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Anybody ever build a (pontoon) boat?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Badfish740, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    So I live in between two decent size (about 2000 acres) reservoirs that are limited to 9.9 HP and I want to build something that I use on both lakes just for general boating. I fish a little but mostly I'm just looking to take my wife, my daughter, and the dog out for a nice day on the water and to just explore the shoreline. In fact, the best part of having a boat at either of these lakes is that it allows you to access the far shorelines that aren't easily accessible by trails or other means, so you can have a nice quiet day of hanging out, skipping rocks, and swimming.

    Basically I'm looking to build something very simple and utilitarian that will move people and gear (cooler, grill, etc...) across the water efficiently and safely, but that will also allow us to putter around the lake. Given that, my first thought was to look at some sort of of pontoon/barge type design. Pontoon boats seem simple, but I know that there must be more than meets the eye as far as design. I've looked at a few different plywood pontoon designs (I figure that's the easiest and most accessible material to work with), but I've also looked at a few barge type designs as well. One of my biggest worries working with plywood is weight since I'm limited to a 9.9, but for all I know there is a good design out there that is a compromise between strength and weight. From what I've seen, one can make some pretty good and watertight plywood 'toons with plywood once they're filled with foam and coated with fiberglass mat and resin.

    It would probably help if I laid out a couple of parameters to help narrow down what design might work best:

    9.9 HP maximum
    5 person capacity/1500 lbs of people and gear
    Tiller steered
    Approximately 7' x 16' platform
    Plywood construction
    Trailerable

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  2. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I'm into boat building, mostly from the angle of repairing old wooden racing boats. I've also done my share of custom fab work, back when I was building hotrods. Assuming the instigation for building over buying is budget, I'd still opt not to build from scratch. I'd find some basket case of a boat, roughly what I was looking for, and start repairing or modifying from there. Boat hardware is insanely expensive, so any decrepit hulk from which you can steal rigging will be well worth your dollar. It will also give you an immediate direction, so you won't have to figure out for your own displacement, draft, balance, etc. Also, you will likely get a trailer, which is sure to need work of it's own, but better than building from scratch.
    Scols likes this.
  3. festerw

    festerw Burning Hunk

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    I'd tend to agree, your cost to build would go up quick. I know in this area I've seen plenty of older 24' or smaller go for well under $5k with a trailer. Either way it's going to cost you a boat load of money (pun intended).

    Heck I've got a 21ft Four Winns open bow in my yard that needs plenty of work I'd sell you for $500 just to get it out of my yard, lol.
  4. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Spot on Joful on bringing back an old hull. Lots of old savable sailboat hulls out there, (snipes, lightnings etc.) Look for a mini tune in rough shape also, new decks and some Ipe rails..... Surprising what's available off the hardware shelf if your going for a recreational rather than a showroom finish.
  5. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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  6. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    I agree with all the above, around here it seems pontoons are a dime a dozen, in rough shape but better than starting from scratch.
    also when thinking of doing this same thing, there is an ebay listing for dented pontoons and other parts for sale
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I know your post stated "pontoon", but you are also firmly in the camp of a wide body flat bottom. Maybe something to consider, and a 9.9 ain't gonna pull skiers, but would probably make it a 10-12 mph boat.
    Scols likes this.
  8. xman23

    xman23 Minister of Fire

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    With 9.9 HP it's going to have to be small and light. If you want to save some money, look for a junk one. The pontoons and frame are hard to kill. pressures test the pontoons for leaks. The decks on most are plywood, as well as the seats. This is what you can rebuild.
  9. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    Step-dad tried to build a pontoon boat in the garage when I was but a young lad.
    He made one small error. The boat was bigger than the door.
    I learned a lot from that guy, but none of it had anything to do with pontoon boat building.
    ScotO, Joful, Defiant and 2 others like this.
  10. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Something had to give.... which was it, the boat or the door?

    Or is the garage now a boat museum? ;lol
  11. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    Honestly don't remember what happened MM. I must have been 9-10, and I'm.......older now.;)
    I should ask my brother about it, he may remember.
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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  13. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Not sure how boat registration works in your area, but a "from scratch" boat might be hard to deal with.
  14. NE WOOD BURNER

    NE WOOD BURNER Minister of Fire

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    I had a 12 x 12 as a kid made of hemlock and recycled foam floats with a 25hp tiller cost a total of $200 lasted 10 or more years.

    Picked up a used pontoon for $500 last year with a 40 hp ripped out seats and use resin chairs and coolers! allows us to sing all the pontoon songs!

    I also picked up a 12 x 12 aluminum swim raft last year for $50.00 it is on foam floats. I may put a mounting plate on it and put a tiller on it.


    Lots out there!
    But then again "its not what you buy , Its what you build!"
    ScotO likes this.
  15. NE WOOD BURNER

    NE WOOD BURNER Minister of Fire

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  16. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    Interesting links guys... In all seriousness, after soaking up some knowledge at the boat design forums, I decided on this:

    [​IMG]

    It's a 16 footer with a 5' beam-kind of a hybrid garvey/jon boat-tough as nails and simple to build. Based on the current cost of marine plywood and fiberglass/resin it should cost about $1200 to construct. It will fit five (it'll be cozy) safely with gear and 3-4 very comfortably. Most folks who have built them have never built a boat in their lives and have spent about 20-30 hours start to finish. I'll hopefully start it before the end of Summer, but it won't likely be in the water until next year. Looking forward to posting pics!
  17. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    Please post the pics of your finished project. I love boats and would love to see what you have created.
  18. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    I made a cedar strip canoe. Few years ago I got a trolling motor and therefore had to register it. I had to state the year I built it and cost of materials. The state considers it a homemade boat.
  19. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    I live in NJ so homemade boats, especially on the coast, are a way of life (as they are in Maine), so it's a similar process. The marine division of the State Police inspects all homemade boats, but from what I've heard it's not that big a deal.


    I'll start a thread on it as soon as the build begins-hopefully before the end of Summer.
  20. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    As with these 50cc scooters upgrades can be done after the inspection to make that 9.9hp outboard have a little more umph, some are 15hp with changes done to the carbs to slow them down, just a thought if you will be building a heavier boat.
  21. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    I've heard of that trick. It's not the State Police you have to watch out for. They just inspect the boat for basic safety to make sure that you're not building a plywood box, sealing it with roofing tar, and putting a 150 HP outboard on the back. The lakes I'll be operating on are property of the Division of Parks and Forestry and are patrolled by State Park Rangers/Park Police. They know the old "put a 9.9 cowling on a 15 or 25 HP motor" trick and they do spot checks. The ticket for "tampering" is $75. The 15 HP carb on the 9.9 might be harder to catch though?
  22. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    When they see (they use binoculars, trust me) that Garvey up on plane, they'll know.

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