Spray skirts/decks have a pretty tough life but do an incredibly important job. I’d been on the look out for a spray skirt to rescue from an inevitable trip to the bin and found one close to home.
Unsponsored’s little brother River (Militia) has a Palm Kevlar RT rand deck that has seen better days. I had offered to repair it for this post without seeing the total extent of the damage.
In fairness the skirt should have been consigned to the bin years ago or at least set on fire and given a grand send off. However the skirt was in such a bad state that it made the perfect subject for this post as most types of repair were required to bring it back to life.
To put the repair into context most joints on the skirt were compromised and in other areas the skirt had separated from the rand. In two key places the kevlar/neoprene had worn out/through and large holes had appeared. Even the top part of the tunnel had separated from the skirt and was also torn in a couple of places. All in all it was in a sorry state.
The rand itself was intact and therefore meant that the repair of the skirt was going to be time consuming yet fairly simple.
To carry out the repairs I used a proven neoprene glue, namely Black Witch. It is great stuff that I have used before to carry out much smaller repairs. The glue is available as a kit with Black Witch and a series of patches, or as a single Black Witch tube. The glue has some stretch when set so will work with the material.
Cuts and Joins:
Where the joins had been compromised or little cuts could be seen I stretched the neoprene out from the inside with my hands and covered the area with Black witch glue. I used a pen nib to get the glue right into the critical corner areas. The glued parts need to be kept apart for around 2 minutes. Once the time was up the stretch was released and the bonding took place.
A collection of before and after shots can be seen below.
Where the skirt had been totally compromised I used clear parcel tape on the rear of the skirt to hold the different parts together. In the images below you can see that the hole is not only large its also at a very critical high wear area.
I used several passes of glue using the same technique as with cuts and joins above.
The repair like the others is rock solid.
A similar issue was found at the nose of the skirt where the join had split and the fabric had come away from the rand. A similar technique was used to build up the repair. Rather than adding a patch I used an additional layer of Black Witch to re-enforce the area.
The repairs so far had taken place on material that was quite thick and stable. The tunnel of the skirt is made from a much thinner neoprene. I therefore decided to stitch and then glue the parts back together. I used a polyester thread as it will not rot out and stitched on the outer side.
In a number of areas the nylon outer of the neoprene had delaminated and stetched out of shape. Where I could these pieces were simply stuck back down. Where the stretch was too great the fabric was cut, trimmed and then glued back into place.
Stitching on the outer side of the tunnel allowed me to bond the join made by the two parts of the tunnel using the same join repair section above.
So there we have it, a repaired spray skirt. The total cost of the repair was £8.00 and a couple of hours all in. However each of the individual repairs only took a few minutes each, there just happen to be so many! The same techniques could be used on any neoprene based gear including wetsuits and gaskets.