1899 “houseboat” plans

Woodworking For Beginners: A Manual for Amateurs

Written in 1899 by Charles G. Wheeler

A house-boat consists of two parts, one of which (the boat) is essentially like the scow or flat boat already described, and the other (the house) is usually much the same as some of the little structures described in Part III. {House-building for Beginners), however expensively and elaborately it may be arranged and fitted up. The advantages of the house-boat for camping, shooting, fishing, and for some kinds of excursions are too well known to require explanation. It is an excellent thing for two or more to build together. It may not be out of place to suggest that, in the desire to have the house sufficiently large and convenient, you should not be misled into making plans which will necessitate building a large boat. Dimensions (on paper) for such things are quite deceptive, and to build a large boat, even of such a simple type as the scow or flatboat, is quite a serious undertaking for the beginner – as regards both labour and expense.

House Boat 484If you can find a scow or flatboat already built, of suitable dimensions and which is sufficiently tight, or can be made so by caulking, you have only to proceed to build the house upon it. If, however, the boat as well as the house is to be built, you can proceed to build the boat in the way already described (page 299). Additional suggestions may be found in Figs. 462 and 463.

House Boat 485Fig. 462.

Before beginning read carefully Marking, Rule, Square, Saw, Plane, Nailing, in Part V., and look up any other references.

Two-inch plank should be used for these boats, which are intended to be from 14′ to 20′ long. After putting together the sides, ends, and bottom, as already described, 2″ x 4″ joists can be laid lengthways on the bottom, as shown, which will afford an underpinning for the house, will distribute the weight over the bottom, keep the floor raised above the water which may leak in or collect from the rain, and also stiffen the structure of the boat. Before laying these joists, notches should be cut on the under edges with the saw or hatchet, in several places, to allow the water to pass through, as in the case of the boats already described.

The illustrations show a general system of construction for the house, which can be followed, or you can make such alterations as you think desirable. In addition to the suggestions in the accompanying illustrations, further details and suggestions will be found in Part III. {House-building for Beginners). Most of the details are matters of personal preference, and can readily be arranged without more detailed description. The roof had best be covered with canvas, put on as one piece (being sewed previously if necessary). If laid in paint and then given two or three coats of paint, much as in the case of the canvas-sheathed canoes already described, a tight and durable roof will be the result. After the edges of the canvas are tacked under the edge of the roof, strips of moulding can be nailed around under the edge.

House Boat 486Fig. 463.

An even simpler way to make the roof is to have it flat, but slanting slightly towards either bow or stern. An inclination of 3″ is enough, with tight canvas roof, to shed the water.

The remaining details of the construction of the house have already been treated. The interior arrangements you can contrive as desired.

Either, or both, of the ends can be decked over, or the whole can first be decked over and the house built on the deck. In this case, access to the hull, for stowage, can be had by hatches, or trap-doorsinside the house. If both the ends are to be decked, the hull can very well have one or two lengthways divisions of plank, for stiffness and strength, – that is, insert between the ends one or two pieces of the size and shape of the sides, in which case the lengthways joist already spoken of will be omitted. This is a good way. In case of decking, nail a strip of moulding on the outside along the juncture of the house and the deck, so as to make a tight joint, which should be well painted.

If one or both ends are undecked, a removable grating of slats (a part of which is shown in Fig. 462) will be useful.

It is well to have at least one window at the bow end of the house, for the boat will of course lie with bow towards the wind and it will be a good thing when housed in a storm to be able to see to windward, as you cannot well keep the door at that end open, while the after door will usually be sufficiently sheltered to be left open. Many modifications of these simple plans can be made. The roof can be extended over either end, which is easily done without altering the system of construction. This is very convenient under some circumstances, and will add but little to the expense. The frame can even be covered with canvas, but this will be inferior to wood, except in point of lightness. A solid roof is best, however, in any case.

Sweeps must, of course, be provided for rowing, sculling, or steering, and a mast can easily be added, on which sufficient sail can be hoisted to be quite a help in going before the wind. If a mast is used, the door at the bow end of the house can be at one side of the end so that the mast can be close to the house, to which it can be fastened. A rudder can be added, if desired, with a skag.

The whole craft should be thoroughly painted (see Painting).

Houses are sometimes built on rafts. This will do very well if the raft is a good one, like a float. A float can be easily made, if you have the materials, by laying a thick flooring on logs or heavy timbers and providing greater buoyancy than such a platform naturally has by fastening under it, between the timbers, as many empty and sealed barrels or casks (oil-barrels are good) as may be necessary. When the float is stationary and under ordinary circumstances, there is, of course, no need to fasten the casks in any way except to fence them around so that they cannot roll or slide out, as their buoyancy will prevent their escaping, but it is easy to fasten them by chains or otherwise if needed. This makes an excellent foundation on which to build a house, and has some advantages over a boat for a stationary arrangement, but is obviously not as well suited for moving around as a scow or flatboat.


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Originally posted 2011-09-17 13:53:48.

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