Henry Lupton extols the virtues of extruded alloy for Solar Panel mounts and other structural projects on your boat
Off-the-shelf anodised aluminium sections can provide a Meccano-type solution for many structural projects on a boat.
I used some to make adjustable brackets for my solar panels. The pivoting bracket allows me to selectively tilt it towards the sun.
I was also keen to be able to change the panels’ location, and the slots on the section allow
for multiple configurations. Simply slackening the fasteners enables siting of the panels aft of the
arch. The main arms could also be mounted on the underside of the arch.
There are a number of suppliers and most provide a cutting service, so all you need do is assemble the parts. A web search will provide lots of options.
I used A4 stainless fasteners rather than the standard dipped nuts and bolts. Each cross-section has matching plastic end caps and slot covers which more or less seal up the open bits but since it’s basically the same material as the mast and boom it is well up to coping with the conditions.
I was concerned that the galvanised bracket might not survive the salty environment, but it has borne up well over the last winter, and the whole arrangement has comfortably survived all those 2015/16 storms.
I am planning to use the same material to build a bracket for a windvane, which will provide
a true test of its strength. This type of section can also be used for flexible storage and shelving projects, especially in tight and awkwardly-shaped locker spaces as you can assemble within the space rather than trying to get the whole thing through hatches.
Send us your practical projects – we pay at least £30 for each one published in the magazine!