Reparing pontoon tears... - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 05-01-2006, 11:55 AM
Todd Ripley Todd Ripley is offline
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Reparing pontoon tears...

After a brutal spring (brutal on my 'toon, not on me or the fishing, both of of which came out A-OK!), I've got a little repair job to do on one of my pontoons.

Unfortunately, I don't think it's a little job...a seam in one of my 'toons has a two inch tear in it, and my first attempt at patching it didn't hold.

Anyone have any experience or advice with regards to fixing this? It's a twelve foot, 21 inch, heavy duty whitewater pontoon...the tear is right on the seam where the bottom skids hit the blue material on the side...not a good spot, I'm assuming.

Thanks!

Fish on...

Todd
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Old 05-01-2006, 04:54 PM
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I believe the sewing machines used for hypalon are the type that could sew a quarter panel back on to a pickup truck after a bad night of four wheeling. I would get some quotes from pontoon makers maybe the originator first, then one of the small pontoon makers in OR for instance. If you get sticker shock and decide to go for it maybe a good tent stitcher with kevlar thread and aquaseal applied liberally would get you through several seasons (?) Aquaseal patches usually outlast the general fabric of my waders.

My pontoon boat has an internal bladder... making it a structural problem verses and airtight challenge. Not sure what yours has but obviously one poses a greater challenge than the other. Good luck with it!
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Old 05-01-2006, 09:25 PM
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You really need a sewing machine with a quilting foot on it to do it well, though you could do it by hand if you've got a lot of patience.

1. Take a piece of fabric patch material that's 2" longer and 2" wider than the hole.
2. Fold over each edge so there's a 1/2" overlap on each side. You can use some pins or paper clips to hold the material folded and then iron them to set the fold. Once you've got it pretty well folded over, remove whatever you're holding it with and iron it one last time. Use a piece of cloth in between the patch material and the iron since you'll probably end up using nylon for the patch and the iron can melt it pretty easily!
3. Apply Aquaseal liberally to both the patch and pontoon and then squeeze them together. Use a large metal spoon to smooth out the excess Aquaseal and any air bubbles.
4. Place a couple of phone books or something else similarly heavy on top of the pieces and let them dry overnight.
5. Sew the two pieces together with double rows of stitching around the outside. Make sure you go through both pieces of the doubled over patch on both rows of stitching.
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Old 05-01-2006, 09:39 PM
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Sounds like you speak from experience!

BTW I would think if bladderless, the sealing should occur after the stitching.
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Old 05-02-2006, 01:25 AM
Todd Ripley Todd Ripley is offline
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Thanks for the tips, guys...

I visited Soos at XStream (the guy who built my pontoon frames) and he hooked me up with the proper glue, and the proper patch material, and gave me a little primer on how to do it right...his technique didn't require any sewing, for which I am grateful, so long as it works.

A small inside and a small outside patch were applied tonight...a larger outside patch will be applied tomorrow...and hopefully I'll be back in business by Thursday for Friday's fishing day...

Thanks, again...I'll keep you updated.

Fish on...

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Old 05-02-2006, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juro
Sounds like you speak from experience!

BTW I would think if bladderless, the sealing should occur after the stitching.
My instructions only applied to doing a fix on a pontoon with a bladder. They also work well on float tubes.

If it's bladderless, then you can't really sew the patch on since you'd be creating lots of potential leak points with all of the holes you're putting in it. Also, you can't use a sewing machine since you can't open up the pontoon like you can with one that's just a cover with a separate bladder and has a big zipper on it. If it's bladderless, I'd do it this way. This is how I've repaired rips in inflatable boats.
1. Take a piece of patch material that's about 2" longer and wider than the tear and apply a very thin coating of Aquaseal to it, staying at least 1/2" away from each edge. If you're lucky enough to have a rubber bladder instead of a PVC bladder, buy a bike tube patch kit and use that for the patch and glue.
2. Place the patch inside the tube at the spot of the tear and center it under the tear.
3. Use a spoon to smooth out any air bubbles and to compress the patch and tube together. This is where it's extremely important that a) you applied a thin coating of glue to it and b) left a 1/2" gap around the edges. If you didn't, when you smooth it out you'll squeeze glue out and in the next step you'll glue the two side of the bladder together! The patch doesn't need to be glued right up to the edge. The purpose of patching from the inside is to provide a good air seal since an external patch will always be fighting the air pressure. The internal patch will be pressed against the tear by air pressure, sealing it more tightly.
4. Place a couple of phone books or similar heavy objects over the patch and allow it to dry overnight, then remove them and allow it to dry for another day. Since the interior patch isn't really exposed to the air, you need to allow plenty of drying time. If you can cycle air into and out of the bladder via the inflation valve, that will help a lot.
5. Cut a patch for the outside that's 2" longer and wider than the tear and glue it on using Aquaseal, an all purpose epoxy, or better yet an industrial strength fabric glue. They sell some of these at craft stores, though they can be tough to find. You really want to use something that's designed for fabric.
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Old 05-02-2006, 08:51 AM
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Todd,

Sounds like they steered you right. How do you get the inside patch in place?

Scott,

The most durable drysuits on the market are stitched under glue. IN fact I would argue that stitching under glue is far stronger than just glue, since stitching alone is strong (but not waterproof). My point was stitching thru glue creates holes and difficulty where glueing over stitch is a common and effective waterproof seal with strength. OS Systems seams are incredibly durable for instance and completely air and watertight.
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