Steve J

Adapting Sunstream Boat Lift

22 posts in this topic

Greetings! I'm the new owner of a 2006 Bennington 2575 RLTD-3 (tri-toon) and am excited to get her in the water. I've "migrated" to my first pontoon after years of owning Malibu wakeboard boats... which is what my Sunstream boat lift is currently set up to support.

Any DIY tricks for fabricating something I can bolt to my existing lift to fit my Bennington? The lift manufacturer has nothing specific to pontoons yet. I'm certain someone else has had to deal with this. :)

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First, welcome to the forum! And I Know everyone will ask about pics of the boat. 

As for the lift that you have,do you have any pics of the existing setup? Is it a beam style with wooden bunks ? If so, It's amatter of changing out the bunk configuration to flat 2x10"s under each toon. I believe cwag has posted pics of his lift multiple times on this forum. You can do a search on lifts and find plenty of info..

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002.jpg

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Thanks! Boat is being detailed today, so I'll get get pics when she's all clean. :)

Lift is a Sunstream 6,000lb lift (2x more than needed for my Benny):

 

400_Sunstream_6000_sunlift_cad_drawing_w

I'm thinking about three aluminum cross-beams that would be attached perpendicular to the existing bunks (I'd remove the rubber from exiting bunks) then have three sets of pontoon bunks welded on top of that to support the boat. I might cobble something together out of wood first to get measurements before I drop the money to have a fab shop weld something.

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Those would have to be some serious beams running perpendicular to the existing bunks to hold the weight cantilevered out like that. You'd probably also need some angle bracing running down to those pivot arms near the main frame. What about just selling that one and getting one already suited for a tri-toon? That's what we did with our latest boat.

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This being my first pontoon boat after decades of runabouts and wake boats, I wanted to make sure I love pontooning before I commit. Though I suppose I could always buy a new lift, and stow this one, then sell it later. Something tells me I'm probably gonna love being a "party barge guy."

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1 minute ago, Steve J said:

This being my first pontoon boat after decades of runabouts and wake boats, I wanted to make sure I love pontooning before I commit. Though I suppose I could always buy a new lift, and stow this one, then sell it later. Something tells me I'm probably gonna love being a "party barge guy."

You won't be going back!

5d7.jpg

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At the risk of derailing my own thread, what type(s) of boat lifts have others had success with?

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I had a Fiber Steel that worked well.

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Well, now I'm really scratching my head. Apparently Sunstream does make what they call a "Universal Multi-Hull Bunk Kit." It's pictured right here on their corporate website:

http://sunstreamcorp.com/project/accessories/

PontoonBunks.jpg

What irks me is that their corp HQ is only 15 minutes from where I live, so I drove there yesterday and spoke with a sales guy in-person who told me they didn't have anything that would adapt their lifts to pontoons. I called a dealer this morning and they confirmed that they order these kits from Sunstream "all the time."

So either the website and the dealer are wrong, or the main sales dude at corporate is misinformed.

I'll get to the bottom of it today. :)

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Looks like a ready made solution, Mr. Steve. Like LL stated above, you probably won't be going back if your new toon is properly powered. It clearly won't be a wake boat, but will pretty much handle all other water sports, plus give you an excellent platform for anything else you care do to on water. I had been a fiberglass boater my entire life and never dreamed I'd own a pontoon. Well, guess what... :) 

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1 minute ago, Michiman said:

I had been a fiberglass boater my entire life and never dreamed I'd own a pontoon. Well, guess what... :) 

I never did, either. Thanks to Microsoft hiring me right out of grad-school, I was fortunate enough to get into boating in my mid-20s. I always thought pontoon boats were for "old dudes." I turned 46 this year, and a few of my neighbors on Lake Entiat (Columbia River, WA) started getting 'toons... and I while I still told myself that was ok "for them" because they were 10 years older than me... part of me starting thinking "Hmm... I might enjoy that." Now that the kids are (almost) all gone, and it's just me, the Mrs. and a couple of small(ish) dogs, I doubt I'll be going back. I just still gotta solve this problem of how to get it on my lift, but I plan on solving that real quickly. :)

And thank you all for the very warm welcome. 

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Update: Bypassed corporate and called my dealer. He looked up my account and said "A-HA! You didn't buy a Sunstream SunLift 6000."

I replied, "Oh? What did I buy?"

He said "You bought a Sunstream SunLift 6000E!"

"What's the 'E' stand for?" I asked.

"Extended," he replied. "You have the longer arms, meaning the middle pontoon will clear the cross-member. You don't need anything. Just lift the boat by the deck, on either side of the middle 'toon."

So that's what I'm going to try first! He says they have lots of customers who do it and Sunstream supports it.

So maybe things will work as-is! I'll find out next week.

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Do you have underskinning? Might be a problem.

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1 hour ago, cwag911 said:

Do you have underskinning? Might be a problem.

Nope! Just (what I assume to be) marine-grade plywood. 

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Curious, I was told on a Tritoon if your motor is hanging off it Bennington does not suggest supporting under the frame, but on the toons?  That is a lot of weight to be hanging in the air?

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On 5/4/2017 at 7:03 PM, cwag911 said:

Do you have underskinning? Might be a problem.

With a better look, yes - there is under-skinning that goes runs fore and aft across metal "ribs" running cross-wise (port to starbord). Those aluminum ribs seem more than strong enough to hold up 2,500 lbs. But now I'm thinking about what @Scott1 just wrote:

5 hours ago, Scott1 said:

Curious, I was told on a Tritoon if your motor is hanging off it Bennington does not suggest supporting under the frame, but on the toons?  That is a lot of weight to be hanging in the air?

Are they saying it's bad to have the toons hanging?

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Hi Steve,

You must be here somewhere in Wa also.  I just took delivery of a new Benny Tritoon.  I also had the sunstream lift and there is definitely an option to add the toon kit to it.  My local installer might be able to help you .  Look up Gatco at Lake Tapps as they offer a kit for Sunstream.  You can also check with Boat Lifts International (another WA lift installer) and look at their kit. 

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4 hours ago, Steve J said:

With a better look, yes - there is under-skinning that goes runs fore and aft across metal "ribs" running cross-wise (port to starbord). Those aluminum ribs seem more than strong enough to hold up 2,500 lbs. But now I'm thinking about what @Scott1 just wrote:

Are they saying it's bad to have the toons hanging?

I have been agonizing over this since February.  I bought a new ShoreStation hydraulic lift for my 25 GSB SPS- 4000# boat and motor before gear - and needed to decide between triple bunks or the pontoon rails which lift from the deck.  Everyone I asked had a different opinion, multiple bennington dealers and lift installers.  I went with the recommendation from my purchase dealer to get the rails and lift from the deck.  He says the boat is more than structurally sound to suspend the tubes and motor.  The lift is being installed tomorrow and the boat delivered Sunday.  We'll see.....

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10 hours ago, Steve J said:

With a better look, yes - there is under-skinning that goes runs fore and aft across metal "ribs" running cross-wise (port to starbord). Those aluminum ribs seem more than strong enough to hold up 2,500 lbs. But now I'm thinking about what @Scott1 just wrote:

Are they saying it's bad to have the toons hanging?

Mostly because of the motor hanging off your middle tube.  I was told this is too much weight to leave hanging, and definitely do not trailer without the middle tube and motor being supported.

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Here is some discussion on this

I also researched a little more just now.  It looks like when Tritoons were first coming out they were ok with supporting from just the two toons.  It seems like now, a few years later they are suggesting the support on all toons, mostly because of the heavier motors and the fuel tanks being in the middle toons on most of them.

 

 

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I recently went through this same thing.  I considered all options and even called Bennington, the conscious was to support the center toon due to the added weight of the engine and gas tank. I changed out the two bunks I had for my pontoon and added 3 v bunks for the tritoon.  It cost me $675.00 all inclusive.

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