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The first job was to draw up the plans in AutoCAD to ensure I was correct in how I imagined the barge to be pieced together. I also wanted to produce a set of plans which could be used again for other projects etc.

With the measurements now known, I could start marking out the plywood. When I went to buy the plywood from B&Q, I had it ripped down to known sizes to both allow for greater accuracy and time saving. I will be using 1/4" & 1/8" ply for the entire build.

I don't own much wood working equipment and cutting the ply to shape and keeping straight lines was a concern. I cut out the longitudinal and vertical frames using a jig saw.

The next job was to assemble the frames and glue them using 15 minute epoxy.

Remarkably, the frames had a good tight fit and uniform shape and edge straightness.

Next was to install the external frame support strips. These provide a greater surface area for the external sheet covering to adhere to. The true scale and size of the thing is starting to come to light - scary.

I thought long and hard about cutting the external covering sheets. I wanted the edges to be clean, straight and crisp. The jigsaw just couldn't do this, nor could my hands keep it steady. I don't know anybody with a table saw with an adjustable fence, but I did come across a dremel attachment. Its a circular saw which has a capacity of cutting upto 6mm or 1/4" deep. Perfect for my little project. I did however envisage cutting my fingers off with this thing, something which is quite the norm for both my luck and building methods. I tried a few test pieces which wern't perfect but the saw was easier to maintain a striaght line.

I started the external sheeting by glueing on the end caps of the barge.

Next was the base and angled section at both bow and stern. All the sheet sections were strengthened with strips on the inside of the hull.

You will notice that the edging comes above the deck level framing. This is because the deck will be 1/4" ply, and so will glue in level with the external sheeting.

The joins between sheets were done by bevelling both joining edges.

Then the outer most external sheeting was installed.

You can see how the main longitudinal frames also act as keels for the barge to sit on and to also help keep it straight while under tow. This is a much better way of making them in my opinion, as appose to glueing them directly onto the bottom of the hull.

And finally, that main external sides were glued in place using some empty beer bottles, the contents of which had been drank in the few days of making the barge to this point.

On the stern, there are two fixed rudders which again are the main longitudinal frames.

 

 

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©Dan Walker