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Oct 15, 2004, 12:28 PM
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Converting Dumas Akula to static diver??

I'm another heli guy who's been cruising the sub forum for quite a while. I like to build, but don't want to get in over my head for a first sub. Besides that, I don't have a pool and then weather allows a fairly limited boating season in this part of Canada. Bottom line: I want to build a sub but don't want to sink in a lot of cash at the beginning for one of the sexy hulls that seem more designed for experienced sub builders.

So I'm looking at the Dumas Akula. I could build it first as a dynamic diver I suppose, but I'm more interested in a static diver. I've read that people have done the conversion, and that it supposedly isn't that difficult, but I haven't yet found any web info from somebody who's actually done it. Do any of you know about this? Is making the conversion actually more advanced/expensive than getting something designed from the start for static diving? Anybody sell a conversion kit? FWIW, my building skills are quite good for things that go in the air, I can follow instructions, but I have absolutely no experience with boats and making things waterproof.

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Oct 15, 2004, 12:39 PM
Crazy bubble-head!
Nemo's Avatar
The SubCommittee Report has several issues dealing with conversion of the Dumas Akula kit. You can email the former editor at [email protected] to get a list of relevant issues. I think they cost around $7 or $8 each.

Hope this helps.
Oct 16, 2004, 01:34 PM
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Thanks for the info, but I was hoping to find some info online as food for thought, so that I could decide a direction now. Many of the links that sound like they lead to beginner-type more detailed info seem to be dead. As mentioned in another long thread, there seems to be little (more like zero) detailed sub building info online, especially that suitable for beginners. I mean with the real details on just what needs to be done. Sure there are lots of photos, but no real info. I don't know if it's secretive, or people just don't have the time to write things up (I know it's very time-consuming, from my own projects I've put on the web). But people who aren't rank RC beginners know there are lots of "hidden" costs, and in niche RC markets these can be *very* expensive. I like to know what I'm getting into. For instance, I know that converting a model from its original intention can cost way more and be much more difficult than just laying out the (seemingly) bigger $$$ up front and buying the "right" thing. That's what I'm trying to find out. Even on the vendors pages, they generally don't tell you much, an asumption that you know exactly what you need. For one thing, putting some construction manuals online would give beginners a good idea of what they're getting into. A newbie could look at the manual and say "I can handle that" and may get something a little more "advanced" than they had originally considered.

What I'm saying is, the more info available the more likely that a newbie will get a satisfactory experience, rather than frustration from the unexpected. Anyway, whatever I choose, I'll do my little part by documenting and posting it.

I did find some photos of a converted Dumas Akula, which is what originally got me thinking about it, but I think it was done by somebody very experienced, and I suspect it may not be cost effective for a beginner (i.e. done by somebody using parts they had lying around from years of sub building).
Oct 16, 2004, 09:07 PM
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Have you seen this link ? there is a lot of detail on it
Oct 17, 2004, 11:47 AM
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Converting Dumas

Craig F what part of Ontario are you from? The reason I'm asking is that you are in the home area of one of the best sub clubs. The Ontario Sub Club has members all over Ontario and would love to give you all the help you need to get a boat in the water.
Go to and then to SubCom Ont. We will be glad to talk and help
Later Dan
Oct 17, 2004, 04:12 PM
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Thanks guys. The links you mentioned were good, have been to them several times. Actually, I was thinking of e-mailing somebody nearby who's in SubComOn, but thought I'd wait until I had checked out what's available even more thoroughly. I'm in Pickering, noticed there's a SubComOn member in Oshawa, he's the closest.

You see, I was thinking of building over the winter, never build much new in the summer. The small water outside will be mostly hard. So I realised that I'm kinda limited to something I can fit in my biggest bathtub for testing and trimming etc., and that is about 50". I have helped people build outside ornamental ponds, don't see why I couldn't build something similar but long/narrow/shallow for a "test tank" in the basement, if necessary, should be cheap enough. That would give me more choice in models (the Robbe U2540 is very interesting).

I still think the Dumas Akula might make a fine starter, tart it up with some of the available upgrades (SubTech, say) but still leave it dynamic diving for a while. However, it is a bit smaller than I'd prefer, might be a bit fast for me when submerged, and I really don't much like working with that type of plastic.

Open to better suggestions...
Oct 17, 2004, 05:53 PM
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vaz2107's Avatar
Originally Posted by CraigF
Open to better suggestions...
Hi CraigF: Hope you don't mind me chipping in here; have you given any thought to building a sub based on PVC pipe like the one in this link?

I'm not a sub guy but have been 'lurking' in this forum for about a year! The whole sub thing is truly fascinating

BTW, I'm in downtown Toronto

Oct 17, 2004, 07:59 PM
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Hi Kevin: Yes, I have thought of the plastic pipe. The tough part is probably the end parts of the cylinder, least it would be for me. And that leads me to this: unfortunately I don't model "normal" things, and one of my other modelling interests is medium and high power rocketry (HPR). It's pretty apparent to even a casual eye that many earlier nuclear sub shapes look like a rocket with small fins and a sail. Why do I mention this? Because there are HPR cylinders made of fiberglass, phenolic, carbon fibre, Kevlar-wrapped, etc., and more importantly for me, the hard part, there are nose cones (NC) of all sorts of shapes (usually ABS plastic or FG or even Al) that fit these cylinders smoothly and tightly. I can offhand pull out a couple of NCs from stock that would match a Permit or Albacore shape pretty well, different ones for each end. And airfoiled FG fins are readily available quite cheaply, can be cut down/sliced for control surfaces. So you could make a not bad "sport" sub hull, would be pretty light though (but strong). Maybe wrap or build parts up with FG to get a more pleasing shape. Sail is no prob. Thing about a sport sub is you can do anything to it as far as decoration and it's never wrong, don't have to worry about ruining the scale effect even if it's not that correct (like I tend to do). Some of these NCs might fit a standard size of plastic pipe too, or could be built up with FG to mate better. I would prefer to use the plastic pipe if possible, mainly because of the higher weight and cheaper cost. The ABS plastic NCs are quite cheap and are VERY tough, could save a fair bit of work at the cylinder ends. Just some thoughts that came to me when I first saw pics of "pipe subs"...

Anyway, the sub hull is probably the least expensive part of the first sub for me, since I have nothing, not even any surface radio stuff. And I don't know how to do any of the sub building stuff (seals, shafts, linkages, etc.), have only read about it, so I figured a kit would be good. OTOH, since I have to buy everything anyway, and it's a fair while to spring, I'll have lots of time to screw around and could probably build something kinda fun.
Oct 18, 2004, 12:46 AM
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Converting Dumas

Hey Craig F, Rick Tesky is the member in Oshawa. He is a good guy and a very good sub builder. He could answer any question you could come up with.
You should come to the big hobby show , Nov. 5-7, next door to the Toronto airport. The Metro Marine Modelers put up a good indoor pool and put on shows all day/all weekend.
The Ontario Sub Club will be there with several boats in the water and mine drydocked for show and tell. Come by and say Hi and meet the guys. You'll be glad you did.
Later, Dan
Oct 18, 2004, 05:56 AM
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Believe me, I understand when you talk about starting from scratch. I have been into R/C Electric Helis for about a year now (mostly the type that like to hit the ground.. and have learned SO MUCH from my experiences...mostly how expensive and FUN this hobby can be. I too like things out of the ordinary. I have always wanted to build a sub (the Nautilus has always been my favorite), but I know my skills are not what they need to be. I to looked at current kits, and they were either too small for me or way too expensive. So, I decided to build the submarine off of the Japanese Anime series, Blude Submarine No. 6. I just started gathering supplies this past weekend, and so for, I have about $60 into it. I am measuring my sub to be about 50" long, and it will not be dynamic. I was also put back by the cost of things, like you had mentioned a new surface radio, etc. However, I have a Futaba 9CHP and I found out that I can buy a module and a receiver for it for around $125, which beats the heck out of the $200 to $350 price range for a entirely new setup. As for the knowledge of building it, I have never worked with fiberglass and foam, but I am going to this coming weekend. I consider myself a master scale modeler, so as with you I do not consider all of the 'greebilies' a big deal. However, when it comes to the WTC container and the flooding aspect of it, I am quite lost. But with the help of members from this forum, I am beginning to see the 'light'. I figure, when it is all done, I will have a very unique submarine (lights, operating turret, static diver) for around $550. That is a drop in the bucket compared to my heli stuff. I am a real NOOB when it comes to this stuff, but if I can help (and I doubt it), then please let me know. I have started my construction technique using PVC piping, and my tech. that I will be using will be somewhat 'unusual'. I will be posting soon so you can look forward to some laughs! Take care and best of luck. Stacy
Oct 18, 2004, 11:31 AM
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Thread OP
Good to hear that others are thinking about these things too. I'd like to see pics of people's progress, including the interior bits. I have been looking at all the pics I can find on the web.

As far as modelling subjects, for me I think it's things I liked since when I was a kid, and things that I could never drive the real thing (unlike cars/boats/planes).

My TX can take a surface frequency module too, so that saves a few bucks, though I'll still have to get new RX/servos. It's the WTC that is a bit of a mystery. I understand what they do of course, and I can see what's in them, but the rather high prices for them makes me figure there must be something about them that belies their apparent simplicity. Or maybe they are relatively simple, and it just takes a while to handmake each one and they're a bit of a pain...probably a skill worth learning, though I suspect I'll buy my first one. Re the cost, I noticed you can get a pretty comprehensive and decent Engel kit for ~Cdn$1500, not really too bad in the scheme of RC things. But I think I'll follow the advice of some others and start off simple and cheapish, so I learn more and don't have that fear factor that comes with a new expensive model when you're inexperienced.

There are a few sub kit instruction manuals on the web you can look at, get an idea of how they do things as far as internals.

It sounds like you're going to make a hull with the "foam displacement" method?? I've never done that either. I have just used FG to wrap and strengthen things, and used pre-made FG cylinders. I like FG stuff a lot, also ABS plastic, I find them easy to work with and strong and light. But subs will be a first for me in that I don't have to care about weight too much, considering the large amount of ballast that has to be added to most larger models. I think 50" sounds like a real good size, besides the fact that it would fit in my bathtub for setting up, there should be adequate internal room so that you don't have to get too finicky. What type of ballast system are you thinking of? None of them sound ideal to me, drawbacks to them all (cost/reliability/complexity), just like everything I guess. I kind of like one design where the sub has ballast tanks that mostly submerge it, a bit of forward way does the can't "hover" submerged, but if the battery fails the sub should still pop mostly up. Also, it seems to me that it might not be a bad idea to have the motors and ballast/RX/servo systems powered by separate batteries, JIC so you're not totally dead submerged...just a thought that's probably way overkill, but may be more useful than dead ballast, though I guess you can add other electronic stuff to help prevent that.

Dan: I'll try to get to that show. Is it at the International center? I never usually find out about these shows until after they're over...
Last edited by CraigF; Oct 18, 2004 at 11:53 AM.
Oct 19, 2004, 12:04 AM
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International Center

Yes, I belive that is it. Try the Metro Marine Modelers web site, they should have directions and times.
Hope to see you there.
Oct 23, 2004, 01:21 PM
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Thread OP
FWIW, I have decided to go with the SubTech Albacore kit instead. It seems pretty well thought out/designed, and sounds more suitable for the type of water and conditions I would likely use it in.
Oct 23, 2004, 05:54 PM
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Converting Dumas

Good kit! See you at the show?
Oct 23, 2004, 06:17 PM
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Dan: I'm going to try to make the show, but the nature of my work sometimes makes it necessary to work on the weekends.

There's not much inbetween the Dumas Akula/Bluefish and a $1000 complete (ex. radio stuff) kit. I would like to have gotten an OTW Upholder hull (!!), but not much info on them and I think I'd be somewhat on my own, so I'll save the WTC thing for the next time when I have more of a clue.

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