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Steampunk Submarine Captain & Claw

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For SteamCon III (2011) my crew decided to form a crew of pirate submariners. This was to stick with the event’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” theme. Each of us picked a job on the boat and designed a costume to fit that station. We also picked a loose color scheme and had “Merry Mischeif” (the name of our fictional submarine) patches made.

Since no one else objected (I suspect out of fear), I was democratically picked to be the submarine’s captain. I decided that I would challenge my sewing skills and tailor an all new pirate-esque coat. A full length coat with a lining was a true challenge for a novice tailor like me. Naturally, this part took up most of my time for this costume and I did not document any of it at all. If you’d like instructions, you can use the same pattern that I did (Simplicity 2333).

The part that I did document was my mechanical crab claw. I designed this part from scratch in Inkscape. I wanted the “thumb” part of the claw to articulate, so the palm part needed to go over my hand and have some way to move the digit. Both of the pincer parts were carved out of insulation foam with a hack saw and dremel with a router bit.

Crab Claw - Step 1

The pincers were then given a rough sanding. The mobile pincer had a piece of PVC tube put through it at the point where it would rotate. This served as a crude hinge.

Crab Claw - Step 2

Once the basic shape of the pincers was achieved, I entered my traditional routine of Bondo application and sanding. Once the pincers got to the right level of smoothness, they were ready for paint.

Crab Claw - Step 3

The “palm” of the claw was made out of foam PVC. The pieces were cut out to look faceted to maintain the mechanical look. All of the pieces were attached to one another with fiberglass. It might be a little overkill, but this thing is mighty durable.

Crab Claw - Step 4
Crab Claw - Step 5

The sides of the palm were made tall enough to accommodate the thumb pincer that had to move inside of it. These were also fiber-glassed into place. Holes were drilled into place on the palm where the thumb piece would be attached. I added a 3.5″ PVC pipe for where my hand would go into the claw. This pipe was just small enough to fit into the sleeve of my coat. A piece of dowel was also screwed into place so that I had something to grip to keep the claw in place.

Crab Claw - Step 6
Crab Claw - Step 7

The non-moving pincer was glued into place and the moving pincer was attached with a dowel through the holes in the palm. Inside the palm I attached the moving pincer to to the side of the palm piece with a spring so that the thumb piece would be fully articulate. I also stuck a small piece of dowel out the back of the moving pincer so that I had something to pull to close/open the claw.

Steampunk Captain - Step 8

The finished claw was then sanded, primed and painted with a metallic spray paint. I also made sure to test the gripping capabilities!

Steampunk Captain - Step 9

Later on I added some black acrylic paint to weather the claw. Here you can see the complete and finished costume!

Steampunk Captain - Finished

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