Building with steel

Discussion in 'Powerboats' started by wolf326, Jul 26, 2003.

  1. wolf326
    Joined: Jul 2003
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    Location: Florida

    wolf326 New Member

    Has anyone on here ever built with steel. I have welding experience but have never built a boat. I want to try something little. What I would like to know is if anyone has any tips or words of coution. Thanks for any help.

  2. badges65
    Joined: Dec 2002
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    Location: New Zealand

    badges65 Junior Member

    how small is small??
    why would you want to build a small boat in steel??
    power to weight becomes a problem ..
  3. 8knots
    Joined: Feb 2002
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    Location: Wasilla Alaska

    8knots A little on the slow side

    Too small would be a hassle

    I have never built in steel "YET" but I have read that much under 30' or so is quite difficult even if she is hard chined. Plus keep in mind your scantling sizes, When looking into a small hull 1/8" or 3/16" sheet for hull plate will be a royal pain to weld up without distortion. allso there are weight considerations. using scantling rules a say 28 footer built in steel would be much heavier and ride lower and probably respond to the helm a little sluggishly than say built in glass or aluminum. this leaves room for other toys like electronics:) I have read at great length Dave Gerr's book "The elements of boat strength" It has helped me understand alot about scantlings and the math of it all. Hope this helps a little!
  4. wolf326
    Joined: Jul 2003
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    Location: Florida

    wolf326 New Member

    Well I wasn't going to build a dingy out of steel. LOL To be honest I had something more in the line of 17 meters (55 feet) long by 2 meters (6.5 feet) wide by 2.5 meters (8 feet) high with a draft of 1.2 meters (4 feet). the tonage I figure will be about 250 tons ( totaly fitted out and ready to sail )

    I live in Florida but don't know how I would trasport the boat the 50 miles to the ocean. LOL How big is to big to transport? I have 5 acres so room to build isn't a problem. My dream project which will probly be just that a dream is 100 feet long by 13 feet wide 16 feet high with a draft of 8 feet.

    Like I said I work with steel often just never built a boat. Any help you can give even if the help you give is telling me im nuts I'll be very greatfull.
  5. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Wow - I admire your definition of "little"! But with the tools and skill already with the material, why not :D

    Is there a Bruce Roberts boat building forum for roberts builders? I think that would be one concentration of first time steel builders if there is one.
  6. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Metal Boat Forum

    Steel boats over 40' are quite reasonable and routine.

    (Actually steel dinghies are not as dumb an idea as they sound, especially if you happen to be a shipyard needing a skiff in a hurry.)

    The Metal Boat Society has an extensive forum on steel (and aluminum) construction, probably at .

    Roberts designs are also covered here as well. There are numerous sources for steel designs and kits in addition to Bruce Roberts, he just advertises more widely.

    You will probably want to get a CNC kit. You can buy an existing CNC'd design or have it done from scratch. The extra cost of a custom CNC kit (when designed from scratch) is about the same as the raw metal, so it is a small part of the whole.
  7. ming66
    Joined: Aug 2003
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    Location: Florida

    ming66 New Member

    Don't worry about the transpo If it can be lifted it can be transported, BUT it will cost you. Keep under 13'6" including there trailor and it will cost less, over and you will give up the idea or at least go broke LOL with only fifty miles it should not be too bad
    I got quoted on a 45' 15'beam 12'6" tall moving 165 miles with out the loading or unloading $1400.00 in Florida then you need to think about the lifts--Good luck :idea:
  8. David N.
    Joined: Oct 2003
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    Location: Whidbey Island , Wa.

    David N. New Member

    I put my glasse's on and read that twice .
    I'am some what puzzled by several thing's
    1.) 6.5 beam ??
    2.) 250 ton ( as in 500,000 lb's )
    must be a typo .
    I build in Alum and steel , and have for many year's , might I suggest you define your need's , then look at different design's and designer's , to find something that will suit you . Bear in mind , learning to weld is easy , learning where to weld is not , having a weld schedule is part of a good design and I would not bother to build a " tin-boat " without it .
    Working by your self , steel has one disadvantage , it is heavy to work in big pc's with out material handling eqt. ( ie cranes , forklift's , gantry's etc. ) and you want to use the biggest pc's possible . Alum also has many advantages , the best of which is ( all thing's being equal ) alum will have a higher resale value .
  9. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Welding boats

    Tom Colvin did some good books on the subject of welding back in the 70's and got into some detail on the how to's.
    Weston (Westy) Farmer in his book, "My Old Boatshop" now out of print. Both are available from used marine book chandlers can give you the sage logic and cautions of building with steel. The rest is simply doing it. The hand teaches the brain.

  10. webbwash
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Location: Lakewood, WA

    webbwash Junior Member

    Hey there Wolf --
    Typically a 50-60 ft boat of reasonable proportion in steel won't be the 500,000 lbs you talk about - figure a displacement of around 50,000 lbs - (one tenth of what you are talking about) and although a lot of it is in the structure, there is also weight included in the 50k for such niceties as the ballast (10,000 to 15,000 lbs) outfit and furnishings and the people on board and rigging etc -- also has some designs which are relatively inexpensive and maybe worth a second look -- they provide everything from study plans to fully NC'd plate.

    There are a lot more designs out there which warrant your attention and conversations with a Naval Architect will keep you enjoying your project rather than cursing it.

    Have fun and good luck.
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