Friday, April 11, 2008

Inflatable Boats & RIBS: Cleaning, Restoring, Protecting

Verrryyy slow leaks in inflatables

Customer asked:What is the expected amount of normal deflation in an inflatable? I bought a used one last year and it deflates just a tiny amount...enough that it needs to be pumped up about once every week or 10 days., even when it is stored indoors (like now). Is that normal or is there a small leak somewhere?

Your problem is quite common. If an inflatable boat is in good shape, there should be no leaks and it should hold air. There are numerous causes for these slow leaks. Most can be corrected but in some cases, it's just not worth while and you can either live with the leak or retire the boat.

The biggest cause of leaks are the valves. Unscrew them, clean them and make sure that the O Rings are in good shape. If they look pinched, compressed or deformed, replace them. Often particles of sand or dirt are enough to cause a passageway for air to escape.Next, check for pinhole leaks or leaks around the seams. Inflate the boat hard. Mix a solution of dish detergent and water and wash the boat with a cloth. Keep the boat wet and watch for telltale bubbles. This may require some patience especially if the leak is very slow. You should be able to repair small pinhole leaks by yourself with a special repair kit available at most Inflatable Boat dealerships. If the leak is at, or near a seam, you are better to get a professional to do the repair as this can involve removing the seam and rebuilding it from the inside as well as the outside.

The other cause of slow leaks is porosity in the fabric. This is usually the result of poor, or no maintenance. This can be caused by UV, suntan oil, diesel in the water, or the use of wrong cleaners or protectors which will break down the plasticizers in the fabric and allow air molecules to migrate through the tube. This occurs most often with PVC boats. There are Air Seal products on the market that can be used to extend the life of a boat in this condition, if it's not too far gone. It's a coating that is injected into the tube. The tube is then inflated and the boat tumbled to make sure that all interior surfaces are coated. If you use this, it's a good idea to keep the boat permanently inflated to avoid the fabric from sticking to itself when the boat is deflated.If the boat has been treated with oil, silicone or Teflon based products, the boat may not be worth repairing as it will be very difficult to get patches or adhesives to stick with any durability and you will be forever patching.Many major Inflatable Boat manufacturers recommend cleaning their boats, right from the beginning, with Speed Clean and protecting them with Poly Guard. These products are safe for all fabrics, seams and adhesives and will give good protection against UV, suntan oil, diesel, acid rain, dirt, grime, pollutants and other environmental damage. They can also be used to restore older boats that may be chalky, faded, or stained, to like new condition. Inflatable Bottom Spray is recommended for removing marine growth without damaging the tube or fiberglass hull and Repelin is recommended for anti fouling protection if your boat is left in the water for any period of time.Thanks for your question.

Captain Aurora

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How Do I Restore the Chalky Gelcoat On My Boat?

Aurora marine industries gives the following advice when trying to restore the chalky gelcoat on a boat. We will answer the following questions in this article. On a boat that is 33' long and the beam is 13', how much boat scrub and premium boat shine will be needed? Is there a minimum temperature for using the product? Is the boat scrub applied by hand or with a polisher?

Answer: The amount to buy depends on the condition of your boat. Premium Boat Shine will cover about 400 sq. ft. and you need 2 coats. The first coat will soak in because if your boat is chalky, the gelcoat is dry and porous and will absorb more. The coverage on the 2nd coat will be greater. To restore the finish, first wash the boat with Boat Clean Plus at a concentration of about 1:4 with water. The easy way is to use a Marine Scrub Mitt. This will remove the surface pollutants and make the deoxidization process easier and faster and you will use less Boat Scrub.
Boat Scrub can be used by hand or with an orbital buffer. Most people find it is just as easy to use it by hand, with the Marine Scrub Mitt. Simply rub away the oxidation until the gelcoat shines and then apply the Premium Boat Shine.
For the deck, use Boat Clean Plus and Boat Scrub to clean and deoxidize the surface. Use the Marine Scrub Mitt on the smooth surfaces and a deck brush on the non-skid areas. You can then apply 2 coats of Sure Step to the decks. It will give your decals protection against UV, seal the pores, makes the deck, including the non-skid super easy to keep clean, restore the new boat shine, and it's not slippery when you stand on it. On many boats, it will improve the traction, especially when the decks are wet. Coverage of Sure Step is about 200 sq ft per jar and you need 2 coats.
You will probably need between 3 or 4 bottles of Boat Clean Plus and 4 to 6 bottles of Boat Scrub. In addition to using these products to restore the finish on your boat, you will continue to use them for regular maintenance such as washing your boat, cleaning the upholstery, dissolving and removing bird poop, cleaning fenders and rub rails etc.
Ideal temperature is room temperature, about 72º F, however Aurora Boat Care Products can be used at temperatures + or - 25º F. Of course the hotter or colder temperature will make them a little more difficult to work with in terms of application and removal. The temperature of the surface is more important than the ambient temperature. If the product freezes or evaporates on contact, you will have a difficult time.
If your boat bottom has antifouling paint, you will probably want to continue to keep on painting because stripping off the old paint is such a big job. If not, or if you are willing to strip the old paint, I highly recommend VS721 Bottom Coat. It has a lot of benefits such as reduced fuel consumption, better speed and performance, protection against osmosis, easier to clean and is environment friendly. Coverage is about 400 sq ft per bottle.
Other products that will help you restore your boat to like new condition are: Vinyl Guard for the exterior seats, Odor Free for the head, Bilge Bath for the bilge and Clear View for the Isinglass windows and acrylic or polycarbonate hatches and portholes.
Grady White makes a great boat. With a little effort you should be able to restore her and maintain her in new condition for a lot of years. The key is to keep her clean, polished and protected. Once your boat gets neglected and starts to deteriorate, it takes a lot more effort to bring her back.

Bottom Cleaning & Protection
Can I use Repelin on my Fiberglass Hull?

Doug Martin asked: I own a fiberglass 18' power boat that I will be mooring from March to September on the Columbia River here in Washington State. I moored it in the river last year and had a hard time getting the river algae off the boat in the fall. I did get it off but since have talked with people who told me your product is great on fiberglass hulls. I noticed on your web site you say this product is for rubber rafts and ribs. Will this product ruin my gel coat or cause damage to the finish if left on for 4 or 5 months?

Repelin will work and will not harm your finish, however VS721 Bottom Coat will work better on fiberglass boats. It's important to get your hull back to pristine before you apply it. If you have any remaining growth, use Algae Strip to get it off (no hard work, roll on, rinse clean) If the growth is all off, you don't need this. If you have any stain, use Waterline Stain Remover (no hard work, roll on, rinse clean). If there are no stains, you don't need this. If there is any growth remaining on your stern drive or lower leg of you OB, use Algex to get this off. Again, if it's perfectly clean, you don't need this. Use Boat Scrub to clean and prep the hull, even if the bottom is clean. Use a Marin Scrub Mitt if you want to save some labor/effort. This will also get scuff marks and oxidation off, if present. Rinse clean and let dry. Apply VS721 Bottom Coat with a damp sponge or cloth and wipe off the haze with a dry cloth. After 24 hours, repeat. Wait 48 hours before launching your boat. You're good to go. If your boat is on a trailer go to Ask The Skipper > Bottom Cleaning > How to Raise Your Boat Off the Trailer to get information about getting under the bunks or rollers. There is more information here about cleaning, restoring and protecting your boat. VS721 Bottom Coat will not ruin or damage your gelcoat. It is recommended by several boat manufacturers to protect their boats against osmosis blisters if the boat is left in the water. Thanks for your question. Captain Aurora