River Roller! Pontoon Boat that Rolls Across the Water!

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Matthew Lee Towne, May 10, 2017.

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Do you think the River Roller will work?

  1. Yes

    1 vote(s)
    3.7%
  2. No

    24 vote(s)
    88.9%
  3. Maybe

    2 vote(s)
    7.4%
  1. Matthew Lee Towne
    Joined: May 2017
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    Matthew Lee Towne Senior Member

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    THE RIVER ROLLER

    PATENT PENDING
    The River Roller rocks and it rolls! The goal of this concept is to create a boat propulsion system that will effectively regenerate energy. The potential is much more.

    The River Roller is a solar charged, electrically driven, transversely mounted pontoon/paddlewheel boat. The River Roller replaces a hull with transversely mounted paddlewheel pontoons. Lets call them trantoons for short. The trantoons are the hull, steering and water traction for the boat. The trantoons roll through the water allowing the boat to be quick, efficient and versatile.

    The River Roller will be:
    1. Quick AND Fast. Electric power is instantaneous. The trantoons will deliver all this power like no other water traction system. Quick. The high RPM potential of electric motors will allow high speeds. Fast.

    2. Stabile. The addition of an active suspension will add stability at high speeds and minimize wave effects. Ok, so technically, the River Roller won’t rock.

    3. Versatile. The ability to traverse any depth of water, snow, ice and rapids?

    4. Maneuverable. With skid steer traction it will turn in place.

    5. Quiet. Luxury, military, law enforcement and hunting applications are possible.

    6. Safer. Rolling across the water means less risk to life. The River Roller will harmlessly roll over whatever (or whoever) it encounters.

    7. Environmentally friendly. We all know electric vehicles are good for the environment. The River Roller may never need to be fueled. Solar and water current charging may be enough for many boaters.

    8. Easy on your electric bills. The solar bimini could provide power for your home. Lets face it, boats spend most of their time just sitting there. How about a hole in the water that money pours out of?

    9. A battery backup. The River Roller could be battery backup for your home.

    10. Unsinkable? No, but better than most. Just a few intact trantoons will keep it afloat.

    Ok, let's talk about the River Roller’s lack of potential:
    1. No boat cover. A retractable solar panel bimini would charge the batteries and cover the boat when not in use.

    2. No trailer. The addition of road tires and a tow bar will eliminate the need for a trailer.

    3. No ramp rage. You could drive it to and from your truck.

    4. No fueling necessary. Solar and water current charging capable. A river's current or ocean waves will charge the battery. A generator could be added to reduce range anxiety. The batteries could also be charged while towing.

    5. No dock, boatlift or boathouse necessary. You could simply drive it on shore and park it there.

    6. No Wake. The wake will be less than many boats. The River Roller pulls itself across the water instead of pushing through it.

    Hopefully, by this point, you see the potential. Even if all the River Rollers potential, or lack of potential, is not fully realized, the River Roller represents a step forward in boating.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2017
    sharpii2 likes this.
  2. Matthew Lee Towne
    Joined: May 2017
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    Matthew Lee Towne Senior Member

    Hello All,
    The River Roller is my concept for an electric powered boat.

    Please let me know if you think it will work and why.

    I look forward your input and questions.

    Matthew Lee Towne
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Okay, I'll bite, what are the general specifications and dimensions to this, well rehash, that has been tried before and is patented, so I hope your research attorney is up to snuff.
     
  4. Dave T
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    Dave T Senior Member

    The only way to find out if this concept is at all practical would be to build at least a scale model and test it. You should do a lot of research to see if anything like this has been tried before. As far as having tires on the outside of the drum rollers and towing on the road without a trailer would be a real problem when going around curves and making sharp turns. I assume for steering you are reversing the drums on one side while the other side would rotate in the opposite direction as I don't see any other device for steering this would definitely need to be tested. Another problem would be picking up grass and weeds between the rollers and jamming them. A propeller driven by a gasoline or diesel engine is still the most practical and simplest way to move a boat.
     
  5. Tiny Turnip
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    Tiny Turnip Senior Member

  6. Matthew Lee Towne
    Joined: May 2017
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    Matthew Lee Towne Senior Member

    The dimensions are 9'x24' with 3.5' diameter trantoons. These dimensions are based on a total weight, with payload, of about 5000 pounds. I also put the paddles at 8 to 10 per trantoon and a 3" depth.

    If you have any examples of similar designs please let me know. Currently I am my own patent attorney. Though i have had it reviewed by an attorney. There have been similar designs but most have expired. Therefor my exact design and variations of it can be patented.



     
  7. Matthew Lee Towne
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    Matthew Lee Towne Senior Member

    Nice! Maybe i should call it the goat!

     
  8. Rurudyne
    Joined: Mar 2014
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    Rurudyne Senior Member

    Numerable years ago experiments with tandem paddlewheels showed that one of the limits of the arrangement was the lack of additional propulsion unless aft wheels were driven faster than fore wheels (or perchance larger floats subsequently used, I suppose).

    This is similar to tandem propellers when they are not contra-rotating or else set at more aggressive pitch from one to the next.

    That isn't to say this system wouldn't work but I suspect your performance on water to be only as good as the thrust your last wheel is producing and the main advantage of the fore wheels being powered would be in transitioning through the surf to ground as well as dealing with soft muck.

    In fact when dealing with shallows, manatees, or sea grass (some people apparently have no sense of humor when it comes to damaging sea grass) this system may come into its own provided your vanes on those wheels have some give to them.

    As an amphibian my one concern would be the suspension and how it would cope with rough ground. As far as ride quality on land goes goes you've potentially a lot of unsprung weight there.

    Because the lines of rollers are pretty close together side to side I'm wondering that skid steering may not work if all rollers are always under power. That could be solved with electric propulsion to all wheels by only driving some wheels and letting the rest fore and aft to free rotate.
     
  9. Matthew Lee Towne
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    Matthew Lee Towne Senior Member

    Your dead on. I figure an RC version is coming soon.

    I've done allot of research and there is nothing exactly like this. Very few that are even similar. Let me know if you've seen something.

    I plan on making the center wheel collapsible. Like a spare tire on a car. Deflate it for operation in water and inflate it when trailering. No turning problems.

    Yes skid steer maneuvering is the idea. This is really only for short trips on land.

    I believe weeds won't be much of an issue. The paddles when moving up will have another adjacent paddle moving down. Any thing that comes up should then come back down..

    Gas engines and propellers are tried and true. I think this concept also has the ability to be practical and simple. A gas motor has hundreds of moving parts. An electric motor has two. This will be belt driven. Belts sound allot simpler than a lower unit. Maybe this could be better than a gas engine and a prop?

     
  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I'm not sure what you do for a living, but you might want an engineer have a look first. I see dozens of issues, not the least Ackerman angles for over the road steering. Another obvious one would be the ability to transverse bumps, dips and irregularities in any roadway. As a water propulsions system it's one of the least efficient and you're absolutely kidding yourself about no wake, as those drums will make a massive wake and force the rear most sets, to drive in very turbulent flow. Lastly at 9' of beam, you'll need special over the road permitting, assuming you can even get a VIN for it, which is very difficult without an existing chassis.
     
  11. Matthew Lee Towne
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    Matthew Lee Towne Senior Member

     
  12. Matthew Lee Towne
    Joined: May 2017
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    Matthew Lee Towne Senior Member

    Thanx for the information. I was thinking that each trantoon would need to powered by its own motor. That should allow for varying speeds to maximize effectiveness. One thing thats key here is that there will be no hull to push. Everything that touches the water will be working to move it forward. That has to be worth something. I'm also considering varying diameters, as mentioned, for better efficiency at different speeds. I have also considered that the paddles might need to be offset from trantoon to trantoon for better efficacy.

    I expect that even if the rubber isn't soft enough that it would do less damage to a manatee if it should roll over one.

    As far as an amphibian goes, this is really a boat that would be able to travel short distances on land. It could drive itself onto the shore, a beach, or up and down a boat ramp as necessarry. While I don't think a suspension is necessary it will make it handle better on land and the water.

    Yes the skid steer should work well on everything except pavement. Pavement should be ok for short distances, like a boat ramp, when the wheels are wet.


     
  13. Matthew Lee Towne
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    Matthew Lee Towne Senior Member

    I have a background in engineering. I think though I can address most of your issues by the fact that this a boat first. It's only designed for short trips on land. Driving up onto a beach, the shore or a boat ramp. This is not intended to be a road vehicle.

    None the less I think the addition of a suspension, thought not necessary, could address mot of your issues with the surface.

    I believe this could be much more efficient than a regular boat. This boat has no hull to push through the water. Every part of the boat thats in the water is working to move it forward. You can't know that this system won't be efficient because it hasn't been done. My belief is it will be far superior to a prop pushing a hull through the water.

    I expect only about 10" of a 3.5 diameter pontoon to be submerged. Your probably right here. But if properly "Engineered" there is a chance this could produce less wake than a regular hull. Especially at high speeds as I expect it to just be skimming along the top of the water.

    The typical lane width for a road is 12'. Many trucks, and I'm guessing many boats have a width of 10'. I think were good here. BTW my background is civil engineering. I know the roads.


     
  14. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    I have five reasons why I don't think this is going to work.

    1.) Each roller is going to churn up water behind it, starting with the first. This is because some of the water is going to cling to the roller, even to the extent riding the full circle.
    a.) When this happens, if builds a mound of water behind it for the next roller to churn through.
    b.) When this happens, this following roller ends up pushing more the water down instead of back, even when it builds another mound for the next roller to churn through

    2.) The rollers have such small diameter that they will have to rotate fast for any decent speed. Assuming the rollers have a diameter of 2 ft, the very outer surface (presumably the very tips of paddle vanes) will travel just over 9.4 ft per revolution. Assuming a slip rate (speed of the vanes going aft - speed of the boat going forward) of say 25% , you end up with a boat speed of just about 7.o7 ft/sec, at 60 rpm. This will give you about 4.0 kts. If you want to go even 8 kts you are going to have to double the rotation speed. And each notch upward in speed will come at the cost of the vanes taking a considerable amount of air down with them, depriving them of that much bite on the water.

    3.) As paddle wheels, the rollers are too deeply immersed to be very efficient. They should probably be immersed up to no more than one third their diameter. To get a good clue of the truth of this statement, look at some pictures and films of paddle wheel boats and ships. You can probably see some film clips on Youtube(r). At such small immersion level, the rollers won't have enough displacement to support much boat.

    4.) this vessel will be ultra sensitive weight placement and trim. It will be at its greatest efficiency, which isn't saying a lot, when absolutely level. when out of trim, either fore and aft or athwart ships, large portions of the rollers will be too deeply immersed to move the water where you want it to go. But you will still pay the energy price of moving this water.

    5.)Since the rollers themselves provide the displacement to support this vessel, they ARE the hulls. You have five of them. And they are all going through the water sideways, so their diameters are this vessel's effective Waterline Length. At speeds greater than say 2.0 kts, they are going to kick up monstrous stern waves, which will only aggravate the mounding water problem mentioned above.

    The closest thing this scheme resembles is an idea Buckminister Fuller once had. That was to have paddle vanes arranged on a tank tread like belt, with the top of this belt being above the water. To work, the vanes had to be quite deep, which would negate this vessel ever traveling on land, supported by these belts. IIRC, that was never his plan anyway. He thought, for some reason, that this system would be more efficient than propellers. I don't recall him ever explaining why, or, even better, making a working model to prove his point. Like many geniuses, like our present day Elon Musk, Mr. Fuller was a bit, shall I say, full of himself. Once he came up with a few really great working inventions, he thought he was infallible. So ended up espousing great sounding ideas, such as Mr. Musk's supersonic "Super Loop" train, summing up an impressive list of presumed advantages, without first checking to see if these ideas were even feasible.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2017

  15. Matthew Lee Towne
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    Matthew Lee Towne Senior Member

    Great response. I knew I had the right place here. While I see your points, I hope you don't mind if I challenge a few of them.

    You commented about the churning of water. I agree that this will need to be addressed. I have a few ideas on how to adress these issues.
    1. Shrouding the paddleswheels should address your mound issue. Imagine a piece in between the trantoons that direct any spray or mound or water to align with the travel of the next trantoons paddles. I think this can be done. In addition I think that coordinating the paddles between fore and aft trantoons might also address this. You talk about the paddles pushing the water down. At slow speeds this will be an ineffeciency. The question is will it be less efficient than a prop pushing a hull through the water? Honestly neither you or I know which will be more efficient. Now at high speeds I think all of your concerns are naught. The downward force of the paddles will lift the boat up out of the water and allow the boat to skim across the water. This should allow for superior control and very high speeds. Once again I believe that this system will be more efficient than pushing a hull through the water.

    2. The proposed trantoon diameter is 3.5' which should support about 5000 pounds with a submerged depth of around 10". Lighter loads should be less than that. That's keeping the paddlewheels at their most efficient. Heavier loads could be accommodated but would seriously diminish efficiency. Just like any other boat, right? Ok so 3.5' diameter equates to 11' circumference. 60 mph equals 88 feet per second. So if traction were perfect it would be 480 rpm for 60 mph. I think the trantoons will easily be capable of a couple thousand RPM allowing for high speeds. I don't understand your comment on air. So long as the water is channeled well the paddles should bite well at most usable speeds. I believe that seperately powered trantoons, combined with appropriate software and controller can address the inefficiencies at different speeds. I don't have all these answers but I believe they can be addressed.

    3. You commented on the depth and efficiency. See number 2.

    4. You comment on this being sensitive to trim. Yes it will. The trim will be a function of the design. It shouldnt be a problem to make it sit in the water with whatever trim we want. Generally the payload will be a small portion of the overall weight and shouldnt affect the trim greatly. When the payload is high, efficiency will drop. Just like any other boat.

    In conclusion, you referred to Musks and geniuses. I am neither. This concept may be far from genius. None the less, I think it has realistic potential.



     
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