Plastic Welders - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-24-2008   #1
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 393
Plastic Welders

I feel like every paddler I know is paddling a cracked boat. Last weekend the Big South put-in was looking like a boat repair shop with dozens of boaters discussing the best bitchethane strategies and removing seats. It seems pretty common to crack boats after 20 days of Colorado mank. For new boats that comes down to about $50/day of paddling.

I've been looking into epoxies, and I'm told by a plastic expert that there is no epoxy on the market that will hold HDPE together. The only real solution is plastic welding with welding wire. Has anyone used one of these welders? How easy are they to use? Do they work?

I can get a welder with wire shipped to CO for about $135. Maybe if I went in on it with a few buddies it would be worth a shot? Any opinions?


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Old 07-24-2008   #2
Join Date: Jul 2005
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I bet you could make some cash (or beer) doing some CO welding each season.
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Old 07-24-2008   #3
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I don't kayak anymore, But a buddy of mine runs the tune shop at Aspen Highlands. He has many colors of base weld material and a couple of the high end plastic welding guns. We were talking about this the other day as well as he believes that the base weld wire is similar to kayak plastic. Any discussion would be prudent... And if so.... He is willing to help repair boats for a reasonable price... IE: Beer
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Old 07-24-2008   #4
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The 3 Zero 3, Colorado
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Give these guys a ring. They should be able to weld your boats. Or just pick their brains on the issue.

Driftboats, Whitewater Dories, Fly Fishing Drift Boat - Boulder Boat Works, Inc. Colorado
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Old 07-24-2008   #5
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Plastic welding is not too bad, but a little tricky. It is basicly a heatgun and airflow. With some pratice you can get decent at it. just repairing a cracked boat, it does not matter too much if it is not smooth afterwards. Now try that on an ABS firing on a motorcycle, and you want the end result to be completly smooth and that is a lot harder to acomplish.
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Old 07-24-2008   #6
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Dude, whatever, breaks are overrated anyways.
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Old 07-24-2008   #7
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Originally Posted by brendodendo View Post
he believes that the base weld wire is similar to kayak plastic.

Unfortunately ski/snowboard base weld is not the same type of plastic boats are made of. I found out the hard way.

Base weld, or p-tex is Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), while most boats are made of High-density polyethylene (HDPE). They have different molecular structures, and therefore don't bond very well. I'm sure some of the nice welding guns could handle HDPE though.
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Old 07-24-2008   #8
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Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
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I took a crack at plastic welding not long ago on the stern of an S6. (pun intended). By cutting slivers of plastic off the cockpit, carefully heating the slivers along with the effected stern area, I was able to complete a successful weld which has held strong through some additional low water cartwheels. Bottom line: it's not that hard to do a C+ job for simple plastic repairs. I also understand that some shops, Golden River Sports for example, does plastic welding. The primary challenges are (1) get a heat gun ($60) and (2) get an adequate amount of like-minded plastic for welding (that's the tricky part). Will boat manufactures mail a small piece of plastic for this purpose?
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Old 07-24-2008   #9
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Filmmaker, Colorado
Join Date: May 2004
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Heat Gun: $70
Roll of bitchathane: $40
Butter knife: .50
Plastic from an old hull: $0

Welding your boat every single F'ing time you take it out: Priceless.
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Old 07-24-2008   #10
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 06
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 450
Hey, anyone near Durango/Farmington can run into Jacks Plastic Welding and get hooked up for about 40 bucks. They do a great job on all but Jackson boats.

To buy a plastic welder look here first...

only like 40 bucks and rods are like 5 for 20.
I've never boated before, but I have posted a lot on Mountain Buzz!
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