Testing Materials

Experimental Boat Build – Testing Materials

This page is about testing materials for the boat frame, check out the main project index for the rest.

There is a YouTube video about this which explains some background and motivation, as well as step by step material testing.

The aim is to build a small experimental boat which is cheap, lightweight, and easy to construct with minimal tools. I have decided that expanded polystyrene is probably one of the cheapest and easiest materials to shape. It will be covered in fiberglass to give it structural strength, and this is my plan for building the boat frame.

Before building the entire boat frame, I have conducted a strength test with a single piece of expanded polystyrene covered with fiberglass. Polyester resin, which is commonly used for fiberglassing, will eat into/dissolve polystyrene, so the piece was firstly coated with three coats of PVA/white glue/wood glue:

I’ve used chopped stranded matt for this test, although it would be better to use a woven fiberglass fabric to make the wrap tighter and neater. After the fiberglass resin has set, the piece was strong enough to stand on, and very light weight. This is demonstrated in the YouTube video above:

In the next article, I’ll be building the entire boat frame from expanded Polystyrene. The only tools needed to build this boat are a bread knife (or other saw to cut the polystyrene), and a paint brush: