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1991 20' Sweetwater Rebuild

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    Posted: 01/30/2014 at 1:20pm
Hello boys and girls!
 
My name is Justin and I have been lurking here getting all that good information for my new project. I have never owned a pontoon myself, but have been on them and really enjoy them.  More importantly, my wife and kids prefer them to the go fast boats I have had in the past. 
 
I just picked up this pontoon 2 weeks ago for $1400 and started the rebuild already.  I am hoping to have it done by the end of February if life doesn't get in the way.  I really like the way it is laid out, with 2 fishing chairs and a livewell up front, a l shaped lounge in the middle and 2 more fishing seats in the rear.  Because of the layout I am going to have my welder add a gate to the back right railing so I can add a ladder there just like the brand new toons have.
 
 
 
 
It was a fiasco getting it home to begin with.  I bought it off craigslist and knew it had to be completely rebuilt before I looked at it.  However, the trailer was supposed to be in good shape for me to drive it home 45 miles in the dark.  Not so much.  I had to buy $100 worth of lights, cresent wrenches and wiring accessories just to get the lights working.  3 hours later, after running a ground wire to the back also because I could get a good ground on the trailer, I finally finished the wiring in the Autozone parking lot, aired up the low, dry rotted tires and hoped for the best.  I made it home luckily, because the next day one of the tires was completely flat. 
 
Needless to say I replaced it and the other one, because it was just as bad.  I also ordered a rim and tire for a spare.
 
 
Last Saturday I started the tear down and had it completely tore down to the rails by the end of the day.  I was impressed with myself!!  I had a good crew though. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I polished one piece of the railing.  This took about 1.5 hours, so I figure the whole thing will take about 30 hours.
 
 
 
I just received the decking, carpet, fishing seats, console and drivers seat, which I opted for the flip flop seat with the built in cooler from pontoonstuff.  Taking it home tonight.
 
 
With any luck, I will get the plywood down this weekend.  Life already got in the way Saturday, but I will try to get a few hours of work in before the "Big Game", not sure if I can say the other word.  Then I am going to bolt down the rails so I can polish them before I lay down the carpet.  I plan on cutting all of the holes before I lay the carpet as well.  Anyone heard of laying resin over the plywood to seal it or is that not neccessary?
 
Plans also include:
 
Using Nu-Brite to clean the toons.  Not sure if I am going to polish them as well or just put some sharkshide on after. 
 
New siding, I wanted it, momma didn't, I won because I couldn't get the old paneling off for the welding project without messing it all up.
 
I want to pressure test the toons also.  It has obviously not been in the water, so i have no idea if it leaks.  Where should I put my 3lbs of pressure tester to test it?  I have a drain plug and it looks like 3 vent caps along the top of the toons.
 
 
 
I have another random question:
 
Are the self tapping deck screws that come with the kit sufficient to hold the deck down for 20 years or should I add a few through bolts?
 
I guess that is it for now, i know it is a lot for a first post, but I will add more as I go along! Thanks in advance for looking and information.
 
Wink


Edited by Jim Myers - 04/10/2017 at 4:53pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/30/2014 at 2:00pm
The logs are probably divided up into three separate chambers.  Each chamber has a vent, and the stern chamber has a drain.  Sometimes the bulkheads between the chambers are drilled at the bottom so they can all drain into the stern chamber.... but that's a lousy design and I hope you don't have that.

So make sure your drain plug is in and do your pressure testing at the vented plug locations.  BE VERY CAREFUL, make sure you have a good regulator and monitor the process.  DO NOT GO ABOVE the ~3psi.
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Originally posted by SunBlocker SunBlocker wrote:

The logs are probably divided up into three separate chambers.  Each chamber has a vent, and the stern chamber has a drain.  Sometimes the bulkheads between the chambers are drilled at the bottom so they can all drain into the stern chamber.... but that's a lousy design and I hope you don't have that.

So make sure your drain plug is in and do your pressure testing at the vented plug locations.  BE VERY CAREFUL, make sure you have a good regulator and monitor the process.  DO NOT GO ABOVE the ~3psi.
 
Definately not going above the 3 psi.  I do not want to kill myself before I can get it out on the water. Probably not even after that.
 
If they have 3 seperate chambers, how else would you drain them if they didn't have a hole at the bottom of each?  As I was typing, I thought to look, which I haven't yet at the bottom of the toons and see if there were other plugs.
 
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You're off to a great start!  Great job on the pictures as well.  As for the wood, leave it alone.  If there was a better way to do it the OEMs would have been doing it long ago.  Just use it out of the box like they all do.  The deck screws are plenty, I just re-decked a 15yr old pontoon that had similar fasteners and they were all fine.  Most likely those drain plugs in your logs were added.  I'm betting you have 3 sealed chambers.  Definitely want to pressure test no, just as described above.
Feel free to contact me for help on your project!

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Great start! It took me months to rebuild mine last year and I still haven't hit the water! 
 
The wood is fine as it is. The screws will be all you need.
 
Then I am going to bolt down the rails so I can polish them before I lay down the carpet. I plan on cutting all of the holes before I lay the carpet as well.
 
Not sure you want to do this part. I would polish the rails off of the toon easier to get all the angles etc. In my opinion you should lay the carpet first, then put up the rails and drill your holes. Then bolt them on.  You will not ruin the carpet drilling... Just make sure and have more than 5 new bits on hand, you will break some trust me. An electric drill is a must for drilling the holes as well. Most of the railing bolts go through crossmembers or at least they should.
 
Check out the link in my sig if you want of some of the things I learned the hardway....Angry
 
Did you fire up the motor yet?
 
 
Heck of a great start! ClapWelcome to the club!Star


Edited by curtiscapk - 01/30/2014 at 2:33pm
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Originally posted by PS-Guy PS-Guy wrote:

You're off to a great start!  Great job on the pictures as well.  As for the wood, leave it alone.  If there was a better way to do it the OEMs would have been doing it long ago.  Just use it out of the box like they all do.  The deck screws are plenty, I just re-decked a 15yr old pontoon that had similar fasteners and they were all fine.  Most likely those drain plugs in your logs were added.  I'm betting you have 3 sealed chambers.  Definitely want to pressure test no, just as described above.
 
Thanks! My plan was to take lots of pictures of the process and put them in a photo album and continue to add pictures of all the good times we are going to have with it too. 
 
Oh... He already has a name.  "Naughty Bouy".
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Originally posted by curtiscapk curtiscapk wrote:

 
Did you fire up the motor yet?
 
 
The motor was a Johnson 65hp.  He said in the ad it didn't run, so I knew I was going to have to do something with it.  When i got it home and looked at it, he obviously broke a rod or something, because the housing opposite the heads has a huge open crack and hole in it.  That was expected though, that is why I had already planned on buying an 80hp 2 stroke Mercury from the local boat shop that has super low hours, rewired under the hood, 125 compression on all cylinders, new impeller and lube and runs like a champ for $700.  That's sitting in the garage waiting!!!
 
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Most pontoons don't void the bulkhead with the drain hole.  You can only drain the stern chamber with a drain plug.  If one of the other chambers gets water in it you will need to snake a semi-rigid tube down the vent port and siphon or pump the water out.  Not fun, but certainly "do-able".
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Great start! keep up the good work.Thumbs Up
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great start keep the good work coming!!
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great start. Keep the pictures coming.Clap
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After spending 5 hours on Sunday before the Super Bowl, I was able to complete the new deck.  I also sealed all of the screw heads and seams from the top along with the tape under the joints.  It took a little longer because I had to straighten and strengthen the front cross member as it was bowed forward from being torqued to hard on the u-bolt. I simply unbolted the u-bolt and reinstalled it backwards and used a comealong hooked to it and the trailer to straighten it.  Worked great! 
 
After I lined up the rear 4x8 sheet of plywood and centered the front edge on the center of the cross member I drew a line for the outboard cut-out and cut it.  After lining that back up, I laid out the other 4 and found that I was offset to the right in the front. I was able to adjust the angle and still didn't have to trim any off my cut-out. Now, I see, not only should you lay it all out prior to screwing any down, but DON'T CUT IT EITHER!
 
I went through about 3 #3 phillips head bits to get the job done. I found my electric drill worked better than my cordless impact, which surprised me.  I guess the higher rpms helped it drill through the cross members easier. I was able to get 6 self tapers in between and 12 at each joint, spaced 8" at the end and 16" between the others with a few lwft over, even after ruining a handful. 
 
I noticed that the ends of the plywood on both sides seem to be a bit warped (don't line up completely level), but I think or hope at least that will be fixed once I get the rails on.
 
 
 
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very nice!!
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you're coming along nicely!ClapClapClap
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this toon is the exact twin of my old neighbor at the lake.... If you look past the wheelers you can see it in his driveway....
 
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I like the toilet paper dispenser setup on the right side quad. Thumbs Up
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Thanks Ferg! I don't mind dumping yellow out of my trailer but if you have to brown you go down to the bathhouse!Confused
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Why do I need this rail behind the seats if I am putting in new deckmate pontoon boat furniture?  There is a fishing area behind this seat and the batteries and gas tanks are in boxes behind the seat as well.  I want to get rid of it and move everything back a few inches.


Edited by Jim Myers - 03/29/2017 at 10:03pm
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Bench seats need support...usually against a railing.  If you could figure our another way to support the back rest, you could loose the rail.  But is seems like leaving it would be easier?


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Originally posted by PS-Guy PS-Guy wrote:

Bench seats need support...usually against a railing.  If you could figure our another way to support the back rest, you could loose the rail.  But is seems like leaving it would be easier?
 
Oh Good Lord! Now you are about to be brought into the crazy inner workings of my mind.  Consider this fair warning!!!! 
 
The rail is 62" long and I have 93" from the rail to the port door.
 
My original plan was a 28" corner, a 28" bench and a 7" arm rest along the back, bringing me to 63 inches, an inch longer than the rail.  Then, I was going with the 28" corner, the 55" bench and a 7" arm rest along the side, giving me plenty of room at only 90 inches.
 
Now, I have been thinking, seat space is important to me.  Cup holders in the arm rests would be great for holding silver bullets.  But, if you have to sit your beer down, your doing something wrong anyway. Right?  So, seat space trumps the cup holders.  In my mind anyway.
 
So, now I was thinking along the back, go with the 28" corner and a 38" bench, bringing me to 66 inches, 4 inches longer than my rail.  Then along the side, I would go 28" corner, 28" bench and a 38" bench which brings me to 94 inches, blocking my door.  DOH!!!
 
Now, get rid of the rail, there's my inch back, with a 1/4" to spare.  I have to build a box to house the gas tanks and batteries anyway which I was going to build at 62(l)x15(w)x15(h) to match the rail.  Now, I can build it at 66x15x15 and add another box 66x15x6 on top of it for additional storage of my removable ladder and what not and to support the seats.  Screw them together, bolt them to the floor and bolt the seats to them.  Besides, I can add a whole lot of cup holders along the top of that bad boy. 
 
What do you think? I know it seems a bit redneck (that's me), but I think it would work and of course, I would buy the matching Ivory vinyl to make it all look pretty. 
 
Besides that, I wouldn't have to polish that rail and I could reuse the aluminum to make my stern gate.
 
I warned you!!!!  I didn't even proof read this, just so you get the full effect.
 
 
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Oh yea... The differnce in price between the two furniture set ups is only 1 penny, otherwise the decision would be simple.  Yes, I will have to build another box, but then I would have more storage and less polishing to do. 
 
Did I mention, I regret polishing that 1st rail?!?
 
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Originally posted by LuvDLions LuvDLions wrote:


 
Did I mention, I regret polishing that 1st rail?!?
 


That comment made me laugh out loud!  I polished for a few days until I got fed up and took all my rails and fences to the Powder Coat shop. I wish I powder coated even more than I did. I plan on pulling off more aluminum later and doing just that.

Looking forward to the rest of the build. Thanks for posting all the pictures.
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I took some of the decking scraps and made this transom. I glued it together with gorilla glue, added a few screws on the other side to hold it together, slapped on a coat of man-o-war because I had it here and beat it into the groove.  It fits tight!  Hopefully, there is nothing left to do but drill the holes and put the bolts in, because I don't know if I could get it out anyway.  Am I on the right track?  I don't know how low/high the prop is supposed to sit in the water. I have a 1982 mercury 80 hp to put on it.  I noticed the 65 Evinrude was mounted with the hooks about 2 inches above the top of the transom.  I don't think that is what I am supposed to do though.  Any tricks, tips to mounting a motor?  I know getting that steering cable in there is going to be a pain.  Because I will be manhandling the motor up to the transom. Ughhh... That reminds me, I need to make an appointment for the Chiropractor.
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Originally posted by Something2do Something2do wrote:

Originally posted by LuvDLions LuvDLions wrote:


 
Did I mention, I regret polishing that 1st rail?!?
 


That comment made me laugh out loud!  I polished for a few days until I got fed up and took all my rails and fences to the Powder Coat shop. I wish I powder coated even more than I did. I plan on pulling off more aluminum later and doing just that.

Looking forward to the rest of the build. Thanks for posting all the pictures.
 
Someone told me not to worry about it. It will be gray like the rest of it soon enough anyway. LOL!
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UPDATE:
 
I decided to stop over thinking it. I am going with plan "C1b" on the seats.
 
38" bench and 28" corner on the back, total of 66 inches and my rail is 65" (which I thought was 66) and I am going to keep and only build a 15x65x15 box for the batteries and gas tanks.
 
Then, 28" corner, 55" bench and left arm rest on the side. (As I was typing, I am started wondering if I should use 2 28" instead) Total of 90 inches, which is good because after remeasuring I only had 92 inches anyway.  Now I need to go order them before I change my mind again. Confused
 
I'm beginning to think that my lack of sleep lately is due to this project!!! Wacko
 
 
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About beer holders - we got some rod holder bases that mount to the top rail with removable rod holders, and they make beer holders that fit the same bases. They're awesome. I don't think we even carry the rod holders in the boat any more. lol. I would buy just bases and beer holders. Don't remember the name, I can dig up a receipt if google lets you down.

Edited by tjones96761 - 02/06/2014 at 12:21am
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Whoa...I'm not sure I can digest all that info LOL

I can answer your transom question.  Looks like you did a great job on it.  As far as motor mounting, on a 2-log pontoon boat it's not as easy as saying "it goes HERE".

 Proper height for an outboard is having the cavitation plate just skimming the surface of the water while under way.  This is ideal, how ever with a pontoon some times you need it a bit lower do to variances in the way you load the boat, turning, etc.

Where it really gets sketchy on a toon, is the fact that the transom really has no effect on where the motor sits in the water.  On a 'glass boat, you motor mounts to a transom that sits in the water, so the height of the cavitation plate in relation to water flow really never changes. 

On a 2 log pontoon, the transom never sits in the water.  Therefore, it's height in relation to the surface of the water is not only effected by the size/length of the logs, weight of the boat, and how it's loaded but it also is constantly changing by how much fuel you have, how many people there are on board, how many full coolers of tasty beverages, etc etc etc.

The correct height of your motor can only be determined by rigging the pontoon and running it.  Run it various scenarios, and determine if you need to raise or lower the motor.  If you need to lower it, it will be obvious because your prop will blow out, or catch air.  If it's too low, you will have excessive spray and loose performance.  Have some one drive the boat and climb back there and take a look.  But be sure to wear your flotation device!


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Before you get it in the water a good starting point is the cav plate just at the bottom of the toons then you can adjust from there. Here is mine on land and running in the water. Ty's suggestion of cav plate just under water is dead on.
 
 
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Joined: 01/30/2014
Location: Calimesa, CA
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LuvDLions Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/06/2014 at 1:50pm
Again, I would like to thank you all for the positive feedback and helpful hints.
 
The cavitation plate is the one right above the prop right?  Never really dealt with this stuff, I have always had I/O's or jets before.  I guess it is just trial and error then.
 
On another note:  I slept a lot better because I came up with a solution to my polishing dillema.  As I was trying to polish the bases for the fishing seats, I found they had a lot of corrosion around the mounting screw holes, so I got out an abrasive buffing pad on my angle grinder and did this.
 
 
I like the look and more importantly the ease and quickness it was done, so I tried this.
 
 
I can totally live with this "brushed aluminum" look. It adds a little grip to a slippery rail and clears up all of the blemishes and corrosion on the 23 year old aluminum.  I am just worried that this will hold dirt and grime a little more. I was hoping a good sealant of some sort would help take care of that.
 
 
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Newbie
Newbie
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Joined: 01/30/2014
Location: Calimesa, CA
Status: Offline
Points: 79
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LuvDLions Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/06/2014 at 2:33pm
These are the pads I used.
 
 
We sell this at work, so I think I will try it.
 
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