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ElDeBo Electric Pontoon project

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    Posted: 11/07/2013 at 11:52am
I've mentioned this boat in my SunBlocker thread, but I think that it has finally gotten to the point where it deserves it's own section.  A little background first:

The boat is a 2002 ElDeBo (Electric Deck Boat) electric mini-pontoon.  They went out of production in the mid 2000's, but they are still quite popular on no-gas lakes and are becoming harder and harder to find.

This specific model/vintage is about 13' long and about 6.5' wide.  It has a capacity of ~6 people and it has a "plastic" (ABS) hull design reminiscent of a large paddle boat.  Stock propulsion comes from a Minn Kota 80lb "trolling motor" that is mounted with custom bracketry "inside" the hull.  It has a continuously variable throttle, a "tiller style" steering mechanism, and runs off of 24V supplied by four group 27 lead acid deep-cycle batteries.  It has a bimini, full stereo, nav and courtesy lights, removable table, a ladder.. and is generally a nice little boat.  I bought this one for my wife a few years ago because she can't/won't drive the `Blocker.. and doesn't really want to mess with a gas engine.  Just "unplug and go" (it should be noted that she also drives a hybrid and desperately wants a Tesla... so that tells you something right there).







Continued....

1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/07/2013 at 12:01pm
It's been a great boat for our family and serves our purposes well....   I've even "blinged" it out a little bit to fit the personality of my girls:



But it does have its limitations.  The biggest one is top speed.  In stock trip it is probably good for only about 4MPH.  And while this isn't a problem when puttering around the no-wake areas of our lake, it becomes a bit of an issue when trying to cross the "main body of water", which is necessary to get to my daughters sailing classes and friends houses who "live on the other side".  Out there in a small boat, limited to 4MPH, and dealing with waves, wakes, and rollers..... it just isn't "comfortable".

So a couple of years ago I tried to address this issue by adding a second "kicker" motor off of the back of the boat.  I fabricated a custom bracket, procured and programmed a PWM motor controller, and then spliced it into the existing throttle control:



This modification helped some... getting us to about 6MPH.  But we still weren't happy or comfortable with the final product.  And... the Minn Kota motors have proven to be less than reliable when pushed to their power limits over extended periods of time.  I've had to rebuild both the main and the kicker motors due to scorched commutators and overheated brush shunts.

Continued.......
1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/07/2013 at 12:12pm
So at the end of this season I decided to "go big or go home".  I bought a Torqeedo Cruise 4.0.



For those of you not familiar with this unit, it is a 48V, 4KW electric "outboard" that uses brushless motor technology and some pretty high-tech controls (built-in GPS, range calculations, power monitoring, etc..).

It will require that I convert the boat over to 48V (from 24V), but that's not that tough.  I've already pulled the necessary 2GA wire through the hull and I'll be terminating them with the proper power compression lugs.

At first I figured that I'd just buy a platform mount and hang the motor off of the back in a "traditional" manner.  I'd have to fabricate a steering adapter so that the tiller could work with cable steering... but I have all of that geometry figured out.  I bought the platform mount ($$$'s!) and was ready to dig in when I made the mistake of asking for my wife's opinion.

She (strongly) expressed that she really didn't want to see "that ugly thing" hanging off of the back of her pretty and unique boat and that she'd really appreciate it if I'd figure out a way to mount the Torqeedo in the hull where the Minn Kota used to live.

At first I thought that it just wasn't going to fit and that doing that conversion was impossible.  But now that I have done more measurements and CAD layouts... I actually believe that it is very, very difficult... but possible.  Soooooo.... winters are long here in Wisconsin.. and the ElDeBo is in my heated garage.... and we're going to do this.

In the following months I will try to document the conversion process here in this thread..... if for no other reason than to specifically show you what not to do!!  Wink
1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote p3cflyr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/07/2013 at 12:46pm
That is a hoot.  Looking forward to the work and result.  Looks like you could fish off of it also.  There is a lake here that used to be restricted and then they let small gas motors be used.  And then pontoons, etc.   What was a clear "see the bass" lake is now a muddy sludge.  They should have left it as is!! 
Mike

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/07/2013 at 12:58pm
My brother-in-law often uses it for fishing.  The main seat is a flip-flop, so he'll flip it forward, take down the bimini, and fish off of the back of the boat.  From there he can easily reach the steering and throttle control.

Then my wife (his sister) will yell at him because her pretty little Princess boat smells like.... yeah.... fish.  LOL
1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nathan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/07/2013 at 8:51pm
that is a cool little boat.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PS-Guy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/08/2013 at 8:29am
Cool stuff right there.  I must admit, I chuckled a bit at the pic of that boat on that huge trailer LOL
Feel free to contact me for help on your project!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/11/2013 at 11:31am
Originally posted by PS-Guy PS-Guy wrote:

Cool stuff right there.  I must admit, I chuckled a bit at the pic of that boat on that huge trailer LOL

Yeah... got a lot of strange looks, laughs, and stares when I brought her home from Illinois.  But.. at the time.. that's all I had to work with!


1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Something2do Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/11/2013 at 11:38am
I don't want to hijack the thread here, but what are the castor wheels on the trailer for in front of the tires?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/11/2013 at 11:41am
OK!

I made some headway over the weekend and managed to get the Torqeedo trial-mounted in the hull.

I started out by picking up a Garelick "swim platform mount":



Now obviously this was all wrong for the application, but it gave me something to work with.  I cut it up, changed the width, and inverted it so it mounted to the underside of the tunnel with the mount pad sticking up through a rectangular hole.  After my hands quit bleeding (I do so love working with stainless bracketry!), I cut an access hole in the storage compartment under the seat.  This gives me access to where the motor will live.  In the future I will cover this hole with a 1/4" piece of Starboard, which will also serves as the mounting location for the new 4-bank Dual Pro charger (needed a new charger since I am going from a 24V system to a 48V system). 

Then I took the Torqeedo partially apart, fed the pieces through the bottom and side access holes, and then re-assembled it inside of the hull:






The steering tube will ultimately be cut-down and other changes will have to be made to the Torqeedo.  But as far as "proof of principle" is concerned, it fits (albeit, that's 10 pounds of stuff in a 5 pound can!).

I need to make some additional hull modifications in order to get the full mechanical tilt stroke... but that looks "do-able".

I'm having a local laser-shop make up a steering bellcrank, and a panel shop is doing some custom switches.

It's coming together.......................


Edited by SunBlocker - 11/11/2013 at 11:42am
1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/11/2013 at 1:26pm
Originally posted by Something2do Something2do wrote:

I don't want to hijack the thread here, but what are the castor wheels on the trailer for in front of the tires?

I forgive you for the hijack!  And it's a great question.

We discovered early-on.... THE HARD WAY.... that our trailer is too long for many of the local ramps.  In order to get the boat in deep enough, we had to go WAY down the ramp.  The tires would drop off of the end of the concrete ramp and at that point, you're screwed.  If you try to go back up the ramp the fender hits the edge of the concrete and gets pushed into the tire, and you're stuck.  Luckily, when it happened to us the ramp wasn't busy and we had some time to scratch our butts and wind our watches while trying to figure out what to do.  Trailers don't "weigh" much when they are underwater, so a couple of swimmers/divers went down and "lifted" the trailer while we (slowly/gently) pulled forward.  It was kinda scary.

So, those heavy-duty wheels stop the trailer from dropping down far enough to catch the fender or make it impossible to go back up the ramp.  It may look "bizarre", but it actually works quite well.


1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PS-Guy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/11/2013 at 2:55pm
Exactly the reason "power loading" is prohibited at many ramps.  I've seen solid stops on trailers before but never wheels.  Great idea Thumbs Up
Feel free to contact me for help on your project!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Something2do Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/11/2013 at 3:53pm
Great idea and one that I will likely add to mine if we every get a ramp open here in TX. Good luck with the project. You sure do keep busy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2013 at 7:02pm
Got side-tracked working on the `Blocker over the last few days, so I haven't really accomplished much on the ElDeBo.  *BUT*, my favorite UPS driver dropped by today with a little goody that I want to show off.

On a different forum I located a shop that does custom switch panels.  What intrigued me about the place is that they have a low-power laser, and they can actually burn the switch "symbols" directly into the rocker actuator, instead of using silk screening or labels.  What is cool about this is that not only is it indelible, the laser cuts through the top black shell and stops at the translucent white shell liner.  So the LED lighting for the switch shines right through the symbol with a soft glow (I will post some pictures when it is wired up).

This also gives you the ability to choose virtually any graphic that you want for the symbols.  That came in handy when I was trying to figure out what to use for the switch for the "princess pink" rope lights that go around the rub rail:


1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote p3cflyr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2013 at 10:04pm
Oh, I do like those.  Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lando Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/18/2013 at 6:26pm
LOL  too funny... i have three divas myself.... the tiara switch is priceless
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/22/2013 at 1:34pm
Well, I had been waiting patiently for this little gem to show up from a local vendor.  I sketched it out and they laser cut it from stainless sheet.  It's a bellcrank that will attache to the Torqeedo, allowing the ElDeBo steering system to work with the new motor.

At least that's the plan....  Confused



Reckon I'll throw some heat into the garage workshop this weekend and see if I was reasonably close with my layout!
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18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/25/2013 at 12:10pm
Had a good weekend working on the ElDeBo.  Didn't do a dern thing on the `Blocker since it was freakishly cold outside.

I completely took the transom bracket apart and re-machined the tilt detent positions so they would match the boat.  I didn't originally plan on doing this, but to get the boat to match the Torqeedo "full tilt" position I would have to cut the heck out of the ElDeBo to provide clearance, and I had already hacked her up about as much as I dared.  The full-up titl position on the Torqeedo now puts the motor out of the water without the prop smacking the underside of the tunnel.  Should have taken pictures.. oh well.

Then I spent quite a few hours getting the original ElDeBo criss-cross cable steering configuration to work with the Torqueedo.  Stared at some layouts for a while and slotted some bracketry.  Finally got it to all work (quite well actually).





That may not look like much, but it is a fairly major milestone in the re-build process.  The mounting bracket is now done and the position is locked down.  The steering and tilt work, so with the exception of some block-off plates, I am pretty much done mechanically.



Now it is time to tackle the wiring and controls.  I'll be starting with the 48V high-current wiring (battery), and then will move on to the 12V stuff (lights, radio, chargers, etc..)
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18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nathan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/25/2013 at 5:11pm
looks factory very nice!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/26/2013 at 10:53am
Well thanks.

The cut-lines are still very, very rough and unsightly.... but now that the geometry is all figured out I can clean those up and make her purdy!
1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote El De BO Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/02/2014 at 1:56pm
Hi Sunblocker,
Great lil toon.  I just picked up a 98 Eldebo and Im having a blast restoring it.  Wiring, changing over to all LEDs, upholstery was new so I lucked out, replaced speakers, replaced wood floor and carpet etc.  I am trying to locate a couple things and Im hoping you might have some ideas.
Im trying to locate the following:
37' of White Rubber gunwale molding (U shaped rubber where thr hull and deck come togehter)
The port side Stainless Steal gate bar (rod you lift up to enter/exit the boat)
Original graphic decals for both sides
Original "dashboard" where switches etc are located (the lettering on mine was worn off)
original folding plastic seats (swivel) mine have new upholstery but plastic is sun rotting
If you have or know where any of these items might be able to be found your help would be greatly appreciated.
Regards, Bo
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SunBlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/02/2014 at 2:07pm
Sadly I don't have a good and reliable source for these parts.

Have you checked with the folks at Fort Bend Boats?? There about the only dealer that I know of that deals with these boats.

BTW, the bond line molding isn't rubber.
1992 SunTracker Party Cruiser 41ft
18' Cobalt, 13' ElDebo E-Pontoon
-- Okauchee Lake, WI --
The `Blocker Build
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