PVC Pipe Canoe

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by camping nut, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. camping nut
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    camping nut Junior Member

    Hey guys,
    I'm new here so first let me say howdy.

    I have been camping with my family for years now and have had several successful projects using PVC pipe. In the groups where I camp, some of my friends are now looking to see what I have built from PVC pipe this time. So now I want to make a canoe from PVC pipe. I dont have a definite plan to follow, but I am thinking about using PVC pipe to construct a frame, and cover it with a tarp to make it watertight. It seems doable, but I have yet to see anything where it may have been tried before. Has anyone out there tried anything like this before?
    How did it work out?
     
  2. Brent Swain
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    Brent Swain Member

    I've often thought those 45 gallon plastic drums could be made into an outrigger canoe. It can be heated molded and welded . Two rolled flat and joined side to side would give enough length for a canoe, altho it would be narrow, with only 30 inches of material for the cross section. Could be done tho. PVC pipe would have too heavy a thickness in the size you would need for a canoe, unles you can find very thin material. Black would make it UV resistant
     
  3. camping nut
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    camping nut Junior Member

    reply

    My thoughts are to use thin wall 3/4" PVC to build a skeleton frame and wrap it with a tarp, or plastic sheet for the outer skin. I think I saw something similar on YOU TUBE, but it wasn't a canoe, and it looked rather rickety. I think I can do better, but I don't necessarily want to re invent the wheel. I generally camp in a pop-up. and we already store our bikes on top of the camper when we travel to our campsite so there is very limited storage space. I need the boat to be collapsible.
     
  4. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    If you plan to make a skin boat and you don't like working in wood, you would do a lot better using aluminum tubing instead of PVC. Get a pipe bender. cable ties are good for lashings, get the tool for pulling them ties tight and trimming them neatly. There's a good double sided tape for polytarp. I've heard Tyvek is good for sails and it might be OK for skin. However you'll find the Ally frame looks so good you may want to spend a bit more on the skin.
     
  5. BHOFM
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    BHOFM Senior Member

    I have built some odds and ends with PVC pipe and found
    the PCV conduit is more flexible and less likely to crack!

    There are not as many fittings for it, but you can get some
    nice 90` bends that can be cut to get lesser angles!

    You can also fill it with foam and stiffen it a little!

    Regular PVC fittings may work with it, never tried! I think
    it has a better UV rating as well! Do not depend on the
    glue, a poprivet in each joint is a must!

    It is gray and doesn't look so much like PVC pipe!
     
  6. camping nut
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    camping nut Junior Member

    reply

    Thanks thats good stuff. I cant wait to see other comments
     
  7. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    PVC of any sort is a lot more expensive and more prone to cracking than that miracle product called ...... wood!

    The problem with using PVC pipe for a canvas canoe is that the joins make 'bumps' under the tarp if you use the moulded fastenings, or fall apart if you dont. Also, when you pull the canvas tight, the pvc will bow inwards and make like ugly.

    Whack a piece of PVC pipe against concrete and watch it shatter. That could be your canoe on a rock in the middle of a fast flowing river.

    On the plus side - a space frame of PVC pipe will take fibreglass cloth and resin wonderfully, and that would provide plenty of stiffness and strength and hide the join bumps.

    If you compare the expense and effort of using wood though, it not a match in my mind.
     
  8. camping nut
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    camping nut Junior Member

    Ok, I see your point.

    The reason I want to use PVC is so I can dis assemble and pack up the boat for compact travel. I was thinking that the skin would pull tight , and keep some of the pipes in their fittings while others are glued in place. And when the skin is removed the frame could be easily dis assembled. You suggest that the fittings may not be desirable. How would you accomplish the need to collapse the boat for travel if the frame is made of wood? I am new to this.

    Alkso What would be best to use for the skin? I was thinking of using a tarp.
     
  9. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Thats a very reasonable aim. When I was younger, (so much younger than today) a mate of mine had a German made FolBoat. - a 16ft canvas two man canoe.

    The skin was shaped and sewn together like a big sock 16 feet long.

    The bottom of the boat was made of of several square sections of wood with hinges, and these could fold up like a foldable ladder to back-pack size. They could be inserted into the sock, straightened out, then locked solid

    The frames (about 4 or 5 of them) had half circles cut in them around the edges.

    The 'stringers' were quality wooden dowels nearly 3/4" in diameter and about 8 ft long, that were joined with brass pipe. To stop the 'bulges' at the joins, the brass pipe sections (about 8" long) were the same diameter as the dowels, and where the dowels fitted inside the brass pipe, the wood had been trimmed thinner to let the dowels slide on. After the 'floor' was inserted, the dowels were pushed into the sock, and joined. The the frames were inserted and locked into place to hold the dowels in position.

    Nowadays, there are a number of commercial systems that follow the similar type of principle, and a lot of them have been discussed in this forum. Worth a search. I would guess there are even plans available somewhere.

    The earlier suggestion of using aluminium may also suit your purposes, if you used hollow tubes with some kind of 'joiner'.

    Light 'tarp' made of cotton (canvas) will work wonderfully. There are some more exotic materials available, but cotton tarps can be waterproofed with a wide range of stuff, and is easily repaired.

    Once again, there have been a lot of discussions on this subject in the forums.

    It was such a hassle pulling the thing apart, that he never folded it up. My canoe was a 'normal' canvas canoe, and didnt fold up.They were both so light you could carry them on a car very easily anyway.
     
  10. alexlebrit
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    alexlebrit Senior Member

    Have a look here http://www.yostwerks.com/MainMenu.html you might find some inspiration. While these are all made from aluminium I don't see why PVC couldn't be used, or perhaps ABS pipe would be better as it is less brittle.

    I think there's also one on Instructables, but it does weird things to my browser so I won't go look.
     
  11. foxfish
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    foxfish Junior Member

    I think PVC sinks! The softer plastic pipe available from DIY stores is far lighter & more flexible, the "no glue" sort of pipe used to plumb a kitchen sink.
    I once made a model sailboat out of drinking straws!! I have often considered making a small boat from plastic pipe & epoxy cloth over the whole thing in & out?
     
  12. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    That yostwerks site is just the thing. All wood and auluminium folding kyaks with plans etc.
    Like I said earlier, fibreglass over PVC would be perfectly satisfactory, and you dont need epoxy. Ordinary polyester resin sticks really well. It would be a fair bit of work getting the cloth to wrap tightly around the tube, and make sure all joins are strong and smooth. I find it helps to use peel ply to wrap around wet fibreglass on tight curves. You can smooth it by hand without getting the stuff all over you, and you could even use tape to hold it down. darn lot of work when other materials are a lot less work.

    For goodness sake dont get yourself in a situation where you are relying on small diameter PVC with your life. The larger PVC pipes like under sinks might work better, but they are very bulky and would be hard to bend into decent shapes.
     
  13. foxfish
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    foxfish Junior Member

    Hmm - well as I said PVC sinks & is heavy, 18mm plastic overflow pipe is flexible & light. Once the shape has been achieved you could fill & seal the construction with polyurethane spray foam, this can then be sanded or cut with a knife to blend the shape together. However polyester resin will affect the plastic so epoxy would have to be used.
    PVC however is available in many diameters & can easily be solvent welded, polyester will bond to PVC & I feel this might be a better material for larger projects but for a small yak I think lightweight plastic pipe of either 3/4'' or 1-1/4" would be more suitable?
    Interesting project either way.
     
  14. camping nut
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    camping nut Junior Member

    I am totally inspired by the yostwerks site. I now have a plan thanks to all you guys for the great input. I am still interested in fresh ideas about this, and I plan to post progress and pictures as I build it. I have a camping trip in a few short weeks, at which time I hope to have a maiden voyage. Funny how time and money never seem to be available at the same time. We'll see what happens.
     

  15. alexlebrit
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    alexlebrit Senior Member

    PVC Pipe sinks? Are you sure you don't mean it's found under sinks? I've just tried a bit and it's floating nicely in my sink. Maybe it depends on the pipe?
     
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