My turn: Leaking Pontoon

Vikingstaff

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I guess I get to join the list of people with weld related problems with our Bennington. Got 3.5 summers out of it first. Thought I noticed something odd about boat two weeks ago, but had only been out a few times on windy conditions with bimini up.

Had what I thought was some Sea Leg snags getting my attention. Had also noticed a list to port when out, but was righting off to wind/bimini and weight distribution.

Today in looking everything over after coming in from the lake I first heard and then saw the very obvious drainage you’ll see in the videos below. Explains why my Sea Legs were lifting the boat funny for a couple weeks - too much rear and center port side pontoon weight creating awkward and strained lifting of the boat out of the water.

Is our boating season over? Maybe. I guess we’ll see how I am able to get this approved and fixed under warranty.

I would think if I could find a local good quality aluminum welder we could get it solved more quickly. No idea if there are any up here but I would assume so. However, since I don’t have a trailer, I don’t really have the ability to tow it anywhere. Hopefully the dealer/warranty/rental trailer...something...will help in this potential process. Videos below:

Video 1 or 3 with both leaks.

Video 2 of 3 with 1st of two leaking areas

Video 3 of 3 with 2nd of two leaking areas.
 

DejaWiz

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Dang, that sucks. Hope they get you squared away rather quickly!
 

rodsfields

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Sorry to hear hope I don’t have to look forward to this. I know my dealer will do a haulout (at a cost of course) just have to get the boat to a ramp. I’m sure they’ll have the dealer use a local welder rather than ship and replace toons. Good luck. Let ya know how it all works out.
 

lakeliving

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Bummer Jeff. 2020 has been tough on us all but you’re getting a double dose with the cottage damage and now this.
 

DaveyJ

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Man that stinks! Hopefully they get you taken care of quickly! I pulled my boat out last Sunday for the first time in 7 weeks and can hear water in all 3 toons to varying degrees. Light sloshing, nothing even close to the extent you have and there’s no apparent drainage. Condensation maybe?
 

Lay Lake

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My first boat had a pontoon leak. It was welded to fix it for the summer while a new log was being shipped. The welding job that fixed my boat for the summer held up great, but my leak was in one spot and a lot easier to fix. Hopefully you can have it fixed by a good welder really quick.
 

BigKahuna

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Holy Crap my little leak I had last year was NOTHING compared to that. Hopefully it will be resolved quickly. We were lucky. Put the boat on the trailer, heard the water sloshing around. Took it to a welder across the lake. He drilled a hole, water drained out, pressure tested it and installed a threaded drain hole/plug. Done $60. Back in the water......
 

jhill

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Confused..........My understanding is Bennington pontoon logs have bulkheads separating the sections with individual vent plugs at top. How can a drain plug at stern end drain any other section than the most rearward section???
 

Bill N

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Confused..........My understanding is Bennington pontoon logs have bulkheads separating the sections with individual vent plugs at top. How can a drain plug at stern end drain any other section than the most rearward section???
You're correct.
 

Tin Diesel

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That is just awful. There must be 4-5 inches or more of water!
I had a couple of thoughts...

If you take it to an independent welder, it might be interesting to ask his opinion of the quality of those welds because on my boat they are relatively smooth and continuous. The ones in your close-up video appear lumpy. I understand that welding thin aluminum is a high-skill technique.

Also, when I look at the size of your lifting stakes, I wonder if there are enough weld points? I have a layman's sense that those strakes take a lot of stress and pounding. I think that on my boat the strakes are welded at more points but each weld is shorter (admittedly it's hard to compare from the limited video).

I really wish you the best on this!
 
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jhill

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Maybe Bennington would be willing to pay to have it welded for now to get you back on water, but pay for a new log to be replaced after boating season ends. If the rest of welds don't look up to par, could push them in that direction. Just a thought :rolleyes:
 

AZHEAT

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Sorry that you’re experiencing this issue. The moment you realize what’s going on, your heart sinks. Keep it in perspective. I have no expertise in this area but I would think it will, in the right hands, be a relatively easy fix. I would prefer to skip the dealer in this scenario if you have a local welder known to be an authority in this area to save time during boating season and get it done correctly, but then you run the risk of the manufacturer refusing to cover any potential larger issue in the future that they may deem related to any unauthorized repair. As was mentioned, most dealers will not be doing the welding work and hopefully they have someone local they work with that does the best work, not the cheapest work. Best of luck! In the end, it will be fine.
 

goldnrod24

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Sorry that you’re experiencing this issue. The moment you realize what’s going on, your heart sinks. Keep it in perspective. I have no expertise in this area but I would think it will, in the right hands, be a relatively easy fix. I would prefer to skip the dealer in this scenario if you have a local welder known to be an authority in this area to save time during boating season and get it done correctly, but then you run the risk of the manufacturer refusing to cover any potential larger issue in the future that they may deem related to any unauthorized repair. As was mentioned, most dealers will not be doing the welding work and hopefully they have someone local they work with that does the best work, not the cheapest work. Best of luck! In the end, it will be fine.
You sir, are a classy guy. All good advice.
 

ILLINOIS AVE

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That Really Sucks ! So would they have been leaking from day one 2017? You Think? Or what goes wrong here? Can a weld go bad after 3.5 summers?
 

Lay Lake

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From my very limited welding experience (not on aluminum), the actual weld is typically the strongest part. The area around the weld will crack before the weld, if it's a good weld. However, any flexing or movement will obviously stress a weld and the areas adjacent to the weld. I'm not saying there was any flexing or movement either. Sometimes things just break (as in this week my wife's car- starter with 58k miles on it, the lawn mower, and brakes on a small dump truck).
 

kaydano

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I had a tube leak several years ago. I had a local welder fix it so I could get back on the water quicker. Bennington reimbursed me for the cost, but I told them about it ahead of time and they approved it under warranty.
 

Vikingstaff

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Delivered videos/pictures to dealer and spoke with them this morning. They said they work with a very high quality aluminum welder in these situations. With the videos and pictures of the high volume drainage coming out of the weld points, they had no concerns with warranty claim. They were going to put a call into their welder. Coordinate the earliest he can get to it, and then follow up with me. They said based on dealing with pontoon leak issues in the past, to expect the following:

Welder will drill holes in each of the three pontoons and pressure test all of them. Mark any and all leak spots. Weld repair all leaks. Finish be installing drain hole threaded plugs. Send that all of the pictures, videos and post pressure test picture into Bennington. Get it all covered under warranty.

I am hopeful to hear back from them in the next 1-2 days with a time frame. They said the welder is pretty busy on work, but since they contract him in for repairs and he is not in house, they don‘t know if he is as backed up as their service department is currently. Fingers crossed this can all be taken care of both semi-promptly but more importantly, taken care of very well so that I do not have further leaking pontoon problems.
 

Vikingstaff

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Follow up question to the group. If you watched my video, it took two hours to drain the pontoon as best I could (tilted it up on a step angle port high, starbard low) with the Sea Legs to try to drain as much as possible. The leak points are probably about 1/3 the way up the inside of the port pontoon along the performance foil.

Dealership said to feel free to boat with it until they can get it repaired. Said with the other two pontoons seeming to be fine, that I had no worries of sinking or further boat failure. They said it will list a bit, but otherwise float and boat okay to use.

However, it sure seems to take on a fair amount of water based on how much drained out, and how forcefully it drained out through the weld faults. Does this sound like good advice? Would it really be okay to still cruise around in the boat? This just doesn’t sound right or safe? Is it just me, or is this crazy advice? Thoughts?
 

DejaWiz

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If you don't feel comfortable in risking it, then definitely don't put it back out on the water.

Potentially losing your lives, your loss of boat, and your arduous fight with insurance is not worth it.
 
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