After building a fantastic indoor fairy tree for his daughter, Rob Adams was asked to put his skills to use once again to build a submarine crib. After 90 hours of work and $1250 worth of materials, he has something fantastic that would look at home in any nautically-themed nursery. You can see his build pictures on imgur, or an abbreviated gallery below.
Adams, who works as the World Art Lead for the Destiny video games, started his build by searching the Internet for “cartoony submarines.” He finally chose a blue and yellow model for loose inspiration, and then went to work sketching his ideas out on paper. The sub was then modeled with 3D Studio Max 2016, which allowed him to see how everything would fit together.
This also allowed him to consider, and eventually nix, an idea to have the crib mounted on a wall. Although it would have been structurally sound, he though it “just looked too sketchy for a lot of parents to even consider.”
On a less serious note, he also tried out different color schemes and experimented with the sub’s lighting arrangement in this virtual environment to get things just right.
Once it was time to take his ideas from the virtual world to real life, he purchased a blue steel crib to act as the sub’s base, as well as several foam panels and fiberglass to make it into an actual “baby U-boat.” To form the cone shape on the bow and stern, he glued circular layers of foam together with a foam sealant in progressively smaller diameters. He then cut the jagged edges down with a saw in order to smooth out the shape.
Once things were shaped, he applied blue painter’s tape to the build to further smooth the surface. The other purpose of this tape was to give him a better indication of where the fiberglass would be laid, since it changed the background from white foam to the tape’s blue color. As this was Adams’ first time working with fiberglass, his friend Steve Burnaroos, who has quite a bit of experience working with this material, showed him the basics of this art.
Fiberglass was then laid on the bow and stern, taking care to eliminate any air bubbles as it cured. Once dry, the assembly was sanded, and body filler was then added to smooth out the structure. After more sanding, scraping, and additional coats of filler, the bow and aft structures were finally smooth. These were attached to the crib, along with copper pipe leg extensions, at which point the build seemed to be taking shape.
From there, a wooden structure was added as a frame for the bottom of the submarine, as well as a wooden propeller that was supported by a shaft rotating on ball bearings. A piece of plywood was cut out to secure the top center section, and more foam and fiberglass was used to shape everything in three dimensions.
Finally, after adding lights, paint, and assembling everything together, Adams had an excellent submarine for nautically-minded kids! As his children are too old for a crib, he plans to auction it to raise money for Seattle Children’s hospital later this year.
It’s an amazing build, especially considering this is Adam’s first time working with fiberglass. He notes that working with fiberglass for the first time “was the most awesome and also the most stressful part.” He adds that, “learning a new skill, even at a basic level, is really stressful when you’re also trying to build a finished product, rather than a practice piece.”
He also notes that one mistake he made on this project was originally estimating that this build would take him 50 hours to complete. Though a 40 hour difference is definitely significant, any maker can relate to underestimating the time that it will take to complete something (or perhaps nearly everything). Still, he kept it within double his estimate while learning a brand new skill, which doesn’t sound too bad!
Even though it took longer than he expected, he really enjoyed working with Fatherly, which commissioned this build. They gave him a huge amount of creative freedom, which obviously paid off in an amazing submarine crib!
Though it looks amazing, he will be changing a few things based on comments he received on Reddit. He’ll be changing the light color, as well as the ventilation and fixture enclosures to make the crib better and even safer for babies. Hopefully it will fetch a lot of money for charity when it is auctioned off, and keep kids (and their parents) entertained and sleeping soundly!