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Old 10-09-2013, 12:42 PM   #1
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Aluminum Boat?

I have put an offer on an ex-workboat that is entirely aluminum. She has a single Cummins and I will post a photo when the sale is complete.

I am interested in talking to others who have aluminum boats and who might provide some insight into what my future holds. I know there will be no more varnishing nor teak deck seams and bungs nor canvas and I might have to learn to weld, but what pearls of wisdom are out there? She needs a good scrub and some of the lines need replacing but so far she will probably be good to go for a few months as I get to know her and prioritize the transition to "my boat."
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Old 10-09-2013, 04:11 PM   #2
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Congrats! Metal boats can be cold inside- the hull sheds heat pretty rapidly.
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Old 10-09-2013, 04:51 PM   #3
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Pennies in the bilge are the scariest thing about them.

Lots of aluminum boats in BC. Make a lot of sense if constructed well.
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Old 10-09-2013, 05:39 PM   #4
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Pennies in the bilge are the scariest thing about them.
Or a broken mercury thermometer.
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:50 PM   #5
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You definitely want to do some research...aluminum and steel hulls are in a separate world from what most private yacht owners understand...even the experienced ones. You will most likely have to do your research in the commercial world. Something as simple as using the wrong paint on your hull can have disastrous results. Not trying to scare you though. Aluminum boats are great in my opinion. I have one.

Look at the Capaq active anode system. Its not a "must have", but its definitely better than using plain "zincs" if you can afford it. If not, make sure you are well protected by the correct type of "zincs". Zinc tends to be used generically but it is really anodes you are looking for, and in many cases the correct ones are aluminum...preferably with a trace of iridium.

If you can, locate a steel/aluminum boat expert if you can and bend his ear with a case or two of his favorite poison. In my case I found one in VA, and he had often offered his advice to the Chris Craft Constellation folks online. That's how I found him. Corrosion IS the main thing in my opinion to be concerned about on these boats. So better to understand what you are buying as opposed to finding out as time goes by.

And yes....keep pennies OFF your boat. When doing wiring be careful where the clipped ends of wire go.

Hope all goes well with the purchase!
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:08 PM   #6
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Xsbanks live in the PNW; a place where aluminum boats are fairly common. I have to walk by at least 5 of them just on my dock alone. I would guess there are at least 40 aluminum boats in our harbour from 28 to 60 ft. He'll have no problem finding expertise.
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:14 PM   #7
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Lots of aluminum boats in BC. Make a lot of sense if constructed well.
At Whalers Cove Lodge in S.E. Alaska, that's all they have and they have been running them for years.
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Old 10-31-2013, 08:08 PM   #8
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Old School is 20 years old this year, all aluminum top to bottom. No problems to date; best part is no issue w/ rubbing against pilings when docking. She also likes the taste of fiberglass when rafting next to one of those kind of boats.
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Old 10-31-2013, 08:30 PM   #9
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I don't know any more about aluminum boats than I do about any other material. I'm just trying to learn enough so that in a few years I don't make an expensive mistake.

Having said that, I had an Army buddy that once told me:

Quote:
When they say you can't weld aluminum they mean that YOU can't weld aluminum. I CAN.
His point to me was that welding aluminum was something that a lot of people THINK they can do, but it ain't that simple. Apparently, aluminum is fussy about a LOT of things.

I took his word for it because he's a highly experienced fabricator and a real artist in Arc, Mig, Tig & Gas.



I mention all this because if you find you need to do any aluminum welding on your hull, you may wish to give serious consideration to locating a genuine skilled welder/fabricator.
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Old 11-01-2013, 01:18 AM   #10
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Xsbanks live in the PNW; a place where aluminum boats are fairly common. I have to walk by at least 5 of them just on my dock alone. I would guess there are at least 40 aluminum boats in our harbour from 28 to 60 ft. He'll have no problem finding expertise.

There were problem boats built here in the 70s and 80s while the builders were figuring things out. (Experience coming from mistakes, and all that.) They seem to have disappeared though, I suspect having found a higher purpose in life as recycled beer can stock. Bad alloy or poor welds are pretty obvious when you see them.

The oldest aluminum boat in our fleet at work is coming up on 40 years old. Haven't seen the Gwaii Hanas up close; from the pictures she looks pretty good. Wouldn't surprise me if she eventually makes 40 too with no major issues.

Keep an eye on the area around the bilge pickup shoes. Depending on their design sometimes vibration and junk in the bilge can cause local issues in this area.

Aluminum boat operators tend to be a bit anal about cleaning up after any metal work, wire stripping, a guests' wallets spilling, whatever. It might just be superstition with modern alloys, but there's still those stories about what a penny will do in the bilge.
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:50 AM   #11
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This boat seems to entirely coated with a hard foam - you have to cut it off with a knife to see metal, so there is no contact with the hull. Through-hulls are all welded aluminum too. Shaft is stainless, haven't seen the wheel yet.
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Old 11-02-2013, 01:29 PM   #12
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That foam is a standard construction feature for anything with a cabin around here. It's why I smile at the suggestion that aluminum boats are cold and sweat in this climate.

Keep an eye on the zincs. Some harbours have a reputation for being hot and zincs may have to be replaced more often than other locations. I work out of one of these harbours and there doesn't seem to be any issues as long as you keep on top of them.

I wouldn't worry if you have a bronze prop. Next time I'm in the pub with a bunch of aluminum fishing boat skippers I'm going to ask them about stainless steel props. I can't remember seeing many on anything other than outboards.
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Old 11-02-2013, 04:05 PM   #13
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Great, guys! There seems to be a lot of apprehension for aluminum boats out there so the more information I can find the better. Just think, no canvas covers, winter covers, teak decks, wood windows, varnish, boat houses... Oh yum!
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Old 11-03-2013, 09:16 AM   #14
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>Just think, no canvas covers, winter covers, teak decks, wood windows, varnish, boat houses... Oh yum!<

Same deal with a well done GRP boat , with out the worries about the wiring on a boat 10 slips away.
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Old 11-03-2013, 11:29 PM   #15
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I don't have an aluminum boat but i sure see lots of them. Coastal crafts abound. There are also lots of raw aluminum commercial boats in the area and up the coast and there are more aluminum boats here than one realizes and darn big and expensive ones. Just for laughs look up a boat called High Pockets.

As long as they are maintained they will last. Faulty electrical is likely the one big problem but then that can do in any boat.

Since the boat you are looking at is raw aluminum as long as the electrical is good then there shouldn't be a problem and you should have a relatively mtce free vessel.
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Old 11-04-2013, 06:11 AM   #16
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Faulty electrical is likely the one big problem but then that can do in any boat.


Poor electric or a part failure may melt off underwater parts on a plastic boat , but not eat the hull.
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Old 11-04-2013, 10:10 AM   #17
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For the obvious reasons ther'e crazy for aluminum boats in Alaska. Basically they won't consider a new boat made of anything else.

I've never cared for them as 98% of them are slab sided aluminum boxes barely pointy in the bow like the examples Walt posted. Most look like thev'e been designed by welders and a new metal garbage can is comparatively beautiful.

Ther'e ARE beautiful aluminum boats ... most all of them are painted. We have a member w such a boat that is even beautiful w/o paint.

I can readily see why one would want an aluminum boat but I have trouble thinking I'd LIKE one.

They should be lighter than plastic boats and that should be a very good reason choosing an aluminum boat. I have a big 16' AL skiff that weighs 400lbs and a plastic one could weigh twice as much. Aluminum is not a stiff material so it's weak as a flat surface so the AL boat needs to be heavier to get the required stiffness but still probably not comparable to plywood. But easy to build aluminum boats have a lot of flat surfaces so that's generally what you see.

My AL boat IS painted. Buff topsides w black bottom and Crestliner painted the insides w a soft almost rubbery coating. Second pic is of someone else's boat.
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Old 11-05-2013, 06:41 AM   #18
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>That foam is a standard construction feature for anything with a cabin around here. It's why I smile at the suggestion that aluminum boats are cold and sweat in this climate. <

Pry out a sliver and see how well it burns .
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Old 11-05-2013, 11:33 AM   #19
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It burns just fine. 2 automatic and remote-operated engine room extinguishers that discharge in unoccupied space under the galley floor and the e.r. A fire pump and fire hose, which will also be useful for jet skiis and morons waking anchorages. Might even be useful as a bow thruster. Fire axes. A dinghy to run away in.
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