Here’s a look at how we brought an old leaky aluminum row boat back into service for about $15.00 in materials and a few hours of labor. It’s a 12′ SmokerCraft that developed a leak at the bottom of the bow. The boat was probably manufactured in the mid-80s and there are no signs that it’s ever been repaired before.
We pinpointed the leak by elevating the boat on the trailer and filling it with water. These Smokercraft boats are a pretty good design, in my opinion, with just one major seam under the water-line which is at the front of the boat. Our boat looks to have had a gasket dry up and crack right at the base of the bow. There were no other leaks from any of the remaining rivets.
Here’s what we did:
First, a quick trip to the hardware store for some JB Weld, Scotch-Brite pads and some Rustoleum Spray Rubber Sealant. I was able to get 2 of the above items but had to purchase Permatex Cold Weld Bonding Compound instead of JB Weld.
Second, I brought the boat inside and out of the elements, flipped it on top of a couple saw horses and cleaned the bottom of the boat with the Scotch Brite. Extra attention was paid to the leaking area.
Now it was time to fill the area with the Cold Weld epoxy. I did wipe the seam down with some carb cleaner on a rag first.
I tested the epoxy by making a small batch at first. The package said that it sets up in about 8 minutes and I wanted to make sure of that…. it did.
Using an old Copenhagen snuff can to mix “8 minutes” worth of epoxy at a time, the seam was sealed. I made a nice little spreading tool out of the snuff can lid to apply the epoxy. The epoxy was pushed into the seam just like a fillet weld. I did the entire length from above the water line all the way down to the end of the seam, both sides. One package was just enough epoxy to complete the job.
The boat was left to sit and cure overnight.
Next day, the epoxy “high spots” were sanded down. This step could have been eliminated but I wanted to see how easy it would be to sand this stuff. I have never used the Permatex brand epoxy and wanted to see how it stacked up to JB Weld… after using it now I have to say that it’s basically the same.
The seam was sprayed with the Rustoleum Sealant along with the rest of the rivets on the bottom of the boat.
I could actually see the Rustoleum penetrating and sealing all of the spaces it came into contact with….this is some good stuff.
We’ll be painting this boat as soon as the Rustoleum dries. Most likely an olive drab or camo paint job since we’ll also be needing this boat for the next duck/goose season. Hopefully the painting process will be the topic of another article.