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Converting a small narrowboat into a workshop

I need a new home for my workshop where I do woodturning and pen making. I was thinking of buying an old 23 foot Springer narrowboat, stripping out the interior so I can install my machinery. I have a lathe that weighs about 100kg, a bandsaw, small second lathe and other small machines plus work benches etc. I am concerned about stability of the vessel, and the maximum payload for a boat of this size. Power will come from a hookup in the marina or from an on board generator and the boat will likely be a butty to our main liveaboard boat, but I don't envisage pairing it up for cruising very often. Any help and guidance you can give will be gratefully received. I've also got to ask the marina if they'll allow me to do this because there will be some noise associated with using the machinery, although I wouldn't be using the generator for power whilst moored in the marina.
Thank you in advance and hope to hear from you.
Kind regards
Ray Fowler

Asked by: Raymond Fowler  | 9.11am, Saturday 6 February

WW says:

The 23ft Springer Was an extension of the 20ft original waterbug. The hull, like all Spingers, is a V-shape. This does mean that, if you remove the interior fittings and want to have a flat floor across the boat, you will end up with reduced headroom. You will also need, as you suggest, to consider carefully how you put equipment aboard, as lateral stability was not a strong point of these craft.
Also, the original waterbug was built in 3mm steel and as this boat is likely to be over 20 years old, you will need to pay careful attention to the quality and thickness of the steel.
If you are having an onboard generator, I assume you mean a diesel unit. These can be quite heavy- and noisy. Also, if the boat was outboard powered you may find difficulty in fitting a diesel generator.
Avoid using a petrol generator fixed inside the boat- they are not safe and can be a fire/explosion and CO risk. If you are intending using a portable petrol generator, this must not be used on the boat, but only ashore (and properly earthed). It would also need to be stored (along with spare fuel) in a gas-locker type arrangement, and not on deck.
Although I am sure you could make it work, a flat-bottomed craft might be a more sensible proposition for your chosen use. An ex BW (CRT) work flat, for example, might be good. Even constructing a simple craft with no linings or engine from scratch may be cheaper than an older s/h boat

Mark Langley  | 9.15AM, Sunday 7 February

The combined weight of the equipment should not be a problem, but as Marks says; close attention to positioning for stability will be needed. A lathe has heavy items quite high up, which will make a vee bottomed boat unstable, so more ballast will be needed.
A decent size rudder will need to be made and fitted if you are going to tow it. You might find that it ends up too heavy and deep in the water to work well on cross straps.
A permanently installed generator would need to comply with the BSS requirements; an adapted portable generator is unlikely to be suitable.

Rupert Smedley  | 12.53PM, Sunday 7 February

I have heard there's a Springer going free which is in poor condition but is still floating, on the Somerset Coal Canal. If you get in touch I can probably say more.

Andrew Denny  | 12.42AM, Tuesday 19 April

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