aluminum canoe in below freezing weather

-- Last Updated: Nov-17-09 6:08 PM EST --

Its me again. This time I'm a little concerned about leaving my 13ft 1981 Smokercraft aluminum canoe outside in below freezing weather. This canoe has many rivets and my concern is water making its way between the rivet heads and the body of the canoe, freezing and expanding causing leaks. Where we live it rains a lot during the day and freezes a lot at night. Will this be a problem? I took advice I received on this forum and 're-set' the 18 leaking rivets using a hammer above and a small anvil below. This method worked great but now I'm worried that the freezing weather will cause more leaks. Am I being overly paranoid? I have to leave the canoe outside for the winter. I tried using a tarp but the air here is so damp that the canoe gets wet anyway. Thanks, Ron

Loosen all your rivets, and next spring
tighten them again. Otherwise your canoe will split into little pieces.

put your tongue on it.

There is no way
freezing water will harm the rivets in a canoe.

To start with, if the rivets are tight no water will get between them and the body panels. Even if they were not completely tight, which means the canoe would leak, there is nothing for the water to press against when it froze, it would just ooze out around the rivet heads.

We have had our 15 foot Grumman for 39 years, left outside year around in central NY and it is still in top condition.

Do not
loosen your rivets… If you are worried about water getting in A: put the canoe in the garage


B: throw a tarp over it.

(If it doesn’t fill up with water when you are on the riverhow much water is going to get into the seams?)

It is sound advice not to put your tongue on it though…

I dearly love my canoes,
but I’ve never felt the desire to lick them, even in warm weather!

Recycle the canoe with your beer cans and buy a decent wood and canvas canoe.


Then again…

– Last Updated: Nov-17-09 8:45 PM EST –

I've yet to own a wood and canvas canoe!

I have lust in my heart for one of Thurlow's "Cheemauns." If I only had an equal amount of cash in my wallet.

Think about all those bridges that are held together with really big rivets.

Dont worry
Be happy…

Be happy you have a good canoe and quit worrying so much.

I know of many canoes that spend the winter outside here in Pa.

Most every one is laying upside down and covered in ice and snow.Thats the best thing about an aluminum canoe ,the lack of maintinance.

Dont listen to those guys and gals that say get rid of it and get an overpriced wood canoe,You have the best canoe there is for the pure enjoyment of being on the water and the lack of maint.

How many Grumman owner have to worry about UV’s,

scratches,revarnishing and enough room to store it inside.

Paddle on


you can treat rivited seams with …

– Last Updated: Nov-17-09 10:09 PM EST –

....... anti-corrosion blockers and/or moisture displacement products .

Airplanes (think Grumman and other alum. rivited models) are treated in this manner for maintenance purposes .

Excellent aviation products to do so are T-9 , ACF-50 , LPS .
The T-9 will penetrate deep into seams and displace moisture (aviation grade) ... I have a link to a supplier but I don't feel like typing it out here , it's too long ... email and I could forward to you if you can't locate products yourself . These products come in areosal spray cans too , and aren't too much $$ . You can get these products in gals. too I think and saturate if desired .

There's all kinda stuff you can do to alum. shells , you can put an aviation grade finish on it with proper products for prep. and finish , but that cost a few bucks !!

To my knowledge , I don't ever remember hearing of anyone concerning with alum. canoe seams getting water in them and freeze expanding/loosening ... but the thought is a valid one just as in airplane skin maintenance ... probably because they are just "canoes" not planes ??

But your alum. canoe is your baby and it certainly won't hurt anything to baby it if you want to .

Many alum. Jon boats and V hauls are welded seam now a days , but many used to be rivited seam ... and seam maintenace was a smart penny invested for that good const. technique , but canoes don't undergo the stress , torque and abuse as do the motorized alum. boats .

we have had nine aluminum canoes outside since 1971. Its wintery in Maine.

That must be why we now have six aluminum canoes that dont leak. The other three make good compost bins…they dont melt.

aluminum in winter
Aluminum canoes have been used up north in conditions in which they are buried under multiple feet of snow in the winter.

When the snow melts in the spring, they are good to go.

Happened to my Uncle Lenny
He never loosened his rivets in the winter and one year his canoe split into little pieces while he was carp fishing in the Suwanee.

A power boater saved him, if you can believe that.

That stuff about not licking aluminum in the winter is BS from the movies. You can do it.

had alluminum grummans
outside in winter at temperatures down to -40 degrees for years and no leaks ever.

cover rivets in wax?
I don’t know if it’s really a problem, but if it is, why not take a candle one day and drip a generous coating of wax on each rivet? That would keep the water out.

Do you have any idea how many rivets are in a Grumman?

It might take 2 candles for that “wax job”.


maybe duct tape then
Naw, I’m not familiar with the boat or the problem, I was just trying to help the poster think of ways to keep water out, if that’s what he wants to do.

If wax isn’t practical for whatever reason, a strip of duct tape should also keep the water out, and should last through the season if properly applied.

cycles is what matters
For the many people posting up who say they have had no problems, recall that the poster says he lives in an area where it rains a lot during the day and freezes at night (Oregon). Thus experience from Maine or Alaska may not be relevant because what causes damage is repeated cycles of freeze and thaw, not how cold it gets or how long it says cold. He may have to go through 2x or 3x or 5x the number of cycles as someone further north. Then add to that the higher number of cycles that occur under wet conditions, and I can easily see how one winter in Oregon could cause as much freeze damage as 10 winters in Alaska.

Rain and freezing also occurs here
and have never heard of your issue occurring.