Aluminum Chambered Boats

High performance aluminum boats

Company Information

Aluminum Chambered Boats is the world's fastest-growing manufacturer of high performance aluminum boats. Our mission is :

ACB is committed to delivering the world’s finest boat to all of our government, commercial and recreational customers. We have been successful developing unsurpassed performance characteristics in speed, safety

Easy maintenance and reduced fuel burn.

Whether the customer represents the U.S. government, a scientific expedition or a remote fishing lodge, every ACB owner has been more than satisfied

Manufactures high-performance, rapid-response aluminum vessels for the government, commercial and recreational markets globally. Our mission is to provide max quality in every aspect of boat technology and durability

Current Inventory For Sale

Commercial and Government Models" - Boat Building Gallery:

Bridge Erection Boat (BEB)
Bowloader Series
Dive Rescue (DVR)
Expedition Sport Cruiser Series
Extreme Sport Fish Series
Law Enforcement Vessel (LEV)

Recreational Models


Aluminum Chambered Boats
809 Harris Ave.
Building #6
Bellingham, WA 98225
(360)647-6007 Fax

Aluminum Boats

Pros and cons of rivets and welds in aluminum boat construction

Trailerboaters are drawn to aluminum hulls for two very practical reasons: more bang for your buck and more power from your punch. The boat buyers mantra is usually “get the biggest boat you can afford,” so it’s easy to see how the low price and light weight might sway some away from fiberglass, which costs a little more and is heavier.

Specifically, aluminum hulls of a given length and carrying capacity are on average at least 30 percent lighter than fiberglass boats of similar dimensions. Less is more when it comes to performance. You can go faster with a given horsepower on a lighter hull, or you can save money by buying a smaller engine and still get reasonable speeds and a good holeshot (not to mention a smaller engine equates to better fuel efficiency).

A lighter payload also allows a lighter capacity trailer. These trailers usually have smaller wheels and tires, smaller frame members and typically one axle instead of two. Your small four-cylinder pickup or even your compact car might be plenty to handle the total combined load of boat and trailer. Not having to invest in a special tow rig also saves fuel and insurance costs.

The one big decision in regard to aluminum hull construction always boils down to this: rivets or welds? What’s your pleasure for holding all that aluminum together: a series of aircraft-quality pop rivets or a bead of welding?

The choice

The choice is not as straightforward as you might think. Are you appearance motivated? For some, pop rivets are unsightly, bumpy and tend to accentuate the seamed appearance of an “aluminum” boat. Some don’t care for the irregular look of a weld bead -- and hull fairness may be compromised from heat distortion of the hull plates. Sight the length of the hull from bow to stern or the reverse and note how true the transition from one segment of the hull is to the next. Doing this for both methods of construction may reveal things you won’t notice from a profile view.

Another generalization that has to do with aesthetics is that pop-riveted hulls are boxier than welded hulls. Welding allows joining of many odd-shaped pieces at odd angles, which can create more complex bottom designs. This is becoming less of an issue with the more modern designs. By using metal-shaping techniques, designers have diminished the number of joints and accomplished the end result with less riveting.

If you are interested in dissecting the attributes of a particular boat, inspect the five critical stress points especially crucial in an aluminum hull: bottom, transom, keel, engine/outboard mounts and gunnels. Check the transition between these components and look for adequate reinforcement.

One of the issues that may have initially drawn you to an aluminum boat is its lightweight construction. If this remains a priority, take it to the level: Pop-riveted hulls are generally lighter than welded hulls. The thickness of the metal plates will many times determine joining technique. There is a threshold at which welding is not practical, where the metal will not hold up to the heat of the welding equipment. Hence, welded boats tend to be thicker and riveted boats tend to be thinner.

One threshold influences another. What we are referring to here is the size threshold. As you approach and surpass the 20-foot range, the gauge of the aluminum plate will need to be increased. It’s a matter of structural practicality; the panel strength of a thicker metal becomes necessary to counter “oil canning” tendencies as you go bigger and faster (oil canning is defamation of the planing surface).


Referring once more to the affordability factor, pop-riveted construction costs less. This is a no-brainer. Riveting can be performed using less specialized equipment and inexpensive labor. Riveted boats are about 10 to 20 percent less expensive.

There is a longer history of riveting compared to welding, so a greater variety of designs is available. The technique has been perfected through the years, so pick a manufacturer with longevity. If it has addressed all of the inherent difficulties associated with the technique (riveting or welding) and has survived, chances are it builds a quality boat. The one inarguable statistic is that riveted boats are still the most popular (which is partly because they cost less).

Aluminum boat Structural drawbacks

The truth is that both construction techniques have their structural drawbacks.

Makers who only build welded hulls say that welding eliminates the possibility of leaks, which nearly always occur in riveted hulls after several years of hard use. The stresses of using a boat in a variety of conditions are tempered or magnified by the owner’s driving habits, so one owner might see leaks much later than another. Stresses are transferred to the riveted joints, and since aluminum is a relatively soft metal, “working” occurs. The rivets stretch and the rivet holes elongate, resulting in potential leakage problems. Larger overlap seams and double lines of riveting diminish this issue. There are even techniques being used that include a caulk or adhesive within the seam.

Still, the reality is that almost all riveted hulls leak over time. Typically it’s a minor problem, one that the boat owner can live with. Finding the exact source can be difficult because of the lack of access to some areas of the hull interior. Even then, repair success depends upon the experience and workmanship of the repair technician.

Makers who exclusively build riveted hulls point out that welding weakens the metal surrounding the weld. After years of use and flexing, the weakened metal is likely to crack, creating a much more serious leak than a loose rivet.

Just as riveted boats benefit from the “low tech” construction process, welding requires a higher level of proficiency of technique and inherent risk. There is more that can go wrong if a welder is having a bad day or does not possess good welding skills. This issue may not show up until later. Included may be weak or defective welds, hull deformation from too much heat or too many cracks resulting from too heavy a weld bead creating a “stiff” spot. The good news is this type of damage is easier to repair by welding a reinforcement section or even cutting away and replacing it with a new section.

The debate has been going on between weld proponents and rivet advocates for so long with no clear winner that the contest is considered a stalemate. The decision becomes a personal preference based on appearance, value and usage.

If light weight and modest cost more closely match your style and boating environment (streams, small rivers, small lakes), a riveted hull will likely be your choice. If durability and strength are necessary to support your boating style and area of operation (larger bodies of water), a welded hull may suit you best.