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baldav

leak in aluminum boat

13 posts in this topic

I noticed my bildge pump working overtime last weekend and rightly assumed that I had a leak in my lund rebel. When I returned home i filled my boat with water and noticed a slow drip coming from 1 or 2 rivets near the bow.

Couple of questions for forum members:

1)While in the water last weekend, it seemed that my boat filled with water much more quickly then one would expect based on slow drip I observed while the boat was out of the water. Does this seem reasonable or should I be looking for another source for the leak?

2)If it is just the rivets, how much can I expect to pay to have a few rivets replaced?

3) Is it possible to weld the rivets myself with a propane torch and durafix? If so, what kind of consideration do I need to take into account when heating an aluminum boat with a propane torch?

Thanks for all your help!

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I fixed a dozen leaks in my old lund boat before i sold it.Go to your local fleet store and get some 3/16 x 3/8 or 1/2 aluminum rivets and a 3/16 drill bit and carefully drill the leaky ones out and replace with new rivets.The center hole in the new rivets you can just fill with a little caulk or you could go to a boat dealer and get the rivets that are like a hat and leave no hole.

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Yes thats probably your leak. Water has much more force being pushed up into the boat than water in the boat has dripping out. Its not a hard fix and the cost at a shop should be less than 100 dollars. If you attempt the repair yourself, don't drill those old rivets out as someone suggested. Better to chisel the head off and then punch them through. Oversized holes from drilling are good candidtes to be leakers. Then get the correct solid rivets from a boat shop and install them. You will need an air hammer with a correct head for the rivets and a bucking bar to hold against them. Its a two person job. Pop rivets arent strong enough and just installing pop rivets with caulk is sure to result in leaks in the future.

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I just gooped up any leakers with silicone. Worked like a charm. If it happens again, i'll just goop em up some more. $5 and 5 minutes.

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Guys,

Thanks for the tips and the confirmation of my leak. I'm going to take the boat to a local marina and see if they can replace the rivets for a reasonable price. The leak is located underneath the floor of the boat and the floor is riveted down too. Given my handiman skills and the fact that I have a tendency to pound my small boat on big water, I'm not all that comfortable drilling out or chisling off rivets without some expert guidance. Hopefully the price will be reasonable and I can get the job done this week.

On a related note, I'm still curious if that durafix product or similar aluminum welding rods could be used to fix the boat while in the middle of a semi remote trip. Any thoughts on that point???

Thanks again for the diagnosis and tips.

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The problem with the welding rods is first on a boat the heat disapation you will not be able to use just propane. It wont get hot enough. There is a hotter one that might get hot enough but the problem is in order to get that stuff to melt you need to get to about 5 degrees below the melting temp of aluminum and if you are not careful you will burn a hole in your boat. I have tried many times to make the weld sticks work and have only had sucess on welding aluminum cans. I busted two rivets two years ago and filled the holes with some type of epoxy resin that fleet farm sells. Just kneeded it like playdough and it hardens like a rock on aluminum in 7 minutes. I even fixed a hole in my prop with it and you cant even tell it was reworked. A tube of this stuff was like 10 dollars and worked for both my applications. Stay away from JB Weld. That stuff is junk on aluminum.

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I guess I can post the experience I had with a style of brazing rod. I tried HTS-2000. It has a melting point far below aluminum, around 735 degrees, and propane works to heat the area needing to be fixed. The problem I ran into with the stuff was not that it didn't stick, or that the product doesn't work, rather the boat its self. Once I applied heat to the aluminum, it warped and bowed out. The aluminum sides are under tention, so when it got hot enough, it wanted to go back to straight.

Now, if I had a second person willing to spend an entire afternoon holding the boat straight while I filled 60 holes, it would have worked great. So, I'm going with epoxy putty, the same stuff Eurolarva decided to use. It's paintable, moldable, sandable, extremely hard and should work fine for filling the holes.

I would like to say that HTS-2000 is pretty sweet. It's easy to use, and really does brazy with propane, far better then the stuff you can buy at the home stores (tried them). It just isn't practical for my situation.

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Don't you guys even wonder why they put those rivets in the boat? One clue for you is that they arent for looks. They also dont put in extra ones at the factory. lol. So tell me how much strength do you suppose your putty is going to have? There's a reason those rivets loosened up. Silicone or putty is a temporary fix at best. If you think its permanent, well, youre entitled to fix your boat as you wish, but no marine shop would do it that way.

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I thought LUND had a lifetime warranty on the hull. I would bring it to a dealer and check that out first. Just my 2 cents.

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One thing to check if you thought the boat filled quickly with water is if your livelwell hose has a cut in it - when you're in the lake turn your livewell on and watch in the back of your boat (in the bilge area) if you see a lot of water streaming toward the back of the boat it's likely livewell related. It wouldn't be the first time I've seen it, that's for sure.

marine_man

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Quote:

Don't you guys even wonder why they put those rivets in the boat? One clue for you is that they arent for looks. They also dont put in extra ones at the factory. lol. So tell me how much strength do you suppose your putty is going to have? There's a reason those rivets loosened up. Silicone or putty is a temporary fix at best. If you think its permanent, well, youre entitled to fix your boat as you wish, but no marine shop would do it that way.


You're right, and I would never use epoxy putty to replace a rivet. What I'm using it for is to fill holes drilled into the side of the boat for various accessories and such. I have something like 40-60 holes to fill from various things. In my case, the epoxy will do just fine. All of them are above the water line, and none of them are load baring.

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Quote:

3) Is it possible to weld the rivets myself with a propane torch and durafix? If so, what kind of consideration do I need to take into account when heating an aluminum boat with a propane torch?


Why would you want to weld a rivet??? confused.gif

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If you don't have an air hammer or the correct bit, not to worry. The rivets are a fairly soft metal. Occasionally, at our shop, we run into a situation where, for whatever reason, we can't use an air chisel on them. These rivets can be set easily by hand with a dolly on one side and a several good blows with a hammer on the other. We've fixed dozens of leaky boats this way over the years and haven't had any come back. Like I said, it's not the ideal way, but it will seal, just the same.

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