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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:50 pm 
paddler

Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:41 pm
Posts: 7
I have one that has been on only two trips. seems durable. difficult to carry with two people on either end. must be unloaded to avoid scraping in the middle. IF you decide not to buy it I am so interested in a second for my husband


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:22 am 
recent arrival

Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:45 am
Posts: 4
With the sad news that Feathercraft has ceased production, I continue to use (and occasionally abuse) four of their beautifully designed kayaks. All of them work well when in good repair--and for those with poles and sponsons repairs have been relatively easy.

But the Aironaut is different. It is of course their last design. I have had two and both have failed after a year or so: the first was among their very first sold. The welds that shaped the hull failed such that one side ballooned out--leaving the kayak floating, paddleable, but lopsided and just short of useless. They were kind and generous and replaced it immediately.

The second, the replacement, failed this week: it was in the sun but the release valves were working (and still work). This time, right by the weld that holds the bottom to the starboard side, a long leak sprung up suddenly along the joint of the weld near where the seat belts are stitched to the seam. I wondered if the sewing needle had come too close to the seam but on reflection that seems unlikely since the seams held for more than a year of use--gentle but active use. My conclusion is that the welds were badly executed or perhaps badly conceived for the pressure they have to undergo in use.

Since Feathercraft has closed up shop but promised to do repairs, I have asked Rob and Doug and Co. to either advise me or help out with a repair. But they take many days or weeks to respond to emails these days, so I have not yet heard back; I'd be surprised if they can repair it any more than the last one. Meanwhile I am lathering on the Aquaseal in hopes that the bubbles will stop emerging when I apply soapy water to the seam.

Am I just a very unlucky purchaser or have others found the Aironaut to be a lovely, light, easy to inflate kayak--but just not very durable? Any response would be helpful... Tg


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:34 am 
recent arrival

Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:45 am
Posts: 4
Rod (and other Aironaut owners)-

I am still not sure whether or not I will be able to repair my second Feathercraft Aironaut--I continue to find small leaks along the seam between the bottom and starboard chambers and the bottom continues to slowly deflate. But I will keep at it with Aquaseal and hope that the extensive patching holds the air at 5psi.

Meanwhile, however, a word of advice (that I now wish I had had myself): Do not rely on the release valves of the AIronaut. If you need to leave the kayak on top of a car or on a beach or lawn on a warm, sunny day, let out a goodly portion of the air in each of the three chambers (and the seat back).

My experience shows that even when the pressure release valves work well--as mine have--the combination of heat and maximum pressure can break through the welded seams and ruin the boat, probably irreparably.

And I'd be very, very cautious about using the Aironaut in any situation in which the failure of a chamber would lead to real peril. It's a lovely little boat but quite fragile. I had come to believe that the Feathercraft kayaks were all tough and durable, but it is not true of the Aironaut, I am convinced. Best of luck to one and all. Tom G.


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:04 am 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
Posts: 394
Location: Coastal New Jersey
It's unfortunate that the last boat to be developed at Feathercraft before it closed, a performance oriented inflatable, might be irreparably flawed. After much consideration, I became convinced that the Aironaut could be a near-perfect boat for casual travel but when I finally called Feathercraft with credit card in hand, ready to place my order, I was told that the Aironaut (What a great name for an inflatable!) had proven too cost inefficient to produce and had been taken out of production. In light of current evidence, this may have been one of the very few occasions where my chronic procrastination served me well.

I still feel that there exists a potential market for a light weight inflatable kayak designed with good performance parameters in mind but the current market for inflatables seems to greatly favor only the inflatable SUP.


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:09 am 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:51 pm
Posts: 618
Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka
If you really want an expedition capable inflatable kayak, Incept still make their Tasman K40

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Simon

Pakboats Quest 135, Nautiraid Narak 460, 416 & K1 (sold my 550), First light 420, Feathercraft Wisper, Fujita Alpina AL-1 400, Incept k40 (for sale)
Non-folders: Cape Falcon F1. Beth sailing canoe, 2014 Hobie Adventure Island


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 5:27 pm 
lord high faltbotmeister
User avatar

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:46 am
Posts: 537
Location: inland Pennsylvania, USA
I'm dealing with what seems to be a systemic fabric coating failure with the sponsons on a pair of Feathercrafts. I've located a product that has been developed to reseal the insides of inflatable boats (like Zodiac yacht tenders) and have ordered a quart to see if it can seal these up. I'll report back on how it works. I doubt it will address structural seam failures such as you guys are reporting with the Aironauts, but if it works as claimed it might be a good backup measure to consider with existing boats. If it cures the slow leaking of these sponsons I am trying to salvage, I plan to add it to the sponsons in my Wisper and other Pakboats.

http://www.allboatproducts.com/Inflatab ... ealer.html

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Current:
Feathercraft Wisper
Pakboat Quest 135
Pakboat Puffin 12
Pakboat Swift 14
Greenland SOF
P & H Easky 15LV
Previous:
Feathercraft Kahuna
Feathercraft K-1 Expedition
Pakboat XT-15


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:21 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
Posts: 394
Location: Coastal New Jersey
Fifty bucks is still cheaper than a new FC sponson, assuming that you'll be able to get a new sponson from a company that no longer exists. It's not excactly a cake walk, repairing a sponson in a Feathercraft boat. First thing, you've got to turn the hull inside out to get to the sponson itself, then repair it (usually easy enough with Aquaseal) and then reinsert sponson back into sleeve and turn the hull right side out again (whew!). Anyway, thanks Kerry, for doing the field work. If this stuff is as good as the manufacturer claims a lot of us bag boaters may be using it before too long.


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:59 pm 
lord high faltbotmeister
User avatar

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:46 am
Posts: 537
Location: inland Pennsylvania, USA
I know that process well (replacing FC sponsons). I neglected to release the pressure in one of them in my Kahuna at one point and ruptured a seam. Turning the hull skin inside out to remove the tube was a nightmare and then I neglected to tie a string to the tab on the opposite end before pulling out the damaged one (to leave a way to pull the repaired one back in). I had ordered a replacement tube (i think it cost me like $80 with shipping!!) not realizing I could have repaired it. I have that old tube somewhere in the basement.

Since I'm an electrician I had a nylon fish-tape on hand so I was able to fish the new tube into the sleeve. But the effort involved left an impression and ever since I have been fanatical about releasing pressure in every inflatable component of my various boats, from seats to flotation bags, but especially sponsons.

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Current:
Feathercraft Wisper
Pakboat Quest 135
Pakboat Puffin 12
Pakboat Swift 14
Greenland SOF
P & H Easky 15LV
Previous:
Feathercraft Kahuna
Feathercraft K-1 Expedition
Pakboat XT-15


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:02 pm 
recent arrival

Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 4:27 pm
Posts: 3
:( You all make me want to cry.... anyway what kind of pressure gauge will work with the Aironaut valves?


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:32 am 
recent arrival

Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:45 am
Posts: 4
In re: Proper inflation on Aironauts (or indeed most any of the Feathercrafts or other small inflatables): I find that touch or feel is a perfectly good measure of inflation. Once a sponson or chamber firms up and feels taut, it's ready to go and needs no more air. The Aironauts--fragile as they may be--are the first Feathercrafts I have owned (I have had six, including three Aironauts, one of which was ruined by seam failure and one that was nearly ruined but is now repaired well enough for regular use) that proved my rule of thumb, since their valves release air just a couple of strokes after the chambers feel taut and full. I haven't lost sponsons on my poled Feathercrafts but the rule holds: as soon as it feels hard and full, stop pumping. And always, always, let out a lot of air when the boats sit in the sun and out of the water!

The valves work but they don't seem to work reliably enough. It may be that in high heat the seams weaken to the point that the valves release too late. Or it could be--as once when I car topped an Aironaut--that the valves get blocked by such equipment or the pressure from a tie down.

(A curiosity for me in all this is the durability of inflatable paddle boards under the same conditions: A relatively cheap Tower that I have holds its pressure in the garage for months and months; car topped or left on the beach (and with no fancy release valves) it seems impervious to hot temperatures that would make short shrift of a Feathercraft sponson or Aironaut chamber. Maybe, like car tires, there's just a much thicker, stronger and heavier material holding the air in.)

And if there is a truly comparable inflatable to the various Feathercrafts I'd like to know about it. Whatever the failings of the air chambers, the Feathercrafts--all of them!--were and are light, elegant, beautiful boats... some just for small trips, but some for big.


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:11 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
Posts: 394
Location: Coastal New Jersey
I, too, consider the Aironaut to be an elegant craft, a near-perfect boat for transporting to distant waters as well as the urban dweller short on storage space whose goal is to spend a day on the water without the hassle of the time consuming assembly required of most folding kayaks. Seems that Feathetcraft had the design just about right but came up short with production techniques. It makes me wonder if Gumotex with its long experience with inflatable production might be able to take up wher FC left off with the Aironaut, producing a durable, light, modestly priced and performance-oriented inflatable. And then there's Sea Eagle who seems to have come up with a drop- stitch kayak, the Razorlight, capable of an inflation pressure of 10 psi. While the skin-on-frame folder seems to be on the endangered species list, the market for quality inflatables might be expanding


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:57 am 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:57 am
Posts: 1232
Location: Anchorage Alaska
KerryOnKayaks wrote:
I'm dealing with what seems to be a systemic fabric coating failure with the sponsons on a pair of Feathercrafts. I've located a product that has been developed to reseal the insides of inflatable boats (like Zodiac yacht tenders) and have ordered a quart to see if it can seal these up. I'll report back on how it works. I doubt it will address structural seam failures such as you guys are reporting with the Aironauts, but if it works as claimed it might be a good backup measure to consider with existing boats. If it cures the slow leaking of these sponsons I am trying to salvage, I plan to add it to the sponsons in my Wisper and other Pakboats.

http://www.allboatproducts.com/Inflatab ... ealer.html


How did it work? I have a slow leak in 1 of the Java tubes

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Feathercraft Kahuna ( Angela )
Mariner Express ( Miruku Maru ) ( In Storage)
Innova Helios 380
Northwest Sportee (SuperBoat)
Innova Safari
Mariner I
Feathercraft Java
Nautiraid 14
Innova Sunny
Feathercraft K-Light


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:11 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:37 am
Posts: 149
Location: Vancouver BC
tsunamichuck wrote:

How did it work? I have a slow leak in 1 of the Java tubes


I bought a bottle a few months ago and it fixed a bunch of leaks in my Helios 1. Going to try it on my Seaker next, it has a slow leak in one tube I just can't get at.


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:09 am 
lord high faltbotmeister
User avatar

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:46 am
Posts: 537
Location: inland Pennsylvania, USA
I had mixed results with the latex sealant. But recall that I was dealing with completely defective fabric, the bad batch that Pakboat got from one of their Chinese subcontractors back around 2007 that resulted in an entire shipment of Puffin Swifts sponsons failing in less than a year after production (I unknowingly bought two that had escaped the recall replacements). When I filled the leaking sponsons with the latex it did flow into all of the air gaps at seams and throughout the surface, oozing out all over them. Once it cured, and it temporarily seemed to stop the slow leakage, eventually all those sponsons resumed their slow descent into flaccidity and I realized the fabric was just too defective (the coating was never properly bonded to the fabric and was peeling off on the inside.) I gave up after having used half of the quart can of sealant and ordered material and valves from DIYPackrafts to make replacement sponsons. Been too busy with other projects and commitments to do that yet but I don't expect it will be that complicated. I'll use the old ones as patterns and may cut out the valves and reuse them.

Speaking of sponson valves, Alv at Pakboat says he is taking my suggestion that he sell replacement sponson Boston type valves pre-welded to oversized circles of coated PVC fabric so that people can just cut out bad valves and then glue the pre-welded valve patch over the (smaller) hole. You can also buy Boston valves from DIYpackraft.com. They sell the nipple type "top off valves" too, similar to those on the tube type inflaters on older Feathercraft and Pakboat skin on frames. Alv claims that the Boston valves hold higher pressure and that is why they switched to them. But they seem more apt to fail, and are not only more costly and time-consuming to replace, but it is a pain in the ass to access them, deep in the kayak hull, to inflate and deflate. I prefer the "remote access" option of the long tube inflaters that I can adjust from the cockpit.

Sidebar: I sometimes feel self conscious at the launch site when I am on my knees with my head down in the bottom of my Pakboat Quest trying to inflate the 6 Boston valves embedded in the sponsons. Even though I am using a hand-pump the position and action suggests the scene in the first "Airplane" movie where the comely stewardess is bent over the lap of the inflatable "autopilot" blowing up the valve in his lap. Only the kayak doesn't have a lascivious grin painted on it. Perhaps it should.

BUT, (back to the sealant) I had a slower leak in one of the Puffin inflatable seats and swirled two coats (3 days apart) of the latex liquid into that unit and it seemed to work in keeping it pressurized once it cured. Perhaps the fabric in the seat was not from as bad a lot as the sponsons -- probably so because the only visible indication that the sealant had oozed through was a few pinholes and one tiny weak area along one outer welded seam. I haven't used that seat since the repair but may try it sometime next month. it's the same as the seat in my 2004 Puffin 12 (which has no leaks) so I can install it in that boat and see if it holds up to the pressure of use.

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Current:
Feathercraft Wisper
Pakboat Quest 135
Pakboat Puffin 12
Pakboat Swift 14
Greenland SOF
P & H Easky 15LV
Previous:
Feathercraft Kahuna
Feathercraft K-1 Expedition
Pakboat XT-15


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 Post subject: Re: Aironaut owners...
PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:13 am 
lord high faltbotmeister
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:46 am
Posts: 537
Location: inland Pennsylvania, USA
Chuck: I'm not familiar with the construction of the Java -- are the hull tubes like the other full frame FC's in having removable separate internal vinyl sponson tubes or are they made of coated fabric with integrated valves? If the latter, I imagine the liquid latex should work. It's super runny and once you pour a couple of capfuls into an inflated compartment and juggle and tumble it thoroughly to disperse the fluid, the stuff flows and finds every tiny pinhole. You can visibly spot it oozing through until it cures and blocks the opening. After I would pour it in to cure, I would let the air out 90% or so every hour for the first day and every few hours the second and then re-inflate (you can smell the solvent as you release in the air). I figured this would speed up curing and it did seem to help. You do need to keep the parts well inflated until it fully cures or the inside surfaces could stick together. Also, to double seal the pinholes, you can use the oozing habit of the latex to spot all the pinholes -- much simpler and more obvious than the tedious submersion or soap film technique. You could just let the latex fill in the holes or add a conventional vinyl and glue patch or dollop of Aquaseal wherever you spot that telltale bead of latex bleeding through.

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Current:
Feathercraft Wisper
Pakboat Quest 135
Pakboat Puffin 12
Pakboat Swift 14
Greenland SOF
P & H Easky 15LV
Previous:
Feathercraft Kahuna
Feathercraft K-1 Expedition
Pakboat XT-15


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