Converting a Totally Enclosed Lifeboat

pedena

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I have a Survival Craft SC65F totally enclosed lifeboat in good condition fitted with a lovely 3 cylinder Yanmar engine with low hours.
The aim is to alter the upperworks to provide a useable and practical boat for pottering about and fishing with friends.
My main query is to do with the rigidity of the hull if the whole upperworks were to be removed, is there enough strength left ? Possible a 'normal' hull has a lid bonded to it in which case I see no real problem but the join is well glassed in and it is not readily apparent.
Has anyone undertaken such a project with one of these craft?
I have e-mailed the Survival Craft Inspectorate who originally supplied the boat but to date they have not replied (boats are made in Chine).
 

neil_s

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It doesn't sound as if your intended use is going to put much stress on the hull - you don't plan to drop it into a Force 10 storm from 30 or 40 feet up after all! I would find out how thick the layup of the hull is to start with. If you are going to cut the whole top off, maybe think about a thwart or two? Maybe leave a small cuddy forward? Possibly the worst stress the hull would have to withstand would be crane slings. You might also need some ballast to make up for the GRP you cut away. An interesting project! Good luck with it!

Neil
 

prv

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You're not in Kemp's Quay by any chance are you? I saw a "pod" lifeboat being lifted ashore there a few weeks ago.

Pete
 

Herald

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Not a problem at all. There are a lot of the old ones ex the offshore platforms that get sold on for just that purpose. Can't remember the name of the company, but there's a place up here in Aberdeen that will sell you them complete or cut the top off for an extra £250 and sell the as open boats.
 

penfold

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Cut the roof off or it will roll like a pig, the things are very heavily built(even the roof) and will not become floppy. The roof acts as a echochamber and engine noise will deafen you even with half-decent sound insulation. You will also need to ballast it to avoid it behaving like a cork as they are designed to be bouyant and safe rather than dynamic; directional stability is poor even partially laden. The hardchine ones seem to steer a bit better.
 

pedena

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Thanks for all the comments, I have sailed these before and yes they roll like a pig and are a bit windy. Once the air bottles are removed from just above the keel there either has to be some ballast put in or top hamper taken off.
Initial idea was to leave a cuddy forward and chop the top off just for'd of the side doors, then resite steering etc. You know what will happen - cut some off then find it might have been better to do it another way !
Still, will try to keep you up to date in case my observations will help someone else. The boat is actually outside my house at present, and yes several neighbours think it is a submarine.
 

Poignard

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In the early 1950s John Lewis wrote a book called 'Small Boat Conversions' which dealt with converting ship's lifeboats into yachts.

Naturally, it dealt only with the clinker-built lifeboats but the sections on building and fitting out cabins, and installing engines and masts might be helpful to you.

I see that old copies are still available from Amazxon but the one I read I ordered through my local library.

Other books that might be useful are 'From a Bare Hull' by Ferenc Mate and 'Fitting Out a Fibreglass Hull' by Michael Collins.
 

William_H

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Converting life boat

I have a friend who a few years back bought a production 25ft keel boat from the factory but only the hull itself. He didn't like the production deck with aft cabin. He then made a wooden female mold and produced the deck which was then attached to the hull. A bit of work but very doable. If you cut the top right off you could also reduce the free board if that would look better.
Being in one piece he did the cockpit self draining and a cabin top.
Yes he did have to support the hull as in its original condition the gunwhales were very floppy. you could vary the beam by several inches with one finger. Once the deck molding was attached of course it became very rigid. good luck olewill
 

William_H

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conversion

Ok if my above idea is too much work. The next option is cutting the hull down and fitting a plywood deck.
I always liked the flush deck style with high free board at the front with a steep down ton a cockpit.
A solid wooden gunwhale internal to hull bolted to an external rubbing strip should support beams to take ply cover. Don't forget plenty of camber for water run off.
At the cockpit you do similar wood inside hull rubbing strip outside. However the beams need to have a step down for the cockpit for legs. You sit on the gunwhale extended inwards. Or have stepped cross section so you have seats lower than gunwhale then floor. Do make it all water tight ie self draining. This is vital to clear rain. At the bulkhead you need a step up to stop water built up in cockpit running into cabin. You might also want a sliding hatch to make entry easier.
Inside I like a simple bunk / seat from bow to under the cockpit wide enough to sleep on at the right height to sit on. Fit this before you fit the deck. This can be made water tight to form floatation tanks.

If you decide to fibreglass seal the deck make the ply quite thin but the fibreglass thick. (especially if you use polyester resin) Fibreglass is thick enough that any lack of adhesion will not matter as fibreglass is thick enough to be the deck on a mold left in place. or use thick plywood and epoxy with thin fibreglass.

Olewill full of ideas (not necessarily good ideas)
 

LifeboatConversion

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That's me!

The enclosed lifeboat at Kemp's is me (well, mine, I suppose, lol). She is 28' and I am in the process of ripping out absolutely everything and fitting her out as a houseboat. Just to make matters more interesting, I am going to give her something of a Victorian/steampunk feel...
 
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