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3.1 Site
3.2 Workshop structure and layout
3.3 Services
3.4 Equipment
3.5 Tools (loose)
3.6 Launching systems

3.1 Site

It is essential that proper care be exercised in choosing a site, as this will have an ultimate bearing on the cost of the vessels and productivity. There are therefore various considerations to take into account prior to site acquisition:

A. Budget allocated: Is it sufficient for outright purchase or for rent? How are these costs to be viewed, eg as an investment, recoverable on overheads, etc.

B. Vessels: Type, quantity, and size of vessels to be constructed at any one time.

C. Fitting out: Whether completion or part completion, hulls only, or a combination of these is envisaged.

D. Size of site: Allowing for construction, machinery, material storage, offices, transport and/or launching, consideration of production expansion at a later date.

E. Location: To river, sea or lake.

F. Moving: Launching and/or transport facilities.

G. Amenities available: Electricity, water, etc.

H. Availability of materials: Local and/or distant.

J. Access: Road, rail, river, sea, air.

K. Product marketing: Area of access, range of product needed to fulfil required volume of sales.

L. Classification Society: Surveyor easily available.

3.2 Workshop structure and layout

Whilst it is natural to pay considerable attention to the specifics of ferrocement construction it is, at the same time, essential to have a building of the right type taking into account the prevailing local climatic conditions. Although various types of lightweight or temporary structure can be used in hotter climates, they are usually a short term measure and if one is to build a vessel to classification standard, the requirements for the control of material storage, workshop conditions, and general layout of the various stages of construction, are fairly stringent. It would, therefore, be preferential to give the building structure and layout due thought (ref. Fig. No. 4 and 5).

Figure 4. A typical ferrocement boatyard - FIRST FLOOR LEVEL

Figure 4. A typical ferrocement boatyard - GROUND LEVEL

Figure 5. A typical ferrocement boatyard

The following are items to consider:


A reinforced concrete floor, incorporating suitable drains to remove excess curing water (if this method of curing is to be utilized). The floor should be designed to withstand the local loads applied when jacking and moving the size of vessel to be constructed. It is advisable at this stage to incorporate suitably located dead-men in the floor, to facilitate easy movement of the boats around the workshop.

Building framework

The building framework should ideally be designed to allow for the use of hanging tie rods to support the boat's reinforcement both prior to and during casting and curing, if this method of construction is adopted. As well as indifferent use whilst lifting engines, deck equipment, etc.

Building height

The height of the eaves of the building should be sufficient for ease of working on the sizes of vessels to be built. This may vary from the ferrocement workshop to the fitting out workshop if composite construction is envisaged. Also, free air ventilation in hot climates must be allowed for whilst being able to nullify the affect of wind or draughts during the casting stage. In cold climates extractor fans for removal of welding fumes, etc. will be required.

Roof trusses

In the ferrocement workshop, it is convenient if the trusses are designed so that adjustable longitudinal RSJ's may be located to suit hanging tie rods for the construction phase of the hulls.

Building cladding

Suitable cladding and construction materials, and insulation to offset the effects of heat or cold, should be incorporated in the building. This may be one of the requisites of a classification society.

Material storage

Suitable covered storage for materials should be allowed for, including the proper racking and storage of steel, mesh, cement and sand, as well as following manufacturers' recommendations regarding storage and treatment of materials to be held in stock.


Adequate access should be provided for receiving materials and for allowing free movement of personnel around the working areas (fire and safety precautions).


Adequate access and space for moving the craft to water, whether by slipway, road, or other means, should be allowed for.

Machinery and equipment

Due consideration should be paid to space for machinery and equipment required not only during the ferrocement phase of construction, but also for fitting out where a variety of different materials may be considered for use including perhaps timber, steel and fibreglass.

Covered space

Sufficient covered space including adequate structures for offices, toilet facilities, lofting and frame making, should be taken into account.

3.3 Services


Although ferrocement craft can be constructed without electricity, it will normally be a requirement to have sufficient power available for the use of welders, grinders, drills, lights, vibrating equipment, as well as for machinery required for fitting out, including in-house engineering. This may mean, dependent on equipment, 3-phase as well as single phase electricity supply being available in 120/240/440 volts as applicable.


Good clean and potable quality water should be available.


If possible in hot climates, a local supply of ice made from potable quality water would be advantageous in the casting process.


Availability of gas for use in oxyacetylene equipment.


Some items of service and/or equipment may be hired, rented, or leased if outright purchase is not appropriate.

3.4 Equipment

The minimum desirable equipment and tools required for ferrocement construction will obviously vary, according to the type of fitting out work that is to be undertaken and what variety of materials are to be used, as well as to what fabrication items may be subcontracted. However, a workable list assuming a certain amount of woodwork and steel fabrication is undertaken within the premises, would be as follows:

Equipment (fixed)

- winch (hand or powered to suit vessel size to be moved)

- up and over hacksaw with 150 mm capacity

- lathe (general purpose with 1 m throat)

- band saw (32 mm blade capacity)

- circular saw (400 mm blade minimum)

- planer/thicknesser (400 mm blade minimum)

- extraction equipment/ventilation

(i) shavings
(ii) fumes
- launching railway and trolley (dependent on system)
Equipment (loose)

All loose equipment listed can be classed as essential for hull fabrication.

- vibrator/hammer and non-vibratory drills 10 mm and 13 mm

- angle grinders 110 mm and 180 mm

- 20 mm stand drill complete with bits

- arc welding sets 190 amp (adjustable range with 10 m cables)

- oxyacetylene cutting equipment including 20 m hoses, gauges and wheeled trolley

- plaster or pan type mixer (3-5 ft3/2.3-3.8 m3 capacity) (3-5 HP motors)

- 2 HP and/or 440V electric vibrators with 6 m cables and 25 mm pencil ends

- a set of 200 mm test sand sieves Nos. 7, 14, 25, 52, 100 and tray

- 6 cube moulds or cylinders with 600 mm x 16 mm square tamping bar to suit BS or equivalent local standard

- slump test cone to BS or local standard

- 2 no. movable galvanised iron water tanks (1200 x 900 x 600)

- jacks (hydraulic or screw) 25 tonnes - height closed 300 mm

- small hydraulically operated press (which can be removed from its frame and used in general bending duties)

- extending ladders (8 ms), usually 2 stage

- wire rope to suit winch and size of craft

- blocks and tackle

- free standing scaffolding trestles

- scaffold planks

- bending equipment

(a) pipe,
(b) rod
- steam curing equipment (if required)

- wheel barrows

- 15 litre heavy duty rubber buckets

- single sheave blocks for bucket lift

- assorted rope

Equipment - cost to be amortized over a number of boats
- keel jigs

- tie bars

- frame making platform

- hull setting up RSJ

- hardboard or plywood sheets, paint and fastenings for lofting

- patterns, straight edges and spline material

- miscellaneous wood or similar trestle for frame making

- frame spacers, rod spacers

- hull master frame and stem supports

- curing equipment including 100 g hessian or gunny cloth

- hoses, spray, nozzles, taps

3.5 Tools (loose)

This list will cover the general requirements to complete a boat, some of which may or may not be expected to be supplied by the workforce:

- hacksaws and blades (generally 18 teeth x 300 mm)

- chipping hammers (welders type)

- claw hammers (1 kg)

- plastic/hide hammers (1 kg)

- lump hammers (1-2 kg)

- sledge hammers

- tape rules (3-4 m and 30 m)

- plumbobs

- spirit levels (300 mm - 900 mm)

- bevel adjustable (225 mm)

- square (300 mm)

- adjustable square (225 mm)

- screw drivers (various sizes)

- hand planes (various sizes)

- hand saws (various sizes)

- wood chisels (various sizes)

- cold chisels (12-25 mm)

- hand drill

- HSS twist drills (1.6 mm - 13 mm)

- G-cramps (100, 150 and 200 mm)

- sash cramps (1-1.6 m - carpenters wrench)

- engineers vices (150 mm)

- woodworkers vices

- electric drill chucks and keys (10-13 mm)

- round and flat files

- round and flat rasps

- wire brushes (3 row)

- hand held and flip front welding masks

- spare filter and clear lenses for welding helmets

- ambidextrous welding gloves/gauntlets

- spare 10 m welding lead and electrode holder

- spare 5 m earth lead and clamp

- end cutters (200 mm)

- ratchet handles for end cutters

- bolt croppers - tungsten jaws (600 mm)

- vice grips 225 mm pipe and flat jaw (mole grip)

- shears RH and LH - 280 mm (Gilbow, Draper)

- shears RH and LH (spring operated typical MS 260 Japanese)

- rivet mason trowels - 10 no. (280 x 115 mm)

- pointing trowels (115-130 mm)

- gauging trowels (115-130 mm)

- wooden floats - various sizes (typically 280 x 115)

- wooden hawks (typically 300 x 300)

- sand measuring box (305 x 305 x 280 mm = 45 kg)

- cement measuring box (305 x 305 x 225 mm = 27 kg)

- thermometer

- hygrometer

- sand sieves - 900 x No. 7 mesh size

- pulley sets complete with nylon line (typically Haltrack No. 1134)

- spare line for pulley sets (100 ms)

- masonry drill bits (6,8,11,13,16,20 and 25 mm)

- 8 mm x 12 mm clear PVC pipe - water level

- adjustable spanners (200-400 mm)

- set of metric double ended spanners (imperial if required)

- set of metric ring spanners (imperial if required)

- metric socket set (imperial if required)

- discs for angle grinders (metal and stone)

- goggles and spare lenses for oxyacetylene equipment

- gas cutting tips (typically)

- paint brushes (assorted size and quality)

- 3-core cable to suit plug boxes

- plugs and sockets for plug boxes

- insulation tape

- portable electric lamps

- First Aid box complete to suit regulations applying

1. Assortment of loose tools

3.6 Launching systems

Moving a boat from 'A' to 'B' may seem common sense to the average boatbuilder, but systems vary considerably around the world, mainly due to the cost factor. However, this section will take a general look at launching/moving boats and the various considerations to take into account for the uninitiated.

A launching system will, out of necessity, be derived from the following criteria:

1. Cost
2. Site location
3. Machinery/Facilities
4. Craft type
5. Manpower
6. Safety
Cost effectiveness
- number of craft to be moved per year
- type and size and weight of craft to be moved
- distance to be moved
- type of ground to be covered
- complexity of system required
- type of equipment available for use
Site location
- the locality of the site and workshops in relation to water will provide the key to the complexity and type of equipment to be used

- the locality will also determine the type of terrain to be covered - eg hardstanding, concrete, sand, earth, gravel, etc.


Some machinery or equipment may well be available for hire and considered to be a better means of reducing capital outlay.

- crane
- lorry
- tractors
- capstan
- winch
- wheels/bogies/crawlers/rollers/greasy ways
- slipway system
- cradles
- railway sleepers or similar
- block and tackle/shackles/single/double sheave blocks
Craft type

This may vary if repairs/renewal work is to be undertaken.

- fishing boats
- motor cruisers
- inland waterway ferries
- river craft
- barges
- yachts
2. Cradle located under a hull


Type of system to be used may depend on:

- training
- skilled or unskilled availability
- sub contract labour
- safety of movement of craft so as to minimize damage from mishandling by creating stress points on the craft

- safety of personnel by ensuring a safe working environment

- equipment safety checks prior to use

Any systems used will need to take account of the six points listed. No one point necessarily exceeds the others in order of importance.

Usually the first job to contend with will be moving the craft from inside the workshop into the open. This may initially be movement of hulls only, on completion of the ferrocement work, for either preparation for delivery, or for continuing the fitting out process.

A cradle mounted on wheels or crawlers on a sound floor will be adequate for the lighter hulls such as yachts. For heavier craft, a cradle mounted on a railway system, rollers or crawlers, may be a better solution.

3. Moving a hull in the workshop

On soft ground or sand, a greasy way or rollers with the weight suitably distributed on heavy planks, railway sleepers or similar, would be required. The motive force can either be a simple capstan employing sufficient labour, or winch (manual or mechanical), or perhaps a tractor which would be more practical for the lighter craft unless it has a facility for fixed anchorage and considerable mechanical advantage through reduction by employing one, two, or three sheave blocks.

Once outside the workshop, depending on the distance to the (slipway) water, a crane could be used to good effect. It is much more likely though that the process already described will be continued.

Obviously there are many different ways of tackling a launching. The ideal method is to have an adjacent slipway and hardstanding. This allows the use of hand or mechanical means of launch, plus the benefit of using a crane if available, in addition to keeping the operation to a safe standard and using a minimum of labour.

A concrete apron from the workshop with a winch and dead-men is also a very useful requisite. A cradle should be made to suit the craft and both set on a launching trolley whether run on wheels or a railway system. Any means of launching can be used in reverse and, therefore, renewal maintenance work can be carried out, helping to offset the original outlay required for the system.

The size and cost of a launching method is proportional to the size, weight and number of vessels to be handled.

There are many boatyards today using unsophisticated means of launching to save costs, but it could prove to be false economy if a vessel is damaged as a result; or if any injury is incurred by a member of the workforce through risks taken in the use of an inappropriate launching system.

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