Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Inflatable Rehabilitation

Unlike diamonds, inflatables are not forever. But with a little attention, they will last quite a while... Drew over at Sail Delmarva gives us some inflatable maintenance tips:
When I bought the boat I honestly did not expect the tender to survive more than a season or two. She was 10 years old and faded, and didn't hold air too well. It was just a matter of time. As it turns out, Hypalon is surprisingly durable stuff and 5 years later she's going strong... with some rehab.

This time it was a bit of peeled rub rail and a wear patch that was starting to go through. A bit of heavy wader patch material (2 layers this time) and some 3M 5200 and she's right as rain. The masking tape is simply the most practical clamping method, since the stuff cures slowly. Is there a faster cure cement? Sure, but I don't keep it handy since it cures in the tube, it seems, certainly if you open the tube. I have used 3M 5200 before for wear patches and gluing bits down. I wouldn't use it for patching a hole, but it does well for mechanical purposes. The rope scrap is in there just to apply clamping pressure to the edge.

(How is the tender supported in the air with the lifting tackle removed? The tricing lines, of course.)

Other repairs over the years?
  • Replaced lifting spreader (plastic replaced by aluminum).
  • Replaced floor. Fortunately for me, a demo with defective tubes (but new floor) was pitched, that only needed trimmed for length.
  • Repairs to flow followed by replacement of floor.
  • Lubing valves. A few drops of glycerine in the valves restores them to like-new performance for 6 months. Ever since I learned that trick she has held air just fine for a month at a time.
  • Paint. I figured even if the paint didn't look that good, it would serve as sun screen. I'm more about function that appearance.
  • A rub rail on the stern.
  • Cut off the bow handle. It snagged when lifting.
  • Added rod holders. Handy for numerous long items.
  • Added fuel filter to outboard. I really do want it to last, as you can't buy 2-strokes any more and the 4-strokes are huge. Started using Biobor EB (top performing corrosion inhibitor).
What's next? I'll touch-up over these patches and perhaps re-paint in 2 years. I have a replacement seat I found that I need to pop in (same free source as the replacement floor). 

Some day, a replacement will be in order. Will I go bigger, an RIB with enough motor to scoot? I don't think so. While that is without question the right answer in some locations and for some people, for the Chesapeake with her soft beaches, short runs, and flat harbors, I think I prefer light weight and super-shallow draft to something beefy. I might go 6 hp, up from 3.5 hp, but that's it. light is nice.

1 comment:

  1. I love this.
    This is a timely post as we have adopted a new project boat, a 25 year old Zodiac dinghy, dubbed "Honk." Honk leaks. Honk needs to be patched. Honk will be rehabbed.


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