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Old 05-16-2013   #1
Aflo's Avatar
Nederland, Colorado
Paddling Since: 06
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 35
Pvc star boat

So I bought a 14' star that looks terrible. Not my best purchase. It has two leaks that you can hear at full pressure and one that bubbles when in water but you can't hear. The one you can hear is on a seam in the front of the boat. Does anyone know the best procedure on patching a seam?

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Old 05-16-2013   #2
CommanderKeen's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 17

I'm not sure what the exact process on PVC is, but on rubber I used toluene to soften the glue around the leak. Then I peeled back the rubber to get enough material free that I could keep the two pieces separated while the glue dried. Then I just re-glued everything I had lifted up, making sure to follow the manufacturer's directions for letting the glue set-up.

If you want a quick and dirty job, you can patch over the seam, just make sure you have maybe 2 inches of patch in each direction on the seam. Glue the patch on and use a roller or some other tool that will allow you to put direct pressure on the low side of the seam. Keep moving the tool over the low side to ensure a good bond with no air bubbles.

Again, I've not glued PVC before, but I believe the principles are the same. Well prepared surfaces, quality glue, attention to detail.

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Old 05-16-2013   #3
New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 31
I have a star and have done a couple patches, one on a seam but it was just slapped on top and now really slowly leaks. I agree with commanders recommendation with the exception of using Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK- available at lowes or paint shops) instead of toluene. Use it sparingly as it removes some of the PVC. It does a great job of prepping. The manufacturer says you can inflate after 24 hours but I would let it set a little longer. You can get PVC patch material from Star and I use the standard PVC glue from Down River or whoever the company is that sells it to them. I've had my star for ten years and it is holding up great. Let me know if you have any other questions.
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Old 05-16-2013   #4
CommanderKeen's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 17
Toluene vs. MEK

That's correct, sorry if I caused any confusion. Use MEK for PVC, toluene (or toluol) for rubber. I'll be doing my first glue job on PVC in the next couple weeks, wish me luck!
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Old 05-16-2013   #5
2kanzam's Avatar
Charleston, West Virginny
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 461
It is my experience that patching over a seam (like CK's quick & dirty technique) more often than not just slows a leak down, and honestly makes is harder to repair it correctly (effectively giving you a permanent leak).

I have one cheap pvc boat I didn't want to put all the effort into, so I did exactly was a slow leak to begin with, now it's maybe twice as slow. It's being tested on just how slow right now.
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Old 05-16-2013   #6
montrose, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 326
Most of the glues used on PVC boats will soften with some carefuly applied heat. Too muck MEK could cause major damage. I guess too much heat could too.

Honestly, I would say that an old PVC boat that "looks terrible" and has major seam issues may be close to done with it's river lifespan. That old PVC glue is known to fail over time, and if one or two seams are coming apart the rest could be next.

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