Author Topic: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build  (Read 1401 times)

Offline vtsteam

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Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« on: August 24, 2020, 01:27:27 PM »
Last winter I designed and built an experimental 12 foot superlight  fishing boat out of foam and polyester fabric. I named the boat Flier, after a type of panfish found in Florida. The boat was very easy and quick to build -- my tool of choice was a used hacksaw blade. I built it in a tiny temporarily rented studio space, as will become evident!

Here's a video of the build:

I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com

Offline Brass_Machine

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2020, 02:35:46 PM »
This is very cool!
Science is fun.

We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.

Offline awemawson

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2020, 02:37:41 PM »
A very interesting build Steve - came out looking just right  :thumbup:

Was the idea of building Flier in a small rented space to demonstrate how it was possible with minimal space and facilities, or were you all frozen up at home?

Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2020, 03:17:26 PM »
Thanks Eric!  :beer:
Andrew!  :beer:  Heh,  both, (plus I didn't have more to spend on a bigger rental. A friend works in the owner's office and I was able to rent it for a very reasonable amount one month between "real" tenants.)

I kinda wanted to see what could be done with absolutely minimum of everything. Tiny workspace. No bench, almost no tools, a couple of cardboard boxes for "sawhorses". Duct tape for clamps (cramps?). And almost all low VOC water-cleanup materials, and no fiberglass. The building space was two feet longer than the finished boat. Tools were basically an old dull hacksaw blade (better than a new one for foam -- cuts cleaner instead of digging in and tearing), some sandpaper, and paintbrushes.

I think the result is pretty sophisticated despite the lowly materials and conditions.

Compared to my kayak ( a Lifetime Tamarack Angler) this boat weighs less than half. carries 50% more weight (also naturally has 350 lbs of flotation in the foam. -- you could saw it in half and it would still float that much weight). And I do 4-1/2 mph without straining, compared to 3.3 mph in the kayak (gps measured rates). That gives me a 15 minute access to 4 square miles of fishing, vs. 2 square miles in the kayak. A mile an hour does make a noticeable difference by the end of the day.

The other big difference is comfort and stability. I can move around in Flier, but am stuck in one seated position in the kayak. Oh also, I can portage Flier on my shoulders because the seat placement puts the balance point there. Can't do that with the kayak (sit-on-top style). You have to drag it or carry all 67 pounds on it side by a handle. 30 feet and I'm feeling it. I can carry Flier down a trail for a half hour before really wanting a rest. It's more like backpacking.

Anyway, obviously I'm proud of the boat. Wish I'd had it years ago.
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com

Offline Pete.

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2020, 03:24:13 PM »
That's fantastic Steve!

How is the directional stability? It seems to have very little draft and having no keel except that thin centre strake does it not tend to want to wander like a coracle?

Offline awemawson

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2020, 03:40:17 PM »
Well the POW's in Colditz managed to build a workable glider in a small space in an attic hidden behind a false wall so I suppose there is a sort of precedent  :clap:
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2020, 04:29:28 PM »
Pete there's a small skeg in the stern, shown on the plans among other details not shown in the already compressed video.

Tracks nicely. Skeg is small and sturdy enough not to hang up upon beaching or in weeds.



I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2020, 04:30:43 PM »
Well the POW's in Colditz managed to build a workable glider in a small space in an attic hidden behind a false wall so I suppose there is a sort of precedent  :clap:

Now that's ingenuity and minimal space. Must have been interesting getting that down stairs and out the front door!
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com

Offline awemawson

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2020, 04:41:58 PM »
The plan was to launch it from the ridge of the castle roof using a heavy counter weight to get it up to flight speed.

Intended as a last ditch way of communicating with any over enthusiastic 'liberators' intent on razing any German held fortifications to the ground.

Some years ago a replica was built and a test flight was made that showed it would have worked. Desperate time desperate measures.

. . . but we digress - sorry !
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline howsitwork?

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2020, 03:50:08 PM »
very nice and of real value to you daily !

Or was it just a way of dodging chores for a month elsewhere our of SWMBO recall ?

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2020, 06:24:45 PM »
Why,  whatever do you mean?  :beer:
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
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Offline Sea.dog

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2020, 01:55:37 AM »
A fascinating build. So much can be done with so little.

Offline howsitwork?

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2020, 04:42:26 AM »
a wonderful to watch and the speed of sanding leaves me breathless. 😳

Does the salsa music really add that much speed to the construction rate??  I use caffeine personally but thatís addictive so you being pure and unsullied would no doubt scorn it 🤣

 Really impressive build and concept ! I must admit to being doubtful when you showed the shots of the build space in the first minutes but you did an excellent job of taking us through it.

I still think itís a way out of chores for a month but your secret is safe with the collective, all,of whom have their own excuses and bolt holes....😉

Offline howsitwork?

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2020, 04:47:16 AM »
🤦‍♂️ Doh

Iíve just realised SWMBO must be holding the camera !! Thatís why your working so fast !! Critical supervision !!

What did you use to waterproof the reinforcing cloth please?

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2020, 11:29:01 AM »
Thanks SeaDog!  :beer:

Howsit work: decaf, yes, all shots were via tripod, and which made it take much longer to build. Well over 100 takes, were shot, two weeks of editing, and a month of drawing, writing and rewriting 29 pages of the very specific and detailed plan booklet.

That's a lot of detail for such a simply built boat, but if it isn't built precisely the way I did, it will likely result in an unsuccessful boat for an unknowledgeable builder. That's a concern. Therefore I'm not presenting partial build detail outside of the full plans. They are a lot more detailed and specific about methods, processes, and materials than the video. I do apologize for that. I think of the plan booklet as a channel donation anyway. Definitely optional.
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com

Offline howsitwork?

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2020, 03:04:58 PM »
Steve

fully understand and agree. I am amazed at the concept and execution. Well done

regards Ian

Offline millwright

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2020, 02:23:53 PM »
I Enjoyed watching that build Steve, just wondering how strong and abrasion resistant it is.

Regards John

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2020, 04:21:38 PM »
Well, it's very strong (a somewhat hard to define word -- it has high stiffness and is damage resistant due to the containment quality of the fabric skins), and surprisingly abrasion resistant. Not that I intentionally try to abuse it.

As an example, I was out in some nasty stuff on Lake Champlain two weeks ago -- I got caught out from an island we were camping on, with wind speeds over a long stretch of open water at 10-20 mph gusting, and waves building to small whitecaps. I had no problems with maintaining control and course at close to 90 degrees to wind and wave. Very buoyant and it rose so well to the swells that I didn't take a drop of water on board. After five minutes of it I felt quite comfortable, and not worried. Took me a couple minutes more than normal to make a crossing (I made two I was so confident after the first one.) It really handled well. I had aboard maybe 230 lbs total with my own weight, anchor, fishing gear, and ferried supplies aboard, so with the boat weight maybe 260 lbs.

In equivalent conditions once in my commercially built kayak (Lifetime Tamarack Angler) on the same lake (it's about 100 miles long and 13 wide btw -- not a pond!) last summer, and at about the same weight, I was definitely worried, and wet. Took on plenty of water. I had to quarter into the wind and very slowly crab sideways to my intended landing point about a mile away, and that took me a half hour of carefully white-knuckling it. I had to constantly correct and frequently point up into an oncoming wave if bigger than normal, then swivel back to quartering. It was definitely not a fun ride.

I should say, both times there was a relatively close and friendly lee shore, and I had a life preserver on, so there was probably little ultimate danger, but nobody wants to dump, lose all your gear, and have to get rescued or walk to someone's house asking for assistance.

Flier is quite strong and stiff, and has built in abrasion resistant reinforcing on vulnerable areas. These are an important part of the design more fully detailed on the plans. Foam covered with fabric seems to resist dents much more than you'd expect, and if dented has essentially self-healed on my boat. After 25 fishing trips it really looks like new. But even so, serious damage would be very easily repaired with this construction. Just cut out a rectangle bigger than the damage, splice back a matching chunk of foam and patch over with cloth, and then paint.

One thing in its favor re. hangar rash, is its light weight. Twice, due to wind, I've accidentally dropped it sideways off of my car roof racks onto a hard packed gravel parking lot. At only 27 pounds on 12 feet of length, it just bounced on its side lightly with no damage. And I've put about 5000 miles on it atop my car, including two 500 mile journeys and two 150 mile jaunts so far. There's a lot of wind pressure exerting upward force at 65 mph on an inverted boat atop of a car, especially stuck behind a semi truck throwing turbulence. Add to that crosswinds at times and a boat like this one is probably withstanding more breaking forces than it does rowing in waves.

I will say this isn't a whitewater boat for bony rivers  -- I'd take an ABS plastic canoe for that, by preference. But of course, that wasn't the design intention for Flier And it does have the advantage of half the weight.

This boat just works, for me, at least.  :beer:


I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com

Offline millwright

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2020, 03:07:11 PM »
Sounds like you have really put it to the test then, and its come out with flying colours, and more comfortable than the kayak. a great success. I wonder if with a squared off stern and some reinforcing it would take a small outboard, probably ok with no extra strength for an electric one.

Regards John.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2020, 09:28:57 PM by vtsteam »

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2020, 09:31:20 PM »
Hi John, no outboard for a number of reasons -- just one is that gasoline dissolves foam, and it would be hard to guarantee absolutely no pinholes or voids, or vapor penetration with the water-based materials used.

Electric power is do-able, though I'd design for that specifically, rather than modify this particular boat. But as soon as you start adding heavy batteries, wiring and trolling motors and transoms, a lot of the gratifying "instant get afloat", with a super lightweight car topped boat disappears. You have to carry more gear to the boat, clamp in place, hook it up, etc. Portaging becomes a multi-hike exercise. The boat now weighs more, displaces more, and rows harder when not motoring. Since the point of a motor is to reduce work, there isn't much reduction with all the setup and carrying required.  :(

Rowing truly is easy though, as is.  :med:

And well, good for me! :whip:
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com

Offline WeldingRod

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2020, 10:11:59 PM »
Very cool!  I want to file the serial numbers off the technique and turn it to other uses... Mwah, ha, ha!

Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk


Offline vtsteam

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Re: Flier: An Ultralight 27 lb Foam Fishing Boat Build
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2020, 11:45:51 AM »
Actually the technique came from experiments with the model airplanes I've been building for the last 15 years, (called Hacksaw Specials) and before that from the full size ultralight aircraft plans for the Skypup that I bought 20 years ago that was in fact designed 37 years ago. Which is to say, a lightweight fabric covered foam structure, not using fiberglass cloth or polyester resin..

My own contributions are only the actual boat design, the details of its structure, developing procedures for quicker results than conventional boat building methods, and testing and selecting specific currently locally available materials. Those are the "devil in the details" kinds of things that make it build more easily, fulfill multiple requirements, perform better, and last better for the intended function. And that's why it took 29 pages to draw and explain beyond the video. A fabric and foam boat is a simple and reasonably well-known concept, but in this case a very specific execution.

If you do a lookup on Youtube for foam boat -- you'll see a hundred of them. But I think you can also tell they aren't like this one.
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com