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Old 28 August 2015, 02:24   #1
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Fiberglass tubes

I am adding this comment for anyone interested in a project like this. A couple of weeks back i got a mercury inflatable with the original tubes torn, completely useless. I started the project to add fiberglass tubes instead and see what happened. The results in my opinion were great:
It is only about 40lbs heavier than the original boat. It floats and runs just like before. The size is a 3.40m.

If younare tired of fixing and repairing your tube and have the space (trailer), doing this mod can make your life much easier. I had my doubts that this would work, but it does. I still have the positive buoyancy that makes inflatables so great, without the maintenance.

I added some pics from my trial today. If anyone has any questions or comments, please let me know. Everything is appreciated.Click image for larger version

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Old 28 August 2015, 03:34   #2
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Nice one. No real reaso why it wouldn't work, there is an ali boat in UK with ali tubes
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Old 28 August 2015, 04:20   #3
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Welcome to the world of rigid buoyant boating and the slightly smug feeling everytime someone here posts about a puncture!

There are a couple of downsides to rigid tubes. (1) The ride quality may be a bit rougher - will be interesting if you've tried a before and after; (2) You loose the fendering properties, with my HDPE tubes that's not too bad (for me - but not necessarily what I hit!) - but with GRP & gel coat they could be relatively easy to damage.
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Old 28 August 2015, 04:32   #4
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Welcome to Ribnet. It would be interesting to see what the ride is like on rough water rather than a flat lake/river/bay. IMHO what you have now is a hard boat without the space.
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Old 28 August 2015, 06:37   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pikey Dave View Post
IMHO what you have now is a hard boat without the space.
Well yeah, but not quite - he has an extremely stable, "unsinkable" hardboat with peripheral seating. And it cost him buttons. I bet it's nice and calm there a lot of the time too
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Old 28 August 2015, 07:34   #6
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Looks like a well done job. I wonder about the rough weather handling, would it really be affected that much? I have the feeling on my SR 5.4 that the tubes are not making much difference in that respect, but its hard to evaluate as don't have a hardtube version to compare to.
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Old 28 August 2015, 09:02   #7
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Looks like a well done job. I wonder about the rough weather handling, would it really be affected that much? I have the feeling on my SR 5.4 that the tubes are not making much difference in that respect, but its hard to evaluate as don't have a hardtube version to compare to.
Yes it is often said that the tubes provide some cushion against big waves. Having experienced some waves in inflatable ribs that stop you in your tracks I'm not convinced the tubes do that much. I think the ride quality is more down to the bit of the hull that is always in the water, and maybe the shape of the tubes rather than their slight cushion, and of course the helmsman. I've hit some big waves with my hard tubes and I've never thought it would be that much better with a squishy tube. Given that 90% of RIBs never really push the limits anyway its probably not a major priority for most leisure use - fendering however...
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Old 28 August 2015, 09:04   #8
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I will run a few tests on the ride this weekend and post on them. I have a rib as well to make a comparison.

For the fendering, i added a rubber fender just like the one glued to the inflatable tubes (blue in the pics) and helps th fiberglass and gelcoat. I also use small jetski fenders any way.
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Old 28 August 2015, 11:00   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Harvey View Post
Nice one. No real reaso why it wouldn't work, there is an ali boat in UK with ali tubes
ACB (Aluminum Chambered Boats) and a NZ firm whose name I can't recall made aluminum tubed "RIBs". I've seen one of each in action (about a 26' ACB and a 15' Kiwi boat); they both seemed pretty good.


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Old 01 September 2015, 11:19   #10
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I'd be interested in an outline of how you made and attached the fibreglass tubes. I have an elderly rib that is probably not worth retubing, though it will keep going a bit longer yet.

All the best

David
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