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 Post subject: Lifespan of PVC skin?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:00 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:17 pm
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Location: Chicago
A lot of folders have PVC these days, including my PakCanoe. A prospective buyer asked me how long a skin would last. I don't really have any idea. Does anyone know?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:03 am 
knight of the folding kayak realm
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Location: inland Pennsylvania, USA
Considering that most heavy truck tarps used to enclose loads on flatbeds and open trailers are PVC, the stuff has a pretty durable reputation. And I used to be a factory rep for a major brand of PVC electrical conduits and weatherproof enclosures and we provided lab data to customers on how durable it was, even in building fires. PVC fabrics and films are used for skinning some pretty major large structural projects, as can be seen on this website:

http://www.pvcconstruct.org/en/

I would not worry much about a PVC skinned boat -- one great thing about folders is you are little likely to leave them stored out in the sunlight as you would a non-folder (which can cause some degradation eventually unless it is treated with 303 or other UV shield).

The more likely weaknesses with age would be joint corrosion on frames (if not kept rinsed of salt water and lubricated) and air leaks in sponsons due to weak spots in the waterproof lining, rupture due to heat expansion or pinholes from use, which are all repairable.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:47 am 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:31 pm
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Thank you Kerryon. Nice to have an authoritative view.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:19 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:17 pm
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So a Pvc skinned boat is used only occasionally, stored indoors, not abused, and not used in salt water. How many years might the skin last?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:15 am 
knight of the folding kayak realm

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Interesting question. To phrase it another way, when were the first PVC-skinned boats introduced and are any of those skins still going strong?

I have a 1962 rubber-skinned boat, that was very well cared for by its previous owner, and where the rubber is still supple, usable and beautiful. I wonder if PVC will be able to match that? And I wonder what treatments would help it obtain that age. The previous owner of my rubber-skinned boat treated it religiously with either Klepper milk or boatwax or both, and stored it in good cool conditions, something that sadly I'm having trouble continuing owing to non-availability of the milk/boatwax, and the fact my generation in the UK seems to have been priced out of the market for houses with garages! The attic, alternately hot and cold, is not the ideal storage spot.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 2:04 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm
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Here is a statement from a company that makes the plastic skins for buildings (like in the earlier link I posted.)

"PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, architectural membrane is the most common fabric membrane for producing flexible structures and is best suited for short-term, temporary or deployable applications. PVC membrane is commonly coated with a protective acrylic or PVDF top coat with a design life of approximately 15-20 years. If PVC membrane is exposed to high levels of UV in areas like Florida or in the Southwest U.S., the design life of PVC is approximately 10-15 years."

10 to 15 years is considered "short term" and "temporary" in building structures. But bear in mind that they are talking about structures that are exposed to the elements their entire life. Unless you live in a very sunny climate and leave your boat outdoors in the sunlight year round, I doubt that you need to be worried about it deteriorating in your lifetime. Damage is cumulative, in other words, if your boat is in bright sun for a while and then you store it away from UV, any effect due to exposure does not continue to progress while away from it. So low end for deterioration from exposure seems to be around 4000 days. When your boat is in the water, the hull is not exposed anyway.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 3:17 pm 
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I don't know how long a PVC skinned boat can last, but I do know that some of our earliest boats are now over 20 years old. We recently had one in for repair and found that the skin was fine. I don't think it had been cared for very carefully - neither had it been abused.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:33 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:31 pm
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This is good discussion since the hull is so important, and expensive.
I have a Folbot super. I got it from the original owner. from the correspondence I am guessing it was manufactured in May and April of 1979. I have four supers in various states of repair. This one is by far the best hull in terms of flexibility. It was well cared for but even so, a thirty eight year old hull. The down side, the thread is not holding up so well. I am going to have to resew (how?) several seams to keep using it.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:21 am 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:17 pm
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Location: Chicago
Very interesting responses here. It sounds like a boat that's well cared for, not abused, and stored out of the sun and heat will last for a long time. It's a good sign that you don't see these boats--not just Pakboats but older brands like Allys--advertised as "frame good but needs new skin," as you do with many older Kleppers. I have two Pakboats, one made in 2006, the other in 2011. I would say that the 2006 is in better condition, maybe because it was better cared for.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:38 am 
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overland wrote:
A lot of folders have PVC these days, including my PakCanoe. A prospective buyer asked me how long a skin would last. I don't really have any idea. Does anyone know?


Hi,

I have a Hammer Langeiner (long single) from 1952 with PVC skin. The skin is still doing fine, the wooden frame will need some patching during the winter recess. The story of the boat is known to the previous owners, so I can be sure it's the original skin. Skin definitely did not shrink. The boat has been around quite a bit in the northern hemisphere, especially long expeditions in eastern Europe. It does have some patches and keelstrips ;-)

I also have a Klepper Slalom 50 with original rubber skin. The rubber is completely hardened and I literally had to break the boat down to get it into the car. The rubber I have discarded since, the cotton deck will be restored to honour it's decades of patches.

My oldest rubber (silverskin) boat is an Aerius double from aproximately 1963. Some parts rubbed of, some parts got sticky, the seam of the sponsonholders disintegrated. With some patching totally servicable, I still paddled this boat last summer in Croatia. I am since working off 50 years of neglect and hope to keep her for some more time.

I also have a Poucher RZ 85 of similar vintage. PVC skin is in much better shape, cotton is good too, some seams open up. I will restitch all seams and the boat will seemingly last forever.

My RZ 85 from the last years of GDR has a good PVC hull, probably slightly shrunk or patched two tightly. The cotton deck needs a lot of reinforcement.

A Klepper T 9 from 1974 with Hypalone skin is visibly rubbed down and needs 4 keelstrips and some patches. Seams, cotton and Hypalone are fine.

Finally an Aerius doble Hypalone skin of unknown (to me) vintage cracked allong the keel-folding. A broad keelstrip will remedy this.

I think, if your don't wear through the PVC without patching it it'll last a lifetime.


Happy paddling
Greets
Ralf C.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:37 pm 
paddler

Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:19 pm
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I’m fairly new to this forum. I have used a Pakboats Puffin II for years, as recently as two weeks ago (February 2018). I’m fairly sure it is constructed of PVC. Everything on it is original and looks and performs as well as it did when purchased in 2006. I have no complaints as to the longevity of this PVC craft.
Fishingron


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:34 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:17 pm
Posts: 121
Location: Chicago
I recently picked up a 14' Pakcanoe made in 1996 for Mad River canoes. Apart from wear (this boat went on some long expeditions in Canada), the PVC skin is still in excellent condition. It has however shrunk a little, which I solved by trimming about 1/2" off the gunwale tubes.


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