View Full Version : How to Repair Aluminum Boats

01-31-2006, 10:58 AM
I have a 14' 1961 Alumacraft riveted boat.

I have some rivets missing and some which are damaged. I have no experiance on this type of repair. Can anyone point me to websites that have good information on this topic along with tools that I would need.

Is it safe to assume it's a two man job?

Rick Troller
01-31-2006, 11:19 AM
I have fished aluminum boats for many years. I have tried to re-rivet them but it is usally just a temperary fix due to the stress put on these types of boats...expecially older models.
Your best option is to take it to a local welding shop and have them weld the braces and rivets. You can also fix any small holes that may be in.
Most places will charge you by the job, not by the hour. its not that expensive (last time I had heliarc repairs it run $80.00) which is not at all expensive if you factor in "your" time that it would take to drill, re-rivet and then seal the holes (which would more than likely work loose again).
When checking prices for welding a boat SHOP AROUND! Prices may differ greatly. I use a small local shop that does quaility work and they are VERY REASONABLE!
Good Luck..............

01-31-2006, 11:24 AM
I'm currently fishing out of my buddy's boat - riveted model TX17 Tracker ... and it's got "Knead it" & "JB Weld" in place of at least a dozen or so rivets !! The "repaired" rivet holes are water tight, and have been for many years. He also had some welding done, for a seam crack in bow ... and that's held up quite well, also.
There are several things that can be done - put new rivets back in (need rivet tools) - patch with Knead-it or JB Weld (available at "Marts" or hardware stores) - weld holes closed (need alum welding experience) - silicone sealant (temporary fix, at best). In any case, if you have a "floor" in the boat, it will have to be removed to get to the rivet holes. We took my buddy's boat apart, removed (& replaced) the foam floatation, patched the holes, then put it back together (with a little help from some sheet metal screws, to replace the rivets that held the interior stuff together). The boat has been apart & back together at least three times (once for the welding, once for the repairs we did, and once for re-carpeting) ... it still floats, and fishes as good as it ever did (and looks a lot better than it used to, thanks to the new carpet ... LOL!!) ............... cp :cool:

01-31-2006, 11:48 AM
My boy has an old rivited jon boat he uses. This boat takes a whooping too. I saw him one time drop it over the side of a bridge to get it in the water. Crazy kids you know. Anyways, he took some of that truck bed liner stuff and did the inside of the boat with that. Worked great too. Not a drop gets in. When I get some cash saved up, I'm going to have my boat done with it.

01-31-2006, 12:42 PM
I took the boat to the local expert welder. He turned me away for he stated he would do more harm then good. The broken rivets are on the keel, where there is a gasket as well. His concern was the he would burn the gasket and warp other parts of the keel which is in perfect condition.

I was left to repair it myself. I used the JB Weld marine product to seal the spots that was leaking. Tested it by filling the boat with water then lake tested. It was sealed. I then purchased some Gluvit Epoxy Waterproof Sealer and coated the bottom of the boat for some extra protection. So far so good.

I have a full deck w/ new carpet in my boat (which came with it). I don't want to tear it all out, so I picked the above patch work.

I checked with everyone that I could get in contact with locally, no one would touch the boat. Everyone is into repairing glass boats.

How hard is it to replace rivets for those who tried?

01-31-2006, 01:01 PM
My boy has an old rivited jon boat he uses. This boat takes a whooping too. I saw him one time drop it over the side of a bridge to get it in the water. Crazy kids you know. Anyways, he took some of that truck bed liner stuff and did the inside of the boat with that. Worked great too. Not a drop gets in. When I get some cash saved up, I'm going to have my boat done with it.
Great idea briktaw. W-mart sells a marine epoxy in their boating section. About the same price as JB weld don't know if its better though.
I'd use a epoxy on leaks before bed liner.

01-31-2006, 01:48 PM
A buddy of mine fishes out of a 1961 Quachita ( I believe ) and he has changed every rivet in his boat with stainless steel carriage bolts and stainless nuts. Puts lock washers on them and I think a small o-ring or small piece of gasket material. I worked with him for 8 years and fished out of the boat numerous times and never seen any water in it. I think he grinds the heads off the rivets and pops them out. He said that every now and then one of the bolts would come lose and he would just replace it too.

01-31-2006, 02:03 PM
I use JB weld for years and nothing else.
When I do get another leak, it's at a different spot not the one I fixed.
Make sure you clean the spot your going to repair first.
I did have some spots on my other boat welded but they didn't last very long. It stress cracked along side of the welds.
Can't beat that JB Weld.

01-31-2006, 02:29 PM
Here is a website that has helped me out in the past.

Aluminum Boat Repair



01-31-2006, 05:52 PM
I have often thought about getting my little boat coated with Rino-lining or similar. I am glad to see you had success with it.
I got a crack as big as the crack of dawn in the floor of my boat. I wonder if that stuff can seal it?

Meat on the Table
01-31-2006, 07:40 PM
I have replaced the rivets in many of my aluminun boats. Drill the rivet out. The riveting will take two men one hammers and the other holds a backer to the head of the rivet. Do not just mash the head of the rivet down, you want to hit it in such a way to swell the rivet shank at the bottom of the rivet. It is good practice to check and tighten the loose rivets as needed. Tighten in same way as installing new rivet.

01-31-2006, 08:20 PM
Deacon, take it to a Rino Lining dealer and talk to them. If they say it will,, they will guarantee the work. Nothing to lose except a little gas money.

01-31-2006, 08:30 PM
I'd take the advice of Rick Troller. I took a 14' jon and drilled out every leaky rivet, got a rivet tool and reriveted. We added JB Weld to every rivet. The boat has held up for several years now, but it takes a while to do. Make sure it is clean and roughed up to hold to bond. Keep in mind if you take the easy way out and have someone to do it, it may suit you better to save a little money and buy a used 14' or even a new isn't to awfull expensive.

crappie fisher
01-31-2006, 10:20 PM
Go to the Ga. state forums and do a search on this subject. I asked the same ? and was also given some good advice and was given a couple of web sites to go to.

Crappie Reaper
02-01-2006, 08:16 PM
Hey man, I am in Arkansas this week. P.M. me and tell me what all is wrong with your boat? I have extensive experience in Rivets, removal, reshooting, fabrication of doublers, anything that needs to be done. I am on my friends p.c. right now and have a few websites bookmarked on mine back home. I can walk you through step by step and guide you on what tools you will need to do the job. I will try to post the links I have once I get back home.

02-02-2006, 01:45 PM
dh and i came across an abandoned 8 foot john boat years ago. it leaked a little, but we didn't care! it was free! (we checked with the locals who said that the boat had been in that place on the shore for years. so no one cared if we took it). anyhoo, one day while out fishing a couple of rivets popped out sending little geysers gushing out! his buddy did some quick thinking and used plastic worms to "cork" the holes. we kept that boat for three more years before moving on. never had any problems with those rubber worm plugs!

(not that i would recommend this patch material...just wanted to pass along the story.)