Ideas on Homemade Livewell

Discussion in 'Boat Modification Journal' started by GMC FishHauler, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. GMC FishHauler

    GMC FishHauler New Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    I am trying to gather some ideas on making my own removeable trophy sized livewell.
    I would like the inside to be 48" long, 24"wide and 24" deep. I plan on insulating the live well as well
    I am going to build the inside box out of 1/2" marine plywood and then glass and resin it.
    then i am going to build an outside box with 2" airspace around the inside box. Both will be glassed and epoxied then sanded and painted. I am making design so that i can use the Aqualung with this LW and have that inside of the "airspace"
    I plan on using the closed cell foam in the airspace but keeping an open area around where the Aqualung equipment is.
    I will scan my sketches of the plans for all of ya'll as well as the materials price list when I complete planning phase.

    Couple questions for the guys who know more than I do.

    How do i really seal the fiberglass? Will that epoxy work as sealant?
    Do I really need marine grade wood? Do I really need 1/2"? I will brace and support with 2x4's if needed.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Dsage

    Dsage Active Member

    Messages:
    2,137
    State:
    Topeka, Kansas
    What about building the box and then skipping the glass and just line it with aluminum. At the seams you can use a auto seam sealer if you do not want to weld it up.
     

  3. GMC FishHauler

    GMC FishHauler New Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    well, I have thought about that for the inside of the box. I really do not know about the outside. I do know that I do not want to have that much shiny stuff in the boat.
    I would still have to epoxy the wood or something. I want this LW to last as long as my boat. I will go thru as much time and money as I have to.
    I figure that I will spend almost $200 on it total if I do it right and make my own seat top.
    On the bright side of things, the plumbing will be really simple. I am going to manually fill with the livewell pump and exta hose. The drainage will be 1 1/2" PVC w/ ball valve
     
  4. larry d. grady

    larry d. grady New Member

    Messages:
    328
    State:
    north caro
    hi james .epoxy will do a great job of water proofing,but i think it works best on regular wood,unless your treated,or marine grade,has been drying for sometime.i built a 16' skiff out of regular,plywood and used epoxy resin from clarkkraft,and the skiff hasn'tleaked or rotted in 12 years.its great stuff.the epoxy resin from clarkcraft,is a 50/50 two part mixture,so you can't mix it wrong.
     
  5. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    I'd use a 2 to 1 epoxy like Marine Epoxy or System 3. Both wet out glass very good. You'll need epoxy and fillers to round the inside corners for glassing.
    Atleast a 1/2" radius.
    The thing with epoxy is that it's made to bond with wood. Your fiberglass resins are not.
    When you get that mechanical bond with wood using epoxy you'll destroy the boat getting that bond back apart. Not so with fiberglass resins. With these you can pry you up a tag end and in alot of cases pull most if not all of the glass up in one piece. There is no mechanical bond to speak of. The product used is being used improperly.

    Waterproof? Fiberglass resin is nowhere close to waterproof and the poor bond certainly doesn't help.
    Epoxy is so close to being waterproof you might as well call it waterproof.
    It will allow water vapor, not water to pass back and forth which is not a bad thing. You got two kinds of rot in wood boats. Dry rot and wet rot. Epoxy is the best answer for both.
     
  6. GMC FishHauler

    GMC FishHauler New Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    Thanks alot mark,
    I will def. use epoxy. I was curious, where can i get this stuff at a reasonable cost? How much should I need to do a 48x24x24 box inside and out?
     
  7. GMC FishHauler

    GMC FishHauler New Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    thanks mark,
    I am def. gonna use the epoxy. I gotta few more questions for you.
    How much would I need to do a 48'x24x24box? Where can i get this epoxy and i think S-weave glass at a reasonable cost?
     
  8. Blake Waterworth

    Blake Waterworth New Member

    Messages:
    153
    State:
    Missouri
    For two hundred bucks I would look into a truck toolbox that sits between the bed sides they make a couple different withs and you could insulate around that. Then most of the building is done for you!:wink:
     
  9. cantstopgrandma

    cantstopgrandma New Member

    Messages:
    955
    State:
    MD
    I think what you are talking about would look good done right. I believe it would be pretty expensive too. Why not just buy a big cooler? Just mount your aeration equipment in it and go. It will have built in carry handles, and a drain. When you aren't using it, you can put your favorite soda in it with ice. This would also already insulated. Price it out both ways, it might be cheaper to go with the cooler (plus wont take up as much of your time to make). This one is actually slightly bigger than you are talking about:

    http://www.igloocoolers.com/products/FullSize/Marine/261/


    Post some pictures of your creation whichever way you decide to go. We love pictures around here.
     
  10. kyleco55

    kyleco55 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,359
    State:
    Central In
    WOW i just clicked that link for the cooler... that puppy is $699.99 plus shipping!!!:eek:oooh:

    might as well just buy a fridge for that price!!! i do like the idea of using a cooler, and possiby just boxing it in to look permanent.. just better find one alot cheaper
     
  11. GMC FishHauler

    GMC FishHauler New Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    the price is why i will not buy a cooler for this. I was looking to make insulated livewell that will double as HUGE cooler for keeping eaters when using the boat for that.
    Plus I figure i can build it just as well as the manufaturors can
     
  12. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    It's going to be a heavy livewell before you put the first drop of water in it.
    Figure 23 pounds a sheet for 1/4" Meranti but you could cut that down to about 18 pounds a sheet going with Okoume. Then the weight of the cloth that's going to be required to beef up the 1/4".

    I'm not sure how I would do this. I would have to think about it some.
    Sure, I can see using plywood and glassing it for the livewell itself, but building another box around that one? Naaa. There is a better lighter way.
    That is probally where I would utilize some foam core panels using the foam itself as insulation.

    Boatbuildercentral.com

    I'd get the 1-1/2 gallon of Marine Epoxy kit for 95 bucks.
    You'll need a pound of wood flour to thicken epoxy into glue.
    You'll need 6oz glass cloth.
    When it comes time to fair it out you'll need some microballoons.
    I'd stitch and glue it together. No nails, no screws other then hardware like hinges and latches.

    You could build 2 canoes or one yak for what that livewell is gonna coast you in materials:eek:oooh:
     
  13. cantstopgrandma

    cantstopgrandma New Member

    Messages:
    955
    State:
    MD
    GEEZ!!! I guess that's what i get for posting a link to something and not looking at the price!! :eek:oooh: Never Mind the cheaper part.
     
  14. airborne

    airborne New Member

    Messages:
    13
    State:
    pennsylvania
    if i did math right its 120 gallons.thats a big tank @ around 850 lbs!might i suggest searching the internet for polyethylene tanks.some nice ones out there for a fair price.also they make square/rectangle insulated bins w/lids that might do the job.hope it helps
     
  15. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    The math is a little off as 120 gallons of water would weigh 960 pounds but in real world your figure is more accurate as the livewell wouldn't be filled to capacity. Probally wouldn't need to be filled to 3/4 of it's true capacity.

    The real issue with weight I have is it's not a permanent installation. It's supposed to be made to be removeable.
    A "portable tank".

    It can be done. Like I say I'm thinking the use of foam core and sacrificial molds potentially taking the wood out of it all together.
    Maybe even use starboard.
    There is alot of stuff out there but a forum is not a good place to actually get er done other then cast around some ideas for material.

    When you start laying up glass there is a certain degree of "engineering" involved when you are talking about 80 gallons of water and what is going to flex and or break. Even using plywood it has to be taken into consideration.
    Method of construction has a bearing too. Say if you use expanding flotation foam as part of the integral construction.

    I could do it pretty light but teaching and explaining how to do it in posts would be difficult at best. All I can say is that a livewell that size I'd leave the wood totally out of it and it would turn out to be an overly expensive solution. Easily you would have a 100 bucks in glass cloth alone before you even got to the space age foam cores or star board and the expanding foam all of which are expensive in price and shipping in small quantities.

    If the weight of the unit is no big concern plywood is definately a cost savings option.
     
  16. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    The math is a little off as 120 gallons of water would weigh 960 pounds but in real world your figure is more accurate as the livewell wouldn't be filled to capacity. Probally wouldn't need to be filled to 3/4 of it's true capacity.

    The real issue with weight I have is it's not a permanent installation. It's supposed to be made to be removeable.
    A "portable tank".

    It can be done. Like I say I'm thinking the use of foam core and sacrificial molds potentially taking the wood out of it all together.
    Maybe even use starboard.
    There is alot of stuff out there but a forum is not a good place to actually get er done other then cast around some ideas for material.

    When you start laying up glass there is a certain degree of "engineering" involved when you are talking about 80 gallons of water and what is going to flex and or break. Even using plywood it has to be taken into consideration.
    Method of construction has a bearing too. Say if you use expanding flotation foam as part of the integral construction.

    I could do it pretty light but teaching and explaining how to do it in posts would be difficult at best. All I can say is that a livewell that size I'd leave the wood totally out of it and it would turn out to be an overly expensive solution. Easily you would have a 100 bucks in glass cloth alone before you even got to the space age foam cores or star board and the expanding foam all of which are expensive in price and shipping in small quantities.

    If the weight of the unit is no big concern plywood is definately a cost savings option.
     
  17. gdlocal10

    gdlocal10 New Member

    Messages:
    434
    State:
    kansas
    I believe Mark has some good advise here, hey operator and I are building a live well in our boat,Basically we are making a compartment,in the front of the boat.It will not be removable,We are putting aluminum reinforcing pieces in to hold the weight we are going to line the walls with closed cell foam and line them with either lexan or aluminum sheeting.Then we are going to put epoxy of some sort in the interior, we have some investigation on that yet. we are running the plumbing out of pvc . we will be holding a lot of weight when in use.I think Mark has some good ideas and info.When we get to that point I may have to pick his brain some more. sounds like he has delt with some of these materials before. would like to see some pics while you are building we have ours in our albums but we are just starting with the skeleton now. good luck:smile2:
     
  18. GMC FishHauler

    GMC FishHauler New Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    ok, I have been doing a ton of research on boat building forums. The more research I do the more I am leaning to a simpler design.
    I am also looking to decrease the volume. 48x18x20" I will only fill to the 16" this will make 60 gals of water. Give or take 500lbs total weight
    The box does not have to be "portable" just "removeable"
    I am curious, will the epoxy seal the wood? If it will seal do I have to go really heavy on the fiberglass or can I go just one layer of 6 or 8oz? Can I leave out the fiberglass and just make it out of good plywood and epoxy it? If I went this route I would still "brace" the corners with fiberglass and maybe even "screwed and glued" aluminum
    I am in no rush to complete this box so I have several months to plan out and buy supplies.
    I will be using AquaLung on this and am still trying to find ideas on how to make a splash-proof lid.
    Thanks a ton guys for your input, keep it coming
     
  19. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    Roll on 2 coats of epoxy and let cure between coats.
    As you roll on the 3rd coat lay down the glass and wet it out.
    It wont leak.

    Let me try to explain how I would do it with plywood.

    I would start by building my actual tank with 1/4" plywood.
    No nails, no screws. They are only a source of trouble later on.

    To start I would build my box out of 3/4 ply or shelving board. It's outside dimensions would be the inside dimension of the tank.
    Then I would cut my 1/4 ply to fit the outside of the box. Gaps in the corners are acceptable as they'll hold glue.
    In other words skin the heavy box with 1/4" ply by running temporary screws through the 3/4 and into the 1/4" (screw from inside the box as the screws will be removed later.
    On your 3/4" box you need to tape all its outside corners with 3" painters tape. This is a release tape so the two boxes dont get permanently glued together.

    As you skin the 3/4 box glue the corners with wood flour thickened epoxy. Once you get this done put a radius on your outside corners so you can glass the corners.
    Then 2 coats of rolled on epoxy to the outside of the 1/4" skin curing between coats. Lay down a 3rd coat of epoxy on the corners and tape them with 6" wide 6oz glass.

    This doesnt have to fully cure but I would let it set before going on.
    Start your 3rd coat of epoxy on the sides laying the glass as you go and wetting it out. I use a 3" plastic spackling knife to pull excess epoxy from wetted out glass to areas not wetted out.
    Once this cures I would build my outer shell (box) in reverse.
    In other words put the 1/4" skin on the on the inside of the sacrificial box.
    epoxy coats and glass.

    In order to glass an inside corner you need to thickened the epoxy with wood flour to the consistency of peanut butter. Take a plastic spoon and lay a concave bead down in the corners. Tape the corners and glass the open areas overlapping the tape. Pretty isn't important as you wont ever see this .

    Now place the box inside the box with equal spacing around the edges. This depends on how much insulation you want between the inner and outer shells.
    Put you permanent spacing blocks inbetween the two to keep the spacing correct.
    Once you work your spacing out mix foam a LITTLE at the time (dixie cup)
    And pour inbetween your boxes. Continue pouring a little at the time until you get foam to the top. Once it cures you trim the over run off.

    Remove the screws holding the 3/4" boxes. Those were your sacrificial molds that prevented the foam from bowing your 1/4" plywood. Remember the painters tape?
    If you didn't use your molds wouldnt release. Even so it may require some tugging to get them seperated. In fact it would probally be a good idea to make your sacrificial mold taller then then the 1/4" ply. It will give you something to grab on to. When your molds are gone fill in empty screw holes with thickend epoxy.

    What you have left is your insulated livewell. Repeat the epoxying and glass laying on the inside and outside of your well.

    To fair out your surfaces mix microballons in the epoxy to a ketchup like consistency and run it on like sheetrock mud filling in the weave and doing general body work. Sand it out and put one more coat of epoxy over it to final seal.

    I haven't covered the top but it pretty would get taped and glassed on as you completed the outside glassing.
    For the top I would go 1/2" plywood glassed both sides with 6oz.

    It wont leak provided your plumbing is adequate.

    As with any project involving epoxy plan out your work for the maximum benefit of time and materials.
    Be real cognizant of MOLD RELEASE. If you manage to glue these boxes together find a burn barrel because that is the only way you'll get it apart.

    Think about plumbing needs as you go. It may be that you block of portions of an area from foaming.
    The foam will insulate and add great structural strength to the livewell.

    There is my livewell with no screws or nails.

    It's hard to really nail the whole thing down step by step without knowing exactly what you are after but it should give you base line and an idea to work from. Not the only way to do it by no means but it was the first way to pop in my mind and the easiest way to explain. I dont know your skill level with epoxy and glassing but this method would be pretty simple for a novice.

    Think in terms of 3/4" thick boxes as scarificial molds.
    Your 1/4" boxes will be permanent molds. After you glass it all up you don't need the 1/4 ply anymore but it's stuck in the glass so it becomes a permanent mold.

    Doing it the above way keeps alot of weight out of it. I haven't taken the time to figure it but I'm going to assume it take the better part of two sheets of plywood. About 40 pounds of wood alone.
    For the 1/2" top I wouldn't go buy a 1/2" sheet. I would glue with thickened epoxy two pieces of 1/4" ply together.
    Part of designing boat plans is called nesting. Getting the most out of plywood.
    Often you get people that want to lengthen a plan 2'. That is cool but you blew up the nesting. That 2 feet may cost you 6 more sheets of plywood.
    A good plan has very little waste.

    Not a real big deal messing with pine ply but when you are paying 50 bucks a sheet for marine plywood plus shipping it's a big deal.

    For the record. If it were me I would build this out of a good quality exterior pine plywood since it's totally encapsulated. You'll only gain about 10% in weight by going pine. Longevity isn't an issue in this case. The greater strength that marine plywood would offer isn't needed.

    All of your outside corners will need to be relieved before glassing. It's damn near impossible to lay glass around hard corners.
     
  20. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    Let me change something on mold release.

    Instead of glueing the corners together just carefully tape the outside corners without letting epoxy run in the joints. If you manage this the boxes should slip right apart.
    Once your molds are gone you can work glue in the seams from the inside, fillet, and tape the inside.
    The foam is going to hold it all together until you get the glue and fillets on the inside.