ALUMINUM DECKING INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS FOR BOAT KITS WITH 17
REQUIRED TOOLS

Installation of our aluminum decking packages require a few basic tools, as well as a couple specialized tools. Below we have provided a list of everything that you'll need, as well as a part numbers and links to where you can get the specialized tools from McMaster, which is a reasonably priced industrial supplier. Click on the part numbers to be brought to where that item is available on the McMaster web site. Many customers will already have the majority of these tools, if not all of them. These tools (other than perhaps a rivet gun) should be stocked at your local home supply or hardware store as well.

3/16" hex key wrench McMaster PN: 7122A47
7/16 box wrench (ratching recommended)
11 Gauge drill bit McMaster PN: 30585A22
1/4" drill bit McMaster PN: 8870A27
7/16" drill bit McMaster PN: 8870A41
3/4" countersink bit (optional) McMaster PN: 2846A39
3/8" standard electric drill
1/4" right angle drill
3 ratchet straps
4 C-clamps
Rivet gun
Tape measure
Combination square (optional)
Steel hammer
Rubber/plastic mallet (optional)
Center punch McMaster PN: 3451A31
Fine point marker
Small metal file
Human assistant (optional)





STEP 1

After your floats and frame kit is all assembled, wipe any dust or dirt off of the top of your frame's cross members and place the boat on a flat area. We chose to place our boat on a set of pontoon boat storage blocks for installing our decking to make it a bit easier to get under the boat for riveting. We recommend placing your boat on something to elevate it as well. It'll make it a lot easier to crawl under to drill holes and install rivets. If you have the ability to lift one side of the boat after the first plank is installed, that's a great option as well. Either way, your back will thank you when you're done. You'll note that our boat was on a trailer for the first couple planks. A trailer is not required for this.

STEP 2

We need to note that some planks may have a few sharp edges on the ends where they were cut at the factory. Use a file, sand paper, or other deburing device to remove any sharp corners or burs. You will want to be sure to do this for all the planks.

Place the first plank on the right side of the boat and line up the front and right edges of the plank with the boat frame as shown here. The plank will have a very short unsupported portion (approximately 1.5") at the rear end of the boat. Use two C or F clamps to hold the plank in place as shown here. You'll require clamps with a minimum of 3" capacity. The clamps in our pictures have a 4" capacity.



STEP 3

If you purhcased a lift plate set with your boat kit, DO NOT drill the frontmost bolt hole (and rivet hole later on) or the two rearmost bolt holes in the outer deck planks during the decking installation on your boat. CLICK HERE to view further explaination of this, as well as installation instructions for the lift brackets.

With your combination square and a marker, draw about a 1" long line on the top of the aluminum plank parallel to the cross members of the boat and center it above the top part of each hat channel. Now use your square to measure 5/8" in from the right (starboard) side of the plank. Do this for every cross member except for the front square tube cross member. THE DECKING DOES NOT GET RIVETED OR BOLTED TO THE FRONT SQUARE TUBE CROSS MEMBER. Now use your center punch and a hammer to make a center mark in the top of the plank where those lines cross. As the top of the plank is fairly thin, you don't have to hit the center punch very hard to make a small divot.




STEP 4

Using a 1/4" diameter drill bit, drill straight down through the top of the aluminum plank and through the top of the hat channel. Do this for every position that you just marked.



STEP 5

Using your 7/16" diameter drill bit, drill through ONLY the top part of the plank where you just drilled 1/4" diameter holes. DO NOT DRILL ALL THE WAY THROUGH, BUT ONLY THROUGH THE TOP SURFACE OF THE PLANK. Do this for every position you drilled a hole in step 4.

STEP 6

Remove your clamps and place the plank aside. Use your tape measure and your marker and make a mark 7 1/2" in from the outer end of the hat channel cross members (in from the starboard side) as shown here. Use your center punch and a hammer to center punch the mark in the middle of the hat channel cross members. This is not precision work, so don't worry if your hole is not in the exact center of the cross member.


STEP 7

Use your drill and a 11 guage drill bit (0.191" diameter) to drill through the top of the hat channel cross members where you just marked. Remember, you are not to drill through the front square tube cross member. In our picture, we used a right angle drill and are using a short length drill bit. A right angle drill is not required for this step and we actually recommend using a standard length (Jobber length) drill bit such as the one we recommend from McMaster at the top of this page.


STEP 8

Now you need to debur the holes that you drilled in the tops of the hat channels, as well as the 7/16" holes that you drilled in the top of the first aluminum plank. We like to use a 3/4" diameter chamfer bit in our drill to do this, but a little bit of sand paper, or a flap disk on an angle grinder will also do the trick. If you don't have a chamfer bit in your tool box, this handly little tool makes quick work of this job, and we have provided a link to purchase one through McMaster at the top of this page.

STEP 9

Line the plank you drilled holes in back up with the right side (starboard side) and front of the boat frame and insert your 1/4" diameter, 7/8" long stainless steel allen bolts through the holes as shown here. This step requires a 3/16" allen wrench. The wrench fits snug enough into the head of the bolt that you can use it to insert the bolt through the recess that you made with the 7/16" drill bit. Do this for all the bolt holes through the top of the plank. Do not yet install the nuts. Install four clamps along the inside edge of the plank (side opposite the bolt holes).



STEP 10

From the underside of the boat, use your 11 gauge drill bit and 90° drill and drill through the holes you made in step 7 to drill through the bottom of the aluminum plank. Remember, you're just looking to drill through the bottom lip of the plank, not through the top of the plank. Do this for every position that you drilled a hole through in step 7.

STEP 11

Remove the clamps and place the plank aside again. Wipe any chips off of the cross members and line the plank back up with the right and front of the boat frame. Line all the bolts back up with the holes in the cross members and push them through the holes again. Reinstall the clamps and install the rivets in the holes you just drilled from under the boat. For this, we like to use a pneumatic rivet gun. You can use a manual rivet gun, but it's a TON of work to do it by hand. An air powered rivet gun is about $60 and is well worth the investment if you don't have one already or have the ability to borrow one.

STEP 12

Now you can finally install the lock nuts for the 1/4" diameter stainless allen bolts. The picture to the right shows a separate nut and washer, but we now use a flange lock nut (nut and washer as a single part) for this part of the installation. Use your 3/16" allen wrench to hold the bolt from spinning and install a 1/4" stainless flange lock nut on each bolt. The nut will require a 7/16" box wrench and we strongly recommend using a ratching box wrench for this task. Otherwise, it can be a tough job. Do this for all the 1/4" bolts that run along the outer edge of the aluminum plank.

STEP 13

Insert the include plastic plugs into the holes through the top of the plank. If you are intending to install carpeting or vinyl flooring, these plugs are not necessary.


STEP 14

Now you're onto the easy part! For the inner planks, you will have to reference the diagram below that is appropriate for your boat kit. We offer aluminum decking kits for a few different boat kits, and each kit has similar patterns where you stagger the rivet holes in the middle of the boat, but to make it perfectly clear, we have provided a diagram for each kit. Click on the small diagram to see a full size version.

With the diagram either open on your mobile device, lap top, or printed on paper, use a tape measure to mark a hole position in the center of the hat channel cross members that show they get holes. The marks are to be made 1/2" and 7 1/2" from the edge of the installed outer right (starboard) side plank. Use your center punch to make a small divot in the center of the hat channel cross members where you made your mark. Once again, drill through the hat channel cross members with your 11 gauge drill bit and debur the top of the holes as you did with the last set of small holes. Remember, not every cross member gets holes drilled in it for each plank.




STEP 15

Clamp the next plank in place on top of the boat frame so it's positioned right against the first plank and over the holes you drilled in the last step. From the underside of the boat, use your 11 gauge drill bit and drill through the holes you made in step 14 to drill through the bottom of the aluminum plank. Once again, you're just drilling through the bottom lip of the plank, not through the top of the plank. Do this for every position that you drilled a hole through in step 14.

Remove your clamps, place the plank aside, and brush away any chips on top of the frame. Realign the plank with the holes you've drilled and install the rivets from the underside of the boat. If you are installing the rivets with the boat positioned the way we do in our pictures, we find it handy to have a helper stand on top of the planks to keep them held down for riveting.

STEP 16

Now that you've installed a couple planks, you're a pro at this. Refer to the diagram again, mark, drill, debur, and rivet in your planks working from the right to the left and riveting them in place from under the boat. To keep the planks tight against each other to drill the holes and rivet them in position, we recommend using three ratchet straps to hold the plank you're working on tight against the previously installed planks. When using a ratchet strap, we like the type without hooks, but any ratchet strap with a strap 12' or longer will work. Do not over-tighten the strap so that the aluminum plank becomes deformed, but just enough to keep it securely against the prior plank. Before riveting each plank down, use a platic hammer, or a steel hammer with a block of wood, to tap the plank down where it is against the adjacent plank. We do still find it necessary to install four clamps on the outer edge to ensure everything is in place before the plank is riveted on from under the boat. Do this for all of the central planks until you're down to just one plank not yet installed. When doing this, we like to write the plank numbers from the diagram onto the planks themselves to make sure we keep track of which plank we're referencing the holes for.



STEP 17

You're onto the last plank and this one will be a breeze! Measure and mark the hat channel cross members 1/2" from the edge of the prior plank as you've done for all the prior planks. Do this for every cross member other than the front suare tube cross member. As you did before, center punch the hole locations, drill through with your 11 gauge drill bit, debur, and clear the chips.

Place the last plank onto the boat and line up the front edge of the plank. Clamp the plank down on the ends (as you will not be able to clamp the middle portion) and put your ratchet straps around all the decking on the boat once again to pull it tightly against the rest. The last plank may hang over the edge of the frame by a tiny bit and that's okay. Just like with the fist plank installation, use your combination square or tape measure to mark 5/8" in from the outer edge (port side) of the plank centered over each hat channel cross member. Once again, do not mark above the front square tube cross member. Center punch the center of the X marks you drew and drill straight through the planks and the top of the hat channel cross members with your 1/4" drill bit. Now drill through just the top of the plank with your 7/16" drill bit where you just drilled 1/4" holes, as you did with the first plank. Disconnect the ratchet straps and clamps and place the plank aside. Debur the 7/16" holes in the top of the plank and the 1/4" holes in the cross members. Brush away any chips on the cross members.





STEP 18

Place the plank back on top of the boat and reinstall the ratchet straps and clamps at the end of the plank. You many have to put a bit of force on the straps to align the holes. Insert the 1/4" x 7/8" stainless steel allen bolts in all the holes in the outer edge of the aluminum plank, but do not yet put the nuts on the bolts.

Use your plastic mallet or a steel hammer with a block of wood to tap the inner edge of the plank down securely against the frame. From the under side of the boat, use your 11 gauge drill bit and your f90° angle drill to drill through the small holes you just drilled that are for the inner edge of the last plank. Drill through the holes in the cross members and through the bottom side of the aluminum plank. Hop out from under the boat, unclamp, unstrap, and place the plank aside one last time. Brush the chips off the top of the frame.

STEP 19

You're almost done! Place the last aluminum plank back onto the frame, reinstall the ratchet straps, align the holes, and reinstall the clamps at the ends of the plank. Once again, you will likely have to put a little bit of tension on the straps to align the holes. Insert the allen bolts into the holes and install the washers and lock nuts. Tighten the nuts and bolts all the way down the length of the boat. Use your plastic mallet or steel hammer and a block of wood to tap the inner edge of the plank down against the frame.

From under the boat, install the rivets in the holes you drilled from under the boat in the last step. If you have a helper, ask them to stand on top of the plank and walk down the plank as you progress from one end of the boat to the other with the rivet gun.

Climb out from under the boat and insert the black plastic plugs into the 7/16" holes on the outer edge of the last plank.

STEP 20

Remove the clamps and the straps and this part of your boat build is done! You did an excellent job, so pat yourself on the back. Also, give you helper a cookie. He or she deserves it!

If you purchased our lift plate kit, move onto Step 1 of our lift plate set installation instructions below.


LIFT PLATE SET INSTALLATION & NOTES

The accessory lift plate set makes use of the 2 rearmost cross members and the frontmost hat channel on your boat kit. These plates mount at the four corners of your boat and include a set of special machined plastic spacers that are made to fit into the profile of the aluminum decking panels to prevent them from being crushed when the mounting bolts are tightened. The lift plates for your boat are installed AFTER the aluminum decking is completely installed, but as the lift plates bolt in positions where you'd otherwise have to drill at the four corners of the boat, you MUST NOT drill the two rear outer deck plank bolt holes or frontmost bolt hole that is described in steps 3 through 5 and then again in step 17 (other side of the boat). During the decking installation, you MUST omit those holes, or your frame will NOT be suitable for the installation of the lift points. To the right is an example diagram showing the holes you MUST NOT drill during the decking installation if installing our lift point set. After installation of your aluminum decking package, return to the steps below for installing your lift plate set.

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO STEP 3 and continue with your decking installation.

LIFT PLATES STEP 1

The set of lift plates includes two plates with four 3/8" diameter bolt holes and two plates with two 1/2" bolts holes. You will require a 3/8" transfer punch and a 1/2" transfer punch to mark the holes. The 4-bolt plates go on the rear corners of the boat and the 2-bolt plates go on the front corners of the boat. We are going to start with the rear corner lift plates.

Start by placing the 4-bolt plates on the rear corners of the boat and place them as shown below. The long side of the plates go flush with the sides of the outer deck planks and the rear end of the plates are to be 1.2" from the rear end of the deck planks. Please refer to the diagram to the right for a down-facing view of how they are to be placed on both sides of the boat. The placement of these plates needs to be accurate to ensure that spacers line up later on. Use your 3/8" transfer punch to mark the locations of the bolt holes.


LIFT PLATES STEP 2

Use a 3/8" drill to drill straight down through the deck plank where you just made marks. Drill through both the deck plank and top of the hat channel cross-members below it.

LIFT PLATES STEP 3

This part can be a little tricky and you will need a piece of wood or plastic bar and a hammer.

Select the four plastic spacers that each have two holes bored in them from your bag of spacers. They will be labeled "A". Using a piece of wood or a length of plastic bar, insert the spacers into the inner profile of the deck plank and drive one in at a time so that the holes in the spacer blocks line up with the holes that you just drilled in the deck plank.

The holes in the blocks are slightly oversize to make them easy to align, but as the blocks fit tightly into the deck planks, they are tough to pull back out if you drive them in too far. Because of this, take your time and be careful not to push the blocks too far into the deck plank.


LIFT PLATES STEP 4

Place the 4-bolt lift plates back ont the rear coners of the boat and align the holes. From your bag of hardware, select all the 3/8" x 2 1/2" hex bolts bolts, 8 3/8" washers, and 8 of the 3/8" flanged lock nuts. Put a washer over the 8 bolts. Apply a bit of the included Loctite thread locker to the threads of each bolt and then put them in the bolt holes and through the deck. You may have to tap them in with a hammer (we recommend a plastic hammer). Thread on the 3/8" flanged lock nuts and tighten all the bolts. Your rear lift plates are now installed.

LIFT PLATES STEP 5

Now you're onto the front lift plates, which bolt on above the frontmost hat channel cross-member on your boat. These DO NOT bolt through the square tube cross-member.

Draw a line on your deck centered above the frontmost hat channel cross-member on your boat. Position the 2-bolt lift plates so that the holes are centered over the line and the ends of the plate are even with the sides of your boat. The diagrams below and to the right show this. We do not have measurments referencing the front of the boat here because the front hat channel cross-member is not in the same position for every boat kit we offer. With the plates aligned, use your 1/2" transfer punch to mark the bolt hole locations from the lift plates. Remove the plates.

At the inner marked positions, drill straight down all the way through the deck plank and top of the hat channel. For the outer holes, only drill through the top of the deck plank. This set of holes go through the edge of the lower support flange of the deck plank, so the plastic spacers and lift plates installed later on help act as a drill bushings to keep your the drill bit from wandering at that position.


LIFT PLATES STEP 6

The remaining plastic spacers are labeled B and C. Each of the two front lift points require one of each spacer. If it very important that you insert the correct spacer into the correct slot in the deck plank so that the bolt holes line up. As with the spacers you've already installed, these fit tightly and are difficult to remove, so go slow and be cautious. If you install a spacer in the incorrect location, you may not be able to remove it at all.

Referencing the diagram to the right, insert and drive the spacers into the outer deck plank on either side of the boat until the hole in each spacer is aligned with the corresponding hole in the deck plank. Take your time and be sure not to drive the spacer too far in.


LIFT PLATES STEP 7

Place the 2-hole lift plate back on the boat and line them up with the holes in the deck. Select four of the the 1/2" x 2 1/2" hex bolt and put the 1/2" washers over the bolts. Apply a bit of the Loctite thread locker to the bolt threads of 2 of the bolts and tap them through the inner bolt holes of the lift plates and drive them all the way through the deck planks, plastic spacers, and hat channel cross member. Do not yet put a bolt through the outer bolt holes.

Using the remaining outer lift plate bolt hole as a guide, feed your 1/2" drill bit through the lift plate, hole in the top of the deck plank, and then plastic spacer, and drill all the way through the bottom of the deck plank and the top of the hat channel cross-member. Put 1/2" washers over the two remaining 1/2" x 2 1/2" bolts and apply a bit of Loctite to the threads of the bolts. Tap them through the holes you just drilled and thread on the included 1/2" flanged lock nuts. Tighten all the nuts and bolts for the front lift plates and the job is done!