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Thread: How to add Ballast to Steel Pontoons

  1. #1
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    How to add Ballast to Steel Pontoons

    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.

  2. #2
    Senior Member easttnboater's Avatar
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    Lead shot?

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    Senior Member Endurance's Avatar
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    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.

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    Senior Member GoVols's Avatar
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    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.
    Last edited by GoVols; 05-14-2013 at 07:38 AM.
    '06 Sailabration located on Percy Priest Lake

    Bet On Another Thousand

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    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.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Endurance's Avatar
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    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. 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.

  7. #7
    Senior Member easttnboater's Avatar
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    Since they are steel pontoons, I would not want to put anything in there that would hold water.

  8. #8
    Senior Member GoVols's Avatar
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    If you could put something metalic in there, you could always drop a magnet down there to pull it back out....
    '06 Sailabration located on Percy Priest Lake

    Bet On Another Thousand

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    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!

  10. #10
    Member Frantically Relaxing's Avatar
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    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!)
    1988 SkipperLiner 53x14
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