Perfect electrification project boat or too far gone?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by jakeeeef, May 8, 2023.

  1. jakeeeef
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    jakeeeef Senior Member

    On a recent walk in a shoreside location that's something of a flotsam/ litter trap (and one of my go to spots for recovery of nice lengths of hardwood!) I came across this very damaged but definitely still fixable grp hull.

    I've always had a hankering after doing the ultimate upcycling of an easily driven, pure displacement grp hull of about 14-15 feet into a really elegantly fitted out river launch for 4 ish people that has a solar panel covered solid canopy the same plan view shape as the boat, so the canopy lowers on scissor lift legs down to deck level and padlocks to the hull to form the boat's mooring cover plus secures the batteries (slightly) from theft. For the weeks it's moored, it charges, and charges, and charges, while also not filling with water so when it's needed the boat is all ready to go for a few hours of free, silent river cruising at 5 knots max. with protection from the English drizzle. And nice to row home if you run out of battery juice?

    I'd like to show how 'end of life' GRP hulls can be upcycled into really nice little boats if you pick the right hull for the right job.

    The aforementioned beachcombed hardwood means I can fit this out with nice inner and outer rubbing strakes, battery/ motor boxes, thwarts etc. In mahogany, teak etc. for zero wood costs, (although I imagine I'll get through a few hundred pounds worth of epoxy! Indeed, I have formerly beachcombed about a third of one side of a mahogany on oak 30 foot clinker motor launch, so my rubbing strakes are already bent to shape! If I run out of mahogany, the other two thirds of that wrecked boat are still on the beach.

    When I was visualising the hull I would seek to build this electric boat around, it was pretty much this. Right approximate size ( as big as I can launch and recover by hand once it's fitted out incl batteries), slight wineglass stern, streamlined moulded semi keel, (I'll be using shaft drive), close to plumb stem. I see potential here. I think this was once a pretty boat.

    Cheap Chinese electric motorscooter planned for battery pack, motor, controller.

    Bearing in mind, for the 'project backstory' I'd like to use a free boat, and this, as beach litter and nothing more than an eyesore and problem for the local city council, is certainly that, I think I'd struggle to better it as far as 'hulls I can get today for nothing' are concerned. Of course, ideally I'd find something without the transom kicked out of it, but there's enough transom left to recreate the shape. I'm ok with GRP/ composites work. And am confident I can create part moulds to bring the shape back to exactly what it was.

    It would look good in before and after pics too, as it actually looks far worse than it is with its rotten plywood strips for rubbing strakes, brush painted, back end kicked out of it, but I had a walk about on it and it's still got all its shape and just enough stiffness left to get it on a trailer without it folding in half. Probably. IMG_20230507_115720269_HDR.jpg

    It's also got rocker enough that unladen, all the damage is above the waterline so it's actually afloat and towable home, given a calm day and no stopping in deep water, and a highwayman's hitch on the towline in case things do go wrong!

    Complete waste of time, or worth thinking about?
    bajansailor likes this.
  2. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    If you tow it home fast enough, the (lack of a) transom will act as a huge self bailer. :)

    Is the hull shape still fair if you sight along it?
    Have you hammer sounded it? You might well find areas of delamination if it has been knocking around for a while there.
    Maybe the next stage would be to dig out all the rubbish in the bilge, and see what the condition of the bilge is like?
    BlueBell likes this.
  3. Zilver
    Joined: Nov 2007
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    Zilver Junior Member

    I think it's a nicely shaped hull.
    As for the solar canopy protecting you from the drizzle : It also blocks the sun when there finaly is some. Would you like to go sit in the shade on a nice sunny day in spring? Maybe the canopy is better for really hot climates?
    Good luck, I hope to see some pictures if you start this project, greetings, Hans
  4. jakeeeef
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    jakeeeef Senior Member

    It would live on a launching trolley in a boat pound. For short trips on sunny days I could make the solar panel canopy removable- leave it in the boat pound. The solar will have done its job during the weeks the boat was parked up.
  5. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Blueknarr Senior Member

    I like your concept.
    But that hull looks too far gone.

    12 feet seems a little small for 4 plus batteries.
    A second deck with solar overhead will significantly raise the CG. A narrow rowable hull may not be sufficiently stable.

    Good luck
  6. jakeeeef
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    jakeeeef Senior Member

    I've not measured it but it looks like about 14 feet
  7. jakeeeef
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    jakeeeef Senior Member

    Size wise, I want it to be hand launchable, which I think for me will be about 15ft max.

    Obviously battery weight is a concern, although placed low down will improve things concerning the high c of g solar roof!

    I'll be glassing in a short but suitably strong foredeck with a little electric windlass on it. So I will make those heavy batteries work their passage up that slipway! I went to look at the boat pound this morning and there's a handy set of concrete set steel railings at the top to rope onto. I should have clarified, there's no cars allowed in the boat pound, it's a dinghy/ tender storage location. Otherwise I'd just launch and recover with a road trailer.

    Once it's on the flat at the top of the slip, weight is of little concern as it's flat tarmac that I could happily push a 2 ton car about on. Just need to have a jockey wheel trolley.
  8. portacruise
    Joined: Jun 2009
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    portacruise Senior Member

    If there is a grid connection where you will be storing your boat, can you tether and sell back the extra solar power- after the batteries fill up? The whole project could pay for itself, and then some, eventually..
  9. Blueknarr
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    Blueknarr Senior Member

    Should have re-read your initial post before I responded.
    14/16 ft shoulddo well.
    And of course the batteries in the bilge will off set to high solar.

    I would still start from a less damaged craft.
  10. jakeeeef
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    jakeeeef Senior Member

    No grid connection there, which is part of the reason for solar.
    Another option is to build a wheeled trolley for the batteries and take them home for charging. (I have a 4800w solar array on the house). But I still like the idea of a canopy on the boat, even if I don't put panels on it.
    I've rethought the principle of having a solid canopy that clamshells down onto the hull for storage. I think I ll give the boat a half deck with a high coaming all round, say two inches high, with the canopy slightly bigger than the coaming and with a corresponding 2 inch depth. I think the similar shaped canopy and coaming mirroring one another would look quite attractive. I've just been watching a steamboat on TV that has this look.

    It would be easy to set up a set of zip in tent walls too, (with windows) for cruising in winter and perhaps a little overnighting in summer.

    Because the canopy would be slightly larger than the coaming below, a zip placed inside the canopy would enable simple vertical tent walls that would sit outside the coaming below.
  11. jakeeeef
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    jakeeeef Senior Member

  12. SolGato
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    SolGato Senior Member

    Everything you are proposing has been done both in DIY form and production, so the concept is well proven.

    Repurposing a used hull(s) for a project like this is a great way to allow one to focus more time and money on the rest of build, and if your goal is to truly showcase what can be built using a recycled boat hull with an environmental angle, then you would be wise to avoid using “cheap” electronic components (the #1 misstep I see) if you want the boat to be reliable and autonomous and long lasting without creating more waste in the process, and that often means buying quality components and taking extra steps to make sure all components are properly protected for a marine environment.

    Building and designing a project like this isn’t hard, the challenge is in making it long lasting, reliable, and fully autonomous.

    That said, one must also consider serviceability and redundancy as even the best designs and components will have their faults and failures.

    Go for it and good luck!
  13. seasquirt
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    seasquirt Senior Member

    Hi jakeeeef, It may pay to check out upstream or similar lost and found adverts, to see if someone has lost that boat and wants it back after you have repaired it. Does it have a HIN or any ID to chase up. I'm not sure about salvage rights but you should be, if the former owner wants it back, and can prove it was theirs. Make all your parts easy to unbolt and fit to another hull if a nicer one comes along. That one could be a good start; you won't be worried about drilling holes or re-designing it. It could even generate donated free parts from its battered looks and folks taking pity on it, since it looks like was a very nice hull, and could be again. Good luck with it, and show progress pics.
  14. alan craig
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    alan craig Senior Member

    Pretend you haven't seen that boat and buy a cheap GRP dinghy on ebay. I had a quick look and there was an Albacore and a Bosun very cheap, good shapes for electric conversion. Picture attached shows my solar boat, a third panel can be added in front of the other two. The boat is narrow and light and the panels mounted up high reduce stability noticeably.

    Attached Files:

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  15. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    actual fully intact similar sailboat hulls sans rigging are free all over the place where I live on Craigslist SF. You just got to be ready to go get them, fast, as they are normally posted when some event forces their instant removal to clear space.

    I'd look into using a EV or PHEV battery for semi-serious EV boat. Prius Prime batts weigh about 300lbs and are rated for 26 miles of range and sell for about $1500 on Ebay. But might be some tricky work setting up charging, as I assume they want lots of safety signals from full Toyota system or they will shutdown.
    SolGato likes this.
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