houseboat questions

Discussion in 'Materials' started by cdubb, May 31, 2012.

  1. cdubb
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 28
    Likes: 1, Points: 3, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: michigan

    cdubb Junior Member

    Hi all,

    You may recall me asking about building a good sized sailboat iin order for my friends and I do explore all the water ways Michigan has to offer but I realized that just isn't in the cards at the moment. But upon talking with friends and family I belive a houseboat/party barge is a much easier task with my skills and surplus materials.

    Heres what I have envisioned, at 25 foot long pontoon style boat capable of sleeping 6 people at most. It will need a toilet in it as well as a stove (a nice grill would work as well on the open deck insted of a stove), a sink, I am thinking a large cooler or icebox would work in place of a true refrigerator. I would like to avoid having a generator onboard while we are underway if at all possible. On that note I want to keep elecrtical wiring to a absoulte minimum just enough to have navagtion and docking lights, as well as any gauges I may have at the helm along with lighting for them. Cabin lights could just be those little pull string dealyo's that have double A batteries in them. Engine isn't much of a cencern 30+ horsepower should work I would think, as speed isn't really a consideration in a houseboat :rolleyes:.

    In terms of construction is where I need the gurus advice in. I so happen to have a good sized surplus of 55 gallon steel barrels, they are empty and have been inside since they were emptied. In their past lives they had dry fall paint in them, which isn't flammable but is still unpleasant stuff, its has sat for 10 years so most of the nasty stuff has dried hard. My question is this, can i weld this together and not just burn though the steel? I have a 220v stick welder at my disposal but I can get a wire welder for this project need be. Any advice on this?? And the other thing is as far a frame for the deck I am thinking about using old barn beams, what are your thoughts on that?

    Sorry for the rambling post, just needs a little guidance is all.

  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 497, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Pontoon boats aren't well suited to anything other then puttering around lakes and rivers. These are "protected waters" craft and that big lake will quickly test it's abilities, though running around in the coves, estuaries, rivers, etc. is certainly possible.

    Steel 55 gallon drums make lousy hulls, once welded together. It can and has been done, but your speeds will be limited by weight and drag. You'll never get it to plane, so 5 to 6 knots is about all you can expect, without a few hundred HP on it's butt.

    Pontoon boats need to be light to work well. Cylindrical hulls aren't especially efficient, nor do they hold much weight for their size. This is why big, smooth aluminum tubes are used in production pontoon boats.

    Contaminated drums will cause welding issues, unless cleaned. You might consider finding a worn out 25' pontoon boat. It'll need a new deck (plywood and some square, rectangular or angle stock), engine, systems repair/updates, etc., but you'll start with a clean set of tubes and a good base for your deck boat. You can find these for next to nothing, with the economy the way it is.

    Again the houseboat portion of the build will need to be light, so no 2x4's or sheets of 3/4" plywood, just a railing, some curtains, maybe some composite walls (foam cored panels) and portable everything. A real head isn't possible, because you'll need a waste tank, but a porta-pottie will do just fine. They're self contained and emptied as required. A used 25' pontoon boat may very well have most of the stuff you need, just in need of repairs and upgrades. This is the easiest and most cost effective method to get a boat currently.

    Lastly take a look around. These used boats will not be advertised in the paper, but can be found in the back corners of run down marinas, stuffed in the back of a carport, under a tattered tarp in a back yard. The owner will be well meaning, but doesn't have the time, money or interest to fix it, so you can steal it for cheap ($500). Buy the time you put a reasonable paint job on your home made drum hulls, you'll pay for the used pontoon boat, so consider it.
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