Pressure washing a raft. - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-09-2017   #1
Pieter Porcupine
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 279
Pressure washing a raft.

I am prob opening myself up to some scrutiny here but I am wondering if anyone has ever pressure washed their raft? I recently purchase a late 80's 14' Hyside self bailer. The previous owner had it leaning under the eve of his garage for 10+ years partially inflated. It was full of leaves and has a fair amount of muck embedded into the tubes. I tried the NRS boat cleaner but I would need a navy of oompa loompahs working shifts to scrub it clean. Does anyone have any experience with pressure washing a boat?

Obviously I would need to avoid seams, valves, or anywhere else that high pressure water might get under, but is it ok to hit fields of open material?

If not does any one has an army of oompah loompahs I can borrow for an afternoon? I pay in good beer.

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Old 06-09-2017   #2
Aurora, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 622
I would be wary, but wouldn't say to never use a power washer. I would take care to avoid the seams, etc, and even more careful to keep the nozzle on a wide fan, rather than a pencil point. I've literally seen auto paint stripped off a car where somebody got up close with the focused stream. I could definitely envision material tearing apart or delaminating if you're not real careful.

With some of the boat cleaner, or even a bucket with dish soap and warm water, and a green scrubby pad, it shouldn't take a whole navy to get her all cleaned up. I would be surprised if it took you more than an afternoon all on your own to git-er-done.
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Old 06-09-2017   #3
tetoncounty's Avatar
wilson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 60
Let me say that I have never done this. However:

-I have a friend who is very careful with her equipment and regularly takes her inflated raft on a trailer to the car wash. Her equipment seems none the worse for this.

-I own a pressure washer and it is far more powerful than the average car wash setup. If I were to use it at all on my raft, I would set it at the widest flow pattern and keep well back.
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Old 06-09-2017   #4
jspoon14's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 238
Buy the "Inflatable Boat Cleaner" from NRS it has a blue label and use the green Scotch bright pads mentioned above and you can get 90% of it off. Let the boat cleaner sit on the boat without scrubbing for 60 to 90 seconds and then scrub and rinse well with water. Do only one section at a time and go back and hit spots that don't come clean the first pass. I used to flip old boats for a while and was able to get old boats substantially cleaner.

I would be weary of the power washer, I used to have a business building decks and refinished a few and power washers have done some serious damage to more durable materials than Hypalon.
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Old 06-09-2017   #5
Guiltydog's Avatar
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 18
I have used a pressure washer on my NRS raft and it worked fine. Do as the others suggest and use a wide spray, keep the nozzle at a reasonable distance, go slow and angle away from seams. I have also used a cordless drill with a car buffing attachment to clean with 303. Saves some elbow grease.
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Old 06-09-2017   #6
mattman's Avatar
Tabernash, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,901
Normally I would say go for it but just use a wide nozzle and don't get to close.
The 1980 part with trying to get off stubborn grime makes me hesitant for pressure washing though.
Oompa Loompas are best paid in crack( makes em scrub faster) there owners are best paid in LSD.
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Old 06-09-2017   #7
Creswell, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 114
I tried cleaning mud off my rubber boots with a pressure washer. They don't keep water out anymore. It quickly made a hole right through them. I'm sure it could easily do the same to a raft if you aren't careful.
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Old 06-09-2017   #8
Dr.AndyDVM's Avatar
Nampa, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2014
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 386
I've done it. Follow the advice above. You'll still need the elbow grease too, just less of it.
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