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Old 23 January 2021, 20:18   #1
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Country: USA
Length: 7m +
Join Date: Jan 2021
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Are these tubes toast?

Hello everyone, I am looking at buying a surplus US navy Willard 730 rib. The inboard and I/O have already been stripped, and I would be putting a bracket and outboard. The only thing that is giving me pause is the condition of the tubes. I understand that these boats use polyurethane, most of the prior information I could find was about hypalon or PVC, not sure how much PU differs.

The rub rail and parts of the flap that attaches the tube to the boat (sorry, don't know the real name) have detached, and would need to be reglued. Is that asking for trouble, or is it doable?

Here is the link to the photo album. The second picture shows an area of the tube that was unexposed to UV. The third, fourth, and fifth pictures show the worst areas of the tubes. As you can see, there is some discoloration and cracking.

How should these areas be addressed? The way I see it, my options are as follow:
  1. do nothing, use it as is
  2. use a uv protectant chemical to keep it from getting any worse
  3. use some sort of canvas cover laced over top to keep UV damage off
  4. reskin it by gluing large patches of new material over top
  5. retube (cost prohibitive now, but I would not be adverse to retubing it a couple years down the line if I really liked the boat)

Of course, which one of these I should go with depends on what I can expect out of the tubes, which is where the expert advice comes in. Thanks.
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Old 23 January 2021, 21:12   #2
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Country: USA
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Make: Zodiac RIB-P
Length: 7m +
Engine: Suzuki 250
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Are these tubes toast?

Itís common for the glued on bits to come off PU tubes after years, the glue doesnt stay stuck to PU as long as hypalon (I know the results but not the technical reason). The seams can be fixed with a bit of effort, you can paint/coat the ugly patches I think. Wing coats all their PU tubes with something. I purchased an older 7m version with Hypalon tubes and used them for several years after I patched 30+ holes. I also coated the inside of the tubes with sealant. I have a bracket and an outboard in it and Iím not sure whatís to not like about it. Make sure you have a full floatation bracket that follows the bottom of the hull. Itís more like a hull extension to carry the weight of the outboard.

Call and talk to Wing inflatables up in Arcata California about your tubes. They make a lot of the military PU tubes and can help you out with your approach, materials and chemicals.

Jason

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Old 23 January 2021, 21:20   #3
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Thank you Jason. My only reservation about these boats is the weight. They seem about 50% heavier than I would expect. I think I will probably end up fabricating the bracket w/swim platform myself. Are you happy with the performance from a 250? I'm still considering my options, would 200 be underpowered?
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Old 23 January 2021, 23:22   #4
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Well, they were built heavy so the military kids could abuse them longer. :-) most people consider that an advantage. The 250 is amazing and was what the Hurricane people told me they thought that would be a good max for a single. I think a 200 would work but might take away from the ridiculous fun and speed I get with the 250.

Look up Ryan Prattís old threads on here. He rebuilt a bunch of these with twin outboards for his Sea Tow business.

Jason
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