Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Repairing Raft Rips on the River: Part I

Want to know what is in a totally radical raft repair kit? In this first part of our two-part "how to" series on raft and inflatable kayak repairs, we will take you through the process of putting together a tricked out river raft repair kit. Bill Hays, Whitewater Warehouse's expert in-house boat repair professional, details the kit's must haves in this blog...

First things first: If you want to enjoy your trip with fewer worries, control what you can control. That means having your patch/repair kit up to snuff by the beginning of the season. When I worked in boat repair it was always dark comedy when some ill-prepared boater would come into the shop looking for repair items the day before their trip. It also means having all you equipment checked-out. I was at the put-in on a commercial trip with a private party with three big guys doing the wishful thinking of willing mass quantities of duct-tape to patch a faulty p.r. valve on a self-bailing inflatable kayak. They ended up throwing their $600 I.K. back in their rig with a dark cloud over their trip. Bummer! Checkout your boats and equipment and your patch kit well in advance of your trip!

For my kits I like to include at least the following:

• 2 kinds of fabric: something heavyweight and a lighter weight material. I will have a roll that is as wide as a 50 cal. Ammo can running about 3 feet. The lighter weight material should be flexible if you need to set an inside patch; or, if its going to travel across a compromised seam. On the new sheets of fabric I pre-buff the back at home to get the shine off the inside of the fabric. I do that with a hand-held drill and a 2-inch sandpaper flap wheel. On the river you will be able to freshen this buffing by hand with sandpaper.

To find out the remaining 14 items that Bill recommends should be part of your on-river repair kit, click on Whitewater Warehouse's raft repair page.