20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Nautilus Submarine
Updated on Jauary 11, 2020

 Our voyage begins...
       In 1954, Walt Disney Productions produced a ground breaking adventure movie "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea".  The movie was based on the novel by French author Jules Verne of the same title and was both a critical and commercial success.     It was directed by Richard Fleischer, and stars Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas, and Peter Lorre.  The plot focuses on the search to find a sea monster that is destroying commercial shipping vessels all over the world.  Captain Nemo, convincingly portrayed by James Mason is the mad but brilliant inventor/captain of the submarine, The Nautilus which is the subject of our project.

     Like many action/adventure movies to follow, Disney used several submarine props in which to film the movie which was filmed on location in Jamaica and the Bahamas.  The Nautilus was an amazing piece of technology and was one of the first widely publicized examples of the steam punk genre.  Many years later, submarine enthusiast William Babbington produced a 7 foot scale replica of the Disney Nautilus and produced a very limited amount of copies crafted in fiberglass and resin.  I was fortunate enough to purchase one of them.

     Several years later in 2011, my submarine kit was stolen by a former colleague who had been entrusted with the assembly of the kit and all of my efforts to locate the stolen kit came up empty.  However, in January 2020, Bob Martin of the Nautilus Drydocks shared with me a 7 ft long fiberglass kit that bore some resemblance to my submarine except for the fact that it was in very rough shape (see pictures below).  After a very brief discussion, a few questions and several email exchanges, I became the proud owner of this newly acquired Nautilus submarine.  Bob and I concluded that the kit that I had just purchased from him was probably an unauthorized copy of William Babbington's original and was missing a number of parts and surface details.  However, Bob is a genius when it comes to scale submarine modeling and will be retooling many of these features using his 3D printer.  He believes that his retooled accessories and features will be superior to the original and I certainly believe that he is right.  The adventure begins...

  Inspection of the damaged kit
          Pictured above are several snaps of the completed Babbington 7 ft Nautilus which gives you some idea as to its size and the level of detail.  William was a devoted modeler, perhaps a little obsessed with capturing the scale details of the submarine.  It is truly impressive in its size and authenticity.  Pictured below are snapshots of the purchased kit during Bob's initial inspection.  According to Bob, the hull pieces were badly warped and the casting quality was very poor.  The Nautilus is covered in rivets and many of these were missing or damaged.  Bob agreed to repair the hull and replace the missing pieces as one of the conditions of the sale which was a huge relief for me since this level of restoration work using fiberglass was way above my pay scale.

         Our goal is to perform a complete restoration of this kit while adding some additional details such as lighting, working hatches, turning props etc.  The short term goal is to stablize and reinforce the hull to prevent warping in the future especially during changes in temperature etc.  Since this is going to be a static model we will focus much of our attention on the exterior.

  Progress continues on hull repair
          On January 21, 2020, I received a 15 minute video from Bob Martin from the Nautilus Drydocks featuring the results of his recent efforts to repair the Babbington Nautilus hull and begin the reproduction of replacement parts and surface features.  In a nutshell, Bob has done a terrific job in breathing new life into the Nautilus as the YouTube video below will reveal.  There is still much to be done as some of our concerns linger with regard to the side rakers, the breather caps, salon windows, upper deck grates and salon bezels.  

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