Home Repair Following Failed Tie-Down Application

Hi all! Like Andrew McLean pointed out in this thread, I’ve seen a lot of information on field packraft repair, but not much on doing home repair. I’ve e-mailed Alpacka a couple times to ask for help, and they’re in the process of getting back to me. I’m also posting here, both to get advice and so people can learn from my mistakes!

I have damaged the fabric on my raft trying to attach an NRS urethane D-ring.

What Went Wrong:

I was using 1-part Clifton’s adhesive and following the NRS instructions to apply a thin coat to both prepared surfaces, wait 3-5 minutes, then apply a second coat, wait again, then press them together. Unfortunately, the drying time of the glue seems to be much faster than the 3 minutes under the conditions I was using it. (Maybe 60-65 degrees ambient temperature, but very dry in Fairbanks.) For the first grab loop attempt, the glue dried completely and did not adhere appreciably when it was pressed to the boat. An additional swab of the glue on both surfaces appeared to reactivate it and allow the patch to be glued down.

For a second grab loop, I waited a much shorter time after applications of the glue, about 2 minutes, and it appears to have adhered well.

The first loop, however, had edges that peeled back from the raft as the glue cured and would continue to peel off with a light pull. It appeared that reapplication would be necessary. A quick swab with MEK on a q-tip caused the grab loop to nearly instantly separate from the raft fabric without any need to pull.

However, the raft fabric was damaged in the process. A few patches of the urethane coating, up to fingernail sized, peeled away from the fabric underneath and stayed stuck to the grab loop. A couple other spots show visible cracking of the urethane coating.

What I Currently Know:

Attaching the second grab loop with the shorter drying time, appears to have worked great. I don’t know why my result using it so dramatically differs from the NRS instructions. I noticed that the 2-part Stabond adhesive I found (and didn’t buy) at the Anchorage REI was well past its expiration date. There was no such date on the can of Clifton’s 1-part Urethane adhesive that I found a Beaver sports, but it was the only one they had and who knows how long it had been there?

Now that I know to wait a much shorter time when using the Clifton’s adhesive, I think I’m comfortable cleaning and reattaching the grab loop, but the damage to the fabric underneath is pretty worrisome.

In addition to the small patches of missing coating and cracks in the fabric coating, the fabric has some leftover glue residue and bits of cotton fiber from the q-tip that I used to apply the MEK while peeling the d-ring patch off.

The d-ring patch also has bits of glue and cotton fiber bits stuck to it, in addition to the urethane that was peeled off the packraft fabric.

What’s Next?

Any advice here is very welcome! If Alpacka consents, I’ll post any information that they provide to me here, as well as how it turns out.

Now that I know the fabric is damaged, possibly chemically by the MEK or glue solvents, I’m hesitant to even clean off the leftover glue with MEK unless that’s recommended as safe.

I wonder if it’d be smartest to use one of the industrial-strength glues to laminate a patch of urethane packraft fabric over the entire damaged section, then clean the NRS d-ring patch, and reapply over the repair?

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