Inflatable Boat Basic Repair Information and Procedures
- Hypalon Fabric -
repairs and the addition of small accessories may be attempted by the
owner if factory gluing instructions are followed closely.
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 we
recommend you have it redone by a professional.
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.
solvent: The solvent used
at the factories is called Toluene or Toluol. It is often
available at paint, hardware or plumbing stores as a cleaning
You can also use MEK (methyl ethyl ketone). It is
often available at paint, hardware or plumbing stores, sold as a cleaner
for PVC pipes or lacquer thinner. For non-critical bonds you might
Glue: Zodiac #7097 Universal Glue. You can also use Avon Adhesive (one
or two part) or BostikŪ or other Hypalon or rubber glues.
1. Atmosphere: Glue with humidity less than 70%; and not in direct
sunlight; Temp. 64° to 77°F is best.
2. Preparation: Gather rags, glue brush; solvent; timer with
second hand or stop watch; make sure all the old glue is cleaned off;
get your patch cut out,
position noted and marked. It always leaves a neat tidy finish if you
tape off the perimeter of the patch area with masking tape to avoid
over glue. (If you need more details on this
part, read these general tips)
3. Mix accelerator and glue thoroughly either now or while
waiting between the solvent wipes below. Accelerator is toxic; keep
off skin. Keep mixed glue covered (foil or wax paper) when not using.
Pot life is about 1 hour. It may still look liquid, but will have lost
ADDITION: you must abrade/scuff the fabric to remove any oxidation
and to allow the glue to attain a mechanical bond to the scuffed
grit sandpaper or a Dremel tool. Do not cut into the
threads under the protective coating. You just need to cut through
the surface to allow the solvents and glue to penetrate. Some
rubber surfaces have been preprocessed and do not need abrading,
rub just the boat fabric. Wipe clean to remove grit and
Cleaning (2 times - to clean the fabric for a strong "mechanical bond" with
Scrub both sides (boat and patch or accessory) with MEK on a rag
to clean surface. Wait 10 minutes after the first MEK wash. (time it)
and accelerator while waiting, if not done already.
Apply one more solvent wipe with 10 minute waiting time (timed)
between them. You are cleaning the fabric for glue adhesion.
Application (2 thin layers 20 minutes apart)
Apply a thin glue layer with stiff brush to both sides. Aggressively work it into the fabric with the brush. If it looks too thin, it
is probably correct!
Wait 20 minutes (timed) If glue still looks wet, wait longer.
Check for no tackiness with knuckle, no
adhesive should stick to your skin. Humidity control while glue is
drying is critical. Keep door closed. Don't breathe on glue area while
8. Repeat steps 6 & 7 (total of 2 layers with 20 minute open
9. Wait 10 minutes after second layer of glue.
10. After 10 minutes, join the parts together. Start from one edge and
slowly lay the patch or accessory down onto the glued area.
all air bubbles and wrinkles from the center to the edges. On deflated
boat rub as hard as possible with smooth tool, e.g. the back of a
large tablespoon - force air out from between boat and patch. Careful
not to scratch the fabric.
and hard based accessories, deflate boat and press through from other
side to make sure of adhesion. Wipe off excess glue with solvent.
If over 10
minutes or if glue has spots of white haze the glue has picked up
moisture and you should try to "reactivate" it. With a clean
rag wet the glue surface with MEK but do not rub the glue off (one
quick swipe). Then assemble immediately. Press hard. For accessory on
inflated boat you can rub it down vigorously with a rag with MEK on it.
11. Wait at least 48 hours before use.
mechanical and chemical bond will continue to strengthen over next 7
days. Don't be tempted to shorten the process. Don't cut this curing
time short: your patch could peel off like a Post It note!
12. Pressure test if you want to be sure. Blow it up to full
pressure. Leave it overnight.
13. Go boating!
Gluing and Safety Reminders
HUMIDITY AND TEMPERATURE CONTROL
Relative humidity must be less than 70%,
preferably as low as 40%.
Temperature 64° to 77°F.
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.
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.
your patch or accessory perimeter where it will be glued on. Then use
masking tape to tape off the area to ovoid 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.
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.
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.
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.
boat has ever been protected with ArmorAllŪ 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.
size leaks in most Hypalonfabric or PVC boats sometimes may be
repaired simply by use of either Seam Sealor Air
Seal liquids. You might be able to avoid a patch on the boat.
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.
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. e.g. 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.
boat to apply accessories. Deflate to patch air leaks, even if very
small. Air pressure will bubble the patch before glue sets.
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. It is recommended that you not use Toluene - the
factories do but it is quite 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.)
wear safety gear as recommended by the manufacturer of glue,
solvent, accelerator, etc.
NOTE: These instructions are offered to assist you in home use of
glues. Because of the wide variety of conditions and critical
procedures, we. assume no responsibility for failure of glued bonds or
any consequence thereof. We always recommend repairs be done by
trained professionals. If you mess it up, it's costly time to clean
the fabric and rectify the problem and it can greatly exceed the cost
of the original repair.