Plastic kayak repair

What do you do when or if your kayak breaks? Boats are after all only made from plastic, basically just lots of the material your supermarket shopping bag is made from plus the 1000’s of hours of R&D into each boat and rotomoulding tecnology , so miss use and abuse will lead to breaks.

Well, depending on the severity of hole / split that you’ve managed to inflict upon your poor kayak, unlike your supermarket bag luckily broken kayaks can be repaired or welded. There are various methods of repair and all have there pro’s and con’s, this is how I repair broken boats and it seems to work pretty well.

So where to begin, the first and very important thing you need to is locate the split. As with the photos below we often get a boat brought in that is leaking through a split, and then on closer inspection you find a few. If possible it’s also best if you can weld any splits from both on the outside and inside so you’ll need to take the seat and bits out! Next ensure is that the boat is dry and clean; empty out the boat and bring it inside to dry if possible, clean the area your going to be working on.

Once you’ve located the split(s) have a look at it and see where the split ends. Where it ends I’ll use a small drill bit (2.5mm) and drill a hole through the boat at each end of the split, this help stops it spreading.

I should just mention here that the method I use, uses a plastic welding Kit have a look here to check these out.

Then it time to fire up the heat gun and get going, I use a tacking end next, gently heat the boat and draw the tacking end through the boat, this makes a nice neat “trench” in the plastic ready for you to then weld into. Next change to the standard welding nozzle, heat is really very important here, too cold and you won’t get a good bond , too hot and you end up over working the plastic resulting in a poor brittle weld or melting new holes in your boat! I use a 5mm welding nozzle, you need to cut and prepare the plastic welding rod that your going to use and as you heat the boat feed (push) the plastic into the “trench” you’ve previously made with the tacking nozzle, I tend to start to weld around an inch in front of the drilled hole, and carry on past the drilled hole at the other end the same distance. The newly welded plastic will be sitting proud, so after letting this cool smooth it down with a surform to leave a nice tidy job.

 

Tools of the job: Drill, Heat Gun, Standard nozzle, tacking nozzle, welding nozzle, screw drivers, knife, Surform, plastic welding rod, Henry Hover.

 

Once you’ve welded the splits from the outside it gets a bit trickier, but if you can get to the splits on the inside of the boat repeat this same welding process (You won’t to drill the any holes this time!) the other problem here is that it’s can be more difficult to smooth the welds down on the inside so clean and tidy the welds as best you can, but if they do sit a little proud don’t panic too much.

Bit of a disclaimer here! If a kayak splits it usually a sign that the boat is dead or reaching the end of it’s life, although the welds we do are fully waterproof and strong I would not and could not ever recommend that a boat that has been welded should be used on any serious grade of white water, but low grade moving water and flat water cruising is fine!

To just move into a bit of prevention most boats do crack along scores in plastic. If you have a boat that is super smooth, clean and tidy on the inside but beaten up to hell on the outside most boats will not split. Fact. If you have loads of scratches on the outside of your boat and then on the inside loads of scratches, if you get two above and below each other as the boats flexes over rocks etc, this is where most if not every split that we see happens. It is important to keep the inside of your boat clean and tidy, clean out any sand or grit you may get in it, if not it will probably be the deciding factor in any failure of your boat.

Of course if you can’t be bothered to buy all the kit give us a call, if your boat can be welded we’ll do it. Love a good challenge.

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