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05 May 2018

Pipestar Australia fabricate a unique sweep bend solution for boat bumpers

Pipestar Australia were engaged to fabricate a replacement bumper for a pilot boat using an adapted long radius HDPE sweep bend. The original bumper had used straight pipe welded together to create a rounded nose for the bow of the vessel. Exposure to the elements and the front-facing orientation of bumper combined with inherent weakness in welding seams meant the nose had deteriorated at a faster rate to the rest of the bumper system.

The bumper is a critical part of a pilot boat and the addition of PE to the bumper systems is driven by an effort to make bumpers safer, more durable and longer lasting. Polyethylene is proven to increase the overall durability and life cycle of a bumper, which would usually last over 10 years if maintained well. The unique properties of blackpoly pipe dictate that it is the ideal material to apply in aquatic, and especially oceanic environments. It is completely waterproof, impervious to salinity, very flexible and most importantly incredibly buoyant. PE is unsinkable and helps keep vessels afloat, stablised and buffered in rough conditions. It creates a cushion for the hull against other vessels, hard docking and rocky shores.

The polyethylene bumper commissioned needed to work as an addition to the standard rubber polyurethane moulded system currently used on pilot boats, where the PE is placed into an recess on the existing mould. The original bumper was designed to be rotated on a routine basis, to distribute wear points that result from impact with wharves and dock posts. It was also constructed so that entire sections could be replaced when overly worn or damaged. However, these measures had been exhausted an entirely new PE bumper was required to complete the refurbishment of the vessel.

Pipestar Australia designed and fabricated a unique single sweep bend solution from 160mm polyethylene to eliminate welds in the nose and reduce long-term wear. The sweep bend bow was extended to wrap around the whole vessel using continuous straight 160mm PE pipe to flank each side of the boat. The bulk of the bumper was made using only three pieces of pipe and two welds, located at optimum points in minimum impact zones of the overall bumper system. Pipestar’s refurbished system overcomes the weaknesses of the original concept, employing a more seamless and integrated construction built for enduring durability.

Operating since 2002, Pipestar Australia is one the largest national suppliers of sweep bends. Pipestar own and operate an end-to-end sweep bend plant alongside a fully equipped PE fabrication workshop based in Newcastle, servicing Australia’s east coast and beyond. In addition to sweep bends, Pipestar offer a large range of plastic welding equipment and services across a variety of industries.

Polyethylene can be used in water craft protection systems, submerged concrete pylon casing, concrete casting, floating walk ways, houseboat floatation (pontoons), boat hulls, filter housings, and water launching vessels. PE is an emerging as a vital material in the water (reticulation, treatment, pressure and non pressure sewer), gas and, mining sectors including Coal Seam Gas (CSG) high end applications.