Alumacraft was among the first aluminum boat builders in the US.
For a long time, aluminum boats had a reputation for being cheaply-made and shabby in appearance, but manufacturers like Lund and Tracker have changed that.
So, how does Alumacraft quality hold up in the current landscape?
Here’s How Good Alumacraft Boats Are:
Aluminum boats are tough, and Alumacraft has been making them for over 75 years, with a wide variety of types and models. The company continues to be among the largest brands in the aluminum boat business. Given their strong quality control and extensive dealer network, they are a reliable brand.
A Brief History of Alumacraft Boats
When World War II ended, there was an excess of both metal and skilled craftsmen.
Harry J. Neils, the Minneapolis-based Flour City Ornamental Iron Company president, put both metal and skilled artisans to good use in forming the Alumacraft Boat Company to produce specialty aluminum fishing boats. Their first boat, the Model B, was introduced in 1946.
The Model B was a big success and was followed by the Merry M, and later the Super C. Business continued to grow during the economic boom of the 1950s.
In 1970, the company was acquired by Timpte Industries and moved to St. Peter, Minnesota, where it remains today. Alumacraft purchased the Arkansas-based General Marine Corporation, adding more styles of boats to the growing lines.
The company’s backbone remained specialty fishing boats, as it does today. Still, they also produced various other crafts like canoes and even a 20-foot cuddy cabin cruiser through the 1970s and 1980s.
By 1996, their 50th year in business, they had made 500,000 boats. They introduced their 2XB hull system, which is a twin-plated one-piece hull running stem to stern.
In 1997, David Benbow, the General Manager when the St. Peter plant opened, bought the company and made it independent. It remained so until he passed away in 2010, at which point the Corinthian Capital Group purchased it.
In 2018, Alumacraft was bought by Canada-based BRP, manufacturer of Evinrude motors and Ski-Doo snowmobiles.
How Reliable Are Alumacraft Boats?
One of the biggest advantages of Alumacraft Boats, and aluminum boats in general, is their affordability.
Most owners seem to understand that at the very favorable price point. However, there will be some problems that inevitably arise.
These boats are mass-produced, and while Alumacraft takes pride in their aluminum quality, larger ribs and rivets, and grade of paint, problems can still arise in the production process.
This can be poor caulking, some bad rivets, missed seams, and poorly applied paint.
This is a factor of mass-production, though, and while you can find complaints about these online, Alumacraft does not seem to be worse than other brands when it comes to the fit and finish of their boats.
Many reported issues are minor and fixed quickly, such as a speedometer line dislodging or screws backing out of windshields.
How Durable Are Alumacraft Boats?
Another big advantage aluminum boats have over fiberglass and wood is the durability of the material.
Aluminum can pound on waves and rocks and might get dented, but it won’t get a hole. The failure in aluminum boats mostly comes from the riveting and the welding at the seams.
Depending on the style of the hull, the aluminum may be welded or riveted. For instance, Alumacraft’s Jon boats are welded, and most of their tournament boats are riveted. Both methods are durable options when they are properly done.
One advantage Alumacraft currently has is that most of their hulls are one piece, so there is no seam in the center (the ribs are still riveted). This reduces the possibility of leaking.
However, Alumacraft owners that use their boats hard can expect problems to arise simply because of the manufacturing process eventually. Using them in rougher conditions than they were intended for will cause damage, particularly to seams that cannot flex like the aluminum itself.
Some owners report their Alumacraft being “totaled” after 5 years of hard use; others have the same boat for 20 years.
Given their price point, Alumacraft boats seem to be as durable as you can expect.
What About Older Alumacraft Boats?
While the aluminum used will not break down, the construction and other parts eventually might.
Leaks develop eventually, either due to corrosion or other damage to the rivets or the welding.
There are many complaints on forums about older Alumacraft developing these problems, particularly leaks.
However, all of their competitors display the same kind of problems from this era, so it is probably unfair to say that older Alumacraft boats develop more problems than other similar brands.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
Many Alumacraft replacement parts are still being made and are available from a dealer.
Given how widespread Alumacraft boats are, there are a large variety of retailers that sell OEM parts for these boats, including some older models.
Boatoutfitters.com has a large number of replacement parts for a wide variety of models. There are also many smaller online retailers that carry selections of Alumacraft parts, and they are easy to find on google.
For boats from the 1990s and earlier, finding out-of-production parts will be more difficult. The dealer network is often composed of stores such as Cabela’s that do not have any room for parts or legacy as dealers.
A few longtime dealers may have accumulated some old parts, but tracking them down can be difficult. In this case, internet forums are the best place to search.
There are many Alumacraft owners on a large number of fishing and outdoor forums, and they may be able to point you in the right direction or even have some old parts themselves.
What Are Typical Problems With Alumacraft Boats?
There are occasional reports over the years of cracks in the welding along the hull. However, these are infrequent and seem to be taken very seriously by the company, and generally appear to be repaired quickly.
This cracking along weld lines may be something that is simply an occasional hazard of the process of welding aluminum rather than a problem with the company.
There are reports of leaking in some models before the mid-2000s when Alumacraft was able to identify and correct the problem. Dealers and owners speculate that the leaking resulted from corrosion caused by electrolysis and leaking gas tanks.
Usually, this is an expensive repair, as it involves pulling the rivets and doing that job over.
Sometimes, this problem goes deeper, though, as some boats in the 1990s were found to be missing caulk along the keel that should have been applied during construction at the factory.
As one frustrated owner said, “A combination of caulk and rivets seals the keel, and on my dad’s boat, the caulk was missing for about 3 feet of the keel—no evidence it had ever been caulked, even at the factory. The (repair) shop foreman said it had probably been leaking since the first day in the water.”
There are complaints about the dashboard and the consoles on more recent models. Usually, these concern cracks across the dash or along the base.
Most owners seem to feel that the company has done a good job with warranty repairs.
However, some customers experienced delays in getting this problem fixed. The company that manufactured some of the parts used in the consoles had mislabeled the part numbers in their inventory.
It was months before Alumacraft identified this problem.
How Long Do Alumacraft Boats Last Compare To Similar Brands?
Aluminum lasts a long time.
While corrosion is an issue if it is allowed to develop, and constant flexing over waves can eventually result in cracks, the metal itself will not break down in the elements or get soft as fiberglass will.
Forums are filled with owner testimonials, and it runs the spectrum from boats falling apart after five years to those who still have their original 1980s model.
A comparison with other brands of aluminum boats on these same forums will show the same complaints and compliments.
It is probably fair to say that Alumacraft’s longevity is about the same as other similar brands, though Lund and Tracker may have a slight edge in that regard.
Do Alumacraft Boats Hold Their Value?
Aluminum boats do not seem to depreciate as fast as fiberglass boats. Part of this is that they are so cheap compared to fiberglass.
To begin with, there is much less value to lose.
An Alumacraft boat will have decent value after 5 years, averaging about 25% depreciation.
Looking at the 2015 Competitor 165 Sport LE, it sold for $12,642 originally. It currently has an average resale value of $9,680. That is a depreciation of 24%.
The larger, 19-f00t Tournament Pro 195 Sport sold for $19,834 in 2015. Currently, the average resale value is $14,840, or depreciation of 25%.
After 10 years, the depreciation is much greater. The 2010 Tournament Pro 195 retailed for $20,189 and has a current resale value of $12,870. That is a depreciation of 36%.
These values seem to be about average for most aluminum boat brands.
Are Alumacraft Boats Still Being Made?
The company is still going strong, making dozens of models of boats from 10-foot Jon boats to 20’8″ deep-V performance craft.
While most of their boats are sportfishing models, they have divided their craft into 5 lines.
They offer over 70 models in these lines, and they run from a 10-foot Jon boat to a sport boat of almost 21 feet.