Anyone who's thinking about building a boat, take some advice from me and don't wait until a few weeks before your anticipated launch to start pouring your ballast.
I don't think I could have picked a worse day to start pouring lead ingots. At noon today the temperature in the shade was 94, and the dew points seem to be in the 70's making for oppressive humidity. I consider myself a pretty tough guy regarding manual work as I'm in decent shape, and I've been doing physical work all my life. I have no problem admitting that today's task of pouring lead ingots kicked my ass.
The design of the boat calls for 4300 lbs of ballast under the forward sole. For our ballast, I'm using lead that came from the demolition of an MRI machine. The material is as clean as can be, and with each lead shingle weighing 30 lbs, it's relatively easy to handle. I must have messed up somewhere at some point, because I only have 3000 lbs of lead on my site. I could have sworn I had 4500 lbs, but I now know for a fact that I'm going to be lite.
Having a skid steer loader at our place made this nasty job a wee bit easier. Moving the lead from the storage area to the melting area was made easier with the loader as was handling the fire wood and moving the freshly pour ingots in to the shop for cleaning up and weighing.
I made a melting pot out of a piece of 12" pipe and framed a stand for it to sit on giving me room for the fire. Lead melts fairly easily, but it helped immensely by using my back pack blower to force feed the fire. The melting pot comfortably handles 200 lbs of lead. The pour spout is a 1" nipple welded into the melting pot with a 1" 90 and a short length of pipe to get the material to the molds. Before I pour, I have to use a propane torch to heat the pour spout so the lead from the previous pour can be melted in the spout. I made two molds to try to help speed things up. Each mold contains six ingots, and once the mold is full, it weighs about 100 lbs. After a pour is made and the lead has set up enough to pick up the mold, I drop the mold forcefully into a spare bucket for the loader to part the ingots from the mold. The problem is that if the lead doesn't part on the first throw, picking up the 100 lbs mold a few times gets tiresome.
Using a circular saw to cut the thin piece of lead between each ingot is how I process the ingots prior to weighing each ingot. I write the weight on each ingot so I can keep track of how much lead is going into each ballasts compartment.
I now know I'm going to be lite on the ballast, so the question is how will this effect my launch. Out of the 4300 lbs designed, I think I'm going to end up with 2700 - 3200 lbs installed for launch. Because the boat is going to spend the rest of the season on the Ohio River ( about as tame a mill pond as one can find), I think I'm going to be OK. If I was launching at the Ocean or Gulf, I'd feel a lot less comfortable being lite, and for sure would not try to go off shore without the designed ballast. I'm going to run this scenario past the naval architect and see what he says.
For some reason, I thought I'd get all this ballast poured in one day. Today's pour netted me 1300 lbs of ingots.