Hull material for a stationary houseboat, ice

Discussion in 'Materials' started by skyl4rk, Sep 22, 2006.

  1. skyl4rk
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    Location: Lake Michigan

    skyl4rk Junior Member

    What would be a cost-effective hull material for a stationary houseboat intended to stay in the water year round in the Great Lakes region? Resistance to winter ice is necessary. Durability and low maintenance over a life of at least 20 years is necessary. It would be best if no haulout was required for many years. The size would be 40 feet by 11 feet. The boat would be at a dock in a small river and would be used as a cottage, or possibly a year round residence.

    Steel?
    Concrete?
    Epoxy/glass over plywood?
     
  2. yipster
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    Location: netherlands

    yipster designer

    definitly concreet, would like it was foam
     
  3. CORMERAN
    Joined: May 2006
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    Location: Vancover,BC, Canada

    CORMERAN Junior Member

    Hull materials

    Hi skyl4rk:

    Having designed AND built vessels in all the materials
    you define - I can tell you what my choice would be.

    We have an epoxy / wood vessel that's been in the
    water since ' 88. Still going stong.

    I prefer working in wood, to any other material,
    as it's got the most " soul ".
    Also, most of the time, less costly than steel.

    Steel is what Ice Breakers are made of.
    However : - do not let anyone convince you,
    that it's maintainance free.
    Also a hidden cost is that, unlike a wooden vessel
    you need to build a boat - within a boat.
    If you don't want to freeze the people living on board !
    As steel conducts heat so well.

    A strong case for Ferro Cement can be made.
    Built by people, that know what they are doing,
    it's very cost effective.
    AND long lasting.
    Ice would not be of any significant concern.
    As there are Roman concrete stuctures, still in use
    in Northern Europe - that date back - to well before
    the time of Christ.

    Closer to home, localy there are several boats and
    structures made of Ferro Cement here - that go
    back over a quarter of a centry - that are
    also still very much in use. That I'm very familier with.

    It is important to know, I caution - that dispite the
    hype, that this is an " easy " material to work in,
    - there is a diffinate skill set required to do a
    decent job.

    ```````````````````````````````````````

    There have been some very significant advances in
    concrete tech. recently.
    That make it a lot more " user friendly " to work with,
    since the last 30 yrs.

    Co - incidently we are presently engaged in doing a
    feasibility study on building a series of Barges with
    this new, State of the Art, concrete tech.

    Cheers !
     
  4. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Coastal Georgia

    SamSam Senior Member

    There's hundreds of boathouses around Winona, Minn. that have been there for more than 20-40 years. They are mostly built on wooden frames that hold 55 gal barrels, used to be metal but plastic ones now. The barrels aren't strapped in, so if they sink they just use a long wooden lever and 'pop' new ones in. They get plenty of ice, usually in the spring is when they have to replace a few barrels that get crushed or something, so they have 'popping parties'.

    If you build an actual hull and don't make provisions for keeping it ice free with heaters or water circulating pumps I think you might have to put some flare in the sides and ends so the ice tends to squeeze it upwards instead of crushing it. Sam
     
  5. Toot
    Joined: Jul 2006
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    Location: Chicago

    Toot Senior Member

    Just a tidbit I picked up from a civil engineer for anyone considering a concrete structure-

    You can embed pipe into a concrete structure and circulate liquid through it in order to heat it. I've never heard of it being done on a boat, but I have to say it's an interesting idea!

    Even if ice isn't a structural concern, a heated hull could help you keep it clear and slip-free. :)
     
  6. Crag Cay
    Joined: May 2006
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    Location: UK

    Crag Cay Senior Member

    I would consider reinforced concrete rather than Ferro-cement. So instead of a frame work of steel rods bound together, covered with chicken wire and then plastered to make it water tight, I would have a civil engineering company build me a standard concrete water tank of the required size.

    It would use all the processes they are familiar with: wooden shuttering, re-bars, and then well pokered water proof concrete. Above the water line I would drill a number of 3/4 inch 'through bolts' betweeen the two faces of the shuttering with simple poly-pipe compression sleeves to give you some where to mount mooring chains on the outer faces. I think if the upstream end was sloping, it would give you all the stream lining you would need. Maybe flare the other sides slightly if you want.

    When the concrete was fully cured I would coat the underwater outer surface with some bitumastic waterproof coating.
     
  7. Crag Cay
    Joined: May 2006
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    Location: UK

    Crag Cay Senior Member

    I would consider reinforced concrete rather than Ferro-cement. So instead of a frame work of steel rods bound together, covered with chicken wire and then plastered to make it water tight, I would have a civil engineering company build me a standard concrete water tank of the required size.

    It would use all the processes they are familiar with: wooden shuttering, re-bars, and then well pokered waterproof concrete. Above the water line I would drill a number of 3/4 inch 'through bolts' betweeen the two faces of the shuttering with simple poly-pipe compression sleeves to give you some where to mount mooring chains on the outer faces. I think if the upstream end was sloping, it would give you all the stream lining you would need. Maybe flare the other sides slightly if you want.

    When the concrete was fully cured I would coat the underwater outer surface with some bitumastic waterproof coating.
     
  8. MikeJohns
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Location: Australia

    MikeJohns Senior Member

    For static floating structures; Metal is not the best option, Concrete construction is good. polythene is good too you may find commercially available floats for marina systems ready made.

    Just a though , good luck
     
  9. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    Location: Ontario

    marshmat Senior Member

    I vote steel, although ferrocement would be excellent if you have a good craftsman. The reason I don't put it first is because it's so easy for an inexperienced builder to screw up cement.
     
  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I think an inert material like plastics or concrete would serve better for a static structure. The other, more traditional materials, like metals, wood and 'glass will have corrosion, rot and or weight issues that, must be accepted for environment criteria (ice). Polyethylene or ferro would be my suggestion. Ferro would need to be designed by someone well versed in the material, like Jay Benford. The nature of plastic would also require expertise in the material, but commercially available products are currently produced to fit your bill, so the design could be handled by any reasonable engineer.
     

  11. yokebutt
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Location: alameda CA

    yokebutt Boatbuilder

    I lived on a concrete houseboat that got frozen in every winter, never had a problem.

    Yoke.
     
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