We want this boat to really stand out so we decided on a couple of Chinese dragons complete with pearls in their mouths that will illuminate as red (port) and green (starboard).
We wanted to keep cost, weight and design time to a minimum so we opted to use styrofoam and had some basic instructions by a professional. Most people woud likely start with something much smaller, but we decided to just go for it.
Hot Wire Foam Cutter
I originally built this hot wire cutter for lost foam casting, but it was exactly what we needed to create the dragons. The cutter fastens on to my old Craftsman table saw.
There is no easier way to accurately cut foam and all you need is a simple frame, transformer, dimmer switch, and steel wire.
Read more about it here: Hot Wire Cutter
The process begins with styrofoam that is cut and carved using hot wires, brushes, power tools, files and anything else you might have in your shop. Most of our tools were homemade.
We then covered the carved styrofoam with wood putty which helped give a hard working coat to the structure followed by a few coats of Styrospray. We then burned and melted out the insides using heat and/or acetone and followed by pouring and/or painting the interior with resins. We utilized glass beads, fibers, or cloth for added strength along the way.
An added benefit will be their use in helping to collect clean water that runs off the pilot house roof as we added hoses through the head and body.
In the end each dragon (about 20 feet long if you stretch him out like a dead snake) will weigh about 200 lbs and will be bolted securely to the pilot house structure.