Friday, July 10, 2009

Procedures for Repairing your Inflatable Boat

Rips or holes larger than one inch in the air chambers or within two inches of a seam should be repaired with internal and external patches by a professional repair technician at a certified repair facility. A quick patch repair may solve your problem for a short period of time, but I recommend you have it redone by a professional.

Also I would recommend that major repairs and the addition of large accessories such as oar locks, seating or towing rings be done by a professional repair technician at a certified repair facility. If your boat is still under warranty and you are experiencing a seam failure, the wooden transom separating from the molded transom flanges or tubeset, or the fabric is turning yellow and sticky, call your dealer. Defective seams or sticky fabric can result in complete warranty coverage and you may receive a new boat for free or at a small fee.

If you you would like to attempt a small repair, here are some instructions:
Relative humidity must be less than 70%, preferably as low as 40%.
Temperature 64° to 77°F.

Never fiddle around with these. Bond strength drops very rapidly with heat or high humidity. Take your boat indoors. Don't even think about trying to glue on the dock or near the water or in direct sunlight. Professionals use a specially built, climate controlled room, and still don't attempt to work on a rainy day.

Note: You are using a two-part contact cement. The solvents in the glue must evaporate before assembly. When ready to assemble parts, the glue must not be tacky at all to the finger. It must not have spots of whitish glaze. If so, you may have spread the glue too thick, not waited long enough between coats, or a sudden drop in temperature or gust of humid air may have occurred. Someone may have opened the door, or you may have leaned too close and breathed on it. Plan to stay in the room until finished.

General Tips
Mark out your patch or accessory perimeter where it will be glued on. Then use masking tape to tape off the area to avoid getting MEK or glue on other parts of your boat during the repair process. This takes a little time but is well worth it in the end as the glue is hard to get off the boat after it dries and looks very messy when it dries and goes brown from the sun.

If using small cans ( 1/4 L) mix the entire can with the dose of accelerator. Inaccurate measurement will weaken the glue. Once opened the accelerator cannot be kept. Do not try to save it. The quality of your final bond depends on it.

Apply glue with a paint or glue brush with the bristles cut short (1/2 to 3/4") so they are stiff. It must be natural hair, bound in metal not plastic, preferably with wooden or metal handle. Careful not to get glue on areas of your boat besides the repair area.

Old glue must be completely removed, solvent, sandpaper, scraping, grinding with a dremel tool. Glue will not stick to old glue. Clean it off thoroughly. Be careful not to burn or melt the fabric if using a Dremel tool. Constant motion with the tool will prevent this problem.

If your boat has ever been protected with ArmorAll or another silicone or petroleum based product, you may have great difficulty getting a bond. Wipe the repair area well with MEK, follow the gluing instructions closely and hope for the best.

Pinhole size leaks in most Hypalonfabric or PVC boats sometimes may be repaired simply by use of either Seam Seal or Air Seal liquids. You might be able to avoid a patch on the boat.

To find tiny leaks, take floor boards out, inflate boat hard. Put some liquid detergent in a bucket of water and with rag or big wash brush, scrub it all over boat. Keep watch for elusive, tiny bubbles. When you find the first leak, keep looking. You might as well fix them all at the same time. Remember, the number one cause of slow leaks is a poorly seated valve. Unscrew, clean. Make sure little rubber O-rings are good. They are the cheapest repair possible.

If patching, cut patches 1 to 2 " larger than tear in each direction and round the corners (a quarter makes a good template for the edges). Little one inch circles pasted over a pin hole won't last. Try to get the same fabric used by the manufacturer for your boat. The inside and outside surface may be different. If you can't match color, sometimes a cleverly shaped patch in contrasting color can be made to look like decoration instead of a Band-Aid. such as a arrow, lightning bolt, even a new D ring if in right spot. Professionals often put one on each side to look like they came with the boat.

Inflate boat to apply accessories. Deflate to patch air leaks, even if very small. Air pressure will bubble the patch before glue sets. Use our inflatable boat restoration paint if your boat is old looking, looks faded, is sticky or generally looks old and ugly.

Do Not Smoke, Glues and solvents are flammable. No open flames.
Use in a well ventilated area. Fumes can be overwhelming. A carbon filter respirator is recommended. MEK solvent smells, but is relatively safe. It is recommended that you not use Toluene, the factories do but it is very dangerous.

Accelerator (small bottle) is toxic. If spilled on on your skin WASH IMMEDIATELY with soap and water. If in your eyes, IMMEDIATELY FLUSH WITH WATER for at least 2 minutes and consult a physician. (Accelerator is an isocyanate based product.) Always wear safety gear as recommended by the manufacturer of glue, solvent, or accelerator.