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How the Actual "JAWS" Shark was Constructed and Repaired
Many of the sets were constructed at the warehouse known as the "boat house". The JAWS Sharks were originally stored there early in the movie. Later they were moved to "Shark City" a small area on Oak Bluffs Harbor.
The structure of the "JAWS" fish as unique. It was a formed structure made largely out of articulated pipe.
There were several size pipes,all interlinked.
I believe that Bob Mattey and Roy Arbogast were the functional designers of the actual operating "JAWS" fish.
The articulated skeleton was covered in 4 inch high density foam and the primary "skin" that was used to attach the foam-on the inside and out-was a four way ripstop nylon that was attached with a two part flexible epoxy.
The outside of the skin was painted and sprayed with sand for an authentic feel and texture.
In spite of many claims the fish was controlled by hydraulic and pneumatic tubes that ran from the "sea sled" to a control panel. Nothing was remote-or reliable. The power rams were built for power-not sophisticated incremental nuance. They did severe damage to the outer foam structure at times.
One of the major problems occurred at the extreme "range of motion" with the articulations. The mouth would tear at the corners and the skin would break loose at the extreme bends.The preferred method was to cover the tear with nylon and epoxy-hold the wound closed with "hog rings"-let the epoxy dry-grind it down and then finish the surface.
There were two sets of teeth made for the sharks-one very soft with dull edges and another-using the same mold- from very hard plastic with sharp edges. As with the construction of the breakaway stern and cabin walls of the ORCA there was illusion involved.
Those parts were made of interchangeable balsa wood mock ups. We made six identical sterns and eight identical cabin walls. They were all destroyed in the movie.
The sharks from JAWS were damaged almost daily-sometimetimes they got damaged before they even went out to sea!These damages would have to be repaired and reworked sometimes twice daily-in order to be ready for the next shooting schedule. Repairing the shark-from the inside was a dirty,smelly,damp and relatively disgusting job.
More information to follow in the next few weeks.


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