why aluminum boats sell better than fiberglass boats ?

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by hyboats, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. hyboats
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    hyboats Junior Member

    In last months I visited many factories, some aluminum boat factories are very very busy, but fiberglass factory looks not so good. And my customer from New Zealand even said "now in the market 95% are aluminum boats"
    Who know the exact reason ?

    Many customers just said they need a lighter weight boat, easy to handle.
     
  2. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    What size are you speaking of ?
     
  3. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    My guess is that it is related to the fact that aluminium designs are more suitable for customization according to client's needs. The modifications to the hull, superstructure or deck layout are fairly easy and inexpensive to accomplish. No need to remake the molds, just cut and weld job. Same for mid-life upgrades and modifications, a very important issue for professional users.

    To be honest, this news makes me quite happy, since our seas are dying of litter (mostly plastics). And grp boats are just more plastics afloat, on the bottom or at the landfills, once their service life comes to the end.
    Just my two cents worth.

    Cheers
     
  4. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    Aluminum recycles. Other than cutting off usable fiberglass parts from boneyard wrecks, as I'm doing to modify my GRP boats, is there any recycle tech for fiberglass?
    Can't dissolve it in some solvent? Chop it up and remold as building material?
     
  5. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Population demopgraphics are changing which means that vessel need and use is changing.

    The vast majority of boats manufactured and offered are open outboard driven motorboats between 16-30 feet. For the younger population that generally means high speed, ski, and wakeboard types; for the older population it is more about getting out on the water, slower, not pounding; so fishing and pontoon types. Also the older population wants something they can handle easier so this points to lighter, and the younger population wants a lower cost entry vessel which may tend to drive them to jetskis and seabikes.

    Realisticly, a simple 4 or 6 panel aluminum skiff will be slightly lighter and less maintainence than a comparable fiberglass vessel (especially true if the glass boat has a liner... flip side is the glass boat can be made unsinkable so not all apples to apples). While fiberglass was much less mainteainence than wood, there is still a lot of yearly work to keep the hull and deck clean and waxed. On the other hand, modern marine aluminum will get by for years as a trailer boat if all you do is keep it washed down after use in salt. The lighter part is important because, face it, cars are getting smaller and more costly. Having to by a 3500 diesel dualie to handle a 7k lb 26' Bayliner Discovery compared to ~2200 lbs for an Alumaweld Columbia 25 or a 25-27' Tolman type stitch&glue.
     
  6. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    My guess is cost, weight and perceptions about durability and required maintenance are key factors driving the shift to aluminum boats.

    From a 2012 article: http://www.tradeonlytoday.com/2012/05/analysis-shows-aluminum-boats-leading-a-recovery/
    “What is interesting is that until about 2007 new-boat sales followed a similar pattern, with fiberglass accounting for between 55 percent and 60 percent of annual powerboat sales,” Ellis told Soundings Trade Only. “As the market began to slowly recover, aluminum boats quickly took over the top spot. By calendar year 2011, 58 percent of all powerboat purchases were aluminum.”​
     
  7. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Dont forget, the old ( maybe not in modern yachts ) spectre of osmosis still gets a lot of stick - especially from insurance companies. I was told by a broker that a trailer sailer with an antifouling bottom depreciated by a third on the market. At least with aluminium, you can see what you are buying on resale.

    Also, aluminium us much easier to restore to a decent surface. How many threads have there been about how to make old glass hulls presentable, and usually an expensive paint job is suggested as the best way.

    Gelcoat is quite tough, but it discolours and looks bad easily. I remember mooring up against the side of an old truck tyre one afternoon, and the black from rubbing up and down could never be totally removed after that. I was parked besides a guy that had built his glass boat 10 years before, and he pointed out discoloured spots that he had tried everything to make presentable, with no success.

    Since good paint jobs on boats that need them, often cost more than half the price of a new hull, a non painted surface gets a lot of points for low maintenance and easily assessable structural inspection.
     
  8. hyboats
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    hyboats Junior Member

    I think mainly for length lower than 30ft
     
  9. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Nothing much over 5 metres in alloy isn't painted these days. I would favour not painting externally, but painting internally, to keep the glare of shiny metal down, and to have hidden nooks and crannies where some dis-similar metal objects might lodge and cause galvanic corrosion, less of a concern.
     
  10. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    OK, well, that covers a lot of territory, and includes the vast majority of sales. I think there will remain a solid market for the better glass hulls that are extremely difficult to replicate in alloy.
     
  11. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    Thankyou aluminum boats. A gentleman I met a bit over two years ago, had a collection of half a dozen or so aluminum boats about 25 ft long. He was running out of space to collect more. He had one odd ball boat, odd that is, amongst HIS fleet.
    He had a fiberglass Albin 25. He offered it to me free if I'd haul it away. That's how I acquired my 2nd Albin. I publicly thank him again. And thankyou aluminum boats. :)
     
  12. ondarvr
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    ondarvr Senior Member

    I have aluminum and glass boats, they each have their place.

    It is much more difficult to set up a shop to build fiberglass boats (glass anything), plus the equipment is expensive and needs a good deal of maintenance. During the downturn the glass shops needed higher volumes to stay afloat, so many went under. For them to start up again was almost impossible because of newer more stringent emission regulations and regulators not wanting any kind of manufacturing that uses chemicals in their region. These accounts had been grandfathered in in the locations they had been fabricating for decades, starting back up proved almost impossible.

    Also if they didn't take care of the molds they may have needed to be replace, this was another very costly step.

    It didn't help that for decades there were low end starter boats being built out of glass that really didn't hold up well, these boats gave the industry a black eye from the consumers point of view from all the rotten wood and poor designs.

    When things started to get better, or somebody just decided they needed a new boat their priorities had changed, "sexy" and high performance took a backseat to lower upfront price and lower cost while in use.


    You can build aluminum boats in about any industrial park with little hassle, and with no tooling to store or replace you could start up quickly and at a much lower cost.
    These boats last many years neglected in the backyard and don't need much more than a good pressure washing to get back on the water.

    There is a problem with corrosion though, when used in the salt some aluminum boats don't last all that long, but other may last for decades, I have two from the 60's that are still being used, these boats spent their lives exposed on the beach the whole time. But I see boats that are only a couple years old with crevice corrosion that can eventually turn the boat into scrap.
     
  13. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Not all glass boats come from polished female moulds - eg framed/cored hulls and male moulded glass hulls.
     
  14. yellow cat
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    yellow cat Junior Member

    We see alot of pontoons boats. They pretty much equal in numbers the standard fg runabouts . They are mostly in aluminum. But the increasingly popular wakesurf boats are mostly in plastic. I have not seen yet a beach cat in aluminum . We are aluminum paradise, this is good news.
     

  15. ondarvr
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    ondarvr Senior Member

    This is such a small market segment that it doesn't even get discussed.

    The manufactures that are hurting are the ones that at one time were building 10 to 30 boats per day and did this at several plants around North America. There was a huge decline in these segments, some companies went from 7 plants doing well, to one or two that aren't operating anywhere near capacity.

    The companies that were building 1-7 a week took a huge hit too.


    Without looking at the total number of glass hulls being sold now compared to what had been built prior to the downturn, and comparing the same numbers for aluminum, I'm not sure if there was such a huge increase in aluminum, or if a big part of the change was due to just so many fewer glass hulls being built.

    Pontoon boat sales have increased a great deal, and these are mostly aluminum.
     
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