Will my pontoon boat explode? Will my pontoon boat explode?
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    Will my pontoon boat explode?
from Randy B  
1/3/2010 1:52:11 PM


 Okay. My pontoon boat has small plugs where you can drain water out. Supposedly, you can pressurize your pontoons and they are less likely to be dented if hit.

So, rather than getting some air valve, I thought I'd open the plug and let air in when it was cold, then when it is hot, the air will be pressurized.

So it's 15 degrees F today. So I went out there and unscrewed the plugs. I was amazed at the shoosh of air that it sucked in. It was probably more than a gallon.

So then I'm thinking... what if there's so many molecules of air in those pontoons that when it gets hot, the pressure builds up and it explodes (or at least splits).

So I did the calculation (ideal gas law).... What's your prediction of the air pressure inside the pontoons next summer when it is 95 degrees F?

(10' pontoons, 18" diameter).

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   pontoons from mofishin #10690  1/3/2010 2:40:38 PM
I don't think the pontoons are meant to be pressurized. To put enough pressure in them to keep from being dented would be extremely dangerous.
I my opinion, it would be "MORE LIKELY" to rupture when you hit something if pressurized.

   Some old school eng'ring from billsp from NJ #10879  1/3/2010 4:56:47 PM
What your concern is the increase in volume and related pressure when the air heats up. When you replugged the pontoon, you trapped X pounds inside and that won't change unless it leaks out; but the volume will as the temp changes. Don't know the size and thickness of the pontoons; but see if this makes sense. From a psyometric chart for air, assuming 20% Rel Humidity and a chart that only went down to 30* F, air's spec vol at 30* F is 12.4 cu ft per pound, and this changes to about 14.0 cu ft per pound at 95* F. That's a ratio of 1.12 which I would assume most round cylinders like a pontoon would easily hold and is probably less stress than running up on a rock. But, you know what they say about assumptions.

   I always thought from DaveT  1/3/2010 5:47:16 PM
That the pontoons on a pontoon boat were in sections so as to only have smaller amount of water if it gets a hole in the pontoons.

   16,000 lbs! from Randy B  1/3/2010 7:33:17 PM
Well, I used the ideal gas calculator at


's say today the pressure is 14.7 psi at 15 degrees F. Then, next summer on a day when it is 95 degrees, the pressure is calculated as 17.2 psi; so a net pressure increase of 2.5 psi. Well, I don't think it's going to explode.

So, what's the force on the inside of the pontoon? Well, it turns out that there are ~6,800 sq inches of surface area. So, 6,800 x 2.5 lb/sq.in. = ~16,000 lbs! Yikes!

It sounds a lot safer as 2.5 psi, doesn't it?

   Fill em with Hydrogen from Rangerman  1/4/2010 8:26:56 AM
the pontoons will be lighter, float higher in the water run faster, and get better gas mileage and you will be put in for the Al "Leaflicker" Gore award. Thats a joke son!

   Fill them with Helium from STRETCH1 #11051  1/4/2010 9:17:41 AM
This would make the boat lighter and might even float away.

   I think you are going to have a hell of a long winter! from JR #11020  1/4/2010 10:14:09 AM

   Even at 2.5psi you have to think of... from Harumph #11038  1/4/2010 11:00:01 AM

Think of the airbags they use to lift large objects. 2.5psi over a large enough area can push a lot of weight.

I am not even going to try to do the math on this one.

   I was corrected from Randy B  1/4/2010 11:39:08 AM
one assumption on the 2.5psi calculation is that the pontoon doesn't change volume but...

with heat, aluminum will expand, and with thin walls, the volume will increase. Assuming that diameter bulges from 18" to 18.2" and the effective length increases from 120" to 120.3", the recalculation yields

a mere 2.0 psi increases. Whew!!

   Crawl back into your hole. Go back to sleep. I'll call when Spring begins!!!!! from humminbird #11206  1/4/2010 1:22:57 PM

   My Prediction from SMS #11748  1/5/2010 8:45:36 PM
I doesn't make a bit of difference, because there would never be enough pressure buildup with ambient air temperatures to cause a tube to blow up or split, period.

   that's what the calculation sez too from Randy B  1/5/2010 9:42:04 PM

   Ding Dong Guys from Rangerman  1/6/2010 11:26:07 AM
the cold weather has froze everybodys brain.



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