Scavenged Materials for Boatbuilding

Scavenged Materials for Boatbuilding

Postby Dave Z » Mon Feb 13, 2023 9:10 am

I wrote this piece as a blog post a while back for a generally non-cataclysm oriented audience... thought it might be of interest here. - Dave Z
Post with bells and whistles: ... enger.html


For a scavenger, patience is the key to the pantry.

– Delia Owens


Trouble can come upon whole peoples, catching everyone by surprise. It happens. It’s happening now around the world. It can happen here.

Let’s try a little thought experiment…

Say that things have fallen apart, a little or a lot. Either the local, regional or global center did not hold and things got chaotic. Looters came and went, along with most residents.

Say we want or need to build a sailing vessel from scratch with materials at hand in a depleted sub-urban area. Let’s say things have been permanently abandoned, and the moral coast is clear. Let’s further stipulate that all stores have been emptied.

What do we need? What of that is at hand??

Triloboats are designed to comprise a workable minimum. Simple box barge / scows, they are relatively quickly and easily built from rectangular materials (sheets and planks). They’re largely ‘form stable’, requiring little or no ballast.

But there are plenty of other contenders!

Free-standing rigs simplify construction immensely. They are set on what are essentially flagpole principles: get a solid grip at the bottom and let the rest fend for itself.

A whole range of waterproofing puckies can be magicked up from combinations of asphalt, oils, waxes, gas/diesel/mineral spirits/turpentines, cement (lime) and toxins (antifouling).

So let’s look around for what’s at hand…

Residential – Fasteners galore, plywood (sheathing and sub-floor, mostly), 2x framing, beams (solid and composite), hardwoods(?), insulation (foam and fiber), windows, roofing (asphalt, sheet metals and flashing), plumbing, electrical, hinges, carpets, fabrics, housewares, soaps and bleaches. Jonni Rings™ (micro-crystaline wax rings sealing toilets)!!! Electronic and electrical.

Commercial buildings and schools – Bolts, hardware, hardwoods (bars and VIP enclaves), plumbing/piping, stainless sheets and furnishings (from kitchens), propane hardware (can be used with home brew methane), industrial cleaning agents, big glass, plexiglass, electrical, asphalt (flat roofs). Awnings?

Cars, RVs and trucks – Oils, 12VDC electrical and batteries (keep an eye out for lithium based batteries or better!), alternators + regulators, inverters, engines (can run on wood -smoke or -gas), pumps, hose, radiators (vehicular air conditioning radiators use lead-free solder), bolts, tires, tarps?, jacks, tools and tire irons, maps.

Roads – asphalt, bolts (guardrails), sheet metal (signs), manhole covers (ballast), culverts. Bus-stops (plexiglass).

Power Lines and sub-stations – Poles, guys anchors, bolts and Ubolts, turnbuckles, wire (electrical and supporting cable). Copper for melting and plate production.

Appliances and accessories yield small AC and DC motors (windshield wipers, vacuum cleaners, hairdryers, washers and dryers, etc), alternators and vacuum pumps (refrigerator/freezers).

Line can be found in various ropings, scaffolding and window-washing set-ups, on flag poles. Keep an eye out for line in the back of trucks.

Look around for tools. Saw blades and files are some of the harder things to improvise, so keep an eye out. The business end of power tools can be given handles and used manually. Home garages, garden sheds and firehalls may have been overlooked.

If you’re in a higher-brow kind of area, look for copper furnishings, roofing, gutters and flashing for anti-fouling.

Marinas and boatyards could be full of goodies, up to and including vessels that weren’t cherry-picked and need some work, much of it left behind in the rush to turn-key.

Junk yards, of course. And landfills.

I’ll bet libraries - full of analog know-how - will largely be unlooted. Meantime, any skills acquired in advance of trouble are a plus.

And I didn’t even mention dumpsters!

Point is, we’re awash in material abundance which our ancestors would have coveted, and immediately pressed into service. No matter which way we turn, the merest garbage of our age is the stuff of early sci-fi dreams.

Consider looking around for vessel ideas that might work well with found materials. Let’s use our imaginations! Think out-of-the-box!!

The scenario of our thought experiment is extreme-ish. But no need to await some fallen sky… much of all this is available now for nearly free. Permissions to mine liabilities (condemned or obsolete installations) are easy to come by.

Look around!
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Dave Z
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