Outdoors

Transformis Inspire expandable houseboat spends the night on land or water

Transformis Inspire expandable...
Moffat is currently investigating the possibility of launching a production version
Moffat is currently investigating the possibility of launching a production version
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Dimensions, layout and equipment diagram
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Dimensions, layout and equipment diagram
The Inspire isn't "compact" by any stretch of the imagination, but the side slide-outs allow it to fit comfortably on a trailer while offering more space at camp
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The Inspire isn't "compact" by any stretch of the imagination, but the side slide-outs allow it to fit comfortably on a trailer while offering more space at camp
Moffat got help from a boatbuilder in constructing the aluminum pontoons
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Moffat got help from a boatbuilder in constructing the aluminum pontoons
The retractable pontoons provide added support and stability
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The retractable pontoons provide added support and stability
Life on the water
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Life on the water
The Inspire measures about 8.4 m long when on the water (i.e. without trailer)
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The Inspire measures about 8.4 m long when on the water (i.e. without trailer)
The Inspire's open design connects occupants with the water
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The Inspire's open design connects occupants with the water
Moffat began formulating the idea for the Inspire on a trip with her son years ago
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Moffat began formulating the idea for the Inspire on a trip with her son years ago
The rear deck is short, but it does include a grill area
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The rear deck is short, but it does include a grill area
Moffat is currently investigating the possibility of launching a production version
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Moffat is currently investigating the possibility of launching a production version
Inspire trailerable houseboat
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Inspire trailerable houseboat
The Inspire body is made from a composite called MonoPan
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The Inspire body is made from a composite called MonoPan
A peek inside
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A peek inside
Inspire trailerable houseboat
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Inspire trailerable houseboat
Inspire trailerable houseboat
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Inspire trailerable houseboat
Sitting on the foredeck
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Sitting on the foredeck
The Inspire hits the water
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The Inspire hits the water
Moffat uses a 60-hp Honda four-stroke engine when on the water
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Moffat uses a 60-hp Honda four-stroke engine when on the water
As is, the Inspire can sleep four people in comfort
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As is, the Inspire can sleep four people in comfort
The interior includes two fold-out couches, a galley, a toilet, a shower and more
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The interior includes two fold-out couches, a galley, a toilet, a shower and more

A few weeks too late to be considered for our 2015 best caravans or water toys lists but an early candidate for next year, the Transformis Inspire is an interesting twist on the trailerable houseboat. It borrows from several other innovative products, including expandable boats and slide-out camper modules, to provide a comfortable land/water living space for touring the world by highway and waterway.

A German-born Australian transplant, Claudia Moffat is well aware of the wanderlust that comes with living in a new, exotic piece of the world. She helped satisfy her own wanderlust back in 2007, when she took a nine-month motorhome tour around Australia with her four-year-old son.

"On the road, we saw many rigs and realized that everyone wants to have a car, a house and a boat," Moffat recalls. "I did see trailerable houseboats, but the biggest issue was weight and, with that, a limited amount of towing vehicles available. Also, they seem very small inside."

A mechanical engineer by trade, Moffat immediately set her mental gears to work on possible custom designs, imagining a boat that could transform like a Transformers toy. Of course, thinking of a possible solution and building it out are two very different things, especially if you happen to be a working mother. Her ideas took a long vacation in the back of her mind.

Fast forward seven years, and with some wise words of encouragement, some money from the sale of her motorhome and a barn-based workspace on loan from a friend, Moffat finally set to work seeing her idea through. She purchased a used cargo trailer to slide under her houseboat-in-the-making and enlisted help from boatbuilder Mark Tirrell in the construction of the central hull and pontoons.

The Inspire isn't "compact" by any stretch of the imagination, but the side slide-outs allow it to fit comfortably on a trailer while offering more space at camp
The Inspire isn't "compact" by any stretch of the imagination, but the side slide-outs allow it to fit comfortably on a trailer while offering more space at camp

Her time still limited by the demands of work and family, Moffat turned to the Web, offering food and accommodation to wandering backpackers willing to get their hands dirty. That sounds like it could have been disaster, but it worked like a charm. Moffat got so many responses, she was able to narrow it down to professional trade workers with relevant experience. They quickly helped turn an idea into a working prototype.

The crux of the Inspire design is its pontoon/wall expansion system. Moffat adapted a compressor-based wall slide-out system from the fifth wheel trailer industry and incorporated the pontoons into it so that they slide out with the wall modules. The expanding walls increase interior space while allowing for a manageable width during towing, and the pontoons compensate for the added width to increase on-water stability.

Life on the water
Life on the water

The Inspire stretches 27.6 ft (8.4 m) in length on the water and about 30 ft (9 m) when including the trailer. The slide-out boxes run most of the length of the side walls and adjust total width of the vessel from 7.9 to 11.8 ft (2.4 to 3.6 m) when opened. In addition to offering a roomy, stable ride on the water, the Inspire can camp on land. The slide-out system is designed to work while it's trailered, letting it operate as an expandable caravan.

At first, Moffat's slide-out design might seem like a lot of extra engineering for what looks like a pretty large houseboat to begin with, but a closer inspection of the interior helps clarify why Moffat went that route. It's an airy, open layout with doors on each end and what seems like a very comfortable amount of space in the middle, much less claustrophobic than the narrower space without wall slide-outs would have been.

The interior packs two folding couches, a galley, a tall refrigerator/freezer, separate toilet and shower compartments, a cockpit, and a pull-out pantry. Moffat says the current design sleeps four comfortably and she could see easily adding a pair of bunks for two children. It looks like a very comfy, relaxing interior for a family, providing views out to the water and fresh sea air into the cabin.

As is, the Inspire can sleep four people in comfort
As is, the Inspire can sleep four people in comfort

The Inspire has solar panels mounted on the roof and a 360 Ah battery bank. The water system includes a 450-liter fresh water tank and 150-liter gray water tank. There's also a 60-liter fuel tank on board.

Moffat selected materials carefully to make a seaworthy vessel, constructing the entire body out of MonoPan polypropylene composite, glued and riveted to the aluminum frame. Aluminum is used for the central hull and pontoons, and there's no wood or fiberglass in the construction.

Since finishing up construction, Moffat has been touring land and sea with her design, towing the 6,835-lb (3,100-kg) houseboat-trailer package with a Ford Ranger with 3.2-liter turbodiesel. She's used it both on water, including hosting a Christmas party for a dozen people, and at the campground and says that it's worked well for both. She tells us she's reached water speeds of around 15 knots (27.8 km/h) with the 60-hp Honda four-stroke engine.

Moffat is currently gauging interest for possible production and says she has run a few local newspaper ads. If you have any thoughts or feedback on the design, sound off in our comments section. You can also read a little more about the build and check out her company Transformis Modern Innovations at the link below.

Source: Transformis

8 comments
Riaanh
Well done Claudia. What an effort, but well worth it, it really looks like a very nice mobile holiday spot! I assume the front canopy is taken down whilst being towed - otherwise that could make for a nice airbrake. Perhaps it could hinge down to aid in the aerodynamics of the brick shape.
toyhouse
A very cleaver idea and something I'd love to have. Can't say I've seen anything like it. As for suggestions, more deck space. Perhaps a small fold- up/down deck around the perimeter. Also, use of the roof space with fold-up railings and maybe a cover of some kind. I've seen rv's that had such a space that folded down for transport. That's another floor up there waiting to be used, especially on the water. Cheers.
Paul Anthony
I want one. More deck space and a barbecue.
nicho
I have one word for them 'Windage'.
Bob
Reminds me of my first camper, a 25 foot fly bridge cruiser on a trailer. We used it as a travel trailer while crossing the U.S. and our live aboard boat when we reached the ocean or Great Lakes. I carried the necessary adapter plugs that I could use at any RV park or slip at a marina. That was 25 years ago and we had a wonderful time. A sturdy step ladder made it very easy to use on land and it was a very seaworthy boat in the ocean. We even had a small window air conditioner that could be installed for warm nights at a marina or RV park. One week I could be pulling in salmon in Lake Michigan and the next week pulling in barracuda from the ocean. We did this for five years and were surprised to never see anyone else do the same thing.
Stephen N Russell
Mass produce, ideal for AZ Lake Havasu area, Lake Tahoe, Lake Arrowhead CA, , HI, PR, MI, VA, NC SC, GA, UT, CO, MT. Have removable pontoons & or pop out wheels for land use. Or house wheels in pontoons for land use. dual engines?? anchor, upper deck guest cabin, BBQ deckside, storage for guests, Food/water bins, sell with other trailers. Online sales, use in Travel show.
Mel Tisdale
If you are going to use it on crowded waterways, I suggest some form of guard to fend off any oncoming boat with a pointed bow. Other wise it could do a lot of very expensive damage. As for increased deck space, use the roof. I did that with my canal boat and it was fine for sun loungers.
Sugar Daddy
Excellent construction! I want one! Great concept, well-thought-out. Would love to see this in production, it is a winner.