paddle wheel design software

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by wallyc8035, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. wallyc8035
    Joined: Jul 2014
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    wallyc8035 Junior Member

    New member here. I joined specifically to find information on how to "properly" design the paddle wheels for a sidewheeler boat. I have found a link to a book and a couple of organizations that may be of help, but I would really like to know is whether there is software out there that would simplify the engineering process. Obviously, there are numerous variables that must be considered, and I'm sure there are formulas that were used back in the 1800's for paddle wheel design. But a software program would be so much easier. I was wondering if any of the large universities along the Mississippi might have coursework along these lines.

    This application will be a little bit different than your "normal" sidewheeler. It is actually a lake weed harvester. It is basically a pontoon boat with a Bobcat Loader mounted on the end and is driven by a paddle wheel on each side. We have already built one but it is time to refine the design and build version II. I want to optimize the paddle wheel design, not only for performance but also for ease of manufacture. I am considering the use of composites, honeycomb panels, epoxy, aircraft aluminum, etc., all to enhance the dynamics.

    I have also considered using two paddle wheels on each side for added thrust and maneuverability. Since the boat is "steered" by varying the speed of the paddle wheels on each side (like a skid steer loader), it would be easy to incorporate multiple paddle wheels.

    Any information will be GREATLY appreciated. I will try to get some pictures of the current boat and post them here just so you can all see the application.
     
  2. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    I can't imagine how the use of composites, honeycomb panels, epoxy, aircraft aluminum, etc. will do anything at all for the ease of manufacturing.

    I don't believe it's rocket science either with Einsteinian calculations 42 feet long, so software isn't needed and it's probably not even in existence.

    Here is a site for sternwheelers, where he talks about wheel design. Some might be useful for sidewheels.
    http://users.wirefire.com/gemort/contents.htm

    Mainly, the bigger the diameter, the better as far as fore and aft thrust, which minimizes lifting up or pushing down water. Unless you want to get into feathering paddles, which I suspect you probably will. Also, using wood in the paddles or arms has drawbacks, in that if the wheel sits in one position for awhile it absorbs water which then throws the wheel way out of balance.
     
  3. wallyc8035
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    wallyc8035 Junior Member

    ???

    So, samsam, you think that diameter is the only parameter that's important?

    What about the width of the paddle? Height of the paddle? Angle of attack to the water? Speed at which the axle turns? Open sides vs closed sides?

    I'll bet there were entire college courses in engineering schools to study all these, and more, variables.

    And as to aluminum and composites, let's get out of the 1800s. I'm not building a replica of a Mississippi steamer!
     
  4. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    I know absolutely nothing about paddle steamers which must be comforting for you.

    But what I have done when designing equipment and want standard sizes, is to get photos of the type of equipment I am designing and import it into a graphics program, I use Corel Draw. Then I can scale off sizes as long as I know one size.

    For example, with a photo of a paddle steamer, the length is normally stated.
    Then scale off the diameter of the paddle wheel, spacing of the paddles and the height above water of the axle etc.

    Using the photos of several paddle steamers you should have a list of proportional sizes for whatever you want to build.

    Poida
     
  5. Rurudyne
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    Rurudyne Senior Member

  6. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    I have seen such a machine in operation in our local lakes. We have an accursed weed called Hydrilla. From time to time the weed needs to be cleared as it is prolific and invasive.

    If memory serves (sometimes it does not) the boat was basically a barge probably aluminum skinned. Two paddle wheels and a a shredding mill. The paddle wheels appeared to be constructed of steel with steel blades. I had the impression that the drive mechanism was hydraulic. The blades themselves did macerate some of the weed whether by design or not.

    I would guess that the machines were operated by some division of the Florida Wildlife Commission. Might be worth exploring that source.

    I doubt that there are any available computer programs to help you with paddle design. Paddle wheels went out with buggy whips, though they may still be appropriate for certain applications.
     
  7. fredrosse
    Joined: Jan 2005
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    fredrosse USACE Steam

    Paddlewheel Design

    Been there, done that, have software, as well as a sidewheel steamer.

    Details for your application, boat dimensions, displacement light and loaded (submergence variation is very important for a paddle boat) please. Feathering as well as conventional wheels can be considered, I have built both types. Efficiency of paddle wheel propulsion is not so far away from conventional propellers, the big advantage, operating in shallow water, and weeds (no problem), docking and trailering (is problem). Also see youtube, "Sidewheel Steamboat".
     

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  8. wallyc8035
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    wallyc8035 Junior Member

    Fredrossi,
    I will get you the parameters as soon as I can.
    Wally
     
  9. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    Entire college courses? LOL! Are you alright?

    Is a hi tech paddlewheel going to enable the machine to cut weeds any quicker?

    You're not going to improve too much on paddlewheels, even with ******* software. If you had any sense, you would concentrate on improving the main function of your nautical weedcutter and begin to wonder wtf you're doing with a Bobcat on the contraption and how you might eliminate that.

    What good are composite paddles going to do on a weedcutting barge? Composites aren't tough, when you break a paddle, can you get one welded up locally for $100 and you're back running tomorrow, or do you have to send off design specifications to an advanced composite manufacturer, pay 10 times as much and wait weeks for it to arrive?

    Lipstick on a pig.
     
  10. Larry Forgy
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    Larry Forgy Junior Member

    I don't really know anything about paddlewheelers, but the comments about bigger wheels in order to increase the horizontal stroke of the paddles made me wonder how difficult it would be to mount the paddles on some sort of track like the tracks on a military tank. You could have a long belt with a paddle built into each thread, and a smaller wheel at the bow and the stern. You would have a long horizontal stroke, and I am guessing that the stresses on the mechanism would actually be less than with a large single wheel.

    Wouldn't do as a replica of an old style boat, of course, but could look pretty modern and unique. Make the paddles strong enough and the boat could actually walk out of the water and up onto the beach!

    Larry Forgy
     
  11. Rurudyne
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    Rurudyne Senior Member

    The problem with paddle tracks is that the paddles are not moving in clean water, or rather water relatively free of the turbulence effects of the previous blade. This is why there is for any given size of paddlewheel a number of floats above which there is diminishing returns as well.

    A non-amphibious paddle track could have taller blades in order to be more effective but then you can start to have a problem with forces on them, as they are unsupported at the end.

    Consider the problems faced with attempts to employ tandem paddlewheels for comparison: because the aft wheel is in the wake of the forward wheel it actually has to turn faster to be effective at adding thrust ... something folks didn't necessarily appreciate until they found out through trial and error.
     
  12. SukiSolo
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    SukiSolo Senior Member

    Here in the UK, there are some weed harvesting vessels which are more like platforms driven by large 'tank tracks'. Imagine - a catamaran with wheels bow and stern on each hull. On these wheels and going over and under the flotation tanks is a large (presumably polyurethane) belt with elongated 'paddle' fins. This enables the craft to drive on land and into the water where the 'fins' act as the propulsion for the craft. Turning is exactly like driving a tank - you brake one side.

    The concept is to keep a light, footprint on the environment and water. Obviously it can operate in shallow water and lake margins. Primarily, here in the UK these vessels are used to clear infestations of Canadian Pondweed.


    Try this link.

    http://www.land-water.co.uk/group-services/plant-hire-2/weed-boats/weed-cutting-boat-truxor
     
  13. wallyc8035
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    wallyc8035 Junior Member

    Thanks rurudyne and those of you with CONSTRUCTIVE thoughts and ideas. Looks like I'll stay with a single wheel on each side and await the results of the software analysis.

    And yes my friends, back in the day they had college courses to learn how to design sidewheelers including the paddles. Do your homework Sam.
     
  14. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    Pointing out the limitations of composite paddlewheels isn't constructive?

    If the problem is speed to and from the weed patch, use an outboard with a weed guard or improve the shape of the hull.

    For maneuverability, use hydraulics so you can make one wheel actively go forward and one reverse, as opposed to just braking one side. You could sit in one spot and spin in place with a system like that.

    A feathering wheel will add cost, mechanical complication and possibly get clogged by weeds.

    An enclosed wheel will just keep down spray, a wheel with sides may enhance effeciency by stopping forces from escaping off the end of the paddle, much as the vertical winglet on jet wings stops forces from escaping off the end of the wing.
     

  15. fredrosse
    Joined: Jan 2005
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    fredrosse USACE Steam

    Paddle Propulsion

    One point of interest, the concept of tracked paddle propulsion is nothing very new. The first models of this type system that I have seen were made by John Fitch in the late 1700s.

    Beyond that, snowmobiles (having tracked paddles almost exactly like the 220 year old John Fitch configuration), have become the fastest type of personal watercraft. When snowmobilers started racing on water, it was soon discovered that they were faster than the most powerful manufactured personal watercraft.

    The technology of paddle propulsion covers a wide range of performance potential, ranging from typical marine designs of 150 years ago, to recent experimentation that rivals the performance of many modern boats.
     

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