If only our dinghy could repair itself
Bad news. Our inflatable dinghy has turned into a deflatable dinghy. Not overnight mind you, but gradually, over the past month or so, a super slow leak that required just a couple of pumps every few days to top up has now morphed into one that requires 10-20 pumps once or twice per day. Leaks like this are not uncommon, and are probably the biggest gripes for those of us who choose a RIB or soft bottom blow-up as a tender. If only there was an easy solution.
Adding Stan’s No Tubes sealant.
When we started researching for our new adventure, one of the things we learned is that many people who ride bikes are now doing so tubeless. Tubeless, you ask? How is that even possible? Apparently, the tires have a liquid sealant added inside them, which helps the tire seat itself onto the rim, allowing it to hold air when inflated. Not only that, the sealant can actually stop the air from escaping when the tire is punctured by a thorn, nail, etc., essentially making them self-repairing. Wouldn’t it be nice if our dingy could operate the same way?
How well does this sealant repair a leak? Check this out!
There are other benefits to running tubeless as well. Decreased weight (the sealant is lighter than tubes), and the ability to run lower tire pressures without obtaining a pinch flat, are among them. For all these reasons we have decided to have our new bikes set up tubeless.
Tumbleweed Prospector with tubeless-ready tires.
On the subject or repairing our dingy, it now looks like I’m going to have to tackle that job. I’ve repaired leaky RIBs successfully on a few occasions, but at other times, my results have been less than satisfactory. The text below, written by a very-helpful cruiser in Grenada who repairs inflatables as part of his job, explains some of the intricacies that make the task so difficult. Note that what he wrote was in response to someone asking for help on a leaky PVC dinghy, but the principles remain the same for a Hypalon one like ours.
The key to a successful and permanent repair relies on three critical factors. Firstly the adhesive must be two pack and mixed in the correct ratio. One pack is only for temporary repairs. Secondly comes surface preparation. Adhesive will not adhere to old adhesive or to a surface which is contaminated in any way. For PVC use MEK or Acetone to do a final clean and never Xylene or Toulene. This step is critical and is one of the differences between a successful outcome or a dismal failure. Thirdly is climate control. These adhesives are designed to be applied in a temperature range from 18 degrees Celsius to 24 degrees at most. Humidity must be below 60% and ideally around 45%. If you get this part wrong, the adhesive will ‘bloom’, that is begin to absorb moisture and you will notice a milky coloured sheen begin to appear. – Donal
UPDATE March 21, 2017
We received a comment on our Facebook page recommending this product from West Marine. The majority of reviews for it seem quite positive.