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Thread: Tassie Houseboat Build

  1. #1
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    Default Tassie Houseboat Build

    Hi folks. My name is Alex and my partner and I have nearly finished building a small plywood houseboat in southern Tasmania, Australia.
    I would like to share some photos of the project with the WoodenBoat forum community. I have only created an account here very recently but have had many, many queries clarified whilst browsing the threads here over the past year or so. Thanks to all the thoughtful contributors, people like Ian and Todd (and many others) who share their vast experience so generously.
    I am not very experienced with computers and have unreliable internet access so please forgive me if I am slow, or all out fail, in replying and posting further information down the track. Cheers everyone! PS the boat is nearly ready to launch so please only make "you should have done it this way" comments for the benefit of others - its too late for us!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Hi Alex, G'day and welcome !
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Hi peter, thanks. Please bare with me as I try to figure out the image posting. Probably will call it a day and try again soon.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Al G View Post
    Hi peter, thanks. Please bare with me as I try to figure out the image posting. Probably will call it a day and try again soon.
    These are the distructions for posting images
    POSTING PICTURES
    Control yourself. Avoid posting BIG pictures. Keep them 500 pixels wide OR LESS. That way the dial-up folks aren't bogged-down, and the width doesn't make the page hard to read in a standard sized window. If you don't have Photoshop, try the freebie from gimp.org. We do NOT host your images. You need to have a place like Flickr, Imagestation, Photobucket, or one of the free other hosting outfits... or your own site. Per Thorne's 'How-to', here's how to post photos on this forum:



    ...FIRST - Don't attach photos. Only a tiny version will display.
    ...SECOND - Post the photos on the web. Use your own website or a free image hosting service like www.flickr.com, picasaweb.google.com, picturetrail, photobucket, etc. Images posted on Facebook must be set to "Public" access via the Edit option, not limited to "Friends".

    ...THIRD - Once posted on the web, right-click the photo to "Copy Image Location", or drag the photo to another browser window, then copy the image URL (web address) which will end in ".jpg". You can test by pasting the photo URL into the location field (http://* ) of a web browser and see if the photo displays. Remember that this process will not work for photos located just on your computer, on members-only Yahoo groups, or on Facebook unless set to "Public" view. (In Flickr - You usually have to first click the photo to bring up the black-framed viewer, then click the "View All Sizes" link near the top right. Then you can get the image URL by right-clicking the image. Alternately you can go to the Actions menu on the upper left, then select "View All Sizes".

    ...FOURTH - DO THIS EVERY TIME TO POST IMAGES IN THREADS: A. In any "Reply" window you can click the "insert image" icon --> a little yellow square icon with a dot at each corner, a tiny tree in the center. Depending on browser version and Reply/Edit status, this may bring up a simple window with a field to paste the URL into, or the "Add an Image" window described below.
    B. If the window titled "Add an Image" comes up, click the "From URL" tab, paste the URL of the photo in the field, deselect the box for "Retrieve remote file and reference locally", then click the "INSERT IMAGE" button. The Forum software will resize some large images, so look at your post to see the actual displayed images.


    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

    The power of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web
    The weakness of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Thanks Peerie Maa. Got it now. This picture shows the "strongback". More like a couple of big sawhorses for positioning the side panels. My parent's backyard is looking lush last spring. It looks more like a boatyard ( or should I say junkyard) now in late winter.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Here are the side panels. 12mm marine ply. Three sheets long, butt joined. The butt blocks can be seen in the middle picture. Left hand picture shows chine logs through the straight section, inwhale clamps (please pardon incorrect terminology) and glassed sections for anchor and motor wells and shower stall (middle of left panel). I used fillets to join the curved sections after the hull was rolled over. Last picture shows side panel and transoms being glassed. The transoms are laminated from the leftover ply from the side panels and are 36mm thick.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Starting to look like a boat (that is if you think a flat bottomed barge looks like a boat). The transoms were rabbeted to accommodate the side panels. Unphotographed was the placement of beams to screw the bottom planking to (to make it conform to the curve). The bottom planking is two layers of 12mm ply and the first layer wanted to bend on more than one axis. We ended up having to put in extra temporary beams to resist the sagging- 1 two by four inch hardwood timber every 60 cm and the bottom still sagged a centimetre or more on the curves. The second photo shows the first layer of bottom planking only. The lamination was done with lots of short roofing screws which were removed when the epoxy had set. Lots of holes to fill!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Bolger-style box cut water. This is the part of the thread where readers either think "Oh that looks awesome, I can't wait to see more!" or "Oh God here we go again, another sucker!". The cutwater was attached as a sacrificial add on - filled with foam and joined to the hull only with glue and fiberglass.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    gotz me a big ole glass of sweet tea w/ a squeeze of lime & a...



    let the fun begin

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    It looks like it already has, Steve....

    Welcome to the Forum, Al.

    Mike
    Visit us to see how we help people complete classic boats authentically.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Nice to see someone else from Tassie into flat bottomed boats (they make the rockin world go round) I may have missed it but are you using plans or is it your own design?

    Phill

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Quote Originally Posted by mermod View Post
    Nice to see someone else from Tassie into flat bottomed boats (they make the rockin world go round) I may have missed it but are you using plans or is it your own design?

    Phill
    Thanks guys, Im so glad you are interested. You know what they say about the best laid plans... She designed and built herself, with me as slave labour. Basically this boat is the result of an ignorant and overly confident person reading and re-reading Boats With an Open Mind cover to cover for a year and then quitting his job and blindly wading in. Its not in the water yet so time will tell.
    Not many sharpies down here. Perhaps this is because we pay so much for materials in Tasmania that would be sharpie builders go for something less unknown, like a tinny.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    First photo shows the bottom now glassed over and the skegs(?), strakes. These were glued and screwed and then heavily glassed over. Next pic shows antifouling. I painted it straight on the glass which was probably a mistake. I now intend to paint a different colour over the top so I can guage how thick the outer layer is.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    We made some rolling jigs and intended to flip the hull with chains, rope, props and muscle. My Mother became very worried that somebody would be killed or maimed during the process so we hired a crane. Over she goes.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    One of the best things about getting the crane in was that I got a rough weight figure for the hull shell. It was 650 kilos including the attached rolling jig which I'm guessing weighed about 40 kilos. I forgot to ask the crane driver whether or not that figure included the tackle which would add another 80 to 100kg (guessing there). Still it was lighter than I expected. I'm hoping the finished weight will be under 2 tons unloaded. The houseboat was intended to be trailerable but I suspect that I was very deluded in that regard.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Well done Al, and now we look forward to the continuing pics!
    Flat bottomed boats, you make the rockin' world go round.............

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Welcome to the forum Alex, looking forward to seeing the rest of the build.
    Larks

    “It’s impossible”, said pride.
    “It’s risky”, said experience.
    “It’s pointless”, said reason.
    “Give it a try”, whispered the heart.

    LPBC Beneficiary

    "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great!"

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Its hard to tell if you're building a boat or hiding your dope plants

    Welcome BTW

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewpatrol View Post
    Its hard to tell if you're building a boat or hiding your dope plants

    Welcome BTW

    As you can see andrewpatrol, there is nothing to hide here. The hull was voluminous before it started to fill up. A boat like this would be heaps of fun in a climate with no rain. you could just deck it out with a barbie and patio furniture.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Here is one of the forward bulkheads glued up. The middle panel forms a doorway but is not yet cut out. Trusty milk crate work bench in action.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Rear bulkhead in position to check fit. It came out to have the smaller panel sheathed for the rear wall of the shower stall. I tried to do as much of the fiberglass work on the flat as possible.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Packing timbers and polyurethane foam for floor insulation and emergency flotation. In hindsight I should have just used bats that could be removed for inspection and foregone the buoyancy. I did soak the hull interior with penetrating epoxy before all this went in. The central compartments are for ballast. At this stage I hoped she might carry a sail. Ha! The compartment to the right is for the shower well. This was all sealed with bitumen paint, to save a few dollars on epoxy, before the flooring was glued in. I used particle board sealed on the underside and to be painted on the upside later. Polyurethane glue being used where I could get away with it or when I couldn't cope with handling heavy or cumbersome pieces alone while under time stress of epoxy. By the way the whole thing has been fastened with SS decking screws, countersunk and filled over with epoxy.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    A thought on the underfloor insulation. Removable closed cell foam blocks in the floor cavities might give the best of both worlds, if the floor panels were removable but strongly enough screwed down that they still added stiffness and strength to the bottom planking.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    This is fascinating, please keep the posts coming! For the last few months I've been searching the web for all things houseboat barge. In the next few months I'll be starting a design tread looking for input and advise.

    Keep it coming!

    Thank you,

    Skip

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Hi skip, glad you are interested and thanks for reading. Plenty more to come, and the big launch day any week now. Here is jenny sheathing the rear bulkhead. The notched out timber will support the floor of the motor well. It was in the wrong spot when this photo was taken and had to be broken off and replaced. Next picture shows the anchor well at the bow. These wells have big scuppers that drain overboard and floating floor decks that protect the fiberglass sheathing underneath. This will make more sense later in the thread. There is a cavity filled with foam under each well. I now know this to be potentially bad practice but at the time I just copied what I saw on all those big power dories people in the USA build, which look to be very robust boats. Sorry I don't have better pictures of this stage of the build.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Two views of the cabin sides coming together. These are 6mm marine ply, butt joined with big butt blocks left over from the bottom planking offcuts (beam is 2.1m). the height of the cabin walls amidships is one sheet width from the sheer. Once the panels were temporarily fastened to the bulkheads I marked the heights for the fore and aft rooflines and began to attach exterior longitudinal timbers to stiffen the panels, decorate the slabby sides and frame the windows all in one go. In the photo of the hull mid air (a few posts back) you can see that the the inwhale clamp (?) sits proud of the side planking by about 20mm. This made positioning the cabin sides easy as there was a neat ledge for them to rest on, held in place by temporary thumb cleats. This made for a crappy join inside when it came time to glue them on, however. I ended up using 5 or 6 tubes of construction adhesive to fill the inside of the joint. Outside was much stronger with the sheer clamp creating a long level canal that could be filled with runny epoxy. If I were doing it again I would cut shallow notches or drill 6mm holes all along the bottom edge of the cabin side panels, glue the sheer clamps on and then fill the channel with runny epoxy. This is a good example of an instance where an amateur like myself should have made the effort to learn to cut bevels properly instead of wasting glue.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Cabin sides, with windows cut out, back on the ground for cleaning up, epoxy dousing, sheathing and sanding. Then installed permanently with another timber at the top to increase headroom. This timber protruded above the panels enough that the panel edges formed a ledge onto which the ceiling lining could rest in position. The plywood "panels" framed between the windows will be brightwork. Now the boat is nearly finished I love how it looks but at this stage in the build the rationale was purely that some varnish would make the boat less unpopular at marinas, where I am worried that Houseboat might be a dirty word - even if that houseboat is half the length and less beamy than most of the neighbouring sailing yachts, and at least one story shorter than most the motor yachts (ie pretty unobtrusive).
    Last edited by Al G; 08-06-2016 at 09:47 PM. Reason: spelling

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    View from of the Bow. The cabin walls were raked to reduce windage (Ha!) and to keep crew weight closer to the centreline when the crew is lounging on the roof or all are standing in the same side of the cabin. The roofs are flat to meet Jenny's wishes. I would have arched the main roof for style and lesser windage but I'm happy that I didn't get my way. The flat roof will be handier and shouldn't hold water for long in a plumb sided boat without a keel. The whole exterior is fiberglass sheathed so even if the paint suffers from sitting water it hopefully won't be a big problem. Time will tell.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Al G; 08-06-2016 at 08:47 PM.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Welcome and good luck! Where will you keep it and sail it? Do you think there's any way you could make it trailerable?

    Rick
    Last edited by RFNK; 08-05-2016 at 09:43 PM.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    Quote Originally Posted by RFNK View Post
    Welcome and good luck! Where will you keep it and sail it? Do you think there's any way you could make it trailerable?

    Rick
    Hi Rick and thanks. If the boat works well it will cruise the waters of SE Tasmania. D'entrecasteaux Channel, Huon and Derwent river Estuaries and Frederick Henry Bay (where 4 men drowned last week, rest their souls). Strictly a fair weather boat, of course. If the boat works poorly it will be a more or less stationary home for Jenny and I on sea or land. The overall size was dictated by trailerability - not for us to haul it around often but to make a trip to the Hawkesbury, Murray or Swan rivers (Aus) affordable in the future. I started building it as lightly as I dared but I suspect the weight has gotten away from me. No real way for me to put a figure on it at this stage. I hope to weigh her on her way to the sea. I hope she will be light enough for a 3 axle trailer and a big car to tow but I'm doubtful.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Next the roof/deck beams (bit of a glorified description for 19X42mm bits of treated pine)were installed athwartships at about 16cm spacing. This was the best I could come up with to keep the depth of the structure from intruding on the cabin or making the boat top heavy. The ceiling cladding is OSB which was a poor choice of material. I thought it looked funky and it is cheap as chips but horrible to work with. I regret not finishing the interior before it was installed, screw holes be damned. I ended up oiling the ceiling inside - another mistake but I hated varnish since scraping it off an entire rough sawn vertical board house in the middle of a Tasmanian winter about 5 years ago at a very low point in my life. I thought varnish was a tool of the devil until I began varnishing other parts of the boat. Now I quite like the stuff. So the OSB in the roof cavity soaked up lots more rot-preventative epoxy. Such is the cost of insulating a boat. The spaces between the beams were packed with tight fitting polystyrene - all I could afford - then 12mm ply for the amidships roof, cockpit floor and forecastle roof. The cockpit floor got another layer of 12mm ply laminated on for extra stiffness and ditto for the forecastle roof which recieved another 6mm of ply. The amidships cabin roof flexes ever so slightly with people walking on it. I don't think this is a problem. PS a lot of the photos were taken by other people, I'm trying to include ones in which I don't feature. I guess the human figure is a useful indicator of scale.
    Last edited by Al G; 08-06-2016 at 09:25 PM.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build

    In case you are wondering yes that is the mainmast (Ha!) cut flush with the roof and extending to the hull, tied into a bulkhead. I was intending to bolt a tabernacle to it before I got real about her sailing potential. She now carries an ornamental spar atop which sits the anchor/all around white running light. Might fly a flag from it on special occasions, too.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Styrofoam between the deck beams.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Another view of the bow. The sag in the forecastle roof was forced out when the front panel went on. The front panel was left off for a week or two of extra light and ventilation. Once all the exterior seams had been taped and the roof been sheathed, lining of the bilge panels and walls commenced. The interior window frames were glued and screwed into the longitudinal exterior timbers framing the brightwork on the exterior faces of the cabin walls. They served to provide meat for screwing the perspex windows in place and packing/studs for the lining to be attached to. 4mm brace ply was used for the lining. Trying hard to keep the weight down yet the strength adequate. Everything here being glued with generous amounts of epoxy. If I was staring over I would consider building the walls from thicker ply and omitting the insulation. This would make for a much faster build, lower cost, and more easily repaired hull down the track. On the plus side all that foam adds emergency flotation. And the cabin is wonderfully warm. After a couple of hours spent working inside now on cold days (5 to 10 celcius) the room is comfortably warm from my body heat alone. I had spilled epoxy on the lens of camera by this stage hence the image quality.
    Last edited by Al G; 08-06-2016 at 10:28 PM. Reason: gramatical errors

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Tassie Houseboat Build


    Before the lining went in I made a scale model of the boat to test the sail carrying potential. The leeboards and rudder were fashioned from transparent food container lids so can't be seen here. She sailed to windward ever so slightly on one tack. Paper crab claw lateen and rocks for ballast. She capsized twice during sea trials.

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