Pontoon boats are expensive. It is fun to go out and fish, have a party, of just hang out and relax on a pontoon boat, but the price of a party barge make this not practical for most people. You can build your own pontoon for fractions of the cost. It is safe and buoyant, and will last for many years. You can weld the pontoons onto the frame, but an alternative method is available that requires no welding at all.
Building the Frame
Place the two 16-foot angle irons on the ground, parallel to each other and about 8 feet apart. Place two of the 8-foot angle irons between them at both ends. Turn the angle irons so that one side is resting on the ground and the other is facing out.
Position the two 8-foot angle irons so that they make a box with the 16-foot angle irons, and so that their outer slots are over the outer slots of the 16-footers. Place a washer on a 5/16-bolt and push it through both overlapping holes at one corner coming from the bottom. Place a second washer and a nut on the bolt and tighten it with the ratchet. Repeat this step on all corners.
Place the other six angle irons at 2-foot intervals in the frame. Bolt each one to the frame in the same manner as in Step 1.
Place the four sheets of plywood together so that they are the same size as the frame. Place the frame on top of the plywood so that the edges of the frame are at the edges of the plywood. With the marker, make a mark on the wood, through a hole on the angle iron every 2 feet around the whole frame and down the center irons.
Remove the frame and put each sheet of plywood where you can drill holes in it. Using the drill and the 5/16 bit, drill a hole at every mark you made. Place the plywood and frame back on the floor with the holes lining up and bolt the plywood to the frame in the same manner as in Step 1.
Turn the whole frame over so that the plywood is on top and all the bolts are pointed down.
Attaching the Pontoons
Inspect all of the barrels to make sure that they have no holes in them and that both caps are securely tightened on each barrel. Place the barrels in two lines of five with each barrel laying in its side. Tape the ends of the barrels together so that they don't come apart before they are secured to the frame.
Place the two lines of barrels parallel to each other and about 8 feet apart. Place something on either side of the barrels to keep them from rolling. Place the frame on top of the barrels.
Position the barrels so that they are at either side of the frame and the there is 6 inches coming from both the front and the back.
Make two marks, each 3 inches long, and running parallel to the length of the frame on the underside of the wood, exactly over the middle of each barrel, one by the front of the barrel and one by the back. Make your marks where there is no metal frame.
Remove the frame and place it upside down where you can make cuts on it. Measure 3 inches from each side of each 3-inch line, and draw a 3-inch line on both sides so that you have two 3-three inch lines that are 6 inches apart for each line you drew above the barrels. You will not be using the middle line.
Drill a hole at each end of one of the 3-inch lines using the drill and the 1/2-inch bit. Using the jigsaw, cut between the two holes so that you have one hole that is 3 inches long and 1/2-inch wide. Do this for all the remaining holes. Only cut the holes that are 6 inches apart and do not cut the mark in the middle.
Put the frame back on the barrels and place the ratchet straps through the holes and around the barrels, so that there are two ratchet straps holding the frame to each barrel. Tighten the ratchet straps so that they are tight and tie up any loose ends.
Items you will need
- 10 barrels, 55 gallons
- 20 tie down straps, 3-inch
- 2 slotted angle irons 2 1/4-inch by 1 1-2-inch by 16 feet
- 8 slotted angle irons 2 1/4-inch by 1 1-2-inch by 8 feet
- 5/16 bolts with washers and nuts
- Electric drill
- 1/2-inch drill bit
- 5/16-inch drill bit
- Jig saw
- Ratchet set
- 4 sheets of 8-foot by 4-foot plywood
- Use new barrels if possible so that you know they are water-tight.
- Staple some outside carpet to the top for a more comfortable ride.
- Once the straps get wet, you will need to tighten them again.
- green barrel image by Tammy Mobley from Fotolia.com