Hatching an Alligator
David Merriman Crafts a Scale Model of the Navy's First Submarine

Modelmakers David Merriman and Tim Smalley have been contracted by David Clark Inc., the producer of the Discovery Science Channel Alligator documentary, to create models for use in the film.   These models will be filmed in September and the film will tentatively air in the fourth quarter of 2005. In the course of their detailed model building we are learning more about Alligator's design and construction.

The pictures below are of David Merriman's model; Tim Smalley's efforts on a model of de Villeroi's pre-Alligator salvage submarine are catalogued on his website, "Modeling de Villeroi's 'Alligator junior'." Additionally, modelmaker Bob Santos crafted a scratch-built Alligator based on the digital model of August 2004; Bob made the model of USS Plunger that is on display at the Submarine Force Museum at Groton, CT as well.

This page will be updated as the model progresses!

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2. 5. Explanations for each
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10. 12. Click on any picture to
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1. Schematics for the model, which measure four feet stem to stern.
2. RenShape material blanks are cut on a bandsaw and sanded to shape. A 3/8" diameter brass rod ensures alignment.
3. RenShape blanks are stacked on the rod and glued together using Zap Gap, a thick formula superglue.
4. Using a surface gauge or waterline marking tool (after the stern has been turned on a lathe), the stations for the vessel's ribs are marked.
5. Bow and stern attached to the main hull--a lexan plastic tube--with right angle brackets.
6. Alligator's unique teardrop shape is achieved by adding ribs of SentraPlastic ranged along a spine.
7. Gaps between the ribs are filled with crushed aluminum foil and then Bondo.
8. Building of the teardrop shape along the main hull.
9. Bondo is screed off down to the plastic ribs.
10. With the stern and main hull filled, work begins on the bow. Photo shows ribs and spine before attaching to the hull.
11. Bow frame attached.
12. The entire vessel was coated with a layer of 7oz fiberglass clothe for strength, and then coated with an epoxy laminating resin. After sanding with 36, 100, and finally 240 grit sandpaper, radials are remarked with  a drop pin device.
13. Evercoat glazing putty is used to fill in the low spots and the hull is then sanded again with 100 and then 240 grit paper.
14. Lucite 131S primer is applied and then a coating of nitro-stain air drying putty applied to fill in any fine scratches.

Other examples of Dave Merriman's work:






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