Fixing Leaky Rivets on an Aluminum Boat

Aluminum rivet repair
You can see the completed repair on the rivet heads along the keel.

Eventually all boats leak.  And with a rivetted aluminum boat, a likely culprit is the rivets.  The working of the hull from various stresses that happen during use eventually takes its toll and starts to “wallow out” the rivet holes that were so nice and tight when the boat was new.

Aluminum boat repair
Closeup of the completed rivet repair.

Fortunately, there’s an easier fix than re-riveting.  WEST System G-Flex epoxy is well suited to this repair because of its toughness and superior elongation properties.




Here are the steps to making your boat leakproof again.

Abrade the rivet head and surrounding area with a wire brush until you see new metal all around.

Wipe with solvent to remove any contamination that might be present.

Flash heat with a propane torch to drive out any moisture and excess solvent.

Apply G-Flex epoxy around the rivet head with a syringe.

Heat the epoxy to lower the viscosity so it can penetrate into any crevices.  This also promotes curing of the epoxy.  But don’t overdo it and cook the epoxy.  You’ll know it if you do.  Just wipe it off with a rag and reapply and reheat.

Wait for the epoxy to cure before moving the boat.

That’s it!

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