It’s that busy time of year again with Black Friday sales and food and family a-plenty . Here at IBC it’s no different, we will be closed on Thanksgiving but open on Black Friday. Our regular days off of Sunday and Monday remain the same so please plan accordingly if you are planning a visit. To help bargain shoppers we have several of the most popular boats on sale and have included a free bench bag on most models.
Our Black Friday Sale starts today and continues until next Tuesday so don’t delay or you will miss out until next year.
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
I get asked a lot about replaceable tubesets and the Zodiac Advantage by even the most salty of sailors so I thought I’d share some boat porn.
Zodiac pioneered the replaceable tubeset to keep old boats as good as new by simply sliding the old tubes off and sliding a new set on. Sounds simple, and it is. Just as promised simply slide off the old and slide on the new.
Some models that make use of this system are the Zodiac Yachtline Series and the Zodiac Pro Series.
Let’s take a look at the Zodiac Yachtline Series first: (warning photos of boats in various stages of undress to follow)
We find it helpful to spray soapy water onto and into the bolt rope slots to act as lube for the installation process.
The tubeset installation process is virtually identical for the Zodiac Pro Series hulls. Take a look at a naked Zodiac Bayrunner 500 Pro Touring:
There you have it the “Birds & Bees” of tubeset replacement and yet another reason why Zodiac innovates and dominates the genre of inflatable boats and RIBs. You deserve the best you deserve a Zodiac.
Get yours today online at www.inflatableboats.com or by calling (503)235-2628 and speaking with one of the industries leading experts on inflatable boats and RIBs.
A couple of weeks ago we had the West Coast Zodiac rep Chris by for a visit so we went for a boat ride of course! We met up with Adam +1 on the Columbia River who was out for a weekend sail on his S&S Yankee 30 and did a business lunch at the Puffin Café in Washington.
Chris was a bit sore from playing Aussie Rules footie the day before so Mike took it easy on him with his Bombard C4R Commando, they still went faster than everyone else on the choppy river though.
Some of what Mike calls basic drills ( if you know Mike you would call them expert advanced) were performed and Chris took the tiller doing quite well despite his badly beaten body. He had no trouble going 35mph through the worst of the wind chop in the C4R Commando and at one point this writer looked over and saw him several feet in the air. Go Chris, Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!
After lunch Mike and Chris said goodbye to Adam’s sailing crew and went for some impromptu beaching ops.
The weather was perfect and good times were had by all including the mind blown jet skiers and other boaters. At one point a jet skier that Chris and Mike blew by came alongside while Mike was on the phone to see just what we were piloting. When we told the befuddled jet skier that it wasn’t a r.i.b. he was blown away that a boat as small as 14 feet with a soft bottom could do so much and go so fast all the while keeping it’s composure in the 3 foot chop. The Bombard name says it all to those in the know.
We sell a lot of the Bombard Commandos here at IBC and for good reason, they simply perform better and go thru the worst possible conditions all the while asking “can I have some more please”. To start your Commando adventure give the pros at IBC a call (503)235-2628 or just shop online for the best possible deal.
There’s a lot of buzz about SeaDek in the boating world and for good reason. SeaDek manufactures EVA non-skid for boats and anything else that requires good traction in all conditions. What The Inflatable Boat Center does with it is make exclusive custom kits for the Zodiac Yachtline series of inflatable boats, as well as offer solutions for many of the other sport boat types.
IBC designed and owns some exclusive kit designs but they also sell sheet material for DIY applications.
One customer named Paul who recently upgraded his dinghy to a Zodiac RIB 310 took a sheet of SeaDek and did his own application.
We’re calling Paul for the next shop job his install was so nice!
Mike was one of the first to use SeaDek in an inflatable boat on his Bombard Commando C4R. He got the idea after talking to SeaDek surfing buddy Jason at a boat dealers show and the rest is history.
We love the SeaDek product and know you will too! Call us and see what we can do for your boat or if you want to do it yourself what you can do for yourself with IBC and SeaDek.
At this point you’ve seen the salmon and the bass,trout etc. from our customers in inflatable boats. “But can you bill fish from one of your little rubber boats”. Ha! The answer is YES!
Here’s video from youtube.com of a little boat 4 miles offshore with a guy landing a bill fish by himself. Sure it’s hard but nothing worth having usually comes easy.
Here’s my friend Alan and his crew bringing in yet another blue marlin on his Zodiac R.I.B.. The thing is these guys don’t brag because talk is cheap, they let the fishing do the the talking like true watermen. The Inflatable Boat Center is your fishing and boating outfitter for all water in all conditions call us today and tip the scales in your favor with industry leading knowlege and service. (503)235-2628 or visit The Inflatable Boat Center’s Online Store for the best boats at the best prices. www.inflatbleboats.com
We like to keep fellow Watermen and Sportsmen apprised of things that are of interest and today’s offering is no exception.IBC is pleased to announce they will be showing the new camo pontoons at the NW Sportsmen’s Show in Febuary at the Portland Expo Center.The all new camo pontoons will be available for pre-order starting….NOW!
Call (503)235-2628 and reserve yours today. They are selling quick to the guides and outfitters that have come thru the shop so don’t miss your chance.