Changing Skin

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JohnSand
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Changing Skin

Post by JohnSand »

I own a Folbot Aleut and a 10' folding dinghy of similar style, skin over longitudinals on transverse frames. We live a few blocks from the beach, my wife likes to sunbathe, I don't. I have brought the Folbot down to paddle, not bad. I really bought it for travel, but it's bulky in two bags. I'm thinking of replacing the heavy bulky coated fabric skins of both of these boats with something lighter. I want a fabric that will remain supple, be thinner and lighter than what's there. I have a couple of sewing machines including a Sailrite. I'm thinking that it doesn't have to match exactly if I lace the top. I may practice with tarp material before spending on good quality cloth.
What would you use and why?

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Re: Changing Skin

Post by mje »

If it’s light and supple it’s not going to be as abrasion resistant as Hypalon. A few years ago I tested a heavily promoted lightweight boat with a urethane coated polyester hull- i thought it was a death trap.

The Aleut is a pretty light boat as it is. Maybe you could save 5 or even 10 pounds with a lightweight fabric, but that hardly seems worth it.
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JohnSand
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Re: Changing Skin

Post by JohnSand »

Thanks. If I could save 10# I would absolutely do it. Mine is an older model that may be heavier. I'm also more interested in skinning the bigger boat, where the weight difference would be significant. As is, the bag with the skin is very large and very heavy. On the WoodenBoat Forum I've had suggestions of nylon fabrics, some of which heat seal. I'm also considering Sur Last, as I have some on hand. I'll report my results if I experiment.

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KerryOnKayaks
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Re: Changing Skin

Post by KerryOnKayaks »

DIYpackrafts.com is a good supplier of a range of quality vinyl coated fabrics for watercraft. Most of them are heat-sealable since he specializes in inflatables. You can use a Coverite Black Baron hobby iron to seal seams with those fabrics.

You might find useful information in Tom Yost's on-line instructions and patterns for making skin on frame and folding kayaks from scratch.

http://yostwerks.org

Cheap clear vinyl that you can get by the yard at places like Joann Fabrics (sign up to get their 50% off coupons first) can be used to skin frame boats and you could use that for a pattern run, then cut it apart to use for the final materials assembly. Or you can sacrifice the old skin by cutting it apart for a pattern.
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JohnSand
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Re: Changing Skin

Post by JohnSand »

Thanks Kerry. I'll keep you all posted.

Alv
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Re: Changing Skin

Post by Alv »

Getting fabric from a packraft company may be tempting, but there is one potential problem. Inflatables may benefit from stretchy fabric, but folding kayaks do not. Many folding boats have fabric that is reinforced with polyester. That happens to be a fairly inexpensive substrate, but it is also much more stable dimentionally that nylon - which makes polyester much better material to work with. The specific coating is less important, but PVC may be the easiest (and least expensive) to work with. Good luck with your project.

JohnSand
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Re: Changing Skin

Post by JohnSand »

Thank you for your input.

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KerryOnKayaks
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Re: Changing Skin

Post by KerryOnKayaks »

I wonder if anyone has ever tried making a folder skin by using fabric (like 8 oz ballistic cloth) stretched over the frame, then stitched together and coated with 2-part urethane, the way we make rigid traditional replica skin-on-frame boats? Seems to me you could do that and then dismantle the folder frame, either pulling it out through the cockpit (as with Feathercrafts and Folbots) or slicing the deck skin and adding a watertight zipper to it. With regular SOF's we seal the stitched seams with Aquaseal, which is flexible and durable. The urethane coated fabric is extremely tough and non-stretchy -- I have used a Greenland style kayak like that quite a bit for over a decade and the skin and sealed seams have never failed me. At 18' long the wood framed boat is only 31 pounds.
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Pakboat Quest 135
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Feathercraft Kahuna
Feathercraft K-1 Expedition
Pakboat XT-15

JohnSand
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Re: Changing Skin

Post by JohnSand »

Interesting suggestion.
I haven't tried reskinning either of my skin boats yet.

Alv
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Re: Changing Skin

Post by Alv »

I will post a follow-up to my earlier comment about fabric. There is a problem with the statement that polyurethane fabric is not stretchy. Polyurethane is just a coating. By itself, it is quite stretchy, but it is stabilized by being laminated to a woven fabric. Nylon makes it much more stable, and polyester even more so. Polyurethane is not a predictor of how stretchy the final fabric becomes.
PVC is an even more common coating, and like polyurethane, it becomes more stable when it is laminated to something else like nylon or polyester.

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