Fire proofing a wooden boat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by BarendGrobler, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. BarendGrobler
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    BarendGrobler Junior Member

    Hey All
    I want to build a ply-sailing-cat. Most of the design work is done, now I just have to convince the wife it's safe to cook on a wooden boat!;)
    So, the question is: how well does epoxy-sealed wood/plywood burn?
    How do I make it fire resistant?
    How do I convince my wife its safe?...(unmarried guys not allowed to comment!);)
    Lekke dag!
     
  2. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Well I am not married, but I think I still have something to add :D

    West Systems, or for that matter most epoxys are not flammable. Not that they can't melt, but for the most part it takes a pretty intense flame to get it to catch fire. My suggestion to settle the wife is mix a batch of epoxy and let it kick, then put it over the stove you are thinking of using to let her see how long it takes to catch fire. My guess is that she will cease to worry about it. Now the wood on the other hand is a problem...
     
  3. erik818
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    erik818 Senior Member

    Plywood isn't so easy to set on fire. In large buildings, laminated wooden beams are more safe than steel beams in a fire because they won't melt. Woold wins when the fire is really hot. Aluminium is a disaster. Perform a test: Make identical bowls in epoxy/fiber/plywood, GRP and aluminium (cheat by selecting a little too thin aluminium). Pour burning coal into them and see which one lasts longer. Do a rehearsal without wife first.

    I am married. The outcome can be that any boat in any material is rejected. Most likely she will loose interest before any bowl is burnt through.

    Good luck,
    Erik
     
  4. RHP
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    RHP Senior Member

    Viking boats used to burn well.

    I am married and I have suggested to my wife she particiapte in an experiment and report back.
     
  5. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Warm meals in a cat? :p Get a termos and buy her a lot of sun-lotion!
     
  6. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    Many epoxies contain, or can have added to them, fire-retardant compounds.

    Wood, too, is remarkably fire resistant (if it's thick and heavy) for a time. Consider how long it takes a thick fire log to burn through, or look at the fire code requirements for glue-laminated timber. (Not nearly as strict as for steel- the char layer that forms on the timber protects the inside, for a time.)

    However, epoxy and wood are both combustible. Just like the wood that holds your house up. So use appropriate precautions.

    I do not think I have ever heard of a boat being accidentally burned up by a properly installed stove. (It does occasionally happen on purpose, in conjunction with a valid insurance policy.) Of vastly greater concern, IMHO, would be the installation of the stove fuel system itself- especially where propane or other gaseous fuels are concerned. A leaky propane line can really ruin your day. Follow the ABYC codes to the letter, and you'll be just fine.
     
  7. MattZ
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    MattZ Junior Member

    Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on board. It doesn't matter what your craft is made of, if it has electronics or combustion devices on board you need a fire extinguisher.

    I would be hesitant to accept the claims that wood is as fire retardant as some other posters have claimed. The resin will offer some protection, but don't rely on that as first line defense.
     
  8. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    Epoxy and wood are both fuels. Given enough heat and enough oxygen, they will burn. The resin can release some nasty fumes in the process. Fire retardants make it harder to set the stuff on fire and harder to keep it burning, but it is still a fuel.

    My advice on fire extinguishers is to have lots of them- much more capacity than any of the codes say you need. I'd rather have three or four 5-pounders than a single 10-pounder, even if the latter is what the codes call for. With lots of small ones that add up to far more than the codes require, you can always have one in easy reach and if one runs out or doesn't fire, there's another to take its place.
     
  9. eponodyne
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    eponodyne Senior Member

    A bucket full of water also makes a dandy fire extinguisher.
     
  10. BarendGrobler
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    BarendGrobler Junior Member

    Thanx for the advice gents!
     
  11. Meanz Beanz
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    Meanz Beanz Boom Doom Gloom Boom

    Sail the wife and burn the cat.... dyslexia rules KO! :D
     
  12. lazeyjack

    lazeyjack Guest

    your wife? , heck, there are all sorts of alarms fail safes, force ten stoves which shut themselves down gas sniffers
    Ask your wife why she drives in your car, it is a bomb, in a crash ,
    heck even aluminium will burn if hit by an exocet
    chances of being burned in a boat fire are a darned sight less than being hit by lightening, or being smashed to bits on a highway, or being shot(you are in USA?)da, ah it all figures
    go boating , and if she won't, say Bye dear see ya Sunday night:))
     
  13. BarendGrobler
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    BarendGrobler Junior Member

    Actually I'm not in USA...but SA...so the chances of being shot are a LOT MORE!
    Nah, just kidding about the wife, she'll come along no prob, its actually me who would prefer to avoid being burnt to a crisp if at all possable!:)
     
  14. erik818
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    erik818 Senior Member

    Just a second thought on my previous post. Whatever material you use for the hull is immaterial. The very real danger of fire in boat comes from propane for the stove, fuel for the engine and then other burnable stuff you keep in the boat. The material of the hull is a very long way down on the risk list.

    Erik
     

  15. MattZ
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    MattZ Junior Member

    I agree. The interior finishing and upholstery are the fire hazzards. Unless you're planning on doing your cooking in the bilge.
     
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