Building a raft w/ pvc pipe?

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by Aberamonli, Mar 12, 2004.

  1. Pericles
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    Pericles Senior Member

    Fishing Net And Soccer Balls might work better, perhaps---Nah!

    It was the night before Xmas Eve and Penguinman raised again the spectre of untimate madness, the use of PVC pipes to navigate the mighty waterways of the USA.

    In the middle of November this year, a similar thread to which djwkd
    also contributed, then tailed off without closure.

    Flotation comes in many forms, see title above, but to set off without propulsion and at the vagaries of wind and tide is to become a certain top prizewinner in the Darwin Awards.

    I'm with PAR and Jimbo1490 on this.

  2. the1much
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    the1much hippie dreams

    if noone will tell others i gots a secret,,,i know this guy, that knows this dude, that has a dudett that knows a dudett,that knows a Japanese dudeett that knows a japanese dude that does that oragomie whatever stuff,,that paper folding ca-ca,,,,i have investors ready to invest in like 100 of them dudes to make us a cruise liner raft,our only set back is finding a big nuff piece of paper ;)
  3. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    Aberamonli, I have a suggestion to make. PVC pipes are not a good idea, and they won't last very long either. But what would work very well is to use one as a mold. I would however suggest you try and find a piece like a 12" (300mm) or larger diameter. You need only one piece. Saw it through the length but one cut only so you have a tube with a cut through, and it stays in one piece. Cover it with anything that fiberglass won't adhere to and glass the thing six or eight layers. To remove the pipe (which is now an insert) you fold the one cut side into the other so the circumference gets less and you can pull the pipe out. Sand a bit, then paint and if you've got two such pipes you can make a cat. Make the length as long as you can handle... the longer the better. Width can be 60% or more of the length. 5m should be about a minimum length in my opinion.
  4. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Fanie, that sound like Hobie :)
  5. Jimbo1490
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    Jimbo1490 Senior Member


    I own a couple of large pieces of PVC pipe, one 8" and one 12"(about 210mm and 300mm) and I can tell you that your plan will not work as proposed since the pipe is simply way too thick to flex inward as you've described. The larger pipe is around 1.25" (~32mm) thick. If you cut it completely in half lengthwise then maybe you'd have a chance at de-molding. But with one slit; no way!
  6. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    A much better way to make 'glass pipe is to use cardboard, spiral wrapped over something. A simple furring strip jig or other suitable arrangement can yield fine tubes, assuming the laminate schedule is sufficient for the eventual loading and displacement. The cardboard can be waxed, or better yet, left inside. Rhino coat the outside and you have a waterproof, seamless tube.
  7. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    Sounds like sturdy pipes you have there... take a crane to haul them. As Par suggested cover the pipe with two laers of plastic (so they can slide over one another) then cover with another layer ie cardboard / paper tape and glass over that... I have used a 5mm foam before to make the spacer between allu and the fiberglass that I have paper taped to make a fiberglass pipe from... it worked a treat. Just pulled the lot off the allu and pulled the tape and foam out.
  8. deltafour
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    deltafour New Member

  9. Pericles
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    Pericles Senior Member


    Those are some fun catamarans you have created there. Growing up in NZ from 1949 to 1953 my younger brother and I would "rescue" floating driftwood logs such as those pieces you used for RebelCat 3 and be temporary passengers as they drifted along the coast. We'd sail for about half a mile and then scamper back to our parents. Lucky for us there weren't any hazards like the one you faced.

    Elsewhere on this forum we had a thread that discussed the modus operandi of crimping very thick walled sewer pipes in the manner you illustrated. Placing the E-PVC discs as you described in another innovation to me. You have certainly got me thinking. about drainpipes again.


  10. zmatt
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    zmatt New Member

  11. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    I lived in Taiwan in 1996 -97 and saw quite a few workboats in Taichung harbor which were made out of pvc pipe ,i didnt get close enough to take dimensions but they looked to be 20+ft and made by joining lengths of 6"pipe turned up at the bow and lashed together raft style,they had a center console and a large outboard.obviously they didnt listen to the theorists and just did it.There were a few of them so it must have worked ok.
  12. djwkd
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    djwkd Senior Member

    As formentioned, the best way to make a raft would be to make a pontoon hull, fill it with bottles and foam, seal the pontoon hull, then make another.After this, make a deck between the two hulls.
    It is probably the easiest and most accesible way to build a raft, or for that matter, any type of watercraft.
    You would need about 2 sheets of plywood, and ask around from your neighbours for old bottles and polystyrene/polyuerethane foam.(sorry if polyue...thingy foam is spelt wrong lol.).

    Its a shame more people dont build rafts this way.
    Anyway, if you do plan to do it this way, check out

    Hope this helps, dominic.
  13. Marjamada
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    Marjamada New Member

    Building a Raft or Sailboat with PVC Pipe

    I'm amazed that this discussion is still active. Thank you for mentioning my web site in connection with making sailboats from PVC pipe. There is a Flotation Chart there which will help you calculate the diameter and length of pipe you need to float your maximum load, which is the total weight of your boat plus crew plus cargo. Flotation should be at least twice maximum load, so that your pontoons are half out of the water. The new site, which I just completed, includes my latest PVC-pipe catamaran, RebelCat 5. The FAQ may also help you design your own cat, as there are answers to questions I get every day on making cats from PVC pipe. There is also a new DVD which is a how-to video on making catamaran sailboats from PVC pipe. It details the entire construction, from buying your pipe to sailing your cat. There is a detailed chapter on heat-shaping pipe to form wedge-shaped, wave-piercing bows - a technique I invented while making RebelCat 4 in 2006. I have improved the technique for RebelCat 5. I wish you all success with your boats! -Martin Adams
  14. markcrete
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    markcrete New Member

    pipe raft

    hdpe is strong, durable and can be welded. it is used for many applications in australian waters. pontoons, houseboats,pile coverings or filled with concrete to construct piles. some guys sailed across the atlantic on a hpde pipe raft. the second "cross" layer of pipes were used not only for the construction but to store water and gas for the journey. buy the way have you opened the doors of that shopping mall yet as i cant find anything for my wife at the local stores.

  15. RayThackeray
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    RayThackeray Senior Member

    Derek and Clive said that Winston Churchill's bogeys made excellent rafts.
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