blue collar cruiser
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Casco Bay, Maine
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Pub, don't get discouraged, you CAN fix this!
It looks like you've already got the techno-savvy help finding the materials in the size and quantity you need to work beyond the normal puncture wound repair kits. All that's left now is a little patch work.
The size of the hole makes NO difference in the success or failure of the patch. Careful technique and using the materials as instructed will determine the adhesion quality, not the size or shape. I've patched many whitewater rafts made of PVC and, unless you have too, you can't imagine the size and shape of hole a newbie guide pinballing down a river trying to catch an eddy with a crew of fumbling executives learning to paddle can produce.
With large areas to patch, such as yours, I used to do TWO patches. One on the inside of the raft and one on the outside, in two separate sessions. The materials I used for PVC (this was over 10 years ago, mind you, so don't ask me for the exact name, please) created a chemical bond so no sanding was necessary. The tube of the raft must be COMPLETELY dry inside and out. This may take a while and may require being hung from the ceiling to drain all the water. Cut your patch material to shape and prep the inside of the tube just as you would if you were putting the patch on the outside. It is definitely harder and a little blind, but shouldn't be too bad in your case because you can open the raft right up and get to work. Make SURE the size of the patch is bigger than the outline of glue you apply!!! Otherwise, when you press the tube down on to the patch you may end up gluing it to the opposite side of the tube on the inside and never get your raft apart.
That's it. That's all the tricks you need. That inside patch will take a majority of the pressure exerted on the ripped area, leaving very little pressure to be taken by the normal outside patch. It will also put your raft back into one piece and allow you to apply an excellent outside patch without having to try and hold everything together while you are doing it. GOOD LUCK!!!
As a side note for a PVC raft: it has been my experience that the limiting factor in a PVC raft's life comes from sand. Yes, sand. Sand gets into the corners between tube and floor and grinds away, especially if you inflate and deflate your raft a lot. Sand will produce an infinity of pinhole seam leaks that are way harder to repair than even a 15" by 15" gash, impossible, really.
who is staring at the sea is already sailing a little