A couple of days after trying out the Semperit I noticed a scratch on the hull bottom (left) so decided to pre-emptively patch that with Bostik 1782 (less faff than 2-part). It looked like an old scratch which had opened up by reusing the boat.
I reinflated a day or two later, but a few days on noticed the floor was flat. I pumped it up again – air was hissing from a crack in the hypalon coating inside the boat, more or less under the seat (below left; colours enhanced for clarity).
This seemed a bit odd. The boat hadn’t been over-inflated or left in the baking sun, and there wasn’t any obvious rubbing in the two hours I’d used it, though I suppose this is a high-wear area and an old boat.
I suspected general, age-related delamination or entropic porosity. The outer orange hypalon coat can be rubbed or cut down to the fabric core, as with the hull scratch I’d just repaired. But inside should be an airtight layer of neoprene. No way of checking that without open boat surgery.
To be honest it’s what I half-expected from a 40-year-old IK, which is why I’d kept the refurb to a minimum. I suspect sudden use after many years possible neglect had accelerated its decay. I see the keel-strake is coming away too, as are some other black patches holding the rusting D-rings.
I’ve experienced similar deterioration when buying old vehicles for long trips. They seem like a bargain and had a solid ‘they-don’t-make-’em-like-they-used-to’ reputation in their day. But reviving them, or just asking them to perform as they once did, can lead to a string of failures until it’s just not worth it (left). Much depends how they’ve been maintained over the years. I recall writing in one of my books (or maybe here): “you can’t give your old gran a pair of trainers and expect here to run a marathon without having a heart attack“.
I patched the wear-hole with more 1782, reluctant to waste good two-part Polymarine. Pumped up and filled it with water: all good, but an anomalous perforation somewhere else can’t be ruled out.
That’s another thing I’ve learned with old cars and bikes: you replace the clapped out engine then the clutch goes; you replace the clutch and the gearbox goes; you replace the gearbox and so on… The strain of refurbishment gets passed to the weakest point. An IK will get you to shore on two chambers, especially if its just the floor that’s gone. I had that once with the Incept. Out with your pals on a warm summertime river, that’s no drama. Elsewhere, alone with the wind picking up; not so trivial.
There’s a such a thing as hypalon paint (right) to revive old boats, but that goes for at least £100 a litre – possibly worthwhile on your cherished RIB; not on this old IK. If the hypalon is delaminating from the woven nylon core, paint won’t save it. You’ve got to know when to call it a day, and that day may have come for the old trout.
A few hours later the floor was soggy – this time it had let go a few inches up from the recent patching – the ‘clutch going after the engine’. Up to then I’d been considering putting it back on ebay with a clear semperit caveat emptor. But then I decided sawing it in half would be more fun. I always wondered what an I-beam floor looks like.
Read the IK autopsy.