Repairing Damage 

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Fixing a Hole in a Metal Boat (Pub. No. 7939)

by Bob Stearns

If you own an aluminum boat and use it extensively, odds are that sooner or later it will develop a leak. And if rivets were used in its construction—especially below the waterline—odds are that one or more of them is the source of the leak. Aluminum flexes in use, and rivets in the area of stress work loose. Water begins to seep in, gradually getting worse. Unless you’ve cracked a chine or otherwise damaged some critical structural part of the hull, you probably can repair the boat without resorting to a high-priced shop to do the job for you. This includes not only leaky rivets, but punctures and holes (or gashes) as well. Just because the rivet installation leaks doesn’t mean the rivet has to be replaced. If it’s only loosened slightly and isn’t bent or deformed—and hasn’t enlarged or deformed the metal plates through which it passes—it probably can be tightened.

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