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Discussion Starter #1
I have two Aire Landing Pads, one of which leaks like a sieve and the other of which has just started to. Both have taken on water. The newer one isn't too bad but the older one weighs a ton and I fear will require surgery to truly be functional again. So, like any self respecting boater I've resolved to use this situation as an excuse to buy a new toy, in this case a PVC welder, provided I can source one that's not too expensive.

Can anyone recommend a good option at a price point that will make sense for an infrequent DIYer? Also love to hear any advice anyone might have regarding PVC welding.

My tentative plan is to slice the pad open and remove the foam so I can effectively dry it (I tried Aire's recommendation with limited success) then put the foam back and weld a strip of PVC over the cut - that's the plan anyway.

I welcome critiques, harangues or anything else on offer regarding this tentative plan.
 

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Don't know of a "cheap" plastic welder, but I fixed two Paco pads with same problem a few years back just by slitting open the end opposite the valve, drying foam and reducing overall size by a couple of inches, then re-glueing with Clifton's (and a clamp). Held up so far... but don't let this stop you if you're on the hunt for a plastic welder!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Okay, good to know because that's my back-up plan. It's disappointing that these pads have taken on so much water. I really don't know how it happened.
 

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Jack's pads tend to wear through on the corners, and that's where the water gets in. They fix them by welding an 'abrasion patch' on that protects the original corners. Wouldn't surprise me if you're having the same issue. I believe Jack's website has instructions too if you want a second opinion, but it sounds like you're on the right track. Just don't forget to address the corners after you get the pad dried out and the cover closed up.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah, the corners are definitely toast and I can certainly understand how water would find its way in there. The older pad also has some other significant wear spots and is generally in bad shape. The mystery is this.

I removed the pads from my truck bed (camper shell) last spring to discover the older one was completely waterlogged. Its only exposure to water was a day trip down a II-/II river strapped to the river table across the raft. It never left the boat. My GF and I both tried to come up with a scenario we felt could've caused the foam to become that soaked but neither of us could.
 

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new foam

I had the same issue when some kiddos used my pad to float in an eddy with the valve open - you'll never get out all of the water. The Aire foam isn't really a high quality foam, so I got online and ordered 1 sheet of soft and firm foam and then contact adhesive'd them together. I went with a thicker overall foam than Aire uses and cut the new foam a few inches narrower. I then slit open the top of the pad 6" from the top and sides, replaced the foam and glued on a patch. Pretty easy overall and much cheaper than buying a new overpriced Paco. Of course Paco's suck in comparison to an Exped Mega Mat when it comes to comfort.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Think I'm gonna try out the RM Crash Pad. I like that it has handles which should discourage dragging, and the valve is on the side which seems like it would make it less susceptible to water intrusion if it does happen to be left open (mine wasn't; I always make sure).
 

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Welding might not be the best option for worn PVC. I’ve talked to Jacks plastic before, about welding more D-rings to my boat and they do all of the aftermarket work by gluing, not welding. Maybe you can weld old pvc, but I would talk to somebody like Aire about it, first.

The method used at work on the water logged Maravia pads, involves weeks of hanging with the valve pointed down, and a fan, don’t think it gets it all out. (Don't think it’s the pads fault, either, drunk guides doing pack pad races...)

If you decide to operate, it probably makes sense replace the foam, to, like C.B. Said. And add some corner condoms, they are just a circle of pvc, folded, and glued in place, super simple.
 

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I have a wendy energy ht 1600. It came with a roller too. It took some practice to figure out the heat:speed. Seems to work well. I've had it for 4 years now and it still works.
 

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I have welded and glued and I get better results with adhesive when making pads. Using a heat gun and silicone roller got the job done but the seams were inconsistent. I think it's a matter of not being able to apply enough pressure with a roller to effectively "melt" the seams together.

Nowadays I just use last years glue...
 

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The best way to dry your paco out would be to get the foam out. Either cut open the material right by the flap with the grommets and the pad or you can use MEK to release the weld. This was the last weld done during its construction. Once the material has been opened up, pull the foam out. You can either dry that foam out or order a more dense foam that will offer more support. Sailrite.com is a good source for excellent marine grade antimicrobial foam. Once you have your desired foam insert it back into the material sleeve. Now comes the fun part! Welding or glueing the opening shut. If you cut it open you will lose a little length to seal it back up again. If you used MEK and a putty knife to break the weld then you can weld/glue the flap back together. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART REGARDLESS OF YOUR CHOSEN METHOD TO CLOSE IT IS TO CLEAN IT!
If both surfaces are not properly cleaned neither the weld or glue will hold very long. Isopropyl alcohol will clean the surface sufficiently as will MEK.
I would recommend glueing it since you're not familiar with welding PVC. PVC burns up really fast under the gun, turns black if over heated, and stinks like no other.

Good luck and keep us posted on the progress!
 

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Ideally you can open the seam to get the foam out. In direct sunlight, you can dry a pad in under 24 hours. Indoors you can do it in under a week. If you don't open the outer PVC shell, you'll never actually dry the foam.
 
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