DIY power barge

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by TyCor, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. TyCor
    Joined: Oct 2019
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    Location: Alberta

    TyCor New Member

    Hello all,

    My wife and I are looking for a remote lifestyle change. Basically looking for a place on the West Coast of British Columbia that is boat or remote access location. For part time work, I would like to bring my excavator (12,000 pounds) and have a means to move it; plus a little gear. I am looking at building my own barge capable of carrying 25,000 pounds, operating in both salt water and fresh water, I don't plan on using it for long trips, mainly as needed and never out of site from shore. It will see wakes from ferries and waves storms; I do not plan on going out in rough weather.

    Before you call me crazy (lol, I know, I know), I own my own welding business and I am very capable of welding Aluminium and steel, also a machinist and handy with my hands. I am also someone who plays by the rules (or tries to) which is why I am here. For example, I am building my one triple cab 6x6 army truck, amongst the many modifications, I still plan on getting it inspected to insure it is safe on the road(custom vehicles are exempt from this in Canada - surprisingly....)

    Anyways, I was looking at a twin engine power barge to do this. Something around 45 feet long, and maybe 12 feet wide (I am flexible here to a point) My machine is 8 feet wide. and a ramp for loading and unloading. I can see my 16,000 GVW trailer and truck on as well (22,000 pounds fully loaded truck and trailer)

    Questions/Specifications:

    What are the advantages of square pontoons vs round pontoons? Both have the pros/cons Round is preferable as large diameter pipe is simple to acquire? But square is easy to attach and build around.

    I would like to make a boltable unit in sections, hopefully keep the pontoons to 4'x4'x22' if going square or using 36" pipe (or bigger pipe). Sectioned off in case of leaks.

    I would prefer to use 4 pontoons (2 per side), curious if a tri toon would have any advantages besides redundancy?

    Checker plate decking

    For simplicity I was thinking of using 2 - 200 hp outboards

    It will be spending a lot of time in the water.

    I am open to some ready made plans if available, and certainly very open to coaching. I am open to a used one as well, but there seems to be very little in regards to small barges.

    Thank you,
    TyCor
     
  2. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Here is a 40' x 10' aluminium self propelled barge with 2 x O/B motors for sale on the west coast for US$ 130,000.
    https://www.oceanmarine.com/detail....90&category_current=6&category_current_sub=43

    I know it is not ideal for what you want, but it is a good indication of what is out there for sale.
    It might be feasible to cut it down the middle and make it wider?
    I think that you would need more deck space than what is available here.

    Here they have new construction steel barges 40' long, 10' wide and 5' deep - they appear to be asking US$ 31,500 for each barge (just the barge on it's own - no propulsion gear).
    Truckable barges sectional https://www.oceanmarine.com/detail.cfm?40x10x5-Sectional-Barges---10881&product_id=8299&category_current=6&category_current_sub=24
     
  3. TyCor
    Joined: Oct 2019
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    Location: Alberta

    TyCor New Member

    I sincerely appreciate the reply! Only problem is, I am hoping to keep my costs down and do it myself, plus I was hoping to build my own barge as a pride thing.....

    Admittedly that aluminium barge is pretty much exactly what I would like one day, but a little wider. Again, thanks for the reply I will have a chat with them and see what they say. There is no capacities listed on them unfortunately.
     
  4. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Re the aluminium barge in the link above, I am estimating from the photos that the hull depth is maybe 3' at the most (they don't mention it in the specification) - if we let the draft be half the depth (ie 18"), then if we assume a rectangular box the displacement at 18" is approx 38,400 lbs (or 17.5 MT).

    She is 'only' 10' wide though - I think that you ideally want it wider, say 14'. If you cut her in half longitudinally, and 'stretch' her sideways to 14' beam, then the displacement at 18" is approx 53,760 lbs (24.4 MT).

    If your payload is 25,000 lbs, then you have almost 29,000 lbs of displacement available for the barge lightship weight if you increase the beam to 14'. This is assuming a maximum draft of 18".

    Re one of the steel barges, these are also 40' x 10', but the depth is 5'. If we assume a draft of 2'6", then the displacement is approx 64,000 lbs, or 29.0 MT.
    10' is still a bit narrow though if you want to carry a large excavator on deck.
    Again you could cut it down the middle longitudinally and add in a section to increase the beam to 14'. You wouldn't be too worried about buoyancy, as the hull depth is 5'; you should have plenty. Hence you could even turn it into a catamaran with 5' wide hulls and a 4' wide bridgedeck connecting them that is 2'6" deep.
    For a displacement less than 29 MT the underside of the bridgedeck will be clear of the water, which will be good for reducing your resistance. Yet if you want to carry heavier loads, as soon as the underside of the bridgedeck is immersed your stability will increase quite noticeably, which will be useful.

    I suppose the most important question would be 'what is the budget available?'
    Re wanting to do it all yourself, one advantage of buying an existing barge and then modifying it is that all of the important design work has been done for you already. I doubt that you would have to increase the existing scantlings of either of the barges in the links above if you decide to make the barge wider by 4'. Especially as the scantlings are probably already pretty massive, and it is just for your own use, and in fairly sheltered waters. Although you would have to add in additional framing and shell plating to form the 'tunnel' re the steel catamaran.
    And the steel barge would need to have suitable brackets added for the outboard engines, and perhaps a raked stem (if the ends are currently both plumb or vertical).

    Edit - an afterthought - you could also make the aluminium barge into a catamaran. However you only have about 3' of hull depth to play with, hence I wouldn't want to reduce the depth of the bridgedeck structure to less than about 2'. This would still give you two 5' wide hulls though that are 1' deep on the inboard side, and the directional stability / handling of the vessel while under way should be better than if she is a simple monohull rectangular barge.
     
  5. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    see my gallery (and my comments) for my modular, boltable multi-hull concept.
     
  6. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Australia

    waikikin Senior Member

    I think you need to go 8'-10' wide for each segment so road transport easy and get maximum buoyancy on the barge footprint & minimum advisable freeboard when working the machine close to a corner- anything with"pontoons" soon loses out when it comes to complicating the connective structure and especially at the corners, two barges side to side can be set up with drop pins to brackets. Plenty have built before & these style of boats seem to evolve to just this- some concessions can be made to streamline with a swim end forward & cutaway aft. A small workboat fitted with pushknee/s might be more versatile than the outboards being fitted.
    Just my thoughts;) Google up Shugart barges and variants.

    Jeff
     
  7. TyCor
    Joined: Oct 2019
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    Location: Alberta

    TyCor New Member

    This is some very good information! Thank you all for sharing. I guess I was leaning more towards the pontoons as they were much simpler and significantly faster to fabricate. Perhaps I should revisit my expectations and look at this different direction. The barges without the pontoons have a superior weight capacity by far. As a "rule of thumb" is it one cu/ft = 16 pounds of capacity?
     
  8. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

  9. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Australia

    waikikin Senior Member

    TyCor, there's also a structural & weight economy in use of the deck of the barge as the working deck- with pontoons generally not unless the connective beams are set in flush & still need to deck in between. There's safety also in having good buoyancy & some extra beam/width- if you're working machines/cranes/whatever on the barge & close to the edge you really don't want less than 400mm/20 inches reserve freeboard while doing so on smooth water - things can go very wrong once a deck edge goes under with fast diminishing stability & much worse in waves. Here's a quick vid- not sure on the root cause as may have had free water below
    Jeff.

    PS: if you convert to metric the calcs get much easier- if you're in Canada maybe they use that.
     
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  10. TyCor
    Joined: Oct 2019
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    Location: Alberta

    TyCor New Member

    Lol, yes in Canada we use Metric, mostly for some things ;-). I use both interchangeably. But agree calculations way easier in metric.

    Anywho, thanks for that video, that is the last thing I want to do and you certainly have made an impression. I wanted to go the pontoon route as it was the easiest to construct/modify, but I am re-thinking my plan. Which is sad, because I found a pontoon barge that I could modify with a 3rd pontoon for added buoyancy......That said, judging from what I am reading here, pretty much everyone is suggesting I go otherwise. But I will show you a pic just for discussion.......It is made of 4 pontoons each one is 4'x4'x20' and made from 3/16" steel. Admittedly I think the steel is a little on the thin side, but it is what it is. Price, location and adaptability wise it was very strong so apologies if it sounds like I don't want to change focus. From my very rough calculations, the barge could carry roughly 20 tons. But I somewhat worry that loading and unloading would be pushing limits that I don't want to come even close to; hence why the addition of a 3rd pontoon was being considered. The two channels between the pontoon would also make it easy to install 2 outboards.

    Thoughts?

    DB341-1A-540x386.jpg
     

  11. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    waikikin Senior Member

    It looks like a neat platform from the detail available on the pic. Already looks low on freeboard though unsure on the plant onboard in the pic. If you were loading 25000 pound lets say 10 tonne onto this from a seawall with the barge in deepwater I'd be very concerned... if it was grounded out onto a soft shelving bottom you might get it on safely if you can get the load central before backing off.... those box pontoons can displace a max of about 8.5 cubic metres/8.5 tonne each but will weigh with framing probably minimum of 2.5 each plus the deck at whatever- there's really no margin here and even worse in a damaged or compromised state say an underwater object punctures the bottom plating on loading- compartments will help. I can see the attraction in the already built especially if low cost but if a third pontoon just brings it over the line is still plenty complication to build and install for a poorer result- If you build something fit for purpose and versatile it's always going to be worth more along the way give more personal satisfaction & at the end/resale down the track.
    If you realistically costed both options on paper without bias I think a pair of 40' x 10' x 5' barges might come out ok- building a third 40' pontoon is closeish to the same fabrication/weldout as one 40' barge segment though coatings will add up.
    Just another 2cents from Jeff.
     
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