Brrr it’s cold outside! Time to go kick some air into my Zodiac Bombard Commando and while I’m at it mention it to you too.
This one is hard to understand for a lot of people because there is so much bad info on the web regarding inflatable boats and proper air pressure. In simplest terms when things get cold they contract, air is a thing. Boyle’s Law comes to mind, Gay-Lussac’s Law, Charles’ Law, and probably a bunch more but the long and short of it means when air heats up it expands and pressure increases, when it’s chilled it contracts and pressure drops.
When that boat you kicked air into during the summer months gets cold Mr. Floppy shows up to take it’s place. Mr. Floppy is no one’s friend, he strains the transom attachment points and seams trying to make your outboard hit the deck. Mr. Floppy doesn’t like fun, fuel economy or performance, he wants you to have a bad time. Mr. Floppy loves rodents so if you have a Mr. Floppy in your garage don’t be surprised if rodents become his room mates when you go out there in the Spring.
Worrying about your inflatable boat popping in the Sun’s heat is why you are running it soft? Huh? That’s an old trick by Mr. Floppy, remember Mr. Floppy hates fun over all else. Running your boat soft only benefits the repair shop, it actually shortens an inflatable boat’s lifetime or duty cycle. As a rule you should always have about 3.5 P.S.I. in the main tubes and keel unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. Airfloors can have 5, 6, 8, even 11 P.S.I. in them to make them perform and give a stable platform. Airfloor types vary by manufacturer so consult your make and model inflation information and keep it tight when it’s inflated.
One of the things I’ve always appreciated about inflatable boats is the ability to roll them up and stow them until needed. When you get to a place where you need a stable boat that doesn’t sink you just unroll, inflate and go. All those awesome documentaries I used to watch on T.V. wouldn’t have been possible without inflatable boats so my interest in them began early. When I asked my mom how come they didn’t sink if they got a hole in them, or if Jaws came and took a bite she calmly replied, “Zodiac boats have chambers to prevent all the air from coming out.”. Mom was pretty smart back in the early 70’s and she didn’t have the luxury of consulting the internet to give me those correct answers either. Mom would never have let me get into an underinflated boat, you shouldn’t either.
Yes the whole air/temperature thing will generate a lot of calls to the service center this time of year in mainland America. Most of them stem from the user inflating one chamber to pressure, then the next and so on. When Mr. Floppy shows up he makes it look like there’s a leak in one chamber that the user can’t find. What’s occurred is the baffle (the chamber thingy inside) has pushed into the adjacent chamber and taken up part of it’s volume. Things cool off outside and Mr. Floppy presents a chamber that appears to be flat when you go to inspect it. When inflating your boat you should inflate each chamber to shape, then go back and top them off to pressure. This technique ensures that the baffles aren’t pushed into the other chambers and it also helps keep Mr. Floppy from showing up as frequently.
If during your winter lay up or inspection process you find a hole that needs patching, fix it, then stow your boat. You’ll really have a bad day when Mr. Floppy shows up the first time you want to use your boat and you can’t because he’s there. Remember Mr. Floppy hates fun! That’s all for now, I have to go kick Mr. Floppy off some RIBs I see him getting aboard. If you have questions we probably have answers, give us a call (503)235-2628 and ask for Mike.
To shop our online shop you can go here if you are having problems call and ask for Mike (503)235-2628 it’s probably his fault anyway.
This far into March and we’re waiting on freight delayed by snow still, what gives? Parts of the country are getting another dusting while other parts are getting out on the water one day and shoveling snow the next. In this topsy turvy weather it’s really easy to neglect getting the necessary spring maintenance done on your outboard or boat. We’re always staying busy here at the shop, and we are definitely seeing guides and other private owners getting their service done but, some of you will wait until summer is in full swing before you decide to get it sorted. The easy answer is don’t wait until summer!
When summer rolls into the great NW it’s a mad dash to cram as much Vitamin-D in as you can before the nine months of rain starts again. In the height of summer we’ll be several weeks out on repairs because people just didn’t prepare like they should have.
Getting patching materials, cleaners, and conditioners is as easy as stopping by IBC’s store or ordering supplies online. Don’t let air and opportunity stand in the way of your boating, spend some of that income tax return and set yourself up for success in the summer.
If that old boat that grandpa gave you back in 1976 is starting to look ugly sell it for $500 bucks on Craigslist like the one pictured in Sausalito above and get your new one ordered for the season opener. If you’re like us at all you’ve already had several boating adventures this year already and are just marking time until the sun comes and shows it’s face.
The internet is filled with good and bad, and every once in awhile good seamanship stories leak out. In the Yachting World news we came across a story about Skip Novak and a recent Antarctic expedition turned beach recovery utilizing the trusty Bombard C3 Commando and some good seamanship.
Check the link below for Yachting World’s full text on what went on at the bottom of the world.
When a first time inflatable boat owner goes to register his boat with the state of their residence they will often experience some trepidation on selecting the proper system. The registration agent will undoubtedly send the nonplussed boater in the wrong direction naturally assuming that simple office store stickers will suffice for an inflatable tube. They will not! The other wrong direction most times suggested from the would be helpful registration agent is to affix said stickers to “boards” and “hang them over”. While this might have been acceptable in the past prior to the 911 attacks, it is no longer acceptable and now illegal.
The Dept. Of Homeland Security/USCG now states that the numbers must be fixed permanently to the port and starboard bow. To accomplish this task IBC recommends the boat number plate system. This system is a made to order/bespoke option that adheres to the inflatable portion of inflatable boats and ribs. It is provisioned for hypalon or pvc and it comes in many different colors to choose from. The boat number plate system meets all U.S. state and territory requirements and also includes an area for the registration stickers. They are manufactured with a port and starboard side thereby eliminating the often misunderstood placement issue.
IBC sells a coupon that is redeemed online, manufactured, and mailed directly to you. All you have to do is glue them on and place your state stickers in the provided areas. The boat number plate system allows for rolling and unrolling on boats where it is a necessity and where it’s not, + they look great for years. Remember glues or adhesives are not included with the boat number plate system so please plan accordingly.
If you have any questions at all we’ll get you sorted by calling (503)235-2628 ask for Adam.
When March rolls around people in the Pacific NW start to see days where the sun comes out and it doesn’t rain. This signal of the seasons means it’s time to start thinking about boating again. Where things get sticky is when boaters who at the end of last season were tired or complacent walk down to where their dingy was left in the water.
There it sits (or floats) dirty , floppy, full of stagnant water and wearing a beard of growth that would make a modern day hipster proud. Of course this beard could have been avoided by proper maintenance and storage.
Some boaters don’t have the choice of pulling their inflatable boat or rib when it’s not in use. For these boaters a simple two part process can help to prevent or eliminate the dreaded beard. Aurora Marine makes products that are simple to use cheap and effective.
Steps To A Clean Boat.
First if the boat has substantial growth Aurora makes Inflatable Bottom Spray that removes algae, barnacles, zebra mussles etc. from hypalon, pvc, and fiberglass. Just wet the hull, shake the bottle and spray it on. Let the spray work for about 20-30 minutes then rinse and repeat if necessary.
Speed Clean is a cleaner/restorer and is suitable for use all over your inflatable boat or rib. It is the secret sauce IBC uses when people bring in old dirty floppy for repairs. The customer would always ask us what we used to clean the area of interest and invariably it was Speed Clean.
Aurora Poly Guard UV Protectant and Polish is suitable to use all over your inflatable boat or rib, hypalon, pvc, fiberglass, nylon etc. It is non greasy, non slippery, doesn’t get on your clothes or person and lasts for a whole season. Apply two coats of Aurora Poly Guard to the bottom of your inflatable boat or rib in preparation for the anti fouling product Repelin.
The Aurora Repelin Foul Release Coating speaks for it’s self by eliminating or greatly reducing marine growth. Two coats is all you need to apply after the Poly Guard. It’s one of the most stolen items from boat houses because it works! If you have any algae on the bottom of your boat it just wipes off and leaves a slick fast surface.
By following the simple steps above you won’t be faced with the woes of inattention when you go to use your dinghy. As always keep your boat tight and look for adventure at the horizon.
If you have any questions about Aurora products or anything in general give us a call (503)235-2628!
While having a look at some recent searches on our blog here I see a common search term, “How much air do I put in my Zodiac?”.
To answer this question I’d always refer to your boat’s manual but a good rule of thumb is 3.48 P.S.I.
This pressure would be the same for hypalon or pvc material. If you are using the supplied foot pump that came with your boat you won’t be able to over pressurize your Zodiac as the pumps are designed to only pump up to the rated pressure. Even if I was standing on the foot pump and had a friend helping it would only pump to it’s rated pressure.
When we are talking about a Zodiac Fastroller air floor the pressure would be 11.2 P.S.I. and would be in it’s second stage of it’s two stage pump.
Air floor pressure on the Zodiac Aero series of boats have a pressure of 8.5 P.S.I.
Remember that pressure is dependent on temperature and after launching your boat it’s a good idea to kick a few more pumps into the tubes, keel and floors of your boat to accommodate for the cooling effect of the water. The inverse is true if your boat is left on the hard and it gets very hot outside. you may need to vent out some excess pressure to keep it in the right operating pressure.
One way to remove all ambiguity is to buy a 12V inflator pump with gauge and auto shut off like this one here.
If you have questions we have answers, just give us a call (503)235-2628 (ask for Adam)
Sitting here waiting anxiously for my shipment of two Zodiac MK2 Heritage Classics to arrive my mind began to wander to the upcoming total solar eclipse.
If you know me at all you know that a wondering mind is definitely par for the course, but you also know my mind wanders to things of merit. People often ask me what do they need on a boat and the usual suspects are a whistle, paddles etc. Of the ready items available people seem to always forget one crucial item, the flashlight. In a pinch a good flashlight will allow you to signal for help, see what you are doing in the dark, help with a MOB situation, or reach for your camera during a time of total solar eclipse!
A good flashlight will be focusable, water resistant, have a lanyard and clip, and if available a magnetic base. Every “Go Bag” should have one, there are multitudes available online and at check outs for impulse buys everywhere.
The one I often carry with me for tactical missions on the water is the NEBO Redline OC. This model ticks off the boxes for what I feel are minimums for any activity on the water or ashore. It clips to my PFD and has a lanyard so if I’m working over the side and it falls it’s still attached. Being able to focus the spot means swimming the bilges for that missing washer and nut I just dropped is a whole lot easier. The magnetic base makes it easy to deploy for a hasty work light giving me the use of both hands which any of us know is a plus when working aloft or below.
The NEBO Redline OC (Optimized Clarity) is impact resistant and mine has survived a fall from the top of the dry dock to the basin with nary a scratch and all for a cost that everyone can live with. If you are lacking in the flashlight department and need one for your “Go Bag”, everyday carry or your tool box you can pick one up here at the shop or by checking our website.
Don’t be left in the dark wondering, get a quality flashlight before you head out on the water and be spot on when the time arises.
So yesterday IBC received its first non rainy day in about 9 months and as this signals spring for us here in Portland I thought it was a good time to talk about inspections and maintenance. Spring and sunny days mean getting ole floppy out of storage for the first time in a long while, and for some this will be a trying day. Mice, spiders, bugs and that science experiment you’re unknowingly conducting because you forgot to rinse and clean your boat properly before rolling it up for the winter. These are but a few of the common issues we see here at the shop when the sun shows it’s face for the first time.
First thing first let’s get your boat pumped up and inspected. Does it keep air? If the answer is no then kick some more air in and spray it down with soapy water to try to determine where the air is leaking out from. Leaks will manifest as bubbles or white creamy streaks or spots. Mark the leaks with a sharpie pen and find anymore issues that need addressing. For mouse holes you’ll need adhesive and fabric, and typically you need to do an inside /outside patch over any hole big enough to fit a mammal in. First get the patch on the inside by prepping the patch and area the same way you would for any other patch. Roll the patch on its self adhesive to non-adhesive side and carefully insert the patch. Tack and unroll to bone or burnish the patch down fully. We like to do this in a dry run prior to applying any adhesive so the actions are committed to muscle memory almost. You’ll have better success if you practice this prior to gluing trust us. Once you’ve waited at least 24 hours for the adhesive to start curing kick in some air to shape and then pressure and soap it down again. If you did your job right it shouldn’t be leaking, or leaking very little. Now we’re ready to put on the outside patch, the same prep steps and adhesive applications applies here just like before. Make sure you have the patch boned down correctly and wait at least 24 hours to use the boat with a recommended time of 72 hours being best.
Plan your trips accordingly, if you waited until the last minute chances are if your boat has damage you won’t be taking it. If you are one of the hundreds of people we see every summer with a 40 year old mouse boat looking for an instant fix you will be disappointed. We will have a back log of weeks to months in the peak of the season so don’t wait too long to do your initial inspection.
Sometimes you will have some simple pin holes from that whopper of a fish you carelessly flopped into the boat. In most of these cases a quick and permanent fix is the use of a sealant that goes in the tube chamber its self. There are a great many products on the market that offer awesome sauce at a discount but beware. Try to get a reputable name or formulation such as the type we use here at IBC. Since we have to adhere to MILSPEC on many of our services we only use the good stuff and recommend you do the same. Just visit our web shop if you live outside of the Portland Oregon area for awesome sauce www.inflatableboats.com and click on the repair materials category. The way the sealant works is the air leaking out thru the hole will pull the sealant thu with it as it escapes and it will seal it off. This usually requires the user to roll the boat over side to side and end to end to ensure a conformal coating is applied to the interior of the tube chamber. Call a friend and swap sea tales while you do this, you might actually find you have more than one pin hole so don’t do this on the new carpet.
For the science experiment we use many cleaners and conditioners located in yup you guessed it our cleaners and conditioners section of the web shop. Keeping ole floppy aired up to the correct pressure and clean will extend the life of your boat greatly and prevent problems further down the road that could’ve been avoided. If you have questions give us a call here at the shop (503)235-2628 chances are we’ve seen what you are looking at and have a fix for it already.
If all of this sounds too daunting give us a call and we’ll do it for you, but don’t wait until the last minute or your trip will suffer. We have people send us their boats from all around the world to get genuine IBC service and repairs done and we’re a small crew focused on quality so it will take as long as it does.
As I walked around the shop “topping off” all the CSM/Hypalon boats this morning I thought to myself, “How come no one talks about air retention on Strongan vs Hypalon?”. This is a very valid question to the person looking for a tender or stand alone inflatable boat.
Let me put this into other words, Strongan is what we casually refer to as PVC here at the shop when discussing boat materials and manufacturing processes. To be so casual is actually kind of detrimental to a degree. When discussing PVC inflatable boats many makers will spec out their fabric in mils (equal to a thousandth of an inch) or millimeters also expressed as “mils” on various websites albeit incorrectly in efforts to dupe the customer. The other manufacturers count on you being uninformed to swell their bottom line. Further use of incorrect terms along with drawings and lots of text that “sounds official” on their many websites plus dubious reviews means you end up with a cheap boat that came with free shipping and absolutely no support. Any boat deal that comes with free shipping should be a red flag just so you know.
Cutting down on the volume of calls we receive here at IBC from Amazon or Ebay bargain shoppers means it’s time well spent to bother with this topic.
Obviously we don’t sell brand X nor do we offer free shipping. I can’t understand why other brand/site customers call us all day long for support of someone else’s product. Weird huh? The simple answer is those sites like Amazon or Ebay don’t have a support structure, they offer cheap products with free shipping to capture the bargain shopper. They don’t have a store, or a phone, or employees to take the millions of calls about their junky products and their failures.
Going back to formula we’ll first educate you about what Strongan is and what PVC and Hypalon isn’t. Using our time machine let’s go back to the polyester years of the 1970’s! 😉
Strongan Duotex is a fabric originally developed by the Espace Division of Zodiac France as part of a joint project with CNES (National Space Research Center). Developed to be better at air retention and water intrusion than ordinary PVC it was further refined and developed to be Thermobonded by purpose built machines existing only in Zodiac France.
Basically PVC was a truck cover material that was semi-water tight but not airtight, (more on this later). The Zodiac answer from the joint space research project took 8 engineers and technicians and a support staff of 14 to tackle.
“Welding” of PVC used in the knockoff industry is a lap seam. One layer is placed on top of another and heated under pressure to make the bond. This technique will make most PVC materials watertight but leaves something to be desired for airtightness.
To accomplish this technical feat Zodiac developed their thermobonding process where two precision cut pieces are butted up edge to edge and overlayed on the outside for mechanical strength, and the secret internal layer overlayed on the inside defeated air leaks and made the bond airtight.
While seeming relatively simple to the layman, the material science and process engineering was very difficult and very costly. Zodiac invested heavily in the engineering of the process and at the time it was considered a gamble. The old guard of neoprene sand and glue construction people never thought PVC could have the air retention of Hypalon/Neoprene. Zodiac’s gamble paid off, and dramatically lowered the costly labor process involved by 75% while producing a boat unparalleled in air retention and strength. This hyper-technical approach catapulted Zodiac’s aerospace and leisure products divisions to the forefront of their respective industries. Yes from the humble beginnings of Maurice Mallet’s sewn and varnished balloons in 1896 to 21st century space exploration and Strongan Duotex inflatable boats Zodiac reigns supreme.
To sum it up in a few words Zodiac’s Strongan Duotex fabric is the gold standard for air retention and modern inflatable boats.
Saying that all boats are not cut from the same cloth is a gross understatement. Buyers should beware the great pretenders in the market today all vying for your hard earned dollar.
Today when I went to IBC’s repair shop to measure the differences in thickness from one brand to the next I was amazed at the startling differences between the Zodiac Strongan Duotex and the ordinary PVC from the other manufacturers. The average measurement in mils or thousandths of an inch of the most basic Strongan fabric was .040″ and the next best competitors came in at .015 to .029″ or one to two thirds thinner. The average thickness of a Thermobonded seam was on the order of 1/8″ or .125″ compared to a seam of .030″ to .060 for the others .The Zodiac fabric is thicker by it’s self than many other manufacturers seams! So thickness of the Zodiac Strongan coupled with the additional thread in the scrim or substrate of the Zodiac Strongan fabric adds additional strength and resistance to forces such as torsional loading over all other manufacturer’s samples compared.
Much has been written about the dreaded UV rays and the havoc it wreaks on boats. Myths abound on the internet of UV radiation turning boats brown and causing them to “pop” while exposed to the sun. I would refer you to the earlier paragraphs to note that Zodiac’s Strongan was developed with the space program in mind. Believe me there is far more UV in space than at the waterline.
UV damage mechanisms of the various materials here on Earth generally cause what’s known as “photo-bleaching”, whereas the material in question turns white not brown. The mechanism is virtually the same for PVC, Hypalon, and even diamonds! Look at an old car dash, did it turn brown, or is it whiter and bleached looking? I thought so! Short wavelength high frequency radiation in the UV regime and it’s interaction with matter is well understood. One simply can’t take a random website’s claims as truth these days, we’ve even added “fake news” into our language to define this phenomena.
Generally speaking all inflatable boats are called Zodiacs today due to commonality in conversation, but all inflatable boats are not cut from the same cloth. If it doesn’t say Zodiac on the boat it’s not a genuine Zodiac, ask for it by name.
Note: Bombard and Avon are both Zodiac products.
Edit: Richard Meister (Technical Support Manager at Zodiac Nautic) added to our Facebook page “Environmental positives too! Strongan plastomer is thermoform and can be melted and recycled. No wasteful and annoying dust generation either.“
What Richard means by dust generation is Hypalon/Neoprene fabric requires sanding and scuffing prior to cleaning with toluene solvent, then finally several applications of adhesive are added to make a seam or install a simple patch. This dust, solvent, and adhesive is a potential hazard if improperly controlled during the assembly and repair process. While Zodiac leads the world in green environmentally sound practices, those other boat builders, errr…. not so much.
To see what Richard means about recycling of materials one only needs to look as far as the Bombard Air Ethic. The Bombard Air Ethic is made utilizing green manufacturing processes, novel materials and recycled materials. This represents a first in the boat building industry.
Thanks for bringing up those valid points Richard!
Hypalon/Neoprene or as it is generically called CSM is a man-made artificial rubber coating over a substrate or scrim. It offers some advantages over plain PVC with the foremost being resistance to solvents and fuels. UV absorption is virtually identical to PVC and several other materials such as Urethane and with all of the hype and misinformation this is a hot button topic for the web forums and novice yachtsman. If you had any doubt just look at the multitude of aftermarket products that claim UV resistance and protection catering to the hyperbole.
Hypalon performs slightly better in the drum test for abrasion resistance than PVC but in terms of air retention it fails miserably compared to Zodiac’s Strongan Duotex. Hypalon inflatable boat manufacturing is a very dirty and labor intensive process taking up to three times as long to complete when compared to a Zodiac Strongan Duotex inflatable boat of the same dimensions. This labor comes at a cost and this added cost is much of what the customer assumes is quality when simply comparing prices. Remember the statement that not all boats are cut from the same cloth? This holds true for Hypalon boats as well. That “good deal” for a brand X Hypalon boat will cost you in the long run on repairs. You are much better off sticking to the brand that started it all…Zodiac, Avon or Bombard when asking about Hypalon inflatable boats.
Give us a call and we’ll sort you out! (503)235-2628
This time of year IBC is always scuttling around busy with various agencies and their seagoing Zodiac MILPRO RIBs, and swift water rescue boats. In preparation to underway commitments bigger ships need work done and usually on the quick to meet mission requirements and deployment dates. The U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps Of Engineers, U.S. Military Forces, state and federal law enforcement and fire you name it and we see it here.
Sometimes the service is just a bit of paint and shine on battle damage or even planned maintenance on a unit prior to deployment. Today it was a bit of paint on a U.S. Army Corp Of Engineers Zodiac MILPRO RIB. Our job was to de-rig a console set and repaint it prior to an underway. IBC made all of the graphics, matched the color, and painted the console set, then rigged it back to spec. It’s just too bad we didn’t get a chance to re-rub the entire boat but budget and underway commitments take precedent over what we want.
Fortunately Mike grabbed a couple of pics of the boat before she had to go back to the mother ship so we could appreciate the job the repair shop did.
IBC is your one stop shop for sales and service of the full Zodiac MILPRO line of RIBs and inflatable boats. Give us a call today for your military and professional needs and see why we are ranked Tier 1.