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Thread: Would an Aluminium hulled freighter make sense?

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    Member Yukoner's Avatar
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    Default Would an Aluminium hulled freighter make sense?

    I've been messing about with plans to build a welded Aluminium hull freighter modelled after a James Bay.
    Plan would be to have either full UHMW or strips on the bottom.
    What do you you all think? Seems to me it would make sense for rocky rivers combined with a surface drive. Wouldn't have to worry about the F-Glass.
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    If I was custom making a design I'd extend the flat bottom and make a full transom rather than just copy the James Bay. UHMW would be important to counter the stickiness of the aluminum. Would be tempted to go smaller as sometimes you have to drag. I'd go between a Scott Albany and HB in size.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    What I would want to know is why no one is already making them.As a rule aluminum canoes are cheaper to buy and lighter than glass so whats the fly in the ointment.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    I'm not sure welding would be the way to go, if you want to keep it light. A semimonocoque hull design with riveted ribs, gunnel, keel and bow strip and transom. Would allow you to use a thinner skin than a welded boat would require....that's how you keep grummans and airplanes so light. Grumman got into the boat building business after building airplanes during the war. They knew how to make a light canoe using aircraft design and materials...

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    I an not sure about the Aluminium canoes [ light ] my 19 FT SQ comes in at about 125 LBS with out the lift an it is a bugger to carry very far [ hard on the back ] but it is a lot easyer than the glass type I think
    ..SID

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    Hey Sid, my beefed-up 17' Esquif Cargo in Royalex is about the same... I have a 17' SQ stern Grumman down in Idaho that feels lighter than the Esquif that I have in Alaska...I'm just saying the hull on a welded alum canoe is going to have to be thicker than the semimonocoque design that Grumman used. That's not to say that you can't make a good welded freighter canoe. The 17' Osage is welded and fairly light but you start getting into the 20-21 foot range and the hull thickness has to increase dramatically. Would be an interesting project....I think the weight is going to be as heavy as a HB, maybe more if you are adding a bunch of HDPE.....

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    I just sold my 17' Grumman square back because it is noisy and cold and just almost as heavy as my Esquif hard belly and not near as stable. Sometimes I do wish it was a 20' and wider but for the most part it does the job with the 9.9 Merc. on the back. I've had 3 different Grummans in the past and they were all fine boats but I think I'm done with aluminum canoes. Never had a Scott but I think it would do the job better than aluminum for me.
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    I here you , the metal will take a lot more beating I think , from what I seen the dubble skin with foam between don't take the rocks like the Aluminiun canoes
    SID

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    If Esquif made a larger Royalex freighter, then no question about it. However, for rocks etc, Fglass just doesn't stand up, while Al, even though its cold etc, will take the abuse. Weight wise, not too worried about that, couldn't be much heavier than a Scott.
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    The problem with the Esquif is they didn't put enough stiffener in the hull. Their 17' isn't rigid enough. They need to change their layup and put a stiffener between the Royalex layers. If they can't make a 17' stiff enough, I would hate to see what they would do to a twenty footer.....it would be like wet pasta... But forming thick enough to weld alum into a freighter shape could be quite challenging. Putting a thinner alum skin over a ribbed frame might prove easier and lighter...

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    on the contrary Yukoner, the right fiberglass with the right thickness with the right epoxy, is far tougher than you may think. I break royalex canoes where my fiberglass canoe was just getting warmed up. Kandik, FM, myself, Sid, have all broken royalex canoes, polyester resin/fiberglass canoes, aluminum canoes.....ect. What I have not broke while launching off rocks......is flexible epoxy resin and tough 24 oz material. I grew up in an aluminum grumman, but it would be my last choice. The graceful lines of a canoe cannot be made from thick welded aluminum, but can be made from thinner materials that's rivited together. The osagian is not a welded canoe BTW. Ease of repair in the bush is a plus. For a work canoe that will never exceed 18 mph, ease of repair in the bush, lay wet in a mold.......fiberglass and epoxy resin is king IMO.

    Stiffened/armored royalex would be a close second.

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    In the archives, there are a number of threads about the possibilities of large aluminum freighters.

    Personally, I talked with Osagian and Grumman (Marathon Boat Group) and was told that the market for such canoes is very small ... too small to justify the $50,000 cost of a "plug" to stretch the alum. over for forming. Further, aluminum can't be formed to match the sophisticated contours of today's designs like composites can. (The iconic 19' Grumman was arrived at by cutting off a foot from their 20' double-ender, hence the 12" transom.)

    Perhaps a better effort would be to make a composite freighter tougher.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    on the contrary Yukoner, the right fiberglass with the right thickness with the right epoxy, is far tougher than you may think. I break royalex canoes where my fiberglass canoe was just getting warmed up. Kandik, FM, myself, Sid, have all broken royalex canoes, polyester resin/fiberglass canoes, aluminum canoes.....ect. What I have not broke while launching off rocks......is flexible epoxy resin and tough 24 oz material. I grew up in an aluminum grumman, but it would be my last choice. The graceful lines of a canoe cannot be made from thick welded aluminum, but can be made from thinner materials that's rivited together. The osagian is not a welded canoe BTW. Ease of repair in the bush is a plus. For a work canoe that will never exceed 18 mph, ease of repair in the bush, lay wet in a mold.......fiberglass and epoxy resin is king IMO.

    Stiffened/armored royalex would be a close second.
    That's good to know. I was ruminating on a project boat, to be built with a friend of mine who has been looking for a used James Bay. It would not have been a commercial venture, more a one off Frankenboat. I keep thinking of some skinny rivers where even the jets don't go due to no place deep enough to stop. North61 has made some posts recently that prompted me to think of Al boats being a possible direction to take, especially with a surface drive.
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    if your stuck on heavy duty aluminum, you can still do so. A LONG, NARROW john boat would be the ticket. 18 ft-20 ft with a narrow 32 in flat bottom would make a Skookum rig. No load capacity like a canoe, but at 20 ft and super-narrow you'd be hualing a moose, but whitewater and heavy lake generated whitecaps could eat the rig alive.

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    How about a Esquif freighter with Kevlar skid plates and stiffeners, built in removable portage wheels, a grab bar, and a custom camo paint job? Just finished one. I will post pics when I get back from a business trip down south.

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    I did something similar to my Esquif a couple of years ago...minus the portage wheels...would be interested in seeing how you did that. After adding all the epoxy/Kevlar, that is not a one person boat anymore.

    The Osage is welded!!! The stern plug/transom is welded to the hull....

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    I followed Piper's lead and did the same thing less wheels and the camo Cargo is now a very usable and I believe tough boat. Just this afternoon I pulled my wife and #3 son in kayaks with myself, SIL and #2 son in the Cargo pushed by my 9.9 Merc and we were doing about 12 MPH into some light wave/wind. The people weight approached a boned out moose and I had 10 gals of gas and other usual craap on board. Kevlar on the bottom is holding up well and the inside stiffening is still solid and doing it's job of stopping the oil canning we previously experienced. The fold down grab bar I put in mine works really well for fishing or just standing in the back and now my wife wants one up front too. Just as a point of interest, the Cargo, a 12' and 14' kayak rode very well on my 8' x 10' snowmobile trailer. With the motor removed the Cargo is kinda heavy for 2 guys to lift onto the trailer but it slides right off when you get where you're going....slides off rocks and logs well also.
    Somewhere along the way I have lost the ability to act politically correct. If you should find it, please feel free to keep it.

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    I'd look into a strip built canoe, essentially wood cored composite with glass on the inside and outside and very strong for a given weight. If you put a layer of kevlar between two layers of glass on the bottom you'd have pretty good protection from rocks.

    As with anything, you can have lite, or you can have tough, but you can't have both.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    As with anything, you can have lite, or you can have tough, but you can't have both.
    I learned that lesson the hard way, rep points in bound. In my world, tough held up, lighweight did not. When I soon realized that my canoe is now far too heavy loaded with moose, TOUGH is more desired than anything with the precious, sacred load. lightweight can take a back seat any day of the week. In some situations, the quest for lightweight is like a mental disease of the new granola fluffy crowd. It takes time to reverse it's effect. I wish that I didn't pay $175 for Outdoor Reasearch gloves.....they sck, and my hands get cold. If they were ELK SKIN PALMS....I would be warm.

    no canoe with a load held together better, than TOUGH.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    I'd look into a strip built canoe, essentially wood cored composite with glass on the inside and outside and very strong for a given weight. If you put a layer of kevlar between two layers of glass on the bottom you'd have pretty good protection from rocks.

    As with anything, you can have lite, or you can have tough, but you can't have both.
    I'd like to ammend that by saying light, tough, cheap, pick any two......
    Never wrestle with a pig.
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