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Thread: Raft Maintenance

  1. #1
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    Default Raft Maintenance

    What is the best product to use to preserve raft tubes? I have an Aire cat. I've heard of guys using Armoral or nothing at all. Our either of these a good choice or is there something in the middle?
    Thanks

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    303 protectant, nothing else afaik, definitely not Armorall.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default NO Armorall!

    Armorall will penetrate your fabric and make it impossible to get a patch to hold. Don't use it on your boat!

    303 protectant is what you want. Alaska Raft and Kayak also carries various cleaners you can use before you apply 303.

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    Default

    I use dish soap and a scrub brush, which does a pretty good job for general cleaning. It doesn't get the black streaks off very well, but for general grunge it does a good job.

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    Sorry, I'm an idiot. Dish soap is a decent cleaner, but not a good tube preservative, which is what you are looking for. So much for my multitasking abilities.

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    Default

    to add to the general theme perhaps some feedback will be given:

    (recognizing there are probably old threads with this info but perhaps others will read if the topic is freshly addressed, and I know you guys like an excuse to talk rafts, so....)

    is it wise to spray down (wash) the craft after every trip to keep silt out, etc.? do you always do this?
    do you deflate your raft after every trip? how much time between uses warrants deflation?

    is it ok to store in an outside shed during AK winter? is this substantially inferior to warm storage? what about outside, not so dry storage? (such as on a pallet with tarp secured but room to breathe)

    on float trips with dogs I have noticed their claws are not so friendly to the boat. Is this a substantial concern in terms of long-term durability?

    what are common mistakes with raft maintenance (or lack thereof)?

    how many instances of wild animal raft damage are you aware of?

    and I could go on and on. not trying to hijack the thread but hope these discussions are welcome.


    how often do you guys apply the 303 UV protectant?

  7. #7

    Default Raft care

    I left mine inflated in the summer but always tarped, UV,s are the killer, kept it clean and
    used 303 as needed about twice a year. Deflated and stored in an outside shed every
    year dry and clean when I put it away. Had a Aire Super Puma for 10 years and it looked new when I sold it, with that kind of care, never had any issues.

  8. #8
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    I am horrid at raft maintenance.

    I have an old Aire Cougar cataraft that I have totally abused for maybe 15 years. In the fall I roll it up and drop the tube bundles on a couple blocks in the back yard. After they thaw completely I might get around to fixing something. I don't wash or rinse them off, and have never used 303 on them. These use the old style double-truck zipper without the cover webbing, so they show a fair amount of wear, and the bottoms of the tubes are scraped up pretty bad, with a whole lot of scuffs and black marks all over, and a few patches as well. But the PVC is still very pliable and not brittle, and most important, they still work very well.

    I'm not saying you should follow my example, but these are incredibly durable boats, and even if you abuse them something awful they will last for decades.

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    Thanks for the replies.Mine is close to20 years old and is just starting to show some UV wear.
    I'll give the 303 a go, can't hurt.

  10. #10
    Member sbiinc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    I am horrid at raft maintenance.

    I have an old Aire Cougar cataraft that I have totally abused for maybe 15 years. In the fall I roll it up and drop the tube bundles on a couple blocks in the back yard. After they thaw completely I might get around to fixing something. I don't wash or rinse them off, and have never used 303 on them. These use the old style double-truck zipper without the cover webbing, so they show a fair amount of wear, and the bottoms of the tubes are scraped up pretty bad, with a whole lot of scuffs and black marks all over, and a few patches as well. But the PVC is still very pliable and not brittle, and most important, they still work very well.

    I'm not saying you should follow my example, but these are incredibly durable boats, and even if you abuse them something awful they will last for decades.
    your example??? sounds like my tubes, thought maybe you'd been over here spying on me.... only thing different is mine stay in the garage folded up when not being used.

  11. #11
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    kk, jim, sb, thanks for the replies (sorry again for the partial thread hijack)

    i tend to overthink some things, so you all have helped me gauge what's important and what isn't. no doubt UV is the silent destroyer of most all things.

    sun is finally shining here in the mat-su. seems it's been a week or more. better get out there.

  12. #12
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    My .02 on raft care.

    Take care that sand doesn't end up sandwiched between your raft and trailer. It's like your raft is riding on sandpaper and it will slowly wear the bottom thin.

    I have found that Simple Green works as well or better than Inflatable Boat Cleaner, for a fraction of the price.

    Do use the 303, it is good stuff.

    If you can store it inflated, that is way better than rolled up. Rolling it up causes wear areas and puts creases in it. This matters more with urethane than the other materials. I have never noticed any problems from storing mine in a barn that is not heated.

    Do not over-inflate your raft. Do not leave it sitting in the sun with a fully inflated floor. I have seen quite a few blown I-Beams on floors. Do not trust a floor pressure release valve- they can get stuck shut. Other than trailering accidents this is probably the number one cause of boat damage.

    Don't hook a winch cable to your back D-Ring. You will eventually yank that D-Ring right off the boat no matter what brand it is. If you have to winch it then rig up something to spread the pressure to three D-Rings or to the frame.

    Finally, do not stand or put weight on the floor of a raft when it is on an uneven or rocky surface. I have heard not to put a lot of weight on the floor unless the boat is actually in the water because the floor isn't made to take that much pressure in one spot. I don't really know if this is true but I won't do it just in case.

  13. #13

    Default

    Not much I can add to the comments already except that I use CITRA-SOL concentrate as a cleaner. I think it may only still be available @ the health food grocery @ university center. Cleans better than simple green or any commercial boat cleaner I have seen.

    This stuff is organic, but make no mistake. It is strong. I usually scrub with soap, water, & brush and hose everything off afterwards.

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