“Looks more like a giant rectangle on wheels than a boat.”

by Vermont Rice

The honesty of five-year-olds.  The title line is Robin’s assessment of the barge in progress.  I will try not to take this as a design critique.  The fact is, that is exactly what it looks like now.

Guest artisan Will Gusakov was around for most of last week helping lay the groundwork for the project.  We cleared space and prepared a special running gear to both support the barge during the work and carry it to launch.  It’s just a heavy hay wagon running gear which we extended to a super-long wheelbase, and then added two I-joists as rails.  These rails provide a great surface on which to assemble the boat.

It wasn’t until Thursday that our unit of 10′ plywood arrived.  Once it was here we were able to really start to sink our teeth into the project.  The following day we laminated the dead-flat center section, which ran the entire length of the 24′ rails.  The curved bow and stern sections will overhang them by 8 feet each.  The dead flat panels are staggered 2 feet on-center and glued into a giant panel with epoxy.

Then on Saturday I removed the clamps and screws that held this lamination together for gluing and added the engineered-lumber chine logs at the sides of the panel.  These tie the whole deadflat structure together.  The floor timbers run between these chine logs, 20″ on-center.  Everything below the waterline is affixed with 3m marine glue.

We’ve deviated in the design a little from orthodox “Triloboat” construction (can such a form be said to have an orthodoxy?  Probably not) considering the duty the barge will perform.  The heavy engineered chine logs and the proliferation of framing members are my twist on Dave Zeiger’s concept and the result of feedback from former Coast Guard and designers of larger composite boats.  We have to consider that our barge may be subject to differential loading (unequal distribution of cargo) in a way that a liveaboard barge hull might not.

Probably by next post the bow and stern should have some form to them that will suggest the final shape. The last of the three photos below is shot from aft looking forward.  The rectangular hole you see in the bulkhead will be an internal passage door between the aft cabin and the cargo compartments.

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