Advice needed: how to spot delamination on old Hypalon Achilles S/B - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-03-2013   #1
Kirkland, Washington
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 78
Advice needed: how to spot delamination on old Hypalon Achilles S/B

Putting together a gear boat so my grandsons can join me on river expeditions, learn to love rafting and share some of the load as I get older. Looking at a 15 year old 15'-6" Achilles S/B - worried about glue failure & delamination. Underside seams are soft where fabric meets and scuffed/torn almost to the joint in places. Upper side seams - although tight where they meet the fabric - show striated bubbles along the inside as if the fabric sides somehow sheared one from the other. Can one patch over these issues or should I be more concerned about overall deterioration? A few scuff marks and some scratches but otherwise the raft is in pretty good shape, looks 303'd from time to time, not too faded from the UV. Was a rental for its 1st 10 years. Is $2,000 too much to pay for just the raft? Or should I pass on the Achilles & pop for that no worry 156R Aire that I really want and that with the Aire guarantee promises great boating till beyond my mid-70's? But OMG the Aire is 2 1/2 times the price before repairs with taxes & shipping. Raft is located 50 miles from home & I forgot my camera when I looked at it so no photos to show.

If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you're doing something wrong.
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Old 11-03-2013   #2
k2andcannoli's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 896
Seems like a lot of money for a old glued boat, but I dont know anything about the boat.

I will say, as a young man, purchasing your own setup is outside of most 20something price ranges, especially during college. If you can, I would get your grandsons a solid boat and gear that they will enjoy well into adulthood.
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Old 11-03-2013   #3
montrose, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 429
I really can't picture the issues you are talking about from your description, but I will do my best to describe seam issues and delamination.

Delamniaton can refer to two different types of problems. One is where the outside rubber layer of boat material separates from the reinforcing fabric in the middle. In my opinion this signals the end of a rafts usable life. Delamination is also sometimes used to describe the failure of the glue joint in seams. It sounds to me like this type of seam failure is what you are concerned with.

The true seam of a raft is where the material from the two sections overlapp and are glued together. This seam is protected by a layer of seam tape that protects the seam from dirt and wear, but provides no real structural support. Ware/ failure of the protective seam tape is not a big deal and can be repaired by anyone that can read some basic instructions. Failure of the true seam generally requires a professional repair and if it is widespread over the raft it may be the death of the raft.

The only way that I know of to recognize seam failure is to look for any separation (i.e. loose material) of the true seam(under the seam tape) and look for leaks coming from the seams. If you find any, I would run away from this deal as fast as I could.
$2000 could be a fair price for that boat if it is in very good shape. The fact that it has 10 years of rental use and you are questioning the seams raises a red flag, but I can't really say without seeing it.

Have you looked at Rocky Mountain Rafts? They are PVC, but look pretty nice. There is a good deal in the partners forum on a Rocky Mountain with a double rail diamond plate frame and gear for under 5K.
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