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Advice For Fabricating Marine Vessel Helm

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  • Advice For Fabricating Marine Vessel Helm

    I'm hoping to gain some information about the appropriate aluminum pipe/tube to use with fabricating a vessel's helm. I've attached a rough sketch of the fabrication. I've also attached a picture of a tower similar to what I want. Referring to that photo, the forward section of vertical pipe attached to deck and helm box is what I want. The aft section in the picture wraps around, essentially 1 pipe. Then as you can see it has 2 welded legs that mount to the bulkhead. I do not want my fabrication in such a way. Instead I want 2 horizontal pipe, forward weld to vertical pipe, and aft bent to 90 and meeting the deck where welded flanges with screws holes.

    I have read 6061-T6 is most commonly used for structural marine fabrication, is very good at resisting corrosion, but difficult to bend/curve. In comparison, 6063-T6 also is good at resisting corrosion, isn't as strong as 6061, but is easier to bend/curve. I also must consider which of these can be anodized and/or powder coated.

    Here are details of the fabrication:

    *2 lengths of vertical pipe approx 50" in length. The bottom of pipe will be angled aft to about 50ยบ to deck with a welded circular flange for screw mounting into deck. The top of pipe will have a slight bend to allow for a flush junction between flange and helm console.

    *2 lengths of horizontal pipe approx 55".

    *This structure will bear a total weight of no more than 500lbs, static.

    *I prefer using the lightest weight aluminum pipe possible without compromising structural integrity. I have a leaning post on my boat that has an O.D. of 1.75". I'd like to use the same size pipe for this fabrication if possible.

    Do you recommend 6061 or 6063? Anodized, powder coat, or both?

    Since this fabrication is fairly straight forward, is there an online service where I could not only buy the pipe but also have the bends made? Or do I find a local fabricator?

    I'm sure this type of aluminum fabrication for y'all pro's is remedial. I won't be doing the welding, but I like to know as much as I can about constructing this project. Please feel free to make any suggestions and advice, especially if I've left something out that is important.

  • #2
    I have been using 6063-T52 for a few years now.
    It bends nicely and is very strong.
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