How to Build Your Own Floating Lily-Pad
By John N. Hait


        There are real advantages to living in your own homemade froggy, piggy, snail, or coconut shell on your own big lily-pad! What?

    First of all, you donít have to pay rent, or work to make never-ending payments when you live on a lake or ocean. Lots of folks live in houseboats. But here, you donít even need an expensive marina. (How much could you save each month that way? Enough to build your own lily-pad and frog early retirement home?)

    Second, since you canít do much about Global Warming, you might as well enjoy it, and ride above the rising waves.

    Third, you may get stronger and lose weight building it yourself. (I lost 20 pounds building a 40 foot geodesic dome out of bamboo on Yap in the Far Western Pacific, back in 2002. Iíve also been a home builder and contractor since the Ď70s. Believe it or not, I do know what I'm doing.)

    Fourth, your pad can provide all the energy youíll ever need, free from wind, waves and Sun. I'll show you.

    Fifth, you may be able to sell the extra energy you produce, while you relax and watch as your own creation makes a good living for you.

    Sixth, your pad can be self-sustaining, providing all your needs. (Can you now grow your own food or go fishing out your back door?)

    Seventh, you can even make your own wine or beer, from things you can grow on the ceiling of your froggy, to enjoy while retiring on your own private beach with your mate.

    Eighth, you can help the planet both with your alternative energy and teaching example.

    Ninth, you can float it with 55 gallon Hefty or Glad Garbage sacks for way less than a $1000. Iíll teach you through this series of articles.

    Tenth, think of the excitement of living in your own big frog, even a bright pink one! With the economy like it is, it sure beats living in a cardboard box in some back alley, somewhere. Where are you really headed now, anyway? Lay offs? Isnít early retirement better?

    Do you know anyone else that does all that?

    The key is primarily your own industriousness, and Natural Fiber Reinforced Concrete (NFRC.) Have you ever built a parade float? What shapes can you build of paper machť? A big froggy, or a piggy, maybe even a snail shell? NFRC is just like paper machť, but waterproof, and more long lasting. Yet, cheaper too.

    Sure it takes a little longer, but itís worth the effort. What else are you doing with your weekends?

    To start with, you need a lily-pad with sandy beaches. So, practice making NFRC at home, by putting a plastic drop-cloth down in your apartment to keep things clean as you practice. (I have built island floats on Saipan Island in the Pacific in my apartment, using NFRC.)

    Test the method by making some 28x12 inch test pieces as shown, to prove your method works. You should be able to sit on it, without breaking.

    You can get a 94 pound bag of type I and/or II Portland Cement at almost any hardware store fairly cheap. Then, you need to borrow a sandy beach somewhere, to build your pad, and get some natural fiber and water.

    Why Portland Cement? For one thing, itís strong. Thatís what they built Skyscrapers, and Hoover Dam out of, and itís cheap, $0.56 per pound versus $4.95 per pound for flower paste, at Home Depot. And itís cheaper at some other places too. Why they build parade floats out of expensive glue, I havenít a clueóespecially when you need a lot of it.

    Rake a flat 4x8 foot space, and build a wooden 2x8 form for the edges, rubbed with diesel fuel or wrapped in plastic, so the Portland Cement doesnít stick to it. Then, square it up, and place it around your raked sandy space, (which will coat your modules when turned right-side-up, and with a bunch of these modules tied together, it will make your own private pad beach.)

    Mix several cups of Portland Cement with just enough water to make it moist, not wet, in a plastic bucket. (Without sand or gravel at first.) Dip natural fiber, such as newspaper, coconut leaf strips, corn leaves, old cotton material, hemp cloth, or the like (strong natural, cheap, maybe even free, fibers,) in the cement, coating both sides liberally. And lay several layers in your form, making sure they overlap to transfer tensile forces in two directions.

    Cover your 4x8 pad module all the way, bending up the sides of your form. Kris-cross the fiber in all directions, and make it at least ľ inch thick, thicker around the edges and rope-tie holes. When cured and hardened (in at least a week or so,) it needs to be solid, and carry a personís load over a maximum of 12 inches between plastic floats.

     Leave tie rope holes in each corner, and two together in the center along each 8 foot side, (as shown.) You will use these to rope-tie your modular deck floats together on the water. If it turns out too big for you and your mate to move and launch, after more than a week of curing, build smaller ones.

    Measure the size of your polyethylene plastic bags that will become your floats. For each one, put ties made of plastic string about 16 inches long with a knot in the middle, (with only the knot buried in the NFRC) and with the ends sticking above the NFRC to tie your bags to. Each 55 gallon bag should hold up over 400 lbs. in the water, so fill each module with as many as practical.

     Portland Cement only gives you about three hours of working time, so get each module done quickly. Then, you have to keep it moist for a week, so the Portland Cement will cure and harden. Either cover it with a plastic painterís drop cloth, or with sand, sprinkled with water each day.

    Repeat this process for as many standardized modules as you wish to grow for your lily-padóeven after you move in. You can always keep it under construction.

    After itís cured, place a small round river stone in the bottom corner of each plastic float bag to hold the outside string without puncturing a hole in each bag, and tie them with the strings buried in the NFRC. (See the drawing.) Blow them up with air and tie the openings tight. Such bags have been used in salvage work before. Being made of polyethylene, they should last for hundreds of years as long as you keep them out of the Sun.

    Being up-side-down in the water, even if the big opening comes untied, it still traps air to help float your lily-pad.

    Launch your modules, and tie on a rope so they wonít float away. Add each module, and tie it to the others, until your pad is complete. For more info see http://advanced-how-to.info on the Internet.

    Some states will require registration, but most have never heard of a homemade, non-powered, lily-pad, let alone a live-in pink froggy, and donít have a clue what to do with them. Just be careful. However, it could remain ďunder constructionĒ for quite a while.

    Next time Iíll tell you how to build your pink froggy. Click Here.

    You can learn more about papercrete at: http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/papercrete.htm
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