View Full Version : Homemade Foam-filled Buoys
11-03-2003, 02:34 PM
Anyone here ever make their own floats? I have a lifeguard torpedo that I have used as a back up float before. However, I observed it crushing at a depth of about 30 feet after a fish was shot. I knew this would happen if I didn't fill it with HD Foam, so I am in the process of trying to fill it now. I bought some kind of foam product at www.betterfoam.com, but I am not sure if it is exactly what I want. I was just wondering who here had made ther own foam-filled floats and what kind of filler they used? I have a standard Riffe inflatable, but I need this as my back-up. Foam is better than air anyway because it doesn't contract when dragged down. Any thoughts are appriciated.
11-03-2003, 02:38 PM
we jus use GREAT STUFF
11-03-2003, 02:46 PM
Welcome. Great Stuff, huh? From where? Cost? Thanks for the info, I will look into it and get back to you with how the stuff I got works.
11-03-2003, 02:54 PM
Just a note. I just talked to the "Foam Guy" and he told me that you must use two-part, chemically cured foam for an application like a buoy.
11-03-2003, 03:34 PM
we jus use GREAT STUFF
I'll tell you what... That stuff isn't so great when you get it on your hands, clothing, etc.
11-03-2003, 03:37 PM
Especially when dealing with seawater immersion.
One type is closed cell foams. These do not absorb water until below a rated cell crush depth. Syntactic foams are a special version of closed cell foam that can be rated to full ocean depth (EcoFloat is one, but there are several) that have premolded floats good for nearly 20,000 ft of immersion as an "off the shelf" item. There are also several one and two component urethane formulations that do a good job to 100 ft or so.
Open cell foams create a rigid support, but rely on the skin to keep the water out. Break the skin anywhere and the foam will freely flood. Sponges are a good example of an open cell foam. most of the cheaper urethane foams are effectively open cell.
To determine if the foam you want to use is open or closed cell at the maximum depth you expect it to see you need to do a test. even a relatively open cell foam will work at the surface until damaged.
Cast a block of the foam in a gallon milk jug with a line tied around a toggle embedded in the foam. Once the foam has fully cured cut a couple inches off the top of the jug and trim the foam down to the embedded line. Get an accurate weight on the foam and embedded line on a postal scale and wright it on the block. You now have a test block slightly under a gallon in volume with a good sealed skin on the boottom of it (the remains of the jug) and an opening to the foam core at the top.
Tie a weight sufficient to sink the block (generally this will be under 10 pounds) to another line long enough to take the block t the bottom at your preferred fishing spot and tie the foam block to the weight as well. Now make the bitter end of the long line fast to the boats and chunk everything overboard. Wait an hour, or until the fish stop biting, and haul up the test rig. Now discoonnect the weight and drop line from the test block and weigh the test block just like tyou did before. A weight gain of over 2 or 3% indicates an open cell foam.
As an alternate you can use a lightweight "double filled" material from Goldenwest Products called Butterboard. This stuff has a density of about 30 pounds per cubit foot, giving about 30 pounds lift for each cubic foot of material. It won't crush to well below 300 FSW. The normal butterboard is 48 lbs/ft^3, so the special double filled is what you'd want here for a float.
Butterboard is strong enough to take a significant impact without damage, has no open/closed cell properties, and is easy to cast of bond. Contact info is available at:
11-03-2003, 08:29 PM
I've seen info on how to rig lifeguard buoys somewhere in the past. It might have been on the Maas website . . . I'll try to dig it up. If not, try sending the question to Hana Pa'a--the dive shop that puts out Hawaii Skin Diver. Those guys are top notch and extremely helpful in my experience.
11-04-2003, 02:52 PM
Why don't you just go to the commercial fish supply And get a orange torpedo long line bouy. They only cost 5 bucks. They work better than anything else. Plus they only cost 5 bucks all day long. If your going for bigger fish just ad more bouy because they are only five bucks. I spent a crazy amount of money on a riffe bouy and all it does is leak
11-04-2003, 08:49 PM
Your question about bluewater floats brings up alot of memories. First of all don't even think about something that comes out of a can, your just kidding yourself or trying to make yourself feel better. The first floats we built was back in the early to mid-90's and they were lifeguard bouys, however they had very little lift about 18-21 lbs if I can remember correctly. We use to use 2-3 in series, what a mess lots of tangle problems. When making these floats we got our hands on some 2 part foam of densities from 2 pounds up to six pounds and of course the 4 and 6 lb foam did the trick but that was why we could only get 18 lbs of lift because the canisters were so heavy from the dense foam. The 2 pound foam which is twice as dense as your can type only made it to about 90 feet before crushing.
About 1996 Gerald Lim, Ron Mullins, Terry Mass and us starting using a single float with about 50-55 lbs of lift, it seemed to be just right. Not to small that you needed multiple floats and not so large that it tore your shaft out of the fish. I made several dozen, in fact Hana Paa Hawaii bought them from me. They were made of different materials including Divenicell, Nomex, end grain balsa to name a few. The size was 40" long 10-12" wide and 4" thick covered in fiberglass and epoxy resin (West systems), it was sort of a labor of love making them as it was labor intensive.
Anything less than this type of board would not have landed the amount of fish or survived the abuse we subjected them too.
Now if you are diving in less than 150-200 feet of water do you need such a float, more than likely not being as your float line is going to stretch to 100-150'. But if you are truely shooting "big fish" in the deep blue then it is a requirement.
Hope this helps!
Aimrite Hawaii, Inc
11-05-2003, 07:41 AM
Thanks for the info. I had the thing sitting around and I was just experimenting with it. I have some doggie floats coming over from SA, but I thought I would mess with this one. Straight up has a good idea, but it would take up a lot of room in the boat. My Riffe float has patches all over it, but it is nice in terms of travel and space. Rick, GR Tarr tells me that you guys make the best inflatable floats in the business. He said you can poke it with a spear and it doesn't pop.
11-05-2003, 12:39 PM
I guess that would depend on how sharp your spear is??? GR must be running around with some dull tips! Ha ha. It is very durable actually the material is much thicker than other manufacture's, we have never had a problem with one. We are coming out soon with a red model. But remember an inflatable float is "not" a Blue Water Float and to the company out there that claims this shame on them. Companies that make this claim are fooling themselves or just don't know any better and in doing so are lieing to consumers. We have used our's to take some pretty good sized Ono and we even managed to boat a 80 lb Tuna with one but that was because the water was not really that deep. In deep water you need something that will not compress and will not create such a drag as to rip the shaft from the fish. That does not mean however to clip your floatline to your boat, it's to much drag! :)
11-05-2003, 12:56 PM
WELL RICK, I see your spirits are higher and glad to see that, hey did daryl show you the pics of the fish i took with your gun in NC? man that was sweet. 10 grouper and 4 monster african pompano to die for man. Still in rehab??
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