USS Drum (SS-228)

Drum restoration

Around the year 2000, Tom Bowser, a MM1 (SS) nuclear submarine veteran, was passing through the Mobile, Alabama area. He spotted the USS Drum on a billboard and decided to stop by. He was able to make a few more visits on through 2004 and got to know Lesley Waters, a Battleship Park maintenance employee who was doing her best to take care of the Drum any way she could. Lesley had already been working on the Drum for several years. In 2004, Tom's job changed to where he was driving through Mobile every other week so he would stop by on Mondays and Fridays to bring Lesley supplies and to help her. After Tom's wife passed away, he moved to the area and started working at Battleship Memorial Park in the gift shop just so he could help restore the Drum (when he wasn't in the gift shop). Finally able to retire, Tom spends 60 to 70 hours a week working with Lesley at restoring and maintaining the Drum as well as giving tours.

Below you will see photos of what Tom Bowser and Lesley Waters, along with other volunteer workers, have been doing with the USS Drum. If you want to help them, click on the "How to Help" link up top for more information.

Click on any photo to see the full-size version. Restoration progress is shown in monthly reverse chronological order (newest monthly updates at the top).

April, May, June, July, August, September 2013

Tom and Lesley had to deal with a lot of rain these months. They worked on replacing the frames and skin in MBT #4a.

frame MBT #4a frame MBT #4a skin MBT #4a skin MBT #4a frame MBT #4a

They also got the use of a man lift to sand down the periscopes and paint them black with clearcoat.

painted periscopes

March 2013

Digging out around and under the boat continued into early March. Tom and Lesley dug out around the rudder, put in a drain line, and lined the hole with stone.

digging out under the rudder lining the area around the rudder with stone updated port view

February 2013

In February, Tom and Lesley were able to use a small backhoe to begin digging out under the hull so that area could be sandblasted and painted. They also resloped the ground around the boat so that water would drain away from it.

digging out under the hull digging out under the hull

October, November, December 2012, January 2013

On through the fall and into winter, Tom and Lesley continued cleaning out the remaining tanks and removing the lead. First they had to go in and air chisel the melted plastic off the straps and lead. Then they had to cut the straps that held the lead down. They ended up with a total of 116 tons of lead ballast removed. Lastly, they went back in and removed the remaining structure that supported the lead.

removing lead ballast bricks removing lead ballast bricks removing lead ballast bricks

July, August, September 2012

From Tom:

"In April or May I emailed the Director of the museum ship program and told him we were about to start sandblasting the tanks and I asked him if we had to put the lead ballast back in when we were done. He replied back that no, we did not need to and we could sell the lead for restoration money. I contacted several scrap dealers and got a good quote from one that would even send out two men to help get it out. That's what we've done for the last three months. First I had to go in and cut the straps holding the lead in place, which meant I had to first pump and vacuum out the water, air chisel the rust away, and then cut with a torch or grinder. After we got the first 42 tons out I called in a company to vacuum out the mud and oil from two tanks and dig out from under the hull in three places so I could cut holes in the bottom of the tanks to drop the lead out with the air flasks in them. We ended up with 83.5 tons of lead, in 50 and 100 pound bricks."

"We were paid $100,288 which all goes to the Drum restoration fund. We will now hire someone to sandblast and paint inside the tanks. Lesely and I will continue to do the metal repair."

In the photos below, you can see the lead ballast bricks in place.

lead ballast bricks lead ballast bricks lead ballast bricks lead ballast bricks lead ballast bricks

June 2012

Tom and Lesley have made much progress on the big dent repair on the port side.

dent repair port side

Also, more progress with the I-beam repair inside the fuel collecting tank and the new skin.

new I-beams in fuel collecting tank new skin on fuel collecting tank

May 2012

Tom and Lesley have moved back outside to work on the #6 normal fuel tank port side. The last of the big dent is now gone!

framework on #6 normal fuel tank port skinning #6 normal fuel tank port

Four subvets from the USS Corporal came out for 5 days to sand and prime the propellers. Tom and Lesley then finished them off with paint.

Sanding and priming the propellers Sanding and priming the propellers Sanding and priming the propellers

The forward torpedo room has been painted. Looks nice!

FTR painting FTR painting FTR painting

February 2012

Tom and Lesley continue with painting in the forward torpedo room through the cold winter.

FTR painting FTR painting FTR painting FTR painting FTR painting FTR painting

January 2012

More cleaning and prepping for painting in the forward torpedo room.

FTR painting

December 2011

With winter on its way, Tom and Lesley move inside to clean and prep to paint in the forward torpedo room.

FTR painting

November 2011

Tom and Lesley still working hard on the tank.

tank restoration tank restoration tank restoration

October 2011

Tom and Lesley continue with the restoration of the tank.

tank restoration Tom Bowser posing tank restoration tank restoration tank restoration

September 2011

Update for the end of September. Lesley finished up painting on the stern and then joined up with Tom in working on #6A tank. They replaced 6' of five curved frames and the bottom two longitudinal frames. They now have two new pieces of the tank to skin in.

Tom cutting stern torpedo doors painted stern rust! the way into the tanks Lesley hard at work skin back over tank entry more skin back over tank entry rusty curved frame replaced and looking good

Tom and Lesley are busy working on replacing the I-beams in the #6A tank. The second photo below shows the Drum Shipyard Frame Shop.

I-beam replacement Drum Shipyard Frame Shop I-beam replacement

August 2011

Quick update for the end of August 2011 with more I-beam replacement.

I-beam replacement I-beam replacement I-beam replacement

It has been a very hot summer. Even Tom admits that it's hot. Lesley has been working on sandblasting, priming, and painting the bottom of the port stern. Tom has started work inside of #6A tank.

sandblasting and priming of lower port stern painting of lower port stern

July 2011

June was a very busy month for the USS Drum Restoration Crew. It's July and they are hard at work again. Tom and Lesley are sandblasting and replacing the I-beams in the #6B tank.

sandblasting and I-beam in tank sandblasting and I-beam in tank

A donator board that lists major contributors to the restoration of the Drum was donated and placed so that everyone can see.

donator board

Tom purchased with his own money (not donated money) a portable shop trailer to make their job easier.

portable shop trailer

These photos show the new I-beams in the #6B tank.

new I-beams in tank new I-beams in tank

May 2011

Tom and Lesley worked on getting the deck primed and painted this month.

deck painting deck painting deck painting deck painting deck painting

April 2011

Tom and Lesley are working on the #6B fuel/ballast tank. They found that the I-beams at the bottom of the tank needed to be replaced. Thankfully, O'Neal Steel is coming through with new I-beams.

outside view of the tank inside view of the tank badly rusted I-beam

March 2011

Tom and Lesley repaired the engine room hatch mechanism. Lesley cleaned and painted the hatch. Tom replaced the boards in the aft gun mount.

engine room hatch before engine room hatch after engine room hatch after engine room hatch after aft deck gun mount before aft deck gun mount after

February 2011

The crew's head and shower room have been cleaned and painted. A washing machine received from another museum submarine has been installed. Tom said the machine had to be disassembled and then reassembled in place. Also new to the boat is the original chief's sink which was removed from the boat in 1964.

February 11th washing machine February 21st washing machine installed February 21st crew's head February 21st crew's shower February 23rd chief's sink

November 2010

The port side is now finished. Now only the very bottom needs sandblasting, priming, and painting.

November 11th sandblasting and priming port finished November 23rd sandblasting and priming port finished

October 2010

Update for 10/30.

October 30th sandblasting and priming port October 30th sandblasting and priming port

Sandblasting, priming, and painting continues this month. They are nearing the port stern.

October 1st sandblasting and priming port October 1st sandblasting and priming port October 8th sandblasting and priming port

September 2010

Update for 9/26, progress continues.

September 26th sandblasting and priming port

Sandblasting, priming, and painting of the port side continues this month. Tom said they are a little over halfway and have used about 33 tons of sand thus far.

September 4th sandblasting and priming port September 10th sandblasting and priming port September 18th sandblasting and priming port September 18th sandblasting and priming port

August 2010

Tom and Lesley were busy the month of August with sandblasting, priming, and painting the port side. It's a slow process with the weather and lots of old rust to deal with. Tom said they have used about 20 tons of sand in the first three weeks of sandblasting and they are only about 30 feet from being halfway.

August 21st sandblasting and priming port August 28th sandblasting, priming, and painting port

July 2010

Just before the end of July, the port stern restoration has been completed!

July 23rd port stern July 29th port stern July 30th port stern completed

Work continues on the port stern.

July 9th port stern July 3rd port stern

June 2010

June 24th port stern

Update for 6/12 - Tom says the heat index is 105°F+ which helps the metal bend easier.

June 12th port stern

At the edge of Mobile Bay in the heat of June, progress begins with the port stern.

June 4th port stern June 4th port stern

May 2010

Now that the bow has been completed, work begins on the port stern. The photo on the left is what the port stern looked like as of 5/23/2009. The photo on the right is what the port stern looks like now as of 5/28/2010. So much of the steel was so far gone with rust and deterioration that it could not be sandblasted or welded to.

May 23rd 2009 port stern May 28st port stern

Update for 5/23, the bow has been completed.

May 21st port bow May 21st port bow

5/9 through 5/20, more work on the port bow.

May 9th port bow May 17th port bow May 17th port bow May 20th port bow May 20th port bow

More work going into the port bow.

May 5th port bow May 5th port bow

April 2010

Spring arrives and they get to work on the port bow.

April 27th port bow April 27th port bow April 29th port bow

March 2010

Tom and Lesley are finishing up the painting around officers' country.

March 19th painting March 19th painting

February 2010

More interior painting during the winter.

February 12th painting

January 2010

Tom and Lesley created a new battle flag during this cold month.

January 23rd battle flag

They also got some painting in officers' country done.

January 20th painting

November 2009

Here are photos from 11/6. The starboard bow is almost complete except for the #5 outer shutter door.

November 6th starboard bow November 6th starboard bow

October 2009

Here's how the starboard bow looked at the end of October. Note the draft numbers 0, 1, and 2. Lesley cut those out of 1/8" steel plate with a torch. Nice work!

October 30th bow work

Update for 10/22, bow restoration still ongoing. Tom and Lesley are getting ready to fabricate shutter doors.

October 22nd bow work October 22nd bow work

Update for 10/16, more bow restoration.

October 16th bow work October 16th bow work

Bow restoration is ongoing. Tom said that they are having to replace almost all of the hull on the lower six feet of the starboard side and all of the structure inside for the lower ten feet as it's almost completely gone.

October 2nd bow work October 2nd bow work

September 2009

Bow restoration is now fully underway. Tom and Lesley are having a hard time due to so much deterioration which is making it difficult in finding solid enough steel to weld to. They have started replacing the outer hull with ¼ inch steel plate in small sections to maintain the curves and strength.

September 25th bow work September 16th bow work September 2nd bow work September 2nd bow work

August 2009

Port side restoration is now in the early stages. Bow restoration is also now in the early stages. Take a look at what was behind the #6 shutter door of the bow!

August 26th starboard painted August 26th port bow August 27th #6 bow shutter door removed

The starboard side of the stern has been painted. Cleaning, priming, and painting are underway of the starboard side now.

August 11th stern painted August 11th stern painted August 11th starboard side painted

July 2009

The starboard side of the stern has been primed.

July 25th stern primed

Stern restoration.

July 13th July 18th July 18th

June 2009

Further progess with sandblasting/priming/painting. This is how the Drum looked for the 2009 USS Drum Reunion.

June 17th June 17th June 17th

More restoration and priming/painting of the starboard side and bow.

bow restoration stern restoration starboard side restoration

May 2009

More stern restoration and priming/painting of the starboard side.

stern restoration starboard restoration

Stern restoration picks back up where it was left off in November, 2008.

stern restoration stern restoration

Cleaned, primed, and painted the periscope shears. Below you see a before photo, a during photo, and an after photo.

2007 view of periscope shears March 2009 view of periscope shears while being cleaned View of periscope shears after the painting

February 2009

Restored table in the crew's mess.

Table in crew's mess

January 2009

New bunks in aft torpedo room. Restoration of TBL radio transmitter. New mounting plate built for TBL radio transmitter with original rollers. Food order discovered from September of 1945, believed to be final load out before leaving Pearl Harbor for home after the war ended.

Bunks in aft torpedo room TBL radio transmitter TBL radio transmitter TBL radio transmitter New mounting plate for TBL
Restored TBL radio transmitter Restored TBL radio transmitter Restored TBL radio transmitter Food order from September 1945 Food order from September 1945

November 2008

Rebuilding of the stern

Stern before Stern after

October 2008

Sandblasting, priming, and painting of the exterior

Sandblasting, priming, and painting Sandblasting, priming, and painting Hoist for moving the scaffolding

August 2008

Sandblasting, priming, and painting of the exterior

Sandblasting, priming, and painting Sandblasting, priming, and painting

June 2008

Sandblasting, priming, and painting of the exterior

Sandblasting, priming, and painting Sandblasting, priming, and painting Lesley Waters sandblasting Sandblasting, priming, and painting

April 2008

Alabama United States Submarine Veterans of WWII (USSVWWII) donate $3,000 for an air compressor!

Alabama USSVWWII donate $3,000

March 2008

Head

Head before Head before Head after Head after

February 2008

Lower Level Engine Room

LLER2 before LLER2 before LLER2 after LLER2 after

February 2008

Crew's Mess

Crew's Mess before Crew's Mess after Crew's Mess after

December 2007

Mark 27, electric, passive acoustic homing torpedo aka "Cutie"

Mk27 Torpedo before Mk27 Torpedo after

December 2007

Radio Transmitter

Radio Transmitter before Radio Transmitter after Radio Transmitter after

This page last updated 10/8/2013
DRUM228.ORG created 10/3/2008
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