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Could a storage tote submarine supported by a wooden framework collapse under water? Answered

Could a storage tote submarine supported by a wooden framework collapse under water?

Now forgive me if I am being a little bit to unrealistic. I found this tote at Walmart (not exactly like that one, but like it) and was wondering if it would work for a submarine if I supported it with wood. I would like to go 5 to 10 feet deep with the submarine (5 feet at least).

Also, if you were wondering how I came up with this idea, I was inspired by this. If I am able to do this, I will also try to make a Instructable on how to do this.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope a get some feedback!


Ignoring all else it should be fine at those depths. You're looking at 20 psi which is not a huge increase over the 14 psi air pressure at sea level. By pressing on the tote with you're hands you should be able to find the points more likely to collapse and focus your reinforcement in those areas. keeping the seal area around the lid from deforming, and thus leaking, is going to be your biggest issue involving the pressure.

Drug smugglers use a system like that, most of the time they are wood frame with fiberglass pressure hulls one man subs. You might have a problem with the tub being to soft and flexible. It would work if you lined the entire inside of the tub with wood and just used the tub for a water seal. One of the first submarines was not much more than a weighted wooden barrel for neutral buoyancy.

OK use wood with no knots, the knots are weak spots in the wood that will give if the pressure goes up. If you can laminate the wood it would be even better.

I got all the safety stuff figured out. And no, I was not going to use
the air in the totes (bad idea), I was going to have a air pump that
floats on the surface of water for air. All I was wondering is would it
collapse underwater.

More than likely it will be unstable because you will have to carry a large amount of ballast to get it to sink.

So I don't think it is workable.

If your safety stuff includes a wet suit and scuba gear then give it a try.

if not I suggest you don't.

I am making an assumption here - You intend to put this over your head and submerge using the trapped air as a breathing source?

I am also assuming the box you have found is clear so you can see through it?

Your hardest part is that a 5 gallon container is going to be VERY buoyant. It will need a lot of weight to make it sink.

IF the container were to tip (and it is very hard to keep a lot of air contained - try it in a swimming pool), the air will be released making the container and weight less buoyant possibly taking you to the bottom very quickly. NOT a good situation.

There is a fairly good reason you don't see this idea a lot. it was tried in the 1700s


Overall not such a good idea, somewhat dangerous, and most likely to fail in principle.

Well, for serious diving one should use the proper gear and training.
Maybe the the thread starter just wants to explore the reef in front of his door step? ;)
But you are right, the safety concerns are not to be missed.
In a bigger scale big "containers" like in the OP's idea are used for certain diving tasks but other than for a quick recovery and safety option there uses are quite limited due to the obvious concerns regarding boyancy and pressure.
Even if you can keep it all upright the air will be compressed the deeper you go, in return the amount of oxygen you have for your use is very limited unless you have the means of adding fresh oxygen.
It is not uncommon for people that love to expiment to drown in their creations because you can not judge when the oxygen runs out - your brain plays tricks on you and when you finally realise it is time to get to the surface it might be too late...

If you have a few hundred kilos in weights to add it could work.
With an open design you don't nned much re-inforcement but you will need strong ropes over the tub as otherwise the weights just rip off.