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Alex C.

building your own pontoon

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Skunked, I've had many frames built over the years. I'm not a welder, so I only design them. Not sure if there are any sites that have designs. You can basically "steal" designs by surfing different pontoon makers. Problem is, alot make VERY crappy frames, and the designs suck.

 

First off, are you building a one man or multi person boat? Have you picked out tubes yet? Any boat can have a standing platform, but not ALL tubes are designed to have someone stand up. Building custom will usually cost you MORE money then a prebuilt. Unless you're buying cheap tubes, or you are a welder (which buying the supplies and not paying production costs helps ALOT). I don't use enough frames to warrant learning how to weld. You want to pair up the proper frame for the proper tubes. I can actually really help here, especially designwise if you'd like. Can even draw you custom plans (no, I don't charge, I've always done this for free). Just need to know alot more details. I've designed quite a few frames over the years. This is the last boat I designed for myself (have another one in works now, have frame on paper). Just sold this boat. But will have another soon.

 

user posted image

 

So, let me know if you have a specific tube in mind, how much you want to spend on tubes, if you want the frame to be takedown or solid, easy access out of the boat or climb out, possibly two man or simply a one man always, etc etc. Hard to get plans, since each tube is different, and application of the frame is different.

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Tubes can run from a hundred dollars up to a couple thousand, depending on the maker and size. Depends on what grade of tubes you want. Problem is, to many dictate "price" in the end. With pontoon boats, you get what you pay for. Cheap is always cheap. A good set of tubes, especially for a "stand up and fish" boat will cost you in the neighborhood of $700-1,100 for just tubes for a 9-11' boat (for a one man, I suggest 9-11', 10' being best all around). You can get by with an 8', but you'll find running these boats that a 9' is still pretty small when you sit in it.

 

You can buy replacement tubes from about any manufacturer of pontoons out there. Just you won't be "replacing", you'll be building a frame for it. I know the company I like to buy boats from sells his tubes, they're about $600-800 for the tubes. My actually whitewatering tubes (boats over 12') usually run $2,000 a set for tubes only. You can buy Sotar Coho tubes at 11'. But price is in the $1,200 range, if not more. But best tubes on the market. Outcast, Waterskeeter, Scadden, all those mass produced boats sell tubes usually. Personally, I'd either buy from a whitewater company, or buy one of the Skookum tubes. You want a "fishing" boat, those are the way to go.

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Jerry what size tubes are they and your talking aluminum correct? reason i ask is being a welder/fabricator for the last 12 yrs that price seems kinda steep for the small amount of work involved in a frame like that. I know of local places where you can buy most tubes by the ft for a very reasonable price and should be able to lend some welding/fabrication knowledge to the guys that want to build their own.....hell if they live close enough i might even be able to weld them up if they wanted.

 

SD

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Steve, when I say "tubes" I mean the actual inflatable tubes of the boat. The part that actually floats the boat. Not the tubing used for the frame itself.

 

You'd be surprised, those welders charge alot. Luckily, I have a friend who's a lifelong frame builder for whitewatering who does my work pretty much for cost of the material. Funny thing, I won't use aluminum. Long story, but it's what happens to aluminum when it actually is damaged is why. I mostly use EMT (yeah, know the spiel on the gasses from welding it). Tough, cheap, and if you nail it hard (which I have on class V's) it will come out with a bend, but still holding it's strength.

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ah ok i though you were talking about the frame tubes, i was ganna say a couple grand for a frame someone is making a killing on a simple job bugeyes.gif laugh.gif

 

 

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Steve, don't laugh, there are builders who charge that much. But, with that price, you get all the extras with the frame (floors, oar locks, etc). But still, they make a killing. Hell, the NRS frames are very simplistic. Only a couple pieces are actually "rounded" in spots. Rest has machined fittings and just straight cut aluminum. They want about a grand for a fully outfitted fishing frame made of aluminum (no welding on it). Pretty cool system though. Most expensive part is the fittings. Which, I'm sure they have made in bulk, so drives price of it way down. They sell them for about $16 a PIECE. Takes a good 10 for a boat I think, depending on configuration. There is a killing being made in making frames though. Figured if you don't have the equiptment, you're at their mercy. I am one of the lucky ones who know guys who weld, and the one who's actually a frame maker. I do understand, they're out to make money. Plus, most who make the really nice frames use the hydraulic benders to make a nice clean bend for the frames. The hand benders aren't bad, but make a wide arc. Looks "cleaner" with the hydraulic.

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Yeah i believe it jerry i know some of the things i use to fab up at my old shop i could do with my eyes closed and half the time of the build was spent sitting waiting for the saw to get done cutting. Then when i got ahold of a quote for the piece i was building and saw the price i thought " bugeyes.gif holy shit their making a killing off me dry.gif "

 

After seeing the prices the last place i worked for charged for me to build some of the stuff that went out the door nothing surprizes me now.

If I only had the cash to open my own shop i could cut the price that my old job charged by 40% and still live comfy....not that i have ever given any thought to stealing my old boss's customers whistling1.gif laugh.gif wink.gif

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laugh.gif laugh.gif I think that's every ex employees dream. Hell, think that's a dream of most current employees (to leave and take all the customers with them).

 

If we were closer, I'd be giving you ALOT of business. Hate having to drive to Oregon for a frame build. Have some friends here in WA though, but sometimes it's nice when the guy building it KNOWS what you're making, not just fabricating. Have had him call and say "hey, I could move this here to help with rowing space". Just tweaking stuff.

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This sounds pretty expensive! I can weld my own frame and frame materials would be free, I can't see spending over $500 to build my own when I can get one out of cabela's for less. I'm just looking for a one man

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