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Christmas Boat Parade - Trying to build a frame for pontoon boat - what to use?

I have a 20 ft pontoon boat and have entered the Christmas Boat Parade on the lake where I live in South Georgia.  Last year I used inverters and just hung lights all over the boat - but the other boats were more elaborately decorated and we looked like the Clampett's on water! LOL  This year we are discussing using some sort of OSB or plywood, painting and cutting out windows to make the boat look like the Polar Express.  We have figured out a way to attach the wood (or whatever) with clamps to the side of the boat, but are not sure of the best material for the purpose.  We plan to cut  2' x 2' windows out of the material, and it must be sturdy enough to stand up to minimal wind.  We were considering attaching a piece to the top with clamps or cheap hinges (?).  We are a group of ladies, so the lighter the better - but we don't want it to fall apart on the water!! :)   Although we will be on the water, the lake is very calm so water proofing is not too much of an issue - this will be one-time use and we have a dry area to store the boat until use,.    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!  thanks

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Posted 2011-11-19T15:59:53+0000  by walrus22 walrus22

Well, here are a couple examples of things you can do.


Build a frame out of 2x2 the rough shape of your locomotive. Using luaun, other cheap plywood or osb, cut out your engine shape and screw it to the 2x2 frame. The shape can easily be cut out using a jigsaw. Once you have it attached to your frame all you have to do is paint it.


The second idea comes from the gardening area. Use bedsheets sewn together, you're going to create a skin to put over some PVC pipes, similar to a greenhouse. On the underside, you'll want to sew in some sleeves for the poles to thread through. Here is a picture of a greenhouse done with PVC so you'll have a point of reference.

To attach this to your deck, you would take a 2x4 and mount each end of the PVC pipes into it by simply boring a hole into the wood and sticking the end of the pipe down into it. Slide your bedsheet skin over the pipes. Now attach the other side's 2x4 and bend the poles into the shape shown above. You would clamp the 2x4's to the deck of the pontoon boat with C-clamps.



Here is an example. Using two 12' long 2x4s for the front section, I extended the hoops up 18" to clear the railing. For the back section use two 8' 2x4s and extend the hoops up 4'. I'm going to guess that 1/2" electrical PVC conduit should work fine for you. You'll need some Couplers, Tees and Crosses to connect the hoops. You'll have to use your best judgement as for spacing the hoops. In this example it's every 14". You can make a little stand for the bow of the boat and hang a lantern on it for the locomotive's headlight. Where you paint the engine's railing going down the side, use safety pins as a loop through which to hold your strings of Christmas lights.


Polar Express Pontoon Boat.jpg


If you use a generator to power your lights, just say the noise is from the Polar Express chugging along the lake.


Take some pictures while assembling and of course the final product and post them back here...


When you're done, you can use the PVC to make a greenhouse. Electrical PVC conduit (the grey stuff) is a better choice than plumbing PVC because it has UV inhibitors in it and it's cheaper than plumbing PVC.

Posted 2011-11-19T22:19:06+0000  by Paul
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