Barge building questions - RC Groups
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Oct 17, 2006, 01:36 PM
Registered User

Barge building questions

Alright everyone, need some input
I'm about to start building a couple of hopper barges. Plan is to build 2 now with more later, probably up to 4 total, maybe 6, who knows.
In 1/48, the barge will be 50" l x 8.75" w x 3.75" h, roughly of course
So question, should i build each out of wood, (most likely) or i have been toying with the idea of building 1 wooden plug and pulling fiberglass shells of of it. Has anyone else made their own fiberglass hulls? Pros? Cons? I'm just thinking qty wise, it would be simple to have 1 mold and pull hulls from it. then i would use wood to build structures and decks within the barge hull.

The other question is weight, did a rough calc with loaded water line and i need ~42lbs to displace that amount of volume. wood or even fiberglass comes no where near that weight. So i was thinking of a hollow chamber under the barge floor and holes on bottom of barge and let water fill some of the barge to help ease some of the weight requirement. I have not did any calculations with this idea though.

Has anyone built barges of this size and put them down to the scale loaded water line? Another concern is that with the barges at the loaded water line, i'm looking at about ~.75" freeboard. Not much room for error. I would need to make sure i consider water washing over and not submerging the whole thing. I know wood floats, but 20 - 30 lbs of weight does not

Just looking for inputs and ideas..
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Oct 17, 2006, 02:47 PM
r/c ships and workboats
Mitch, doing a plug for "glass" hulls to mass produce is a good way to go if you have the time, funds and room. The advantages being ease of multiple builds, water and strength integrity, and easy to modify to your needs. As far as displacement goes.. here is a couple of thoughts:
1) Build as you would a prototype and add removeable ballast.
2) Build the barge with flooding holes in it so that you can use the water as ballast. To keep the model from sinking any farther than desired, fill the cavity of the hull with sheet foam(dense cored--blue, pink or grey) to the bottom deck. This will allow for the barge to settle without sinking, keeping it bouyant.
Oct 17, 2006, 03:43 PM
Registered User
Keith, I havn't priced the glass materials yet, but time and room aren't that big of a deal. Even if i build with wood, i would most likely glass the hull to help protect it(would also add a little weight).
For any barge construction, i was thinking of your option #2 with barge flooding to ballast the barge. I really don't want to haul 30 lbs of ballast around for each barge.
I just need to figure out my build plan to account for this.
Oct 17, 2006, 03:44 PM
River Rat
towboatjoe's Avatar
Keith is pretty well steering you right. You can also fix the flooding holes to where they can be plugged off for an empty barge.
Here's drawings and photos of the new 200' x 35' x13' hoppers being built for AEP.

Old River Bill and I built barges all the time. He's trying techniques now with rare earth magnets built into the hulls for coupling them together. He's been writing about the experiments on tugs & tows yahoo group

Are you planning to use open hoppers or put covers on some of them? I've got photos of fiberglass lids, steel lids, and sliding lids.
Oct 17, 2006, 03:55 PM
Registered User
Joe, thats the plans i'm using, gottem from you of course.
Other than magnets, what the tried and trued method of attaching multiple barges together as well as tieing the whole tow to the towboat.
I was planning on the open hoppers, but would like to put covers on the 2nd set of barges. Do you have any drawings of the covers with dimensions. Pictures would be great also, kinda have a preference towards the fiberglass covers.
Oct 17, 2006, 04:16 PM
Registered User
Joe, i've seen pics from you of a propane barge, any drawings for that thing?
Oct 17, 2006, 07:24 PM
River Rat
towboatjoe's Avatar
Glad you're leaning toward the fiberglass lids because those are the only ones I do happen to have drawings for. i was going to vac-u-form mine. Bill is going to do his differently.
Oct 17, 2006, 07:33 PM
River Rat
towboatjoe's Avatar
Is this the propane barge you're speaking of?

I haven't made any drawings yet, but I have worked on drawings for the Anhydrous Ammonia barge.

Here's some photos of the old style Propane barge with tanks in a hopper.
Oct 17, 2006, 08:32 PM
Registered User
Yes, those are the propane barges i was speaking of. I like the way the new propane barge looks. Might be kinda cool to make a model of. If were to go with something like the older propane barge where the tanks where in the hopper. Do you know what the dimension of the tanks are (Length and diameter)?
Oct 17, 2006, 09:42 PM
River Rat
towboatjoe's Avatar
Sorry I don't know the size of the tanks. The best thing to do is buiild a hopper and measure for four tanks of equal size that will fit inside.

The new Propane barge is probably around 200' x 35'. I noticed that this one is a box barge (no rake).
Oct 18, 2006, 12:24 AM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

Barge thoughts....

I just built 5 wooden barges, 1/48 scale, using some pretty simple, low cost construction techniques. But they were built primarily to make up a tow and not for real super-scale detail. I painted with Krylon and heavily top coated with Krylon clear satin. They seem to be holding up very well and show no signs of absorbing water. I made a simple representation of a fiberglass top by just using an inverted $2 plastic wallpaper wetting pan. After getting a lot of material from TB Joe, I'm now more intent on making more detailed scale barges and building a detailed towboat.
Anyway - what do you want to have? - a large number of barges that look pretty good out on the water or some really detailed true to scale barges? If it's number one, my advice on ballasting is that weights are a pain to deal with, flooding gives up some opportunity to use the barge to hold some big amp-hr batteries (your boat will need em to push the barges around for any length of time) or sound systems etc. Better solution, which won't look scale out of water but will look ok in water is to build very shallow draft models - sides maybe only 3/4 to 1" high. I haven't tried this yet, but even if I build very detailed scale barges, I will probably build em very shallow draft and give up on the scale appearance when out of water.
Some pics with info attached.
Oct 18, 2006, 12:38 AM
Registered User
Dan, your barges are probably more real scale looking than mine will turn out.
Great looking barges you have there.
Do you have any build up pics for your barges? Materials used?
The battery in the barge is a great idea. Do you have any pics of how the wire attaches from the barge to the towboat. do you have seperate batteries in the towboat if you choose to run without the barges?
Just looking for ideas.
Oct 18, 2006, 01:44 AM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

barge build info

Here is a summary of the build. I would use 1'' boards for the sides (only3/4 inch high) to get the deep draft look without a lot of ballast.
I don't have a pic of the power jumper, but its just some 20g black stranded flexible wire twisted together. Runs from batts to a plug in the front of the cabin.
I have batts in the boat. Cut them out of teh circuit with a switch when using the power jumper from teh barge. Pushing a lot of barges around eats the batteries. Putting heavy amp batts in the barges works great.
Last edited by DanL; Oct 18, 2006 at 01:50 AM.
Oct 18, 2006, 09:07 AM
Registered User
Best advice is to build with the material you are most familiar/comfortable with. As you've already found out, the 'water ballast' method certainly works, and is a fairly simple way to do it (less chance of hernias! ).
- 'Doc
Oct 18, 2006, 09:55 AM
River Rat
towboatjoe's Avatar
I'm going to build my next tow with shallow draft so I can stack them on a rack for transportation and stowage. Who has room in their house to display a bunch of barges anyway?

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