One of my favorite quotes of all times is, “Every man has a million dollar idea that won’t work.” That’s SO TRUE, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be worth a million dollars for that idea not to work…
Way back last September I wrote a post about using foam blocks with steel grids to possibly build pontoons using a ferro cement method. https://houseboatshantyboatbuilders.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/another-crazy-idea
In that post I mentioned that I often pass by a place on the bus route that actually has the stuff. Well, today I decided to finally take a look at it. As you can see from this picture it has sort of a wavy pattern to the foam, probably to give the concrete better structural strength…I don’t really have a clue, though.
The foam is about 2″ thick, though that’s just a guess from memory looking at it. I didn’t actually measure it. The wire part is pretty chintzy. To do a ferrocement cement construction you’d need to attach a lot of chicken wire to the wire that’s already on the foam. I don’t think it would be worth the time and effort. But my most recent brain storm, was the possibility of using the foam as a core and putting fiberglass on both sides and making a barge hull. Glass foam construction is an actual way of creating one-off boats, for real.
Up close and personal, as they say, the wire mesh is pretty chintzy. it’s not embedded into the foam but rather at each corner there is a sort of barb that pierces the foam to hold the mesh in place. It would be quite easy to rip the stuff off of the foam, but the ripples wouldn’t be a good stratus to glass over.
But I was curious about the stuff anyway so I went inside and talked to one of the sales people. Normally I do okay with my Spanish but I wasn’t getting through to this guy. The Spanish word for “foam” is “espuma” but he thought I was talking about the expanding foam stuff that comes in cans. I told him what I wanted they had stored across the street, and so we went to take a look at it.
“Ah, tres em ay.” Three M. Yes, Three M makes the stuff. We went back to the main, air conditioned, store and he looked it up on the computer. Each 4’X8′ piece costs $34.95, With 7% tax it comes to $34.70. It would take about 8 sheets for $277.60. Not counting glass and resin, etc.
I then asked his supervisor if they could order similar blocks of foam without the mesh and he said, “No.”
“Really, you can’t order foam blocks?” I said.
“No,” he replied.
“Is it because you can’t, or because you won’t?” I asked, with a wink.
He just shrugged his shoulders with a sardonic wink, and walked away.