Cheap efficient wooden boat design - Cambodia

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Cutimo, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. Cutimo
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    Cutimo New Member

    Hi, I'm a student at the University of Western Australia, we've been assigned the theme of transport for the Engineering Without Borders Challenge.

    The question states they are interested in alternative modes of transport, in particular they would like us to investigate more efficient modes of transportation that could improve the livelihood of communities living on the Tonle Sap in Cambodia.

    These people are extremely poor and the main resource for building boats is wood, from local timber.

    We were thinking of designing a cheap boat made out of wood for maybe 4-5 people. It would be good to conform with traditional South East Asian designs.

    If anyone has any ideas about the hull or motor design or information on any other ways we could improve the transport system it would be greatly appreciated.

  2. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    You have answered your question already! Use local boats, local designs. You do┬┤nt do them any favour bringing "western knowledge", you would just destroy functional structures.
  3. Gannet
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    Gannet Junior Member

  4. Ilan Voyager
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    Ilan Voyager Senior Member

    I agree with Apex, some well intentioned help may have disastrous consequences for the local economical structures...generally in this kind of small river and lake boats local designs are rather good and it's very difficult to improve.

    A study of the local boats has to be made before, you may be surprised of their efficiency and of the ability of the carpenters. In South East Asia there is a very ancient tradition of carpentry.

    You can work by "suggestion", I mean you can show a model of boat easy to build like the draketail (of the Chesapeake Bay, google for it) which uses a transverse bottom planking, thus enabling to build boats with "inferior" wood of shorter length. After, leave the local carpenters grab the idea, and make it their, that takes time...

    I have found that to give the possibility of hot dipping the local nails improves highly the quality and longevity of the boats. Hot dipped nails may be fairly expensive if imported unless you make a small "rustic" galvanizing boiler. It's very low tech and uses wood charcoal as combustible. The lone thing to import is the zinc in small quantities so the customs officers are not interested to stole it...But check before if the local carpenters are not using tree nails made with hard wood, these nails are very effective.

    May be a help in hand tooling will be more effective than trying to import a model of boat...
  5. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Yes, that was a perfect example! They "thought" they would do some good. But they neither thought, nor did they any good, they just fuc.ed up the local boatbuilding skills.
    We have seen in the South Pac. region how clever we are. Since almost 60 years they did not build their outrigger boats with crab claw sails, now they have nobody left who ever did one. But these boats were extremely capable and seaworthy, our western "designs" cannot compare.
    Lets take care and think twice before we bring "help".

  6. lewisboats
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    lewisboats Obsessed Member

    The indigenous boats developed for a purpose...sampans are the epitome of what is needed in that area. The "ONLY" thing you need to do is develop a "BETTER" Sampan. Good Luck...
  7. kroberts
    Joined: Mar 2009
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    kroberts Senior Member

    I don't have experience teaching anyone how to build boats, but I like Ilan's approach.

    Don't go there teaching them how to do it. Go there with your boat that you built, and let them look at it while you look at their boats.

    Having built hovercraft, I can relate. Somebody comes over and tells me what I have to do, I kick them out and throw things around in my shop for a while, and invent new words all of which have more than three but fewer than five letters. But show up with your own hovercraft and I'll go over to see what you did, and get ideas that I might try to incorporate. The final product probably won't resemble yours, but the exchange of ideas helps stimulate the imagination.

    I've been doing some reading on boats before taking the plunge myself, and I think some of the "exotic" boats like what Richard is describing are very aesthetically pleasing in addition to the performance gains he's talking about.
  8. Ilan Voyager
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    Ilan Voyager Senior Member

    It happened the same thing here in Yucatan, the invasion by the polyester panga killed all the local wood boatbuilding industry and thus the possibility of a good design made by local shipyards at good price. Conclusion; local fishing boats are unsafe (it's forbidden to the boats of less of 40 feet to go fishing if the wind is over 20 knots and/or the waves over 1.5 feet...I'm not kidding!!!) poorly made by low wages unskilled people with imported from the US polyester resin and fiberglass and using gas thirsty 2S japanese outboards...All that bought with hard earned dollars that are finally sent to already rich countries.

    Hell is paved with good intentions. I had an illuminating experience when a NGO asked me for a river boat in Senegal. I understood within the 10 minutes that the local boat made with a monoxyle keel, and a few planks for the topsides (made by splitting logs so no need of a saw, like the viking drakkars) was very good, cheap and with a good longevity when oiled with a local palm oil. Absolutely no need of a new design. The steel nails were the weak point. The problem was easily solved...

    A local mechanics had already the idea of adapting a car engine, instead of the 2S outboard, but he hadn't a lathe. The NGO got a used small lathe and with some information I gave to him, the mecanician was able to motorize the boat. I learnt that goat leather boiled in oil can replace rubber for the protection of the joint...This guy was very clever, he needed just a little help nothing more.
  9. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    Round up some used free boats in the USA and send'em.

    While everyone wants to have warm fuzzy feeling about "preserving local craftmenship" the fact is those practices waste an ungodly amount of super expensive and irreplaceable hard wood.

    Better off selling one log that will be turned into paper thin "real wood veneer" for 100,000 automobile dashboards and take the check to the local Grumman Boat dealer for a real boat made out of aluminum.

    NRA had a story about swamp hunting in Africa. The guides were using rotomolded plastic 'dugout canoes' with rough hewn look, because the hardwood log for a real dugout would be worth several thousand dollars, and a real dugout will often start to split after a couple years, of less.

    I wonder what the Start-up/Overhead is a custom rotomolded item.
  10. apex1

    apex1 Guest

  11. Ilan Voyager
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    Ilan Voyager Senior Member

    Happily most of the local boatbuilding uses woods of none interest for the occidental market. You seem to forget that the precious wood will be exploited by a foreign capital company, with some rich local partner and a few corrupt politicians. The people of the area won't see a buck but will stay with the devastated forest...

    You do not seem to be aware of the global problem and of the high cost of sending US goods. There is better use of the money. "Local Grumman boat dealer", very good practical joke...

    Yes Apex you're right.
  12. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Completely concur!!! And I guess that Alik for example, very familiar with SE Asian usances will so too! I do not know the actual Cambodian situation (have been there 10 years ago) but know the very similar Burmese at present. When a local shipwright would use "precious" wood, he would have some nice visitors (late at night).

    these are made of "lemon box" wood (hardly to be called wood), although the species is named "Pyinkado" Ironwood! sic...

  13. peterAustralia
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    peterAustralia Senior Member

    I will bite

    A new Sampan
    but made of wood frames and plywood, can coated with epoxy.
  14. Alik
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    Alik Senior Member

    Yeeh, sounds good... But then it is much lighter and is not stable anymore, and does not have emergency flotation.

    Thais studied this from FRP longtail fishing boats, another 'benefit' brought by westerners.

  15. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    And now, did you concur or confess?

    On the question I brought up with your name...........
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