What to look for on used pontoons

FuzzyGrub

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I have my first grandchild on the way, and time to think about a used pontoon boat. I sold my 20' bowrder that we had for over 18 years :( But if I kept it, it wouldn't be used enough and I have other things to do outside of doing maintenance on a boat fleet. ;)

So, starting the search for a used 22-24' pontoon w/a minimum of a 60HP 4-stroke motor. I have rented and used a few over the years, but never examined them closely for purchasing. Is there anything unique to be taking into consideration? Anyplace that corrosion raises its ugly head? Are the tunes filled with foam? Any tips for checking them out that are unique to this type of boat?

Thx for any help.
 

eeshaw

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I have a 20 foot pontoon. It came with a 90 Johnson on it and it does a good job getting us around. I removed a 60 Bigfoot from a pontoon for an acquaintance and they're good motors, a person just has to keep up on the maintenance and not abuse any motor to keep it reliable. The Bigfoot motor came with a different gear ratio in the lower case than the standard engine and I think (don't quote me) a 4 blade prop was standard. The tubes on my pontoon aren't foam filled, they're hollow compartments (segments). I pull mine from the water after each use so I don't have any problem with corrosion.
 

FuzzyGrub

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Thx for the input.

Yea, I'd lean toward more HP if possible. The ones I rented were 60HP and seemed to push the 20 or 22' toons enough, for our planned uses. I just have to watch out for requiements creep or I'll end up with a 250HP tri-toon. :LOL2: I have seen some with 40 and evan 25HP motors, and they are definitly out.

I know that some toons came with treated plywood floors so will look carefully around the support structure. The boat will sit in the water from late spring to early fall. I don't recall seeing anodes on any toons. Maybe not needed or they just bond to the motor, but everyone raises it out of the water to prevent fouling. I know that the magneisum anodes on my bowrider would deteriate over time.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, that these motors had solid lifters and adjusting was a bear. I'll need to try to find a service manual and see. Outside of my son's new jet, four stroke outboards are new to me.

Thx again and would appreciate additional info from anyone.
 

MrGiggles

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FuzzyGrub said:
Thx for the input.

Yea, I'd lean toward more HP if possible. The ones I rented were 60HP and seemed to push the 20 or 22' toons enough, for our planned uses. I just have to watch out for requiements creep or I'll end up with a 250HP tri-toon. :LOL2: I have seen some with 40 and evan 25HP motors, and they are definitly out.

I know that some toons came with treated plywood floors so will look carefully around the support structure. The boat will sit in the water from late spring to early fall. I don't recall seeing anodes on any toons. Maybe not needed or they just bond to the motor, but everyone raises it out of the water to prevent fouling. I know that the magneisum anodes on my bowrider would deteriate over time.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, that these motors had solid lifters and adjusting was a bear. I'll need to try to find a service manual and see. Outside of my son's new jet, four stroke outboards are new to me.

Thx again and would appreciate additional info from anyone.

Some have shims and some don't. I have a 2011 90hp that uses shims. You'd need to pull the powerhead to swap any of them. However, they hardly ever need adjustment.

Looks like some of the 60 fourstrokes have adjustable rockers which is nice, although I'm not sure what years.
 

JL8Jeff

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Look for rotted out floors, most the pontoons on the river around here have to replace the flooring over time since the carpeting or artificial turf on the flooring can trap moisture. Boats left in the (fresh) water around here need to have the pontoons scrubbed down several times during the season due to the algae buildup. So if you get a tri-toon 24-28' long, that's a lot of scrubbing! :lol: Do you plan on cooking out and eating on the boat?
Pretty much everyone around here does, so they have picnic tables or gas grills located somewhere on the boat. I would get a boat with some amount of a roof (hardtop or tonneau) so you can hide from the sun if you need to.
 

FuzzyGrub

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Thx. It will have a Bimini top, for the few calm hot days we get. It is more of a light rain protection. A hard top would prevent entry into one of our lakes.

If no grill one will be added. :)

We have nice clear water and only get a light tan slime coating over the whole season. That is good because it is too shallow at our dock for a lift.

Is water in the toons an issue? Or part of the design? Ie ballast.

PS: the new owners picked up the bow rider on Sunday. Kinda bittersweet.
 

JL8Jeff

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FuzzyGrub said:
Is water in the toons an issue? Or part of the design? Ie ballast.

I don't think there should ever be water in the pontoons so that would be a sign of a leak somewhere.
 

Tin Man

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All good advice above.

I just got back from going with my friend to pick up his new 2023 Suntracker Bass Buggy 18DLX! Exciting day for sure!

I used to own a 2007 Suntracker 22 Fishing Barge. It had a Merc 60 and was just great for cruising/fishing/gunkholing. (15-17mph max when fully loaded). GREAT boat! Really miss it.

Most floors are usually constructed of 3/4" Marine ply. Still look for rot, especially in areas where water may pool. Look at interior (seats, couch, console, floor) and its condition. Was it left outdoors uncovered? Depending on size, lower HP will be an issue if you want to plane. My buddy equipped the above new pontoon with a 75hp. I do not believe it will plane when fully loaded.

Don't know about anodes on toons, as mine was kept on trailer.

4 strokes are heavier and more expensive, but are great motors and very dependable. I prefer Honda and Yamaha, but Mercs are good motors too. I do all my own work, so if you plan on doing the same, a factory manual will be needed.

For a 20'-22' to plane, a 90hp will be in order.

Good luck in your search.....you're gonna love the 'toon!!
 

eeshaw

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I've got my 2000 20 foot and it's in good shape. If you leave them set outside in the elements the stitching on the seats will eventually let go, at least that's what I've seen. Another item I look at is the corners. A lot of the time they will be missing the reinforcements that go there, when people hit the docks they get cracked and will fall of eventually, so that's something to look for also.
 

FuzzyGrub

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Since I first posted this, I have come close to buying two pontoons.

The first, a 22' Starcraft Stardeck w/60HP Merc FI. During the motor (bucket) test, it would go from strong "pee" to nothing. During the stopage, I pulled the themostat and it wasn't pumping enough to come out. Motor was getting hot. I highly suspected pieces of an old impeller were in the motor passages. This pontoon also had "burn" blotches on the top of seat backs and on some of the cushions. Post research seems to show that these can not be cleaned up.

The second was a 22' Avalon with Merc 115HP FI. Owner claimed that it was marina serviced every year. During the motor test, pulled cowling and date on oil filter was over three years ago, prior to his purchase. Started motor in bucket that I brought, no flow out the pee hole. Waited about 10 minutes, motor getting hot, and started beeping. Owner said it was fine when you run on the water, just put in gear. :rolleyes: I didn't want to take the chance that it had any over-heat damage for a market priced boat.

Overall, saw many high-priced pontoons sell. Covid prices prevailed right up to season close. Only seeing high priced 20+ year old boats for sale, now. I'll keep watching, but might just end up buying new in the spring.
 

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