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nauticalnut 12-02-2006 02:46 AM

Inflatable Repair / Restoration (Zodiac, Achilles, Etc.)

Anyone out there have any experience with large repair / restoration of inflatables? I have two that I would like to save:

The first is a '87 Zodiac S-126. The tubes are in good condition , no oxidization, but the previous owner had the bottom seam glue give way from bow to stern on both sides. The floor is still attached to the transom. Now the kicker: The former owner decided to try "fixing" this with layers of "WalMart" 2 part epoxy, strapping tape, & duct tape.:eek: Needless to say this repair failed on his next outing, leaving one massive mess. I cleaned up 90% of this, down to removing most of the epoxy with dental picks, but cleaning the epoxy on the floor seams still remains.

My question on the Zodiac is wether MEK will remove the epoxy without harming the boat and/or cause any harmful fumes.

The second boat is a '87 Achilles SPD-4DX. Heavy oxidization to the point of touching the fabric leaves residue on your hands; espically the black rubrail and bottom. 2 of the 3 tubes do not hold air for long due to failing patches in the transom-tube joint. The starboard tube had fabric showing that fell apart when I touched it while cleaning the boat.

My question on the Achilles is if there is some sort of fabric restoration product out there that can be put on the hypalon to stop the degradation and restore the fabric or is this just a lost cause?

I have very little $$$ in both of them (the Zodiac was free), but a fair amount of sweat equity has been put into cleaning the Zodiac. I like the Achilles, its large (about 12ft LOA), and feels heavily built, but I dont want my gear and self to be smeared with black red and grey "crap" that is much worse when wet.

I have never done any work on inflatable boats, and wanted to try my hand at fixing / restoring them. My only resources on how to do this are what I have gleaned from the web. If anyone knows of any books or other info it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

gc1111 12-02-2006 11:15 AM

You know about ArmorAll? AVOID IT and all other similar products. In fact it almost sounds like that is what happened to the Zodiac. Those silicone based compounds will attack the seam glue on older inflatables.

I have a similar '93 Achilles still giving good service. One year in winter storage in my garage some mice made a nest in it. Ate a fist sized hole in a tube. A professionally applied patch has permanently fixed it.

sailingdog 12-02-2006 01:46 PM

Also, the silicone in those "protectant" products are likely to prevent any repair patches from sticking properly....

Faster 12-02-2006 02:45 PM

There are specific paint products available to restore inflatables. Pacific Yachting magazine did an article on this within the past year (they have a website- it may be available there)

Glueing and repairng the transom connections and towing pads etc. are, I believe, best left to the professionals. They will usually let you know if the work is worth doing.

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