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Old 12-23-2010, 11:19 AM   #1
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Default Removing dents in an aluminum boat

My boat has some dents in it that I would like to remove (or have someone else remove). I'd like to get some feedback from persons who have done this before, or recommendations to shops or individuals who can do this work correctly.

I've tried researching this on the internet, and have found there is a lot of conflicting information. I know some repair aluminum by heating it up & cooling it (along with mechanical adjusting), and others swear that this is a really bad thing to do. I've also read that certain fillers are OK, and others (such as Bondo) should never be used.

My boat is painted, and will need to be re-painted (or vinyl wrapped), so it doesn't matter if the finish is trashed in the process of removing the dents. Most of the dents are fairly shallow, and most have no creases. This is a welded boat (not riveted), and the hull material is relatively thick.

If you have experience with this, please let me know. Your input is much appreciated.

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Old 12-23-2010, 11:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonrafter View Post
My boat has some dents in it that I would like to remove (or have someone else remove). I'd like to get some feedback from persons who have done this before, or recommendations to shops or individuals who can do this work correctly.

I've tried researching this on the internet, and have found there is a lot of conflicting information. I know some repair aluminum by heating it up & cooling it (along with mechanical adjusting), and others swear that this is a really bad thing to do. I've also read that certain fillers are OK, and others (such as Bondo) should never be used.

My boat is painted, and will need to be re-painted (or vinyl wrapped), so it doesn't matter if the finish is trashed in the process of removing the dents. Most of the dents are fairly shallow, and most have no creases. This is a welded boat (not riveted), and the hull material is relatively thick.

If you have experience with this, please let me know. Your input is much appreciated.
I had a dent removed in my northriver by Motion Marine. Excellent job. Couldn't even tell it existed. I would then recommend a vinly wrap from Coho Designs (a.k.a. Greenbuttskunk). Also excellent work. Boat looked like new when finished.

Good luck.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

No to be a smart a$$ but why care? if they are minor and you use it as a drift boat should be used, you are going to get more dents, it happens and is bound to happen as soon and you are done. If they are not causing any kind of problems dont worry about them.

Mine is bare alum and dents and scratches are just part of it.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

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Originally Posted by MIKED3323 View Post
No to be a smart a$$ but why care? if they are minor and you use it as a drift boat should be used, you are going to get more dents, it happens and is bound to happen as soon and you are done. If they are not causing any kind of problems dont worry about them.

Mine is bare alum and dents and scratches are just part of it.
Sorry, Mike. -I should have clarified. This is not a drift boat, it's a fishing boat with windshield & outboard, and these dents are mostly on the side; above the waterline.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonrafter View Post
My boat has some dents in it that I would like to remove (or have someone else remove). I'd like to get some feedback from persons who have done this before, or recommendations to shops or individuals who can do this work correctly.

I've tried researching this on the internet, and have found there is a lot of conflicting information. I know some repair aluminum by heating it up & cooling it (along with mechanical adjusting), and others swear that this is a really bad thing to do. I've also read that certain fillers are OK, and others (such as Bondo) should never be used.

My boat is painted, and will need to be re-painted (or vinyl wrapped), so it doesn't matter if the finish is trashed in the process of removing the dents. Most of the dents are fairly shallow, and most have no creases. This is a welded boat (not riveted), and the hull material is relatively thick.

If you have experience with this, please let me know. Your input is much appreciated.
As long as you can get to the dents you can have a guy on one side of the dent with a dolley (flat hard something) and you on the other side with a hammer and soflty tap what you can out. Since you are painting the boat you can then fill the dent in with Top Coat Very expensive boat repair epoxy almost $200 for the 2 gallons 1 hardner and the other filler. It is easy to work with like bondo after it dries then paint over it and you have a straight boat.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

Sorry i just saw boat and thought drift boat, still i wouldnt go to far with it like i said you will fix it paint it or whatever and the first time you scratch it or hit the dock you will be upset, its part of boating all the ones i know hit something now and then. i would use the money to upgrade something else like a top, or motor or fishfinder like that.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:29 PM   #7
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

lots of info for this on Riverjetmagazine.com and Meanchicken.net

jetboat sites.

You can use bondo. sometimes it cracks out.. but if you vinyl over it you will never know.. PS quite a few builders put bondo on your metal boats before they paint them.

You can take a big flat piece of steel and hold it up behind the dents...

Then I typically lay plywood over the dent so as not to show hammer blows.. then with 5lb hammer I pound the wood and flatten out the dent against the sheet of metal.

Then I usually take the green 3m Fine resurfacing pad on my die grinder to take off the burrs... then a little 200gr on the palm vibrating sander to blend everything in... If you want it to LIKE NEW>.. simply sand finer and finer... then switch to 3m microfinishing paste... and its like a rubbing compound... you can take it back to CROME shiny...

GOOD LUCK!
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

Hey Oregon rafter,

Take some before and after pictures, I have big dent in the side of my Seahawk due to dropping someone off at the dock in the wind.
Thanks!
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:52 PM   #9
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

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Originally Posted by handyrandy View Post
I had a dent removed in my northriver by Motion Marine. Excellent job. Couldn't even tell it existed. I would then recommend a vinly wrap from Coho Designs (a.k.a. Greenbuttskunk). Also excellent work. Boat looked like new when finished.

Good luck.
How much did Motion charge? I had Brad wrap my boat several years ago but he just covered up the dings, can he fix dents first for additional charge? Maybe Brad could chime in if he reads this.
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Old 12-23-2010, 01:14 PM   #10
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

Do not use heat!
Boat hulls should be made of 5000 series aluminum which is not heat treated. Removing small dents is easiest done with two people one on th inside and one on the out side. The person on the out side will be holding a heavey piece of flat metal and the one on the inside will use a rubber malot to beat out the dents, do not use a metal hammer on the hull. If more impact is needed than you can obtain with a rubber malot you can use a piece of aluminum placed against the inside of the hull and then use a heavier metal hammer. If the dent can not be taken out with these methods then you will need the help of some hydraulic rams. This I would advise paying some one to do.

Hope this helps

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Old 12-23-2010, 01:28 PM   #11
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

It's definitely made of 5000 series aluminum.

Thanks for the responses so far. You guys are great.
Keep the suggestions coming.
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Old 12-23-2010, 03:22 PM   #12
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

I'm having NW Marine Solutions do some rigging on my Scout. They have a guide size sled in their shop that they are completing some refurb work on. You could give them a call and see if they could do it.
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Old 12-23-2010, 04:02 PM   #13
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

If you are going to paint or vinyl the boat it would be easier and flatter if you just did a filler job. Most metal expands (expands length wise not in thickness ) as you hammer on it and can very difficult to make perfectly flat. There are marine grade fillers that you can block sand until flat then cover with vinyl, dent is gone.

Good Luck, Jeff
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Old 12-23-2010, 05:29 PM   #14
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

I would have a paintless dent remover guy look at it first, it all depends on the severity and amount the metal is streached, they may be able to pick out the dent without compromise, ASK if they have aluminum experience first. just speaking from 40 years in collision repair, good luck.
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Old 12-23-2010, 08:24 PM   #15
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

4 lb. or larger Compothane hammer and a large heavy dolly will take care of most dents in aluminum. The rest is just standard bodywork. Big dents might require use of a porta-power. Body filler stays on aluminum just fine if applied over DP epoxy primer with an etch primer base.
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Old 12-23-2010, 08:41 PM   #16
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

One great way to remove side dents is with a porta-power or even a make shift pump jack. The most important part is to fully shore the side your are not working on, as it would be bad to ush ot a dent on the wrong side. Jack work is easy, and it's more predictable.
Good Luck.
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Old 12-23-2010, 10:06 PM   #17
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

I Repair Aluminum Boats all the time. depending on the severity of the dent, and if the metal is stretched, will determin the correct course of action. Below is a repair of a hewscraft that got sliced open. I can repaint. or install vinyl wraps too








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Old 12-23-2010, 10:47 PM   #18
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

When metal dents, it stretches and thins. Depending on the depth of the dent, there is almost no way to make the metal go back to its original thickness. Small dents you can pop or hammer back out because the metal did not stretch and thin much. However, with deep dents the metal has stretched quite a bit and if you pop or hammer it back out you still have the stretched metal and it will never look the same. You can add a filler (bondo) to cover it. If the dent is deep and you are picky about the looks, I would recommend cutting it out, welding a piece back in, and grinding the welds down as depicted above.
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Old 12-24-2010, 10:02 AM   #19
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

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Originally Posted by gonfishenagin View Post
I Repair Aluminum Boats all the time. depending on the severity of the dent, and if the metal is stretched, will determin the correct course of action. Below is a repair of a hewscraft that got sliced open. I can repaint. or install vinyl wraps too


Your work is very impressive. I'd love to talk to you about my boat.
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:06 PM   #20
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

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How much did Motion charge? I had Brad wrap my boat several years ago but he just covered up the dings, can he fix dents first for additional charge? Maybe Brad could chime in if he reads this.

normally I will sand out superficial scratches and burrs before wrapping a boat. But I don't get much into fixing dents and bigger "ouches".
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Old 12-24-2010, 03:05 PM   #21
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

The problem with heat and aluminum is that it doesn't turn colors like steel. If it crumbles and falls apart under a hammer blow, it's too hot
One way to test for a working heat: A hickory hammer handle should drag and kind of stick across cold non-painted aluminum. Apply a little heat then slide the handle across, it will still drag. Apply more heat, constantly testing with the hammer handle until it slips easily across the material and a light tuft of smoke trails the handle, its ready. When the smoke turns bluish, and the handle skims across the aluminum like ice, it's plenty hot. A few more seconds in the fire and it tends to be ruined; like hit it with a hammer and it fails.

If it gets too hot don't attempt anything until it's cold to the touch, at which point the molecular structure is certainly altered and the materials integrity is probably be damaged. Air cool, don't quench.
Heat and aluminum: "shape and caress" the material, don't beat on it. Hot aluminum is similar in feel to forging cold lead, it's easy to work and gives like butter, but every little inaccuracy glares and it's easy to mess up...

Last edited by DaveyBoy; 12-24-2010 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 12-25-2010, 09:41 AM   #22
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

Having done auto bod and mechanical work since 15 (I am 30 now) I have come across a really cheap and cool technique for heating aluminium - go to a welding supply store - they sell a crayon that melts at a given temperture (find out the maximum working heat for your particular alloy) then heat and draw lines on it until it melts.
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Old 12-25-2010, 10:12 AM   #23
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonrafter View Post
My boat has some dents in it that I would like to remove (or have someone else remove). I'd like to get some feedback from persons who have done this before, or recommendations to shops or individuals who can do this work correctly.

I've tried researching this on the internet, and have found there is a lot of conflicting information. I know some repair aluminum by heating it up & cooling it (along with mechanical adjusting), and others swear that this is a really bad thing to do. I've also read that certain fillers are OK, and others (such as Bondo) should never be used.

My boat is painted, and will need to be re-painted (or vinyl wrapped), so it doesn't matter if the finish is trashed in the process of removing the dents. Most of the dents are fairly shallow, and most have no creases. This is a welded boat (not riveted), and the hull material is relatively thick.

If you have experience with this, please let me know. Your input is much appreciated.
leave em there.kinda like battle scars
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Old 12-25-2010, 10:51 AM   #24
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

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Originally Posted by Bassjacker View Post
Having done auto bod and mechanical work since 15 (I am 30 now) I have come across a really cheap and cool technique for heating aluminium - go to a welding supply store - they sell a crayon that melts at a given temperture (find out the maximum working heat for your particular alloy) then heat and draw lines on it until it melts.

Temp sticks. They come in a range of temps and work great.
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Old 12-25-2010, 11:22 AM   #25
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

OK, so correct me if I'm wrong. The idea is to heat the aluminum (if heat is needed), so that the temperature does not exceed a certain amount before attempting to re-bend. If this is correct, what temperature should 5000 series aluminum be, before trying to remove the dent?
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Old 12-25-2010, 12:05 PM   #26
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

Call Jason at Oregon Welding. He is an IFISH SPONOR and does great work.
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Old 12-25-2010, 01:24 PM   #27
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

If I recall right the melting point of 5000 series aluminum / magnesium alloy is around 1050 deg - that is the point of liquid metal however the annealing point of any alloy is typically around 70% of the melting temperature (annealing is the point where you are changing the metallurgy inside the metal - don't do that!!) so a max temperature before causing irreparable damage to the alloy is most likely around 725 deg.

As the temperature sticks are not an exact science (but close) error on the low side, staying under the annealing temperature quite a ways would be a good idea - and as a SWAG (scientific wild ass guess) I would work under 450 deg F.

Now the not so technical part is to prevent oxidization of the metal I am assuming you will use an Oxy-Acet torch to perform the heating, before you start crank up the acetylene so it is pumping black soot all over and coat the area you are working, and run a fat flame ( more orange than blue) and work your way up to 450 - I bet you find that the stuff is pretty limber around 325...

If your boat isn't awfully expensive I would go for it, the worst thing you will have to do is cut out a section - Then you would have a reason to buy more tools!!

I can picture now - "Honey, I need to buy a tig welder because I went past the annealing temperature and you don't want my boat to sink right?"
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Old 12-25-2010, 03:55 PM   #28
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

[QUOTE=Bassjacker;3443252]
F.

Now the not so technical part is to prevent oxidization of the metal I am assuming you will use an Oxy-Acet torch to perform the heating, before you start crank up the acetylene so it is pumping black soot all over and coat the area you are working, and run a fat flame ( more orange than blue) and work your way up to 450 - I bet you find that the stuff is pretty limber around 325...


QUOTE]
thats simular to the process I've used to repair Pot Metal parts on cars, get the oxy/acet black soot on the part, heat with a gental blue flame till the soot burns off, STOP and metal will move with getal force.
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Old 12-25-2010, 07:25 PM   #29
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

Great post
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Old 12-26-2010, 07:37 AM   #30
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

By the way, before you go putting flame to your boat remember that any carpet installed or any plastic or flammable material will need to be removed and replaced and if it has an internal gas tank, that will need to be filled (to remove vapor volume) and exhaust from a lawn mower pumped in to the tank to flush out oxygen and remaining fumes our you'll have much more than a dent to regret.

I too have a dent in the side of boat above the waterline I picked up when the wind slammed me into the side of the dock harder than anticipated. It is about 18 - 24" long X 6-8" tall, but shallow (3/4"?). I was thinking of making an extenison for my truck jack out of wood and pushing it slowly back into place from the inside - bracing the far (port) side heavily and putting a plate on the starboard side to spread out the pushing end. Would this work or should I just start "wanging away" with a hammer, plate and backing plate as described above? C.W.
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Old 01-06-2011, 01:27 PM   #31
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Default Re: Removing dents in an aluminum boat

I'm just updating this thread with some additional information I just learned.

Because I still wasn't sure about the use of Bondo for a repair such as this, I decided to contact 3M directly with the question. I stated that the areas of the repair would be below the waterline, but would be concealed by paint or a vinyl wrap. I also said the hull is on a powerboat, so it will be subject to flexing and dock bumping in the repair areas. This is 3M's response:
Mike,

Thank you for contacting 3M.

The best product we have for your application is the Bondo(R) Fiberglass resin jelly part number 432. This product is waterproof and it sands pretty good.
He mentioned in a subsequent email that it is a very stable product.

It's good to get this information from the horse's mouth. It makes sense to use a product that is reinforced with fiberglass, as it will likely have less of a tendency to break when flexing.
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