I have an older BassTracker boat that is leaking around the rivets.
Does anyone know if the epoxy products for boats are worth trying or if
it is better to have the rivets welded. I would have to either take the
decking out of the boat and weld from the inside or take the engine off
so I could turn the boat upside down and weld from the outside. The
marine repair shops say the epoxy products work good but, that would
screw up any future attempts at welding them (contamination of the site
with epoxy will weaken welds).
I spent a number of years as a USCG Marine inspector. As part of that
Job I was involved in both factory inspections of small craft and in
repair inspections on commercial craft, lifeboats etc.
There are a number of reasons to avoid welding your boat if at all
possible. Primary among these is that the rivits and hull are almost
certainly different alloys of alum. which may not be compatable. This
could result in cracking or even failure of the hull material leaving
you worse off than before. The second problem is that if the rivits are
not removed, dirt, corrosion, oil, etc around and behind the rivits will
contaminate the weld. Finally some alum. alloys do not weld very well.
You need to insure that the alloy your boat is made from can be
The only way to adequately weld your boat would be to remove the rivits,
clean all surfaces to be welded, both inside the hull and out and have
the welding done by a quailfied GMA or GTA welder. A cheeper
alternative is to either re-swedge the rivits yourself or to have it
done. You should be able to find a alum. fabrication shop that can do
this. Either way you will get a superior repair job to either epoxy or
welding, though it will require you to open the boat up to a bare hull.