Basics of caring for fiberglass boats

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by pawsplus, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    No, that wasn't it. I didn't notice any fumes, as I recall. It was the exceedingly slippery steering wheel that caused the problem! A good scrub with detergent and abrasive cleanser put it right.
     
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  2. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Will pass that on to my handyguy. It's well-shaded though (on the shady side of the carport, with carport on one side and tree overhead. Pretty much nothing grows over there LOL.
     
  3. semdoug

    semdoug Paddler

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    All this talk about waxing and other forms of liquid protectant for the kayak's gelcoat is going to do little for your ultimate concern; to protect your new baby from damage. It is a good idea to mitigate damage from dings, scratches, landings, etc. to gelcoat and laminate by reinforcing in key areas of potential wear. Helicopter tape works well on the deck. A keel strip is not a bad idea, though it only gives a width of 2-3 inches of protection. Heel rub/wear can be reduced by using Heeleazy pads or epoxy. Also, it is not a bad idea to drill very small breather holes in each bulkhead.
     
  4. JKA

    JKA Paddler

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    It's an NDK boat, that's taken care of in the manufacturing! ;)
     
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  5. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    I'm having a keel strip installed before I pick it up. :)

    You put tape on the pretty deck?? Really?? Pix?
     
  6. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    There are always a couple areas on the deck which are exposed to scratches from deck loads and from normal rescue practice. Take a look at the rental boats in their fleet to see where these areas are and apply pressure sensitive tape and/or sheets of clear plastic over those areas. You can replace these annually to keep the appearance "as new."

    If you plan to do any T-rescue practices in which one boat is slid over the deck of the rescuer's to empty a swamped cockpit, you might want to protect the whole deck from the cockpit to the rear of the forward hatch. Loaded boats, such as you might have on an overnight trip, can really scar that area.
     
  7. pikabike

    pikabike Paddler

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    1. Store out of sunlight.
    2. Put kayak on a rack that keeps it on its side OR put boat on padded, shaped blocks. Minicell is fine (we do that) but they are for placing on, NOT sliding, because they are not slippery.
    3. Rinse kayak exterior after each use. This is to prevent transmission of Aquatic Invasive Species (look it up—serious problem in much of the U.S.). Wash out interior and drain/blot dry/air out also, for the same reason, unless you ONLY paddle in AIS-free waters.
    4. Wax is not necessary at all.
    5. Lightly treat rubber hatch EXTERIORS with 303. By lightly treat, I mean spray onto a clean rag, swab the cover, and then wipe off excess. There should only be a subtle sheen on the rubber, not a slick.
    The stuff WILL leave oily residue in water if applied too heavily, so only treat them lightly and occasionally, preferably not immediately before paddling. 303 is like sunblock for things—wait a while before going into the water. The reason you should not apply it to the interior is that your hatch covers can become so slippery that they come off too easily. I had this happen during a cowboy remount. Unless your hatch covers are incredibly tight to start with, do NOT treat the undersides!!!
    6. ArmorAll is horrible stuff. It actually dries out vinyl and rubber. Use 303 instead.
     
  8. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

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    Pikabike missed an important one:

    7. paddle and enjoy

    Short of avoiding major damage (so no ramming into sharp rocks), I prefer to let the little scratches accumulate and just enjoy the boat. Look at scratches as a sign that you have been enjoying your investment.
     
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  9. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    'Helicopter tape' is thin and clear. Auto supply (autobody or NAPA-type places) will usually sell 3M Aeroguard Paint Protection Film (PPF) which is the same sort of stuff - a very thin clear tough plastic film. Folks use it to protect the front of their cars from road grit. I used it on my surfski along the edge of the cockpit where the paddle hit occasionally.
    It's expensive.







    Deck scratches often look worse than they really are. If they are shallow, you can just polish them away when you do your (annual? :) ) boat cleanup.

    For me, the boat and gear are tools for having fun so I don't get very worried about a few scrapes. (But I don't buy new composite boats, either! So I do understand the concern.)
     
  10. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Very slick, John. Much past my patience point for preserving my glass boats, but relatively easy to do. For sure, I would do a couple test panels before committing to a new boat. :)
     
  11. semdoug

    semdoug Paddler

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    I bought my clear helicopter tape from Findtape.com. When I bought it I believe they called it racer’s tape or something like that. It is 8mils and 4 inches wide. It was not expensive, probably because it is a 3M knockoff. At the time 3M was ridiculously priced and had to be bought in 100ft rolls. The Findtape tape probably is not as hard/durable as the Aero stuff in the video above.

    Edit: It is this stuff: https://www.findtape.com/ISC-Helicopter-OG-Outdoor-Grade-Surface-Guard-Tape/p173/?cid=21&idx=2&tid=1&info=Racers%20Tape
    I bought the 4" x 12' roll retail package for approx. $30.

    It is barely noticeable. As I write this I’m looking at my Ice Kap and the only visual evidence of the tape is the tape’s edge line.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
  12. semdoug

    semdoug Paddler

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    Assuming it actually gets done
     
  13. JKA

    JKA Paddler

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    That was my point!
     
  14. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Not sure what this implies . . . NDK boats are very well made, are they not?? What am I missing? :(
     
  15. pikabike

    pikabike Paddler

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    NDK kayaks are well designed. Individual boats may or may not be well built. Some dealers turn back boats that arrive with incorrect customizations or shoddy workmanship. Word is that they are better than they were in the early days.

    I ordered an Explorer LV with no footrails but front BH placed closer to the cockpit because I am small. The boat arrived with the BH placed FARTHER FORWARD instead:eek:. The dealer offered to make Nigel take it back and send a replacement but I took it, figuring the next boat would have something else screwy. At least it was basically sound, but man it had an ugly, crude opening for the coaming rim attachment areao_O. Oh, I think they had drilled one BH but not all, so I drilled the others myself.

    A couple years later they started making the Pilgrim Expedition. There were none in the entire US to demo, but I had used a regular Pilgrim for a week at Body Boat Blade, and I really liked it. So I ordered the Expedition version, knowing there was a 6-month wait to get it. Turned out to be a one-year wait instead! Anyway, that boat was finished nicely, and I had ordered it stock plus keel strip to avoid customization mistakes. They might have not drilled one of the bulkheads, but since the day hatch sometimes gets a little bit of water inside after lots of rolling, I suspect the hole where the skeg cable passes from cockpit to dayhatch is not sealed well...or maybe not at all!

    Addendum: When I wrote that the PEX was finished nicely, I do not mean perfectly! The stern tip had a gap in the trim strip that I fixed. Still looks crude there but it is holding up after 7 years of use. I take care when handling my boat, but as with any kayak that actually gets used, it has scratches and scuffs all over.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  16. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    If you are dealing with a reputable and competent dealer, they will find and correct any major problems, and give you support.
    Take a good flashlight (and if you can, a friend who knows kayaks) and check the boat well when you pick it up.
    Try to get the dealer to let you fill the aft compartment with water, so you can find any leaks around the skeg box.
    Almost any boat will have a few minor cosmetic 'issues' if you look carefully enough.
    Try not to worry unnecessarily!
     
  17. red kite

    red kite Paddler

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    The implication is that, overall, there seems to be a higher percentage of NDK boats, that came with a variety of issues, than some other brands (and/or are we NDK boat owners just more candid about this kind of stuff?). I can only speak for Vancouver Island, though. It's quite likely that your boat doesn't have any issues at all, so don't loose your sleep over it.

    7 years as kayak repair specialist tell me that absolutely no manufacturer has a track record of delivering perfect boats 100% of the time. If you throw cosmetics into the mix, the perfect boat is probably in the minority.
    Some manufacturers seem to have better quality control than others, though. I also strongly believe that, as part of the boat's journey from the submitted purchase order to the paddler, a good paddle sports sales person is either checking the boat over themselves (and deals with any issues right away), or at least helps you doing it... any boat from any manufacturer!

    The good news is that on a fiberglass boat anything can be optimized, improved or fixed.
     
  18. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    There are a lot of variables at play in assessing and fixing "factory defects" in composite boats. In the bad old days, those of us living in the BC / WA / OR area enjoyed choosing among several quality manufacturers, some no longer in business today, with an extensive network of good dealers. Further, the manufacturers all stood behind their boats. I stuck with Eddyline, and had some minor defects fixed, various ways, but Current Designs, Necky, and others had equally strong reputations.

    Today, however, globalization has altered the game substantially, with dealers seemingly on the short end of the stick, bearing responsibility for manufacturers who change sources for their hulls, assembly, you name it.

    The buyer of a new boat has to be aggressive, today, on riding herd on quality control defects, with the complication that often the dealer is a day's drive away.

    The best advice I have read here so far is: get a knowledgeable and trustworthy kayak geezer who knows composite boats and what is required to fix them to proof the hull on delivery before you sign that last check. And be prepared to hang around a day or so to make sure the fix is done right.
     
  19. eriktheviking

    eriktheviking Paddler

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    Is there a good way to remove this when it gets banged up or it intended to be effectively permanent? Hair dryer or heat gun heat softening to peel off? I bought a nice used kayak this summer and it has packing tape used for this-- nowhere near as durable and I might replace it during its winter hiatus in the basement.
     
  20. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Erik, removal typically involves unpleasant/toxic solvents. Scraping and heat inevitably scar the very surface you are trying to protect. Some solvents leach pigments and/or resin components from the exposed hull. Test in an unobtrusive location before committing.

    Here is a hierarchy of solvents to try, in order of increasing aggressiveness and toxicity, left to right. All require aggressive ventilation of the workspace. Organic vapor filter-equipped face protection is mandatory from acetone onwards.

    Alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, acetone, methylethylketone (MEK), mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, toluene (cumulative liver toxin), and various proprietary solvent combinations typically used to remove automobile windshield adhesives (and similar adhesives).

    In that last category, I have had good results with 3M's general purpose adhesive cleaner (contains toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene):

    https://www.amazon.com/3M-General-P...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=F56YEA0YHFXDHYCGBPWP

    Search here for the Safety Data Sheet for this solvent, in pdf format: https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/company-us/SDS-search/

    I am an organic chemist, well versed in operating safely with toxic materials, and even so, I prefer not to use solvents such as the last one unless all else fails. For that reason, as well as simple laziness, I choose not to protect my composite boats with plastic sheets. I can buy more boats; I cannot buy new lungs.