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Old 21 December 2006, 07:46   #1
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Hulls: Aluminum or Glass?

A friend of mine is contemplating buying a new Rib after being without one for a few years. He is looking at a number of boats over here, including Hurricanes, Polaris' and Titans, in the 4.5m - 5.5m range. He asked my opinion about aluminum hulls vs. fibreglass. Other than (I suppose) a durability issue I didn't really know what to say. I told him I would ask some experts I knew! I should perhaps point out that he will be using the boat in fresh water only.

(My main interest in this is that if he doesn't get a boat, I'm going to have to take him out in mine all the time and he takes up too much space...!)
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Old 21 December 2006, 21:30   #2
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If he'll frequently venture into areas that are reef strewn (which I imagine he might along along the north shores of Georgian Bay/L Huron) I'd lean towards aluminum. You might want to PM farsider for his thoughts on this since he's going through this same process - I think he's gearing towards glass. I imagine most glass hulls would provide a higher level of performance.
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Old 21 December 2006, 22:24   #3
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There's no doubt that we have our share of lumps in the water...
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Old 22 December 2006, 00:02   #4
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Really tough call like P/T is right on the money saying i love the performance of glass but out on the wet coast here there is a lot of logging and the thought of dead heads and the alluiman really sounds good Guy at polaris was telling me his glass is 7 layers and interwoven comes out 1/2 inch and there strong enough for any bump.I'm going back out there in the new year and he has a couple glass and ally going i'll take the camera and post if you want.
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Old 22 December 2006, 05:53   #5
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Aluminum hulls tend to feel like your ridin in a Gong, evey time you hit a wave
it rings the gong.
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Old 22 December 2006, 08:37   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fast fred View Post
Aluminum hulls tend to feel like your ridin in a Gong, evey time you hit a wave
it rings the gong.
We don't have logs here... But we do have limestone! Although to be honest, the water is so clear, that you can normally see the bottom coming up from 40 or 50 feet. I understand that the aluminum hulls are more expensive as well.

Any idea how they compare weight-wise?
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Old 22 December 2006, 11:56   #7
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If anyone is in any doubt how tough a fibreglass hull is remember the RNLI use them!!!



This video shows how they recover a lifeboat across a shingle beach - made me cringe to watch it - they must be tough to withstand this treatment over the years....
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Old 22 December 2006, 12:56   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fast fred View Post
Aluminum hulls tend to feel like your ridin in a Gong, evey time you hit a wave
it rings the gong.
No it doesn't. It will ride a bit "stiffer", though, for a hull built to a given strength, as an aluminum hull will be lighter, hence less mass to displace the water.

Aluminum advantages: lighter weight (makes a difference in trailering), minor damage usually requires no maintenance, very little upkeep (assuming a decent alloy is used in construction), any major repairs are usually a welding shop away. I personally think that a well built plate alloy boat is much stronger than a glass hull, but we're talking about catastrophic impact here, so that may not be a selling point. Small repairs, while not tough, may be more expensive to perform than similar damage to a glass boat (i.e. less of a DIY thing, unless you are a welder. I just leave it be.) Small flaws usually are much less of a problem (no water seepage into cores, and resulting rot problems, for instance.)

Aluminum disadvantages: Cost (with a capital C), possibility of galvanic corrosion, limited forming methods may mean a less appealing shape (subjective), may be more difficult to find bottom paint (for those who moor their boats), painting (topside) requires a lot more care to get paint to adhere. In my case, you get a lot of people asking about the cost, and why I paid more than I would have for a glass boat; which gets kind of annoying after a while (getting out on the water helps quite a bit.)

Either can be quite good, or, I would assume, quite bad, depending on circumstances. For me, the durability of aluminum in day to day use is what spurred my decision.

jky
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Old 22 December 2006, 14:05   #9
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Rotationally moulded polyethylene!

Seems the way forwards to me, and I look forward to the expession on people's faces when I say I have a polythene boat
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Old 22 December 2006, 15:29   #10
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Yes the poly boats are incredibly tough - the reason you don't see them over a certain size or HP rating is because they are very flexible and would flop all over the place!!!
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