Raft out of Swimming Noodles?

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by phxlax07, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. phxlax07
    Joined: Sep 2008
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    phxlax07 New Member

    Is it possible to get enough flotation out of a bunch of water noodles that kids swim with in order to support a 400 pound raft? Probably a dumb question, but it's better than PVC probably.
  2. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    I don't know but maybe cost is the biggest consideration. You've got to measure the internal volume of every type of flotatiion and rate the material at lbs of flotation per dollar. Also figure in longevity, ease of construction, etc..
    Usually, the larger something is, the cheaper per pound of flotation. That would mean those toy snakes would drive you into bankruptcy. Try schedule 80 PVC (air only inside) with end caps.

  3. Jimbo1490
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    Jimbo1490 Senior Member

    Is this for one of those joke build competitions like the Coconut Grove Bed Race, or a sort of "Mythbusters" type of enterprise as when the boys floated a sunken vessel using ping-pong balls?

  4. phxlax07
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    phxlax07 New Member

    This is for two bored guys that desperately want to raft down a river, and are on a tight budget. We're considering ANY idea that we can find, and any material that could be found in Lowe's.
  5. BHOFM
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    BHOFM Senior Member

  6. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    The ultimate free raft materials are old patched inner tubes. Robust, *free*, flexible, lightweight and comfortable to sit on.

    PVC will shatter on the first rock you hit at 3 knots - inner tubes will just bounce .
  7. BHOFM
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    BHOFM Senior Member

    You can tie them together and make a decent raft and
    it will float with a flat!

  8. kengrome
    Joined: Jul 2006
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    kengrome Senior Member

    Probably the cheapest NEW flotation material to build a raft out of is EPS -- expanded polystyrene -- or 'styrofoam' as it is so affectionately referred to in the USA. You can get a huge 4x4x8 foot block of it (called a billet) from a local styrofoam manufacturer relatively cheaply.

    EPS comes in different densities and the lightest is also the cheapest -- and also the weakest in terms of strength -- but it floats very well and a single billet of the stuff will give you enough for an 8 foot by 16 foot raft that's a full 12 inches thick.

    You'll need to put a top on it of course, which probably means 4 sheets of plywood plus a bunch of 2x4's for a framework ... and it wouldn't hurt to wrap the foam in a fishing net that's attached to the platform too, so it doesn't disconnect from the platform and float away on you as the raft flexes.

    EPS is a lot cheaper than the 'pool noodles' you're talking about which are made of expandable polyethylene, so if you're at all serious about building a 'raft' instead of a proper boat maybe you should check into suppliers other than Lowe's. But if it were me, I would opt for a real boat. You can probably build a barge-type boat cheaper than a raft, and you might actually be able to control its direction better.

    You could easily build this plywood dory / sampan type boat using only one sheet of 3/8 inch and two sheets of 1/4 inch exterior plywood for the hull panels. It uses a full sheet of plywood for its bottom which gives you an idea how large it is. With only two people aboard the water will not reach the 3 inch waterline and it takes a full 1100 and 1800 pounds to push it down to the 6 and 9 inch waterlines respectively.

    A raft/boat like this should cost very little yet give you some real seaworthiness for contending with the big wakes tugs and other large powerboats might make. Then again if your dream is to walk around on a big deck as you float down the river, maybe you'd be better off cutting down a few trees and lashing them together instead.

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