Paddlewheel Restoration - Questions

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by Wheeler, Mar 19, 2020.

  1. Wheeler
    Joined: Mar 2020
    Posts: 4
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    Location: Texas

    Wheeler New Member

    Hi Gang,

    I'm looking at purchasing a 1991 built paddlewheeler for restoration. There is a small but active group of enthusiasts who run these, but they don't have a forum and a lot of the knowledge is getting lost, so I'm casting a wide net.

    Typically these are built by first constructing a barge; typically 1/4" steel, then dropping an engine right on the stern. That goes to some kind of gearbox and final drive to the wheel, which is supported on outriggers. The machinery space is walled in using light gauge steel.

    Next the house is built using straight up 2x4 construction. This one is residential wiring but others use proper marine grade. The connection to the deck is bolted, then the frame is built. The deck 1 ceiling (which is deck 2's, er, deck) is fiberglassed plywood. The second deck exterior walkway is a single sheet of 3/4" that is glassed and supported with the metal uprights. The ceiling joists are 3 x 2x4's bolted together. Then the second story roof is another sheet of glassed ply.

    I'm building a budget now to make an offer, contingent on hull gauging and some other things. The plan would be to:

    1. Rebuild the running gear and marine systems
    2. Take the house back to stud. Repair what needs it, modify the floor plan, rewire the entire thing.
    3. Button it up and do the finishing.

    I'd keep the footprint the same, so besides the interior layout I've got two changes I'd like to make but need to consider the loading and stability.

    1. I'd like to raise the wheelhouse so that it is flush with the second deck roof. Essentially making it into a three decker.
    2. Obviously then I'd like to use the upper deck as an outdoor seating area.

    I'm very conscious of adding too much weight, but feel that the base level would need to be strengthened if we are going to be having dinner parties on the roof.

    What is everyone's initial thoughts on how to accomplish this? I was considering going to metal studs? I don't want to increase joist width if possible but if I can do that safely would consider it.

    I've attached some pictures for reference; primarily of the house and anywhere I could see how it was constructed. There is an example of the joists and of the fiberglass deck connection. I have a bunch of the engine room as well if anyone is interested.

    Any input is appreciated!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    I think the main concern is the stability of the boat with a bunch of people on the top deck. Assume the worst case scenario of everyone going to one side and see what would happen. In general you can use 6 square feet per person for enough elbow room. However, you may fit more if it gets really crowded.
     
  3. kapnD
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Location: hawaii, usa

    kapnD Senior Member

    The framing details are confusing, why would the floor joists be grouped together in threes instead of evenly spaced?
    Then the supporting beam is less robust than the joists it supports?
    That exposed exhaust riser must make a wonderful wintertime engine room heater, but what about summertime?
    The gauge panel needs to be located in the pilothouse where it can be monitored.
    Your lists of modifications and desires is very exten$sive, you might be well advised just to build new, and do it right, as in start with a structural metal skeleton to support the upper decks, then frame in light walls.
    Id check to see if it’s insurable before even thinking about an offer...
     
  4. Wheeler
    Joined: Mar 2020
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    Location: Texas

    Wheeler New Member

    Great point.
    The beams are also grouped 2x4's. The idea I think was to keep the height down, so there are no 2x10's used.

    There are gauges on the bridge, and I agree it would get hot in the engine room but I don't think you'd be there much when steaming. And she'd be tied up on shore power a lot of the time.

    I've thought about tearing down the entire structure and building from scratch. Or take it back to stud and add some additional structural steel. The issue is there isn't a lot of experience with building these out there, which is why I'm here asking questions.
     
  5. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

  6. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Coastal Georgia

    SamSam Senior Member

    I suppose you know of this club, American Sternwheel Association http://www.americansternwheel.org/index.php . $20 to join for a few publications per year, you'd gain a wealth of knowledge by attending a regatta and talking to people.

    You don't show any photos of the layout or construction of the second deck, if you were to load up the roof, you'd want some roof support and lateral support to keep that structure from racking and collapsing.

    Stability would be a big question, having a big dynamic load up that high would be a wonder. You might want to go here to ask about stability Stability https://www.boatdesign.net/forums/stability/ . Having the whole pilot house on that deck would look bad to me, kind of like a backyard shed for the mower and stuff tacked on the top deck.

    This guy used to have a whole site on building a sternwheeler http://gemort.wirefire.com/contents.htm but it seems if people don't keep paying server fees, information disappears quickly, it's not permanent like a book, so I don't think you'll find anything there. The ASA site posted above has a few of his articles, they might have all of them if you become a member. This was one of them about the logistics of owning such a large boat... http://www.americansternwheel.org/Boats/articles/owning_paddlewheel.pdf
     
  7. Wheeler
    Joined: Mar 2020
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    Location: Texas

    Wheeler New Member

    Appreciate that. I have actually joined the ASA recently and am working my way through the backlog of bi-monthly newsletter going back to the 70's!

    I've attached a picture of a triple-decker to give an idea of how it would look.

    I don't have any pics of the second deck construction, as it was all buttoned up. I would definitely shore everything up; just looking for some input here as to how to go about it and things to consider.

    Regarding stability, the wheelhouse would only be elevated about 4 feet. The greater concern would be variable load on the top deck running back and forth. I need to get some further dimensional details then will run the numbers. I'm a Master Mariner so am well versed in stability calculations.

    2951_0.jpg
     
    BlueBell likes this.
  8. BlueBell
    Joined: May 2017
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    Location: Victoria BC Canada

    BlueBell Ahhhhh...

    PRINCESS MARY is it?
    I like it.
    Welcome aboard.
     
  9. Wheeler
    Joined: Mar 2020
    Posts: 4
    Likes: 1, Points: 3
    Location: Texas

    Wheeler New Member

    Thanks! That's the Princess Margy, but is just an example. The boat I'm looking at is the Pelican, pictured in the top post. As I'd be taking it back to stud (or further) I'm looking at potentially raising the wheelhouse all the way up to the third level.
     
  10. BlueBell
    Joined: May 2017
    Posts: 1,018
    Likes: 147, Points: 63
    Location: Victoria BC Canada

    BlueBell Ahhhhh...

    Well Capt, you know the potential stability considerations there.
    A Naval Architect would be the way to go in my book.
    Great concept, you Lone Star Stater you!
     

  11. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Coastal Georgia

    SamSam Senior Member

    I guess it wouldn't be that much more structure added on and up. People could be limited how far they get out to the side by railings, but that would be a large part of the added weight, just dynamic people weight that you can limit and/or whip into position. The third deck lounging around and view would be something I would want. It helps to get into a breeze and out of the bugs a little bit too. I built a two story house in Wisconsin Coulee Country awhile ago, the bedrooms I put on the first floor somewhat for easy fire escape, (it was a dicey escape when the other house burned to the foundation) but mainly put the living room and kitchen and deck on the second story as the 9 foot added height increased the already enjoyable view about 1000%.

    Assuming the hull is good enough, corroding from inside out and individual pits being the things to be aware of, it seems like a good project. I hope it goes through and you keep a thread going on it, sternwheelers have been my favorite dream for decades.
     
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