Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Making Progress

So spent the last couple of unseasonably warm and beautiful days working on the hull of the sailboat, fiberglassing over the disused thru-hulls and filling in some of the damage an incompetent soda blaster did to the poor hull.  The boat is a mess, but it will do beautifully to let us try out the electrical and drive systems. 

Have I mentioned that I absolutely suck at fiberglass?
So we'll finish doing the fill-in stuff tomorrow, then it's three coats of barrier coat (an epoxy sealant) and two of anti-fouling paint, then we can splash her.

Then the fun REALLY begins.

More shortly, and new stuff at Life, Art, Water.


Thursday, February 16, 2017


Here, as promised, is a rather hurried shot of the former "Guilded Lady" which will serve as the test hull for the new boat.
Soon to be electrified
We proceed.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Some Really Good News

Some really good news ( and I'll post a picture as soon as it stops raining) is that we've essentially been given a free 29' sailboat hull that we can use to test our our drive system.  I'll have to, over the next few weeks, put a new barrier coat on the hull and some antifouling paint, but this will let us do a really solid test of systems for the new boat without building and having to re-build if we're wrong.

This makes me happy.  We're still short on our indiegogo campaign, so if you'd like to participate, you can do so by just clicking here.

More shortly


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Wish List

I thought this would be an appropriate time to throw this up here:  Here's a partial list of the things we need for the new vessel.  Got any of this laying around?  We'd love to have em.

The Wish List:

Building Materials:

3/4” (or so) exterior plywood
3/8' exterior plywood
2X8X10 treated
Stainless or coated exterior star drive screws 1 ¼ “ and 2”

1 1/2” foam insulation
3” glass wool insulation

epoxy resin and hardener
3" fiberglass tape

Bird netting (roll)

Exterior Latex paint
Ablative antifouling paint



Marine VHF Radio and antenna
48 V DC to 110 AC inverter
Bilge pump (manual)
Bilge pump (12V with float)

100 AH 12v deep cycle batteries

140 tooth 8mm drive cog and chain

Other Boat Stuff

Flares, day/night signal devices
ship's bell

Full sized Futon mattress

Designing the Paddlewheel

Our dear friend Robert has worked the math on the wheel structure and supplied us with a hypothetical drawing.  Paddlewheel math is really interesting.  Here's a version:

The basic calculation is this:  The size of the paddles is the wetted surface of the hull (excluding rudder surfaces) divided by the average rpm of the wheel, with the velocity at any given speed calculated as the number of times the circumference of the wheel will play out as distance. So a 10' wheel will travel 100' for every ten revolutions.

Cool, hunh?

More shortly...Just wanted to share this.

indiegogo campaign still going Here.  Lend us a hand building this.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Pnumatically Stabilized Floatation

Also known as "sea cells". . . .I thought I would put on some notes on their use and operation since we've lived with them for a few months.  PSF floats are basically open ended containers, open side down, trapping air for floatation. 

A PSF flotation cell as opposed to a barrel float.
The Great advantage of the sea cells is the ability to top them off, flotation wise.  Here's the thing.  As water temperatures fall in winter, the air inside pontoons or barrel floats contracts.  In some cases, particularly with flexible barrels, the float kind of collapses.  You can lose upt to 10% of your flotation as the temperature drops.

Open bottomed cells can be easily topped off to maintain the same level of buoyancy, or air can be drawn out to make the cell sit lower in the water.   Here's some of the things we've learned using them, though:

1) There's a temptation to fill them all the way with air, and that's fine, but if you do so during cold water days, when the water warms, the air will bubble out as it expands, then when the water cools again, you'll have less air in them than when you started.  A buffer of water should be left at the bottom to keep the air level stable, even though it will contract with temperature.  This "plug" of water also helps keep the boat stable, as the cell will try to lift all the water with it when pushed upward by a wave.

2)  These things are not hydrodynamic.  Wave action, currents, boat motion, can cause air to be mined out of them, reducing your flotation.  Moving the vessel at any speed is right out.  While topping them off and keeping track of the air level isn't difficult, you do have to keep on top of said. 

3)  All that being said, they do work, and work inexpensively.  There is also a great possible application for collapsible floats or docks as the units could potentially be nested and stacked when not in the water.

Thought you'd like to know.  :)

Our Indiegogo campaign continues, and we still can use your help.  If appreciate our projects and would like to show us a little love (and collect some cool swag) drop on over to :  Tesla's Revenge and check it out!

More shortly

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tesla's Revenge Update

Just a quick update on our campaign to raise funds for Tesla's Revenge and on the upcoming build.

And four is six and carry the two. . . .
The campaign is live on Indegogo and we're starting to get in donations, which makes us happy.  If you'd like to participate and be part of this project (and get some cool swag), you can do so by going HERE.

Our friend Robert, who is, among other things, the owner of the fastest paddlewheel boat on earth (no kidding), has been kind enough to do all the engineering computations for the size and shape of the paddlewheel, which has given us some pleasant surprises about the complexity and weight of the thing (more on this later), and we're moving forward with the final design work.  We also will be generating working drawings and renderings as we move through the build.

So, it's a good week for boats.  We move forward.  More shortly.

New stuff at Life, Art, Water, check it out.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Live With Our Campaign!!!

And we're live with our Indegogo campaign for the new version of the shantyboat.  Check it out by clicking HERE.

We're really excited about this, and have some great arty perks for helping out.  Please go check out the campaign page.

  This is gonna be cool.

And it's my birthday :)


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Building Floating EmpireII: Tesla's Revenge

Okay, this is exciting.  We're preparing to build a new, and improved version of our beloved paddlewheel shantyboat, Floating Empire.

For those of you not familiar, the Floating Empire was (and is) a great project:  An electrically driven, off-grid, livaboard paddlewheel shantyboat built with common handtools and out of salvaged and repurposed materials was an idea first conceived in the "Bypassed Technologies" group of Grindlebone Arts, and at once caught people's imaginations.  In a world of rising waters and skyrocketing living costs, the idea of a floating Steampunk tinyhome that could be built by anyone was a  popular idea.  After a year long bout of research and design, work on the boat started in March of 2014 and the boat finally splashed in Middle River off the Chesapeake Bay in early June of that year.
The Floating Empire, just days after launch.
Over the course of the next three years, the vessel served as a living laboratory for tools, techniques, and life on the water.  Through this blog, the full range of vessel construction, ideas, revisions, repairs, product reviews, and experiences were chronologed for tens of thousands of viewers.  It has been, all in all, a great experiment, and a wonderful journey.

But we're not done yet.

The final phase of the project is to apply the lessons we've learned over the last three years of living full time on the water.  Tesla's Revenge will be a floating tinyhome, an off-grid, mobile, electrically driven paddlewheel  livaboard shantyboat, designed to be built of common, inexpensive materials with basic handtools by pretty much anyone.  It will be intended to serve as a safe and snug home for an individual or couple, a fine place to live as well as a vehicle for adventure, experiences, and art.  Every phase of construction and use will be detailed online, free for anyone to use, an open source of information and ideas.

Here's the original launch of the original Floating Empire if you'd like to see her:

On January 21, 2017 we'll be starting an indegogo fundraising campaign to help build the new boat, with some wonderful arts perks from Grindlebone Arts (source of the Center for Bypassed Technologies).  I'll put a link on here.  We're excited.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


For those of you keeping track, we racked off our cranberry cider into a series of (mostly used) flip cap bottles today, adding a bit of brown sugar to each to make some carbonation.
Sigh...never makes as much as I think it will.
This is a particularly yummy batch and it's gonna be a REAL challenge to keep out of it long enough for it to finish fermentation and to age a bit.  My guess is, we won't.

More stuff over at Life, Art, Water, check it out.