You’ve got your pontoon back home safely on the trailer, park up, then notice how dirty the tubes are. Do you clean them or not? It’s a big job after all, as will take some work, especially getting under the pontoons that are laid on the trailer bunks.
In fact, one of trickier aspects is lifting the pontoons up off the trailer bunks so you can get underneath for a really good clean – which is why so many pontoon owners get lazy.
It doesn’t have to be that way though.
Firstly, I am going take you through a process that will make it easier for you to lift the pontoons, and then go into different cleaning methods you can use, whilst the boat is still on the trailer.
Step 1: Lay Tarpaulins Down on the Ground
If you are going to use a cleaning method that use acids, then I recommend laying down tarpaulins first – and you can see recommended pontoon cleaning methods in step 4.
Using acidic cleaners such as Muriatic acid or AC coil cleaners, can kill and destroy grass in minute. It will make a mess of your lawn. Put down some tarpaulins to protect the flooring, as I’ve seen acid even eat up concrete before.
Step 2: Back the Trailer Up Over the Tarpaulins
Carefully and slowly, back the trailer up so you drive over the tarpaulins.
Make sure that the space that you are going to clean the pontoons on the trailer is within reach of a power sockets, extension leads and a water supply.
Sounds obvious, but it’s easily done. There’s nothing more annoying that having to re-lay the tarps and re-position your trailer again if you can’t reach things.
Step 3: Lift Your Pontoon Boat Off Trailer Bunks
This method will let you lift the pontoons up around 8 inches maximum. That should be more than enough room to let you start cleaning the pontoons on the trailer.
It also means that should the boat fall, it’s only got a short way to go which will limit any damage to the boat or trailer.
You can see the process simplified in this animation below:
To lift your pontoons off the trailer for cleaning follow these steps:
- Make sure you are on a firm and flat surface.
- Lower the front of the trailer to the ground to elevate the transom.
- Block the transom using wooden blocks ensuring there a wooden plank between the pontoons and the blocks to prevent damage to the boat.
- Use a hydraulic bottle jack under the tongue of the trailer and raise the front of the trailer, using wooden blocks to give more height.
- Continue raising your trailer front until the boat is level or slightly bow high. Place blocks wooden plank on top, under the front cross member to support the pontoon.
- Lower down the bottle jack, extending the trailer jack, then remove the bottle jack.
Your boat should now be well supported, but don’t remove the trailer, as this wil l catch the boat should it fall from the blocks.
For the full instructions and more detail, please visit the excellent Aurora Marine website on the link below which you can copy and paste:
Warning: If you do not feel confident lifting your trailer using this process, then do not even attempt it, as if done incorrectly can be very dangerous.
Step 4: Select Your Cleaning Method
Now that your boat is in position, you can effectively clean the pontoons whilst on a trailer.
There are multiple recommended cleaning methods, some of which I recommend, some of which I don’t.
Below is a list of methods you can use to clean your pontoon boat on a trailer, and I’ve marked them up as either recommended or not.
Bear in mind, they all work very well, and in fact, the ones I don’t recommend can actually offer the best results. I simply don’t recommend them because I am not comfortable working with acids, you might be so it’s entirely up to you.
- The Algex method (great for getting rid of algae, but not barnacles)
- The Vinegar method (great for water spots, not great for algae and debris)
- The Toilet bowl cleaner method (great method, not as dangerous as acid)
- The Muriatic acid method (not recommended unless comfortable with acids)
- The AC coil cleaner method (not recommended unless comfortable with acids)
If you’re dealing with just algae, then the Algex method is great, but for really stubborn barnacles and crust I would skip straight to the toilet bowl cleaner method.
If you are fine working with abrasive acids, then AC coil cleaner can work really well, but it will come with more risks.
It all depends on how comfortable you are, and the degree of scale and debris you have on your aluminum pontoon tubes. You should be able to get a great look once your boat is raised up on the trailer to get a better look.
Step 5: Hose Down the Pontoon & Trailer
Once you have completed the clean with your preferred method, hose down the entire boat, as well as the trailer.
One of the negatives to cleaning pontoons on a trailer is that if you use acidic cleaning agents, they can damage not just the trailer but also other parts of your boat, in particular the anodized elements such as rails.