cleaning aluminum canoe

Just bought a 50 year old 15’ grumman canoe. Anyone have some good ideas on cleaning the oxidation.

I’d leave it be
On sunny days, you may be glad to have a dull finish on the hull. Or, you can explain to your friends that there’s a “very scientific” reason for being lazy, er, I mean leaving that stuff on there. Aluminum oxide is a very hard material, and it will “protect the boat”. Yeah, that’s it. Tell 'em that (in all seriousness, I did hear from a gearhead roommate back in my college days that Porsche went to great lengths figuring out a good way to oxidize the insides of the cylinders of their aluminum engines before the final finishing, because that oxide is very resistant to wear. I can’t veryify that he was correct, but that’s what he told me).

you could
polish it, or acid wash it. The acid wash is what truckers use for the aluminum tanks and bodies. The acid will dull the shine but keep the surface fairly bright. I think acid washed aluminum looks sweet.

horse trailers sells a product you spray on and wash off. Made my aluminum trailer look brand new!

The good thing about…
about aluminum is that its easy to repair, acid wash…

I think it was called…
Billett polish, or some such. By McGuire, I think, very pricey, but the old pontoon boat had a mirror shine to the old girl for some time.

The oxidation does help preserve the aluminum, I understand, but if you want the shine, check out the auto parts stores, or google aluminum polish and see what the aircraft and airstream trailer folks are doing to keep the shine. With enough work, and the right polish, it can be amazing.


I think that’s the name. I always go to the local chemical supply store and tell them I want to clean my pontoons of my boat and the chemical is usually by the counter in the spring time. I mix it accordingly and spray it with my garden pump srayer. All you do is spray it on wait about 5 minutes and spray off. There is no polishing. It’s incredible what it can do. You do need to make sure you spray it really well because it cleans the aluminum because it creates a reaction of some sort that will continue to react if not rinsed thouroughly. I’ve been usung it every spring now for about 7 years.

Same Stuff
I like the look of acid washed aluminum, besides maintaining polished aluminum is a lot of work.

I think that
CLR would work alright. Worked very well on an old aluminum sink.

Pressure washer
will take about 30 minutes, more time than you should spend on a 50 year Gruman. Get the big chunks off, then take it out for a spin.

More time than you should spend
That 50 year old canoe has already outlasted many more expensive canoes.A little TLC aluminum cleaner and a green scotchpad will make it last another 50 years.And look sweet.Leave the oxy on the inside,repaint the floor grey.And paddle on.