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55 Gallon Barrel Pontoon Boat / Dock / Barge  RSS feed

 
Posts: 570
Location: ontario, canada
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i've begun another budget DIY project, a 6ft x 12ft homemade pontoon boat.  today i completed the platform framework.  i made a few scale sketch plans first then i went to work.  i used mostly 2x4 spruce for the platform, i will seal it up good with marine grade sealer/paint or epoxy resin later but the platform should be at least 12" above the water.   i've been scanning the local buy and sell sites for cheap 55 gallon blue plastic barrels and the best price i could find so far is about $12-$15 each.  i plan to use my new trailer (made from an old camper trailer chassis) to go get some barrels within the next few days, probably early next week.   i've designed some cool under-deck storage bins made from large HD plastic totes.  it will have 2 or 3 large hidden storage compartments under the deck alone.
:)
i am looking for some simple cool fold away canopy ideas for shade, but i haven't got that far yet.  Here is some of the plans and what i've accomplished thus-far.
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12 ft long boards in my little PT Cruiser lol
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using another trailer chassis for a work bench
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taking shape, test fitting storage compartments
 
John McDoodle
Posts: 570
Location: ontario, canada
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here is a little more progress and a link to a youtube video of my homemade 11 ft trailer which i hope to use both for picking-up the barrels and transporting the boat hopefully.  this boat project will be using upcycled or recycled barrels as i like building on a budget and i love recycling junk.  the trailer was also recycled from a 14ft camper chassis



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a plan of sorts
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upside-down. pontoon support rails on.
 
pollinator
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Cant wait to see updates.

When i built a boat a Tx Game warden had to come over to see it so i could get it registered. If theres a motor, we have to have registration on the boat.
 
John McDoodle
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Location: ontario, canada
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Same here.  I'm also excited.  I could call it a floating dock lol.  I plan to have the front 6ft open without rails, perhaps maybe able to ferry ATVs to islands.  Currently I only have a trolling motor.
 
Posts: 583
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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So you did the math for how much weight each barrel is able to support in water, the weight of the wood and possibly 4 adults plus chairs?  Plus a table?  The weight of a tackle box?  A motor?   A gas can?  Or batteries if it's an electric motor?  Side rails for safety?

I use that type of barrel with a screw-on lid as a small tow-behind platform for pool-scooping my pond, and they eventually leak through the lid.  We have to store them out of the water or they take on water pretty quickly.  Sometimes I'm just weary and leave them floating in the water, and within a week they take on water.   I haven't found an exception to this in the probably 8 barrels I've used over the years.

My platform can tip even if there's half the weight but it's on one side.  One person will not be standing exactly in the middle the whole time, a couple of people on it will be moving around.  If the motor doesn't work you'll have to paddle, which means being on one side or the other to get the oar into the water.
 
Cristo Balete
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An ATV?  Without side rails?   Don't forget the weight of 4 life jackets.  An that wind plays a big role in going across water.

I am replacing the floats under my 10x10 dock, and each float can support 350 pounds, so while 1400 pounds might sound like it's overkill, it's really not when you add up the weight of everything, because the pontoon still needs to be way above water and stable, especially if it's going to moving through water.

If you'll note, pontoons on pontoon boats have pointed front ends, not blunt front ends, which allows the pontoons to  slice through the water as they go.  Trying to move a blunt-ended float, with a fully-weighted platform, takes a lot of power, not to mention ability to steer.  It's really a surprise how hard it is to steer sometimes on water with a load and wind.
 
wayne fajkus
pollinator
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He welded a trailer, im assuming he will weld the barrels. Coat the seams with bedliner,  ad a drain to back. Should be good.
 
John McDoodle
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Location: ontario, canada
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Good news I went and picked up 10 barrels today for 6$ each!   Best price I've found yet!   And I got to do the first road test with my 11ft trailer.  It worked well and we made er about 75km each way.  Probly over 150km both ways.  I'm glad to have them so I can continue on the bottom before I flip the whole thing over for decking.


Cristo Balete wrote:So you did the math for how much weight each barrel is able to support in water, the weight of the wood and possibly 4 adults

I use that type of barrel with a screw-on lid as a small tow-behind platform for pool-scooping my pond, and they eventually leak through the lid.  We have to store them out of the water or they take on water pretty quickly.  Sometimes I'm just weary and leave them floating in the water, and within a week they take on water.   I haven't found an exception to this in the probably 8 barrels I've used over the years.




Cristo I found this information very useful and you might too.  This guy installs docks and he compares a 20$ barrel with a 250$ dock float. :)



I believe he says each barrel has 450 lbs of buoyancy.  I will be using 450 x 6 plus nose cones, or 450 x 8 .   I'd approximate 450x7 because nose cones are probably equipment of half a barrel each .   I believe that gives me 3150 lbs of buoyancy give or take.  That's one and a half tons of buoyancy
 
John McDoodle
Posts: 570
Location: ontario, canada
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12 ft x 6 ft seemed manageable.  And then I added the pontoons lol. Wow.  It all adds up
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Getting bigger
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Pontoons on
 
Cristo Balete
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Just because I've been out over the water when things get hairy, I stick to the conservative side of building a watercarft.  There are varying number of pounds a $250 float is able to support, each float is different, so the cost of it doesn't determine what a float can support.

Maybe a weight test before it goes into deep water would be a prudent thing to do, load it with large things you know the weight of, and be honest about it.   I imagine there are boating experts on this site who can answer, better than I can, a rule of thumb regarding how much weight something can handle, as in never load it more than half the capacity, something like that.  And test it seriously for how much it leans to one side when the weight shifts.  

There are lots of experienced people answering questions about what you are trying to do, here's some info about trying to manuever with a blunt-ended barrel

https://www.boatdesign.net/threads/pontoon-party-barge-made-from-plastic-drums.42160/
 
John McDoodle
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Yes I will do extra research and testing and report back  honestly.  According to what info I can find, a 55 gallon barrel has approximately 450lbs of buoyancy.  

I agree the blunt end of a barrel is more of a snow plow but I plan on adding or building nose cones in hopes of cutting better like a canoe.  Or a pair of canoes :D  

I've seen some "blue barrel boats" and blue bartel canoes made with nice tapered nose at the bow, and blunt stern, but I'd like to see exactly better how the tapered nose is made, such as ideas or stencils for the shape and method.  I may need to use heat on the nose barrels, or use expandable foam inside the nose.  

Here is a nice example of a tapered nose on a blue barrel
I've seen only a small few like this but I like the idea


Some people don't use barrels at all to make nose cones, and some people don't use hydrodynamic nose tips at all.  I saw one on Pinterest and a guy used tapered buckets for dynamic nose cones.  

It looks like you can buy nose cones but im both on a budget and I also like to build stuff before I buy stuff.
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Something I found while searching for nose cones
 
John McDoodle
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I had to fight the urge to permanently mount the pontoons today, because I want paint or sealer on the platform and the barrel supports especially , although the platform should be over a foot (12"+) above the waterline.  

I had enough time and daylight today to prep and paint the pontoon supports on the platform, although now I need more paint as I ran out again.  

I had to remove the pontoons again in order to do the prep and paint, although they have not yet been permanently mounted, it appears they will be easily strapped down into some nice grooves in the barrels.

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Looking like this, applying some paint sealer to the platform before mounting pontoons
 
pollinator
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One way to deal with the possibility of the barrels leaking is to fill them with expanding spray foam.  There are several products out there, the most common that I see in stores is "Great Stuff".  Loctite also makes a spray foam.  If the barrel ever gets punctured or one of the bungs happens to leak, there is no place for the water to go, as the barrel is filled with foam.
 
John McDoodle
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Marco Banks wrote:One way to deal with the possibility of the barrels leaking is to fill them with expanding spray foam.  There are several products out there, the most common that I see in stores is "Great Stuff".  Loctite also makes a spray foam.  If the barrel ever gets punctured or one of the bungs happens to leak, there is no place for the water to go, as the barrel is filled with foam.



Yes its a good idea,  :) the barrels I got today aren't the type with entire screw off lids, but rather the ones with bungs in the tops.  I'm confident I can seal the barrels using Teflon tape and silicone at the bung threads, maybe some foam there wouldn't hurt.  I really like the idea of having the nose cones completely filled with the same foam you're talking about, readily available expanding foam spray.  I likely will end up putting that " great stuff" in the nose cones for sure, and possibly at the bung areas of the barrels, (although I'm not too concerned about the barrels leaking anywhere. )
 
wayne fajkus
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Easy enough to add drain plugs if it does happen.

Dinghy Canoe Boat Hull Thread Drain plugs https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKTZ4J6/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_54uxBbAF57F14

I had an old fiberglass boat. It was HEAVY. i was pulling part of the floor that had rotted and the whole bottom was foam filled. It was a sponge, holding lots of water. Boat was prob built 1970s. Couldnt believe it. Not sure if they used open cell foam or closed cell that degraded and absorbed water. It was a mess.
 
John McDoodle
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Thus far, this thing has been kept on a bit of a diet, and it seems to be somewhat manageable in weight.  Things might change when I add decking and everything on top.  The barrels are the 2.5 mm thick walled ones, but they're still not heavy being empty plastic.   Currently I can lift and almost curl either end of the platform with only one hand, and with the barrels on.  

A nice surprise turned out that the barrels have perfect ribs and a groove which seems to be the same size and perfect position for the straps that will tie the barrels into the platform, so that's a bonus.
 
Cristo Balete
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Here are a couple of interesting statements from Pondboss.com

--"Each 55 gallon barrel will float approximately 450 pounds, BUT that is when the barrel is 99% submerged. If you only want half of the barrel in the water, cut that 450 figure in half."

   (I'm liking the idea that the vulnerable wood can be kept up out of the water)


--"I attached the barrels with galvanized house trailer tie down straps from Lowes"

--"Treated wood is supposed to run close to 37 to 41 pounds per cubic foot."



 
John McDoodle
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Yes I also like the fact that the wood is up out of the water.  My previous homemade john-boat had issues with using the wrong paint and it was required to be in the water along with the wood.  Over the winter and spring some the paint seemed to simply peel right off.

Having the platform on this pontoon boat well above water level, not relying on tight seams or seam sealer, and using a better paint sealer combined should make for a better and longer lasting finish.  

With the lightweight platform and large pontoons, I doubt the barrels will be tracking very deep in the water, which should be a good thing for minimal overall drag.  
 
Cristo Balete
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So, John, when you get it in the water, tell us how stable it is from side to side.  I see that most of the mini toons, as they are called, are 6 feet wide, so they seem to think that's a stable width, although the aluminum platoons would probably ride lower in the water than it seems these barrels do.

I'm tempted to do one of these without a motor, just as a tied-to-the-shore floating dock, but I'd like the walking onto it feature to be stable.
 
John McDoodle
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This one is 6ft wide at the platform.  6x12'  .  I've seen a few others that were 6ft also and they seemed pretty cool in action.  Even showing multiple people jumping around with no stability issues.  Many people say they are slow but I will build some nose cones to hopefully help hydrodynamics.  

After painting the bottom of the platform and the barrel supports , I proceeded to permanently mount the barrels using the strapping, which fits almost perfectly in the barrel grooves.  I'm very happy these barrels have the enforced sides with the strap groves, the straps fit nice and snug in there and they don't move.

They are all mounted now and I used 8 barrels.  The bung lids have really nice soft gasket lids , so I used a little Teflon tape and simply snuged tight the nice gasket type bungs.   I mouted the bungs horizontal rather than vertical, which also somewhat hides the gallons level indicators on the sides, up into the platform.

I forgot to photograph after installing the last 2 but I assure you there are now 8 barrels on the platform, and there's still a few inches left in the front for nose cones.

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Barrels strapped down nicely.
 
John McDoodle
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Here it is with all eight 55 gallon barrel pontoon chambers.  It seems so big now I actually considered cutting it down to 10ft long, but Im going to stick with my 12ft plan and go for the gusto.  8 barrels should provide a maximum buoyancy of around 3500 lbs, but she will never see even half of that.  I'm anxious to pickup some deck boards possibly tomorrow.  I think I'm going to use treated 1x6 boards but I'm still open to affordable options.  I will add some aluminum rails likely soon after the deck is sorted.  It seems heavier now and I have to get it turned over somehow in order to do the top side and decking
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Barrels of fun
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Another perspective
 
John McDoodle
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Some updated photos.  I've been posting most of the updates to my MrJohn613 instagram.  I'm slowly editing a video of the build for my MrJohn613 YouTube channel.  Sorry I haven't posted updates in a few days but it looks different now so there is lots new to show.

I used 1x6 pressure treated fence boards for decking, they were cheaper than deck boards but apparently tly the same dimensions...?  They are called 1x6 but they definitely aren't 1" thick, more like 5/8-3/4"

Here's some photos.  
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Brother and nephew helped me flip it over
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Decking, staggered joints
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Decked out
 
John McDoodle
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Some more recent photos.  I'm happy with the progress so far
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Mock up some railings in the rear half
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My first attempt at a bimini canopy shade
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Added 45° elbows to the PVC top hoops. Much better
 
Cristo Balete
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Some kind of non-slip/non-skid surface treatment might be a good idea.

I've been looking at

"non skid floor finish additive"

Rust-Oleum Porch and Floor 1- gal. Dove Gray Anti-Skid

Gator Grip, ANVIL 1 gal. Dover Grey Anti-Skid Coating and Bonding Primer

Some of the commercially made pontoons use outdoor carpet, but where I am I would worry that it wouldn't dry out enough against wood.
 
John McDoodle
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Ive. Been treating it as a floating dock and I simply used pressure treated boards on the deck.  I do have some bed liner but most floating docks I've encountered simply use treated boards.  I do have a small 1 inch lip all around to prevent anything from slipping off.
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6ft bench seats and it fits on my 11' home built trailer
 
John McDoodle
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Photo didn't work?
IMG_20180812_200142_104.JPG
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6 ft benches and it fits my 11 recycled trailer
 
John McDoodle
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here is part 1 of the pontoon build series video on my youtube channel.  upcycling and making stuff for cheap is my favorite thing to do.  i often prefer to build something before i buy something.  i still have 2 extra barrels remaining so perhaps i can make something out of those as well.



:)
 
Cristo Balete
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Looking good, John.    Are you going to launch soon?



 
John McDoodle
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Thanks :)  I am hoping to get it wet before September.  I'm currently finishing installing an 1800 lb boat winch on the trailer tongue.  I just want to make sure everything is done and ready before I get ahead of myself.  And I'd like to document the thing in the water sooner rather than later, for my build series videos.
 
John McDoodle
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here is part 2 video of the build series.  today i added something cool which i wasn't sure about at first, its a 40w solar pannel , large lead acid battery, and charge controller.  ive always wanted to assemble a micro solar system abd i guess now is the time.  the hope is that the sun will help maintain the battery blow deck which may power a trolling motor.  :)

 
John McDoodle
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here is video part 3 of the pontoon from upcycled barrels project

 
moose poop looks like football shaped elk poop. About the size of this tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
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