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Thread: Pontoon Boats

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    I live in Cheraw, South Carolina
    Posts
    112

    Default Pontoon Boats

    Hello,
    I am a new member and not a pro welder by trade, although I have always wished I could weld like one.

    My question is, have any of you ever worked for a company that made pontoon boats. I am curious what they use to weld up the "toons" -mig, or stick. Also, would mig offer any weld integrity ( strength) over stick. I know mig would probably look better and maybe be a little faster, but would it be any stronger.

    PS: I am from South Carolina and it is 10:00am and only 85 degrees. In light of our recent weather ( 120 degree heat index) it feels like the first day of fall.

    Thanks
    6010

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Midland, Mi.
    Posts
    313

    Default

    Just looking at the welds on my dad's 'toon, I would say it's MiG or pulsed Mig. You can't beat Mig for production welding Aluminum.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ocean City, Maryland
    Posts
    951

    Default

    i have never worked for a pontoon co, For the aluminum ones Ive seen, I would guess they use MIG. Way faster and would be hard to use stick on a piece of .064 aluminum I would think. Never had luck with aluminum stick anyway. I tried to use the pulsed mig on the repairs but have so much debris in it from the salt it didnt work to well. Tig worked better . Hard to repair once they have been in salt water for yrs.

    I'm from Marylands eastern shore [along the coast] and its been super hot here lately too.

    Welcome , lots of smart people here and some cool things made
    Last edited by HMW; 08-13-2007 at 09:36 AM.
    Scott
    HMW [Heavy Metal welding]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    New Orleans, LA
    Posts
    161

    Default

    I have done some work on steel pontoons and I used 6010 for the root and finished it with 7018. The little bit of repair I have done on aluminum boats and pontoons was with either TIG or an O/A welding setup. It can be done, and easily, but be very careful about just running out and trying it with the O/A. There is a definite trick and you can quickly make the biggest mess you ever saw. Sticks for aluminum are the last resort, as in you have no other way of doing it. The rods burn at basically the same amperage as the corresponding size 7018. It spits and sputters on the start, you have to run very fast, and it doesn't work very well on anything under 1/4 inch thick, though I have used them on 1/8th. I am not positive about this, but it would make sense for the factories to use automated equipment for building the pontoons. That is just a guess though, but that's also the way I would do it in a factory.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    near rochester NY
    Posts
    9,881

    Default

    i didnt know they made steel pontoon boats ?? seems like rust would be a big concern as well as wait. are you talking large barge type ??
    thanks for the help
    ......or..........
    hope i helped

    feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat. james@newyorkmetalart.com
    summer is here, plant a tree. if you don't have space or time to plant one sponsor some one else to plant one for you. a tree is an investment in our planet, help it out.
    JAMES

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ocean City, Maryland
    Posts
    951

    Default

    I too have never seen steel pontoons, maybe in fresh water or commercial. All I've worked on is aluminum and recreational pontoons. All were about .060" thick, I am sure someone could stick that but not me. As far as an easy fix, not for me. Even cleaning with a stainless wheel wire wheel and aluminum cleaner still not easy. Salt seems to get right "in" the aluminum. The older it is the worse it is. Also aluminum gets kinda chaulky or crumbly [not sure if thats a word] after being in salt along time. Never had any experience with o/a on aluminum only pulsed mig and tig with tig being best on used aluminum. Tig gives you a chance to burn out the crap before you add filler, mig does not, it adds filler ready or not.
    Scott
    HMW [Heavy Metal welding]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    near rochester NY
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    9,881

    Default

    have you tried chemically etching it before TIGing or even MIGing the old aluminum?? i don't know what its called but have herd of it mentioned before. that might help on old pontoons. ??
    thanks for the help
    ......or..........
    hope i helped

    feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat. james@newyorkmetalart.com
    summer is here, plant a tree. if you don't have space or time to plant one sponsor some one else to plant one for you. a tree is an investment in our planet, help it out.
    JAMES

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    New Orleans, LA
    Posts
    161

    Default

    Actually it was a houseboat, and it had big steel pontoons. I was surprised myself.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Camden, SC
    Posts
    156

    Talking Never Say Never Again.... :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jolly Roger View Post
    Sticks for aluminum are the last resort, as in you have no other way of doing it. The rods burn at basically the same amperage as the corresponding size 7018. It spits and sputters on the start, you have to run very fast, and it doesn't work very well on anything under 1/4 inch thick, though I have used them on 1/8th. I am not positive about this, but it would make sense for the factories to use automated equipment for building the pontoons. That is just a guess though, but that's also the way I would do it in a factory.
    I think our new member 6010 may be just a wee bit confused:

    Almost all "pontoon" boats made for recreational use in the US are made out of 6061T-6 Aluminum in .063" (approximately 15 gauge). The two exceptions to this are Bentley Pontoons, which are made with .080 extruded, and the Trimarans (3-tube) made by Bennington, which are a full 1/4" (.125) thick H-34 aluminum. H-34 and T-6 are similar in that they're both heat-treated and both anodized, but the base material for H-34 is slightly softer (hence the thicker material).

    To continue to use Bentley and Bennington as examples, since they're two of the highest-quality pontoon boats out there, both manufacturers use Pulse-On-Pulse MIG (GMAW) in their production lines. Bentley is strictly a Miller facility and Bennington uses Miller and ESAB equipment. One difference (and you immediately know this when you compare prices!) is that Bennington's outboard engine models (all of them with two sponsons) use good-ole-fashioned TIG/GTAW to piece together their engine-wells/bilges/motor-mounts, bimini tops, and handrails.

    Now that your familiarization is over, let's go back to the basics: MIG and TIG (GMAW/GTAW) both have significant advantages and disadvantages over one another. GTAW produces what is generally considered to be a "prettier" bead profile, while pulsed GMAW is much, much, MUCH faster. TIG beads on aluminum are often described as "stacked nickels" or "stacked dimes" while MIG welds are often called "burned V's". Except in the cases of very-seasoned professionals, "good looking" beads in aluminum are much easier to achieve with MIG as opposed to TIG...another reason many mfr's use MIG over TIG....unskilled labor comes up to speed much faster. Also, welding thicker aluminum is easier/faster with GMAW than it is with GTAW...the "easier" part is subjective, since it's always easier to learn to weld ANYTHING on thicker metal than it is with thinner metal.

    I quoted JollyRoger above because I want to make a distinction in what he said: Stick welding (SMAW) with aluminum is exceedingly difficult to master, but once done, it is ALWAYS my first choice when joining two pieces of aluminum IF several factors are met: (1) the base material is 1/8" thick or thicker, (2) the customer isn't concerned with or familiar with "stacked nickels", (3) the joint/crack/seam to be welded isn't a structurally-critical piece/part, and lastly (4) the base material has NEVER been heat-treated (T-6/H-34) and is NEVERNEVERNEVERNEVER going to be heat-treated nor anodized!!!!

    What's that tell you? Yep....no SMAW welding on pontoon boats allowed! NEVERNEVERNEVER!!! (and please, take my word for it......or drive from wherever in SC you are over to Lake Wateree above Camden/below Lancaster and I'll show you!!!). This also rules out SMAW welding on aluminum jon boats due to the thickness (cheapies like LOWE'S boats are .043 and even some of the better ones like G3 are only .063, although SeaArk makes a couple of their boats in .125 Aluminum). So, for most pontoon boats and most jon boats, stick with (okay, ixnay that....STAY WITH) MIG or TIG for aluminum boats.

    Does that answer some of your questions? I spent all summer repairing pontoon boats and jon boats and aluminum bass boats.....and as my Dad likes to tell me: a hard head makes for a SOFT a**!!!!

    PS: where in SC are you? your profile doesn't say......?

    ~Clint

    Clint Baxley
    Baxley Welding Service
    Rembert, SC 29128

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Camden, SC
    Posts
    156

    Default

    Okay...I saw in another post where you said you were from Cheraw....I spend two days a week in Hartsville and am always seeing the signs.

    Another distinction with what JollyRoger said earlier regarding burn-rates for AL SMAW: I find that good AL Arc rods like Hobart 418 burn considerably faster than 7018...in any thickness. Part of our differences could be in base-material, rod mfr, or simply technique, so don't discount what JollyRoger says without trying it out for yourself. Going a little further, there is one really good comparison between 7018 and H418: just as 7018 and 6013 REQUIRE constant speed when dragging the electrode, so does AL SMAW require a constant speed...however, it's been my experience that travel speed for AL SMAW is muchmuchmuch faster than it is for CS SMAW. Just as 7018 doesn't allow for "whipping" like 6010/6011 does, neither does AL SMAW on any of the 5 electrodes I've tried. JollyRoger may disagree with that, not sure.

    You may have noticed that 6010/6011 rods will allow you to "burn through" and weld "dirty" or rusted steel, and if so, you've probably noticed that 7018 nor 6013 do very well except with slight "dirty-ness" like mill scale or the like. The same holds true for stick welding with aluminum: AL SMAW rods will "burn through" a teensy tiny bit of oxidation, but not much! Remember that aluminum oxide is different than steel oxide (rust). AL SMAW and AL GMAW require relatively clean surfaces, while AL GTAW requires almost-sterile conditions. Someone once said that aluminum begins to oxidize approximately 3.5 milliseconds after you clean it.....

    Clint Baxley
    Baxley Welding Service
    Rembert, SC 29128

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