Pontoon for houseboat using ibc water tanks

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Student_4_life, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. Student_4_life
    Joined: Apr 2018
    Posts: 3
    Likes: 0, Points: 1
    Location: Berlin

    Student_4_life New Member

    Hi guys!

    I've seen a lot of discussion around using 55 Gallon plastic tanks but I've not yet encountered anyone talking about using 1000ltr IBC tanks. Wiki of what is a IBC

    I've been thinking of using 8 of them (probably filled with a mix of plastic bottles and expandable foam) in building a pontoon for a small boathouse (for lake and very little navigation).

    I'm just not sure their shape is well suited nor how well they would endure the weight. Any thoughts?

    Also could I get away using a garden house for a houseboat?

    :-D life in a Budget...
  2. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 5,977
    Likes: 366, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1749
    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    Yes, you could use them for that.

    It would be a mistake to try to fill them with expanding foam. As well as the extra weight, the cost would make the exercise not worth it.

    Putting capped plastic bottles inside would give you a bit of a safety margin in case of leaks, but they are pretty tough already.

    I would be inclined to use enough of the containers to support the structure even if one sprung a leak, then you could just replace it.

    The best approach would be a welded steel frame that held them all together, and made replacement tanks easy to replace.
  3. exp30002

    exp30002 Previous Member

    Seems to be a good idea at this time. The garden house sounds interesting too.
    On a lake it might work. How much wind is there? Good luck!
  4. Zilver
    Joined: Nov 2007
    Posts: 87
    Likes: 13, Points: 8, Legacy Rep: 14
    Location: Amterdam the Netherlands

    Zilver Junior Member

    The steel frame from the container is used to give the polyethylene canister its strength. I wouldn't be sure the plastic tank will not colapse if the pressure comes from outside instead if inside. But being industry standard they might be so tough that they can stand this kind of "mis-use".
    The box shape seems to be a big plus for constructing. The containers are a bit big though.
    And they are very cheap ! - just looked on the internet. Here in Holland 45 euro's for the 1000 liter version.

    Regards, Hans
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
  5. Student_4_life
    Joined: Apr 2018
    Posts: 3
    Likes: 0, Points: 1
    Location: Berlin

    Student_4_life New Member

    And as for the frame, any suggestions on how to go about building one "cheapishely" (not looking for a 30year lifetime)?

  6. Heimfried
    Joined: Apr 2015
    Posts: 504
    Likes: 117, Points: 43, Legacy Rep: 37
    Location: Berlin, Germany

    Heimfried Senior Member

    Besides from technical questions: did you check, if different authorities would approve the intended use of the lakes (or other waters)?
  7. kapnD
    Joined: Jan 2003
    Posts: 1,117
    Likes: 279, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 40
    Location: hawaii, usa

    kapnD Senior Member

    Most of these totes are sold filled with their particular fluid, without a deposit required, as they are intended only for single use, and built accordingly, like a cheapo pallet for liquid, so might not last long, even in fresh water.
    The frames are usually topless, so they’d need to be used upside down or to be framed over the top too, and at least lightly pressurized to keep them from deforming within their frames.
    Depending on what the original content was, they need to be cleaned well, you wouldn’t want to pollute the lake if one springs a leak.
    I would choose the drums, no contest.
    Hydrodynamics? Ouch!
  8. IronPrice
    Joined: Jul 2017
    Posts: 155
    Likes: 7, Points: 18
    Location: NZ

    IronPrice Senior Member

    IBC's are usually shipped within a protective crate/cage. Most are painted steel or galvanized. If local regulations permit I would strip back the paint/galv and have the cages freshly galvanized.

    If you weren't on budget I would recommend making purpose built frames out of 316 stainless steel

    I'm not sure how you would connect the frames together. Do you need to connect them together?

    I would make stiff deck for the house to sit on (research a structure called a torsion box). Then I would attach IBC frames underneath the deck around the outside. If an IBC needs to be replaced, you can slide it out sideways.

    This would leave the center of the structure without flotation, but if your deck is stiff enough that won't be an issue. Better IMO to design for the center to be un-floated. If you rely on central and a center IBC fails it will be difficult to remove.
  9. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 494, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Though you'll lots of "success" stories online about what some melon farmer did in Kansas, for his floating party barge, in the vast majority of cases, there's just no "cheap" way to make a boat, hull, pontoon, etc. The real cheap way to get this sort of thing done is to find used pontoons, or a pontoon boat, about the size you want and work with this. It's a lot cheaper, in the over all cost of a project, than to build from scratch, particularly if employing less than standard engineering approaches. For example, if you start with a worn out pontoon boat, it already has a HIN and likely a state registration too, eliminating these issues, so you can build, within reason, whatever looks like the harbor patrol will not pull you over for. The harbor patrol will pull anything that looks odd or cobbled together over and run the routine check for PFD's, etc. and you can bet they'll find something. On the other hand if it looks like a modified pontoon boat, maybe with a house, enclosure, etc., they'll still pull up to you, but if your registration is current, they'll likely just drive past.

    Simply put, it's well understood that a reasonable rehab of an existing pontoon, is way cheaper to do then a new build. You see the cost and assembly of the pontoons, is just a fraction of the build costs. Your money will be in the structure, engine(s), controls, steering, electrics, plumbing, etc., so even free 'toons, doesn't save much.
  10. Student_4_life
    Joined: Apr 2018
    Posts: 3
    Likes: 0, Points: 1
    Location: Berlin

    Student_4_life New Member

    Thanks for that, it was also what I understood from reading through the various threads. That said we're not subject to the same scrutiny here in Berlin, Germany and it seems as houseboats operate on a grey zone, making the entire "budget" approach more feasible.

    That said I'm looking at all options and weighing the pros and cons.

  11. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 494, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Even with no regulations, the 'toons portion of a new build, will be a minor cost consideration, in the big picture.
  12. exp30002

    exp30002 Previous Member

    The climate in Berlin, Germany is a bit cold during winters.
    For all year use, heating might be required. The boat might freeze in during
    winter and thaw out at spring.
    What about the gray area? If you want to write about that, I will read it.

  13. chinaseapirate

    chinaseapirate Previous Member

    IBC tanks WILL collapse under waterpressure, not terribly if filled with plastic bottles(with caps). Go with plastic bottles inside and pressurize the container to 3 PSI, fill them with water to start with, or a combination (some with air some with water). Paint them black (Uv deterioration). If you want really cheap/more durable - cut the top and bottom of the HDPE plastic off, fill the mold (grease first flour maybe) with plastic bottles while pouring about 400 liters of aircrete foam in with them. You will lose about 200 liters (or less- experiment with lowest density mix) buoyancy at a cost of 4 sacks (or less) of cement, but it will be permanent. 400 liter of X-40 foam would cost $200 but you would have to do multiple pours, plain cement and the right air bubbles might get that down to $20 / each - two sacks...can't say for sure. If you include the container, even 1 1/2 sack 15lbs/ft3 has bean done. The aircerte has to cure for at least a month at real low density but you can take it out of the mold in a week.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.