Blistering/Delamination fixes - How to? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 04-02-2015   #1
 
Roguelawyer's Avatar
 
Grants Pass, Oregon
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Blistering/Delamination fixes - How to?

I have an older (maybe considered really old to some) 14 ft. Sotar ST. It has some issues with blistering. I store it outside but covered and under a carport. I pulled it out this last weekend and noticed what appeared to be a couple of blisters. I cleaned the area of the first with MEK. While doing this the material where the blister was located started breaking down and coming off. I pulled it back to where it was tight on the fabric leaving an area the size of a quarter where the fabric was bare. I put on a patch of sufficient size and that is done.

I began to work on the second area. As I cleaned the area there were several small spots like the first. I did the same thing and attempted to glue down a fairly large (3" X 10") patch. I came back about 30 minutes after placing the patch and noticed it looked kind of funny. I pulled back on the patch and it easily came off taking nearly all of the urethane under it with it. A small amount of rubbing left the patching area bare.

What can I do? Can I get some MEK and go to town over all the worn areas of the raft to pull up any of the coating that is not tight then paint on with several coats of liquid lex?

Any ideas that will leave me with a raft I can trust? (besides buying a new raft)

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Old 04-02-2015   #2
 
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Grants Pass, Oregon
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A little more background on the raft: 2 years ago I took it in to Sotar and they fixed a couple blisters. They initially looked fairly small. It took the tech., who did a great job, quite a bit more time than they had estimated because the area of delamination grew as they worked on it. They ended up with two areas where the urethane was removed and liquid lex placed, each about a square foot in area. They were going to do a chafe coat on the top of the tubes but didn't as they were afraid the MEK used to clean the top of the tubes would cause the coating to blister everywhere. Later that season I had a seam blow out. I pulled it apart at the small hole until I couldn't, cleaned it, and reglued it. Then I put a 3" X 12" patch over the seam to reinforce. Used it 6 - 10 days last year without any problems. The raft holds air fairly well (needs to be topped off each morning but holds air all day).
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Old 04-02-2015   #3
 
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Arco, Idaho
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I bought one of those about 10 years ago, same problem. Mine came from an outfitters fleet and it had been worked over by the factory once. It appeared to be in good shape when I bought it, but in the course of two years, it had blisters all over it. The boat held air fine, but looked horrible. Called the company for a solution, and was told that the urethane boat paint was the cure. I decided to get rid of the boat under the thought that it wasn't worth the time, effort, and money and sold it to someone who was not concerned with the issue. Great boat except for the blistering. Sorry, not much help to your situation.
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Old 04-03-2015   #4
 
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Grants Pass, Oregon
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That does confirm my plans for s fix. I plan on taking the boat into sotar but am not hopeful with that option as the shop time required for them to fix it would be too much to make it worthwhile.

I am hopeful they will give me a good deal on a new raft.
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Old 04-03-2015   #5
 
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Bend, Oregon
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I had an early 90s vintage SOTAR that did the same thing. I went through the same process of taking it in to SOTAR to have some blisters on the chafe strip on the bottom of the tubes fixed with the same method they did for you. I could also never get the floor to hold adequate pressure for more than an hour or two. I then sold the boat, but unfortunately I sold it to a boating buddy, so I was on a trip with him when we first noticed the blisters on top of the tubes like you have now. A closer inspection revealed that they were forming all over the place. It was grim. He ended up unloading it to someone who wanted a cheap day trip boat and got himself a new Rocky Mountain.

I've since heard lots of other stories of this happening on SOTARs of this vintage, and it sounds like the condition is pretty much terminal. I hope they give you a nice discount on a new boat. It made me a bit wary of SOTARs actually, so I ended up with an AIRE, although I think that problem was only on boats that are now 20 years old anyway.
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Old 04-03-2015   #6
 
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Grants Pass, Oregon
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Well I think it is off to Sotar this afternoon to get some of what they call "liquid lexitron" or something like that. I am not exactly sure what it is. I am pretty sure that is their proprietary name and it is marked up a bit. If I new what it was I might be able to get it cheaper at a paint store where I get MEK.

Either way it is all good. The raft saw way more action than most have before I picked it up. I have gotten two seasons of decent use out of it and considering what I paid for the whole set up it was well worth its price.

It is just the price tag of a new one that makes me cringe.

The good news is that after going over my plans to fix the raft, my wife has put her foot down and demanded I get a new raft. That I should not be someone who would risk her and my children's safety just to save some money.
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Old 04-03-2015   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roguelawyer View Post
my wife has put her foot down and demanded I get a new raft.
You are living the dream!
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Old 04-03-2015   #8
 
south lake tahoe, California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roguelawyer View Post
Well I think it is off to Sotar this afternoon to get some of what they call "liquid lexitron" or something like that. I am not exactly sure what it is. I am pretty sure that is their proprietary name and it is marked up a bit. If I new what it was I might be able to get it cheaper at a paint store where I get MEK.

Either way it is all good. The raft saw way more action than most have before I picked it up. I have gotten two seasons of decent use out of it and considering what I paid for the whole set up it was well worth its price.

It is just the price tag of a new one that makes me cringe.

The good news is that after going over my plans to fix the raft, my wife has put her foot down and demanded I get a new raft. That I should not be someone who would risk her and my children's safety just to save some money.
Well played sir

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