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Buying an Old Tin Boat

Updated on June 25, 2011

Old Tin Boats

There are a ton of new boats for sale, but boat prices and the cost of boat ownership make one wonder if it’s worth it to own a new boat. Depending on what the boat will be used for, one should consider an old tin boat as an option, especially if fishing is the main reason the boat is being purchased. Whether it be a flat bottom or semi V configuration, these old tin boats have the ability to navigate areas of some larger lakes and are light enough to carry in to your favorite fishing hole or farm pond.

Tin Boat Price

If the decision is made to purchase a tinboat, there are a few things one should know prior to and during their search. It’s not all that difficult to locate a boat for sale at a cheap price, but if the boat needs a lot of work, depending on what needs to be done, it may not be that great of a deal.

Old Tin Boat

Old Tinboat
Old Tinboat | Source

Flatbottom Tin Boat

Flat bottom tinboat
Flat bottom tinboat | Source

What Type of Tin Boat

Consider the type of tin boat needed. If fishing small ponds, lakes, creeks or generally shallow water, a flat bottom boat may be the way to go as these small boats are easy to move around and they don’t sit very deep in the water. A downside to this is that they are not as stable as the semi V. If fishing lakes with deeper water, or more stability is desired, a semi V bottom boat is the way to go.

Finding a Tin Boat

There are many ways to find an old tinboat. One of the easiest ways is to just keep an eye out for boats parked near homes that might have “for sale” signs on them. The next option, and probably the best at this time would be to do a local search on Craigslist. At any given time, there are always boats for sale on this site and people are only limited by how far they are willing to drive to look at and possibly purchase the boat.

Tin Boat Welded Seam

Tinboat Welded Seam
Tinboat Welded Seam | Source

Tin Boat Riveted Seam

Tinboat Riveted Seam
Tinboat Riveted Seam | Source

What to Look at on a Used Tin Boat

The overall condition of the tinboat should be taken into consideration when negotiating a price. If the boat is full of dents and covered with silicon or caulk, it’s a safe bet that the boat has some problems and it should either be avoided or purchased at a low price.

Pay attention to the thickness of the aluminum when looking at these tinboats. Thinner aluminum will suffer more damage in the water, but if it has enough ribs and supporting structure built into the boat, it shouldn’t be a problem. Thicker aluminum boats will resist damage while in use and generally last longer.

Look over the seams of the boat. Determine if it has welded seams or riveted seams. Welded seems are stronger and less prone to leaking over time. Riveted seams are still strong, but tend to leak as time goes by. A 40 year old tin boat with riveted seams is probably going to have some leaks that need to be addressed.

The stern or rear of the tinboat where the motor mounts should be looked over closely for cracks. This area typically is reinforced and can handle a small outboard motor, but if an outboard larger than the manufacturer recommends has been used on the boat, there could be stress cracks, or a general weakening of the structure in this area.

Tin Boat Stern

Tinboat Stern
Tinboat Stern | Source


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