Small trailorable houseboat design help!

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by kycountry, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. kycountry
    Joined: Jan 2011
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    Location: Kentucky

    kycountry New Member

    Hello, I'm a newbie on the forums, but have been doing some research on boat building.. I have limited fiberglass/gel coat experience working on my own boat repairs. Also limited fiberglass parts building for a couple custom cars I worked on.

    I am working on a project design for me and the kids to work on in the summer, hopefully having it ready for launch spring 2012. This project would be a small houseboat that I can load on a trailer and pull behind my 3/4 ton 97 chevy 4wd with a 350 v8 and bull dog trans.

    design ideas are:
    main hull size is 8' wide, 28' to 32' long. foam filled under front and back decks.
    foam fill areas in the hull that isn't used by fuel, water, or black water storage tanks.

    3' wide removable decks for both sides (in 8' length or less sections for each side) with foam filled bottoms. these would be stored on top when transporting the boat on the trailer.

    I would like to use the full 8' width minus the wall thickness as living space. I would also like to use fiberglass for the hull, walls and the roof/sundeck top.

    My questions are:

    Is this feasible?
    Would a flat bottom hull be stable enough to carry the load?
    What thickness fiberglass mat would you use and how many plies for the hull?

    Any other input would be greatly valued as this is my first attempt at boat building and a major project!

    Thank you for your time!
     
  2. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Before getting any laminate schedules, you got to provide a design with displacement. That is what determines the thickness of the laminate, reinforcements, etc. You may be better off buying an existing design.
     
  3. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Welcome to the forum, kycountry.
    Knowledge of load-bearing structures would be helpful.
    Also, plan at least 1 cubic foot of flotation for every 63 lbs of boat plus cargo.
    USCG specifications for boat hulls are a necessity for you.
    Safety, both in construction and finished project knowledge must come before you build your first saw-horse.
    You can find all of that here within the numerous threads.
     
  4. messabout
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    Hoyt is telling it like it is.

    Wood construction is lighter, stronger, much faster to build, less of a health hazard, not nearly as messy, and does not stink up half the county in the building process. It will be difficult to complete an FRP project of this size by spring or summer of 2012. With wood construction you might be able to do it. Be aware that some foams inevitably take up and retain water, either atmospheric or otherwise. Thus the boat becomes progressively heavier which partially negates some of its intended function. You are going to trailer this boat right? Weight is the enemy. The more a boat displaces the more costly the propulsion. The more it weighs the more bitchin' it is to load and unload.

    Sorry to be a naysayer. I'm also telling it like it is. Getting on the water...maybe Kentucky Lake, or the Ten-Tom, or someother enchanted place, is too important to waste time. Go for it with FRP if you must but you can do it sooner with wood. There are plenty of 30, 40, 50 year old wooden boats that are still going and plenty of FRP boats in the landfill.
     
  5. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Wood is the easiest to work with and adds sturdiness. "Measure twice and cut once" saves money.
     
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Kycountry, welcome to the forum. I'm still pissed the Wildcats got beat by Alabama the other night, but it's a young team, so hold on.

    About your houseboat design. From the specifications you've listed, you're well outside the realm of a standard or "stock" design, which means you need a custom or semi custom design drawn up for you. Your removable side deck idea is one I've played with in recent years, except mine just fold up when on the trailer, greatly simplifying "deployment". 3' on each side probably isn't too realistic, but 18" to 24" is worth considering, which is more then enough side deck for a houseboat.

    Don't be dispelled by the wooden boat lovers, they mean well and are right, for the most part. A 'glass boat is 90% sanding 10% laying 'glass, so if your elbows are up to it, a one off GRP hull is possible. Though as mentioned it will likely be more costly and certainly difficult to do quickly, compared to other methods, unless you just happen to have some houseboat molds lying around waiting on you to fill them with goo and fabrics.

    You have a few options and a lot depends on what you're going to do. If you plan of taking on big bass in the Cumberland or puttering around the Kentucky and Barkley lakes, then you'll need one type of hull, but if you plan on taking on the locks on the Ohio, then you'll want something else. Knowing what type of hull to use, how it should be built and the details of all the various systems requires a lot of expertise.

    Judging by your questions, you haven't the understanding of hydrostatics, nor dynamics, engineering and other system expertise to design this vessel yourself. Have you called a NA or designer in your area?
     
  7. peterAustralia
    Joined: Mar 2006
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    Location: Melbourne Australia

    peterAustralia Senior Member

    hello

    here may be a starting point

    http://www.shambalariver.com/joli.html

    the trouble I see with going much longer than this boat is that weight will be very high. You will need a big truck to move it around. The Joli boat here is wood and plywood, easy to use, strong, and affordable
     
  8. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    ... and comparitively much lighter.
     
  9. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The Joli Boat shown above is a joke and not a boat, but a concrete mixing tub with a top on it and furniture inside, maybe an over grown Puddle Duck.

    The boat can be done, but you'll need some fairly fancy engineering to pull it off.
    [​IMG]
    This is one of mine and it has a skinnier brother of the same 33' length that is trailerable, though to be honest, if it was me, I'd just pay the $50 a year fee for an over size trailer permit and have the extra elbow room this 9' beam version offers.
     
  10. johnboat75
    Joined: Feb 2009
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    Location: fl

    johnboat75 Junior Member

    Fiberglass Pontoons

    we are Catamaran Coaches Inc. Manufacturer of fiberglass Pontoons/Pontoon Boats from 16' to 70' we build catamarans and Trimarans ,Take a look at our web site and then go to the face book link lots of pics I think we have something that would work great for you john
     

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  11. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Yep, especially the building it themselves with the help of the kids part . . .
     
  12. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    I reckon the pre-made hulls option is a pretty good one - assuming their design meets with the field of operations requirements. There's still plenty to do to turn one of those platforms into a comfortable houseboat!
    It wouldn't be nearly as elegant as PAR's "Floom", but at least he would have a shot at getting it built by 2012....
    And depending on just how far and where you want to tow it, I too would go with the wider beam...
     
  13. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Granted the plastic platform would offer a 20% head start on the project.
     
  14. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Kentucky roads, some, not all, are notoriously narrow, winding and on steep grades. A lot would depend on what roads are in Kycountry's vicinity. I have seen roads in Ky that are as narrow as some driveways with not enough room for 2 Caddys to pass each other, much less a 9' wide hull. This is ky 302 on Richmond Hill between Van Lear and Prestonsburg.
     

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  15. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    It is wider than a lot of the roads.
     
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