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Incredible Soda Bottle Pontoon Boat

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FOURTH UPDATE: The Incredible Soda Bottle Pontoon Boat is gone, no more, nada. It's at the dump in pieces or recycled. Watch for a new build in the spring. Sleeker, lighter, svelter, cooler. Drawing on what I've learned.

THIRD UPDATE: So, the boat has as of this writing been in the water for 7 years. It's never been pulled out just beached and left outside in winter. I noticed a few pieces of plywood coming loose and the batteries are nearing end of useful life. When you deep charge/discharge marine batteries over and over they eventually lose their ability to hold a full charge.

The third picture you see below is ugly. It's the final pictures before total and complete dismantling of the Incredible Soda Bottle Pontoon Boat. In the spring I'll start again. this one will be different. Basically sleaker, lighter, faster. and simpler. I consider the first one a prototype. I learned a lot and I found out what works and what doesn't. I had lots of fun and many, many pleasant hours cruising, fishing, and fielding questions from people on lake from the banking and from boats.

This is the end of the ISBPB. Tomorrow it's a date with the sledgehammer.

SECOND UPDATE: I have had problems with burning out switches with the high current. I have recently installed 4 automobile solenoids. Wired properly they act like a DPDT switch. I have one small three position toggle switch for a control now. Forward-off-reverse. I might have to replace two of them with continuous duty solenoids though I don't know how long the intemittent ones will hold up going long periods in forward. I'll post pictures of the set-up when I get the chance.

UPDATE PARAGRAPH: Below is the barge, as it's called now, 4 years later. The one without the canopy is the original launched picture. The canopy is a rather expensive but impervious to weather material called 'sunbrulla'. The pipes are galvanized 1" electrical conduit. Other changes: the seats didn't weather well so they were covered with latex sheeting. An American flag and holder, Oh, and a new pier I welded up.

I made a soda bottle raft a few years ago. It was just 940 two liter bottles enclosed on all sides with a deck. Later on I decided to make a pontoon boat. A sort of movable raft or barge out of soda bottles and materials from Home Depot. When I'm making a boat suddenly all stores carry boat making materials. It's fun to improvise with what's available.

The boat is basically wood pontoons with 2400 soda bottles filling them. It's electric and has become a wonderful place to spend an afternoon to glide silently on the water or to fish. It's big, 20' by 12' and heavy, I'd estimate about a ton. but it moves nicely even in a stiff wind, rolls with waves but doesn't overly rock, and is highly maneuverable. It just isn't very fast but here in Maine that the way we like it. A BBQ grill, a tall Moxie, a fishing pole and you've got it made on the water on the incredible soda bottle pontoon boat (alias the Pahty bahge). You need to pronounce that with a Maine accent,no R's allowed.
 
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Yous should keep a similar design for the new one but have the pontoons made from 4 50 gallon drums stacked lengthwise. Then make nice cones on the ends and possibly sheath the top in sheet metal so you cant see the tops of the barrels but so that the bottoms come in contact with the water. It would be alot easier to move through the water.

55 gallon drums...

kattmanduu10 months ago
What about recycling a few of those old aluminum drop tanks from old retired military aircraft from the Bone yard in Arizona. Can be repaired/patched real easy and sealed up with that extreme duty tire sealer used in off road vehicle tires. Put a metal tire valve stem on them to compress them with air to hold the seal. Those tanks were used on many different aircraft, thus many different sizes. A pair of B-52 drop tanks would be big enough to make an ocean going craft, the rest is up to your imagination as to what you would use for your cabin and power systems. This is about recycling right? That is just another way to do it. Could use the forward section of an old cargo aircraft as your cabin, mounted to the wing mount hard points on the drop tanks. I am a former aircraft mechanic from the air force, I know that those tanks can float real easy and are very durable and strong.
DiceDog1 year ago
Amazing! So many great comments too! I think I read them all. I know the last post here was about a year ago. I hope your still out there. I have had a pontoon house boat thingy in my head for years. I imagine ABS pipe with a frame. You mention you are welder now. I was thinking a metal strut frame, thought too heavy perhaps. What about using sections of an aluminum ladder, coupled with metal strut, for strength and to build deck off of?
Hope your still about.
deceiver (author)  DiceDog1 year ago
I'm still here. All good ideas.. If I do it again. It will be with plastic 55 gallon drums. You can usually buy them from car washes. They get all their soap in them. Here's they're 5 bucks each. Those somehow encased in a welded up metal frame and It could be fairly light and work well.
mliu6 deceiver1 year ago
but if i intend to use the boat to sea, then the metal frame would be too easy to get rusted yes?
skaar mliu61 year ago
use a sacrificial zinc.
Ermahgerd1 year ago
Do you reckon this will work with pool noodles?
deceiver (author)  Ermahgerd1 year ago
Sure it would. They float and shouldn't get waterlogged. Why not?
SIRJAMES092 years ago
Since I'm older & not interested in sewing my oats like I was at 19, I have always wanted a pontoon boat....I think that I will try & build one but I'll use plastic barrels(6 or 8 of them) for the pontoons.

A 20 footer should be enough to pahty on & catch fish with as well. 8=D

And if I get REALLY bored, I just might end up with a home made houseboat.

I loved reading how you did this, gives me lots of ideas!!
deceiver (author)  SIRJAMES092 years ago
As a kid we had a steel pipe raft, a big one floated with 6 steel drums. It bobbed like a cork. I'll bet you could get by with 4 of them if they are about the size of the steel ones.
Perhaps a little water inside the barrels will reduce the stability problem.
this is prolly true guys....however, I would rather have too much floatation than not enough.

as far as water in the barrels, that might work....kind of like a counter balance thingy...there's a 64 million dollar name for it, but I have no idea what that name is. :)

TY both for the input. Much apreciated. 8)
Except that you will be hauling that water around with you - at 64lbs/gallon.

Light is best.

Cylindrical hulls aren't really great, hydrodynamically - flat bottoms are much better.

2ftx2ft pontoons on a 20ft x 8ft platform will give you more than enough flotation for 10 people and all their gear, assuming you don't make it all out of cast iron!

Here's a great, cheap, easy plan for a scalable platform boat from Pop.Mech.

http://www.svensons.com/boat/?p=HouseBoats/PlatformBoat
Doh! 64lbs/cu ft, not per gallon!
deceiver (author)  SIRJAMES092 years ago
It's called ballast.
TY. ballast is not the word I was looking for, but it works too. :)
I think you mean "keel"?
The keel is the bottom of the hull.
braeham991 year ago
do you need a boating license for this? i doubt it... but do you?
deceiver (author)  braeham991 year ago
In Maine, any powered boat has to be licensed. Even electric so yes here it has to be licensed.
Love the idea. Im going to need to make one now.
ecarroll12 years ago
Here in SW VA we have a Coke plant and I can get 50 gal plastic drums that are fused together at top and bottom and only the lid which is a pain in the rear to get out is the only "leak" point. You have to buy 8 at a time and you get 8 for $40. 8 of those should float a "titanic" sized pontoon.
have you built a new one yet
deceiver (author)  the doctor who2 years ago
Haven't built one yet. I'm remodeling the house. it's always in the back of my mind though. I live on a lake and I miss being able to glide over the water.
i am working on building one for fishing can you give me some tips
fjpalacios15 years ago
I'M GOING TO TRY THIS WITH MY SON...I'LL UPLOAD THE PICS AS SOON AS IT'S TESTED. THANKS, FRANK
deceiver (author)  fjpalacios15 years ago
That's great. When I do this again. And it may be soon. I'm going to eliminate the bottles and use sealed 6" pvc pipe. I think it will float well and be easier to manage.
What thickness pipe - schedule 40 PVC pipe is a lot heavier than the PET plastic in soda bottles? [Sc. 40 PVC = 3.53 # / ft.] I am also concerned about the brittleness of PCV. I wonder if there is a better substitute? Have you considered foam wrapped in fiberglass or carbon fiber? I saw this done to make a sailboat pontoon in an old PopSci Magazine article. Or, could the soda bottles be connected together in a large monotube, wrapped in something like shrink wrap or fiberglass?
deceiver (author)  robertg2 years ago
I had considered cutting disks of foam out of 2" thick pink foam you see as building materials at big box stores. then stacking them into cardboard sauna tubes and fiberglassing the whole thing. But, the cost and work involved would be quite a bit.

As for the PVC pipe:
The PVC pipe (one 6"x10ft) would buoy about 100 lbs of wt. would be insterted underneath a pipe skeleton framework so they wouldn't really be support structures. Also, if you bundled about 5-6 of them with straps they'd be pretty strong.
fill the pipe w capped bottles, not much added weight, but xtra security if the PVC cracks
I'm not sure how buoyant small boys are, but my guess might be to try using 6 teenage kids each side to start with. They might kick for a while but will eventually fall quiet and provide ample buoyancy for your boat.
Just give them an area for food, drink and air then you have your motor too....LOL
very good, sir!
deceiver (author)  pdub774 years ago
Thank you.
pdub77 deceiver4 years ago
Your Instructable is good as well, but I was referring to nachobobs's comment. It was really funny. Sorry, deveiver. That carved dragon's head is freakin' sweet, though! What's that made of? Having spent most of my youth around boats I love how you made the port and starboard lights the eyes. Very cool.
deceiver (author)  pdub774 years ago
Ha, didn't catch that. The head is just a bunch of pine boards glued together. I carved it with a 4" grinder and some chisels. It took about 2-3 hrs to carve once I started it.
pdub77 deceiver4 years ago
Wow. I am duly impressed. You are a true artist. I've got skills in other areas, but not sure I could do that.
AtIas nachobobs4 years ago
Dark, but funny non the less.
You are a twisted individual . But i like the idea ,if it works you can get some supplies from my neiborhood we have an over abundance of noisy kids! LOL.
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