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Old 11-05-2002, 05:27 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

I'm still looking for another boat and I've found this board to be awesome in personality and education. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]
I've stumbled across some websites featuring aluminum ocean craft and I'm wondering if aluminum offers quality / durability / resale value equivilint to fiberglass. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img] Anyone experience issues such as noise, ride, heat absorbtion (ouch!) and rough water handling ability? Of course the manufacturing websites have their best foot forward. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif[/img]
I'm looking in the 24-30ft range. WA or cuddy.
This boat will be used on the great lakes. The tree manufactureres that have caught my attention are Silver Streak, Armstong and Lifetime. I have not noticed any Aluminum boat owners on the board. Does Aluminum have drawbacks in the larger sizes? It seems to be a quite popular material in the 20ft. and under range.
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Old 11-05-2002, 05:44 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

IMHO aluminum is for small boats that rub rocks are beached often and in general will be more or less maintenance free over a looooong time....I lke them....

The size you are looking at to ME says go FG. FG is a great material and very repairable. A big aluminum IMHO says "find the seam that is leaking, I dare you...." [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]
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Old 11-05-2002, 06:17 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

As with anything there are pros and cons. 65% of the yachts over 100' in length are aluminum - hardly the type of boat to "rub rocks and beach often" Look at the websites of Burger Yachts and Broward Yachts to see examples of large aluminum boats.. Welded aluminum plate takes a lot of manhours to finish to a smooth, glass like finish and therfore can be expensive. I believe aluminum is far superior to fiberglass over the long haul, even at a slightly higher price.

"Everyone should believe in something. I believe I will go fishing" --- Henry David Thoreau
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Old 11-05-2002, 08:28 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

Take a look at PHOTOS and scroll down to NEW BOAT. Armstrong built this boat for me.

Aluminum is easier to care for, and holds resale as well as fiberglass.

There are many aluminum builders in the Northwest US and BC.

While none of them is perfect, I found Josh Armstrong easy to get along with, and this is the third boat built by him that I have owned.

That being said, the Pursuits and some of the other glass boats are very easy to like.

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Old 11-05-2002, 09:10 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

AWESOME!I don't have any experience regarding the transportion of boats. I wonder what it would cost me to have one shipped to Michigan.
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Old 11-05-2002, 10:56 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

If you are going to have a trailerable size built, you could probably have a Northwest built boat put on an EZ Loader, King, or Magnum trailer and drive over to pick it up. Including ferry ride we made it from Port Angeles to CDA in about nine hours pulling boat. Don't know what it would be from there, but we are right on US 90.

If you are going to have it shipped, do a search and find out what boat hauling companies routinely go from the Seattle area to yours, and get a couple of estimates. My guess would be a buck or two per mile.

The Seattle boat show is usually around the end of January, and there will probably be a few aluminum builders there. Might be worth the cost of an airline ticket and motel room.

Enjoy your search.

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Old 11-05-2002, 11:08 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

Check out Pacific Skiff they are sold on the east coast by Black Lab Marine in Maine. They will build to suit. I've been on a 19 and a 23. A 19 will definitely be my next boat. Great ride, light, and almost indestructable with little or no maintainence.

www.blacklabmarine.com
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Old 11-05-2002, 01:59 PM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

First of all a disclaimer: I sell all-welded aluminum boats.

I grew-up here on the coast of Maine fishing out of 13' Whalers, 17' Makos then lobstered out of a 32' fiberglass lobsterboat. The only aluminum i knew was a sear "Ted Williams" riveted thing that rattled and leaked. If you owned an aluminum boat on the coast of Maine you were considered a bit stupid.

As an adult I was working for National Fisherman magazine and got sent to their Seattle office where my eyes were opened up to what a real aluminum boat is.

Marine-grade aluminum alloy is simply the best material in the world to own a boat made from. They are lighter, more durable, safer, lower maintenance - they outperform fiberglass in all categories except finish.

Upon returning to the East Coast I thought that I'd start bring back my favorite all-welded boat and start selling the to the commercial guys here in Maine.

What I wasn't prepared for was the high-end recreational demand - people adore these boats once they've seen one and ridden in one. Our owners complain that they have to add a half hour to their put in times to answer questions from fellow boaters.

This is getting long - I aplogize. Please keep in mind that the following all use welded-aluminum alloy boats:

US Special Forces
US Navy
US Coast Guard
Mega Yacht Builders
Alaskan Commercial Fishermen
Offshore Oil Company Supply and Crew boats
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Old 11-05-2002, 03:56 PM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

I may add that Blacklabmarine has been very informative, and helpful even though my questions have been numerous and have not bought one YET.

Anyone who sees the video they put together would be very impressed! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
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Old 11-05-2002, 04:25 PM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

I'd kill for a quality AL boat, but most of us are destined to fish with fiberglass since they're cheaper....but they are inferior to aluminum, no question. Mashed P&G, you've never seen a real AL boat, and the dudes with the titanium testicles who commercial fish Alaska might argue a little with you about the durability of their boats (you can buy them used at Graves & Schneider http://www.gsiboat.com/index.html ) This is a great site, by the way, for just looking.. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

In addition to the ones already mentioned, try Eagle Craft http://www.eaglecraft.bc.ca/
and Workskiff http://www.workskiff.com/

There's also a killer boat in BC called Sea Wolf, that's made to yacht standards, but I can't find a website for them.

If you don't want to hear the answer, don't ask the question!
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Old 11-05-2002, 04:30 PM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

Here's a subject that I have done a lot of reseach in. Everything that people have said positive about aluminum is true. I think that its a great material to build boats with. However in the 20 to 40 ft size its hard to get the transition deadrise from the bow to midboat correct. Most aluminum boats this size will not ride as well fiberglass. The shorter the boat the flatter the entrance, most of the al boats around here are optioned with air-ride seats. If the boat is used where steep chop is not to common its a great choice. CHeck out Almar, and Seawolf great builders...
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Old 11-05-2002, 04:43 PM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

Jay,

Could you give some serious comments regarding the quality of ride in offshore conditions, on the Pacific Skiffs?

Most people feel that a deadrise under 21 degrees is not meant for offshore use, you will get pounded.

Your boats are either 14 or 18 degrees.

Thanks
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Old 11-05-2002, 04:48 PM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

Almar is built in Tacoma, and Sea Wolf in Burlington. There is also Coldwater and a few others.

Glad to see all the interest in aluminum boats. I was beginning to feel like the Lone Stranger.

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Old 11-05-2002, 04:55 PM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

you are not alone

my next boat will be aluminum

i have spoke with 2 people that have pacific skiffs, they enjoy the low maintenence, lifetime hull
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Old 11-05-2002, 06:49 PM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

Oh boy, Oh boy,

Hmmm..lemme see..











The thing to remember with alloy is,

1. you can build it yourself (if you can weld).

2. It has as many drawbacks as glass

3. it has some advantages over glass

Wanna build it yourself????

Self Build Pre Cut Kits HERE

Drawbacks:-

It can electrolyse away to nothing while stored in a slip with leaking shorepower / stray current from an adjacent slip.

Positives:-

It's lighter than glass
Will take more punishement than glass
Cheaper than equiv glass
Higher flashpoint than glass
etc

Like all things theres +ves and -ves

As a hull material Alloy isn't the be all and end all - roto moulded polyethylene probably holds THAT particular distinction..





Hard choice hull materials...a great boat builder (noah) once reputedly said "take a handfull of each of your hull material choices, thow em in a bath and whichever one floats make your boat of that!". [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

Cheers!

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Old 11-05-2002, 09:36 PM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

My experiences with aluminum:

Noise: They do tend to rattle a little and echo, but foam filling and gasketed hatches, etc...can eliminate this.

Ride: Lighter than fiberglass, and they may sometimes ride harsher. But good hull design, appropriate thickness sheets for intended use, trim tabs and power can make up for this.

Quality & Durability: Depends on craftsmanship...like anything else. But a well-made alum boat is much more durable and easier to repair than glass.

Heat: A definite drawback. Insulate your fish boxes if you want them to keep ice.

D
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Old 11-06-2002, 01:43 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

After years running glass boats and now into aluminum I'll never go back. Not as pretty but so much easier to maintain & repair (not a babe magnet). As we speak after 4 seasons in some nasty stuff boat developed a couple of cracks in the cabin top and o/b motor bracket. Took it over to the local weld shop and in almost no time got everything fixed and had some neat stuff added (deck hatch, rod holders, hand holds, etc.). If used in the salt the boat will develop a crust (oxidation) that you just learn to live with. In fact, I've quit washing the boat cause it doesn't look any better afterwards . . . hose out the blood and go on!

21' Custom Aluminum Workboat, CC, Honda 90
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Old 11-06-2002, 03:40 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

Marine grade aluminum, can corrode? ( trouty )

They had a piece in saltwater for 30 years.

There were cracks that need to be re welded?

That doen't sound good.
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Old 11-06-2002, 04:54 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

One thing to consider is the type of aluminum. Not all marine grade alum is made equally. From Dave Gerr, The Nature of Boats: Esoterica for the Nautically Obsessed:
quote: Alloys from the 5000 series are best...especially the 5086 series -- 5086-H32, H111 and H112

H112, he says, offers the best combintion of extreme resistance to saltwater corrosion, strength and workability...all with moderate cost.

My brother is having a boat made from alum, and we been hanging out at the shop. The more I learn about alum, the better it seems.

But, you need to make sure you get the RIGHT alum, and have expert craftsmanship so that all the awful things posted here don't happen.

D
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Old 11-06-2002, 06:28 AM
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Default Aluminum vs Fiberglass

This alone is a science in iteslf of metalurgy, and your naval architect should be dictating what alloy you use for what boat, Alloy grade also dictates the welding regimen, whether 50% stitched, 60% etc...

Interestingly - 5086 is one of the "favourite" marine geade alloys used and with good reason.

That said - my particular boat was specified by it's naval architect designer out of 6061 T6..so like I said - not all alloys are equal for all uses.

It has to do with the design perameters of the particular vessel.

Will the hull have pressed planing strakes?..

If so - it likely can't be made of the IMHO superior AMS 6061 T6, and is more suited to one of the 5000 series marine grades which are more ductile / malleable.

*Nb AMS = Aluminium Magnesuium Silicate, 6061 = grade, T6 = hardened temper.

If stretchforming is part of the design - in that a compound concave "caroliiiiiiina flare" is desired - then lower grade (and thinner section/guage 5000 series alloys might be selected, for their ductility/malleability properties.

They won't last as long as AMS 6061 T6 but can be shaped better than the stronger T6.

Like I said it comes back to what the designer requires in the metal as far as properties and what trade off's he's prepared to make in longevity, for shape.

Generally the "lower" the grade alloy the more ductile malleable it is and the more complex shapes you can make with it. (i.e. the more you can make it look like a glass boat!) by stretchforming and pressing / rolling it.
This type alloy is also often used in thinner section than "optimal for longevity" as a tradeoff for "shapeability"..

The tradeoff is that in order to get those ductile malleable traits into it, you have to use more magnesium in the alloy. Magnesium is far removed from other commonly used marine metals on the elemental table for nobility (electrical potential).

Due to this - the risk of increased electrolysis rate is increased in the Lower grade alloys with more magnesium content, but these craft have some of the best "ride characteristics" due to stretchformed bows & pressed planing strakes.

Everything's a tradeoff in alloy boats as in all other materials.

As an example with my own boat in 6061 T6, to get a 90 degree rolled edge on my gunnels and frames, transom braces and so on, required a specially set up press with a 1 inch round dia press bar, pushing into a 2 inch V brake block.

Any sharper curve and 6061 T6 tempered alloy would risk fracture...you can hardly press planing strakes in such material, or stretchform compound curves in it - but it will likely outlast in salt water the lower grades used by some other manufacturers, with fancy designs for many many years.

You use what alloys best suited to the design of your vessel..

Interestingly - the more ductile/maleable higher magnesium content "lower grades" of alloy are "substantially cheaper" too.....so the temptations always there for manufacturers to select and use, the alloy sheet that returns them the best profit per vessel.

IMHO potential alloy boat buyers should research their alloys and get both a design and materials specification from a naval architect when having a vessel built.

Electrolysis and Galvanic corrosion are the greatest threats in saltwater environment.

Each are a subject on their own.

Wiring of alloy vessels is much more "tricky" than with glass boats...many do not fully understand the importance of this single factor...

There is much needless argument about how an alloy boat should be wired.

Basically many uninformed propose that everything be "insulated" from the hull by inert plastic spacers and magic wonder goos to coat the 316 stainless screws and so on.

Add the presence of saltwater and you've just created a galvanic cell.

Any of the alloy megayachts, will have shorepower, 110v in your case, 240V in our case downunder.

Of safety necessity these vessels must have the entire electrical system and engines etc equipotentially bonded (earthed) to the hull - to protect occupants from possible electrocution in the event of a malfunction / short.

Same thing happens in steel hulled vessels.

Of course the fact that a recreational vessel only runs 12v somehow magically alters the properties of electricty, (ion flow) and these vessels should have the OB's and battery systems "isolated" from the hull

Gimme a break!

Yes - theres a little more to alloy hulls than meets the eye, and it pays to know what your doing.

We still have manufacturers who don't and their numbers of clients who post downunder boards with questions like "help my XYZ brand boat is dissolving and has all this white powder forming bubbles under the paint" etc etc are legion...

I see this same manufacturer now exporting to the US as a matter of interest! (Caveat Emptor)

None are so blind as those who cannot see.

Cheers!

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