Barge Simpson: Recycling & Relaxation

After several years of canoeing the Wisconsin River, my brother Jason and I had the idea to build a barrel raft capable of navigating the river while everyone aboard relaxed and enjoyed the trip.


Originally we wanted to make the raft how most people do, wood and barrels. However, after settling on a size, we quickly realized that wood and metal barrels are quite heavy.


Eventually, after tossing around ideas ranging from aluminum square channels and dock pieces, we settled on 6 premade plastic pallets and 8 plastic food-grade barrels. The combination left us with a very sturdy initial platform to build our raft on.


Prior to settling on a pontoon orientation, we experimented 4 sets of 2 side by side barrels but determined that the water resistance and transportation would be a challenge.


The first task was to secure each pallet together over the length of the raft and then the width. To accomplish this we took 12 foot pressure treated 2x4s and hammered them into the fork spaces of the pallets.