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Old 01-12-2018, 09:45   #1
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AB Aluminum Floor UL Dinghy Problems

Its year 6 or 7 on our AB 10' UL aluminum floor dink. I wanted to pass on our experience so others can make a better judgement when choosing a new dink.

The problem we are experiencing(for the 2 years) is where the hypalon attaches to the floor. There is major corrosion (bubbling) between the hypalon and the aluminum floor. It is now starting to leak water into the dink. A royal PIA.

We have fixed a few leaks with adhesive caulk and that seems to do the job but now other areas are leaking. We have met a number of folks that are experiencing the same problem and one yachtie brought the dink back to the factory in Colombia(?) where they fixed it.

If we were to do it over again we would NOT but the aluminum floor but rather the fiberglass floor version.

Just something to think about when making a choice of your AB dinghy

Safe sailing

Chuck
Jacaranda
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Old 01-12-2018, 10:12   #2
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Re: AB Aluminum Floor UL Dinghy Problems

I've had the same problem with my AB 10AL (now sold with my ex boat). It usually starts where water accumulates on the inside of the boat. This is usually at the edges where the transom, hull and Hypalon meet.

It can be fixed by adding a strip of Hypalon on the outside over the hull/Hypalon connection area. An inflatable store did this for me in Whangarei, New Zealand. This should extend the life of your dinghy.

I know it is not ideal, but aluminum is still better and lighter than fiberglass. I am getting an aluminum Highfield CL340 for my next boat...
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Old 01-12-2018, 10:46   #3
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Re: AB Aluminum Floor UL Dinghy Problems

Our AL UL 8ft leaked at the AL/Hypalon join after owning it for a year. Upon contacting AB to invoke the warranty they explained to us that the warranty only applies to air leaking, not water.
We fought with them for over a year trying to convince them that the issue was a manufacturing defect but in the end gave up and now have to constantly fight with a leaky wet dinghy.
At the end of year 2 AB released a tech doc to dealers explaining that a zinc must be applied to the AL hull in order to keep oxidation to a minimum and protect the hull/hypalon joint. This made me especially angry since they had now admitted that the oxidation was a problem (which we had been telling them for over a year). I contacted them one last time stating this fact with no results.
7 years later the hull still leaks water but it goes like a bat out of hell with a yamaha 8 which makes us happy enough to keep it.
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Old 02-12-2018, 09:24   #4
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Re: AB Aluminum Floor UL Dinghy Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by gpeacock View Post
Our AL UL 8ft leaked at the AL/Hypalon join after owning it for a year. Upon contacting AB to invoke the warranty they explained to us that the warranty only applies to air leaking, not water.
We fought with them for over a year trying to convince them that the issue was a manufacturing defect but in the end gave up and now have to constantly fight with a leaky wet dinghy.
At the end of year 2 AB released a tech doc to dealers explaining that a zinc must be applied to the AL hull in order to keep oxidation to a minimum and protect the hull/hypalon joint. This made me especially angry since they had now admitted that the oxidation was a problem (which we had been telling them for over a year). I contacted them one last time stating this fact with no results.
7 years later the hull still leaks water but it goes like a bat out of hell with a yamaha 8 which makes us happy enough to keep it.
Interesting we added a zinc before even putting the boat in the water. IT DID NOT stop the issue. The dealer laughed at us when we told him what we wanted to do!

Thats total BullS on AB part about the zinc stopping this corrision as its caused by trapped water.

The problem is when the dinghy sits in the water or is hung water gets trapped between the floor and the Hypalon. Friends who had the dinghy repaired at the factory for this issue now when hanging the dingy tilt it down at the bow for 30 minutes to let all the water drain out of the edge. They do this daily what a royal PIA!

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Old 02-12-2018, 23:01   #5
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Re: AB Aluminum Floor UL Dinghy Problems

I've seen this problem too where the AB AL dinks are stored on the foredeck face up (this was a larger one). You really can't let salt water stay in these dinks for extended periods of time. We have the bare AL version purchased 3+years ago in Panama. Its still fine, but I've seen others with issues in 1 year. We don't do anything special to care for our ride and I'm skeptical that an anode is helpful or needed
I don't know if the white enameled floors have any better track record.
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:48   #6
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AB Aluminum Floor UL Dinghy Problems

I believe they are all powered coated, not sure if any are painted.
Issue as I understand it is that corrosion can / will begin between the Hypalon and aluminum on an un powder coated boat, and between the aluminum and the powder coat on one powder coated.
Likely if a bare aluminum boat was anodized prior to the bonding it would last longer.
Assumption is if or when the bond begins to fail water gets in and accelerates the process?
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Old 03-12-2018, 08:01   #7
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Re: AB Aluminum Floor UL Dinghy Problems

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I believe they are all powered coated, not sure if any are painted.
Issue as I understand it is that corrosion can / will begin between the Hypalon and aluminum on an un powder coated boat, and between the aluminum and the powder coat on one powder coated.
Likely if a bare aluminum boat was anodized prior to the bonding it would last longer.
Assumption is if or when the bond begins to fail water gets in and accelerates the process?
Ours is unpainted and many we have seen out cruising are also unpainted. We specifically chose unpainted because we saw so many AB floors painted with the paint failing. We attached a anode before first launch.

We noticed the seam where the hypalon attaches to the floor starting to bubble (under the hypalon) at year 3.

Just yesterday while trying to find a leak I was able to pull the seam up for about 3 feet. Still attached to the hypalon the glue joint completely failed against the aluminum.

Now trying to find something available here in Tahiti that I can use to reglue it.
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Old 03-12-2018, 11:56   #8
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Re: AB Aluminum Floor UL Dinghy Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by chouliha View Post
Ours is unpainted and many we have seen out cruising are also unpainted. We specifically chose unpainted because we saw so many AB floors painted with the paint failing. We attached a anode before first launch.

We noticed the seam where the hypalon attaches to the floor starting to bubble (under the hypalon) at year 3.

Just yesterday while trying to find a leak I was able to pull the seam up for about 3 feet. Still attached to the hypalon the glue joint completely failed against the aluminum.

Now trying to find something available here in Tahiti that I can use to reglue it.
We have used 3m 5200 for underwater use, with good results, Chuck, but may take a while to get it to Tahiti from the States! Good luck with the search. You might go to the guys who re-pack life rafts and fix local inflatables for suggestions for French products that will work with the hypalon. The military also probably has some (the Bombards they use are hypalon, I'm pretty sure.)

Ann
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Old 03-12-2018, 12:48   #9
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Re: AB Aluminum Floor UL Dinghy Problems

I was able to obtain some West Gflex from a fellow yachtie and am now prepping it to use.

Oh joy another project don't ya just love cruising. A 50 year old boat and year 13... it does become just a way of life........

5200 is available here.

Chuck
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Old 16-12-2018, 11:57   #10
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Re: AB Aluminum Floor UL Dinghy Problems

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Originally Posted by chouliha View Post
I was able to obtain some West Gflex from a fellow yachtie and am now prepping it to use.

Chuck
Just a follow up for others experiencing this same problem with AB dinghies.

I pulled the seam that holds the floor onto the pontoon up almost 1 meter. Cleaned the aluminum with a wire brush on a dremel and also used the same to clean the seam material. Then prepped the aluminum with west system 2 part aluminum prep (I knew there was a reason to keep this for almost 20 years ).
Taped all surfaces that I did not want to get the epoxy on. Mixed up the gflex and spread it on the aluminum and fabric. Pushed it down and used dive weights in a plastic bag to hold it down.

So far it has not leaked.

Hope this helps folks experiencing the same problem

Safe sailing

Chuck
Jacaranda
Mo'orea heading east soon
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