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Inflatables

How to Repair Inflatable Boats

INFLATABLE REPAIRS

DOING IT YOURSELF

Small repairs and adding accessories that will not receive heavy stress may be attempted by the owner if the instructions are followed.

Tears or holes longer than one inch in the air chambers or within two inches of a seam should be repaired with interior and exterior patches by professionals. You might get through the season with a simple patch, but have it redone properly over the winter.

We recommend that major repairs and towing rings be done by a qualified repair center. Weaver Davits can generally be added on your own, providing you can control the climate when gluing.

Consider shipping the boat to us. Without floor boards and parts, most boats can be sent inexpensively by UPS.
If your boat is still in warranty and you have a seam coming apart; the wooden transom separating from the cuff; or the fabric is turning yellow and sticky, don't delay.
Call your dealer or email us. Bad seams or sticky fabric often mean you can get a new boat for free or a small prorated fee. The longer you delay, the greater your share of the replacement cost. You cannot repair a seam and may void the warranty. You did register your warranty and keep a copy of the bill of sale didn't you?!

If you really want to do it yourself, we have three recommendations:

Read the instructions

Follow the instructions

Don't compromise on following the instructions!

ALL FABRICS - ALL GLUES - ESSENTIAL!

  • LOW HUMIDITY AND TEMPERATURE CONTROL
  • 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. We use a specially built, climate controlled room, and still we 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.

BE SAFE

  • Do Not Smoke! Glues and solvents are flammable. No open flames (e.g. furnace or pilot light when working in a cellar.)
  • Use in a well ventilated area. Fumes can be overwhelming. A carbon filter respirator is recommended. MEK solvent smells, but is relatively safe. Do not use Toluene.
  • 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 isoxcyanate based product.)

GENERAL TIPS

  • 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. It will oxidize rapidly. Do not economize and try to save it. The quality of your final bond depends on the proper mix of chemicals.
  • 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 (i.e. OK for lacquer); bound in metal not plastic; preferably with wooden or metal handle. Sometimes called Acid Brushes. (included in the Weaver Glue Kits)
  • 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. Email for advice.
  • Pinhole size leaks in most Zodiac fabric or PVC boats sometimes may be repaired simply by use of either Seam Seal or Air Seal by Sevylor. 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 with water only. Make sure little rubber O-rings are good. They are the cheapest repair possible.
  • If patching, cut patch 2 to 3 inches larger than tear in each direction and round the corners (a quarter makes a good template for the radius edge). 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. e.g. arrow, lightning bolt, even a new D ring if in right spot. We 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 the glue sets.

    NOTE: These instructions are offered to assist you in home use of glues. Because of the wide variety of conditions and critical procedures, Westport Marina, Inc. assumes no responsibility for failure of glued bonds or any consequence thereof. We always recommend repair by trained professionals. If you mess it up, our time to clean the fabric and rectify the problem can greatly exceed the cost of the original repair. We want to have happy customers, not make money from their errors.

    Fabric

    A quick discussion of the differences between "PVC" and "Rubber" fabrics.

    Liquid Latex

    For minor multiple leaks or porous fabric. An option to gluing when dealing with pinholes, slow leaks along a seam, and abrasions. Best for leaks under a rub rail or when you can't tell where the leak starts. Sometimes a combination of latex and patching is required.

    Glue Instructions

    Zodiac® Strongan (often generically referred to as "PVC")
    (also Bombard, Metzeler from 1989 on, Serié 1, Sevylor); ZED, Quicksilver;
    West Marine Marine by Zodiac; other copolymer or PVC coated fabrics

    Hypalon or Hypalon/Neoprene Fabric
    (Avon, Achilles, Boat/US, Sea Rogue, West Marine by Avon
    Metzeler before 1989, some older Zodiacs (call us). Most non-Zodiac fabrics
    fall into this category. Email if confused.

    Zodiac Gluing

    Non-Zodiac Gluing

    Liquid Latex

    Fabric Differences

    © 1998-2006. Westport Marina, Inc. These instructions may be copied by private individuals for use in repairing personally owned boats. They may not copied or published in any media including the internet for any commercial purpose or to accompany any product without advance permission of Westport Marina.

    E-Mail sales@shipstore.com with any questions.

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