28+ Sternwheeler Project

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by ecodevoman, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. ecodevoman
    Joined: Jan 2010
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    Location: Oregon

    ecodevoman Junior Member

    I had a mentor that had built the sweetest small sternwheeler I've ever seen. [​IMG]

    He made fiberglass pontoons, built the deck with hand-pegged teak, and finished out the rest with surplus from a fishing port he frequented. The project was dedicated to his late wife, but he also passed away before he could power it up. Sadly, although I wanted to buy it and let if fulfill its purpose of birding tours on our lake, a relative who wouldn't sell it ended up scrapping the wheel and mounting an outboard motor on the back. The vessel is rotting away for lack of maintenance.

    I've been obsessed with building one of my own ever since. But it has been difficult since my mentor passed away. The main thing I'm going to do differently is use materials that reduce maintenance as much as possible.

    So...I just acquired a 28 foot catamaran-style fiberglass barge. I'm going to hang a paddle wheel off the back of it. I have a four cylinder Isuzu marine diesel engine I can run with biodiesel; it has a borg warner 1:1 transmission. I could use this for direct drive, but I haven't figured out where to source parts for the spindle, etc. Or I could get a small diesel generator for electric drive, but haven't been able to find any exact sources for pulling that together.

    Other Questions:

    1) To save weight, I want aluminum for the metal structure of the wheel. I'm having difficulty finding a machine shop that can handle making exact round hoops out of aluminum square tubing.

    2) How many blades and what diameter should I design the wheel for?

    3) I want to make the paddles out of fiberglass or some similar waterproof material that can handle the stress. I haven't been able to locate fiberglass panels (with no wood) that I can laminate together or use directly if thick enough. Anyone know of sources for this?

    4) On the second deck, I'd like to make an aluminum structure with decking that acts as a watertight roof and can hold six adults. Does anyone have sources for aluminum decking that would fulfill this purpose?

    5) Autopilot. As slow as this thing will go, I would like to hack together a cheap autopilot to stay on a specific bearing. Has anyone heard of a system that can be added to an existing cheap gps, or sources for hardware new or used to pull this off?
     
  2. ecodevoman
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    ecodevoman Junior Member

    I decided to go with direct drive on the diesel engine. How come nobody is offering any advice on this? I'm seriously building this!
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    With the apparent level of expertise you show (based on your questions and terminology) it's clear you need the assistance of a professional. A yacht designer or naval architect can sort out the varied issues and provide you a save and reasonable set of solutions.
     
  4. DianneB
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    Location: Manitoba

    DianneB Junior Member

  5. Crazy
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    Location: Minneapolis, MN

    Crazy Totally Whacked

    Hey, Eco... Don't feel bad. It's difficult to find info on Sternwheelers... Trust me, I know... I'm building one. Don't mistake the silence and lack of responses to be a general lack of interest... Take it more as you're doing something few people know much of anything about. I'm still pondering how to do this myself, but I have quite a lot of time to think about it...

    First thing... Don't be in a rush.
     
  6. PaulTGarrett
    Joined: Mar 2010
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    PaulTGarrett Junior Member

    Best sternwheel site EVER

    I am trying to find a site by a guy who built a pontoon sternwheeler and the issues he had with balance and propulsion. In the meantime, the best site EVER for someone wanting to build their own riverboat is here:

    http://users.wirefire.com/gemort/

    I have been designing my retirement liveaboard for the past few years and will post some details of my research in later posts...

    See ya on the water!

    PTG
     
  7. PaulTGarrett
    Joined: Mar 2010
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    Location: Pinellas Park, FLA

    PaulTGarrett Junior Member

    The guy who built the sternwheel pontoon boat is Gary Morton and the boat is the 'Vernon C. Ledbetter'. To see his construction details, go to the American Sternwheel Association's website at http://www.americansternwheel.org. On the sidebar, look for "Vessels under construction". Click on the Vern and it will take you through his backyard to the water construction project.
     
  8. PaulTGarrett
    Joined: Mar 2010
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    Location: Pinellas Park, FLA

    PaulTGarrett Junior Member

    This thread is pretty old and appears dead, as have most other sternwheel-powered threads. If anyone is interested in discussing my design for a 100' liveaboard sternwheeler, let me know and I'll start tellin' all!

    PTG
     
  9. Crazy
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    Crazy Totally Whacked

    Do tell!
     
  10. PaulTGarrett
    Joined: Mar 2010
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    Location: Pinellas Park, FLA

    PaulTGarrett Junior Member

    The "Jacqueline Nichole"

    OK Crazy, since you're like me, crazy enough to want to build a sternwheeler, here's what I have in AutoCAD so far:

    These designs are all based on the boat being built near Tampa Bay, Florida, with me still living down here for a couple of years after construction, then moving to Nashville, TN on the Cumberland River. The holding tanks (which you will read about later) are based on what is currently legal for both of these locations. The general size of the boat is one that I can comfortably manage with two people normally, my self alone if I absolutely HAD to. Yes, I am experienced with boats of this size. I grew up in Florida pretty much on the water... Boating is a no-brainer to me... OK... Here we go...

    She will be 108.5' over all length, 26' over all width.

    The hull is 90 x 22 x 7 with a 22' rake at the front (modified scow) and a 15' rake at the stern. The fore/aft rakes are based on many, many suggestions from other boatbuilders that the fore rake equal the hull width, the aft rake equal the diameter of the wheel. The calculated waterline is 63' which is near the absolute minimum suggested "slenderness ratio" of 3:1. The waterline is based on a calculated 36-40" draft. Calculated hull speed will be 10.5 knots.

    The hull is 3/8 steel plate in the bow, extending to 10' under the flat bottom. The remainder of the hull is 1/4 steel plate. The chines may be hard angles (better straight tracking) or rolled (better steering response)... I haven't decided that yet. There will be seven 2" thick watertight bulkheads giving 8 compartments. The bracing structure will be 3x4x.25 angle iron on 4' centers, running side to side. 4x.25" flat bar will be cut into the angle on 4' centers, running fore/aft. Yes, she is going to be heavy. This design was suggested by both a barge manufacturer and a boat company that builds commercial shrimping boats. This boat will be my home. I want it to have as well built a foundation as a land-based home. There will be water alarms and multiple bilge pumps in each compartment. This boat taking on water, rolling, or sinking... is simply not an option.

    The superstructure is two full-length decks with a pilot house on the top. Most likely the superstructure will be traditional 2x4 construction. I may use steel for the outer skin, maybe "manufactured wood" siding, I haven't decided yet. Yes, that will be a lot of sail area but it still stays well below the general suggestion of not having your superstructure higher than the hull is wide.

    Propulsion is from two 15 x 8 wheels with sixteen 36" buckets (1 bucket per foot of diameter plus 1). The wheels will be driven by hydraulic motors, either direct drive or a chain final drive, that part is still under design. Driving the wheels will be two 150hp marine diesels with direct drive to the hydraulic pumps. (Engine hp may be adjusted up/down at a later point). There will also be a 25Kw diesel genset suppying 120/240 single-phase power. All engines will be mounted down in the hull, all will be closed-loop keel cooled, all will have a dry manifold/water injected exhaust. Wheel speed will be based on hydraulics, the engines will be configured to run at a constant speed. There will be two 750 gallon fuel tanks. Steering will be by two 10x4' rudders placed center in front of each wheel, two 4x4' monkeys placed center aft of each wheel. There will be a hydraulically-driven bow thruster and possibly a stern thruster. My plan is to mainly run the boat on home-brewed bio-diesel and supplement with pump diesel as necessary. I already have a bio-diesel plant at home and run my truck 90% from re-processed veggie oil from local restaurants. It's a lot easier than you may think, peeps!

    All of the holding tanks in the hull will hold 650 gallons. There will be two fresh water, two grey water, two black water. The tanks will be placed as close to the hull sides as possible with crossover pipes between. That way I could use some simple valving to trim the boat, basically using the grey and black water as ballast. Fresh water will be created on-board by reverse-osmosis or other potable water filtration system. Black water will be a closed system with 99.9% pumped out but there will be a locked off valve to pump the tanks overboard in an emergency. Grey water will probably just be pumped overboard. I want lots of fresh water because I like taking long showers (LOL) and want all my wash-downs to be fresh water instead of raw.

    Creature comforts... Starting first deck aft, a utility/storage room with a swim-shower and toilet. Next, an open-layout kitchen/dining room with full-size appliances and an under-the-stairs pantry. Next an open living room looking out over the bow. Second deck aft will have a queen-bed suite with a half bath, next two cabins each with double lower, single upper bunk beds, then a full bathroom with stacked washer/dryer laundry, finally the master suite with full bath, walk-in closet, and queen bed, looking out over the bow. The rooms are for my daughter/son-in-law, grandkids, and me, pretty much in that order! LOL

    The pilot house sits above the master suite. Nothing is planned for the "upper deck" as yet, it may get a shade awning just aft of the pilot house to cover a hot tub... Will wait and see about that...

    Finally, just so everyone knows why I think I can build a boat, my background experience is 30 years in TV Broadcast Engineering with many college hours in Mechanical and Civil Engineering thrown in for grins and giggles. I have been the Architect & General Contractor for two of my own homes. All of my designs are based on 5 trips to sternwheel regattas over the past 8 years and talking with every sternwheel builder I could bend the ear of, along with a couple of metal boat builders in the Tampa Bay area. A lot of the mechanical/propulsion/electrical design is based on suggestions from friends who work in the phosphate mining industry here in Florida. If something can move a few hundred tons of mud, it should be able to push my boat! LOL All of my design work has been done in AutoCAD and I am going to pdf and post the dimensioned and notated drawings on here sometime over the weekend, time permitting.

    Ok... That ought to give everyone enough things to pick apart and throw back at me for now! Let fly with the questions and comments! :D
     
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  11. PaulTGarrett
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    PaulTGarrett Junior Member

  12. FAST FRED
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    Location: Conn in summers , Ortona FL in winter , with big d

    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Calculated hull speed will be 10.5 knots

    Waterline is 63 ft.

    "Hull Speed" will not be your cruising speed ,

    8K will cost 1/3 the fuel and noise of "hull speed".

    The biggest advantage to a paddle wheel is its ability to take the ground with out damage to the drive system.

    This is done somehow by the system lifting on striking the ground.

    Does your setup include this feature?

    FF
     
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  13. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    SamSam Senior Member

    Two things I can think of, 36" deep paddles seems like a lot but maybe it's right. I thought I read somewhere that rolled chines made a big difference in efficiency, on how easy the hull moves forward through the water, rolled chines being more efficient.

    I've never seen a system where the wheels lift if grounded. I think the more vulnerable part would be the rudders.
     
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  14. PaulTGarrett
    Joined: Mar 2010
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    Location: Pinellas Park, FLA

    PaulTGarrett Junior Member

    Answers!

    Fred, you are absolutely correct. I should have said "Maximum calculated hull speed". Cruise speed will of course be less. As far as a way to lift the wheels in the case of a grounding, I've never heard of or seen this idea. I'm also thinking that with the wheels 90' away from the typical point of grounding, there's not much of a chance of the wheels actually hitting the ground.

    Sam, you are also correct. Typically the most vulnerable points on a riverboat are the rudders. Fortunately they are tucked between the hull and the wheels, which do give them some protection. The monkey's are really the one that get beat up the most, typically from debris thrown up from the wheels. As far as the chines, I've been told that the primary difference between straight and rolled chines is how the boat tracks. Hard chines will "cut" through the water and help keep the hull tracking straight ahead. Rolled chines allow more water slippage under the hull and allow it to slip easier side to side... I've seen both styles on hulls and it seems that different owners and builders have their preference... There doesn't seem to be a consensus... Oh! I've even been told by one builder to use hard chines and have the sides extend below the bottom of the hull by "an inch or so"...

    The bucket depth is based on this "rule of thumb" which nobody could tell me it's source, but "everybody" told me to use it... I guess it works... LOL

    Draw a line straight out from where the rake starts... The bottom of the rudder and wheel should NOT go below that line, if anything they should be 6 inches or so ABOVE that line. From there, the tops of the buckets should just kiss the air.​

    Given that, my buckets should be around 36". I don't know what difference the wheels being above the bottom of the hull is, but that's what I was told.

    By the way, I saw on another dead thread that someone posted an actual formula for determining the wheel and bucket size. I didn't know about that formula before but was simply told to make my wheels as large as "looks proportional to the boat" and the tops of the buckets should just kiss the air... I'm going to look for that thread again and run the numbers to see how my 15' wheels will fare against the formula.
     

  15. tinhorn
    Joined: Jan 2008
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    tinhorn Senior Member

    Was it on these pages, perhaps? (I'd post the link where the other 257 pages of paddlewheel-related reprints are available, but the last time I did that a more seasoned BDer got snide about it.) The image is a screen grab--I hope it's readable.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012
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