Saturday, April 25, 2009

Proper Patching Procedure for Inflatable Boats

Patching an Inflatable Boat is a fairly simple procedure for small pin-hole leaks on the air chambers.

The main steps are as follows.

1. Roughen all surfaces to be patched with No. 100 Sandpaper.

2. Wash sanded surfaces with Acetone.
3. Use a patch of approximately 2 1/2" to 3" in diameter.

4. Use masking tape on the repair area to outline the perimeter of the patch to make a neat repair.

5. Apply adhesive to the patch and area to be repaired. Three applications are required. Details are provided below.

6. Apply the patch in such a manner as to avoid trapping any air bubbles under the patch.

7. Compress the patch to the repair area with a roller or compression tool.

8. Allow the patch to cure for at least 72 hours before putting the boat into the water.

Exercise caution when using acetone as it tends to remove a layer of the skin of the Inflatable. Also it is recommended that you use proper protective gear such as gloves and a well ventilated work area to do the repair.

The repair should be done in suitable environmental conditions. The ambient air temperature should be 18 deg. C to 25 deg. C. Humidy should not exceed 78% otherwise the drying glue will accumulate condesation and the patch will not adhere properly.

Patch & Glue Types
Zodiac supplies the correct patches and glue in their repair kit that comes with the boat. If you have used up your patches or glue or buy a used boat without the repair kit, you will have to go to a Zodiac Inflatable Boat repair shop to buy the appropriate patch material or glue. Inflatable Boats are built in two main types of material. PVC or Hypalon. It is recommemded that you purchase the same patching material as the boat. The same applies for the glue. Zodiac has two different types of glue that they recommend for the repair of Inflatables. For the PVC boats they recommend Pastomere All Purpose Adhesive. For Hypalon, Zodiac recommends Neoprene Adhesive. In a pinch, you can use the Pastomere Glue on Hypalon material with extremely careful preparation. Keep in mind that Hypalon is a more finicky material and requires careful preparation at any time to make a good patch job.

Glue is available in small tubes and in approximately 800 cc cans for larger jobs. The can comes with an Accelerator which is added to properly cure the glue. Read the instructions on the can for proper mixing and application instructions.

Patching Techniques
To make a professional looking job, trace the outline of the patch onto the area to be repaired with a pencil and use masking tape to mask off the patch area to prevent the glue from over running onto the rest of the Tube.
Use a Camel-Hair brush or similar type. Using a brush with plastic type bristles will not work as the bristles will dissolve in the glue. Next apply three thin coats of glue onto the repair area and the patch. Allow each coat to dry for approximately 8 to 12 minutes before applying the next coat. Once the final cost is dry, the patch is ready to be applied.
Apply the patch carefully to avoid trapping any air bubbles under the patch. Use a roller or a compression tool to properly compress the patch onto the Tube.
Remove the masking tape and finish the job with a wash of the excess glue around the patch area with Acetone.