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What is the best aluminum repair compound?

Discussion in 'Boats and Motors' started by bkr43050, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. I have an aluminum boat that has several leaky rivets and a couple of cracks that need patched. It has had these cracks since I bought the boat but they had been patched and held fairly well for a few years. The leaks are not major but they require me to run the bilge at least a couple of times on an evening trip.

    What I would like to know is what the best material that everyone has used to repair these types of leaks? I had some Marine-Tex that had set for years and the catalyst (separate container) had leaked and dried up and thus the stuff does not seem to want to set up. I want to buy something good and give the bottom a good looking over and then paint it this fall. So let's hear what has worked for you and also what did not work.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. If you are going to go to the trouble of painting the boat do it right and have the cracks welded and replace the bad rivets with new solid rivets. Everything else is temporary at best. Nothing sticks to aluminum permanently and the flexing of the hull will loosen everything up again.

    In the past few years I've tried 3M 5200 on the rivets covered with fiberglass cloth/epoxy resin, Dev-con epoxy, Goop, JB Weld, Marine-tex, and probably some other stuff too. The best so far is the Marine-tex but even that will peel off of the surface if used to cover the rivet heads. I've replaced some of the rivets with closed end pop rivets with different sealants also. Some of these have worked and some have failed.

    My latest experiments have been replacing rivets with #10 x 1/2" stainless steel pan head machine screws with sealant and nylon lock nuts. These seem to be working for now but other people say the flexing of the hull will cause the stainless screws to wallow out the holes making the situation worse.

    If my bilge pump only ran a couple of times a trip I'd be happy as heck. Currently my automatic bilge pump kicks on every 8-10 minutes. My hull is like a screen door. Apparently my boat had a rough life before I got it and I'm pretty hard on it. I have some cracked ribs, a boatload of leaky and missing rivets, a hole in the keel, and evidence of at least one or two collisions while on the trailer. Describing it now I now wonder why I even get in it. This fall/winter I am planning on gutting it again and fixing everything right. I'm going to have the major problems welded and I'm going to replace every rivet on the bottom of the hull with the correct solid rivets.

  3. Can I get a large rivet tool and do those myself or is that too much to expect?

    The spot other than rivets is a spot where the hull had split and the prior owner had taken a small piece of aluminum and riveted it in with small rivet and then covered with what I am guessing was Marine Tex. This seemed to work fairly well but has been betting progressively worse as of late. The Marine Tex came away from the aluminum somewhat and I chose to pull off what was there and give it another coat of something. In addition to that the split in the hull has crept beyond the riveted patch.:( So now I am contemplating putting on a larger patch. I was afraid it would be worse last night than it was after I messed with it.:rolleyes: I had to run the pump several times but there was never a great deal there. I just tried to run it every time I put the boat on plane as that is the only time I can see the water under my floor.
  4. Cat Mazter

    Cat Mazter Pro Catfisherman

    This stuff works to well, After 20 Min. it is set up like steel, Can be grinded, Tap & Drilled, & Put on the Boat wet or Dry, & It will stay on forever. I have used it for many years on my boats. I too get little holes from docking in shallow waters & getting out. I have had no Big Leaks just little one's, Its well worth the $6.00 for the tube of it. Its called- Propoxy20- it comes in a Grey Tube w/ Red Cap & is a Steel reinforced/Epoxy Putty. I beleive its made by Hercules Chemical, Its a single stick that you Break off & mix up, Not messy at all, & stays on for years & years. I get mine @ a LS store here in Logan. I will Swear my word on this stuff.

    Plus you can get some Epoxy at the Auto stores that are made for sealing your Radiator on your car, Its like Steel too, Just dont dry as fast as the Propoxy20. Like I said, Id put my name on the line for this stuff, It works great when you need it. :D

    Cat Mazter
  5. freyedknot

    freyedknot useless poster

    a lot of the duckhunters are rough on their boats too,even breaking ice with the hull,causing leaks and missing rivets. their solution is the spray on bedliners for pick up trucks. if the small amount of extra weight is not a problem, try it.
  6. I am not sure what "LS" store is. I would imagine that Lowe's would carry this?
  7. How much weight does that add? And what is the cost?
  8. There is no tool so to speak to install the solid rivets like the blind pop rivets. If you are doing a bunch you need to invest in an air rivet gun with the proper rivet set, a bucking bar or BFH, and an assistant. If you are only doing a few there are tools available which you can strike with a hammer on the head of the rivet while the assistant holds a bucking bar or sledgehammer on the inside. If the original rivets are not too old and brittle you can sometimes strike them on the head with a hammer while the assistant holds a bigger hammer on the inside to tighten them up.

    If you try to cover up the split with a larger patch drill a hole in each end of the crack first. This will help prevent the crack from running farther. Sells a tool for setting rivets with a hammer. McMaster Carr sells rivets which should be cheaper than theirs though.
  9. I was just talking to a guy earlier that waid the same thing about the drilling a hole. I am wondering if they did this on the one they repaired. It is under the livewell so I can not see the inside of the repair spot.

    Because my boat is set up with a deck that means pretty much all of the rivets on mine are not accessible on the inside without considerable work. There fore I am not going to get to concerned with them until I have to replace the floor in a few years. I will just use something to cover them for now.

    A coworker suggested the Brazing Rods because he had seen a demonstration of the product at a show. They can be used by heating the aluminum to a point that will melt these rods but is sell below the danger point for the aluminum. I am not sure whether to try that route or not. For now I think I may drill a small hole in the end of the existing crack and try the Marine Tex or one of these other products.
  10. freyedknot

    freyedknot useless poster

    there is a site called the aluminum boat repair that has forums for all the repairs you may ever need . try a search for the website. not sure of the weight of the bedliner,
  11. does anybody have a favorate aluminum polish? I'm in the process of restoring the orignal shine of my camper and the back is very tarnished. I've used the finest steel wool, mother's polish, but I can't seem to do any better that what I have right now.

    Anyone have any suggestions? thanks,
  12. Has anyone ever tried a product called Gluvit? I remember twenty years ago "painting" the whole exterior of an old aluminum boat to stop a series of unseen small leaks, maybe through rivets. Would something like this work for a series of very small leaks?
  13. UFM82

    UFM82 The one others want to be

    It will embed itself in the aluminum and give you really ugly little rust spots. Been there, done that. ( In my young and foolish days.) Mother's, a buffer with some power and a lot of physical labor is the only way to do it. It's hard work but it's well worth it. I brought a 1969 Cadillac aluminum Deep-V back to life in the late 90's with about 9 tubs of Mother's and an entire weekend of scrubbing and rubbing. You could see yourself in the mirror when we got done. It cost me about $50 in polish and one 3/8" drill that we burned up running a buff pad. If I was to do it again now, I would use my 6 speed buffer that has the arse to turn a big pad.

    I've type this rivet repair a few times and don't want to go to extremes again so here it is in a nutshell. Go to an industrial fastener house and ask for a 3/16" aluminum closed end pop rivet with a stainless steel mandrel. get them with a 1/4" grip length. Buy a Marson heavy duty rivet gun and a #11 drill bit. Now you are set to replace rivets. This is a semi-permanent fix but works very well when you have no access to the inside of the boat.

    Drill out the leaky/damaged/ruined rivet. being very careful to NOT drill into the hull. Just drill off the head and it will pop off before you get into the hull. Then, take the #11 drill bit and drill youir hole. This will make the hole round and clean for the new rivet. It should give you an tap fit- that is, you may have to tap the rivet in to seat it. Draw it down with the rivet gun and it will expand in the hole to seal it and it will pull the two sheets of aluminum together at the same time. The mandrel will "pop" and your hand will smart for a second but it is a very strong fix. Do about 50 of these at a time and you'll get Popeye forearms! It's tough to pop that SS mandrel but it adds strength. The first 14 footer that I customized and the 16' SeaNymph I sold a few years ago both had some of these rivets in them and they never gave me a problem. The little 14 footer had over 100 of them, most below the waterline. Never had an issue with either one. I don't know if Ken has tried that or not but it will work if the hole isn't already screwed up real bad. Of course, there is always a metal shop somewhere with a TIG that can patch her up for a fee.

    Good luck.

  14. Thanks for all of the help guys! I will try to take some before and after photos of whatever I do so that I can either provide some help to others or provide a good laugh at how much I screwed up.:D

    I will browse the aluminum boat repair site a bit as well and develop a good game plan before starting in.