How to inspect an aluminum hull.

Discussion in 'Boating & Boat Maintenance' started by Everydog, Jan 19, 2021.

  1. Everydog

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    I am looking at small aluminum boats. Some are pretty old but none are new. The main thing I don't want to screw up is getting a soft hull from electrolysis or galvanization or whatever.

    How old is probably just too old? I know aluminum bike frames age.

    I am open to a fixer or a turnkey , or something in between, but a promising motor or none, and I buy my own, and this hull issue out of the way would be great. Any tips to guarantee a solid hull? I guess I am only looking at welded hulls, but not sure I should omit riveted boats? Maybe it's more of a brand thing.

    I see some of the boats have been recently painted inside and some are built up enough with benches and lockers and such, so that it would be hard to inspect. A little bondo and some paint could probably hide a lot.

    One thought I have is to go inland, or to another state to get a boat that hasn't seen salt, but I know they can go bad from current running through the hull or bad fastener choices and whatnot.
     
  2. dmorgan3

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    Aluminum bike frames do not age, they fatigue from use. A bike frame that sits in a garage without being used is just fine.

    Any stress marks in the metal indicate fatigue. Aluminum fatigue does not lend itself to repair.

    A boat that has only been used in freshwater is not going to have much corrosion. Fasteners should be aluminum rivets. If steel (or any metal besides aluminum) fasteners or other pieces were ever used where they contact saltwater and the hull, that will promote galvanic corrosion of the aluminum.

    A magnesium anode can be used to prevent corrosion in saltwater, like SIERRA Magnesium Transom Plate Anode | West Marine . Your hot water heater at home should have an magnesium anode (replace as it gets eaten up).

    Saltwater corrosion will generally be indicated by pitting.
     
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  3. William Ritchie

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    16086A7C-3489-4861-A1A3-2131932BFA6C.jpeg There are quite a few aluminum boats that have been used for travel IE Baja , Gulf coast Etc . Look at how the boat sits on the trailer the way it is bunked will tell you allot . Aluminum boats are designed to take load from the outside not the inside such as loading full of camping gear coolers etc for the trip It will show as stress in the bottom and even the Gunwales at times . As others have said Aluminum or stainless fasteners only . If you go to a fresh water area to purchase a boat , check with the water authority in the area to see if the lakes have been treated with copper based weed control . Most manufacturers recommend painting the exterior of the boat in those waters due to galvanic reactions . As mentioned look for pitting . Also beware of any deterioration of the wood in the transom , very difficult to replace on most . My current Aluminum boat was an inspectors nightmare lots of nooks and crannies . WR
     
    #3 William Ritchie, Jan 20, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
  4. Everydog

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    Some things I would not have thought about in those posts.


    Two main questions I would directly like to clear up:

    Can an aluminum boat be too old even if it looks o.k.?

    Riveted boats O.K. if so, what are a few brands and model years that stand out?


    That boat looks really well built to me, William, like it has a lot more ribs and serious workmanship for strength compared to a lot of them. What is the make? Also , who is the inspector you referenced, you? Or some marine inspector of some class?



    If I want to show particular boat adds, offer up , craigslist etc, , would it be better to post them here, or ask for help through PM'S if I can find willing sdfishers? Right now I am not afraid of selling a boat out from under me because I know it's too soon, due to my ignorance or boats and the used market, to pull the trigger.
     
  5. William Ritchie

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    The boat in the photo is a Western wide 17.5' x 7'10" It is from 1986 . I was the inspector it needed the wood / vinyl floor replaced and I did a few welding repairs in the process , also a full prime and paint inside . Age really should not matter unless it was neglected . Most flaws will show themselves particularly in a smaller less complicated boat . Having a marine surveyor look at might be and option ,but can be costly . As far as riveted boats Lund and Crestliner come to mind . Oddly enough the boat in the photo is welded everywhere including all of the bottom , But has a riveted Ibeam type keel on the exterior centerline . Not problems thus far . And you are correct I don't believe they put them together like the Westerns . Valco and Klamath absorbed Western a few years back . Before this boat I had a Gregor M-72 for 20 years without problems as well . WR
     
  6. Everydog

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    Thanks William,

    Maybe the big build on the ribs matters more because it's a wide? I am not used to seeing that kind of construction in even the valcos, klammaths.

    How much does your boat and boat and trailer weigh. I figure I am looking at something 16' or less and lighter with a 2 wheel drive 6 cylinder or a the 4cylinder subaru, unless I want to get a truck too.
     
  7. William Ritchie

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    In the smaller boats I have to say the Gregor / Delta boats particularly the M-51 , 15 foot Baja Special or the M -72 same build but 17' are robust boats and have a good reputation for longevity . There are a buch of Lunds that are out there and they have a good rep as well . Good luck in your search you will find a good one in someones garage . WR
     
  8. William Ritchie

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    Not sure of the exact weight , it is quite a bit heavier than the Gregor mentioned it did tow well with my Jeep Cherokee when I had it and tows well with a 6 cylinder 017 Tacoma I now have . It is on a pretty heavy Pacific galvanized trailer which weighs a bit more as well . 40 HP Merc 2 stroke pushes it pretty good on the water . WR
     
  9. BassHound

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    I have a 2009 tracker pro 16.
    Currently needs a new motor.
    Hit me up if you are interested
     
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