Pontoon to Houseboat Conversion

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by ldmills, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. ldmills
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Bellville, OH

    ldmills New Member

    I'm planning to build a light weight cabin on a 28' pontoon deck this winter. I would appreciate any experience you'd care to share, and any advice you can offer:

    IRV builder, a am an experienced nd have resources available to me, such as roof and wall construction materials, including fiberglass composites for walls, windows, tanks, bedding, etc.

    I plan to sail seven people (four adults and three children) on a journey from Columbus, Ohio to Memphis, TN. I assume I'll need a third pontoon, or something to handle the extra weight I'll add with the cabin, a generator, fuel, gear, food and water.

    Secondarily, I would like to know how long such a trip will take, and what engine I will need. I presently have a 9.9 hp motor, and would like to use it if possible.

    Lastly, is there anything I need to know about locks, tolls, dams or other things I might not know about having never made this trip?

    Feel free to e-mail me directly as well.

    Sincerely,
    Larry in North Central Ohio
     
  2. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    I think you would be better advised to start from scratch. Abandon the pontoon boat idea and build a houseboat from one of the many plans that are available. There is every possibility that you will have a better boat, a safer boat, a better all around experience, if you do it the traditional way.

    The 9.9 will probably push the heavy boat but only slowly. You will be happier with a four stroke, big prop motor of 20 or 30 HP.

    Do some serious studying about the ways of the river systems. There will be commercial traffic out there, you need to know something about expectations from the tow boaters and communication methods, as well as safety rules and regs. If there are locks, you'll need to know a little about the way they work and what to do.
     
  3. Busman1965
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Florida/Bahamas

    Busman1965 Junior Member

    Pontoon houseboat

    I converted a 24ft Landau pontoon boat into a houseboat about 10 years ago, and it was a great sucess. The trick is to keep everything very light, on the cabin. I used 1/4" ply for the rood and sides, and 3/4" for the decking. All the interior was doorskin, except the bunk bottoms, which were particle board. These type of conversions are not very good for rough water, as they can be very wet, but if used with care, you can make good, long trips, with no problem. I regularly ran mine from Palm Beach to Miami, and across the Okeechobee waterway, to Ft Meyers. I rigged mine with controls in the cabin, so the boat could be run in bad, or cold weather. I used no 'glass on the cabin, just elastomeric sealer, and paint, with 5200 on the joints. The total cost was very minimal for the whole rig, and I had alot more fun with it, than many very expensive boats I have owned. I used an old Evinrude 15hp, 2stroke to power it, with a high thrust propeller, which gave me about 6kts in calm water. Normal cruising speed was about 4.5-5knts. The best part was being able to trailer it somewhere, and dunk it in, and have a floating cottage to live in. I did several summers in the Florida Keys this way. I ususally carred a motorized canoe, to uses for fishing, and as a dingy. My girlfriend and I lived on it for 2 months last summer in Key Largo, and it was great! I even put in a small A/C unit, which ran on a 1400watt generator. A couple of things you should make sure and do, if you decide to build a boat like this
    1 Make sure the hulls will support the weight, without floating to deep.
    2 Keep the weight as low as possible.
    3 INSULATE the cabin well, I learned this the hard way, thin cabins
    get really hot inside on sunny days, even with good ventilation, and
    become frigid on cool windy days!!!
    4 If you add a 3rd pontoon, in the center, you can use it for water and fuel
    storage, which frees up the cabin room.
    5 Keep the weight aft, as pontoon boats will go through waves if they are
    too heavy forward, which makes the boat really wet.

    These kind of boats offer alot of room for the money, and if care is taken in their layout and construction, they can be loads of fun, for little outlay. Good luck with your project!!!
     

    Attached Files:

  4. ldmills
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Bellville, OH

    ldmills New Member

    That's exactly what I was looking to do. I'm planning to install a 30-gallon fresh water tank with a toilet and holding tanks under the floor. My walls with be framed with 1" X 1" aluminum tubing, packed with 1" bead board (styrofoam) with fiberglass skin on the outside and paneling on the inside. Same idea for the roof, but I may try to make it strong enough to support people walking on it.

    I've decided to take a few guys down the Scioto River in canoes/kayaks next month to scout out the trip before putting the houseboat on it next spring. I may change my mind about the whole idea.

    Thanks for the pictures.
     
  5. Busman1965
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Florida/Bahamas

    Busman1965 Junior Member

    I would be careful about making the roof to heavy, to support people up there. I did it on mine, in a small area, which I reinforced to carry weight, which worked well, but it really makes the boat unstable, even with 2 people up there, probably not enought to capsize it, but still not much fun. If you do opt to do this, confine it to a certin area, otherwise the roof will be very heavy. My boat was framed with 2x3's (sides and roof) on 2ft centers. The roof was 1/4 ply nailed down on the frames, and using the frames for butt blocks. It would hold my weight, but flexed alot. I reinforced a 6ft square section for a roof pattio, with 3/4 ply, and it held fine, but we never used it, as it was rolly up there. You will find the front deck to be much more confortable, most times. I made a mistake cutting the roof off flush to the sides, I would put in a drip edge next time, to keep the rain from sheeting down the sides. I used styrofoam for insulation, and it worked fine, but the ants love the stuff, so make sure it is sealed in well. Another thought was to raise the cabin a few inches off the deck, I mounted the cabin right on the plywood deck of the pontoons, and it was always getting the carpet wet, in rough water, I finally put a coat of elastomeric sealer over the whole floor.
     
  6. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Coastal Georgia

    SamSam Senior Member

    Cacafuego, that's good. You need to paint some flames somewhere.

    Did you use elastomeric sealer on the roof? Do you have some kind of access to the back and the motor?
     
  7. Williamconrad
    Joined: Sep 2013
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    Location: Kansas

    Williamconrad New Member

    New member can anyone help with this posting?

    Hello I just joined because I discovered this forum concerning this homemade pontton houseboat. ( Busman 1965) ( post is too old wont let me post, also member has requested no e-mail contact)
    This is an older post, however I was wanting to contact this person so I could as him some questions about this boat, can someone help me please?
    William

    Here is the old link I found that I am interested in.

    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/boat-design/pontoon-houseboat-conversion-18963.html
     
  8. Boat Design Net Moderator
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: www.boatdesign.net

    Boat Design Net Moderator Moderator

    Welcome to the forum William. Have merged your post into the relevant thread and will also pass your email address and message along to him. Welcome to the forum.
     
  9. Williamconrad
    Joined: Sep 2013
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    Location: Kansas

    Williamconrad New Member

    New Member responce

    Thank you, I received Dons e-mail just now, and have asked the questions I was interested in.

    Thank you very much

    William
     
  10. jeffvan1
    Joined: Mar 2014
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    Location: Miami Florida

    jeffvan1 New Member

    For the Moderator

    Would you give busman1965 my e-mail address and ask him to contact me please .
     
  11. Boat Design Net Moderator
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: www.boatdesign.net

    Boat Design Net Moderator Moderator

    Welcome to the forum.

    Please see your email for a quick request and then I'll forward your response.
     

  12. FAST FRED
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    Location: Conn in summers , Ortona FL in winter , with big d

    FAST FRED Senior Member

    >The trick is to keep everything very light, on the cabin.<

    The easiest way to have a light cabin is to simply purchase one built by a pro that was designed to be light.

    AN Airstream with the heavy chassis and rolling gear removed would weigh far less than you might home build.

    Everything is there FW , holding tanks, heat, air cond, and an interior designed to be moved Locking drawers , fridge etc.

    Usually a 25 ft can be found in someones yard for few bucks , even if you have to hire a flat bed to take it to a marina to plop it on your pontoons.

    The LOA of a trailer counts the frame too, so a 30ft might be only a 24 ft cabin.
     
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