Restored Pontoon Gets A Much-Needed Do-over

Published in the September 2021 Issue February 2023 Feature Brady L. Kay

Their original plan was to take an old pontoon boat they had found in a field and simply turn it into a floating dock, assuming it still floated. With no furniture, no top, no cables, no trailer and not even an engine, this old 20-foot Odyssey pontoon – that had been left for dead – didn’t appear to have much life left in it.

Although Marlene Wilson didn’t share in her husband’s vision, once they got the boat home Tom started contemplating taking it beyond just a floating dock and began kicking around the idea of restoring it as a drivable pontoon boat again. He convinced his wife, but she wasn’t very optimistic about how long the project would take.

“After getting the boat home and seeing the mess I figured it was going to be a 5-year project,” recalls Marlene. “But thanks to a lot of people, the boat came together a lot quicker than I ever would have expected.”

Last year we caught up with the Wilsons following the restoration project and could hardly believe what they had done from the deck up. They added AquaWeave with HydraFelt black teak flooring from Corinthian Marine, all-new Taylor Made pontoon furniture through Marsh Brothers and even added an Under-Mount Pontoon Ramp from Extreme Max Products to make boarding easier.

Not Quite There

The boat felt complete following the full upgrade, yet the pontoon had a major issue. It looked beautiful from the deck up, but all the work that went into this project was done on 19-inch diameter pontoons.

“The tubes were a little scary,” admits Tom. “When we had the smaller tubes on they weren’t big enough and were way too small for this size of a deck and the seating that we added.”

Despite the quality workmanship and unsurpassed comfort of their Lippert Aftermarket Furniture, it was hard for Tom and Marlene to get too comfortable on their refurbished boat as it was common to have water coming over the bow when they had too many friends on board. They had come too far on this project not to have it exactly the way they wanted it, so Tom started checking around to see what his options were.

Great Lakes Skipper

In his quest to find larger diameter pontoons Tom discovered Great Lakes Skipper, a family business that started over 50 years ago by providing Midwestern boaters with a great source of discounted boat parts. Since going online in 2002, the Wisconsin-based company has grown into one of the nation’s largest outlets specializing in the distribution of out-of-production, hard-to-find and obsolete boat parts.

Jake Doro from Great Lakes Skipper worked with Tom to find him exactly what he needed to make his pontoon right.

“We sent him photos and he was really great to work with,” says Tom. “Jake is really knowledgeable and I would highly recommend Great Lakes Skipper to anyone needing boat parts.”

To get the two pontoons from the Wisconsin location to Idaho where the Wilsons live, Tom reached out to Kent Mayes, an independent contractor. Kent and his wife trailered the pontoons from Great Lakes Skipper to Nebraska where they met Tom at a halfway location.

Kent is a really nice guy and he’ll be my first call if I ever need something transported long distance again,” says Tom.


When Tom first saw the pontoons he was surprised at how big they looked on the trailer but was excited to get them home so he could get started on making his pontoon right. It didn’t take him long to realize why people start with the pontoons first when doing a restoration project.

“I got the pontoons home and started putting them together and nothing lined up so I had to drill new holes,” recalls Tom.  “We should have put the tubes on first before the flooring because that would have made it real simple.”

As the owner of Wilson Truck & Auto where the mechanic specializes in fixing trucks, side-by-sides, snowmobiles and other vehicles, Tom estimates it took about 10 days of labor to complete the install and that includes remodeling his pontoon trailer to accommodate the larger pontoons as well.

Bigger Is Better

With the larger diameter pontoon the boat not only looks better as it sits higher in the water, but it also performs better.

“It handles so much better with the larger tubes,” says Tom. “It goes through the water with ease, gets up on plane and there’s no more water coming up over the front of it anymore. We can have more passengers and coolers too and we really love how it turned out.”

Going from 20 to 24 feet in length allowed Tom to add a deck on the bow. He once again went to Campbell’s Quality Siding in Idaho Falls, Idaho, for the deck after working with them before on the aluminum panels. Having a little extra space made getting back on the boat simple, especially with the pull-out ramp. With the two-logged pontoon the Extreme Max Products ramp easily fits in the center, making it extremely easy to board the boat from the bow when on the shore.

“It’s a dream to get onto the shore and really all pontoons should come with this ramp,” says Tom. “Especially with dogs, it’s just so easy to use. It slides up under the boat and pulls out when you need it.”

Cruising On

After a lot of hard work the Wilsons couldn’t be happier with how their pontoon turned out. While they learned a few lessons the hard way during the process, the journey to this point has been well worth it. Boone’s Farm Cruiser, named in memory of Marlene’s late mother who loved Boone’s Farm wine, is now fully restored and ready for the open water. And this time around there’s no water coming over the bow as they cruise along.

For More Information

Campbell’s Quality Siding

Corinthian Marine

Extreme Max Products

Great Lakes Skipper

Kent Mayes

Lippert Components

Marsh Brothers

Taylor Made

Wilson Truck & Auto

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