Wednesday, October 10, 2007

DIY Pontoon Build Update 6

Update 6 shows alot of progress and the first water test!

Here we have her sitting on the trailer, getting ready for her first (and hopefully not last) dip in the drink.

And it hits water! Thats my little brother doing his best to get out of the water as the slab of concrete at the boat landing were very slick.

The first real test as I hop on it, no creaking or splintering so far...

Time for lifejackets and paddles. Chris, my youngest wanted to come with at first but decided there was more to life then what could be a very short ride in a decidely small boat and bailed.

Instead, Josh came aboard! Here we are about half way to our destination, the beach across the lake from the boat landing. This is where Josh, fresh from a 12 hour work shift, wanted to call it quits and let the wind drift us back to the landing.

I did give him two options, one, he could continue paddling and we could finish or two, he could swim. Funny thing about the lakes in MN when fall comes, they get cold. He chose to keep paddling.

We did make it across, unfortunately the camera's batteries
crapped out again (alkalines don't last long in digital cameras) and
by the time the wife got back with new batteries I had taken off with the boat again and let myself drift back to the boat landing. When we got it up on the landing, I had a surprise waiting, it had taken on water, about 5 gallons between both pontoons would be my guess.
So right now the boat is back in my garage, I'll hopefully get it flipped over and do another couple of coats of glass and resin to provide a better seal against water getting in. The crazy part is that we didn't have a clue we were (slowly) sinking and had been on the water for at least 2 hours! I'm chalking this up to being a sucess and am planning on getting it into the water at least once more before it freezes.

Monday, October 8, 2007

DIY Pontoon Build Update 5

Update 5... seems like just last week I was at Menard's buying the plywood and other misc supplies I'd need.

Here is the front view of the pontoon after a coat of flat white. The bags in the back are weights, but more on that later. As you can see the garage is still a mess and will be until the boat is done and has hit the water at least once as there currently isn't much room to work in the garage, much less clean it up.

Here is the left view of the boat, not too different from the front view. You'll have to excuse the timestamp on the image. The batteries died and after a long day of working on the boat the last thing I wanted to do was fiddle around with a camera to correct the date.

Right side of the boat. I got a bit sloppy at the end when it came to applying the fiberglass to the support beam but I know it'll hold alright (this was the third coat of fiber and resin, build only requires two).

Finally, the rear view of the boat and as you can see it looks like a group of bandits went through my garage, but nope, it's all me. The bags of coal are just some extra weight to hold the supports in place while the resin dries. I received all the charcoal for christmas, my mom said I deserved it....

Final build update will have pictures of the boat either sinking or floating, with me on it in either case and hopefully a good tale to tell too!

Friday, October 5, 2007

DIY Pontoon Build Update 4

Hi Folks, 4th update here and I'm happy to say it is almost done!

Here we have an admitidly dark photo of the pontoons with the
deck in place. It has really come together well in my opinion, especially for a first build attempt (ok, enough of the back patting). The coolest thing about this photo is the fan in the background, it *is* on high yet it looks like it's off. :)

Here you can see the exquisite craftsmanship that
went into this build, notice how the deck supports sit not flush with the pontoons, but gapped instead... god bless wood flour, fiberglass and epoxy resin! It was a mistake on my part for trying to multitask (I work on/with computers all day, multitasking is second nature, go figure) and while the epoxy was curing on the pontoons I started glueing and screwing together the deck instead of following the instructions and glueing the supports to the pontoons and then the deck to the supports.

On the right side you can see another big gap between the supports and the pontoon. I believe this will be ok as the support itself is resting on the bulkhead and I filled in the gap(s) with a woodflour and resin mix, waited for it to cure and then the two coats of fiberglass and resin but only time will tell.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

DIY Pontoon Build Update 3

I've gotten a good bit further but these are the latest pictures.

My oldest just helped me take one of the pontoons out from the garage to move the other one and start working on the top. I'm not sure what he is doing in the picture, I just chalk it up to being a kid. The pontoon is resting on what will be the deck when the whole thing is put together.

Side image of the pontoon above, I had some work to do as some of the fiberglass didn't stick to the pontoon on the bottom so instead of doing the right thing and rip the glass off and put a clean coat on, I took a syringe filled with resin and filled in the air bubbles. Then another coat of resin on the top and sides and it was done.

I actually have both pontoons attached to the deck now and am planning on slapping on a coat of paint tonight and another coat tomorrow, then this Friday or Saturday it'll hit the water.

If it floats, you'll get pictures. If it doesn't, well... you won't.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

DIY Pontoon Build Update 2

Well it's been about 3 weeks (or 40 hours worth of work) since I started building my pontoon, below are some pictures from a few days ago on my progress.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Here is the first pontoon with some wields on it (small patches of fiberglass coated with resin) to hold the shape and form for when the stitches (the white zip ties poking out all over) are removed. This being my first "real" garage project I found to be lacking some of the basic tools, like saw horses, but as you can see, I make do with what I have.

Here is the first pontoon, right side up, with the bulkheads in
place. They will be set permanently in place by fillet (fill-it) and fiberglass tape after the two coats of resin dry.

Interior view of second pontoon with out the bulkheads in
place. As you can see, the bulkheads play a vital role increasing the volume of displacement for when the whole build hits the water, in addition they also provide extra strength to the pontoon itself, enabling a few sheets of 1/4" plywood to support almost half a ton of weight!

That's all for now. Current plans are to get this in the water by this Sunday, but I'll have more build pictures posted soon and please feel free to post any questions you may have.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

DIY: Man Powered Pontoon

Ok, so I found some instructions on how to build your own pontoon on JEM watercraft's website and after getting most of the plywood I started contruction of it today. It is a work in progress but being a guy without the means (read: wife and kids) of buying an actual boat of any type, this seems to be the next best thing. The instructions are simple enough, almost to the point of omitting information that would be very helpful.

Link to instructions: Free Pontoon Instructions

I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you may have on this project.

A couple pointers.
  1. Get Luane Plywood for the 6 sheets of 4x8 1/4" plywood, it should work as well as the B/C stuff and you'll pay half the price ($8.00 vs $16.00 at Menards in Mankato).
  2. Get all 6 sheets at the same time, I was short on cash and got 3 sheets, after cutting out the bottom and sides, I realised that the chance of them being identical to the other pontoon were slim to none unless I used them as patterns, so I'm waiting for next pay day to get 3 more sheets and finish the pontoons.
  3. Not really a tip, but a question. The most expensive part of this project is going to be the Epoxy Resin, if anyone knows a place that sells it cheaper ($35.00/gal at Advanced Auto), please let me know. As it stands the resin is going to be the most expensive part of this project.

I'll update this post with pictures as I make progress on the project so stay tuned for images!

9/11/07 Update - Finished the bulkheads lastnight, will post pictures tonight after some more work.

St James Lake This Morning

I'm heading down to the T docks in St James this morning with my two boys. We've yet to catch anything big off the docks but the boys enjoy it. I'll be posting some pictures later if we catch anything mentionable. I'm hoping the fishing will be better now that we've gotten some rain. Only bad thing about the docks is the weeds that can make it impossible to do anything more than bobber fishing and sometimes the wind that makes it impossible to cast out beyond 10 feet.
If the wind is bad we'll head down to Kansas Lake, just a few miles SW of St James. It looks like there is another T dock there and on the opposite side from the ones at St James so we should be in good shape in either case.

More when I get back.

I got skunked at St James, my youngest caught a tiny Blue Gill so we headed down to Kansas Lake (just 5 miles SWish of St James). The public park is very nice, if a bit small, there is a decent T dock but alas we caught nothing there either. We could see what looked to be bass and northerns jumping but we couldn't get them to bite on anything we were tossing.

Alwell. There is always tomorrow/today (sunday). Probably head out to Lake Sleepy Eye.