Need help with pontoon leak

Discussion in 'Boat Tips' started by fastfrank, May 11, 2006.

  1. fastfrank

    fastfrank New Member

    Messages:
    75
    State:
    Elgin, Alabama
    I recently purchased a used 30 ft. pontoon boat., (Tracker Party Hut) After it was launched, and place at my slip, I noticed it was leaning slightly, and the one pontoon was about 3 inches lower than the other. The marina owner that I purchased it from agreed to fix it. Their idea of a fix seemed to be to smear JB weld on the weld where the pinhole leak was. When the boat was put back in my slip it looked great for an hour. The next day the boat was tilted again. The trailer that they used to pull my pontoon out with was pathetic, and I would never give these people a 2nd chance to screw up again. The boat appears seaworthy. My question is how long would you advise to leave it alone, or does this appear to be an emergency? I don't plan on any long trips, but the boat seems stabile for now. If anyone has experience in this matter, I would appreciate advice. Thanks
     
  2. Raypo

    Raypo New Member

    Messages:
    21
    State:
    oklahoma
    Ironically I have been in a couple of different boats in the last couple of months that have almost sunk.. if there is a leak fix it. If you hit a stump or anything it could become a gusher instantly and your swimming. Take it a welder have him pressurize the patch and you should be good. If you ignore it you will eventually end up sinking it. A couple of big waves and you get to much water in your boat plus whats already in there..... not good
     

  3. shortbus

    shortbus New Member

    Messages:
    459
    State:
    indiana
    I fix alot of alum boats and toons in my shop. If it is a crack then it will grow from vibrations. If it's a pinhole in a factory weld then it shouldn't get larger. It prolly is realy going to kill the gas mileage of the boat. I would take it to a good welder and have them repair it asap. I would charge a maximum of $40.00 to fix something like this. So it's not going to bust the bank. You will be alot happier knowing your boat doesn't leak.
     
  4. fwmud

    fwmud New Member

    Messages:
    693
    State:
    Wilson's Mills,nc
    Check the 2 drain plugs on each toon first. usually, theres one on the bottom end at the back of each and a second one midway on the top of each one.
    Take some plumbers teflon pipe tape and seal the top plug first. Then, get a pipe nipple and adaptors and pressureize each toon to approx 5 to 10 PSI.
    Take a spray bottom with water/soap solution and spray each toon along the seams and where each deck mount support is welded to the toon. If it's been "Beached" hard or hit anything a lot,thats where you'll probably find the crack/s.
     
  5. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    State:
    TN
    Been fighting leaky pontoons for awhile now. I'm learning finally though. One thing about welding is that it works most of the time. But 3 times I've taken my pontoon boat and gotten it welded and all three times the weld cracked during the winter months. Seems the weld is more brittle than the aluminum it's fixing. The pontoons are vented, but it seems that when you put it in 40 degree water it contracts faster than the weld will. And once you get water in that tube, make sure once you get it fixed, you store it with the plugs out and the nose high for a couple of weeks. If not, then the first really hard freeze will pop a seam somewhere for you. I have had frozen water in my pontoon pop a seam twice now. Which I had welded and the welds cracked as described above. This last time I should have known better, but when we came home from a trip once this winter I left the nose down and the next time we went we had to trailer it about 2 hours into or fishing to drain it. This time I bought a product called Marine Tech epoxy. I first took a brass wire brush and cleaned and roughed the surface in about a 4 inch area around the hole, then I stuffed some of the epoxy in the hole and let that set up a bit. Then I put another thin, but adequate layer on and smoothed it til it is like glass and feathered it so that there is not rough edges on it. Then I repeated this so that it's now fairly thick in the middle, but very smooth and no edges on the outside edges of the repair. Been on there for about 2 months now and is holding up well so far. Seems that if you store the pontoon boat with the nose down, the water naturally accumulates in the sharp "keel" area toward the front of the pontoon. Then when it freezes and expands, it pops the seam somewhere if it can. That's how I fixed mine. Hope this helps some.
     
  6. fastfrank

    fastfrank New Member

    Messages:
    75
    State:
    Elgin, Alabama
    Thanks for the good advice. My problem is I don't have a trailer. The boat is a 30 ft. party hut. I just contacted a local tracker dealer, and they can put it on their trailer, and take it to a professional shop. There is only one plug at the center top of the toon. I plan on keeping it at a marina year round once I get it fixed. Last year the water temp didn't get below 45 degrees. Maybe that's an advantage once I get it fixed.
     
  7. peewee williams

    peewee williams New Member

    Messages:
    3,111
    State:
    Pembroke,Georgia
    We had leakage problems with the pontoons on a oil skimmer at work years ago.They had the pontoons poured full of foam at my suggestion,as I had seen it done in the Navy.It never sank or listed again.You have to be sure and use the gas and oil resistant foam.Now,I have no idea of the cost.peewee-williams
     
  8. fastfrank

    fastfrank New Member

    Messages:
    75
    State:
    Elgin, Alabama
    Pee Wee: Probably too much, as is everything concerning boats. I found that a new compatable trailer for my 30 ft. pontoon is about $4,000. So much for that!!!! I had a thought about Whistler stating that storing the boat in the winter causes freezing and cracking. Would pouring about a qt. of antifreeze at the top plug of the toon help stop freezing? If you had a leak at the bottom. it sure would show up fast.
     
  9. jtrew

    jtrew New Member

    Messages:
    4,404
    State:
    Little Rock, AR
    Here's a trailer solution that's much cheaper, but involves some work. Find a camping trailer that's totally ragged out and strip it to the frame, or find a 16' flatbed that needs a new bed. Either one shouldn't run you more than $500-$600, at least in my area. Beat the bushes, and you could even find a better deal than that. Take some measurements from a factory built pontoon trailer and have appropriate bunks welded onto the frame. I would think that buying the frame, parts for the bunks, and welding costs would total no more than $1000 or so.
     
  10. shortbus

    shortbus New Member

    Messages:
    459
    State:
    indiana

    Whistler, I would guess the welds are cracking because of poor weld prep. On a crack in aluminum you absolutly have to drill a small hole all the way through at each end of the crack. This will stop the crack from growing. After that you have to grind down into the crack almost all the way through. Welding alluminum isn't like steel, it doesn't penetrate well. Grinding a groove will help get full penetration. If this isn't done the weld will crack right down the center. Also Aluminum boats are made from 5052 series alum for it's corosion resistance. Most welders would use any kind of welding rod to fix this. The rod needs to be compatible with the series aluminum your welding. If it isn't, it will make the weld more brittle drawing carbon from the surounding material and localizing at the weld. Probably why the welds are cracking.
     
  11. flatheadhunterx

    flatheadhunterx Active Member

    Messages:
    1,374
    State:
    South Carolina
    i had problems with mine taking on water if i rode alot. as long as it sit in the water it was fine. i took it to where i worked and put pressure in the tanks and found that at the back of both toons on the top at the last support bracket there were stress cracks. i guess from the weight of the motor and stress from trying to get on plane. i welded them up and it lasted for about a yr. but know they are starting to crack again. i got to figure out a way to reinforce this area so it doesnt happen any more.
     
  12. Majesticman

    Majesticman New Member

    Messages:
    186
    State:
    Missouri
    Shortbus is absolutely right about matching rods. I had one fixed by a pro and it never leaked again in the next 5 years I owned it. Most areas have guys that have portable units that will come to you. Also ask dealers that sell pontoon who to call. I guarantee they have had a few fixed.

    My uncle had a old houseboat with steel pontoons and they leaked everywhere. We tried to install bilge pumps but we were still afraid to leave it in the water. We had them foam filled by a guy that does building insulating. He charged $200 to fill both and that was what the doctor ordered. It stayed in a slip all summer and only came out in the winter. When that foam expanded it was tight as a drum.

    When one pontoon get 50 gallons in it you are pushing another 400 pounds and it will push sideways. It will eat the heck out of the gas.

    Good luck :smile2: