Homemade Pontoon Boat

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Introduction: Homemade Pontoon Boat

This is how to build your very own, functional and free, pontoon boat. We used completely recycled materials that were otherwise trash, but we turned it into an environmentally-friendly party barge.

Step 1: Locate and Acquire Your Materials

Our pontoon boat started from a 7ftx10ft frame of water-treated 2x6's, 2x4's, and 2x2's. We got these from the remains of my old backyard deck which was replaced over the summer (all framework was pressure treated and stained). The pontoons are made out of six 30-gallon barrels, which we found at a recycling center. These barrels were used and weren't approved for catering or agriculture- but were perfect for our boat. We found large pieces of Oriented Strand Board (OSB) and more 2x4's in dumpsters scattered around a new housing development. We used my riding lawn mower and it's homemade trailer to collect the wood out of the dumpsters. The deck was scrap pieces of sub-flouring and were being thrown way- again, who wouldn't build a boat out of it? I should add that in a dumpster we found a leather ottoman, which was instantly deemed as the captain's chair. You can find the necessary lumber where we did, in the trash, or in recycling centers.

Step 2: Check the Barrels for Leaks

Dispose any liquid inside the barrel accordingly, ensure the barrels are clean and safe enough for a marine environment. Fill 1/3 of each barrel with water, tighten their lids, and flip them upside-down. This will show you if any of the barrels would let water leak into them.

Step 3: Completly Empty the Barrels and Seal Lids With Caulk

Tighten each of the lids with a wrench. Evenly caulk each lid and allow 2 hours for it to cure. Rest assured this will keep the inside of the barrels, therefor you, dry.

Step 4: Build the Frame

Cut two 2x6's exactly 10 feet long. Then cut two 2x6's to be seven total feet in length. Cut 45-degree angles on each end to they will fit together and retain original dimensions. We used three 4" screws on each corner to secure them together.

Next you will build supports for the barrels:

Cut two 2x4's to be 11'9" in length. These will run the length of the boat's 10ft side (but inside the existing frame). Use screws to secure each one 15.5" from each side of the boat. This distance will allow the barrels to sink 2.5" upward into the frame. Doing this lowers the entire boat's center-of-gravity as well as directly supporting the deck. Install either a 2x2 or a 2x4 on each side of the three barrels (15 inches away from the front and back of the boat). This will keep the barrels from sliding back and forth.

Building the rest of the frame:

For our deck we used boards that were half an inch thick. This allows up to 4 square feet gaps in your frame. Use mostly 2x4's to construct a rectangular network frame with gaps no more than 4 square feet in area.

Step 5: Secure Your Barrels to the Frame

We used perforated metal hanger straps (galvanized) to secure each barrel to the frame. Cut out 12 42" strips. Use 2 straps per barrel; wrap each strap a little more than halfway around the barrel and attach each side to the 2x4 and to the 2x6 on both sides of the barrel. Use screws and drill at an angle to tighten each strap as you sink the screw. Be cautious to not puncture any barrels doing this- it's an easy mistake to make.

Step 6: Construct the Deck

Use the Oriented Strand Board (OSB) you collected to construct a 70 sqft deck. Use screws to secure each piece to the frame. Place and cut each board so every junction would have frame under it. Try to use the largest pieces and make sure not to puncture any barrels. If you wish to use an outboard motor like we did, leave a small opening in the deck at the back of the boat. Otherwise, your new pontoon is easy to propel with oars.

Step 7: Load and Transport the Boat

For our first launch, we used a cargo trailer to get it to the reservoir. Only use it in bodies of water that are knowing and allowing of you and your pontoon. For our testing, we had permission to launch on a local reservoir. We plan on registering the boat with the state in the future. Make sure you take every legal step to ensure your day of boating doesn't get cut short by the police. The boat is fairly lightweight, therefor it was easy for four high-schoolers to carry the boat on and off the trailer as well as into the water. No boat ramp? No problem.

Step 8: Have Fun on Your New Boat

Have fun on your new boat knowing that you didn't hurt the environment to build it. It is of course necessary to bring lawn chairs, floral-pattern shirts (Tommy Bahama recommended but not required), and a cooler full of cold, age-conscious drinks. Also keep in mind that there is now a possibility your significant other might only want you for your boat. Get ready to receive scores of compliments in appreciation of your masterpiece.

Trash to Treasure

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Trash to Treasure

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    72 Discussions

    0
    robotlord2004
    robotlord2004

    4 months ago

    what if you used an old bike to turn it into a paddle bike, it moves and it isn't motorised.thus, no VIN required

    0
    paulbsa
    paulbsa

    2 years ago

    Check your local laws before you decide to add an electric trolling motor. In some states, even just an electric trolling motor defines it as a real boat and requires the boat to be registered.

    0
    ron.stone.733
    ron.stone.733

    Reply 2 years ago

    I was just about to mention this. In WI it would have to be licensed. And with no vin number you won't be able to.

    0
    antioch
    antioch

    Reply 5 months ago

    Hey, little guy, you're probably still pretty young and heard this abbreviation when your mom registered her car. When you'll grow older you'll figure out that the N in VIN stands for NUMBER so there is no such term as 'vin number' and then later on you will probably learn that this VIN is a thing when registering stuff like automobiles only.

    Everyone who knows boat stuff knows they are identified by their HIN. And that means Hull Identification Number.
    Everyone can get a HIN for their boat from their state's department.
    Maybe you wanna get a little out in the sun and take a stroll down to the department and register your toy boat?

    Better luck in your future postings!

    0
    Massvwatches
    Massvwatches

    Reply 2 years ago

    You can get a boat registed without a vin number if you built it yourself, but you have to get it inspected/certified after building, most often by a coast gaurd agent(thats who did mine)

    0
    aglepetsos01
    aglepetsos01

    Reply 2 years ago

    We got permission from the local Parks and Recreation department. Thanks!

    0
    KittyQ1
    KittyQ1

    Reply 2 years ago

    This. I've been in this situation with an electric motor on a kayak in California. Great way to prematurely end a day with a fine.

    0
    midbay
    midbay

    1 year ago

    I might try it with a used trampoline for the deck instead of the OSB

    0
    antioch
    antioch

    Reply 5 months ago

    Haha, awesome, that cracked me up good!
    Next best tard will come running to tell you this would be illegal in his state in 3...2...

    0
    milesnorth
    milesnorth

    9 months ago

    Well done! Working on a kittly litter boat myself...... Yeah...... Tune in for that fun adventure!

    0
    sconnors
    sconnors

    1 year ago

    To waterproof your boat, cheapest paint might be available at your local trash disposal facility. Not much problem mixing together various makes and colors if the paint is exterior latex. A painter might have leftover paint he could give you as well. Second cheapest is to go to the paint store and get mistinted paint. They sell it cheap and might even give you some. Just let it cure for a week before you put it in the water.

    0
    charles543
    charles543

    1 year ago

    Why just fill the barrels 1/3 full to check for leaks. They can leak from anywhere.

    0
    Scratchthejeepguy
    Scratchthejeepguy

    1 year ago

    Nice job! Thanks for bringing me back down memory lane! At almost 50 years old now, I remember building plywood and barrel boats when I was a kid and how much fun my friends and I had. It's refreshing to see today's youth using their brain for creating fun things outside, rather than sitting inside all day glued to their phone screens and playing video games. Not that video games are all bad, but ya gotta get outside every once in a while!

    0
    jsadler1
    jsadler1

    2 years ago on Step 8

    People seem to rarely think about this but did you consider installing the barrels side to side instead of front to back? It just might make the barge easier to push around. It might make no difference if a trolling motor is used by if you strapped a tiny gas outboard of two or three horsepower it might make quite a difference as the side to side barrels would tend to lift the front of the barge and thus travel with a smaller bit of the underside in contact with the water. The other thing that I notice is that oriented strand board is great for wet and drying cycles such as in roofing but if long term immersion is encountered plywood is superior. In my area the worst part of the entire build would be in trying to buy quality, straight 2 X 4 lumber. The Home Depot 2 x 4s are of wretched quality.

    0
    Stuart21
    Stuart21

    Reply 1 year ago

    Also, stability will be improved if barrels are located as close to corners as possible.
    & a 'nosecone' in front of the leading barrel might reduce resistance.

    0
    Massvwatches
    Massvwatches

    2 years ago on Step 8

    Use marine grade plywood, its been treated for water, particle board will quickly fall apart. I also recommend covering all wood in fiberglass or atleast a top coat of gelcoat or another sealer. The other thing you fail to mention is that this boat is illegal in many lakes/states if you dont go through the proper tagging, paperwork and inspection this will land you with a large fine. (I build boats myself)

    0
    itsmescotty
    itsmescotty

    Reply 2 years ago

    Since you build boats you know the difference between the types of plywoods and there is a plethora of marine types with many different specifications including country specifications.

    Marine plywood is set apart from domestic use plywood primarily by glue type. It's NOT necessarily treated and the fletched have a specific criteria regarding voids, seams and knots as do the faces. Typically an exterior grade of plywood would work in a situation like this but isn't as pretty as marine grade.

    Gel coat is NOT a standalone product, it's designed for use with polyester resin. When applied It remains tacky and only really cures chemically when the polyester is applied - unless you are referring to colored polyester resin as 'gel coat'. I could go on about the use of wood and polyester but I'm done with this.

    0
    jsadler1
    jsadler1

    Reply 2 years ago

    These day the main feature of marine plywood is that it is not sanded. That allows resin to stay attached to the wood and sanding would ruin it. As you do not intend to glass the boat you would not be better to buy the marine ply at all. You will probably meet people who have a mess on their hands as a glassed boat is hard to repair, heavier and much more expensive. Keep it oiled and painted and it will last long enough. People who repair yachts go through hell in cutting away rotted areas that have been glassed. The firmness of a well built glass boat is vital in oceans and large bodies of water can get severe weather and pounding seas. Even then glass over foam panels seems to be far superior as the foam does not rot. You did a great job by the way and doing it with recycled materials makes it great. Now I wish I could get away with pulling a trailer on riding mower here would eat me alive for that. Yet I could build a rig that could be considered an electric wheel chair and use the sidewalks and it would be legal. So far no one has passed laws against towing a trailer with a wheel chair.

    0
    aglepetsos01
    aglepetsos01

    Reply 2 years ago

    The idea of this project was to turn trash into treasure for the contest. It is of course implied that proper registration and inspection is necessary. In our case, we got permission to test on a local reservoir. We plan on getting the boat inspected and registered for future use. Also we are looking into the best stain/sealant to waterproof our boat while preserving it's "recycled" status.

    0
    J.5
    J.5

    2 years ago on Introduction

    Though this is a very admirable project, beware as it may get you a visit from the coastguard, or even the local lake patrol fuzz. In many states including Oregon you have to have boat numbers when you have those little trolling motors. Just an FYI