Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Real Yellow Submarine

        A couple of years ago I went to mow my lawn. My mower was running really rough. There is someone down the street that repairs and sells used lawnmowers as a side business from his home. I visited him and he agreed to fix my lawnmower and I also gave him a broken one that I had for parts.

   Instead of trying to back onto a fairly busy road, I used his large driveway to make a three point turn. As I pulled behind the garage he has his shop in, I noticed what appeared to be a submarine.  When I went back to pick up the mower, after taking care of business I inquired about the sub.

    He told me that his wife's grandfather had built it in the 1950's.  It is not self propelled but is towed behind a boat. It is weighed down by a large weight on the bottom, which can be seen in the picture. It also had some kind of water ballast, which could be blown out with on board air tanks, which seemed to be controlled using a common garden hose sprigot. He told me that there was enough interest in it that the famous Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute sent a team to observe the maiden voyage.

   The maiden voyage took place at a local pond. It seems all went well at first, the sub performing as planned. However, when it came time to surface, the sub didn't! After some tense minutes, they managed to get the sub grounded and save the captain. I was told that was the one and only time it went out.
    For backyard engineering it was quite interesting. Low tech to be sure, but still an amazing artifact none the less.  The photos were taken with my cellphone (with permission). Unfortunately the shots of the interior didn't come out. It's kind of a pity that it sets behind the garage where it is unseen.

Notice the large weighted keel on bottom.

I don't know it the pipe coming out of the top was where the blown water ballast would have drained from.

Closeup of the  pilots cockpit.

Ring on bow that the towline attached to.


  1. Excuse my interrupting, I just noticed these on UK ebay and thought of your collection. Rather a mixed bunch but a lot of them.


  2. Hi John - both John Patriquin and myself saw these and others from the same collection and are bidding on quite a lot of them between us - so fingers crossed!
    Many thanks
    Ian M Dury