Steel Pontoon Rust....

Dave I.

Well-Known Member
Just an update if anyone is interested. This houseboat that was scrapped was a 12' x 37' Boatel and the total scrap price of the recyclable metals (steel, aluminum & copper) on these actually equaled less than $300 total. I will still keep doing the scrapping though but re-sellable parts are a huge plus and the man hours to do the tear down is much higher than scrap metal price.

Bottom line, these boats are worth a lot more in one piece than they are torn down.
 

Big_BobberII

Active Member
what k
Hey all Worders!
I have had several people ask in the past 2 years about lifespan of these steel pontoons on these older houseboats. What I have told most is that routine maintenance is an absolute must, but yes, being steel and in the water, yes there probably is a definite lifespan on the pontoons.

The current boat I an scrapping out is a 1977 Boatel 39'er. Rotten floor and walls, was taking on water and owners did just walk away from it after they removed what they wanted. Long story short, here is what I found inside this 43 year old boat's pontoons. Keep in mind that these pontoons had the "preventative oil" in the toons.

First pontoon (Port) has about 2" of ice in the bottom and as you can see, the inside is almost completely coated in rust. But keep in mind, the rust is not cratered at all. For the most part, it's mainly surface rust. Still should be concerning if your inner toons look like this but definitely not enough to be immediately concerned with. If this toon was dried out, welded properly, pressure tested and sealed up, I would see many more years from this toon before any real dramatic problems would happen. But the key words there are drying out and proper welding.

The second (Starboard) pontoon is nearly spotless inside the pontoon. It would be a safe bet this toon has never seen water in it over the last 43 years. There is some rust on the upper right side but the brown on the bottom is the "preventative oil". There is no rust on the bottom of the pontoon.

But please don't go to any of the businesses near the lake and use these pictures as a reference to their repairs and what can be done. I have seen pontoons that are rusted thru from the inside and you can poke a ball point pen thru the steel.

After I have seen this on a 43 year old boat, it really kind of changes the perspective regarding these old rental boats. If someone is looking at a boat for sale, find someone with a bore scope and look inside the pontoons. I am going to do it with the boat I have up for sale. Even if the inside looks like the Port toon, I would feel confident the boat would see many more years of enjoyment.

As far as the "preventative oil" I do not know what kind of oil it is. It is not self burning, but will burn with flame on it (flame resistant). It is pretty thick in cold weather and coming out of the toons, was a pretty dark brown. Would it be recommended to add it to the steel toons? That would have to be your personal choice after doing your own research. But, take into effect that with oil in the toons, some companies may refuse to weld/repair due to fire risk. The choice is completely up to the boat owners.

If I come across a pontoon that shows what to avoid when you look inside, I will post it. Don't give up on all these steel pontoons. Know what to look for. ;)

Happy Boating everyone!


View attachment 6780View attachment 6781
Hey all Worders!
I have had several people ask in the past 2 years about lifespan of these steel pontoons on these older houseboats. What I have told most is that routine maintenance is an absolute must, but yes, being steel and in the water, yes there probably is a definite lifespan on the pontoons.

The current boat I an scrapping out is a 1977 Boatel 39'er. Rotten floor and walls, was taking on water and owners did just walk away from it after they removed what they wanted. Long story short, here is what I found inside this 43 year old boat's pontoons. Keep in mind that these pontoons had the "preventative oil" in the toons.

First pontoon (Port) has about 2" of ice in the bottom and as you can see, the inside is almost completely coated in rust. But keep in mind, the rust is not cratered at all. For the most part, it's mainly surface rust. Still should be concerning if your inner toons look like this but definitely not enough to be immediately concerned with. If this toon was dried out, welded properly, pressure tested and sealed up, I would see many more years from this toon before any real dramatic problems would happen. But the key words there are drying out and proper welding.

The second (Starboard) pontoon is nearly spotless inside the pontoon. It would be a safe bet this toon has never seen water in it over the last 43 years. There is some rust on the upper right side but the brown on the bottom is the "preventative oil". There is no rust on the bottom of the pontoon.

But please don't go to any of the businesses near the lake and use these pictures as a reference to their repairs and what can be done. I have seen pontoons that are rusted thru from the inside and you can poke a ball point pen thru the steel.

After I have seen this on a 43 year old boat, it really kind of changes the perspective regarding these old rental boats. If someone is looking at a boat for sale, find someone with a bore scope and look inside the pontoons. I am going to do it with the boat I have up for sale. Even if the inside looks like the Port toon, I would feel confident the boat would see many more years of enjoyment.

As far as the "preventative oil" I do not know what kind of oil it is. It is not self burning, but will burn with flame on it (flame resistant). It is pretty thick in cold weather and coming out of the toons, was a pretty dark brown. Would it be recommended to add it to the steel toons? That would have to be your personal choice after doing your own research. But, take into effect that with oil in the toons, some companies may refuse to weld/repair due to fire risk. The choice is completely up to the boat owners.

If I come across a pontoon that shows what to avoid when you look inside, I will post it. Don't give up on all these steel pontoons. Know what to look for. ;)

Happy Boating everyone!


View attachment 6780View attachment 6781
What kind of bore scope can access the pontoon?
 

Dave I.

Well-Known Member
What kind of bore scope can access the pontoon?
[/QUOTE]
Any kind that will fit into a 1" hole minimum and a good light source on the head to help see in the dark. Mine is a bit small for the job but there are ones out there that would do a great job if the money was spent on one.

On the other side of the spectrum. A borescope without a tip light may reveal holes from the inside because the sunlight would shine thru he darkness.

But, if you were going to be welding the pontoons anyways, you could drill the holes in several locations for the borescope to look at the entire inside of the pontoon. My borescope will fit into a 3/8" hole, just as an example
 
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