Aluminum vs. Fiberglass Hull

Discussion in 'Materials' started by bucketlist, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. bucketlist
    Joined: Nov 2020
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    Location: London Ontario

    bucketlist Junior Member

    The Ranger Tug is scheduled for repair for May/June with a repair from the inside and outside ( access by cutting access in floor ). I am still actively pursuing the the repair costs from the dealer and plant. After this is done and said, I don't think I will own a fiberglass boat again. Once LEMON - AID is repaired, I have a Brand Awareness Circuit by water ( hope for no more hull problems ) and then boat will be sold . Thanks, maybe see some of you on the Great Lakes this summer. Dave Cook
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  2. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Please do keep us updated re the repair progress of the Ranger Tug.
    Will the repair work be carried out under warranty, or will you have to pay for it?

    I appreciate that you have had a bad experience here, but please don't let this put you off fibreglass boats in future - there are literally millions of very good fibreglass boats out there.
    And your choice of a boat is much reduced if you ban them from your list, and just look for aluminium boats instead.
    Be aware that aluminium boats can also have their own unique problems - no material is perfect.
  3. bucketlist
    Joined: Nov 2020
    Posts: 31
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    Location: London Ontario

    bucketlist Junior Member

    No Warranty , not transferable to second owner ( even though it was noted it was leaking water when freight company picked boat up ) . The Ranger Tug dealer that sold it to me ( and was mopping up the V birth on shipping day ) said that papers where signed the week before , and in fine print ''as-is '' . It seems I will have to pay for the repair , unless things change . 25 hours on the boat .....
  4. Mr Efficiency
    Joined: Oct 2010
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    Location: Australia

    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    You assume the problem was an inherent deficiency in GRP, it sounded more to me like a possible "accident" that damaged the boat. Everything has its limitations, and weaknesses, and has to be treated accordingly. Steel can withstand tremendous abuse, but has other shortcomings, the main one being its desire to return to its oxidised state. There is no "perfect" material for small boats.
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  5. comfisherman
    Joined: Apr 2009
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    Location: Alaska

    comfisherman Junior Member

    To throw fiberglass out from one poorly constructed situation seems a bit harsh, even in the insanity of modern society.

    I'm in my mid 30s now, have owned or been a partner in boats built from fiberglass, steel, and aluminum all from good names in the west coast boat building. All had unique features and faults even when designed and maintained to a healthy level. Owned a steel boat 16 year.... sold the boat on Tuesday and the sandblasted on Friday and no regrets. Owned a big aluminum boat 11 years that was 20 years old when purchased and 31 when sold. It probably had the most costly repairs due to electrolysis. It wasn't isolated, made some good money cutting out bad spots in aluminum boats when the wife was in grad school.

    Only owned 2x glass boats, both much older than the first two, both have required much less maintenance than the other materials. Its wretched to work with and heavier, but when the time came to make my first personal brand new boat, glass was the clear winner.

    Given a different use pattern or situation, I'd use another material. But won't rule one out just because of a single bad instance.
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  6. Mr Efficiency
    Joined: Oct 2010
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    Location: Australia

    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Glass does have tremendous advantages, most problems with GRP boats are related to other materials that are "married" with it, wood and ply mostly, that are not as durable, practically speaking.
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  7. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    Location: Monroe WA

    ondarvr Senior Member

    I've seen problems with every material.

    Aluminum eventually fatigues and starts cracking, it can be welded, but then the welds become the problem.

    Steel can rust away in unseen areas and become paper thin or leak, so you end up cutting out large sections and replacing them.

    This hull failure wasn't a common one, and the repaired hull will be fine.
  8. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: New York

    missinginaction Senior Member

    What a horrible story. It's unfortunate that someone, somewhere along the supply chain didn't show some honor and say "Stop, we have a problem here."

    As for the fiberglass issue. Most of you know I restored an old GRP boat that is now 48 years old. Solid glass hull, everything else wood, composites, aluminum and stainless. Stringers in some spots were an issue. But the hull itself is still 100% trouble free. There aren't even any cracks in that old gelcoat. Silverton was not considered a top of the line builder in 1973. Nevertheless, this boat will carry me around for as long as I need her to.

    As has been said, it's not the raw materials as much as the execution.

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  9. Bullshipper
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: Mexico

    Bullshipper Bullshipper

    Aluminum materials are 2-3 x more expensive than Poly resin and glass. They also suffer a larger % of drop, or scrap factor.
    Aluminum hulls are rarely de stressed and even if you do sequence welding, the heat pulls at their unions more than other alloys and a lot more than a laminated joint. Aluminum work stressed with fewer cycles than FRP. Weld and rivet problems are items you do not have to deal with with fiberglass.
    An aluminum hull out of water will be very hot to the touch in the sun. They also require constant attention to their zincs to lessen corrosion and pitting.
    Compound shapes are also harder to produce so you tend to end up with a slab side as opposed to a bow with a Carolina Flare with to me is more appealing to the eye.
    Grinding welds to paint to me is a problem so edges will not be smooth and the drumming water noise has already been mentioned.
    An aluminum hull will show less cosmetic damage when dragged over round river rock but will not slide as easily on a sandy beach.

    These are the cons of Al. That said, it has its pluses.
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