View Full Version : Polyethylene Repair with Epoxy Resin?
04-28-2006, 07:21 PM
I have an Old Town canoe that needs a bit of exterior skin repair. This canoe uses Crosslink 3 Polyethylene.
Can I repair the skin with epoxy resin if I treat the skin with a torch first? I've heard that the heat treatment allows adhesives to stick to the polyethylene. I know that repair kits are available, but they're just too costly for me to go that route.
Thanks in advance for any help!
04-28-2006, 07:58 PM
There really isn't any other route. Spend the money and buy the real kit from Old Town. It's a flexible epoxy that is very different from they type of stuff used for regular boatbuilding. It's a formula that is used on things like rotomolded boats and ski bottoms. Regular boat epoxy will just pop off. The "heating" process polarizes the surface. You very quickly run the blue part of the flame over the surface, which creates a better bond. It only takes a couple of seconds and you're not really trying to heat up the plastic. I was an Old Town dealer for nearly 20 years and also worked on skis in the winter and don't know of any common type of epoxy that will do the job. The stuff is also fairly slow-setting. You can speed it up a bit by putting a light bulb near the surface to provide warmth or by sticking the boat out in the sun, but avoid excessive heat (like from a heat gun) as it may expand the foam core part of the Crosslink construction and cause a bulge.
I was about to say that no epoxy that I know of will stick to polyethelene. Listen to Todd in this regard.
04-28-2006, 09:25 PM
I have always heard of polyethylene kayaks being repaired by welding such as with a soldering iron and a stick of repair plastic.
04-29-2006, 04:13 PM
There is a place called "Jack's Plastic Welding" that does welded repairs on polyethylene boats. Shipping a boat to and from New Mexico to have it welded might be a bit on the cost prohibitive side though and would make the proper epoxy repair kit look like a real bargain. The jury is still out on how much strength you lose with a welded repair. Past attempts in most cases have been somewhat less than totally successful.
We did try a handheld polyethylene extruder that we had for fixing ski bottoms. It only cost a couple hundred bucks and fed polyethylene "rod" kind of like a high tech glue gun. On something as big as the typical canoe repair we never thought we were getting enough material hot enough at once to really get a decent bond. It's fairly easy to get a halfway decent looking fill with plastic welding, but a solid bond that returns the area to something close to it's original strength, flex, stiffness, etc. is quite a different story.
04-29-2006, 04:34 PM
My son has done a lot of "Plastic Welding" using hot air tools (like a high-intensity hair dryer) and hot Nitrogen tools.
When a Nitrogen welder is combines with a rod extruder they are called "Goober Guns".
They work very well on thermoplastics, and are the best way to go for Polyethylene. Perhaps you could get a technician to come to your boat instead of shipping the boat to a repair facility. The appropriate tool would fit in a gym bag for air transport.
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