Plastic Barrel Houseboat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by WDKinley, Jul 17, 2018.

  1. WDKinley
    Joined: Jul 2018
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    Location: MB, Canada

    WDKinley Junior Member

    It's really interesting you mention that... I hadn't seen that design in my life until I was watching some youtube videos of tiny houses at lunch. This one that matches your description is in the PNW and is absolutely stunning. Video is here:

    I have a ton of respect for that build... but it's probably more involved than I'm capable of pulling off.
     
  2. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Re your proposal to use plastic barrels, have a look at this site - https://rollingbarge.com/

    OK, they mainly build docks and pontoons, but they also build party boat kits
    Party Barge Kits - RollingBarge.com http://198.154.241.73/gen/party-barge-kits/

    And houseboat platforms
    Floating Home Platforms - RollingBarge.com http://198.154.241.73/gen/floating-home-platforms/

    Ideally you could even make it catamaran shaped, for less resistance.
    Stability would be improved as well, as buoyancy along the centre line of the vessel will reduce your stability if it is a monohull.
     
  3. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    SamSam Senior Member

    In Minnesota plastic barrels were widely used for boathouse floats and walkways. A common thing was to have tire valve stems inserted to reinflate them when they lost air.
    Why they would lose air, I don't know, one reason I suspected was the extremes of temperatures. Hot and cold from the seasons, day from night, sun and shade would pressurize and depressurize them and eventually some would start to collapse.
    I think sometimes the caps would act like one way valves, where high pressures would be matched with low vacuums, so air would be pushed out by heat but the vacuums created by cold weren't enough to suck it back in.
    Taking the caps out and caulking the threads and then screwing them back in would seal leaks as good as could be expected. Affixing the barrels so neither cap was in the water would be best, as sometimes they would fill with water.
    How you would lift any large barrel floated thing in and out of the water presents a problem as it seems lifting straps would crush the barrels when lifting out or possibly pop/explode them. I guess some boards placed in the right areas when lifting might distribute the load.
    Most of these barrel floated things would be left in the water year round. Theoretically, as in it's a guess, if they are under half immersed they get pushed up by the ice and sit on top, if they are immersed more than half it leaves the possibility of being trapped and crushed.
     
  4. SamSam
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    Location: Coastal Georgia

    SamSam Senior Member

    That's a very good site, he tells you all you need to know to build a lot of things.
     
  5. Rurudyne
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    Location: North Texas

    Rurudyne Senior Member

  6. WDKinley
    Joined: Jul 2018
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    Location: MB, Canada

    WDKinley Junior Member

    Hello all,

    This weekend I will start the journey on the houseboat build.
    Specs I've finalized:
    22' long x 12' wide deck
    12' long x 10' wide by 10' high house portion.
    Weight:
    3100lb deck
    3000lb furnished house
    675lb of barrels
    700 lb of upper decks
    7475lb total weight 3390 kg
    12000 lb of lift
    roughly 63% of capacity.
    the calculator below, however says it's just over half of the displacement of the water in the barrels.
    The upper decks and loft are 6 feet above the main deck. (trying to keep the weight as low as possible)
    The center of gravity may seem high... however the weight above 6 feet will be relatively small. Which I feel
    on a 12 foot wide deck should be okay. The weight above the 6 foot mark should be less than 500lb. (150 lb
    metal roof and some basic framing). If I have stability issues... retrofitting more barrels isn't too big of a deal.
    Keep in mind that this is a project mainly for me to sleep in close to shore (3 feet of water), not designed to
    handle much for waves.

    Please wish me luck!



    Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 9.47.15 PM.png






    Screen Shot 2018-09-09 at 10.16.54 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2018-09-09 at 10.16.59 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 9.34.51 PM.png
     
  7. JSL
    Joined: Nov 2012
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    JSL Senior Member

    Good luck... we are praying for you.
    Dealing with weight, don't forget added weight like 'people', outfit, supplies, etc..
    My favorite was a launching day when all the guests went topsides to view all the amenities... the boat 'fell over'... almost capsized until many guests fell overboard... & got 'launched'.
     
  8. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    A few thoughts.
    If you have 48 barrels as per the dimensions posted, I calculate that at half immersion of these barrels you will have a buoyancy of 3,864 kg or approx 8,500 lbs.
    You mention a calculated weight of 3,390 kg - but this does not appear to include the weight of all the 'outfit' that JSL refers to above.
    You really do not want to go beyond half immersion of the barrels in the maximum loaded condition, and it would be prudent to make your maximum immersion more like 35 or 40% rather than 50%.
    Even at 50% immersion, that only gives you 474 kg / 1,043 lbs for all the 'extras' - which is not a lot really.

    In your drawings above you appear to effectively have a 'trimaran' type of hull form, albeit with only approx 1' of separation between the 'hulls'.
    Buoyancy on the centreline will work against you when you look at stability, hence it might be better to make it more of a 'catamaran' shape, with 2 'hulls' each 3 barrels wide, rather than 3 'hulls', each 2 barrels wide.

    Is it possible to make the deck wider, eg 14' rather than 12'? This would dramatically increase your stability, and also give you some extra space to add additional buoyancy barrels later if needed.
    OK, these extra barrels would be added along the centreline (if you want it to be symmetrical) but if you need extra buoyancy this would be more important than the slight decrease in stability.
     
  9. Bullshipper
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: Mexico

    Bullshipper Bullshipper

    How to you prevent reflected sunlight and UV's from affecting your plastic?

    The deck will have to be very rigid and heavy over this amount of area, won't it.

    Are you accounting for the weight of sewage between pump outs?
     
  10. WDKinley
    Joined: Jul 2018
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    Location: MB, Canada

    WDKinley Junior Member

    thank you for the kind words. the haul/launch is what i'm most concerned about.

    with respect to supplies / people ... It's definitely something I've thought about. If I am at 50% capacity without people/stuff and I add 1400 lb of people/stuff at any given time... that puts me at 60% capacity which would be a maximum and I'm quite positive I'd be ok at that number. As long as that stayed as a maximum.
     
  11. WDKinley
    Joined: Jul 2018
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    Location: MB, Canada

    WDKinley Junior Member

    Thanks for taking the time to type out all that! With respect to the % of immersion this has been a long ongoing discussion with some friends I've made along the way who have built plenty of docks with barrels. Apparently in practicality, somewhere between 50-66% capacity is optimal for having a safe amount of buoyancy and enough weight to keep it stable. The barrel docks aren't stable if they lack the weight to properly sink the barrels. That's one thing that's been weighing in the back of my mind. 66% capacity would leave me with 2000 lb for people / stuff which I feel would be rare for us to hit. Having 500 lb of stuff and 10 people would be incredibly rare.

    With respect to the trimaran... I need to make the unit trailerable to remove for the winter ... the trimaran made the most sense to be able to support the boat on the trailer. In fact... I wish that I could make the trailer supports wider... thus I've made the compromise with the extra buoyancy on the center line.

    The reason I picked 12 feet wide is because that's still relatively easy to haul on a trailer. I need a wide load permit and over dimension flags... but I don't need to have pilot trucks and some other legislated requirements. Wider is obviously better. I've researched the massive houseboats from lake powell in the usa and the shuswaps here in canada. Lots of them are 60-70 long and 15 feet wide. I'll be 1/3 of the length and 80% of the width... which seems like the ratio I have should work well. Friends have indicated that 8 feet wide is tippy, 10 good, and 12 feet wide becomes pretty stable in the water. If I need to somehow add a catamaran it can be retrofitted to increase stability.
     
  12. WDKinley
    Joined: Jul 2018
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    Location: MB, Canada

    WDKinley Junior Member

    That UV question is a great one. I have a friend who made a boat lift out of blue 55 gallon drums and they just started leaking after 20 years of use. Realistically... anything over 10 years worth of usage with this houseboat will be a bonus.

    The deck will have to be very rigid. The North/South stringers will have to be 20" wide to accommodate the barrels. One individual who I spoke with said his 55 gallon drums pushed up too hard on his 1"x5.5" deck boards on 25" wide spacing and he had to get seat belt material to strap them down so they didn't warp his decking boards. My drums have just over 1/2 the upwards buoyancy. And my decking will be 1.5" thick x 5.5" on 20" spacing. The decking will be screwed and glued together. With the barrels providing a virtually even push up on the entire barge and the thicker decking... I think that it's going to be solid.

    Weight of sewage between pumpouts should be relatively minor. I'm going to put a 5.3 gallon camping toilet on it which won't add more than 70 lb at any given time.
     
  13. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    WDK, you mentioned "The barrel docks aren't stable if they lack the weight to properly sink the barrels"

    However if you have the buoyancy as far outboard as possible, and don't have any buoyancy on the centreline, then it will be a bit like a catamaran, and more stable.
    Regarding carrying the raft on a trailer, would it still be possible if you have two hulls, each 3 barrels wide (with 2' between the hulls) rather than three hulls each 2 barrels wide (as shown in your sketches above?)
    This would increase your stability a fair bit.

    My concern about going past the halfway mark in relation to buoyancy is that as the draft of a barrel increases, the increase of buoyancy for each extra inch of immersion is decreasing rapidly.
    If you have your raft at 66% immersion of the barrels, including say 10 people on board, and all 10 people move to one side, then you will probably have a very noticeable amount of heel, because you then have very little reserve buoyancy to compensate for this movement of 'cargo'.
     
  14. BlueBell
    Joined: May 2017
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    Location: Victoria BC Canada

    BlueBell Ahhhhh...

    These statements are most concerning.
    Docks and houseboats are very different craft.
    DO NOT EXCEED 40% LOADING ON A HOUSE BOAT BUILT ON BARRELS.
    In fact, for anyone other than a Naval Architect, don't exceed 1/3 loading when it comes to barrels.
    There is wind loading to consider, snow, even rain can add enough to roll over a houseboat.
    Then there are all the weights you've overlooked.
    They are miniscule in concept (like toilet paper) but when you add them all up...
     

  15. JSL
    Joined: Nov 2012
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    Location: Delta BC

    JSL Senior Member

    Bluebell is right

    plus
    Check:
    (a) the center of weight location(s) so you don't have heel, trim, etc. Your 'house' is at one end so you may need extra floatation.
    (b) the structure for 'bending' loads
    (c) I assume this is a "float home" and not a houseboat (which could be propelled). If the latter, you need to comply with applicable regulations
    (d) Any legal or bylaw requirements.
     
    BlueBell likes this.
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