1995 Smoker Craft Pro-Alaskan 16 - Found some bad corrosion :(

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1995 Smoker Craft Pro-Alaskan 16 - Found some bad corrosion :(


Post by Stephen_G_Fiddes »

I recently got what I thought was a good deal on a great boat. Was told it was kept inside, it looked like it was kept inside, and hardly used. Motors were in great condition, interior of the boat was mint.

Seller mentioned he found one leak, and had patched it with JB weld, and put a piece of flex-tape over to keep it in while it cured. I looked, and the patch area looked to be where a rivet could have been. I thought nothing of it.

Get the boat home, and my buddy notices a weird leak. I look and there's a corrosion hole. Interesting. Look a few other places, and find a few other small corrosion holes. Take part of the decking off, and they all seem to be randomly isolated, not a widespread issue. Cool, not the end of the world.

Later on notice some corrosion on the transom skin. No surprise there, pressure treated plywood from the factory, Known issue before I purchased.

Decided, Screw it, I'll tear this boat apart, replace the transom the right way for my 60HP (it came with a 30), replace the floor the right way, check the foam, if it's wet, replace it too, put it all back together and be done, and have a great boat for a good long time that I will maintain properly, should give me no issues. So I thought....

What I discovered is some pretty serious damage...

1:some pretty serious stinky brown muck under the fuel tank, indicating it was stored outside, and that was all organic material composting in the hull. Thankfully, the metal under there looks good (except the leak the P/O patched)

2 (pictures 1, 2, 3) Under the rear starboard foam, there was some very serious corrosion, and severe damage to the ribs. Looks like Salt Water plus an electrical issue. Fairly thin material (Hitting it hard with a stabbing motion with a pair of needle nose pliers, I could not stab through the thinnest material however). Area in the middle of the rib is also corroded, and it was packed full of white paste. (Aluminum "rust")
Photo Dec 10, 16 00 25.jpg
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Photo Dec 10, 16 00 37.jpg
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Pictures are after some very very very agressive pressure washing with a turbo-nozzle. I figured if 3000 PSI took away any metal, I didn't want it there anyways, it was doing nothing but deceiving me and hiding bad.

3:Port side under foam, some smaller areas of corrosion, a few holes as well as more ribs with holes or missing chunks... (Pictures 5-6)
Photo Dec 10, 16 00 57.jpg
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Photo Dec 10, 16 01 42.jpg
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4: Not pictured is the few other random isolated corrosion holes I'm not concerned about and will be a fairly simple fix with a patch inside or outside with Marine Tex or slow cure 5200 and backing plate

5: Underneath one of the back two ribs, there is a hole corroded inside of the rib, and into the keel. Found that out after I finally got all of the foam out and as much other gunk as I could.

I'm really concerned about the widespread areas at the stern, and the bad corrosion inside some of the ribs. It's going to be hard to get to those areas to stop the cancer, and keep it gone because the ribs WILL get water in them again. I'm also not sure on patching that large of an area due to the high chance of water intrusion and starting crevice corrosion, especially at the stern where it's got the highest pressure of water.

If possible, I would REALLY like to get a season or two out of this boat, but only if I can do it safely. That would keep me from losing any more points with the Mrs.

I was going to put my 60HP motor on it, but I think I'll stick with the 30 it came with, just to put less pressure on things, IF I can get a safe fix.

I am not set on repairing this boat at this point, unless something simple will safely gain me at least a year or two of use.

I called a few places, and got quotes on re-skinning, and was told $5,000+, and Smoker Craft told me "that is IF we can even manufacture the parts". If I could find a trashed boat that had a solid hull skin, I would consider re-skinning that way. I selected this particular hull based on personal experience, and the numbers on the USCG plate, it's the perfect boat for my needs and in my price range. Just wish I had known what to look for with the corrosion. I now know for next time.

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Location: Kenai, Alaska

Re: 1995 Smoker Craft Pro-Alaskan 16 - Found some bad corrosion :(


Post by kmorin »

Steve G,
the photos show lots of pretty serious problems. And, absent some idea of a overall view of the boat- showing some indication of the extent and location of the rib failures? I'd say no one with real knowledge can offer you any assurance that the boat is sound enough to use "safely"; EVEN WITH and extensive rebuild.

I'd error on the side of caution, don't want you treading water when an already 'engineered thin' hull folds up while you're out deeper than your waist!

The extent of the damage shown, the countless subjective evaluations implied by the images and the lack of your experience and knowledge (no offense intended in any way); all point to informed posters asking you to "burn"/dispose/scrap this failed hull.

My primary point of reference is the ribs- originally minimal in riveted hulls - rolled or press formed to obtain their 'stretch stress increased' tensile stiffness(es); now compromised at or near 100% of their section..... I'd say there is not a cost effective way to rehab this critical structural element of a riveted skiff?

Admittedly, I'm more experienced with welded skiffs, and have only repaired and never designed or built a riveted hull in press formed thin skin aluminum. However, the closer a designs' scantlings are to min. sectional modulus for service, the more and more critical becomes the originally intact section when considering 'safe use'.

As to the storage, use and history of the skiff? Your photos show that the deterioration at this stage is a result of extraordinary conditions of bilge water ph and perhaps complications that accelerated corrosion and deterioration of the orginal hull's metal.

If I were to advise? I suggest you use it for a planter if your Mrs will allow that? or get it out-of-sight and mind in the local land fill.

I will refrain from my usual rants about treated cellulose inclusion, and foamed bilges in aluminum boats and simply say "let the buyer beware" is a lesson hopefully learned?

What could anyone do to a skiff at this level of destruction that will make it reliable or safe- at a cost effective level as compared to the value of the skiff? Nothing I can see.

Pls 'salt' my remarks with the fact that I'm a welded skiff builder, and have only repaired or modified riveted, thin skinned, press or stretch formed skiffs a couple dozen times. If this skiff were brought to my shop I would refuse to have any involvement.

Good luck with your search for another hull to use.

Kevin Morin
Kenai, Ak

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