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Old 03-02-2018, 08:59 AM   #1
feb
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Default Wood .vs. Aluminum Seasonal Dock

I have a typical 5 section, 8' x 4' seasonal wooden dock that I struggle more and more to install/remove each year. The sections are heavy and hard to carry. But once the dock is in, and the pipes are pounded into the lakebed the dock is very solid. I live in a high wind, high chop area so having the boat tied to a solid dock is a must. The last 2 sections of dock have their pipes pounded a solid 6' into the lakebed.

In lieu of a cantilevered dock, I was wondering if it was worth the $$ to replace the wooden sections with the aluminum equivalent. In my mind, the weight and ease of install would be a biggest positive. Aesthetics would be another plus. I don't mind sledgehammer work, its getting the sections in/out that is the worst part for me.

For those with aluminum docks, are they as sturdy as wooden docks?

Anyone move from wooden to aluminum and regret it?

Any negatives with aluminum docks?

Thank you.
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Old 03-02-2018, 11:11 AM   #2
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The new seasonal crank ups are pretty solid. If you feel that your location is that prone to wind and waves I would look at going with a permanent piling dock. You will only get 30' of length unless you have shallow water, and would have to circulate it in the winter, but it is cheaper than a crank up and stronger.

As far as an aluminum pipe dock, I would not recommend it in rough, exposed areas.

We had a permanent crib dock and loved it, with our new property we have a crank up as it was already there.
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Old 03-02-2018, 11:45 AM   #3
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I'll let you know this summer. Also high wind area on Winnisquam (Sanbornton)

Our place came with a well built 40' 4x8 section wooden dock with steel pipes. The prior owner had a boat lift so he had no issues with wind. We bought a 23' tri-toon and even with whips the dock is leaning by the end of August. It was better last year as I used more cross bracing and pounded the poles in deeper.

WaterMark will be installing a crank-up dock this spring so we'll see how it goes.
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Old 03-02-2018, 12:07 PM   #4
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I went from a wood monster to aluminum. Would NEVER go back. However, there are some things that I had to do to handle heavy water ski/ wakeboard boating that caused numerous huge waves. First, I initially had a single dock. Used mooring whips very successfully with snubbers on my main boat lines. Snubbers take most of the shock out of the lines. Great investment. Next, I was lucky enough to have enough frontage to expand to two docks in the traditional "h" pattern. No longer needed whips, but absolutely needed the snubber son both sides. Next, had diagonal pipes installed on the last two sections of he dock to stabilize it. The final deal was embedding a screw anchor into the lake bottom....we leave it there each year, and then using a ratchet strap to connect the pipes and the screw anchor to hold the dock to the bottom. Works extremely effective. I have a 23 ft Grady White docked here....weighs approx. 4000 lbs with engine and fuel....no issues at all. Love the aluminum. I have cedar tops, but when I redo the dock, may go to the new composites....but will check the pricing before a final decision. Snubbers, whips if only a single dock, diagonal bracing, and a screw anchor makes these docks fabulous in my opinion.
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Old 03-02-2018, 12:09 PM   #5
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BTW, both of my docks are 6 ft wide by 40 ft long...with Shoreland permits for the entire thing. I would think the 6 ft width is a must for most new applications. 4 ft seems narrow to me.
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Old 03-02-2018, 12:29 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info.

Tummyman, I have enough frontage for 2 docks as well. Which permit did you use for your setup - Standard App with Minimum Review? Did you fill out the whole 20 questions document as well even though many questions didn't apply?
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Old 03-02-2018, 12:38 PM   #7
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Default Some Ideas...

Quote:
Originally Posted by feb View Post
But once the dock is in, and the pipes are pounded into the lakebed the dock is very solid. I
Our dock is also wood (cedar, lighter than pressure-treated) and we switched from galvanized steel pipes to heavy aluminum pipes (from RDS dock hardware in Franklin). The aluminum pipes are much easier to handle, and won't rust as the galvanized did.

Regarding pounding the pipes in, we drop a fire nozzle on a garden hose down the pipe to insert the pipes... it works great!
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Old 03-02-2018, 01:00 PM   #8
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I have a very old aluminum dock that came with my cottage, and it looks like it was made in the 1950's or 1940's and is still very usable despite having been crunched once by a moving ice sheet. I just keep fixing it and fixing it and fixing it ...... sort of like driving a 1952 Chevy Bel Air in Havana, Cuba, for your one and only car. Is about 5' x 40'.

If I were to replace it, I'd look at the 'dock in a box' items at Walmart.com, where you get a 4x8', or 5x10' aluminum dock section with legs, and it includes the measurements for the removable decking which can be any of pt lumber, redwood, mahogany, or trex plastic. You purchase the materials for the decking at the local lumber yard, and build it yourself. Probably, would go with 1 1/4" pressure treated lumber that's removable from the aluminum frame, and stain it with grey latex stain, and re-stain it as needed, years later.

Or, try googling 'aluminum do-it-yourself boat dock kits.'

Having the heavy pt-lumber decking removable from each aluminum section in two decking sections makes it all be light weight enough for easier installation /removal.

After looking at the 'dock in a box' items, maybe you want to check out the 'hot tub in a box' made by Intex.
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Old 03-02-2018, 09:23 PM   #9
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Filled out a Wetlands Permit with Standard review. Answered all questions as best I could. Supplied pictures, etc. etc. Before I submitted anything through the Town Clerk, I went to Concord and met with DES on Hazen Drive. They were extremely helpful in going over my planned submittal and indicated what added things i needed. Took a little time to collect all the data, but it was worth it. Or you can get the work done for a fee by places like Center Harbor Dock. BTW, I have a Shore Master dock and absolutely love it. I think it has the best method for adjusting legs, adding cleats, etc. etc. Well thought out dock system. Really easy to install. My son (he's big) can pick up an entire section...6 ft wide and install it himself. At least drop by Center Harbor dock (ShoreMaster dealer) and talk to Don...the owner. Get a few quotes before you do anything. Too bad you missed the Boston Boat Show....lots of docks on display and some decent pricing. There may be on coming in NH...check it out on line.
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Old 03-05-2018, 12:27 PM   #10
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Staying with Wood is a viable solution. You just need to get crafty with how you design your sections. Over the years I have developed many methods for reducing weight to get the sections in and out.

The best of which was my son's getting old enough and strong enough to help :-P...

But in all seriousness, you make the floor boards into sections, that lift off just like an aluminum dock. The you make center supports, by using joist hangers, removable. Shorten the sections from 8' to 6' etc. etc. If you in a high action area I suggest widening your dock to 6' will make things more stable on the deeper sections.

Other idea's include not using Pressure treated wood... Instead use traditional pine, and use a good stain or wood preservative to protect it.

I have thought about going aluminum many times, the problem is when it get wreck, its wrecked and you have to find someone that can weld it back together... I like the ability of just stopping at the lumber store, picking up a new board and fixing the damage....

The other thing as you look at docks, if you have all the hardware, so you cost to update your structure is the cost of lumber. Buying an aluminum solution is going to require much more $$$$$$.....

Just my 2 cents, if you want to discuss ways to make sections more manageable just let me know.
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