1960 Lonestar El Dorado


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Oct 7, 2021
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Good morning, I am new to the forum and also new to aluminum boats and hoping for some advice from the experts. I would really appreciate it!

A little background: A year and a half ago I redid the transom, stringers, bulkheads, and deck of a 16ft 1976 Invader Intruder and it was my first time restoring a boat or working with polyester resin, CSM, and 1708 fiberglass. The space has seemed cramped for our activities (trolling pelagics offshore, lobstering, and scuba-diving in Miami/Homestead FL) but we make it work. We're also limited on space on our sideyard that a boat would fit, with only 7.95ft from our house to the neighbor's property line.

While diving off Key Largo, I saw a 16-18ft boat with the helm way up front and a large space in the back and fell in love and have looked for something similar for months. In comes the 1960 Longhorn El Dorado on CL and I just picked it up but it needs alot of work. I have a couple questions and will post pictures along the way. I have read alot but also want to make sure on some points.

1. When I picked it up there was rainwater in it but I didn't see any leaks from the bottom. While cleaning out the water and grime I see silicon on top of many rivets inside the hull. Not sure if there was a problem or if it's preemptive. What's the best way to find any leaking rivets, and best way to resolve them? I've had good luck with 3M 4200 on my Invader but not sure about sealing rivets with it?

2. The max hp rating for the boat is 80hp, which I believe was the biggest outboard manufactured in 1960. I'd like to put a newer 115hp 4-stroke on it and feel like I need to brace the transom. Everything I read says you can't beef up the transom using fiberglass on aluminum. What's the best way to go about it without a welder? And if a welder is required, what's an economical option to buy one that'd work great on aluminum boats?

3. I read to not use plywood as a deck in an aluminum boat, and also read that planks with a 1/8" - 1/4" gap inbetween is fine in aluminum boats. I like it also because I can see any water underneath and spray freshwater down there. Is there a recommended wood/prep for this? Or in saltwater is it best to seal off the deck completely, even though I feel a leaking rivet would allow salterwater in anyways and I wouldn't be able to spray it down. We will 100% trailer to the marina.

I'm trying to build a functional fishing/lobster machine. Will paint it nice but won't restore it to 1960 original so I don't want to spend a fortune on it. I really appreciate your time and advice!

In my experience I have found that people will smear goop on rivets without taking the time to find where the actual leaks are. Put water in the boat and get underneath and watch for drips. Mark them with a sharpie. I like to rebuck offending rivets before using any sealant. I have had good luck using JB Weld Steel Stik. Clean the aluminum bare before using.
As for the welding, leave that to the pros. As a welder, I recommend taking it to a local shop and having it braced up right.
Cool looking boat. Good luck on the project!

Sent from my CLT-L04 using Tapatalk

Thanks for the reply, I will clean the silicon off every rivet and fill it up with water and check for leaks. Y'all have to try sitting at the helm of this boat! I imagine it feels like being in the cockpit of an airplane. I'm sure my back won't appreciate it when it's choppy but it's absolutely amazing.

As for the welding, how much do you think a job like this is? I generally try to buy tools I can reuse and learn the new skill as opposed to paying for a one-time job but welding may have a steep learning curve. Always wanted to buy one though. Do you think the cheap few hundred dollar TIG welders on Amazon are good enough to practice with then use on a small job like this?
You need AC to Tig aluminum. Those welders run a little more expensive than a straight DC welder. Yeah there are some cheap ones and they may work great and last forever or they may crap out with no recourse or parts availability. Any ac Tig will weld a boat so it's your choice.
115 might be a lot of motor for that boat.

Sent from my CLT-L04 using Tapatalk

Thanks! What is the general consensus on sealing the deck for aluminum boats? There's 3 limber holes per rib. I'm thinking I should seal a plywood deck everywhere so saltwater cannot drip underdeck, but about the aft rib?

If we return from diving dripping in saltwater, and saltwater drips into the bilge, then a wave drops our bow down, saltwater would enter below deck through the aft limber holes. I won't successfully be able to hose under the deck with fresh water, so is it best to also cork/seal the 3 aft limber holes while boat is in use?

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