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Repair to an old PVC inflatable

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Over the weekend, the transom pulled away from the pontoons on our 12 year old inflatable.  And one of the oar clips.  

Sigh.  I was told that sailing was only slightly more expensive than burning $100 notes, but I foolishly laughed this off.

The manufacturers were helpful, but not hopeful, and a second opinion agreed - age was against a cost effective professional repair.  The phrase "throwing good money after bad" was used by both.

So I watched several youTube clips on the process, read the very clear instructions on Lancer Boats website and threw a little bit of good money at it, just to see if it will get through the summer.

Sanded the offending parts to roughen the surfaces, cleaned with isopropal alcohol, smeared two thin layers of F2 on each face, waited for it to tack off, then pressed them firmly in the approved style.

Images here.

If it works, great.  If not, I'm on the hunt for a smallish dinghy - fibreglass or wood!

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yeah, I accept that the dinghy is near or at end-of-life.  The chemstry of flexible polymers rules the roost here and the reality is that a plastic that starts to expel its plasitcisers is heading to the dump pretty soon.  The people I spoke to (and who gave the idea of professional repair the thumbs down) were recommended and were in the position to just take my business if they were less ethical. 

My approach is therefore by way of an experiment in frugality and optimism.   It'll get a water test in a couple of days time so I'll know then if its worked, although that might only be temporary!


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After my first attempt, I have a tiny leak that is on a section of seam covered by the transom frame.  Everything else is holding well.  The leak was there before, but much larger.  A photo of the soapy water test result is in the linked images.

I think what I will do is make a large-ish patch to cover the section of the seam that is a problem,  get that sealed, then rebond the transom frame over the top of that.

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I cheaped out.  Mtre10 has self-adhesive vinyl patches for backyard swimming pools - $3.50 for a pack of 10, about 50x50mm each.

I ran a bead of Sika 123 along the seam of the pontoon about 100mm either side of the leak, and then feathered the bead so it ran smoothly into the upper and lower sections of the vinyl.

Once that had gone tacky, I stuck the el-cheapo patches on along the seam and over the sika bead, overlapping the patches about 10mm.  I rolled them down onto the vinyl and then waited 24 hours.  This is a lifetime for me - I'm teenage impatient. 

The next day I redid the bond between the pontoons and the transom frame with the Ados F2, inflated the pontoons to working pressure and then used a couple of cargo load straps to pull the pontoon and bracket together with some pressure while the adhesive cured.  Again, 24 hours of impatient waiting.

Sea test this morning - all good  No air loss, transom mount is fine. 

If the leak reappears, I'll use a propoer industrial quality PVC sheet and reseal with that,  any repeat after that will have me looking for a new dinghy.

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