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Old 26-04-2015, 05:10   #1
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"Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

Guys, I ran across a Very interesting older (late 70's) aluminum sailboat, online, which has really piqued my interest. However, I could genuinely use a bit of help in getting educated on what to look for/ask about in such a vessel. Especially as she's non-local, so some of the pre-purchase "studying" on her would have to be done via remote control.
- Which is another item I could use some schooling on ;-)

I'm real familiar with what to check in a composite boat, & questions to ask, etc. And obviously, most of them apply regardless of hull material. I also know a bit of the theory behind audio gauging a metal hull. But don't have any practical, hands on info or experience with such. That, or with any other key, different, specific questions to ask about metal boats.
Obviously, a good barrier coat, between the hull & the bottom paint is key. As too are good anodes.

But if you guys could help me learn the Cliff Notes version of what to look at, & specifics to ask regarding older aluminum yachts, I'd surely appreciate it. Ditto if you have tips/links on good websites that you might recommend to help me with my (abridged) metal boat schooling. And on how to gather most of the info for doing a lot of the pre-purchase stuff on a boat via remote control.

I know that she was built in Australia, for the Admiral's Cup, with fairly heavy plating, & framing. Also, that her topsides have been bare, for many, many years. And that she's has done quite a bit of cruising, since hanging up her serious "racing spurs", years ago. But that's about it.
I'll try & think up what I'd suggest a newbie do, were he in my shoes. As well as taking a step back, & turning my adrenaline down a notch or three. Plus, being able to "think aloud" on here, while simultaneously asking questions surely helps.

And, as for your shared tips & wisdom(s), I'll offer my thanks in advance.
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Old 26-04-2015, 05:34   #2
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

Check out The Metal Boat Society (MBS)
Welcome to the Metal Boat Society

And Michael Kastenís articles
Articles by Michael Kasten - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.
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Old 26-04-2015, 07:22   #3
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

Sincerely, good luck on your decision. I find aluminum boats appealing too.

_____________

Scenario: "I bought an older aluminum boat…"

Sounds familiar: Breaking All the Rules ...

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Also sincerely:
Once you get the Used Aluminum Boat checklist created, I would appreciate a copy in the future, if you are willing to share.
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Old 26-04-2015, 08:59   #4
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

We looked at a few aluminum boats, went to repurchase survey on one before backing out.

Was the hull professionally built? Sounds like it. Home build can be dicey.

I've seen one boat with some very localized corrosion issues, and heard of it on another. That may be you biggest issue, although I defer to those with more experience.

One was an older home built French boat. No idea why the issue, but poking around under the hull I saw some white stuff and poked gently at it with my knife to have the knife fall through. Another was a Kanter (I think) the owner told me he had a spot of corrosion in the integral water tank. Essentially a hole in the hull. He had it repaired and carried on.

I don't think ultrasound surveys will find these points of corrosion, they are too small. They are repairable as long as you can get to the hull from both sides. That's a bigger issue, how hard is it to get to the hull to do inspection and maintence?

Lots to love about metal boats.
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Old 26-04-2015, 09:11   #5
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

I have an aluminum hull built in 1975.

Only purchase the boat if it was professionally built.

Only purchase the boat if it has been blasted down to bare aluminum below the waterline.

Although imperfect, get the sonoguaging done.
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Old 26-04-2015, 09:15   #6
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

Are you saying it should be bare when inspecting the boat for purchase?

Not a bad idea.
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Old 26-04-2015, 10:35   #7
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

Uncivilized,

Advice from an engineer friend, who has built his own alloy boat to us when we were interested in buying one.

Look under the cabin sole and see how dirty it is near the welds. Dirt attracts the salt moisture and then, it sits there. If it is dirty, a little hand vacuum or even a whiskbroom and tray, should reveal if there is pitting. You do not want that pitting. You may need a specialist surveyor for aluminum boats.

If the boat was built by Brownie at Harwood, expect to find some really idiosyncratic flaws, not necessarily deal stoppers, but have your boat weirdness sensors on when you look at it.

Good luck with it. By the way, the thread Steady Hand mentioned deals with the purchase and repair of an aluminum boat that had been sunk for a while; one thing the poster found was a lot of corrosion where timber met the hull.

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Old 26-04-2015, 10:50   #8
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

I am not familiar with your particular vessel. I have owned an older (1962) commercial fishing vessel for several years. I would look for stress cracks, and galvanic corrosion. This cannot be done via remote viewing. If you buy an aluminum vessel, learn how to weld aluminum and have a welder. One of my biggest complaints was the noise transmission. Every little wavelet made noise on the hull. The other is the sweating. You have to be mindful of the galvanic corrosion factor of everything you install on the boat. Once you bring your awareness level up on that it is not a particular hardship, just something you have to keep in mind on everything you do with her. I never painted my vessel and I liked that part. Good luck, be careful.
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Old 26-04-2015, 11:38   #9
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
Only purchase the boat if it has been blasted down to bare aluminum below the waterline.
Why? I know I have a lot to learn, but this is the first time I've heard that. Have any of you guys done that? Stripping all the paint off seems like a very expensive pre-purchase inspection. Did the buyer put up a bond to pay for repainting the boat if they backed out?
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Old 26-04-2015, 11:43   #10
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

Buying a boat in a remote location adds greatly to the cost and time normally required for such a transaction. Additionally many compromises will need to made regarding the quality of needed repairs and upgrades. Because the boat in question is an older aluminum boat, I would first seek counseling.
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Old 26-04-2015, 12:53   #11
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

I am no expert on metal boats, so take my comments with a splash of saltwater.

But, for many years I have wanted one and hope to have one in the not-too-distant future. So, I look for things to be aware of when seeing the boats.

I am a visual guy (artist/photographer), and to me a "picture is worth a thousand words" has meaning.

So, I have a suggestion for you. Do what I did.

Go to Google. Enter the following search terms: "boat aluminum pitting" in the advanced image search on "Google Images" and then look carefully at the many photos that show what is one of the possible risks/faults of aluminum boats. The photos will help you know what the signs are regarding "pitting" and similar corrosion damage.

Someone asked about blasting the bottom of the boat and asked why. The simple answer AFAIK is to look for signs of pitting and previous repairs that may be covered over with thick bottom paint.

I read a blog (I can't remember the name now) post last year of a couple who bought a used metal sailboat. The boat passed inspection (by them) and the professional survey seemed good. Only later, they found that the hull was seriously "porous" and very thin in many places. Too many places. As I recall the description was "like swiss cheese" because of the many hidden (by paint) thin spots and tiny "almost" holes (easy to puncture with a screwdriver). The new owner sued. The previous owners took the boat back.

Good luck on your search and boat decision.
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Old 26-04-2015, 21:11   #12
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

Thanks so much guys, these are some GREAT Tips!
There are a lot of Important "little things" in here, usually one's learned only by firsthand experiences. And, yeah, they're of the sort which could definitely highlight something VERY expensive that's awry in alloy boat.

I'm certainly pondering things a lot more, regarding the boat in question. Especially after reading this info. And I appreciate the shared wisdom a lot.

PS:
When I say "non-local", the story is: The boat's in Hawaii, & I'm back East for the moment. And while I'm mobile enough to be able to call "home" wherever I drop my seabag, toying with buying a boat 6k miles away isn't exactly a trivial thing.
Especially when I have to ponder the concept of fitting out, & or conducting any repairs, in what is, a remote location.
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Old 27-04-2015, 05:28   #13
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

What is the name of this boat? It sounds like on I crewed on racing out of Moolooolaba.


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Old 27-04-2015, 07:43   #14
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

get her surveyed by an experienced surveyor with specific experience in aluminium yachts. Be led by what he says
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Old 27-04-2015, 09:12   #15
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Re: "Education" needed on buying Aluminum Boats

I fy you buy, I recommend a copy of the NACE "Basic Corrosion" course text book.
(NACE being the National Association of Corrosion Engineers)
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