Inflatable parts in Pakboats

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Inflatable parts in Pakboats

Post by Alv »


Pakboats canoes and kayaks have always had inflatable parts as components of the basic hull. The first few years of production, inflatable parts were made of US materials, and reliability was not an issue. That started changing when we outsourced production.

Our first problem in 2004 boats was that some welded seams would blow out, and this was addressed by increasing the thickness of the polyurethane coating to give the welders a wider margin of error. In 2005 we moved to a new inflatable tube design with replaceable bladders in a sewn sleeve. The tubes were rugged, but the design added weight and complexity, so we decided to go back to PU coated fabric in 2006. That was when we really started having problems.

Pin holes started appearing along welded seams, and we thought we were back to the welding problems of 2004. Unfortunately, we were unable to resolve the leak problems with welding improvements, but we lost quite a bit of time trying. The real cause of the problem was not diagnosed until last September when it was determined that the leaks were caused by hydrolysis, a chemical breakdown of the PU coating. The process is triggered by a combination of heat and humidity, so all the parts would pass a pressure test at the factory and fail quickly when the boats were put into use in the summer. And the reason the PU coating failed so quickly?? It appears that the purchasing agent sourced some fabric with a bio-degradable coating!

Once we knew what was happening, we started research to find the best possible PU coating to use in inflatable parts. In addition to working with our factory, we also visited material suppliers in October. Based on their recommendations, we decided on a new coating formulation and a tougher woven substrate – and we added to the thickness of the coating to make sure there would be no further problems. Sourcing sample quantities of the new material and having it laminated took two months, and we were able to run new hydrolysis tests starting in early January. The new material was tested against the 2006 material and the previously used US material. I was very happy to find that the new fabric tested much better than any material we have used before.

It seemed like the process took a long time, but we decided to focus on making sure the end result would be solid. And we decided to wait to make this announcement until we were quite sure we knew when we would have new parts available to ship.

We had already decided to make enough replacement parts for all 2006 Pakboats, and materials were ordered as soon as the hydrolysis test was completed. The new material was completed, and actual production of inflatable parts started the last week of February. Making several thousand inflatable tubes and seats takes time, and the production will be completed this week. Enough replacement parts to cover last year’s sales will be shipped to our German distributor, Out-Trade this week. The shipment will arrive in the second half of April. Our own parts will be shipped early next week and should arrive at our US warehouse by the end of April. In the meantime, we have had a smaller quantity shipped to us by air to cover immediate needs for the next few weeks.

Please note that we will replace all inflatable parts in 2006 Pakboats under warranty. If you are in Europe, you can contact Out-Trade. Customers in America – or elsewhere – can contact Pakboats for replacements. To request replacement parts for your Puffin or PakCanoe, please supply the Hull Identification Number (starting with “AYZ”). The number will indicate the boat model and time of production.

I am very sorry about all the inconvenience the leaky parts have caused for many of you.

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