Tom Ford, from Huntersville, N.C., is a boater who started out like a lot of people with a fiberglass runabout background. He saw a pontoon, realized how cool it looked, knew he had been missing out, and headed down to his local marina to see about purchasing one. He ended up with a Sunliner pontoon from Harris FloteBote.
“The marina told me this boat would hit 28 mph. My son, Tyler, and I took it out several times and had a lot of fun,” says Ford. “But after a couple of months, I wasn’t getting that kind of speed. So I went back to the dealer and told them I was maxed out at 23 mph even though I was tuning the motor and keeping up with maintenance.”
When the dealer asked him if he had cleaned the pontoons, Ford admitted he hadn’t because it hadn’t even occurred to him. Since he had a slip at Kingspoint Marina on Lake Norman, he had never even taken the boat out of the water. He immediately went home and had the pontoon lifted out so he could power wash it. He dropped it back in and hit 28 mph that afternoon.
“I found out there was definitely something to cleaning the tubes,” says Ford. “But I ended up with a ding in the tube after taking it in out with a fork lift and I thought this can’t be happening all the time. So I bought a brush and did the life jacket routine, which means I floated around the boat, not really seeing if I was accomplishing anything.”
Next, Ford tried docking on a sand bar but he still couldn’t see if he had actually made any progress. From this point, he began to explore other options. After some looking around on the Internet for pontoon cleaning products, Ford realized there was an obvious need for people without the deep pockets for expensive dry dock detailing or the stomach for lurking around in what can be dirty lake water. He decided to come up with his own invention.
He played around with some different materials and ended up making the first Toon-Up brush out of PVC. He forced water through pipe in an attempt to spray the boat down while it was still in the lake.
“That didn’t work because it didn’t spray evenly and it was so much work dragging a hose down to my slip,” says Ford. “So I went to a pool supply place that had used flexible brushes, but the soft bristles were easily clogged.”
Ford knew that none of this was doing the consistent job he was after.
Figuring It Out
During one brainstorming session, it hit Ford that a coil brush would probably work perfectly. The round brush is built to clean hard-to-get to places and Ford went looking for one. He did some research at a local supplier’s shop and he found exactly the brush he was looking for.
“I bought three or four different bristle filaments to put on test models,” says Ford. “Once I had the brush, I realized the PVC didn’t work because it bent too quickly.”
Ford found a metal fabrication shop that was willing to take on his project and they built 10 prototypes so that he could experience the bend of the aluminum and the pressure it put on the tubes. The team at Kingspoint Marina volunteered to lift his boat after every test run so Ford could see if it was actually working. After much experimentation, he found the radius and bristle filament weight worked perfectly. Through this process, Ford created a pontoon brush that will clean the gunk off the bottom of your boat without having to get the boat out of the water.
Why Is This Important?
Removing sediment from your pontoon reduces your resistance, which gives your boat a smoother, quicker glide because it enables the boat to cut through waves faster. Clean pontoons will improve performance and fuel efficiency. If you don’t regularly trailer your boat, this grime is building up all the time, whether or not you are using the boat. With the utility patented Toon-Up Brush, you can clean your logs from the comfort of your own dock. For those of you who boat late into the fall and start early in the spring, you can clean the tubes without getting wet. The brush does not replace a good pressure washing, but helps with maintenance all season long.
“I still boat the same amount of time, but I don’t spend nearly the same dollar amount on fuel,” says Ford. “I brush the boat once a week and it works wonders on my fuel efficiency.”
The Toon-Up brush comes in three parts for easy storage. It easily fits in the trunk on a car and snaps together when it’s time to use. Right now, it’s available for 25-inch diameter tubes and 23-inch and 27-inch diameter tubes are available as a special order. It’s not currently conformed to accommodate lifting strakes, though it may be in the future. Ford is selling his brush for $269 on his website, www.toonupbrush.com.