The mysterious submarine

Make 1037
Popular Mechanics 1924 –

THE interesting little toy described in this article will, when placed in water, automatically dive and come to the surface again, repeating this performance, on an average, once a minute over a long period of time. It not only makes a very good toy for a boy but can be used also for advertising purposes. Placed in a glass tank and displayed in a show window, its actions will attract the attention and interest of passers-by, who will stop to wonder how it operates.

The mysterious submarine – Link.

6 thoughts on “The mysterious submarine

  1. If you try this, remember that carbide produces acetylene gas. Do it outdoors.

    As an alternative, look at the baking powder submarines and frogmen that appeared in cereal boxes starting in the fifties. They have similar operation with safe materials.

  2. Baking Powder would also work, although perhaps more difficult to regulate. It makes CO2 instead of flammable gas and is much cheaper. Calcium carbide is difficult to obtain locally, although you can get a few ounces of “Bangsite” for “Big Bang” cannons for about $8.00 a tube.

    I once found calcium carbide expensive and bought a pound for 30 or 40$ near the 4th of July. Calcium carbide also goes bad after a few months if any moisture is absorbed through the packaging. Those ziplock type bags with a little colored plastic zipper “easy opener” slider always leak.

  3. One of the cereal companies in the 1950’s gave away a very small plastic model of the atomic sub Nautilus that worked like this, but with no moving parts–ran on a tiny pinch of baking powder–the whole thing was smaller than a Bic lighter.

    Most of the Calcium Carbide plants closed years ago, as some techie at Dow figured out how to synthesize Acetylene from natural gas…(most carbide was used to produce acetylene for welding and as a chemical feedstock.) Union Carbide had a huge plant in Sault Ste. Marie MI, up through about 1964 or so–there was another in Downers Grove, Illinois that stayed open a bit longer; carbide powder or pellets used to always be stored in a sealed metal can—It used to be widely available for acetylene flashlights, headlamps, camping gadgets, etc… better batteries have made that obsolete…

    I suppose you could MAKE Calcium Carbide…you’d need a small electric arc furnace, metallurgical-grade coke, limestone, a safe place to work with a fume hood, dust filters, humidity control, OSHA-approved respirators, etc…Baking powder is a lot easier!
    –George, WA8WTE

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