14' Aluminum boat 1953 Commander we think. DIY Strip down & repair

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Scott Redington, Jul 6, 2021.

  1. Scott Redington
    Joined: Jul 2021
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    Location: Tennessee

    Scott Redington New Member

    We traded in some Kayaks for this Aluminum boat. It appears like hundreds of rivets have very old sealant thats cracking all over and looks like cracked clay. Very small patches of paint remains at all.
    #1 can I just attach a cone wire brush to a drill and strip off the old sealant. I plan on using a torch with aluminum rods to re-seal any lose rivets. To remove the rest of the paint or rust I was planing on just using a larger drill attachment wire like brush. I don't have access to sand blaster unless I have to rent one. That would cost me about $400. Suggestions? Then I will eventually wipe it down with a cleaner like acetone or something and plan on using marine grade sealant/paint. Is this a good plan?

    #2 Near the bow at some point the boat hit something at speed and a small buckle is noted on floor midline. No sharp angles or leaks but I want to attempt flattening this out (possibly area of 6-8" by 10"). Should I heat the aluminum a bit and then pound it out with a small wooden block and hammer? Or rubber mallet? Do I need to reinforce this area afterwards?

    #3 The Transom wood is rotted and will need rebuild. I'll look up Utube videos on how to do this properly. However, if someone has good advice or can point me in the right direction it would be appreciated.

    #4 I would like to gently tow x1 tube behind this boat on occasion. Not sure how much HP on an engine I will need. I'm on a budget due to early retirement post covid19 complications to keep it simple. I'm looking for occasional fun towing 150 pounds or less. Might consider 225 lbs. On rare occasion. Suggestions?
     
  2. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Colorado

    Blueknarr Senior Member

    Welcome to the group

    Walk or run away!
    This is not a beginner project!
    Get your kayaks back!


    If you insist on working on this project-
    Buy rivets do not try to make your own.
    Do not sand wire brush or sandblast the aluminum. It should have an annealed surface that is preventing its corrosion.

    Replacement of plywood transom is straight forward.
    Consider having it sprayed with bedliner.

    Pounding out the dent with a rubber mallet is possible.

    Whatever you do, it will probably go to the metal recycling within five years.

    Best of luck
     
  3. Scott Redington
    Joined: Jul 2021
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    Location: Tennessee

    Scott Redington New Member

    Appreciate your reply. Wish I could have kept the kayaks but my recent disability prevents that much exertion.

    I need to get down to the rivets and remove the old sealant to do this project. Ideas on how to do this without small cone wire brush?

    Then I gather its better to replace any lose rivets rather than melting aluminum rods.

    Not sure what to do about patches of old paint. Paint stripper? Was hoping to avoid that. I would think the new paint job would protect the aluminum scouring from sanding, sand blaster, or wire brush. But how should I prep the boat for new paint? Can I just wipe it clean as possible then just paint over it?
     
  4. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Colorado

    Blueknarr Senior Member

    Drill out rivets.
    Slice off sealant with a razor blade.


    Have any of the seams started to leak?
     
  5. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    Rivets should not have needed any sealer. If sealer was used in the original build it would have been between the mating surfaces of sheet metal. It may be possible to tighten the rivets. That depends on whether the rivets themselves have age hardened. You can get a suitable air hammer cheap from sources like Harbor freight. You will need a "bucking block" and a helper to hold the block against the inner stem of the rivet. Standard riveting technique. Check out You Tube for instructions. If the rivets fail to tighten the joint or if they tend to break, then get new rivets and install as needed.

    Consider filling the boat with water a few inches deep. Now observe whether there are leaks in the mating surfaces. If not then you are good to go. If so, consider tightening the rivets or install new ones, . Test for leaks again. If all that fails, you can have the faulty areas welded by a good aluminum welder who is familiar with the problem.

    If the boat has a small dent in the bottom....ignore it. If you can control the possible leaks do so. Use a good (expensive) paint to seal the job.

    You have not told us about the size and weight of the boat and its contents including driver and passengers. . That plays into the assessment for sufficient power to plane the boat and pull the tubes.
     
  6. Scott Redington
    Joined: Jul 2021
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    Location: Tennessee

    Scott Redington New Member


    There is unfortunately a seam where the transom meets the deck in the bottom staboard corner that has a slow leak. Someone in the past tried to seal this up with something on the outside of the boat. This might need an aluminum patch or I will have to remove/clean up the prior attempt and repair the this corner with something.
     
  7. Scott Redington
    Joined: Jul 2021
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    Location: Tennessee

    Scott Redington New Member

    My best guess on the boat weight is 200 lbs. It has x3 aluminum benches and nothing else. Add passenger weight of x4 people approx. 700 lbs. Adding gear and tackle another 50 pounds. One of those passengers will be towed. So an estimate of close to 1,000 pounds before adding a motor and gasoline weight.
     

  8. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    Two hundred pounds sounds like a 14 or 15 foot boat. The estimate of total weight is not encouraging.. That is a small boat for that many people, especially if you intend to tow a tube or skier. The bottom line is that you are going to need a lot of horsepower to drive the boat at a speed that will make tubing fun. A lot of HP means more weight..............which demands more power for planing performance.

    If you are alone in the boat, and have not loaded it with a lot of gear, you could pull a tube with perhaps 25 or 30 HP outboard. Weight is a determining factor. Cost too is a consideration for many people. If you have to go to a 50 to 75 HP engine you are talking serious money and also a lot more weight and fuel consumption. Then there is the matter of safety. An overloaded boat is not a safe boat. Can you rethink this a bit, not so many passengers, so as to minimize the requirement for big power?
     
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