Having serious problems with my pontoons
Justin Landon asked:
I’m having some serious issues with getting my pontoons to looking good again. My boat is less than a year old, and spent the entire summer in a wet slip. Of course it had a ton of marine growth on it as well as a pretty dark water line stain.
On previous boats In the past, I’ve used other products such as Toonbrite, Aluminex, and Aluminum Brightener from NAPA/O’Reiley’s and have had great success with each. Yes they turn the logs almost white instead of silver, but I was okay with that as it more closely matches the trimwork and fencing on Suntracker pontoons.
This boat however, I’ve run into a serious problem. I pressure washed the marine growth off as I always have, and as the pontoons were still wet, you could see what appeared to be drip marks coming from the area of the waterline stain. I tested a small section with the toonbrite and it cleaned the aluminum, but also made the drip/streak marks stand out even more. No matter how many times I applied the cleaner, it wouldn’t remove the drip marks. I applied it the same as I always have as a fine mist working up from the bottom.
Now the strangest part about this…. This only seems to be happening on ONE SIDE of the boat. The starboard pontoon came out great and looks just like all the others have in the past. Its the port side pontoon that is having the problem.
I’ve even tried polishing the area with a buffer and aluminum polish, but even it did not remove the drip marks. It also made it apparent that there is some vein-like texturing on the aluminum now that seems to be where the marine growth was prior to pressure washing.
I’m at a complete loss as to what to do now. I know that you sell multiple products that are designed to clean and restore the aluminum, but I’m not sure if your products are designed for this particular issue. I’ve searched and searched and haven’t found anyone else that’s had the same issue as I’m having. Even boats that are 20 years old come out looking better than this. I have had one person suggest taking the boat to Suntracker and seeing if they would replace the entire pontoon, but I’m willing to bet that they’d politely tell me to bugger off.
My next step was going to be ordering some Algex, Alumabrite, and Boat Clean Plus to see if that would solve the issue, but I figured I would ask you first and see if you had any other ideas.
Sorry this was so long winded and thank you for your time.
In the pictures, you can see the marine growth that was there when I took the boat out of the water. The pictures without the streaking are the starboard pontoon that came out great. All the streaking is on the port side.
The picture with the arrow and circle is the vein-like texture that became visible after polishing.
I wish everyone would be as detailed as you are with their questions. It makes my life easier and I don’t have to guess as much about what your problems are so I can offer you the right solutions.
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It’s not uncommon for the boat that are wet slipped, to come out at the end of the year with different results on one pontoon than the other. This can happen for several reasons; more sunlight on one side than the other, promoting more growth on one side, docks design can effect current flow around the boat harboring still or stagnant water closer to the dock, stray current from lights or other electrical on or near the dock can cause galvanic corrosion, most pontoon boats lack a Kill Switch to disconnect the battery when the boat is not in use, causing galvanic corrosion, etc.
There seems to be several issues here: the vein like surface on the pontoon, the white streaks or drip marks, the waterline stain and the white etching of the pontoons as opposed to the original silver appearance. If we can identify the problem accurately and determine the cause we can easily remedy the problem and eliminate the cause. If we can’t then it’s a matter of progressive trial and error until we get the results that we want.
The vein like texture could be a form of marine growth, some other form of contamination in the water or even galvanic corrosion. You will need to test several things until you can determine the right solution. It’s hard to tell from the pictures. First spray on Algex until it’s drenched and scrub it, always with the grain never against it, using a scrub brush or green scouring pad. Algex is specially formulated to remove marine growth without etching the aluminum and turning it white. Check the water around your boat for stray current and remedy any problem. If you don’t have one, install a Battery Kill Switch and make sure that it’s turned off when the boat is not in use to prevent future problems. If this doesn’t resolve the problem, let me know and we’ll try something more aggressive.
The white drip marks or streaks are signs of etching and are usually caused by strong acids, strong alkali or even salt. You will have to buff them out. You can use Alumabuff with a Linear Buffer and Marine Power Mitt to do this job. This system typically takes about 1 hour per pontoon. It will also remove the other stains including the waterline stain and restore the pontoon back to its original finish. This creates another problem for you. Since you have already etched the other pontoon, you need to decide whether you want to have silver pontoons or white. Most people prefer the original silver color. To get them to match, you will either have to buff out the white pontoon to restore the original finish or etch the restored pontoon to make it white with the same chemicals that you were using. This video will show you how it’s done: Alumabrite before buffing. It’s a marine grade brightener that will remove the brown water stain and leave the original silver finish instead of turning the pontoons white. This will reduce the amount of buffing required.
After you restore the pontoons to your desired appearance, I highly recommend that you protect them against the environmental damage that you’re encountering with Alumetron and VS721. These products can last up to 10 years and come with up to a 5 year warranty. It will make your life so much easier and free you up so you can enjoy your boat more as well as restore the value to your boat. Here’s a How To Video:
A customer from Louisiana with his tritoon in salt water in the Gulf of Mexico told me that after restoring and protecting his pontoons 6 years before, that his pontoons still looked brand new. Nice!
Hopefully these solutions will get the job done, but if not, please contact me again and we’ll work out a more aggressive strategy until your boat is restored and you’re happy.
Thanks for your question,