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Post Nautilus model makeover Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 8:49 am
mantix
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Hi all,

I'm taking the LE 500 Nautilus model and giving it an overhaul so it looks more like the original 20K attraction subs.

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So far, the project consists of a professional paint job and a custom fabrication of the top red light fixture.

I'll post pictures as they come in, for those who are interested, but I also have a few questions.

Take a look at the brand new submarine as it was leaving the shipyard.

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Not a spot of rust on her.

Also, the porthole rims appear to be black in this picture. I thought maybe the actual portholes hadn't been installed yet, but the caption says "First 20K completed Submarine loaded on trailer carrier for delivery to Walt Disney World from Tampa Shipyard."

Now look at this picture of the submarine floating in the lagoon.

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Were all the rust stains real? Or were they painted on later for visual effect, after the sub left the shipyard?

My next question is about the portholes.

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Why does the porthole rim look brass-colored here, compared to the black-colored rims in picture of the new sub riding on the flatbed trailer?

Here's another view of the brass-colored porthole rims after the ride was retired.

Image

Any help from the 20K crew would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks! Last edited by mantix on Sat Jun 14, 2008 6:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 12:57 pm
law.jordan@hotmail.com
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hi its jordan! :D

those are very interesting questions i believe. i will try and answer them for you as best i can. when the subs were built to be taken to the park, the portholes were rimmed with a black lens. this lens became brass-coloured due to rust, considering that the subs sailed in the lagoon for 23 years until its closure in 1994. the sub on dry land was taken at disney's boneyard, an area of land northwards of the contemporary resort. there is a road leading from the resort to the boneyard, but it is not acessible due to heavy sercuity. i wish i knew how to get in there! :x anyway, the subs were lined up until they were buried in the ground in 2004. the red light on top of the subs was not added until the last 3 years of the attraction's run, sometime in 1991. :)

the photo showing the sub on the lagoon shows real rust stains. not of a viual effect as you believe. the porthole rim was black but rust coloured them brass.
i hope that these answers solve your curiosity and i'll see you soon.

bye! :D
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Post Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 7:36 pm
Bass
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Sorry Jordan but I want to make sure Mantix is clear on a few points...
Mantix is correct, the boats were shipped sans portholes... each porthole weighs approximately 50 pounds, there are 44 portholes (40 for guests, 4 for the four flood lights on each sub) that comes out to over a ton of dead weight per boat that could be avoided during the trailer ride from Tampa to WDW. I'm also betting the portholes weren't ready when the boats were and were installed at WDW. How do I know this? My dad was a carpenter on the Admiral Joe Fowler, the two ferries and the side wheeler and stern wheeler that plied the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake... and they built/installed most of the stuff these boats had AT WDW, in their boatyards and I'm betting they installed the portholes when the subs arrived.

I own a porthole, the brass colored ring doesn't rust; not sure what it's made of but mine and most others didn't rust. When the subs were refurbed, which they were several times, these rings were polished... so they weren't in water for 23 years without ever having any maintenance to them. If these portholes appear to be "rusty", I'd prefer to describe it as "patina" rather than rust... they have the patina of being in 20K lagoon water which was the most chlorinated water on the face of the earth... so they're pitted too from the high chlorine content of the lagoon.

When something rusts, it doesn't appear to be "brass coloured"... it appears brown... which is the color of rust. The subs having rust on them... that was paint, courtesy of the painters from WED and/or MAPO. The subs were made of fiberglass, not metal, so fiberglass does not rust. I remember unit XII coming out of rehab was a beautiful thing to behold, repleat with fake rust on every fake bolt! I can still smell the lead based paint right now! LOL

The red light on top o' the sub's sail was a "new" addition sometime between 1971-1978 timeframe... I know, I was there when it was a "new" addition but I also remember it was on a couple subs when I first started there in 1974.

Ya, the subs were lined up northeast of the Conemporary Hotel. As far as security goes... there really was little or none. Matter of fact I considered doing a waterborne insertion into the storage area only to find that those satellite photos on Google Earth were years old... the subs were trailered over to the WDW dump years later, and they remained intact for awhile, but eventually "vultures" stripped them of anything good and then later on they were crushed... probably by a front end loader, then buried under dirt; I heard the subs were hazardous to walk on because the fiberglass not being maintained/covered in paint had become brittle and there was concern that someone would fall through it and get hurt. I also heard they were incredibly nasty inside because they were left open and exposed to the elements.

I'm not trying to be a know it all here... I just wanted to be sure we keep things factual on this forum.

Bass

law.jordan@hotmail.com wrote:
hi its jordan! :D

those are very interesting questions i believe. i will try and answer them for you as best i can. when the subs were built to be taken to the park, the portholes were rimmed with a black lens. this lens became brass-coloured due to rust, considering that the subs sailed in the lagoon for 23 years until its closure in 1994. the sub on dry land was taken at disney's boneyard, an area of land northwards of the contemporary resort. there is a road leading from the resort to the boneyard, but it is not acessible due to heavy sercuity. i wish i knew how to get in there! :x anyway, the subs were lined up until they were buried in the ground in 2004. the red light on top of the subs was not added until the last 3 years of the attraction's run, sometime in 1991. :)

the photo showing the sub on the lagoon shows real rust stains. not of a viual effect as you believe. the porthole rim was black but rust coloured them brass.
i hope that these answers solve your curiosity and i'll see you soon.

bye! :D
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Post Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 1:49 am
awol
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Good one Bass!

"The proof is always in the sorte of unborn octopus!"
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Post Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 7:16 am
mantix
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Wow, some great information there. Thanks for all the help!

I was debating about whether to make the sub look brand new or not, but now I've decided it should look just the way I saw it when I was a kid, circa 1976.

Apparently, that was red-lighted, brass-portholed, and freshly rusted. :)
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Post Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 1:08 am
mantix
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My first task was to add the light fixture to the top of the sub. I could have carved it out of plastic or some other flimsy material but I wanted it to be solid, so it wouldn't snap off with regular handling.

The idea I had was to take a finishing nail and grind it down to the right shape, then glue it into a hole drilled in the top of the sub. I didn't have the tools to do this right, so I went to a local machinist shop. It took them about an hour and they charged $75.

Click on any picture to see a higher resolution version.

Here is the finishing nail after the grinding work was done.

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Here is the sub with the nail dropped into the drilled hole..

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For comparison, here is a picture of the light on the actual sub.

Image

If you look carefully, you'll see that the shape of my light isn't exactly right. A thinner neck would have made it too fragile to handle, and there was a limit to how much detail work they could do at a reasonable cost. I think it will look good once it's painted.

Which brings me to the next step in the project. After searchiing around, I realized there isn't much of a market for professional model painters in Seattle, so I'll be doing it all myself. Labor of love, I suppose.

I took a trip to the local hobby store and bought about $80 worth of paint, brushes, and other materials. Matching the colors was fairly easy, but I'm having a difficult time deciding on the right color for the portholes.

Most pictures of the portholes show them to be a dirty brass color. The porthole I own, however, is far more weathered-- almost a dingy gray. I'm going to buy some metal polishing chemicals and see what it looks like after a good cleanup.
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Post Awsome! Posted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:42 pm
20k/leppard13
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The model looks great! Thanks for the pics. I myself will be headed out to seattle next week to visit family. The light looks great. I myself would like to "modify" my own model, but I am on quite a budget and am cautious as to weather or not I should do it all myself. I think you should keep the portholes clear as they came. Please post more pics soon!
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:07 pm
mantix
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I think this project could easily be done on a small budget, but I'm having to spend more because of all the trial and error. When I'm done, I'll post a list of the essential purchases you'd need (brand/color of paint, tools, etc.)

I've had a heck of a time trying to clean up the porthole. After several hours of scrubbing with Brasso and other cleaning products, I've managed to change the interior rim from a dark grey to a dirty copper color. That was helpful, because now I know which color paint will match it best on the model. (the copper colored one on the right, instead of the gold colored one on the left).

(Click on any image to enlarge)

Image

I still haven't achieved the brown outer rim color shown in the picture of the porthole at the top of this thread. Instead, it went from a pale tan color to a salmony greenish color to an orange rusty color. Too many of the wrong chemicals, I suppose, but a full restoration of the porthole won't happen until much later, after this project is done.

The first step in painting the model was preparing the sub for the Big Spray Paint Job.

I needed a way to mask areas of the sub during the painting. Masking tape wouldn't work well with all the raised and recessed surfaces on the model, so I found a product called "Micro Mask" that does the same thing. You just apply it with a small paintbrush and it dries into a clear thin film. Then you spray or brush on paint, and you can remove the filmed areas later.

Image

First, I put a drop of Micro Mask inside each of the portholes, to preserve the white/blueish "glass".

Then, I applied several coats of clear "Tamiya: Metal Primer" to the entire sub, so that the paint will stick better.

After the primer dried, I used small brush to paint the forest green color on the two round balls that sit above the sail window. (Does anyone know what they're called or why they exist?) After they dried, I covered them with Micro Mask.

Next, I used a smoke color spray paint to lightly cover the sail windows and the rear window. It took several coats of very fine spray to get the exact look I wanted-- dark, but not completely opaque. When they dried, I covered them with Micro Mask. The green balls now look black also, because the smokey spray paint covered the Micro Mask film.

And finally, I put a generous coat of Micro Mask over the heat exchanger on the rear of the sub.

Here's what the model looks like so far:

Image

I know, I know. Looking sort of messy. That's because you're seeing the dried Micro Mask film on top of the black windows and green balls. It will hopefully look better once the film is removed.

The next step is the Big Spray Paint Job. It's important to me that the color exactly matches the 20K ride subs, and I thought at first I found the right color. Unfortunately, "Testor: Bomber Green" was wrong-- too pale. So I went online and bought a few other cans from several different paint manufacturers, so that I can look at samples of each and select the best match. So far, only "Tamiya: Olive Green" has arrived. It's definitely closer than Bomber Green, but I'm waiting for the rest before I decide.

More later.
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Post Posted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 10:01 am
law.jordan@hotmail.com
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hi its jordan!

your model looks great so far! keep up the good work! i just hope the sub will look less messy and more clean when the process is finished. Overall, very good indeed!

i wonder why the models were not as accurate as they really were in real-life?

see u soon, bye!
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Post Posted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 3:00 am
Bass
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20K Crewmember
20K Crewmember
Keep up the good work Mantix!
I wish I had the patience to correctly paint my 20K ride sub model... that color it came with sucks! Maybe I'll repaint it when I retire in a few years.
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Post Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:05 pm
joez2391
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hmm...you might want to look at the front too...for some reason they added in an extra spike in the front...compare the real sub to the model...
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Post Posted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:04 am
Bass
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20K Crewmember
20K Crewmember
I wish whoever designed the ride sub model had included the bogey system assembly underneath and the prop on the aft end.
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Post Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 9:01 pm
mantix
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Here is the next update.

It took multiple orders from Testors and 13 different paint colors before I finally found a close match for the sub exterior.

The photos featured on this website were helpful, but also misleading because the sub looks so different in each of them. Sometimes it looks like army green, olive green, olive with a touch of yellow, and olive with a touch of tan. I suppose that has to do with the lighting, film, and exposure, but it might have something to do with the actual color changing as the subs were repainted from time to time.

In the end, I chose the color that best matched my memory of the Disney nautilus-- Testors: 1164 Flat Green. It didn't come in spray paint form, but that wasn't a problem. Two coats of paint applied with a brush looked just fine.

It turns out that the Micro Mask stuff didn't live up to its reputation. It was difficult to remove-- I had to pick it off in tiny chunks, and it was tough to tell where it stopped and the paint below started. I wound up having to paint over all the surfaces that it covered anyway, so there was no real benefit to using it.

I'll show you some pictures of what the model looks like so far. For comparison, here is the original model.

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And here is my work in progress.

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Looking much better already, don't you think?

The sail windows still need some work to make them look smoother, but I'll get them looking right eventually.

The next step is the portholes. I found a metal polishing company that was excited to help me with a full restoration of the my actual porthole. They're going to blast it with glass beads to restore the original finish. When they're done, I'll try to paint the model to match it. Then I'll have to fish out all the Micro Mask from inside the portholes, to see if I can get the blue glass color back. If not, I'll probably have to repaint those too.

And the final step will be adding the rust. I'm nervous about this one-- it's got to look very, very subtle, or else it will ruin all the work I've done. Guess I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Oh, a quick note to Bass: the model does include the prop on the aft end. No bogey system, though. :)

More later!
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Post Posted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:54 pm
SaturationDiver
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A fine job sir, a very fine job indeed! I wish I even had one of these models to BEGIN with, let alone the tuned skills to overhaul it! Next step: a complete sub pack... then all of the subs... then a lagoon model... and the showbuilding... and drydock... hehehe! :D

Actually, do you know what? You've inspired me to finally having a go at making a model of the divers. I'm going to sketch some ideas out and see if it's possible.

The sophisticated diving methods and Saturation Diving techniques of the Nautilus have dramatically increased the time man can live comfortably, and for long periods, in the ocean depths.
- Pete Reneday in the Queue Narration
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:52 pm
mantix
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New pictures!

I hired a company that specializes in metal polishing to work on my old porthole-- Proflections in Auburn, Washington.

They took it apart, did some sort of ScotchBright work on it, blasted the metal with tiny glass particles, and buffed out the plexiglass window. Then they applied a protectant to the metal to help prevent fingerprint acids from speeding up the natural oxidation process. The results are pretty spectacular.

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

Image

Image

That is exactly what the porthole looked like on the day it was manufactured-- rough copper color on both front rings, and shiny copper color on the back ring. The plexiglass is also perfectly translucent-- that one scratch you see is actually on the wood behind the porthole.

They tell me that the metal will soon begin to oxidize again and the patina will come back, but that's fine with me. I just wanted to restore it to the original beauty once so I could replicate the color on my model.

Guess that means it's time to break out the copper color paint!
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