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   Engine Tune-Up
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Submarine Seeker

October 15, 2011 - 2nd Surface Test

Seeker is a homemade hybrid diesel powered jet boat and ambient submarine. These pages are a work in progress, it helps us stay organized and we hope it also helps you with your own projects.  Disclaimer:  Build a sub; live wild and die. Just don't blame us.

Latest Updates


October 1, 2011 - First Surface Test

June 2011 - Viewport Installation

June 2011 - Hatch Installation

June 2011 - Painting Aluminum

June 2011 - Engine Oil Pressure Regulator (Redo)

June 2011 - Engine Startup and Top Hatch

May 2011 - Rebuilt the Engine

Thrusters and Dive Planes

Repairing and Waterproofing a Winch

The Resurrection

Final Thoughts

Part of me wants to keep working on this submarine but five years ago a visitor stopped by to talk welding and put this idea in my head of building a sailboat that we could take down the river system and out onto the ocean.  That dream of living fulltime on the water with all of the dive gear and equipment needed for underwater adventures replaced operating a submarine.  The irony of of the sailboat replacing the submarine is that the submarine taught me welding, metal casting, basic machining, electronics, and a thousand lessons about "how to" and just as important "how not to" build something.


Where The Submarine Stands

There is a great deal of work to do.  Her surface speed is about 15 mph at best.  The engine has more power than that, but the gear ratio in the speedup box is too high and the engine is not reaching her peak torque rpm.  That would be a matter of removing the engine and gear box and changing the arrangement of the quick change gears.

Left undetermined is how quickly the jet pump would extract the water from the inside of the hull without outer doors than can close off the normal intake port. She has also never left the surface so there is undoubtedly work needed to adjust her ballast and a big question about controlling her depth adequately while using variable ballast tanks for trim.

One problem left unresolved is the heat buildup in the engine compartment. On an 83 degree day we got the compartment to 165 degrees after the engine was shutdown.  There is not a problem while the engine is running as fresh cool air is constantly drawn down the tail fin.  But once she is powered down the heat climbs quickly and make the engine difficult to impossible to start.  I designed her engine compartment so that it used a single "S" trap for the air intake and therefore needed no valve system. But at this point I think I'd add a second trap or a valve with a blower fan that could cool the compartment.

The thruster controls have been plagued with problems, and while the current system of relays and speed controllers works, it's just too many parts.  I think I would scrap everything but the motors and go with a simple forward/reverse relay on each thruster, and control those with a small joystick on the control box.  There would be no variable speed, but that's just a matter of bumping them on and off.

Thank You

People with no imagination, trolls, and naysayers are a dime a dozen but they do proved some motivation because it's always fun to point out that their ass is on a couch.  There are lots of these types in the submarine forums, quick to tell you what you're doing wrong, rarely offering real advice, and extremely rarely sharing their own failures.  In fact those go hidden from the public.  So beware, and don't be discouraged.

On the other there are some really good people out there with good ideas and suggestions.  If you've helped me, you know who you are, and thank you, amigos.  I have really appreciated the assistance!
Mini and Personal Submarine
Enthusiasts Home Base















































Nov 16, 2010
After another year long break, Seeker is back on the front burner.  The target test date is March!

Seeker is on hold.  Check Out Argonaut Jr. that's what we are working on currently.

Oct 29, 2009

David, Kay and I proudly displaying our low cost underwater communication gear having successfully tested it to 600 feet! Read more:
Hydrophone and Underwater Voice Communications


Aug - October, 2009
* With lots of help from David Bartsch, we added the beginnings of a new page:
   Hydrophone and Underwater Voice Communications
Rebuilt the relays for the ballast sled winch damaged by failed potting.
* Redesigned the helm control box and built the guts.
* Added battery cutoff switches for the 12 and 36 volt systems.
* Rebuild the ballast sled winch mount with a better design.
* Sealed up three new linear actuators to replace the destroyed helm actuators.
* Made shade covers for the work area.
* Redid the seals for the landing gear actuators and replaced destroyed unit.
* Replaced two 12 volt Optima gel-cells.
* Repaired a short in the navigation lights.
* Installed circuit breakers in the 12 and 36 volt systems.

September, 2009

Chinese Peasant's Oil Barrel "Death Trap" Submarine Makes Expert PSub Builders Eat Crow.

When Tao's Submarine first appeared in the news is was touted by many of the engineers and arm chair critics on as a "death trap".  Let this be an lesson of how perseverance and resourcefulness can triumph over high brow arrogance.  See: Tao Xiangli's Submarine




July, 2009 - We added a new "Work Place Injury" and this time we got a new victim. See: "Hot Slag Warning".

In other news, we have been taking a few weeks off after a wiring disaster.  While continuing work on the wiring harness I managed to burn up one of the landing gear linear actuators before I had installed the circuit breaker.  Then I discovered I need to switch the polarity inside the helm actuator box  and forgot (again) that I also needed to switch the locations of the limit switches.  I discovered my mistake when the rudder actuator tore off both of its mounts and then striped its lead screw nut. Unfortunately that actuator is not repairable and has been discontinued. So now that I have to rebuild that section anyway I decided on a better way to wire it up, but that means tearing out the control box wiring.   So we are delayed once again.  Oh, it's 105F out too.

May, 2009 - Been thinking about what could  be done to save the sub and crew in the event of the most likely emergency. For example the engine compartment rapidly floods, the 12 volt system shorts out, and we start heading for the bottom. That brought us to add two items that will give us a really good chance of making it to the surface without abandoning the boat. Read more here: Emergency Surface System


Apr/May 2009 - "What's next? Oh yea the wiring harness.  Well, that wont take long." 
--Right!  It all  takes a long time, and always longer than I image.  But once the right wires and connected and the right limit switches are in use then it is a real joy to see things like the rudder, dive planes, and throttle move. Read more here: Wiring Harness



Mar, 2009 - Not exactly back to working on the submarine again, but we did get a tow vehicle to replace the TopKick and it's despised Caterpillar engine. It's a 89 Suburban with 9000lbs of towing capacity and room enough to live in.  And then we taught ourselves how to paint a car.  Read more here: The New Tow Truck



Dec, 2008 - The engine is in and running great now but we are taking a break from the sub.  We've converted the plasma room on the shop to a bedroom off the apartment for our grandson as mom and boy will be with us while dad goes to Afghanistan.  We have also reorganized the shop and purchased a used CNC table and a new welder, all of which need lots of work. And a School Bus that will donate parts for our sailboat. So our web site is still getting updated, just not here.  Will complete the wiring when we get back to the sub.

Oct 4, 2008
We installed the engine for a test a week ago and while it started up just fine after waiting for over 2 years, it only took about 60 seconds for it to blow part the oil cooler build into the hull.  What a mess!  So we have build and installed an oil pressure regulator, repaired the oil cooler. We also festoon the power cables and tested the air divider that will feed ambient air to the forward or aft trim tank. And installed lights on the gantries.


Sept 7, 2008

Completed the ballast and battery sled insulation and made some adjustments to get the 1 ton sled to track cleanly down the rails.

Read More: Sled Installation and Testing


Aug 1, 2008

Finally back to work on the submarine. The center console will house lots of toggle switches to control various systems along with the air supply and meters that monitor the engine and batteries.

Read More: Wiring Harness





July 7, 2008
We purchased a 1995 GMC Topkick with a Caterpillar 3116 to tow the sub. It almost made it home before it died. 

"It's Alive" -- And we did it without a single Caterpillar special tool! Read More..



June 7, 2008
It's really nice to have neighbors with a huge crane. Paul Nosack of "Nosack Tree Service" parked out in the street and his 11 year old son got to do his first lift, raising both of the gantries without a hitch.  Read More...