Tom Swift and His Deep Sea Hydrodome

Tom Swift and His Deep Sea Hydrodome by Victor Appleton II Read Free Book Online

Book: Tom Swift and His Deep Sea Hydrodome by Victor Appleton II Read Free Book Online
Authors: Victor Appleton II
transparent all around, with a complex internal structure of metal supports.
    When the small prototype was finished, a crane lowered it into one of the huge block-shaped pressure tanks used at Enterprises to test experimental submersibles—the seacopter, Fat Man suit, and Tom’s earlier jetmarine.
    "How optimistic are you feeling, Tom?" Arv asked, eyeing the dimlit image of the hydrodome on the tank’s interior monitor.
    "Optimistic? I’ll cop to feeling confident!" was the smiling reply. "But we’ll have to get the confidence-meter up to one-hundred-percent before we risk letting people live in that thing."
    Hanson agreed, and signaled the tank operator, Wes Beale, to commence increasing the inner pressure. A red line, like that on a thermometer, began its maddeningly slow creep up the control board. "Looks good," muttered Arv presently. "Already a good fifteen percent over the max test pressure of the earlier model."
    "And she’s still standing tall," Tom said. "How’s the air pressure inside the dome?"
    "Holding firm," was the reply. "And not a trace of moisture."
    "Thank goodness!" Tom chuckled, his face aglow with the excitement of a scientific victory in the making. "I wouldn’t want to have to bother with an umbrella when—"
    Suddenly the watchers gave a start as a loud alarm siren erupted in a piercing wail of warning! Before anyone could even ask a question, an explosive thundercrack split the air, and a narrow plume of white froth jetted skyward from one side of the test tank.
    "The tank!" screeched Wes Beale, turning to run. "She’s gonna blow!"

CHAPTER 6
SHADOWED IN DARKNESS
    ARV HANSON whirled and had run several steps after Beale when he realized that Tom was hanging back. He paused and yelled over his shoulder, "Tom! Come on!"
    But Tom Swift resisted the panic that had overwhelmed the other two. His skillful hands darted over the test tank control board. Suddenly the jet of water diminished markedly, then began to gradually wither away, as did the automatic alarm siren.
    Wes and Arv came trotting back to Tom’s side, somewhat shamefaced. "Tell me how you did that, chief!" demanded Wes. "There’s no way to drop the pressure that rapidly!"
    "One way, Wes," said the young inventor. "I blew the main sealer flanges on the hydrodome model."
    "You mean you flooded it?" asked Arv in amazement.
    Tom nodded soberly. "Had to. Letting the tank water expand into the space reduced the overall pressure to below critical. If we’d let the side wall fracture, the pressure would have hit us like a piledriver—even on the run."
    "Good grief!" Wes exclaimed with an admiring half-laugh. "There’s a solution that wouldn’t have occurred to me in a million years."
    Hanson put a hand on his young boss’s shoulder. "You saved us, all right. But the dome prototype is ruined. We’ll have to start from scratch."
    "Don’t bother," Tom said quietly. "Look at these numbers—the final readings before I flooded her."
    Arv read them off with a wince. "The dome structure had started deforming at the middle of the facets."
    Tom nodded. "The support props couldn’t handle it. If we’d kept upping the pressure, the hydrodome would have collapsed." He gave a sigh of discouragement. "I don’t have a clue as to how to proceed further. It won’t be practical to try to work that site living in Fat Man suits and submarines, not in the long run." He gave his friends a rueful look. "I guess the helium project will turn out to be just a pipe dream after all."
    "What I’d like to know is—what caused the tank to fail like that?" muttered Wes. "The material is inspected thoroughly by the TeleTec machine before each use."
    "Including this time?" Tom inquired. "Are you absolutely sure?"
    Wes proceeded to make a series of calls. Eventually he reported to Tom that the mandatory inspection had not taken place. "It’s my responsibility," he said. "But I don’t understand what happened. I remember informing the team, by the usual

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