Aluminum boats are a popular choice for many boaters, as they can last for many years with proper care and maintenance. These boats are built to withstand the harsh elements of weather, making them well-suited for both recreational and commercial use. Typically these boats should last well above 40 years under normal conditions, with some lasting even longer.
However, despite their durability, aluminum boats may develop pinhole cracks and dents over time. This is due to the phenomenon of galvanic corrosion, which occurs when two different metals come into contact with each other in an electrolyte solution (such as saltwater). To prevent damage to your aluminum boat, it is important to address these issues promptly and ensure that they are properly repaired or replaced.
Despite these potential issues, aluminum boats are still a popular choice for boaters thanks to their durability and versatility. Whether you’re looking for a recreational vessel or something that can be used commercially, an aluminum boat is sure to meet all of your needs and provide many years of enjoyment on the water.
How Good Are Aluminum Boats?
Typically made out of Magnesium alloys or a combination of magnesium and aluminum, modern aluminum boats are designed to take on all sorts of rough weather. One of the reasons why aluminum boats are so popular is that they don’t rust like other types of boat materials. This is due to the fact that aluminum contains a natural oxide film that protects it from rust and corrosion.
Aluminum boats are also much lighter than other types of boats, making them easier to maneuver and transport. Additionally, they are often cheaper to maintain and operate than other types of boats, as they require less fuel and have lower insurance rates.
Aluminum boat manufacturing has come a long way in recent years, and today’s aluminum boats are stronger and more durable than ever before. With proper care and maintenance, your aluminum boat can provide many years of enjoyment on the water.
Let us now look into some factors that affect the lifespan of an aluminum boat:
The hull is the most important part of any boat as it keeps the rest of the vessel afloat. The thicker the hull, the longer it will last. Most aluminum boats have a hull thickness of about 1/4 to 1/8 mm. The engine bracket aft plate should be around 3/8 mm. Some boat manufacturers cut corners by using a thinner hull. Doing so saves the company money, but it ultimately reduces the lifespan of the boat.
The next factor that contributes to the lifespan of an aluminum boat is the tensile strength of the alloy. The higher the tensile strength, the longer the boat will last. The most common alloys used in aluminum boat construction are 5083 and 5086. These alloys have high tensile strength and are resistant to corrosion.
Stress cracks can be reduced by using the correct alloy for the job. For example, 5083 is often used for boat hulls because it has a higher yield strength than 5086. Yield strength is the amount of force required to permanently deform a material.
Boat builders also use alloys with lower yield strength for areas that don’t need to be as strong, such as the engine bracket aft plate.
Aluminum boats that are made with higher-quality alloys and thicker hulls will last longer than those that are made with cheaper materials.
Bottom Width and Depth
Another important factor that contributes to the longevity of an aluminum boat is its bottom width and depth. A boat with a wider and deeper bottom will last longer than a boat with a narrower bottom.
Wider and deeper bottoms provide more stability and resistance to waves and rough waters. They also allow the boat to displace more water, which helps to prevent the hull from hitting the bottom of the water body.
The bottom width and depth also affect the speed and fuel efficiency of the boat. Wider and deeper bottoms create more drag and resistance, which can slow the boat down. However, they also help the boat to glide through the water with less effort, which can save fuel.
The bottom width and depth are important factors to consider when choosing an aluminum boat. A wider and deeper bottom will provide more stability and resistance to waves and rough waters. It will also allow the boat to displace more water, which helps to prevent the hull from hitting the bottom of the water body.
Another factor that affects the lifespan of an aluminum boat is the quality of the welds. Poorly done welds can lead to stress cracks and leaks.
Boat builders use different welding techniques to join the aluminum sheets together. The most common welding technique is TIG welding. TIG welders use a tungsten electrode to create an arc between the aluminum sheets. The heat from the arc melts the aluminum, which joins the sheets together.
Improper welding can lead to stress cracks and leaks. In addition, poorly done welds can affect the strength and durability of the boat.
Boat builders should use high-quality materials and proper welding techniques to ensure that the boat is durable and long-lasting.
Anodizing is a process that protects the aluminum from corrosion. Anodized aluminum is more resistant to salt water and humidity than non-anodized aluminum.
Using sacrificial anodes prolongs the lifespan of an aluminum boat. Sacrificial anodes are made of a more active metal, such as zinc or magnesium. These metals corrode before the aluminum does, which protects the aluminum from corrosion.
Powder coating is another method of protecting aluminum from corrosion. Powder coating is a process in which a powder is applied to the aluminum and then cured under heat. The powder adheres to the aluminum and creates a barrier that protects it from corrosion.
Anodizing and powder coating are two methods of protecting aluminum from corrosion. These processes prolong the lifespan of an aluminum boat by protecting it from the elements.
Making quick repairs to an aluminum boat can prolong its lifespan. Small cracks and holes can be patched with epoxy or marine putty. These materials will fill the hole and prevent water from leaking into the boat.
It’s also important to regularly inspect the boat for any damage. If any damage is found, it should be repaired as soon as possible. Allowing damage to sit can cause the boat to deteriorate further.
Small welding works can also be done to repair cracks and holes. If the damage is too great, the boat should be taken to a professional welder.
Making quick repairs to an aluminum boat can increase its lifespan. Keeping an eye on the boat for any damage and repairing it promptly will prevent the boat from deteriorating further.
Regular maintenance is essential to prolonging the lifespan of an aluminum boat. The boat should be cleaned after every use to prevent saltwater and dirt from corroding the hull.
The boat’s bottom should be cleaned with a brush to remove any growth that could be attached. The boat should also be waxed to create a barrier against saltwater and dirt.
It’s important to inspect the boat regularly for any damage. If any cracks or holes are found, they should be repaired as soon as possible. Keeping a log for all repairs will help to keep track of the boat’s condition.
An aluminum boat is a great choice for those who want a durable and long-lasting boat. There are many factors that affect the lifespan of an aluminum boat, such as welding quality, anodizing, powder coating, and quick repairs. It’s important to keep the boat clean and well-maintained in order to prolong its life. Regular maintenance will help to prevent damage from saltwater and dirt. By following these tips, you can ensure that your aluminum boat will last for many years to come.