Jean-Pierre Bouvet's Nautilus Drawings

I  receive much e-mail about the Nautilus, but this intriguing note, received in July 2004, led to permission to feature Jean-Pierre Bouvet's design here: 
I made a portfolio of the plans and drawings of the Nautilus in the late 1970 years, according to the descriptions of Pr. Aronnax.  It includes plans and elevations, details of the double hull and frame, detailed interior with furniture, an original system with hydraulic cylinder to lower the wheel-house and the light, a complete system of air and water pipes and pumps, even the design of the diving suits, air rifles and electric bullets. There are two complete versions of the engine room with engines inspired by steam-engine-like electric motors of that time.  All this has remained unexploited, perhaps the foolishness of a young man....
Here is Bouvet's own discussion of the design in blue text, illustrated with details from his beautiful drawings.  Jean-Pierre included references to designs featured in the catalog on this site.  Since his design predated these pages and many of the designs in the catalog, I have omitted these and leave it to the viewer to find the similarities.  Like any good designer, he has also offered improvements, in part prompted by the catalog.  I have omitted these as well preferring to keep the description consistent with his original ideas.  Any comment or summarization of my own is clearly noted in [brackets].

The Retractable Wheelhouse
The wheel-house is retracted into a watertight and reinforced cavity, square with rounded corners in my drawings, but it could be cylindrical, leaving the top of the house square, to perhaps work better with [Joseph] Bramah's high pressure seals [improved by Henry Maudslay].
     The cabin is moved by a large hydraulic cylinder.  When completely raised it can be locked in place by the means of solid pressure screws set from the exterior of the cavity.  The cavity is isolated from the rest of the ship by a watertight door.  The pilot house itself, constructed in one piece (like the "shell" of From Earth to the Moon), can also be sealed by a pressure screwed man-hole trap door  with a retractable ladder, in case of accidental flooding of the cavity, when surfacing.  Communication with the rest of the ship is provided by flexible metal-reinforced rubber pipes for the air supply and electric cables for giving orders and receiving confirmation of their execution.  A grooved or squared vertical rod geared to the helm slides into the center of a fixed cog-wheel as the pilothouse is lowered.   The cog-wheel is linked via chains and a rotating rod through a stuffing box to the pivot point of the steering cables.
     Orders are transmitted by pressing electric buttons (see the Arabian Tunnel chapter) and their execution is confirmed by electromagnetic buzzers and an electromagnetic board like those used in the desk of old hotels.  The inclination of the diving planes is transmitted to the middle of the ship where the planes are moved by means of a transmitter inspired by the "Bréguet"
[Louis-François-Clement Bréguet] telegraph. 
     When the wheelhouse is completely retracted, a "reinforced groove" in the forward extremity of the platform provides a narrow but sufficient zone of visibility in the upper part of the front window at height of the pilot's eyes.

Elevation and section views of the wheelhouse mechanisms Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet
Wheelhouse legend Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet

The Main Hatch
The main hatch is hermetically closed by bolts and folded up when open.  When closed, I've imagined a sort of strong metallic girder which can be slid on rails to support the two panels against pressure.  The panels are manually operated but Verne's text says that panels were operated "automatically" to replenish the air; so I've envisioned a small auxiliary hatch operated by a piston. 

[As you examine the graphics illustrating Bouvet's text, note the attendant detail.  His document is sixteen pages long, covering every aspect of the boat.  The high resolution scanned version is nearly 10 Mbytes.]

The hatch, opened and closed Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet
The Boat
The boat is made watertight by rubber seals and secured in its cavity with pressure screws.  It has to be "light", "watertight", and pressure resistant, so I thought why not constructed of thick aluminum?  Again, the "Gun Club"
[of From the Earth to the Moon] is contemporary to this story.  I thought also of the possibility of flooding the "canot" by the mean of a pressure valve when the Nautilus dives to a certain depth, the water being expelled by compressed air when returning from depth.
     The sort of wire coil under the boat, stored in a watertight cavity, is not electromagnetic but just the telegraph wire between the skiff and the Nautilus.

Elevation of the boat and mounting Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet
Section view of the boat and mounting Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet

The Engine Room
I envisioned
two versions of the Nautilus engine.  The first, crab-like (consistent with Nemo's "all from the sea" statement), is inspired by a little electric engine I saw in the "Arts et Métiers" museum in the 1980's (unfortunately no longer displayed in the recent "modern" reorganization of that museum).  Because "un bon dessin vaut mieux qu'un long discours", I've produced a little "cartoon" of its principle of operation.  The animation shows only a quarter of the whole engine. 

Motor operation Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet

The 1st engine version, Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet      On the main axis there is a second three armed wheel in phase opposition to the first.  Each "wheel" is moved by a pair of "crab" hooks, each pair moved by two pairs of electromagnets, switched by an electric inverter inspired by the "tiroir" of steam engines. 

Engine 1 legend Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet

     The second engine version, looking very much like the steam engines of the period, is simpler to understand.  The upper part is inspired by the "électromoteur à coin à aimants fixes de Dumoulin-Froment"(c. 1847). The lower part, my own, uses clockwork cog-wheels just as in the Rioux engraving.  Each tooth of the wheels, slightly advanced, matches the maximum power of attraction of each pair of electromagnets.  The lateral flywheels smooth the motion through the un-powered part of the stroke.

Motor operation Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet

The 2nd engine version, Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet

Engine 2 legend Copyright 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet
Jean-Pierre Bouvet would like your comments and questions on his Nautilus design.  You can reach him at this e-mail address:

See more of J-P's many Jules Verne drawings on this French-language web site.


Bouvet's Nautilus Click here to see a detailed (but graphics-heavy, slow-loading) elevation view of the interior.  

The sub is also featured in the Nautilus design catalog, including a simple 3D model.


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13 Nov 04
Drawings courtesy of Jean-Pierre Bouvet
Page content Copyright © 2004 Jean-Pierre Bouvet All rights reserved.
Page format and look Copyright © 2004 Michael & Karen Crisafulli
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