Rolled raft mildew - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-23-2015   #1
Trejos's Avatar
White salmon, Washington
Paddling Since: 05
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 60
Rolled raft mildew

Each year before I roll and store my Aire raft I wash it down with warm water and a mild detergent. I then 303 it and let it sit for about a week to ensure the perimeter line and other fabrics are thoroughly dry prior to rolling. It is stored inside for the winter but unconditioned. I live in the PNW so the the air is damp for a good portion of the winter.
In the spring when I unroll it there is a good amount of mildew. It washes off fairly easy but it can't be good. Maybe I am in denial that I have to unzip it and take all the bladders out to ensure everything is dry. I know if I do that I will end up running a late season trip and it will be for not.
Anyone else run into this? Thoughts, solutions?

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Old 10-23-2015   #2
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
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You store your raft? WTH? Use the damn thing! Honestly, I am surprised you have a mold issue. I've had 2 Aire kayaks and never had mold issues. But my boats are mostly stored at least partially inflated in a garage. If I was in your shoes, I'd pull it completely apart and dry it. There may be enough moisture and mold in the tubes that it comes back persistently. If all of the mold is gone, maybe it wouldn't return? It's a PITA to keep a raft inflated all year, but I boat all year, and I hate rolling Sotars.
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Old 10-24-2015   #3
Cortez, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Jan 2008
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In general, you just need to provide a gentle and dry heat source. In your case, maybe try loosely rolling the raft around something to create a void in the middle, like maybe a couple of milk crates (lots of things will work), then putting a 25 watt clip-light on a timer inside this void. Then set the timer to go on and off once or twice a day for a total of maybe 3-4 hours. Also, maybe set the rolled raft on a pallet (to get it off the concrete floor). And to test the gentleness of the heat, just put your hand in the void after the light has been on awhile. You could also wrap a carpet scrap around the milk crates to further diffuse the heat of the bulb, and soften the corners.
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Old 10-24-2015   #4
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Eastern Slope, Colorado
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I like storing rafts inflated on a ping pong table until they are totally dry. Ping Pong tables are all over Craigslist cheap and fold up and roll for easy storage. With your Aire you may want to open the zippers and run a towel through to get the inside as dry as possible. Try not to roll it for the winter until it's completely dry.
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Old 10-24-2015   #5
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Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
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I've read that spores can feed off of soap residue, might want to make sure there is no invisible residue. I've rolled mine three winters in North Idaho with no issue.

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Old 10-24-2015   #6
Salt Lake City, Utah
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 244
If you need to store indoors, I would find a large airtight container. It will keep the moisture and critters out. Unless of course there is still moisture on/in the raft prior to storage. I've seen people use large plastic barrels for raft storage.
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Old 10-24-2015   #7
Newberg, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: Jun 2010
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I had the same problem. I quit using 303 before rolling the boat up. I store it in the dark so uv protectant seems like a waste.
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Old 10-24-2015   #8
the grove, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jul 2008
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Couple points. don't 303d! Aire recommends using 303d sparingly if at all. Second, don't worry about washing your boat with soap and warm water before storing. Most important is you get off any grit and that its dry. At the end of your "season" vacuum any sand/dirt out of the boat before rolling. I also open up the floor and vacuum that out once a year, which helps the PRV valve from getting clogged latter. I have never ever ever ever opened up the tubes to dry them out!. After you vacuum it out, let it sit until totally dry, then roll it up. In stead of a week, dry 2 or 3 weeks before you roll it up. I have been doing this to my aire boats for many years with no mildew/mold and we live in NW Oregon and used to live in NW Washington (similar or wetter climate than you). We have 2 aire rafts and 7 aire kayaks and do this to all, and the age of these boats range from more than 20 years old to about 8 years old.
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Old 10-24-2015   #9
Trejos's Avatar
White salmon, Washington
Paddling Since: 05
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 60

Thanks for the feed back,
It sounds like I should stop using 303 till I break it out again and let it sit out a little longer. I just walked out to open the zippers and made it about a foot down the first zipper not using any tools and this happened! Anyone replaced one of these or will it have to go back to the factory? I can't win for loosing.
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Old 10-24-2015   #10
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 854
Contact aire, your boat is probably still under warranty.
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