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Old 10-23-2013, 09:49 PM   #1
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Older Aluminum Hulls, General Question

This is rather a generic question, but what are the pitfalls of older aluminum hulls, such as Burgers, CC Roamers, etc from the late 60's and early 70's? I am guessing, other than lack of maintenance that cause concern on any vessel, galvanic reaction would be one of main culprits?
Would steel be a better choice in something of from this vintage, all things being equal?
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:57 PM   #2
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Chris Craft Roamer Discussion - YachtForums.Com

You might find answers here.
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Old 10-24-2013, 12:17 AM   #3
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Generic aluminum hulls:

If poor insulation, therefore sweating, hot in summer,
If foam sprayed insulation, therefore dangerous in a fire, makes welding difficult,
Galvanic corrosion, almost always at the waterline, if there is any,
Can't or shouldn't use a bronze prop, use SS,
Oddball bottom paint,
Unpainted aluminum can be dirty, get on clothes.

That's all I can think of, but there are many advantages:
No canvas winter covers, rail covers or window covers,
No teak decks,
No wooden windows,
Much stronger than fibreglass or wood,
30% lighter than f'glass,
Don't need paint,
No waxing.
No contest.
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Old 10-24-2013, 05:40 AM   #4
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I see about 10 large aluminum yachts a day on the hard and have for years, have yet to see one with a SS prop unless you count the impeller on a jet.

Can't recall ever seeing corrosion issues at the waterline except on old steel boats, and the bottom paint is no more of a problem than on a glass or steel boat.

I have managed a couple of refits of steel yachts that required huge weights of steel repairs due to corrosion and only twice found a problem with an aluminum boat. Once due to sediment in water tanks and once between a bronze keel cooler and hull due to electrical leakage and poor initial coating in that location.

If you think sprayed insulation is dangerous in a fire, take a whiff of a burning fiberglass boat and its normal contents. There are several "hull board" insulation systems available that are fire resistant and IACS/USCG approved for the purpose.
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:12 AM   #5
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Well built aluminum hulls are not necessarily a problem. Learn about the issues and address them. It is not the prop its the shaft material. Electrical problems are the main issues and mismatched metals. It is a strong material and long lasting. Make sure a surveyor is skilled in the material.

Rick is right on. Nothing more toxic then fiberglass, especially when burning.

John
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:57 AM   #6
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Why does the fact that fibreglass is toxic when it burns negate the fact that foam insulation is toxic when it burns? That makes a lot of sense.

"It's not the prop it's the shaft material." Say again? A bronze wheel is all ok as long as there is a stainless shaft, an aluminum hull and sufficient zincs? Or should there be a bronze shaft too? You're saying it only matters what specific part is a dissimilar metal? Wheels ok, shafts bad? Bizarre.

You should also have an isolation transformer if you use shore power. But I recommend those for all boats anyway.

I did not suggest that "well-built aluminum hulls..." Are a problem. I suggested things to look for that could be an issue with an aluminum hull. I have an accepted offer on an aluminum hull and am doing my due diligence before survey next week. That means I have been schooled on what to look for based on other's experience, not that I expect there to be issues, but I'd be pretty stupid to buy something without assessing the risks which you all seem to think I should do.

You cannot use copper bottom paint on an aluminum boat without an epoxy barrier coat. That means you have to start with bare aluminum and you have to add numerous coats of the epoxy before you can apply the anti-foul. The non-copper paint does not need a barrier coat but it doesn't last as long. Anti-fouling an aluminum hull is much more involved and therefore more expensive than doing fibreglass. Once the barrier coat is on it should last for years unless damaged and the bottom maintenance is simplified.

To complicate the a-f issue, biocides are banned in Canada.

So, Rick, you are saying don't do any due diligence because aluminum hulls have less issues than other materials? That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
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Old 10-24-2013, 12:25 PM   #7
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I have some direct knowledge of older large Al Browards. The Al issues I am most familar with are lead sheet insulation on top of Al fuel tanks - a no no - and rain water getting under the paint just below the cap rail causing blisters. As previously stated, TLC is a good antidote preferably applied early.

In cooler climes such as Alaska and BC, well placed heat keeps the condensation at bay.

A 100+ foot yacht is vastly different to comment on than a 35 foot fishing boat, so best to listen to the pros like RickB on these types of issues.
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Old 10-24-2013, 05:03 PM   #8
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Where does a 50 foot ex-workboat fit in?

Rick said, burning fibreglass is toxic too, I have never seen a stainless wheel on an aluminum boat, I have never seen corrosion at the waterline on an aluminum boat and I have only repaired 2 aluminum boats.

The question was, "What are the pitfalls...aluminum boats..." And the answer is:

Nothing.

Sunchaser says uncle Rick has never seen an issue so listen to him.

When the broker says "this boat is turnkey" you should just believe it and buy it. "These engines have years of life left in them" don't worry about a mechanical survey, just go ahead and buy it.

Max, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Trust me.
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Old 10-24-2013, 05:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xsbank View Post
Sunchaser says uncle Rick has never seen an issue so listen to him.
Man, you sure read a lot more than was written ...
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Old 10-24-2013, 06:14 PM   #10
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I have an open mind, in fact, that's why I'm on this site looking for information and offering my experience too. Please feel free to post something relevant to the topic, in fact, I am entirely eager to learn more about aluminum boats myself because I am about to own one. What I posted here was some of the information that I have discovered talking to guys who've built them, surveyed them and operated them on my coast. No, you will not find all these defects on every boat. I sincerely hope my survey doesn't turn up some atrocity that kills this deal.

What else should I look for?
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Old 10-24-2013, 06:14 PM   #11
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On the 44' aluminium hul I spent 1/2 the summer helping a friend on it had nibral props & we installed drive savers that isolated the shafts & props from the hull. I've heard that at least one builder of aluminium hulled boats recommend no bottom paint, just haul & pressure wash once a year. I believe their reasoning is that if the bottom paint is damaged that area can then be a target for galvanic corrosion, but if the bottom isn't painted then the corrosion will not affect the large surface of the hull. His hull had anode protection, galvanic isolator & a meter to measure current between the hull & water, this was on a freshwater boat. A boat in salt water is subject to more aggressive corrosion, I used to think a aluminium boat would be great & for a trailer boat it is, but for a boat that stays in the water year round now I'am not so sure especially if buying used. All the owner added & modifications to the DC & AC electrical systems could be very detrimental to a aluminium hulled boat if the owner is not a genuine marine electrician who knows what he's doing.
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Old 10-24-2013, 06:16 PM   #12
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Here's a rare aluminum yacht! Denison Yacht Sales (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

Other than being a tad narrower, tad deeper, and a tad taller than what I prefer-this looks like one cool yacht!
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Old 10-24-2013, 07:28 PM   #13
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Thanks, River, that is very useful information. My boat will be in salt water mostly, although she may end up in the Fraser River if the stupid river authority gets real over their water-lease rates. They have tied the value to that of the land and have upped the lease rates by 300 percent so moorage has gone up the same so now it's not economical to moor there. (Deleted) bureaucrats!

Anyway, anti-foul is essential in salt water, in 3 months the boat would be so heavy with mussels and barnacles I'd be unable to move.

My understanding is this boat has an isolator transformer and a galvanic isolator so I will check that out this weekend.

Thanks!
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Old 10-24-2013, 08:51 PM   #14
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Thanks for the info. My overall plan is to transition to a liveaboard in the next couple years and I have always written off steel and AL boats for no real good reason. Lately I have been expanding my search and ran across a couple aluminum boats that looked interesting. My knowledge of AL boats is limited to a 14' rowboat that I drag up and down the driftwood and rocks at my beach place and it is, as far as I can tell, indestructable.
It does seem that some of the older AL yachts such as Burger and Stephens are higher priced than comparable and newer Hatteras and the like.
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Old 10-24-2013, 09:01 PM   #15
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Aluminum .... great material for a boat but .... I've seen several older CC's , Marinettes and Avro-Richardsons with serious corrosion caused by various questionable electrical modifications and poor maintenance of same. Welding old aluminum is a tricky and expensive proposition especially if corrosion is involved.
I would not buy such a boat without a full electrical survey by a qualified marine electrician, preferably one certified in corrosion by ABYC.

From West Marine Advisor .....

Use paint with zinc or copper thiocyanate biocides. Bottom paints containing cuprous oxide canít be used on aluminum because of galvanic action. Vivid, Trilux 33, with cuprous thiocyanate biocide, and zinc pyrithione-based Trilux Prop & Drive Paint and Alumaspray are formulated for use on aluminum. Conventional paints will destroy an aluminum hull in short order.
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Old 10-24-2013, 10:05 PM   #16
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Having owned and worked on wood and FRP boats only, I come into this discussion as complete novice to aluminum boat material maintenance and longevity. Enjoy reading this thread, as I always wanted to learn about aluminum boat quality!

My only question, one I had for decades after being aboard several really nice Al boats, if Al’s sooooo good then why weren’t more boats built with aluminum. Is it simply cost???
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Old 10-24-2013, 10:30 PM   #17
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I don't know the real answer but they do cost more to build and paint, if you want one painted. The one I am interested in, I think I'm going to polish it!
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Old 10-24-2013, 10:36 PM   #18
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For custom or semi-custom construction (depending on your definition of semi) aluminum would be less expensive with no molds required. For production boats, FRP is much less expensive due to speed of construction once you have your molds.
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Old 10-24-2013, 10:41 PM   #19
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Or, maybe paint a cigarette boat on its side, like this?
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Old 10-25-2013, 07:15 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Simmons View Post
... what are the pitfalls of older aluminum hulls, such as Burgers, CC Roamers, etc from the late 60's and early 70's?
Any pitfalls will be immediately obvious. If the boat is a POS you will probably know long before getting to the survey stage. If it is in good shape then there is no reason to believe it will fall apart during your ownership if you continue the standard of maintenance that got the boat this far.


Quote:
Would steel be a better choice in something of from this vintage, all things being equal?
See the above.

The construction material is far less important than the level of maintenance performed over the boat's lifetime. Many of the 60s and 70s boats are no longer afloat because of poor quality of construction or material selection by the builder combined with lousy maintenance. The ones that are still around and for sale are what they are ... they are worth buying and caring for or they are not. A surveyor who knows metal boats will tell you immediately (and you will probably already know before calling for a survey) if it is worth further consideration.

With older boats, it's a matter of parentage, nature and nurture. With a new boat, it's a matter of parentage, and nurture. Good builders use good material and good construction. It is up to the owner not to waste that effort.

You will find no end of advisers who have never owned or maintained an aluminum or steel hull. They will tell you all the horror stories they heard in the bar or on the dock. Most of what you hear is total BS and a waste of your time. Go look at a lot of boats, look at them on the hard, talk to the people who own them and the people you see working on them.

Do not under any circumstance use a surveyor who has not performed many surveys of metal boats and can prove it, no matter how many 4-day ABYC courses the guy has bought. Remember, those courses are sold to teach ABYC standards and vocabulary, no prior experience or knowledge is required.
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