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On a long drive, Kay and I talked about Argonaut Jr.  Our conclusion is that there is no way those wooded wheels supported 7+ tons of iron ballast.  They must have loaded and unloaded the ballast with Jr. in the water.  That's going to be a lot of work!  Even with a small army to help.  But the only way around it is to use a beefy undercarriage, and the first thing that came to mind driving down the Oklahoma Highway looking at the junk piles every farmer and rancher keeps was to use an old tractor chassis for the drive and steering section. Put a chain dive to the drive shaft where the engine would normally be.  :)  Just and idea.

Wire Rope Drive

It always breaks at the worst possible time. In Simons case it was when Mr and Mrs Strauses came to see the Argonaut Jr. as possible investors.

'"Sorry," I said to the Strauses, "but something happened."  I went overboard in my crude diving gear and tried to fix the trouble. The wire rope had jumped off the gear which made the wheels go round, and nothing I could do helped matters. The Strauses sat there on that blazing dock for hours until they could literally stand the heat no longer.' --Simon Lake

What Simon refers to as wire rope would be call steel cable today, but it's more likely he was describing a wire chain, or chain drive.

(1) Various types of chain drives.
Simon Lake in Argonaut Jr.
(2) Simon Lake in Argonaut Jr.

(3) Work on the details.

(4) Wheel sprocket

(5) Drive sprocket

(6) Enhanced photo reveals a
sprocket for a roller chain.

(7) Ladder chain and sprockets
manufactured today and in 1893
by Hale Brothers Company.

(8) Leonardo da Vinci produced
drawings of chain in the 1500s'

(9) James Slater patented roller
chain in 1864.

(10) Drive wheel axle and blocks

(11) Large dive sprocket.

(12) Teeth on the large sprocket.

Chain Drive

(2) (3) Looking at the exterior view, it appears that the drive wheel sprocket was about 5 times the size of the top one - that should give a pretty good ratio.

(4) (5) For the Argonaut Jr. model at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, England, the builders chose cogs that would dive standard chain. With the chain is not installed on the model you can see the carved notches in the drive cogs that would fit the links of a link chain. See: RN Sub Museum for all of the photos of this model

We were not really not sure what kind of chain Simon used to drive the wheel.  Common link chain would have been easy to get but it would be prone to slipping off and Simon mentions the chain slipping off the drive wheel on one occasion.

(6) (7) But then, Tim Smalley enlarged the photo and altered the contrast. The result clearly shows sprocket teeth, meaning that Simon did indeed a sprocket type chain. Most likely a ladder chain which was commonly used on farm implements and industrial machinery.  If fact latter chain is still manufactured today by the Hale Brothers Company which started business in 1893, 320 miles Atlantic Highlands where Simon built the Argonaut Jr.

(8) (9) Simon might have chosen roller chain  which is commonly used on bicycles.  It was not new,  Leonardo da Vinci drew sketches of it and James Slater patented it in 1864 and it was already in use on bicycles in 1894.  The Argonaut Jr. 2010 will use #50 roller chain which is 5/8" pitch and 1/2" wide.  It has a working load over 1000 pounds, it is good about not slipping off, and  it's commonly available.  In fact I happen to have some 30 ft of it in my attic.  We will cut the sprockets for it from steel plate using a plasma CNC table.  The pattern for the sprockets can be calculate and drawn in CAD using the information found on this web site: www.gizmology.net/sprockets.htm  Or better yet we found a free program that does all of the work for us. Seel Jason's Sprocketeer 2 program.

(10) The drive wheel axle and it's wooded mounting blocks are nearing completion.  UHMW polyethylene will fix inside the mounting blocks around the steel axle so that the axle can turn easily.  The wheels mount onto pipes that slip over and are then bolted to axle.  This allows for each wheel to be remove separately if needed for repairs.

(11) (12) We cut a #50 chain sprocket with 120 teeth that will be connected to a 10 tooth sprocket on the hand crank giving us a 1 to 12 drive ratio.

The large wheels have a height, or diameter of 39.25 inches, so the circumference or distance around the wheel is Pi or 3.15 x 39.25, which is 123.64 inches or 10.3 feet.  So 12 turns on the hand crank inside the submarine will move the sub over 10 feet.

We cut the sprockets on a CNC Router table that we converted to a CNC Plasma table completed with a water table.  For more information, see: CNC Plasma Table




Is that a hitch for towing?

Is that a Submarine Tow Horse?

One Horse Powered Submarine

Simon tested Argonaut Jr. in the Shrewsbury River and then demonstrated it some 2 to 3 miles away in Sandy Hook Bay on the north side of Atlantic Highlands, NJ.  While it is possible he towed the Argonaut Jr. to the demonstration site  behind a boat, it is also possible that he towed it to the site behind a horse.  The Argonaut Jr. did have wheels, and we are otherwise unable to explain the purpose of the hitch like structure near the small wheels.

We did get some good information of the Yahoo CarriageDriver forum.  The hitch might have been a simple tow point but it was not a suitable hitch for horses.  It would have required two horses to pull the 2000 pound Argonaut Jr. and without a proper hitch tongue and brakes even a few miles would have been a difficult. More likely Simon and Bart towed, rowed or paddled the Argonaut Jr. the 3 to 4 miles from the test site in the Shrewsbury River to the demonstration site in Sandy Hook Bay.

Pplan for small wheels

And  the Small wheel axle and
tiller almost completed.

How it's Built


Installing the o-ring block.

Rudder / Small Wheels

There was only one chain to the larger wheels on Argonaut Jr., and with both of the larger wheels turning together the small wheels would have to provided steering both on the bottom and as a rudder when on the surface.  When not on the bottom they would also provide a rudder for Argonaut Jr.  A short arm, or tiller will go on top of the vertical staff inside the submarine.

UHMW or Ultra High Molecular Weight polyethylene is much like the better know nylon. It makes a great bearing for axels where ball bearings would need to be kept dry and lubricated. If you need a bit of this for a project, then look at the cutting board in your kitchen it is likely made from UHMW.  Simon likely used oak or other hard wood around the axel and tiller shaft, but he would have liked UHMW.   

O-ring seals are installed inside the pipe to prevent leaks.  Simon would have likely used cotton packed tightly around the shaft in what is called a "stuffing box", but "stuffing boxes tend to leak, so we'll use o-rings.









Once the wheels are initially
glued together, they are
flipped over so the bottom
side can be coated with
epoxy and then the center
steel hubs are glued into place.

Axel support blocks.

Wheels mounted to the bottom.

Metal strap that bolts the axle
block to the bottom beam.

Next we covered the wheels with
tire tread we picked up from
C & C Tire which does truck
tire retread work here in Tulsa.

Building the Wheels

The wheels for our Argonaut Jr. are built from three layers of 2 x 8 lumber. The hub has four bolts that will compress the center of the lumber together but no other mechanical fasteners will be used.  The wheels on the original Argonaut Jr. were likely 2 layers of 2 x 6 lumber, but in 1842, 2 x 6 lumber was really 2 inches thick by 6 inches wide.  Today's 2 x 6 lumber actually measures 1 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches. 

So Simon's wheels were likely 4 inches wide, while ours will be 4 1/2 inches wide.  Simon would have also used nails or bolts to hold the layers together, and we have chosen to use nothing but the epoxy. 

The epoxy is not only a strong glue but it also seals the wood from the water, helping it to remain stronger.

We have planed the edges of the wheels and coated them with epoxy.  The bottom deck is also ready for the wheels to be mounted to it.

The axel mounting blocks are build from are laminated 2 x 8's. and pieces of UHMD plastic line the inside and act as a bearing block that allows the axle to turn.

Once the bottom deck was ready with the drop weight system installed, we glued and bolted the axel to the bottom frame beams.

Then we flipped it back upright and installed the wheels after we covered them with truck tire tread that we picked up from C & C Tire; which does truck tire retread work here in Tulsa.









http://www.harderwoods.com/pipetemplate.php  Pipe Joint Template
http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/ansi-steel-pipes-d_305.html  ANSI Sch40 Steel Pipe Sizes
http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/ansi-steel-pipes-d_306.html  ANSI Sch80 Steel Pipe Sizes