How to buy a used raft|
- by Dave Inks
The first thing to do when
considering buying a used raft is to inflate
the raft to a usable hardness (this means
that the raft is full of air and does not
wrinkle when you row). If you do not know
how to properly inflate a raft check our
raft inflation guide.
Check all of the D-rings
and other parts to make sure they are
solidly attached to the raft. Any loose
parts can be cleaned and re-glued so this is
not a serious problem, however, too much of
that would certainly affect how much you
should ultimately pay.
Next take a
spray bottle and put liquid soap in it (a
teaspoon or so of liquid soap will do), and
fill the rest of the spray bottle with
water. Shake it up a bit and then spray the
entire raft with a liberal amount. If there
are any small, pinhole leaks any leaking air
will form a bump of foam exactly where the
air is coming out. Mark each one of these
leaks to keep track of where they are. (Do
not use a ball point pen because the ink
will be hard to remove later.) A white
grease pencil is best or simply make an X
over the leak with duct tape.
it up a notch!
Water Strider kickboat
raft now and be ready for outdoor adventure on your
favorite river or lake.
Then let the air out of each chamber
separately and see if the internal baffles
hold air in each chamber without leaking
into the one you let air out of. Leaky
baffles are not a serious problem as long as
the raft does not get a big tear in it and
you need to get to shore quickly. Putting
some internal sealant in it while the raft
is inflated can seal slow internal leaks.
Take a close look at all of the seams on the
raft. Older rafts will have glued seams and
glue deteriorates with age. If the raft
appears to be quite old it may be need to be
completely re-glued. This takes time and
knowledge and may not be worth the effort.
Newer rafts are now hot air welded but can
still have leaks. Check all seams carefully
with water and soap solution spray. If an
inflatable raft has a large leak the leaking
seam can be pried apart a bit and re-glued
to adequately repair it.
leaks will blow the soap and water solution
off the raft fabric immediately and are
therefore harder to find. Consequently, to
find pinhole leaks you may have to use your
hand to feel the leak by moving your hand
closely all over the raft. You can also hold
your eye close to the raft fabric to feel
any escaping air. Being more sensitive than
your hand, your eye can be more effective in
locating an air leak.
general condition of the raft's fabric for
worn spots - especially on the bottom. Any
cuts or rubbed area can leak - especially if
the fabric shows through the fabric coating.
These types of leaks can be patched over
quite easily. Patches on a raft do not
affect their performance quality provided
they are applied properly. Rafts made of PVC
can be hot air welded and Hypolon raft
material must be glued.
and the Hypolon material deteriorates with
age so look carefully at the used raft you
are contemplating buying. If the raft's
fabric has too many checks and cracks in it
it is probably best to pass on the purchase
and look for one in better condition or even
buy a new one.
When you patch a raft
use MEK or lacquer thinner to thoroughly
clean the parts. Several coats of solvent on
a rag clean well, open the pores of the
fabric to except glue, and facilitate
bonding. Thin coats of glue are best being
careful that there are no ridges in the
glue. This application method helps insure
that the glue dries evenly. Be sure to use
fresh, new glue as it has a short shelf
If you are diligent about
inspecting a used raft as described above,
you may end up with a very serviceable raft
and will soon you will be floating and
having a great time. Always wear a life