Inventor Gets Thrill in Homemade Submarine (Jun, 1933)

Inventor Gets Thrill in Homemade Submarine

His own invention, a one-man submarine, provides thrills for twenty-four-year-old James Bolar, Jr., of Oakland, Calif. He built the ten-foot craft in the basement of his home at a total cost of fifteen dollars for materials, and demonstrated it recently to astonished spectators in San Francisco Bay. Bolar enters a hinged conning tower, which is then sealed watertight by a rubber flap, and lies flat on the floor. A speedboat takes him in tow. When he wishes to submerge, hand levers tilt a pair of diving fins that work independently, one on each side. Through a heavy plate glass window he can see twenty feet ahead while being towed at slow speed. Perforations in the false bottom of the streamlined shell admit water to a ballast tank, reducing buoyancy. Bolar has submerged to depths of thirty feet, and has remained below the surface for half an hour without discomfort. He suggests possible uses for his craft, aside from sport, in hunting for sunken vessels and surveying harbor bottoms, or studying lake beds.

  1. Myles Rempel says: October 19, 20079:32 am

    There is a different article in these archives showing how to build one of these submarines. My thought was it was the one of the most gratuitously dangerous things I had ever seen. Skimming along an unkown lake bed with no communications to the boat. What happens when one hits a submerged log?

  2. Rick Auricchio says: October 19, 200710:15 am

    Yes, that was my first thought: hitting something or becoming snagged.

    As long as he could open the hatch safely and exit the craft, he’d have a way to escape.

    But it’s still way too scary for me!

  3. Stannous says: October 19, 200710:43 am

    He can see twenty feet in San Francisco Bay?
    Not bloody likely! (even in 1933, it’s a tidal estuary and thus very murky)

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