Houseboat hull design

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by zed shaarani, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. zed shaarani
    Joined: Aug 2013
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    zed shaarani Junior Member

    I hope this is the correct forum for my query. I want to build a houseboat, approx. 30x20 ft. using plastic/polyurethane 40 gallon drums to build the pontoon. The houseboat does not need an engine as I can tow it with my boat if it needs to move elsewhere.
    Can anyone assist me with plans, ideas, advice, etc. ???
    The houseboat will be anchored in a tidal flat water river with alternating fresh and salt water I live in the tropics, so there are no situations with freezing weather.
    This will be a DIY project that I have no experience with, so I need all the help I can get. Thanks
    Marangman.
     
  2. Wavewacker
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    Wavewacker Senior Member

    I see you've had no response. That is a barge, I'd try something more like 14 or 15 X 40/42 and I'd build an open deck area in a V that could be easier to pull when you needed to, pulling a flat wall 20' wide won't be easy in a river with any current by a small boat, I assume you don't have a 40' power boat.

    Dock have been made with barrels, the ones I have seen have had metal bands around the barrels bolted to the wood frame. One I saw pulled out had the wood frame down about a third of the height of the barrels boxing in a couple barrels at a time.

    You'll need to be able to replace them as they can leak, get gouged or damaged. They will tend to roll out if pulled too fast.

    You might consider building a plywood pontoon and fill the pontoon with the barrels as flotation.

    Need to estimate the weight of the building and frame and figure out if this will be sufficient too. Just guess that a barrel would be roughly about 3x3 1/2 you'd have 6 barrels across and about 31 in each row or about 186 barrels if they were fit closely together. I'd just guess that you would not want to exceed 300 pounds per barrel, there are guys here who can tell you to the ounce probably, but barges such as this aren't a popular topic. Just saying, there is a Shanty Boat site that may be more helpful.

    Seeing where you are I can see where this may be acceptable and very useful to you.

    You might be better off finding an old boat, like a 50'er without engines and pick it up cheaper than building a platform, then build the inside.

    They have built a catamaran out of plastic soda bottles that sailed somewhere to sea so nothing is impossible, almost. I imagine you'll get more negative responses here than positive ones, take it with a pound of salt, but do consider your plans to do this. :)
     
  3. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member


    Generally, even if you can get the drums for free, the cost and effort of making them into a solid vessel is about the same as building a better performing 'proper' boat.

    Certainly the ongoing maintenance ( from rust, water, fastenings, expansion/contraction ) is far greater for a drum raft.

    The only reliable cheap way for doing this is if you can get free lengths of tree trunk, de-bark them, dry them and oil them, and use rope to lash the whole thing together. See 'Castaway' for building instructions.
     
  4. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Coastal Georgia

    SamSam Senior Member

    You just build a frame that holds them in position, if you are careful when moving they don't have to be strapped in or anything.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. zed shaarani
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    zed shaarani Junior Member

    Raft building with plastic drums

    Thank you all for your help. The attached pictures certainly helped.
    Using logs here in Malaysia is not feasible because of the government's very strict restrictions on logging. Also tried getting a used boat / barge but is too expensive and plastic barrels costs about $10 a piece. My main concern is how to secure the barrels to the wooden frame. Using anything metal would just corrode in no time as the salinity of the water here is pretty high. I am thinking of minimal maintenance. In order to prevent the barrels from sinking due to punctures, wear & tear, etc. can they be filled with solid foam that is used for insulating ice boxes?
     
  6. zed shaarani
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    zed shaarani Junior Member

    Hi Sam
    There are a few fish cages in the river here that uses drums as you depicted. However, I see that when the drums get damaged or waterlogged, part of the platform tend to sag. Do you know if these drums can be filled with hard packed foam such that they will maintain their flotation even when punctured?
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
  7. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    I don't know what you mean about hard packed foam, but you could pour in liquid foam that expands or cram them full of little pieces of foam through the fill holes, but that sort of negates their purpose. When people use them around here, they unscrew the fill caps first, coat all the threads with silicone caulk and then screw them back in. If one gets a hole or fills with water, they just pop in another one using a wooden lever. Some people put an air valve in like in a car tire, but I can't really see what good that would do. I suppose if you have one way underneath that you can't easily pop one in to replace, you could put enough water in it so it wouldn't be so buoyant, float it in place and then pump in air to force out the water.
     
  8. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    This is exactly what I meant when I said that they are a more expensive solution than a 'proper boat'.

    The foam in the barrels will prevent a serious sinking, but it will not be cheap, and will add a lot of weight.

    So many problems, so little performance.

    How expensive is concrete over there ? With some simple forms, some re-inforcing, a concrete pontoon might be feasible.
     
  9. Yobarnacle
    Joined: Nov 2011
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member

    http://www.sprayfoamdirect.com/

    This is CLOSED CELLED polyurethane foam.

    I have used it to repair ocean going barges 600 feet by 100 feet and 18 feet draft.

    The most stable hull form is a flat bottom, hard chined barge. Save your barrels for water ect.

    Just build your box and fill it flush with foam and flip it over.
    You don't need wood on the bottom.

    As to making a bow, I've often towed rectangular scow barges by a corner.

    and when I hip a barge, I'm ALWAYS aimed diagonally across the barge, to balance the tow. part of the barge being on EACH side of MY centerline, and it presents a corner for a "sharp" bow! :)

    Oh, and if you plan on towing, better know where your brakes are, or you can be run over or "tripped" (capsized) by your barge..
    :D
    To stop your "barge', spin it!
    Since an object in motion tends to stay in motion, you have to do something with all that momentum.
    Convert the linear momentum to angular momentum. (from travelling in a straight line to spinning.)

    Good Luck! You will be handling TWO vessels simultaneously.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. El_Guero

    El_Guero Previous Member

    Marangman,

    You would do better if you built a trimaran or catamaran platform under your 'house' and powered with a small engine, or two.

    The barrels are 'ok,' but barrels are 'ok' for kids who want to build a raft, not for you wanting a 'houseboat.'

    Glen-l has plans, you may not want to purchase, but you can get some ideas from them.

    http://www.glen-l.com/designs/house/dsn-mkt40.html

    Bolger made some great plans. He had one that was flat with a lot of rocker.

    http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/r/plansindex/bolger/bolger.htm

    A lot of your design and decision making should involve what your final purpose is ...

    Sit in one place and move seldom - you can take the motor off of your other boat and propel your houseboat.

    Move on a regular basis.

    Ease of construction, the bolger flat bottom would be easiest.

    The catamaran style would give you the most stable platform ....
     
  11. zed shaarani
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    zed shaarani Junior Member

    yes I mean pour foam. 2 chemicals that you mix together to make PUfoam or styrofoam to fully fill in the barrels so (I assume) it will never ever leak or get waterlogged. Then I never have to change the barrels
     
  12. zed shaarani
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    zed shaarani Junior Member

    I did think about ferro-concrete but it would be pretty costly and time consuming
     
  13. zed shaarani
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    zed shaarani Junior Member

    Hi Yobarnacle,
    Thanks for your ideas. The styrofoaam after I take it out of the mold, would it need to be fiberglassed? and reinforced? I notice that the packaging PUfoam that comes with the TV or other household packaging are pretty flimsy. I wouldn't want my pontoon to split in half while I'm sleeping!
     
  14. zed shaarani
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    zed shaarani Junior Member

    ElGuero
    Thanks for your ideas. Yes I am planing on a double or triple hull with pontoons made from PU foam. I guess the barrel idea is out as I get quite negative feedbackt on it. Looks like there is no real advantage using the barrels.
     

  15. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    yes, that is one plan, but it has two problems

    1) Cost. try a few test pours and see just how much you will be paying.

    2) The self mixed foam (not the factory made foam ) will absorb water over the years. This is because it is not made under the same high pressure moulds that create a uniform consistency and make it truly closed cell.
     
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