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krayzt
krayzt

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:16pm

Post Subject: Narrowboat hulls; Hemp fibre.

Hi there, I am currently in the process of planning how to design and have built, a hemp-fibre hull, fully nature powered, narrowboat. However, I am unsure as to whether it is possible to have a hemp and silica or hemp and some other fibre boarding for teh hull, instead of the generic steel or what-have-you. Does anybody have, of know others who have knowledge of whether or not anyone is providing the ability to have boats built using hemp fibre hulls? I would be greatfl for any assistance in this matter, as I need to work out my escape from the FA lifestyle soon as i am able. Thankyou. Tohmm

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:43am

Post Subject: Narrowboat hulls; Hemp fibre.

To be honest I doubt any boat builders would use anything other than products that have been proven to work, that is wood, steel, aluminium, or GRP. Personally I have no knowledge of the long term durability, structural strength and impact resistance of the products you talk about. Hemp fibre & silica does not sound very strong to me, but who knows. The traditional "green" material for narrowboats was wood, probably an inch or more thick to resist the impacts on stone, steel and concrete that are inevitable on canals. I am also not sure what you have in mind when you say "fully nature powered". If you are thinking of solar electrical power then please research very diligently to see if you can mount enough panels on a narrowboat to provide propulsion and domestic electricity during the worst winter months. Then make sure you know exactly what the Canal and River Trust expect you to do travel/distance wise if you register as a continuous cruiser.

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:47am

Post Subject: Narrowboat hulls; Hemp fibre.

I have just had a very quick Google for the products you mention and most hits seem to be talking about thermal insulation, not structural boards.

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:13am

Post Subject: Narrowboat hulls; Hemp fibre.

In teh absence of any other replys I have been doing further research into this question. There are references and promotional material for Hempcrete and also an odd reference to hemps suitability for furniture and beams but I have found no technical data for such products. Whatever the product it hemp is a natural fibre and a such it is subject to bio-degradation. I would suggest more so if the fibres are allowed to absorb water. This means that any product suitable for boat building will have to contain the hemp behind a waterproof barrier like some type of resin binder. If the "resin" is derived form a natural product then the binder itself is likely to be subject to bio-degradation. If its petrochemical based then it is no longer a green or natural product. Even then any damage that allows the ends of the hemp fibres to come into contact with water is likely to allow wicking and accelerated degradation. On this basis I an not see such a product being suitable for boat building. Hempcrete is interesting because there have been many boats built form Seacrete which is fairly conventional concrete layered on steel reinforcing. The natural PH of the Seacrete tends to protect the steel from corrosion BUT you can see Seacrete boats with rust stains on the hull and even failure where rust has forced the concrete away form the former. One could argue that Hempcrete sprayed onto a plug or into a mould would result in a hull similar but heavier to a GRP hull BUT we come back to how to prevent the fibres absorbing water and degrading. I am still convinced that until I can find definitive data on suitable hemp products any such project is unlikely to be successful. At present the only "natural" building material for a boat that is likely to last - be it with more maintenance - is wood and that will be expensive.

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