How tough is the hull?
Since 2000, the hulls have been urethane. This is a very hard material, used in a vast array of applications. This fabric has been tested extensively on beach landings with rocks, barnacles and coral. The hull fabric has multiple layers of urethane with solid strips of urethane welded to wear points along the keel and chines. Depending upon use and care, the kayak skin should last 15 – 20 years.
Why is hull reinforcement important?
It is very important to understand that about 80% of all wear on a hull is directly under the keel and chine bars. Because of this, ALL Feathercraft hulls have keel and chine reinforcement strips on the outside. This is labor-intensive and expensive work.Check the competition! In our view, a hull is not complete without these strips. Note that, at present, no urethane hull, nor any folding kayak on the market in the lower-end price range, has reinforcement strips. All Feathercraft Kayaks also have reinforcements on the inside of the hull at wear-points. No other manufacturer does this.
Prior to 2000, the hulls were made of Hypalon; in the late 80’s and early ’90’s, it was Feathertex (a lightweight urethane) as well as Hypalon; and in the early ’80’s, the hulls were Butyl rubber. Most of the kayaks sold in North America were Hypalon hulls. This is the same material used on Zodiac inflatables. It is incredibly strong and abrasion resistant. But the process to make the hulls was terribly toxic and labour intensive, with hours of buffing and honing. Full mask respirators were required for the glueing process. It was hot and cumbersome work. For almost four years, we worked closely with our supplier to fabricate a proprietary hull material that would match the Hypalon strength, but be lighter. The process begins with a ballistic 840 denier high tenacity nylon balanced weave fabric. The fabric is first impregnated with a polyurethane solution coat, followed by a series of additional polyurethane coats. The material is finished to our weight specifications using multiple layers of polyurethane. This unique, lengthy process results in a supple fabric designed to be heat sealable, and highly abrasion resistant. Urethane can be welded. We invested in the RF and hot air welding machines requires to fabricate our hulls in a clean, non-toxic process. In 2000, we changed the complete kayak skin to a urethane deck and hull. The skin is now waterproof, strong, and lighter weight.
How do I repair the hull/skin?
If a puncture occurs, you patch it just like a bike tire tube. For the urethane hull, use Aquaseal adhesive and Cotol, the accelerant. In a pinch, duct tape will work if the area to be patched is first swabbed with rubbing alcohol or sanded. Aquaseal can also be used for cosmetic nicks, and to fill in gouges. For Hypalon hulls, use a rubber cement or specific Hypalon glues found in marine shops where inflatable rafts are sold.
Preparation for glueing a patch:
- When patching the hull, your patch should have rounded corners.
- For urethane hulls: clean the area to be patched with Cotol accelerator and mix with the Aquaseal, following the instructions on the container.
- For hypalon hulls: have the area to be patched clean and dry. Using a hypalon adhesive, apply a thin even coat to both the patch and area to be patched. Wait 3 to 5 minutes until just tacky. Re-apply adhesive. Wait till tacky. Press surfaces together. Allow to dry for two hours.
- Roughen non-fabric surfaces. Apply a thin even coat of Aquaseal to both surfaces.
- At room temperature, wait approximately five minutes, until adhesive is “just after tacky”.
- Press surfaces together.
- Cure time with the accelerator is two hours. For thickest repairs, allow up to 36 hours.