View Full Version : How to add Ballast to Steel Pontoons

05-14-2013, 05:30 AM
I own a houseboat with steel pontoons. The boat was lengthened and a section of pontoons added to compensate for the added length/weight. However, too much pontoon for the weight and the boat rides high in the rear. Gear, etc all been shifted to extent possible. So, how can I safely, and without doing long term damage, add ballast inside the new rear section of pontoon to help bring the boat down a bit? I may need to add close to 1k lbs or more.

05-14-2013, 06:11 AM
Lead shot?

05-14-2013, 07:22 AM
Carrying around weight for the sake of carrying around weight is a hard sell with me. This might be a time to think about either adding heavy things or moving heavy things to the back of your boat. A steel toy tank with 120 gallons of fuel for jet skis and ski boats would add 1000#. A 100 gallon fresh water tank would add about the same. 1000# generators are pretty common. You'd get pretty close with a battery bank of eight GC2s or six L-16s. Many boat builders notch down the tops of their pontoons for these kinds of additions, but if that is difficult or impossible at this juncture, above deck might be good if you can turn the space into seating or a sun deck. If inside the pontoon is the only option, I like the lead shot idea. Pea gravel might be cheaper, though.

05-14-2013, 07:35 AM
Sailabration has valves on the top of each pontoon section where you could add water to the different section of the overall pontoon in order to balance the boat. I was told I could open those and drain or add if I ever needed to rebalance the boat. Since yours are steel....I don't think you'd want to do that. Mine are aluminum.

I was watching "Mega Yaghts" the other week. One of the manufacturers ballast their boats by using 9mm bullets encased in resin. They basically dumped a ton of the bullets in a bucket and dumped the resin over top of them. It hardened and then they dump it out. Pretty funny, but it worked.

05-14-2013, 07:46 AM
Trying to make any adjustment on the deck or with new gear, etc. is not an option for me. Only option is inside the toons. I like the idea of shot or pre gravel. Maybe sand too???
Down side of course is how to remove it if I ever need to. Would take a very strong vacuum with hose to pull it out from the opening in the top of the pontoon or else have to haul it out and cut a hole in the bottom.

05-14-2013, 08:35 AM
Up side of sand is that if you ever had to remove any, it would vacuum out better than lead or gravel. You'd also have that knowledge that where ever you parked your boat, you would have your own sandy beach. :cool: Down side of sand is that the addition of any water would make it more likely to slosh back and forth with a sandpaper effect.

Too bad oil is so expensive. About 85 gallons on each side would do the trick. It would suck out pretty easily.

I think I'd experiment with temporary weight above deck to lessen the chance of ever having to take any weight back out of your pontoons.

05-14-2013, 11:38 AM
Since they are steel pontoons, I would not want to put anything in there that would hold water.

05-14-2013, 11:42 AM
If you could put something metalic in there, you could always drop a magnet down there to pull it back out....

05-14-2013, 12:28 PM
I heard of a guy who used vegetable oil. Relatively cheap and biodegradable should it leak. But boy I sure wouldn't want that to leak and have an oil slick around my boat!

Frantically Relaxing
05-14-2013, 02:52 PM
Old batteries. They're heavy as hell, and you should be able to score all you need for free with a few phone calls and/or trips to any place with an auto department. Just drain the acid and they should last forever. And they have handles!

Put a few dabs of silicone under each one and they won't move in normal use, but you'll still be able yank them out should you ever want to remove them.

(this is assuming you have a way to actually get old batteries into your 'toons!)

05-14-2013, 04:42 PM
Assuming you have descent size access into the tops? I've seen the big tin boat builders use the thick patio blocks and 5 gallon buckets filled with sand.

05-14-2013, 06:13 PM
Acces to the toons is only thru the 1.5" cap on the top. I'm liking the idea of pea gravel or 1/4" crushed rock. Only concern is if I could get it out and the slosh around sand paper effect.

05-14-2013, 08:28 PM
I think I'd go with sand instead of gravel. It'll pack better and should be easier to get out. Ships have been known to use drilling mud.

The easiest and cheapest would be water. Not sure what it would be but you should be able to put some anti-corrosive in with it to prevent rust.

05-14-2013, 09:28 PM
"Big tin" - I like that. I had to put 1,200 lbs of cap block on one side of my boat to even it out. That was a work out.

05-15-2013, 04:54 AM
Personally I wouldn't want to utilize anything that is permeable or potentially caustic or corrosive and potentially detrimental to the steel pontoons as a ballast. If it would not be so costly something such as marbles could be a potential solution. Lead shot would also work, but has anyone priced the cost of shot lately? It would also be a real hard hit the pocket book.

If you had good access to potentially free glass jars, beer bottles, etc. You could pretty easily crush them down to size and then pour the pieces into the pontoons for ballast. But anyway I'm thinking you need something something densely heavy and non-permeable for the best long term solution for you needs.

05-15-2013, 06:51 AM
Why does it need to be in the 'toons? If I were balasting my boat, I'd probably just build a shelf that could bolt to the underside of the floor and put a bunch of work out weights on it. Food for thought.....

05-16-2013, 07:29 PM
Water and soluble oil with a bacteria control program.

05-18-2013, 09:00 AM
Instead of water use rust inhibitor! :) j/k good luck

05-19-2013, 08:13 AM
Instead of water use rust inhibitor! :) j/k good luck

I may have found a product that prevents rust when added to water, and it also seems safe enough for environmental practicality though not designed specifically for this utilization.

Corrosion Inhibitor, Water Treatment 101 Solution (http://www.newhorizonstore.com/Products/267-corrosion-inhibitor-water-treatment-101-solution.aspx)

∑ A proprietary outdoor wood boiler specific product - the consumerís solution
∑ Developed by professionals in the field of industrial water treatment
∑ Will work in all makes and models of outdoor wood boilers, "open" or "closed" systems
∑ Full spectrum of corrosion inhibitors for both ferrous (iron) and yellow metal (copper and brass) system components for complete corrosion protection for your boiler and heat exchanger alike
∑ An additional ferrous corrosion inhibitor is added that actually enables better film formation on the metal surface providing and forming a protective barrier
∑ Calcium scale retarding polymers are added to help keep your heat transfer surfaces clean and efficient
∑ Formulation has the ability to fight under deposit corrosion
∑ Biodegradable and safe to use
∑ Completely buffered and stabilized product
∑ Safe for pumps, seals, Pex...your whole system
∑ Easily test for chemical level with Wood Boiler Solutions LLC approved and inexpensive testing method
∑ You wonít find a more concentrated product with these capabilities -1 quart will treat a full 200 GALLONS of boiler fill water
∑ Quart size makes shipping far less expensive
∑ Compatible with glycol (antifreeze)
∑ As simple to use as simple gets with the BEST in protection

Dosage: 1 quart per 200 gallons of system fill water

Directions for use: Add Treatment Solution 101 directly to system following the recommended dosage rate. Test and maintain at all times a level of 750-1000 ppm of chemical residual using a Wood Boiler Solutions approved testing method. Add additional chemical as necessary in order to maintain this level. Not intended for systems containing aluminum or aluminum alloy components unless specifically advised by Wood Boiler Solutions, LLC

05-22-2013, 07:28 AM
Bamby, that looks like it would be a good product to try. Thanks for the info.

05-22-2013, 06:10 PM
What would you do when the it temperature drops to 0 degrees ?

05-23-2013, 06:18 AM
He does not say where he is, but if the boat stays in the water over the winter time, I doubt that the inside of the pontoons will drop below freezing.

05-25-2013, 07:06 AM
I am in northern CA, inland lake. Air temps can get into the low 20s in the winter but water rarely gets below 45 in top few feet.