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Thread: Shanty Boat build

  1. #1
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    Default Shanty Boat build

    Hi everyone, I have been researching Shanty boats and wish to build one around March 2013.
    I am based in the UK and wish to live on it on the narrow canals here.
    It will be no more than 6' 10'' beam with a length over all of around 24 foot.
    I would like some advice on what best to use for the frames in thickness.
    I need to build a design that you walk down into not a sit on top cabin design if that makes sense.
    This project for me is a challenge to try and make the Shanty as cheap as possible but of decent strong quality.
    I need it to be as easy to build as possible too as I have limited tools and limited carpentry skills although I am willing to learn.

    Any info and help would be appreciated and I have had a good read of other threads on here too.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Perhaps if you started with an existing design like this:
    http://www.selway-fisher.com/Mc2130.htm#CANA
    it might make it a little easier. Seems to fit the bill in terms of size and ease of construction.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Here in BC the plywood list for that Selway-Fisher will eat up $4500.00 (including tax but no shipping). Is that in the "cheap as possible" budget? Cheap as possible usually means specific targeting of material use.....Gb? .....What's your available lumber market like? How do you want to build this boat? Ply and epoxy are not really cheap, though they offer simple joinery skills. Depending on lumber supply and what fastenings you choose a traditional plank-on-frame build could be low cost. Materials and fasteners choice affect the life of the vessel, if you only need it for a few years go cheap....If you want to hand the boat on to your grandchildren you may want to spend a bit more.
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    The other alternative would be to source a fiberglass (GRP) narrowboat hull and rebuild from there. As long as the hull and through-hulls are sound, you'll have saved a lot of dosh and can still build a nice and unique narrowboat. The walk-through design with no tall cabin will be a challenge -- may we ask why?
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    probably to get under bridges and through tunnels. The canal network was built on some standard dimensions back when narrow boats were horse-drawn. It was common for steam-powered barges to have a folding smoke stack to allow them to pass through tunnels.
    'When I leave I don't know what I'm hoping to find. When I leave I don't know what I'm leaving behind...'

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Wouldn't it be easier and cheeper to find and old narrowboat and fix t up?
    Steamboat

    I get by with the judicious use of serendipity.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Wonderful idea, which ever plan you choose please post lots of pictures and keep us posted. What could be more fun than to build such a boat. http://www.google.com/search?q=shant...w=1669&bih=887 explore this link, there will be several hours of fun looking through these options. When you find one you like, go for it. Most of these boats can be stretched or shrunk in all directions as they are pretty simple designs and lengthening or shrinking is simply a matter of adding or removing a frame or two. For example this design http://thistinyhouse.com/2012/pedal-...d-shanty-boat/ could easily be lengthened if you need more space and could be driven by a small outboard motor. Interior designs are somewhat flexible as well... OK, I will give it a rest...
    Last edited by Oldad; 12-05-2012 at 08:37 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Before too many methods of build are considered, it might be good to look at the environment of a narrow boat. That boat in the photo probably weighs around 23+ tons and is all steel with a husky steel belt to bump into things like bridge abutments and other boats and not be hurt. Now you are passing through one of the tunnels and coming toward you is one of these piloted by a charterer from Idaho who is on his first boat trip. The tunnels are only wide enough to for two to pass with perhaps a foot or so between them and its dark, real dark. Notice that the only light he has is the little one high on the starboard side which gives him marginal vision. These boats do bump each other and the walls in the tunnels and cause no real harm to each other. Will your boat be good enough to get hit by 23 tons and not be smashed in the process?

    I saw a some live aboards on the canals and a few wooden boats and all appeared to be recycled from other uses. None of the wooden boats were actually moving and were all in wider parts of the system. Buying an old steel one that can be refinished looks like a reasonable thing.
    Last edited by Tom Lathrop; 12-05-2012 at 09:42 PM.
    Tom L

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Thank you for some very helpful replies.
    My budget is around £5000.
    Just last night on ebay I found an old barn in good condition costing £200 which would be perfect for the cabin.
    So I do plan to use some reclaimed materials where I can.

    A few years back I had an old fiberglass cruiser which needed a major refit and hull work to bring it up to standards.
    This kind of work is even harder than a clean build as I had to strip the boat before even starting on anything.
    Then I would have had to extend the existing cabin so the whole thing would have looked very odd and shoe horned together.
    The propane and petrol engine were position in the same area which gave me horrors, so on my Shanty I would have them at opposite
    ends,although I must say I am considering pedal and punt power as I only have to move on every 2 weeks.

    There are thousands of fiberglass and steel boats living together happily without many serious collisions.
    The problem with a lot of the fiberglass hulls is the headroom and then finding one without osmosis.
    Then of course there is the damn condensation.

    To buy an old steel boat would cost more than the total build cost of a ply and epoxy hull and cabin.
    Then there is the whole process of dealing with any welding that needs doing and craning the steel boat in an out and welders are not cheap.
    That process can get very expensive on an old stinking mess of a boat that would require more hours than building a fresh shanty.
    At least with a small wooden/epoxy boat I can slip it out on a trailer and do the repairs myself.

    I am doing this as a life challenge to see if I can build a budget home on the water and live a self sufficient life stripping away material excess.

    All the best.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by AnalogKid View Post
    probably to get under bridges and through tunnels. The canal network was built on some standard dimensions back when narrow boats were horse-drawn. It was common for steam-powered barges to have a folding smoke stack to allow them to pass through tunnels.
    Yes thats right,the bridges and tunnels are a certain high.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Gblk View Post
    Thank you for some very helpful replies.
    My budget is around £5000.
    Just last night on ebay I found an old barn in good condition costing £200 which would be perfect for the cabin.
    So I do plan to use some reclaimed materials where I can.

    A few years back I had an old fiberglass cruiser which needed a major refit and hull work to bring it up to standards.
    This kind of work is even harder than a clean build as I had to strip the boat before even starting on anything.
    Then I would have had to extend the existing cabin so the whole thing would have looked very odd and shoe horned together.
    The propane and petrol engine were position in the same area which gave me horrors, so on my Shanty I would have them at opposite
    ends,although I must say I am considering pedal and punt power as I only have to move on every 2 weeks.

    There are thousands of fiberglass and steel boats living together happily without many serious collisions.
    The problem with a lot of the fiberglass hulls is the headroom and then finding one without osmosis.
    Then of course there is the damn condensation.

    To buy an old steel boat would cost more than the total build cost of a ply and epoxy hull and cabin.
    Then there is the whole process of dealing with any welding that needs doing and craning the steel boat in an out and welders are not cheap.
    That process can get very expensive on an old stinking mess of a boat that would require more hours than building a fresh shanty.
    At least with a small wooden/epoxy boat I can slip it out on a trailer and do the repairs myself.

    I am doing this as a life challenge to see if I can build a budget home on the water and live a self sufficient life stripping away material excess.

    All the best.
    For power you could do something like a punt with a small outboard which would also give you some mobility while leaving the live aboard moored.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Cogeniac View Post
    Wooden Boat Jan/Feb 2012 had a great article on shanty boats

    http://www.woodenboat.com/2012-woode...agazine-issues
    Thanks for that its a shame they don't sell an electronic version as I would have bought that.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Hi
    If you want to build (as renovation is probably cheaper)have you thought of either a Maurice griffith waterwitch or an escargot.
    If waterwitch appeals to you i have half a waterwitch which i doubt i will get to build and several sheets of ply and a copy of beuhler backyard boat building too. i am in yorkshire. where are you?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Also don't forgot not all canals are 6'10" some are 10' and others 14' also a fiberglass hulls are pretty cheap too , or what about the Watson lifeboat listed on in the boat shed?
    James

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesh View Post
    Hi
    If you want to build (as renovation is probably cheaper)have you thought of either a Maurice griffith waterwitch or an escargot.
    If waterwitch appeals to you i have half a waterwitch which i doubt i will get to build and several sheets of ply and a copy of beuhler backyard boat building too. i am in yorkshire. where are you?
    Hi there I am near Manchester.
    Do you have photos of your half waterwitch please?

    I am a stranger to strip planking as someone mentioned that method,how do you seal the gaps in the planks?
    thanks.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesh View Post
    Also don't forgot not all canals are 6'10" some are 10' and others 14' also a fiberglass hulls are pretty cheap too , or what about the Watson lifeboat listed on in the boat shed?
    James
    It seems to have been sold.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    I don't have pics as its frames and keel along side my house Pics are available on the eventide website.
    Strip planking is small 1x1 type wood strips covered in export cloth.
    James

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Might be worthwhile to look at Philip Thiel's website.

    http://www.mission-base.com/pedal-power/pp_index.html

    Escargot is a pedal-powered canal boat. FriendShip is larger and can be driven by an outboard:


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Gblk View Post
    Thanks for that its a shame they don't sell an electronic version as I would have bought that.
    They do.

    http://www.coverleaf.com/?document_id=52987#Home&Document=62233&archive=tru e




    Scroll through "back issues."
    Steve Martinsen

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by SMARTINSEN View Post
    Excellent thank you very much I will buy that now.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesh View Post
    I don't have pics as its frames and keel along side my house Pics are available on the eventide website.
    Strip planking is small 1x1 type wood strips covered in export cloth.
    James
    I like the look of the hull James .
    What are the frames made from?
    What kind of money are you wanting for it?
    PM me if you prefer.
    thanks.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip-skiff View Post
    Might be worthwhile to look at Philip Thiel's website.

    http://www.mission-base.com/pedal-power/pp_index.html

    Escargot is a pedal-powered canal boat. FriendShip is larger and can be driven by an outboard:

    Thanks for that this looks interesting.
    Has one been built yet?

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    You might want to check out Waltwood's Building An Oyster Barge thread. That boat would probably make a nice foundation for something similar to the above.
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...n-Oyster-Barge

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    You might want to check out Waltwood's Building An Oyster Barge thread. That boat would probably make a nice foundation for something similar to the above.
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...n-Oyster-Barge

    Kevin
    Amazing thread that Kevin.
    I am looking to do something a little more simple though.
    I am thinking about this but at 24 feet and 6'10'' wide http://store.devlinboat.com/milliehill.aspx

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    I like that Millie Hill. I ilke shanty boats. Dont know why.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    I like that Millie Hill. I ilke shanty boats. Dont know why.

    Kevin
    The thing is, how could you not like a shanty boat? When Harry Bryan brought his to Mystic a couple of years ago it was surrounded by people who were touched by it somehow. Every person who climbed aboard was on a secret personal adventure that they were able to take home and remember... at least I was.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldad View Post
    The thing is, how could you not like a shanty boat? When Harry Bryan brought his to Mystic a couple of years ago it was surrounded by people who were touched by it somehow. Every person who climbed aboard was on a secret personal adventure that they were able to take home and remember... at least I was.
    I understand that totally.
    For me a Shanty represents raw honesty and is not pretentious. It says I am here to serve a function to offer shelter and a way of life. A Bayliner for example wouldn't keep me awake at night or make me feel excited even if I could afford one.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Hi Gblk, interesting search. I really do hope you find one to your spec. I have recently been visiting central London a lot, and walking the Regents canal and Little Venice. I have often thought it would be easier to have a little canal boat in London.

    There has been a huge boom in steel traditional canal boats in the last 20 years. The current severe recession will bring some opportunities for bargins as people simply have to sell as their lives change or older owners leave them to kids who just don;t have time and free cash to run them.

    There are over 1000 narrow boats for sale just now on Apollo Duck. I searched on your parameters of 24' and 6'10" and was very surprised to find only one single boat matched. http://narrowboats.apolloduck.co.uk/...html?id=270476 Brand new, not quite finished for £15,000.

    eBay has this nice 24' steel narrowboat listed at a starting point of £9000 but no bids so far. Might take an offer.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/24-ft-narr...item35c231e16f

    Phil Thiels Friendship is the best plan set I have come across. Michael Storer has a canal boat which is as narrow as you spec and just slightly longer

    http://www.storerboatplans.com/Venice/Venice.html


    Tad's 20' shanty boat is very nice too. 8' beam again.



    Actually Phil Thiel's Escargot fits the bill 100%, except for headroom. Beam is just 6' http://www.mission-base.com/pedal-po...ot_layout.html


    Brian
    Last edited by keyhavenpotterer; 12-07-2012 at 09:26 AM.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Duckworks has a free download plans set for a shanty boat. http://www.duckworksbbs.com/plans/br...good/index.htm

    Must be well worth downloading eaven if just for increasing knowledge of construction and layout. The design was created by the Yahoo Shantyboats group. Amazing.



    Brian

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by keyhavenpotterer View Post
    Hi Gblk, interesting search. I really do hope you find one to your spec. I have recently been visiting central London a lot, and walking the Regents canal and Little Venice. I have often thought it would be easier to have a little canal boat in London.

    There has been a huge boom in steel traditional canal boats in the last 20 years. The current severe recession will bring some opportunities for bargins as people simply have to sell as their lives change or older owners leave them to kids who just don;t have time and free cash to run them.

    There are over 1000 narrow boats for sale just now on Apollo Duck. I searched on your parameters of 24' and 6'10" and was very surprised to find only one single boat matched. http://narrowboats.apolloduck.co.uk/...html?id=270476 Brand new, not quite finished for £15,000.

    eBay has this nice 24' steel narrowboat listed at a starting point of £9000 but no bids so far. Might take an offer.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/24-ft-narr...item35c231e16f

    Phil Thiels Friendship is the best plan set I have come across. Michael Storer has a canal boat which is as narrow as you spec and just slightly longer

    http://www.storerboatplans.com/Venice/Venice.html


    Tad's 20' shanty boat is very nice too. 8' beam again.



    Actually Phil Thiel's Escargot fits the bill 100%, except for headroom. Beam is just 6' http://www.mission-base.com/pedal-po...ot_layout.html


    Brian
    Thanks Kevin.
    The problem with old steel canal boats is they need an out of the water survey that adds to the cost.
    Then there will be any welding work that needs doing as the boat could be thin on the chine and waterline ect.
    £9000 would have me sitting in my Shanty looking like a king lol !!

    The whole porpoise of this project is not to renovate an old steel boat but to build a shanty to serve a function and as a lifestyle challenge.
    The canals here are full of steel narrowboats some costing over £100,000.
    I want to create something raw and pure that escapes materialism if that makes sense.
    The thing I love about a square shanty is you get full usable space loa where as with a pointy front the space up at the bow is wasted really.
    thanks.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Hi selco builders merchants have great offer on 2x4 at the moment at £2 each and pine ply at £20 each. 24ft is a great length. How about windows of 2mm perspex put into saw cut 2x4 frame? So long as vandalism isn't too bad? 10hp outward is ideal too. galvanized nails and titebond 2. i built a light weight shepherds hut using 8mm pine cladding with 2" polystyrene and 6mm ply inner worked out light and warm. glued it with pva!!! Roof was three lamentations of 3/4 x 2 over 6" crown curve. 3/8 ply and felt on top.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Gblk View Post
    Thanks for that this looks interesting.
    Has one been built yet?
    I searched for a photo of the FriendShip, with no result. There have been several of the smaller design, Escargot, built both in the US and in Europe, where they were built for self-guided canal tours.



    Here's a website with a piece on the Escargot design, which was also written up in Wooden Boat Magazine in the last few years.

    http://www.tinyhousetalk.com/pedalin...ny-houseboats/

    I'd guess that Phil Bolger designed some sort of narrow/shanty boatsó I recall seeing a plan for one on this Forum. The catch-all website for Bolger designs was compiled by a WBF member, Bruce Hallman, but you need to know the name of the design. You might send Hallman a message.

    http://hallman.org/bolger/isometrics

    Given your design brief, I expect you might look at different study plans, and adapt them for your use.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    I know one guy that built something of this sort. He built the hull (~24' x 12') out of relatively cheep scraps from a local mill and the cheepest ply he could get his hands on. He then painted it and then sheathed the whole thing with fero-cement. He did a fairly nice job of fairing it. The hull, finished cost less than $1000. It was fairly heavy of course, but watertight.
    The accommodation was finished in 'nice rustic cabin style'. His plan was to tow it when he thought he wanted to move it, which was not that frequent. Last I heard it was still good some 20 odd years later.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by gilberj View Post
    I know one guy that built something of this sort. He built the hull (~24' x 12') out of relatively cheep scraps from a local mill and the cheepest ply he could get his hands on. He then painted it and then sheathed the whole thing with fero-cement. He did a fairly nice job of fairing it. The hull, finished cost less than $1000. It was fairly heavy of course, but watertight.
    The accommodation was finished in 'nice rustic cabin style'. His plan was to tow it when he thought he wanted to move it, which was not that frequent. Last I heard it was still good some 20 odd years later.
    Sounds great.
    Did you take any pictures of it?
    Was you warm in the winter and did you use a wood burner for heating?
    I already have the multi fuel cast iron stove.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Shanty Boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip-skiff View Post
    I searched for a photo of the FriendShip, with no result. There have been several of the smaller design, Escargot, built both in the US and in Europe, where they were built for self-guided canal tours.



    Here's a website with a piece on the Escargot design, which was also written up in Wooden Boat Magazine in the last few years.

    http://www.tinyhousetalk.com/pedalin...ny-houseboats/

    I'd guess that Phil Bolger designed some sort of narrow/shanty boats— I recall seeing a plan for one on this Forum. The catch-all website for Bolger designs was compiled by a WBF member, Bruce Hallman, but you need to know the name of the design. You might send Hallman a message.

    http://hallman.org/bolger/isometrics

    Given your design brief, I expect you might look at different study plans, and adapt them for your use.
    Excellent thank you very much.

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