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INFLATABLE CARE & MAINTENANCE

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Inflatable boats require slightly different care to normal boats when it comes to cleaning methods, storage and even repairs. In this two-part series over the next couple of months, Leisure Boating looks at the best possible ways to keep your inflatable looking as tasty as the Saturday “eat all you can” rib and chip special at Sanjay’s Choice Chow Emporium.

RIB AND CHIP SPECIAL

KEEP IT CLEAN

Steer clear of oil-based cleaning products as they have a negative bearing on the rubber and material coverings. Oil-based cleaners also inhibit patches sticking to the RIB during puncture repair. A mild biodegradable dish washing liquid is all that is required to clean a RIB or there are numerous other specifically formulated products offered at your local boat shop to clean your RIB.

STORAGE MUSTS

Manufacturers suggest that uninflated RIB are much more vulnerable to damage and for this reason, it is advised to keep the boat at least partially inflated. Another important issue when storing your RIB is to keep it covered with some sort of tarpaulin to reduce the amount of unnecessary UV light reaching the boat and slowly degrading its materials. Make sure that there are no kinks in the boat when it is stored partially inflated as these bends and kinks will eventually turn into weak spots.

REPAIRS

Even with the positive developments in the rigidity and strength of the modern materials used to construct RIBs these days, they can still develop leaks and even punctures. It is often quite difficult to determine where the leak or puncture is if it is small or in a less accessible area. Wiping the boat down with soapy water and looking for bubbles being blown out by the leak is the easiest method for puncture detection. Don’t assume there is only one leak, but rather check the whole boat (it won’t take long) for leaks. If the puncture is of a more severe nature, it is advised that the repair be done by a dealer to ensure the repair is done properly. Larger punctures or tears can be a lot more difficult to seal.

Inflatable Rib

Inflatable Rib

INFLATING

RIB inflation should always be done according to the manufacturer’s specification. Inflating each chamber in a clockwise rotation is suggested until the craft takes its general shape. Once this part of the inflation process is complete, work your way back around and fill the chambers to the suggested manufacturer’s pressure. Always remember that an inflatable boat should always have a bit of give when at full inflation. This allows for the expansion of air in the chambers when the boat comes in contact with the sun. Inflatables are often filled when the air is cool in the morning and as the temperature increases during the day, the chambers can become over-inflated.

Catch part two of this series in next month’s issue which deals with precautions, cleaning, pressure gauges, protectants and more!

BASIC PUNCTURE REPAIR TIPS

Clean and dry the surface around the puncture thoroughly before applying the repair patch.

Apply the adhesive to the RIB and the puncture repair patch and let them get sufficiently tacky before marrying the patch to the rib. The patch should extend at least 5cm beyond the leak.

Exert pressure on the patch so that a solid bond is formed between the patch and the RIB.

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