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Thread: Pedal powered boat build

  1. #1
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    Default Pedal powered boat build

    Hey all,

    I'm working on a new design for a pedal powered boat. I'm almost ready to start cutting wood so I thought I'd share...

    It has a couple of unique design features that solve some issues that I've had with my other boats. The first one is that it's modular in nature so that it can come apart for transport. Besides being able to transport easily, the modular nature of it will allow an additional "cockpit" section to be inserted in the middle for a second rider/powerplant.

    The other cool design feature is that I designed a compact removable drive that can be built with mostly off the shelf parts and materials. This is key in my opinion because commercially available drive units are prohibitively expensive. I wanted this drive to be able to be built without a lot of complex metal working such as machining and welding. What I came up with is a unit that has a wood housing and uses off the shelf bearings, seals, sprockets, chain, etc. It's completely sealed inside with epoxy, and outside with fiberglass. It uses a #25 roller chain running in an oil bath. Dirt simple, rugged and reliable. It uses an APC model airplane prop which works really well and costs under $20. I got it down to only 3 custom metal parts that need to be fabricated.

    The hull is 13 feet as a one seater, and 17 feet as a two seater.

    What do you think? I'd love to hear all of your comments and suggestions.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Welcome to the Forum, Bgoldthorpe ! It is an interesting concept and I look forward to seeing the build progress. Others here on the forum will be better able to answer any questions you may have.




    Rick

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Ditto
    Looks very interesting. Can you pull up the props to unfoul them?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    following with interest

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by David W Pratt View Post
    Ditto
    Looks very interesting. Can you pull up the props to unfoul them?

    Yes. The drive installs like the daggerboard on a sail boat. It also tips back if it bottoms out.

    I've already built one of the drives. Here are some pics...
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Nice job on the drive build !

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    That looks well thought out.

    If the drives function as well as they look you could market them.

    You will find that it is best when rowing to remove the unit entirely and plug the bottom of the well. Otherwise the aft bulkhead will plow.

    Here's mine. It rows, pedals and has a Minn Kota Riptide (salt water) 40 (I think, I've forgotten the actual number).

    The pedals were temporary.

    028.jpg

    029.jpg

    031.jpg

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Gib, you make beautiful boats, Man. I never get tired of looking at pictures of them.

    I actually started fiddling with the model yesterday, and I thought of you very fondly. I canít imagine having an entire, full sized boat built from such BEAUTIFUL wood. It is just glorious stuff.

    The yellow, especially. I can find some decent red around here inside old fence boards.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    I'm pleased to have been of assistance Rob, and glad to see that you're finally doing it.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    B. G.,

    I'd love to see the guts of that pedal drive.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post
    I'm pleased to have been of assistance Rob, and glad to see that you're finally doing it.
    It has been nice to return to such a folly as a boat model, and a true joy to be reminded what a generous and wonderful group of people are here.

    And genius!

    Like, this pedal drive. I am blown away, and would also love to see the hows and whats.

    This is a great place.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by bgoldthorpe View Post
    Yes. The drive installs like the daggerboard on a sail boat. It also tips back if it bottoms out.

    I've already built one of the drives. Here are some pics...
    How far does it tip back? I would be concerned about breaking a prop on the boats bottom. If you are pushing forward on the pedals, does it have a weak link to hold it down?
    You may find that the long one with two drives will not turn for toffee.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    This is fascinating, I too would like to see how you engineered the pedal drive units.

    If you can generate reasonable power I would expect the 17 foot hull to be the fastest even with only one person aboard. That length is about optimum for rowboats.

    It sounds like this is not your first attempt, any links to the earlier boats?

    -Rick Thompson

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    I'll be on board for this build too.
    I may be a customer for one of those drives if you should decide to start making them.
    It looks really good.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    I like the double. It won't go much faster with 2 pedalling but by alternating you can optimize on endurance while increasing max distance by perhaps 80%.

    Once again, I'd love to see the drive train in one of those units.

    How is it lubed?

    Longer slots may allow you to tilt the units up enough that you have nothing extending below the bottom, best for easy beaching. On mine, as you can see, I allowed for that by being able to tilt and lift.

    Also, I can tell you from experience that you will need to clear weeds from time to time. That's unavoidable, at least where I live.

    17 seems a bit too short to me. 18 to 19 might be better, with 16 for when single. Long and skinny is sweet. The extra weight will add to carry between strokes when rowing and you'll have more room for dry storage/flotaion and a dog, or a little kid, or both.

    You know I'll be watching!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Is it a twisted chain or right-angle gears? I've built a couple of units and it's a fascinating rabbit hole to go down.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    How far does it tip back? I would be concerned about breaking a prop on the boats bottom. If you are pushing forward on the pedals, does it have a weak link to hold it down?
    You may find that the long one with two drives will not turn for toffee.
    The model airplane props are pretty durable. I'm not too worried about it breaking...and if it does, they're pretty cheap. It will have some mechanism to hold it down. I think probably a bungee. Also, It's going to have a little fence along one side of the opening for the drive that will hang down and stop the prop in a vertical position so that it can swing up into the tunnel.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Here is some more info about the drive.

    It's a twisted chain type running in an oil bath.

    The sides are built up from 1/4" plywood. The inside seams are glassed with fiberglass tape and epoxy. The rear seam has a big fillet of thickened epoxy under the tape. The nose is shaped from solid wood stock. I used mahogany for both the ply and the nose but thats just because I had some leftovers. I don't think it really makes too much difference what kind of wood it's made out of. The entire outside was glassed and the entire inside got two coats of epoxy.

    The core of the bottom bracket is the only complicated piece that needs to be machined. It basically supports the prop shaft on bearings and has a shaft seal for the prop shaft and an o ring to seal the outer circumference. The bottom bracket core slides into an aluminum tube (no machining). The aluminum tube is between two half ribs that form a cavity around it inside the drive. That entire cavity is filled with epoxy to hold secure the tube. So that part should structurally be really secure.

    The upper pedal crank shaft is a modified bike part. The one I made used a straight splined shaft. The only thing I had to do was cut a slot for a woodruff key where the sprocket mounts. It's mounted to the drive with mounted roller bearings from Mcmaster Carr. I got everything except the bike parts from McMaster. (I love that place) The chain tension can be adjusted by pivoting the roller bearings at their foreword attach points. I set it up with the chain tension really high and I'm hoping that when it wears in a little it will be just right. That way, I won't have to enlarge any holes.

    The one I built is the one on the right in the picture. I found with the geometry of the twisted chain, I wasn't able to get the right gear ratio to use the prop I wanted to. I want to use the APC 16 X 16 prop. The one I built is using a larger prop. I think it's a 20 X 18 that I cut down to 18". So, I'll try this one out and see how it works but the next one will have that little idler gear near the top which will allow me to use the 16 X 16 with the gear ratio that I know works well.

    So that's it. It's dirt simple in principal. The hard part, and the main feature of this drive, was figuring out how to put one together with the least amount of metal fabrication possible. I wanted to design a drive where if a person could work with wood, they could build it. Why is it that I can go to Wal-Mart and buy an ENTIRE bicycle for under a hundred bucks, but a simple drive for a pedal powered boat costs a thousand dollars?!
    Attached Images Attached Images

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post
    That looks well thought out.

    If the drives function as well as they look you could market them.

    You will find that it is best when rowing to remove the unit entirely and plug the bottom of the well. Otherwise the aft bulkhead will plow.

    Here's mine. It rows, pedals and has a Minn Kota Riptide (salt water) 40 (I think, I've forgotten the actual number).

    The pedals were temporary.

    028.jpg

    029.jpg

    031.jpg
    I agree. That is a beautiful boat!

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Color me intrigued. Having a family, this is very appealing. Lots of flexibility, portability, and energy expended.
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

    Ben Sebens, RN

    15' Welsford Navigator Inconceivable
    16' W. Simmons Mattinicus double ender ​Matty

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by bgoldthorpe View Post
    Here is some more info about the drive.

    It's a twisted chain type running in an oil bath.

    The sides are built up from 1/4" plywood. The inside seams are glassed with fiberglass tape and epoxy. The rear seam has a big fillet of thickened epoxy under the tape. The nose is shaped from solid wood stock. I used mahogany for both the ply and the nose but thats just because I had some leftovers. I don't think it really makes too much difference what kind of wood it's made out of. The entire outside was glassed and the entire inside got two coats of epoxy.

    The core of the bottom bracket is the only complicated piece that needs to be machined. It basically supports the prop shaft on bearings and has a shaft seal for the prop shaft and an o ring to seal the outer circumference. The bottom bracket core slides into an aluminum tube (no machining). The aluminum tube is between two half ribs that form a cavity around it inside the drive. That entire cavity is filled with epoxy to hold secure the tube. So that part should structurally be really secure.

    The upper pedal crank shaft is a modified bike part. The one I made used a straight splined shaft. The only thing I had to do was cut a slot for a woodruff key where the sprocket mounts. It's mounted to the drive with mounted roller bearings from Mcmaster Carr. I got everything except the bike parts from McMaster. (I love that place) The chain tension can be adjusted by pivoting the roller bearings at their foreword attach points. I set it up with the chain tension really high and I'm hoping that when it wears in a little it will be just right. That way, I won't have to enlarge any holes.

    The one I built is the one on the right in the picture. I found with the geometry of the twisted chain, I wasn't able to get the right gear ratio to use the prop I wanted to. I want to use the APC 16 X 16 prop. The one I built is using a larger prop. I think it's a 20 X 18 that I cut down to 18". So, I'll try this one out and see how it works but the next one will have that little idler gear near the top which will allow me to use the 16 X 16 with the gear ratio that I know works well.

    So that's it. It's dirt simple in principal. The hard part, and the main feature of this drive, was figuring out how to put one together with the least amount of metal fabrication possible. I wanted to design a drive where if a person could work with wood, they could build it. Why is it that I can go to Wal-Mart and buy an ENTIRE bicycle for under a hundred bucks, but a simple drive for a pedal powered boat costs a thousand dollars?!
    This is a neat unit, looking to hear more about how it works in service

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    My favorites are the simplest pedal drives (having gone downtime opposite roads) and it seems like you are on a good path. I took a bunch of photos of R2AK drives and put them in a blog post. Apologies if I posted this before. https://gougeon32.blogspot.com/2018/...2ak-boats.html
    My favorite is the second one. Sitting sideways sure makes things easier. Pushing big boats with pedal drives is horrible, but I'd love to make a small go-fast pedal boat some day.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by bgoldthorpe View Post
    The model airplane props are pretty durable. I'm not too worried about it breaking...and if it does, they're pretty cheap. It will have some mechanism to hold it down. I think probably a bungee. Also, It's going to have a little fence along one side of the opening for the drive that will hang down and stop the prop in a vertical position so that it can swing up into the tunnel.
    I experimented with the RC prop on my 18' fantail launch and was amazed that a little prop like that could drive my boat to almost hull speed. It was mounted on an 80 lb. thrust trolling motor that proved too much for the prop. It deformed after a while. It should work fine on your slow rpm set-up.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    One thing to think about is a way to index and lock your cranks and prop so the blade is vertical when you want to remove it from your "daggerboard" trunk. I have a similar set up and drilled throng the upper case and sprocket and I install a pin for removal or insertion. It is really hard to see the position of the propellor through the "daggerboard" slot.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    I made a 1/4 scale model out of poster board just to verify the hull patterns. Don't want to waste any okoume!
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    ^ A lot of wetted surface and beam for a man powered boat. I would try for double chine at least.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    ^ A lot of wetted surface and beam for a man powered boat. I would try for double chine at least.
    My reaction to. What is the beam of the design? Once settled in, 30" would be doable and 36" comfortable for most anyone. Anything beyond that is extra weight and drag. My personal approach would be to stick with the single chine and trim the overall width to keep it simple and retain maximum initial stability.
    -Dave

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    My reaction to. What is the beam of the design? Once settled in, 30" would be doable and 36" comfortable for most anyone. Anything beyond that is extra weight and drag. My personal approach would be to stick with the single chine and trim the overall width to keep it simple and retain maximum initial stability.
    Flare helps with stability as well. Select a good waterline beam and a narrower bottom to reduce drag.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  29. #29
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    There is a long running thread over on the boat design forums on Pedal powered boats, there are some seriously quick boats on there.
    I used to row a lot but have had to curtail it a lot due to old injury & subsequent arthritis.
    A pedal boat really appeals.
    Im thinking along the lines of a hull shaped like a training rowing shell about 20ft long, proa outrigger or foil stabilised tri.
    Right angle drive with trailing spring steel shaft alongside. This configuration seems to be by far the most efficient .

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    I'd add another chine and replace the stern section with an exact replica of the bow section, but that's just the unintelligible ravings of a guy who's brain has been affected by a bad case of double enderitis. Even minus the cerebral damage I'd do as described though, I think, it's hard to tell.
    Doing so would add a couple of feet of length too. That would be a good thing

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    The beam is 36" at the waterline. Every design is a collection of trade off's. So, having said that, the goal of this boat is not speed. Although this will be faster than most oar powered canoes and kayaks, what I'm going for is more of a stable platform for general use. I want to use it for fishing. I want to be able to go swimming off the back. I want to throw a cooler on it and enjoy the day at the beach on lake Michigan, or cruse the Chicago river. I want something relatively simple to build. I want to be able to transport it without a trailer and store it in the basement (not taking up a space in the garage). These were the ideas I had in mind with this design.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    All of those factors really appeal to me as a Family Adventure boat. Load it on top of the car/van/truck, go play in the water for a day, then stow it out of the way until its time to play again. Safe, beamy, stable for kids, able to carry lots of unnecessary gear. Build an extra section to hold extra children.
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

    Ben Sebens, RN

    15' Welsford Navigator Inconceivable
    16' W. Simmons Mattinicus double ender ​Matty

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    Quote Originally Posted by BBSebens View Post
    All of those factors really appeal to me as a Family Adventure boat. Load it on top of the car/van/truck, go play in the water for a day, then stow it out of the way until its time to play again. Safe, beamy, stable for kids, able to carry lots of unnecessary gear. Build an extra section to hold extra children.

    Hey! I've been struggling with coming up with a name for this boat. I kind of like FAB...Family Adventure Boat!

    If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them....Please, not Boaty McBoatface! I believe that's taken already!

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    With that use in mind, I'll say it makes sense as you have it. Especially for fishing - the reserve stability is needed. I will politely disagree that it will be faster than most oar-powered boats and kayaks, however. But I'll be following and looking toward the water trials.
    -Dave

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Pedal powered boat build

    I finally started cutting some wood!

    First, I printed the parts patterns. The page was 34.5 feet long! luckily, I didn't run out of paper or ink.

    I use a light mist of 3m77 adhesive to hold them on the plywood.

    I decided to start with the seats. I wanted to make sure they are comfortable and strong enough before I started on the rest of the boat in case I have to make any changes. The seats are kind of complicated with a high parts count. My earlier boats have much simpler seats but they are kind of a pain to adjust. These will have an adjustment for recline and forward/backward. They will also eventually have some sort of cushion or pad
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