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View Full Version : Pontoon shopping at Chicago boat show


liledgy
01-06-2013, 01:24 PM
My sibling and I our looking to replace our 24' foot party barge with a smaller pontoon. 18-20', 4 stroke motor, composite floor, etc. I know bennington is a good brand, can others here name a few other good quality co.'s? It will just be for cruising, I would think a 50 hp would be enough (maybe). Any motors to avoid? Other options? Thanks for the replys.

Tristar Racing
01-06-2013, 01:32 PM
If you like the Harris Flotebote line, I can get you in touch with a tremendous sales person my family has worked with for 18 years.

I don't have much input on your questions however. I know Merc 4 strokes were backordered for a while and that was causing rigging delays. I don't think that signals a reason to avoid them though.

MIskier
01-06-2013, 02:34 PM
Crest and Premier are both good brands as well. You wont find many brands that use composite decks. I know for a fact that Bennington and Premier both use plywood in their decks.

Really no difference in price between the major 4 stroke brands out there, although Yamaha does offer a 5 yr warranty on their motors.

scottsx2
01-06-2013, 03:08 PM
Premier makes a really nice boat, nothing wrong with those E-TEC motors either, they work well and are super quiet!

bbymgr
01-06-2013, 04:39 PM
Honda has a 5 year transferable warranty on their outboards as well. They are a little more, but worth it.

MASTIQUE
01-06-2013, 04:40 PM
Harris is the best!! They last forever!!


Sent from my iPhone 4S using Tapatalk

jafo9
01-06-2013, 05:52 PM
That's a pretty small pontoon. I'm assuming you are looking for a 2 logger and will be on relatively flat water and you don't plan to tow anything. Even at that size I think you may be underpowered. I'd look at a 75 or 90 minimum. If you stay with the big brands, you will be fine with reliability. There really isn't much to go wrong with a pontoon other than the motor. I have a premier with a honda motor. However, for me it came down to the floor plan. I just couldn't find a Manitou, or a Bennie with the floor plan that fit our families needs. I didn't shop any of the other brands because non of then had a true performance package at the time.

The software for outboards may be a bit more proprietary than the inboards that are all mainly versions of a small block chevy (no offense to the PCM/Ford guys). Having said that, you may need to check with your mechanic if they can and will work on your Yamaha/Honda/Merc/'Rude. My old mechanic when I had my MerCruiser told me he could no longer work on my boat when I bought the Honda as he didn't have the software to interact with the on board diagnostics. Fortunately, I do most of my own work anyway.

Another brand not mentioned above is AquaPatio. Also, South Bay makes a nice toon.

In the end, since your needs seem pretty basic, your decision on brand will likely be more influenced by dealer/service proximity than the "best" brand.

mattsn
01-06-2013, 07:01 PM
Any of the Godfrey products would be ok. The Aqua Patio is the best value for the $$$$. Sanpan brings lot of extras, but cost many $$$. Sweetwater is entry level and I doubt if you will be happy with it.

I have and still owe Merc Honda and Yamaha. The Honda is best for pontoon. Quality, quiet, warranty cannot be beat. You should be able to negotiate a good price at the show by comparing dealers. Good luck.

Iskidaily
01-06-2013, 07:08 PM
I have a 23 footer with a Honda 60HP. I got lucky on the engine size... its quiet, energy efficient and has enough power to pull a tube, a skier, kneeboard or wakeboard - Doesn't compare to the xStar, but works for fun with the family in a pinch

03geetee
01-06-2013, 07:12 PM
Have no other experience then my Father in Laws 24 ft Weeres with a 60hp 4 stroke Johnson. Great boat, no issues what so ever, and she sits in the water 5 mos a year with just a basic cover. Starts every spring on the first turn of the switch, we grille, fish, party, cruise you name it on her. No complaints vessel is 10+ years old now and we have nothing but gas into it.

*dont mind that ugly boat in front of the Weere's Pontoon*
http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a300/o3geetee/WillCountyFairandLaborDayweekend2012057_zps9a92938 2.jpg
http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a300/o3geetee/Summer2011078.jpg
http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a300/o3geetee/0484.jpg


JTR

madcityskier
01-06-2013, 08:07 PM
I've heard great stuff about Premier and Bennington, but if it's me, gotta go with a MasterCraft. Pontoons are overrated anyway.

EricB
01-06-2013, 09:15 PM
We have a TMC pontoon (built in Poskin, Wi) and bought it used with a 50 Honda. It's 24.5 ft, 2 toons and a nice interior. Not lavish, but nice and clean. Since we already had a ski boat, we did not feel like we needed any more "omph" than the Honda would provide.
The pontoonie is a 1998, and it looks almost brand new. Just take care of it an it will last. Honda engine has given no problems at all. Interior is original, has a treated plywood deck with no soft spots. But we have gone through 3 covers. Dont ride hard-put away wet.
Bottom line is if you use it alot with kids (as a swim raft) and it's your only boat, then spend more. If it's not, find a good used one an it can fill the bill.

jafo9
01-06-2013, 09:16 PM
madcityskier:

My wife and I had that debate. The only answer we could come up with was to have both. For what they do, its hard to beat a pontoon. I would never consider grinding my MC up a beach but I don't think twice about it with my toon. In the same light, having both, I would never consider using the pontoon as a towboat again.

liledgy
01-06-2013, 09:46 PM
Keep the replies coming, love it. We are going smaller because it will be easier to store, dock and, since it will stay in the water, not beat the dock ( or boat) up to bad. Less of a sail too on the windy days. I dont see us pulling skiers or tubers except on a rare occasion. We ( all in our 50's with kids) just want a reliable long lasting pontoon. I thought premier and Bennington went composite, oh well that just opens it up to other brands. Sun is usually the killer on the interior anyway. Do certain brands have better canopys?

CC2MC
01-06-2013, 11:56 PM
Keep the replies coming, love it. We are going smaller because it will be easier to store, dock and, since it will stay in the water, not beat the dock ( or boat) up to bad. Less of a sail too on the windy days. I dont see us pulling skiers or tubers except on a rare occasion. We ( all in our 50's with kids) just want a reliable long lasting pontoon. I thought premier and Bennington went composite, oh well that just opens it up to other brands. Sun is usually the killer on the interior anyway. Do certain brands have better canopys?

My dad has an Aqua Patio with a Yamaha 115 hp and while it is a great boat, getting really good gas mileage, he still would like a bigger engine. He has told me the next toon he will buy will be a Harris with a 150hp engine. Harris puts Mercs on the back of theirs and my dad is more of a Yamaha fan, although most of the 4 strokes are good. Bombardier/Johnson, have some kind of service plan on theirs to where you do not even have to touch the engine for the first three years, I believe. If I were you, I would probably consider looking at a 75 hp at a minimum. It would help on resale with a larger engine, when that time comes.

I believe most of the brands have a plywood deck, with sheet metal on the bottom side, keeping it dry from the lake water. a few of them also offer an aluminum deck, which may be what you are thinking. I did notice that Bennington has a lifetime structural warranty, which includes (deck, cross channels, tubes, ladder, bimini fittings, seat frames, motor pan, etc.) The canopy can usually be customized just about any way you want it. You typically do not see a full canopy on a smaller pontoon like what you are considering though.

I know there are many hard core MC fans on here, but a pontoon absolutely has it's place. My dad, (60 yrs old) does a good bit of cruising and on a rough day, I would hate going across the lake in my MC. It also makes a decent fishing platform at night.

Avalon is another nice brand. Harris also has a "bargain" brand called Cypress Cay. They are still very nice boats but it will save you a few thousand over the Harris.

You may want to take a look at this checklist before you make a decision. It will help answer some questions you may or may not have.

http://psndealer.com/dealersite/images/vsmarine/pontoon%20buyers%20guide.pdf

94PS190
01-07-2013, 12:03 PM
We have a 25 on the pontoon and it as all we ever needed. I have never understood why you would put a 150 on a pontoon? if it was the only boat, maybe. We ski behind the prostar and drink on the pontoon. I can think of anytime we have been in any kind of hurry with the pontoon. 99% of the time it is just in gear. plus, horsepower is expensive. Just my 2.

bobx1
01-07-2013, 12:54 PM
I purchased a new Bentley (low end boat) a few years back to see if we would use it much. It was a 20' with 90HP 4 stroke Merc. Ended up using the boat a lot (keep it in the water) and upgraded to a South Bay 22' with 115 Merc 4 stroke two years ago. South Bay is not top of the line but is a good mid-level quality boat. Bennington, Harris, South Bay, Godfrey, G3 are the most popular around me but poplularity typically reflects the quality of the local dealer.

wheelerlake
01-07-2013, 01:14 PM
have you considered just redoing your current pontoon? Ours is a '89 26 ft Palm Beach Nicollet with large pontoons. We have a 48hp Johnson '88. Over the years we've replaced the flooring (with marine plywood), carpeting, bimini and the seats. It looks brand new yet. Seats came from a made to order place and they are awesome. My hubbie did all the work himself. That way you could get composite floor if you want. My dil made the comment "why didn't you just get a new one"? but we saved at least $10,000 over a new one that size! With the grandkids, kids, and friends around the lake we cruise with that size is just what we need. My $.02.

liledgy
01-07-2013, 02:14 PM
The old. One looks and runs fine. But, it barely fits in our pole barn for winter storage. It is also I little to big for our dock if the river is high. We would just like to downsize a bit and also get a trailer for it. Plus the convenience of not mixing any oil is appealing.

jakethebt
01-07-2013, 11:08 PM
I stopped by a "new in town" marina this past spring for some parts and looked at the pontoons on the way to the parts dept. I am pretty sure they were bennington brand. I asked the price and the dealer told me how they won the lottery that year and this was the boat that was in the pics for their marketing and books and it was a really good price. The only reason that I mention it is that I figured the factory had some pride in this boat. After looking at it a little more close, it was built like crap. The quality of the welds was scary. It looked like a little kid did then with his eyes closed. None of the pcs of the pontoon even looked like they fit together right. Once I started looking, I was really surprised how bad it really was. I would be surprised if they even used jigs or fixtures for the pontoons. I bet they added 10% drag just due to poor quality.

One thing I would do when you are at the boat show is look at the build quality. Keep in mind these boats are all "low volume production" and there may be a huge difference in quality and construction.

As for the outboards, if you can afford the Honda, you cant hardly go wrong.

thatsmrmastercraft
01-08-2013, 12:42 AM
I stopped by a "new in town" marina this past spring for some parts and looked at the pontoons on the way to the parts dept. I am pretty sure they were bennington brand. I asked the price and the dealer told me how they won the lottery that year and this was the boat that was in the pics for their marketing and books and it was a really good price. The only reason that I mention it is that I figured the factory had some pride in this boat. After looking at it a little more close, it was built like crap. The quality of the welds was scary. It looked like a little kid did then with his eyes closed. None of the pcs of the pontoon even looked like they fit together right. Once I started looking, I was really surprised how bad it really was. I would be surprised if they even used jigs or fixtures for the pontoons. I bet they added 10% drag just due to poor quality.

One thing I would do when you are at the boat show is look at the build quality. Keep in mind these boats are all "low volume production" and there may be a huge difference in quality and construction.

As for the outboards, if you can afford the Honda, you cant hardly go wrong.

Very interesting info on the Bennington as they are touted as high end toons.

bbymgr
01-08-2013, 01:01 AM
I'm surprised also. Some friends have one, and I thought it was very well made.

jason95gt
01-09-2013, 01:34 PM
Grand Entertainer by Premier or any Premier for that matter. Great quality and customer service.

mikeg205
01-09-2013, 02:04 PM
First sign of spring here now... :) - good luck on them pontoons... ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0O0nzkESTI ;)

cbryan70
01-09-2013, 02:06 PM
erkoehler sells a few different brands of toons. I would give him a call. He will be at the boatshow as well.

CC2MC
01-09-2013, 07:55 PM
We have a 25 on the pontoon and it as all we ever needed. I have never understood why you would put a 150 on a pontoon? if it was the only boat, maybe. We ski behind the prostar and drink on the pontoon. I can think of anytime we have been in any kind of hurry with the pontoon. 99% of the time it is just in gear. plus, horsepower is expensive. Just my 2.

Well, a 150hp is obviously not for everyone. We tend to entertain quite a bit and with the extra horsepower, you can load the pontoon up with people and tube or ski as an overflow boat, so it is nice to have the extra hp when you want it. You are correct in that HP is very $$. Most of the cost in a $60k pontoon would be in the engine. Granted, a $60k pontoon would probably be running around a 250hp, but I have seen up to a 300hp. To that, I say why? I have a good friend whose dad has one with a 250hp on it and it will certainly go and is faster than my PS205. That is their only boat for now, other than the waverunner, so they do pretty much everything behind it. Also, we are on a very large lake, with over 750 miles of shoreline and when you are 30 mins away from the house with a crying baby, you tend to want to get back a little quicker than a 25 could handle. Granted, we are usually cruising around 10-15mph in the pontoon, but it is nice to have it when you need it.

There is one guy on the lake that has a pontoon with twin engines, one on each pontoon. I haven't seen it up close, so I don;t know which engines it has, but I do know it flies. It probably does 65mph or better, which is a bit ridiculous. High tech Red Neck, I guess.