A few thoughts on pontoon rebuilding and components
There are three markets for rebuild material
1. The person who is on a limited budget or who inherits a pontoon but they want to refurbish it.
2. A boat dealer who has taken a boat in on trade and wants to clean it up for resale.
3. A pontoon owner who bought a boat new years ago but doesn’t want to invest in a modern new boat.
Customers' generally want the least expensive accessories they can find: #1 because of limited funds and #2 because they just want the boat to look good enough to sell. If all the old boat needs is a new top or maybe captains stand, the least expensive will usually do. If the boat needs major repairs; a floor, carpet or furniture, the rebuilder has to make a decision. You must consider that labor is the most expensive part of a major overhaul. A dealer or handyman is going to spend 18 to 20 hours redecking most boats. You can save about $15 a sheet on non marine plywood equalling $75 saved. Perhaps $50 on cheap carpet. This must be weighed against the fact that decking can warp and carpet can rot and fade in a very short time. It basically boils down to how long the rebuilder intends to keep the boat. Its foolish to save a couple hundred dollars after working 18+ hours to replace a floor.
The internet is full of tips and help on redecking. Most are good and offer step by step instructions. There is however, little in the way of information about many of the products. There are a lot of people selling things but most are just sellers and that’s the reason there isn’t more product information. No one has much product knowledge. You’d be amazed at the general lack of knowledge by the majority of people selling pontoon supplies or for that matter marine industry professionals doing the work.
I have not personally rebuilt hundreds of pontoons, I’ve only done three or four. But over a thirty year period I’ve sold supplies for tens of thousands of rebuilds. Our wholesale business was the first to package kits so that the rebuilder could purchase everything they needed for a job. We were the first to package furniture by groupings; stern groups, L groups, bow combinations. Previously everyone selling pontoon seats made you figure each individual seat and try and put together packages yourself. We hosted the owner of the largest aftermarket furniture builder at our shop and he did not understand what a Stern L group was. The new boat builders had been using this popular floor plan for ten years but the largest builder of aftermarket seats didn’t know what it was. My son founded one of the earliest and now the largest internet pontoon after- market business and was the first on the internet to offer rebuild packages and furniture groupings.
My knowledge of pontoon rebuilding has come from all the mistakes my customers have made using my products. If you don’t use enough glue and don't roll the carpet out to squish the glue into the back of the carpet, it will not adhere properly. If you don’t use deck joint tape water can work its way up between the seam in the decking and the carpet will have wet lines on it. Plastic fittings are often not treated for UV protection on a Bimini. Plastic is not as strong as aluminum fittings. Only when plastic fittings disintegrate in the sun will you know they weren’t UV treated. In the following pages I hope to impart some product knowledge about these types of things.