Building Your Boat from Scratch
Just lazing down the river with your family and friends on a boat seems the perfect holiday plan. Pontoon boats are the perfect vehicle for realizing this dream. Buying a new or used commercially manufactured pontoon boat, however, can be an expensive proposition. Some people love engineering challenges. They would prefer to build their own pontoon boat rather than buy one. If you are a handy person, you can save a great deal of money by building your own pontoon boat. Pontoon boats design is simple in concept. The boat is basically a flat-bottomed raft that is attached to cylindrical pipes or barrels, with ends closed and welded watertight. Catamaran is the basic design and construction of a pontoon boat with two rows of pontoons, and trimaran the basic design with three rows of pontoons. Once built, a pontoon boat is extremely easy to use and maintain.
The first step, when building any boat, is to create a basic design and select the materials that will be used. Planning is the key. Consider the size of the boat you wish to build. Will its size determine where it can be constructed? Can it be hauled from the build site to the water on a small trailer, or must it be built adjacent to the launch site, launched, and completed in the water?
Creating the pontoons is the second priority. You cannot have a pontoon boat without a good pontoon base. After all is done, you want the boat to float! Unfortunately, new or used commercially manufactured pontoons can be quite expensive. You can search online to see if you can get pontoons at a discount. You may even have some luck at your local junkyard, if you happen to live near recreational waters. Some self-designers have used large PVC plastic drums or military drop tanks. However you have to ensure that the pontoons are sea-worthy. You do not want any of your pontoons to suddenly to start leaking. Materials like plastic drums or large diameter PVC water pipes will make excellent pontoons. Drop tanks are the best option since the honeycombed baffle material is rust resistant. This material is extremely durable and is designed to have excellent hydrodynamic characteristics. The alternative to buying them is that you build your pontoons. If your self-made pontoons require welding, it should be done only by professionals; otherwise, use super glue and simple materials.
The deck design must provide enough space to comfortably accommodate the number of expected guests. Using composite material for construction of the deck is preferred to using wood, and is less expensive to use. Materials like fiberglass provide great strength to the pontoon boat because of its toughness. The deck must be perfectly rectangular. To ensure this, diagonally place two one-inch wide 16-gauge galvanized straps from corner to corner using 3½-inch hot dipped galvanized nails or screws. Material used to create the superstructure must be dry, light weight 1- by 6-inch treated wood or marine grade plywood. Handrails should be installed around the deck to prevent guests from accidentally falling into the water. You should also make provisions for oar locks for manually maneuvering the boat, and a mounting platform for a small motor. The total weight of the superstructure including passengers should be included in the calculations for determining displacement in the water. Example: if the water displaced by the sealed PVC pipes is 1600 pounds, the total weight of the frame and the boat with furniture, cover, and guests should be not more than 900 pounds.
Pontoon boat kits
If building a pontoon boat from the ground up, so to speak, seems too formidable a task for your time and talents, you may want to consider an alternative: building your boat using a pontoon boat kit. Pontoon boat kits are a great alternative to doing everything from scratch, and you can still save a lot. Some kits come with an aluminum frame. Others offer durable polyethylene pontoons. Some kits are comprised of sections which are completely enclosed. These are usually available in various heights to suit your personal requirements. All pontoon boat kits off are available with an excellent color selection, many colors which are not available in the commercially manufactured boats.
When selecting a kit, emphasize the durability of the finished boat. Polyethylene is known to be one of the most robust materials and its use is highly recommended. Remember, your time is valuable. Check out the kits efficiency of assembly. You should be able to assemble the kit within hours, not weeks. Pontoon boat kits are readily available on the internet, and at reasonable costs. Some of these kits are actually offered by the same companies that manufacture completed pontoon boats, ensuring that the quality matches their finished versions. Building your pontoon boat from a kit is certainly less complicated and time consuming that building from scratch, but it still requires some handyman talents.