Design & DIY

Lessons learned from the Brojects builds

Floating hot tub

On Brojects, the more crazy, wacky, and seemingly impossible a project sounds, the more excited Kevin and Andrew get to bust out their hammers and get to work.  For three of the bros’ most audacious projects, Andrew breaks down the plan, the challenges and the lessons learned.

The Project: Amphibious Hot Tub

Hot tubs at the cottage are pure luxury. On those cool spring and autumn nights, there’s nothing more relaxing than dipping into the hot tub and gazing at the stars. For years, the bros’ version of this comfort was an old clawfoot bathtub on the lawn behind the cabin. So when the idea to make a hot tub came up, both brothers were all game.

“From the get-go, we hadn’t really planned on it being a floating hot tub,” says Andrew. “We planned on it being a land-based hot tub, but then our insensibilities got the best of us.” Based on a commercial fiberglass fishing tub, the hot tub was outfitted with an electric trolling motor for cruising around the lake and removable pontoon outriggers that work double duty as a stabilizer and ice bucket/cup holders.

Challenges: “This one was fraught with difficulty,” Andrew laughs. “We didn’t have the right material, or a plan. The heater we originally purchased wasn’t meant to float, so the heating system was the hardest part of the whole thing.” In the end, the wood stove was anchored to the dock and would pre-heat the tub before the bros went out on the lake. Once the bros figured out the logistics and finished the build, then came the safety question. “We weren’t sure if it was going to float, sink or capsize,” says Andrew. “It turned out to be a monster, weighing close to a ton, so it was tough trying to move it around. Eventually we managed to push it into the water and warm it up.” A successful build! Sort of. Since that inaugural cruise, the hot tub has not floated since.

Lessons learned: “’Fail to plan; plan to fail’ is kind of the motto we’ve acquired on Brojects,” says Andrew. “If we ever make another one, we’ll make it a lot lighter and improve the heating system. Every time you add another piece of wood, it gets heavier. Sometimes we try to pretty things up with wood – because it’s easy to cover-up mistakes with – but it becomes a lot heavier that way.” Despite some design flaws, the project was by no means a failure. “We’ve found a nice spot for it on the property and now it’s a land-based hot tub, which it probably should have been from the start.”

Another lesson learned? “Don’t go on national television with your brother wearing dorky-looking hats and your bathing suits.”

The Project: Browling Alley

After building the Ultimate Playground in Season One, which unintentionally became almost exclusively for adults, the bros decided to build something that both parents and children could safely enjoy: a dock that doubles as a bowling alley. The Browling Alley is a floating wooden boat dock that’s also a 10-pin bowling lane with gutters, a mechanical pinsetter and ball return system. It also features a lounge with a mini bar, naturally. “Despite how ridiculous it sounds, the bowling alley and the dock are very similar, in their dimensions as least,” says Andrew. “We can re-configure it after to turn it into a T dock or a finger dock.”

Challenges: Despite it being one of the bros’ biggest projects, the Browling Alley wasn’t riddled with challenges. “We spent a little bit more time with this one drawing it out and making sure we had all the materials. Once we had the layout and the general concept, it was just banging together a bunch of dock pieces.”

Making the pin-setter, on the other hand, proved to be a bit more difficult. “When I actually went to build it, it was fairly straight-forward. It worked, it didn’t work very well, but it worked,” says Andrew. “But that’s what happens when you build. You have to build it at least once to get the bugs out. I think anyone can pull building one of these off even though it seems kind of complex.”

Lessons learned: Bowling balls sink. “We lost quite a few bowling balls in the lake, so having a better ball-return system is key in the bowling alley dock.”

The Project: Electric Toboggan  

What’s the worst part of tobogganing? Trudging back up the hill, pulling your sled behind you. Ever the clever builders, and always young at heart, the bros recognized this universal woe and designed the ultimate electric toboggan. “This one had been on my list for awhile, trying to figure out an easy way to get back up the hill,” says Andrew. Made out of old car seats, the toboggan “has a chainsaw attached to it with a winch that will pull you back up the hill,” explains Andrew. To construct it, the bros cobbled together a bunch of recycled and random pieces of junk, like the car seats and a cargo carrier for a truck that became the toboggan’s base, some skis, and created a little bar, “because we generally have one on most of the projects we build.”

Challenges: Once again, the biggest challenge was how to actually move the project once it was finished. “It seems like everything Kevin and I build are about ten times heavier than we imagine it. With every project, when we’re done, we can barely move it, and the sled was no exception. It required the motor to get back up the hill because it was so heavy,” says Andrew.

Lessons learned: Junk is the heart to any Brojects build. “These kind of projects excite me and Kevin the most because they’re so random and you’re forced to work with the materials you have versus starting from scratch,” says Andrew. “Your hands are forced a little bit. It forces you to think within those parameters and do a little lateral thinking and mental gymnastics so it all works together.”


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