the fibers crossing each other. (One up - down, the other left - right) This gives strength, and should not be omitted! Remember to check the thickness of the layers using the templates! Also, when the cloth is wetted completely, it becomes transparent, revealing any air bubbles within. The next 60-90 minutes I sat and rotated the hull, preventing the resin from running away. THIS is where the small wheels really proved their value!

  After many layers of pure resin and fiber cloth, I applied a thin layer of Plastic Padding. Placing the template, and then putting the padding on to the hull, and then rotating the hull, smoothened the padding pretty much. After a little sanding, and another final layer of padding, I was ready to sand the final finish. The padding smells BAD, and irritates the eyes and breathing! Ensure proper fresh air, and take it a little after little. It also develops heat when drying. Be careful not to mix more than you can apply in 10 minutes or so, and / or lower the room temperature.
Take your time, and sand it again and again, using finer and finer grade sanding paper. Use the templates made from the drawing again and again. Now you have a hull, with bow and aft end in perfect shape. The next step is the missile deck, and the fitting of this.

  The completed aft end. Surface is so smooth that you can blow any dust away! It feels even more smooth that the PVC tube of the main hull.

  The completed bow, as above. Part of this will be covered by the front end of the missile deck, and the "bump" associated. Before I fit the missile deck, I'll through the hull in the water, and find the point of balance, where it does not want to roll. There's no point in having to fight this later with weights, and floatation material, right?

  Notice the saw-tooth gathering, ensuring a strong(er) fix. When running your finger from the main hull and on to the aft / bow section, then you can not feel the shift. It's gonna be fun to see if the two materials can interact when the sub is put in the water and sun light later on. Hopefully the two will expand evenly with temperature?

  Same as above, only at the bow end.

  The sub can now rest for a while. I need to go and work on the rudders / dive planes, missile deck and of cause the sail.

  The giant is waiting for a time slot at the shipyard. I plan to leave it there for at least a month to see if the padding or resin will shrink any. If it does, now is the time to see it, and NOT after painting..

  The entire now completed main hull. It took a while, but it's getting there.. And yes.. "NIX PILLE" does mean "Don't touch" in Danish. :-)

The work on the aft end, and the bow end, took about one month each. In the same period, I had to move, so the project suffered yet another set back in time.


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