A Modular Riverboat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Sweet Dreamer, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. Sweet Dreamer
    Joined: Jul 2014
    Posts: 81
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 16
    Location: USA

    Sweet Dreamer Junior Member

    Hi, everyone. The following is an idea I have to build a modular riverboat.

    My main question is, "Has this been done, and if so where can I find plans?"

    Here's the idea:

    Purpose and Requirements:

    1. The esthetic purpose of this project is to end up with a boat that gives a hint of being a riverboat (i.e. preferably driven by large paddle wheels in the rear)

    2. The functional purpose is to act as a platform stage for a musical group or band containing a maximum of about 12 persons.

    3. The practical aspect of this project is that it must be designed in a way that is fairly easy to construct and as low in cost as possible without jeopardizing safety.

    4. Finally the entire boat must be easily portable by trailer. Thus the idea of building it in modules.

    The Basic Idea I have in mind

    I'm thinking of basically building four pontoon boats. Each one as large as possible that can still be transported easily by trailer.

    Two of these pontoon boats will be powered by large paddle wheels at the rear. The second two pontoon boats are simply flat stage area to be used on the front end.

    The idea is to trailer all four pontoon boats to the river. Launch them individually, and then connect them together to form the single larger "Riverboat Stage".

    ~~~~~

    Further Comments

    I have a very abstract idea in my mind of how this vessel could be built. I don't see any major outstanding obvious problems.

    So my question right now is mainly this:

    Has this sort of thing been done (I imagine it has), and if so where can I find plans or examples of how other people have constructed such vessels?

    Thank you.
     
  2. Westfield 11
    Joined: Apr 2008
    Posts: 215
    Likes: 8, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 95
    Location: Los Angeles

    Westfield 11 Senior Member

    Nothing wrong with your concept at all. There might be some difficulties with the structure needed to make 4 independent boats into one big one, but it looks doable. The paddle wheels are absurd though. Other than nostalgia, what would recommend them?

    How do you plan to work the accommodations? Will you have the structure come together along the middle like one of those modular homes you see transported on the highway with plastic sheet covering the open half or will you have four separate spaces?
     
  3. Sweet Dreamer
    Joined: Jul 2014
    Posts: 81
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 16
    Location: USA

    Sweet Dreamer Junior Member

    I agree, the paddle wheels are entirely an artistic or nostalgia desire. In fact, since that is their purpose they could even be non-functional accessories actually. By non-functional I simply mean that they wouldn't necessarily need to be the propulsion system. But they should at least turn and appear to be working.

    I was thinking that since I'm going that far, why not make them real?

    I was thinking something fairly lightweight and small like in this photo:

    [​IMG]

    There would also be fancy railing or skirting around all the pontoons that give the illusion of being a large riverboat.

    And yes, this is entirely for "show". That's the reason behind it. I'm mean I'm sure I could just build a large pontoon stage that can be moved around by a standard outboard motor. But this would give the "riverboat" more character.

    So yes, this is entirely an artistic desire purely for show. But if it can also serve at the actual propulsion, why not?

    I'm not afraid to take on the construction. But it would be nice to at least see some plans of how other people have done this.

    Also, what methods are used to steer a paddle wheel boat like this?

    I was thinking about having "floating" boardwalks just slightly above the seems where the pontoon boats are connected. This would allow for some movement between the actual pontoons. The pontoons could then simply be chained together with protective cushions between them.

    Everyone on-board the vessel would be instructed on the basic modular design and be aware that they need to move between pontoons. The bands that play on this boat would be pretty much the same people all the time and they would be schooled in the details of the craft.

    Also, the two pontoons to the rear that actually power the vessel would contain the captain or pilot's cabin. There would be a crew of at least two or three people just dedicated to running the ship.

    All band members would be aware that the boat has a captain, etc., and that his instructions are to be followed for the safety of everyone.

    In a sense this whole project would be treated in almost the same way that a full-blow riverboat would be treated.

    The band would basically occupy mainly the front two pontoons. Or possibly also the front half of the powering pontoons. I'll have to work out exactly how much room will actually be required for the crew and power source, etc.

    The boat will never take on passengers from the general public. Only band members will be on-board along with potential dancers, etc.

    The idea is to be able to take the boat up and down the river stopping at various places to give a performance to people either onshore, or in other boats.

    It's only a dream at this point in time. Whether it ever becomes a reality will depend on how much interest there is in this. In the meantime I thought I might begin a search for plans, and examples of similar vessels.

    It always makes it nice if I can show precisely what I have in mind and that it is indeed a reasonable project.

    Having plans or photos of similar projects would be very useful at this stage.

    I'm thinking that a four-pontoon project would be sufficient for what I have in mind. But actually examples of modular boats that may have used more than four pontoon modules would be helpful too. We can always downsize the plans. ;)
     
  4. NavalSArtichoke
    Joined: Oct 2013
    Posts: 431
    Likes: 8, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 83
    Location: GulfCoast

    NavalSArtichoke Senior Member

    There are companies which fabricate work pontoons which can be hauled by tractor-trailer rigs to inland lakes which are otherwise inaccessible to boats. The individual pontoon sections are sized by length and beam so that they can be transported without requiring special escort or be considered to be 'oversized'.

    At the worksite, the smaller pontoon sections can be bolted together to form a larger floating work pontoon, on which cranes and other equipment can be carried.

    I believe these pontoons can be purchased or leased for the duration of a job.

    This is a link to one such system:

    http://poseidonbarge.com/
     
  5. Poida
    Joined: Apr 2006
    Posts: 1,189
    Likes: 51, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 497
    Location: Australia

    Poida Senior Member

    Oh what fun.

    To start with you need to be specific on exactly what you want to carry.
    A band? Two people can be a band or two hundred. You have to know exactly how big the band has to be, how much space each band member is going to take and exactly where they are going to sit. Dancers, the space they need and the number of dancers.

    Audio equipment, generator etc. etc. before you start to work out what sort of craft you need to transport them.

    Of course it is possible.

    How big are the trailers you want to transport the barges on, max widths allowed on the road.

    Poida
     
  6. philSweet
    Joined: May 2008
    Posts: 2,339
    Likes: 201, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1082
    Location: Beaufort, SC and H'ville, NC

    philSweet Senior Member

  7. rxcomposite
    Joined: Jan 2005
    Posts: 2,100
    Likes: 226, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1110
    Location: Philippines

    rxcomposite Senior Member

  8. Sweet Dreamer
    Joined: Jul 2014
    Posts: 81
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 16
    Location: USA

    Sweet Dreamer Junior Member

    Thanks to everyone who has replied thus far. Lots of good ideas here.

    The current group is really small. We're talking about 3 to 4 musicians. Possibly an additional singer from time to time. That takes it up to 5 people. I'm including 3 persons for a crew to actually run the boat. Not that it would need 3 people to run it, but I'm allowing for 3 persons dedicated to just making sure the boat docks properly, etc.

    So I'm up to 8 persons. Toss in maybe two or three dancers (on rare occasions) so we're up to about 10 or 11 people total. Toss in a guess from time to time I'm allowing for a dozen people max. And that probably would be a bit crowded. But doable I'm thinking.

    By the photos others have posted it appears that some bands are quite crowded on a boat.


    I have the generator already. It's not that big in terms of size but it produces more than enough power. Audio equipment will be a PA system for the vocals, two small guitar amps, and a bass guitar amp. These are all small in size and shouldn't take up much room. I'm also planning on placing all of this stuff on the two power pontoons. Almost "built-in".

    I'm thinking about building the pontoons to the max size permitted without any special permits. I think that amounts to 8 feet wide? Is that right? I'm not sure if that's the limit or not. Of course length can be quite long. If each pontoon section was 8' x 16" that would give a 16' x16" stage just on the front two pontoons alone.

    That's big enough already. Plus I'll probably be able to use some of the forward deck of the power pontoons.

    I think four 8' by 16' pontoons would be more than enough room. Maybe even too big.

    That would make for a River Boat that's basically 32 feet long by 16 feet wide. I think that would be more than enough room for what I have in mind.

    I just looked it up. The legal trailer width is 8' 6". I'll just make them 8 foot even to be sure. And there shouldn't be any problem with 16 feet lengths.

    So this would be a 32 foot riverboat 16 feet wide.

    I think that will be more than enough room. In fact, I could probably even cut that down in size.

    We currently play in cafe's that don't allot us nearly that much room. So this will actually feel like wide open spaces in comparison.

    I think this will work.

    Still I'd love to see some plans. Especially for a paddle wheel drive. Even if the boat itself is not modular.

    How do you steer a paddle wheel powered boat? Where is the rudder located?

    I'm also thinking too that if I have two power pontoons each with it's own paddle wheel drive, I might be able to turn about by placing one in reverse and the other in forward?

    We'll be on a small river, deep but skinny, so having the ability to turn about on a dime would be advantageous. I mean it's not that skinny, but if this thing turns out to be 32 feet long that might be a factor when coming about.
     
  9. Sweet Dreamer
    Joined: Jul 2014
    Posts: 81
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 16
    Location: USA

    Sweet Dreamer Junior Member

    I wonder how those corrugated culvert pipes would work as pontoons on a riverboat? Would the corrugation prevent the thing from motoring along?

    We don't need any great speed, but then again I wouldn't want to build something that doesn't want to move along in the water.

    I wonder too, if I were to mount them sideways instead of lengthwise under the pontoons? Then the corrugations would be lined up with the direction the boat is moving? That might work huh?

    Using corrugated culvert pipes would probably be a really cheap way to go.

    How do they seal up the ends?
     
  10. Sweet Dreamer
    Joined: Jul 2014
    Posts: 81
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 16
    Location: USA

    Sweet Dreamer Junior Member

    Oh boy! Look what I found!

    [​IMG]

    This is basically a paddle wheel pontoon. Only 20 feet long by 8 feet wide.

    This is actually almost big enough for what I have in mind. The larger boat I've been dreaming about is actually overkill and a bit ambitious.

    In fact, if I build my dream boat I will start by building the two power pontoons first anyway. So I'd have to build one to start with in any case. It could be a self-contained vessel with the option of being part of the larger riverboat later.

    Here is a more detailed article on this "Paddellac"

    Paddellac
     
  11. rxcomposite
    Joined: Jan 2005
    Posts: 2,100
    Likes: 226, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1110
    Location: Philippines

    rxcomposite Senior Member

    Sweet Dreamer- You have to fill in the details. As you can see from the video, it is towed only by a motorboat. No need for an smooth hull shape as speed is very low.

    I see you have already something in mind. Build it in accordance with the methods I have linked to satisfy your requirement.
     
  12. rxcomposite
    Joined: Jan 2005
    Posts: 2,100
    Likes: 226, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1110
    Location: Philippines

    rxcomposite Senior Member

    Definitely one boat you cannot dock. all 4 sides have something that sticks out like a sore thumb. Paddlewheel on both sides. decorative bowsprit in front, OB-Propeller(?) at stern.
     
  13. Poida
    Joined: Apr 2006
    Posts: 1,189
    Likes: 51, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 497
    Location: Australia

    Poida Senior Member

    Unfortunately with forums no one really knows what other people know and sometimes making a statement may sound insulting if it sounds like you are stating the obvious.

    Please do not take offence but it would appear that you want to play as a four piece band on a barge which I would assume is a lead, bass, rhythm guitarist and a drummer.

    I am an ex vocalist and guitarist and played around pubs etc. I had a 240 Watt Roland amp and two Yamaha bins each with 14" woofers and 7" horns.

    I played in pubs and beer gardens but all in protected areas, my sound system would be hopeless out in an unprotected area and especially on a river as the breeze seems to follow a river through its valleys.

    The speakers for an outside concert needs to move some serious amount of air. This of course needs powerful amps and a sizable generator.

    On board your barge is going to be thousands of dollars of equipment and I can't come to terms with the fact you are going to risk it on a makeshift barge.

    Plus, I have had to carry my gear in and out of venues which can take a bit of energy. I don't think I would like to assemble a barge before I perform.

    As you have said you have played in cramped places so I would assume they were small venues.

    Go and have a look at the equipment used for outside concerts and then see if a barge idea is suitable.

    Poida
     
  14. Village_Idiot
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 382
    Likes: 14, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 138
    Location: USA

    Village_Idiot Senior Member

    I agree with Poida. You're going to need a LOT of power to get any kind of volume outdoors and offshore from your audience. That means more/bigger generators, and possibly even more amps/volume to help drown out the generators (unless you have shore power at your venues).

    Then there's the mix of all that high-voltage equipment so near to the water. Add a few drunks in the audience that start splashing about, and you could be asking for trouble. Make sure everything is GFCI.

    You can easily tow 26' x 8.5' boats. I'd tend to go with monohulls over pontoons. They can carry much more weight and would be a safer platform to operate on. They can also provide more storage in the bilge for some of the equipment. Two of those will give you a 26'x17' platform which could easily and safely support several tons of people/equipment. If you go over 26' in length, you will need more required safety equipment on board, and possibly more required training for the captains, which would be a good idea anyway. This is getting into yachting territory (ABYC standards / commercial operations, etc.).

    As to your question of steerage, most paddlewheelers have a set of rudders aft of the wheel, and sidewheelers typically articulate by varying wheel speeds on either side. Paddlewheels are prone to high maintenance, or safety/mechanical issues will rear their ugly head when you least expect. Probably best off to go with a camouflaged outboard or two for main propulsion for reliability and safety sake, and add wheels as decoration only (most of the commercial entertainment boats do it this way). Add a billowing smokestack (dry ice in water) for added effect. For a larger craft, you would consider a diesel inboard setup.

    Many of the older paddlewheelers had their pilothouse near the bow, so that the captain could watch for navigational hazards more easily. Pilothouse at the rear is more typical of modern-day tugs/barges.
     

  15. Westfield 11
    Joined: Apr 2008
    Posts: 215
    Likes: 8, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 95
    Location: Los Angeles

    Westfield 11 Senior Member

    Remember that you and the band cannot make a single penny from playing on the boat. If so I believe that you will come under regulation and that changes everything. You may find that the rules and regulations for for-profit performance spaces and stages will prevent you from doing this. At very least I would expect to see a requirement for some sort of toilet and of course, navigation lights and safety equipment. You will probably be able to build and launch while flying "under the radar", but if you are successful and popular, you will come to the notice of the powers that be. When that happens, you had better meet all the requirements or you will get shut down. Your biggest problem may be that you are the first one to try this and the bureaucrats won't know how to pigeonhole you....
     
Loading...
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.