Burning barge... kinda...

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Jongscx, Oct 14, 2007.

  1. Jongscx
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    Jongscx Junior Member

    Hello Boatdesign.net forum members. My name is Joseph and I am helping my high-school build a barge for their homecoming. I'm not really sure if barge is the proper word, since it will effectively be anchored in the middle of a lake and not move, but that's the idea.

    Basically, our objectives are:

    -minimize costs
    -make a stable, floating structure capable of carrying an approximately 12'x12'x8' pile of wood for a bonfire
    -make a said structure capable of surviving said fire

    Now, the first thought was to build a floating dock-style thing, made of wood, supported by marine styrofoam... then, some sheet-metal would be put lain on top of it to keep the fire from burning through... costs for the styro shot this down.

    My idea was to use a square or triangle frame, supported by a 55-gal drum on each corner. Lets' see, 55-gal x 8.3lb/gal = about 450lb/ drum, so that's 1200-1600 lbs that it would be able to support. I am also for HANGING the support structure UNDER THE BARRELS, so that they will be underwater, protected (hopefully) from the flames. I am thinking either 6x6 or 2x8... since wood should be cheaper than having a metal frame welded. The barrels will be BOLTED onto the beams, 3 anchor points spaced evenly around the barrel. We will build UP from that...

    Any suggestions/concerns (other than we're building a fire on a wooden boat :p)
     

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  2. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    Burning barge...kinda

    Beacons I think is more properly the name. Welcome by the way.
    Forget the polystyrene idea...fumes from poly when burning can be 'deadly' and I'm sure your neighbours and eco-friendly onlookers would raise hell - just before they fell choking to the ground.
    I like the square/triangular support frames. Make sure the barrels have their filler caps off - and have been throughly flushed out - otherewise the heat could cause an explosion sending your fire skywards. Best if you cut the tops off altogether.
    For a base try several layers of chickenwire raised above the eventual waterlevel and build your pyre on that.
    Back in Scotland (in the old days) we discovered that Vikings burn with a satisfactory 'crackle'.....and certain parts are edibile afterwards....:D
     
  3. Jongscx
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    Jongscx Junior Member

    ...Actually, it's an effigy... so the viking joke fits... macabre though it is.

    I was thinking about keeping the bottom open actually, and not the top... So that even if the air inside expands from the heat, it could escape... I would like to keep the top closed though, so more or less just an inverted drum...
     
  4. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    Burning barge...kinda

    Burning Vikings no joke...however in the absence of Vikings we are happy to practice with the English...More difficult to light because as a nation they are 'soggy'.

    Appreciate your thoughts on opening the bottom of the barrels - however should you accidentaly tilt the barrels - allowing the escape of trapped air you may well find that your platform becomes 'unstable' and 'wobbles' itself to the bottom, as each barrel tries to equalise its internal pressure.
     
  5. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    You figuring on burning an effigy of Mark Richt ( coach of the U of Ga. Football team) cause the Bulldogs are having a mediocre season? I read in the paper that Lake Lanier is going dry and there will be no water in the Atlanta area to float the platform. The project is intrigueing so you gotta give us more details about the purpose of the burning effigy and its' desired outcome.
     
  6. ted655
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    ted655 Senior Member

    How survivorable? Year after year, class after class? If so, them a frame of smaller barrels, filled with foam that will have a low profile and hold a metal tray imeresed in the water is the way to go. Sheild those portions above the waterline with aluminium roofing.
    I've seen many "docks" made from barrels. Those not filled with foam eventually sink (no matter how tight the bungs are).
    Figure the # of the tray, the fuel load, etc. and add enough 20 gal barrels in a frame to keep the trays lip above a 5 mph chop in case the wind comes up during the ralley. Include a few sky rockets as a filalee! Send us a picture.
    For more $$$ you can build steel pontoons, a metal deck. It could double as a swim rest in the summertime.
     
  7. Jongscx
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    Jongscx Junior Member

    Actually, it's my high-school homecoming celebration. My girlfriend is on the effigy committee (gotta love the girl) so I'm helping out. (Also doing it because My senior year I did the effigy too, but my parents kept me from going to homecoming celebrations, etc because of my grades... not too sore about it anymore)

    By survivable, I just meant that it has to be able to survive the fire... and possibly used 1 or 2 more times... They may want to do it again next year... dunno.
    Stability wise, it doesn't need to stay upright in a category 6 hurricane (yes, I know), and chances are, there won't be any chop anyway. Check out the pic I attached earlier, I think that lake is too small to have any waves in it... plus, it's only around 20 ft at the deepest. Though, heat from fire might cause updrafts, and a swirling vortex of doom... or not.


    Effigy will be of opponent's mascot... Nothing spectacular. Probably doing the old chicken-wire with tissue paper again

    Steel pontoon and metal deck sound good, but we're not even budgeted for what we plan right now... These things are coming out of donations from the members, and then some for school organizations. Plus, this lake is fed from the drainage from all the surrounding subdivisions and constructions projects. I don't think anyone's seen the bottom in years.

    Another question I have is for anchorage... What would be a good system? I was thinking a 5-gal bucket filled with cement and tying a woven-rope to it... I guess a braided metal or chain leader attached to the structure, to protect from the heat. Is 1 going to be enough, or do I need to symetrically anchor it like a teepee to keep it stationary?

    I'm liking the "filled with foam" idea. Is there a cheap source of two-part expanding foam around, or were you talking about the foam sheets?

    Great comments guys, keep the ideas flowing and I'll post replies.

    Also, Does anyone know a cheap way to get/make flash-powder and to make green fire/smoke?

    Thanks!
     
  8. ted655
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    ted655 Senior Member

    Ok then, on the cheap.
    Borrow 2 metal boats (little ones), or 2 canoes. Seperate them with scavanged pipe. wire on a chain link fence gate to the pipes. Build the effegy, burn it soaked in diesel not gas.
    5gal bucket of rocks or old motorcycle or engine head for a anchor.
    Make damn sure she rewards your efforts. Hope you win your game/
     
  9. Jongscx
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    Jongscx Junior Member

    They're going with my design, with the barrels and underwater and stuff...

    Now, the thing is, it's not just an effigy, but also a Bonfire. We'll have a hundred pounds of wood (or so) burning with the white-hot heat of satan's arse after a habanero-burrito. (It's really late where I am... pardon the outbursts) So we decided to go a little more towards sturdy than cheap.

    another question, Why diesel? Because it burns slower and not as fiercely?

    I was thinking of using lighter-fluid (for grills) in an electronic igniter design... will that be okay?

    Yeah, Personally, I don't care about the game...
     
  10. ted655
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    ted655 Senior Member

    Anything but Gasolene!
    Diesel is a light oil, it will evaporate less than other fuels so there won't be "fumes" that will flash when ignited
     
  11. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Lighter fluid for Barbecue grills is merely mineral spirits. It will burn nicely and make plenty of heat. It is dangerous enough so be careful with it. Gasoline is absolutely forbidden for an accelerant. It is OK for arsonists with a death wish but not for fun purposes such as yours.

    Keep this in mind! Fumes from gasoline, mineral spirits, and many similar flammables, are heavier than air. Yes heavier. That means that the fumes will sink to the surface not rise as is generally believed. The fumes are more dangerous than the liquid. The fumes will ignite more readily than the liquid. Once you douse the effigy, light it quickly and get the hell away from it.

    Have fun.
     
  12. Jongscx
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    Jongscx Junior Member

    yeah... we were planning on setting up and having the doused effigy sitting for a while before lighting it...

    Oh, does anyone have any experience with road flares and what not? anything I should look out for/be careful of?
    Not the "shooty into the air" kind of flare, but the "burning at the end of a stick to let people know you're there" kind.
     
  13. ted655
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    ted655 Senior Member

    As they are consumed, there may be molten crap fall out of the lit end. It melts right through tenny runners.
    The big ones used by train crewas (they are sometimes called fuse-ees), burn brighter & longer if you can get em.
    Watch your eyes when you strike the cap to the end
    Diesel is still best for that effage if it sits while the coach gives his speech. Then it's lit while the team runs through a big paper barrier and bass drums work everyone into a frenzy...., right?
     
  14. Jongscx
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    Jongscx Junior Member

    "tenny runners"? what are?

    Yeah, something like that... I don't think the coach will be doing any of that, and replace the bass drum with a sound system... but pretty much yeah...

    Another thing I was thinking was filling, about half-way, 22oz plastic bottles with fuel (was gonna say "gas", but we already had that conversation) and hang it on high places on the effigy, in the body, etc... fire starts, we get bursts of flame every so often, as different bottles melt.

    Now, anyone have any experience with GUNPOWDER? I got a pound at the ammo store and don't know what to do with it yet... I was thinking of mixing it with boric acid and epsom salts, because the latter burns green... Now, that's probobably different from exploding green, but I'll just have to see.
     

  15. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    OK, a few thoughts here.
    - Fire on the water is considered a distress signal and you will require a burn permit from your local fire department. It should be obvious, but not having the permit will ruin the night real quick when a neighbour calls 911 and the fire marshal breaks up the party.
    - A pile of wood that big, burning, will definitely reach well over 600 Celsius in the middle. It will liquefy aluminum, and any steel involved will be too hot to approach for a few hours afterwards. I like Ted's idea of using some scrap metal roofing (the shiny kind, not the black painted!) to shield the floating bits from the burning bits.
    - Foam of any sort is a Very Bad Idea in this case. Polystyrenes and polyurethanes will both release stinky, toxic fumes if heated like this thing will, and if ignited will burn like stink and release all sorts of evil chemicals. Stick with empty steel drums and make your structure entirely out of steel.
    - An effective way of doing cheap anchors is to get some bald tires from the wrecker's, cut a couple of round discs of chipboard the size of the matching hubcaps to close it up with, and fill the tire with cheap concrete. Cast a metal loop or eye bolt in the concrete to tie to. They're heavy, hold decently well, and you can handle them on land quite easily (unlike a 5-gal drum of cement). You'll want two or three in case the wind decides to pick up. Chain is a good idea.
    - I have on occasion, when camping by boat and all the firewood gets wet, had success with using outboard mixed gas to start it. The only semi-safe way to do this is to douse the wood well in advance on bare rock far, far away from the firepit, in several stages using only as much as will soak in at once, and ensure that no vapour trail leads from the firepit back to the can. Diesel's a much better idea, you still need most of the same safety precautions, but I doubt you'll need any accelerant unless the wood is absolutely soaking wet. Newspaper and cardboard boxes in the middle would be more than enough with that much wood.
    - What on earth would you need gunpowder for? If you want coloured flames, talk to the chem lab teacher and he'll have some suggestions for appropriate salts to use. But I don't see how gunpowder could make this thing any cooler (from a high-school perspective, lol) than it already is.
     
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