Saturday, May 14, 2005

Gasket Patching Notes

Ah, drysuit repair. Fun fun fun.

I have replaced a neck gasket on my drysuit before. It didn't come out pretty, but it kept the water out & that's the main thing.

I got everything I needed today except a patch kit - Randy doesn't stock those because the latex used in gaskets doesn't have the longest shelf life (it's true, that's why I had to buy some 303 spray today, using that extends your gasket life). I did get a small tube of AquaSeal (sticky urethane goop that cures into rubbery stuff overnight) anyways. Back at work, I made a couple of calls to dive shops just to see if they had patch kits on hand. They didn't, but the guy at Pan Aqua said that it the hole wasn't too big, you could patch using AquaSeal alone - just put a piece of tape on in such a way that the edges are together, then you just run AquaSeal over it. You let it cure overnight, then you pull off the tape & repeat the procedure on the other side.

Hm, that sounded easy enough. So I quit stressing about finding a patch & tonight I came home & launched into the project.

Well, it's setting now & I can't report success or lack thereof for at least 10 hours. But I launched a LITTLE too fast since it seemed like a pretty minor procedure. So here are some things I'd forgotten about gasket repair & also some discoveries I made while trying this patching technique. Just thought I'd share some of those.

Things I Forgot:
1. I forgot just how nasty, sticky, and hard to control AquaSeal is.
2. I forgot that I bought some dishwashing gloves last time I had to mess around with AquaSeal.
3. I forgot that even if you try using some sort of tool for spreading the AquaSeal around, fingers work better.
4. I forgot that no matter how simple & quick a repair seems like it should be, it's always going to take at least twice as long as you thought it would.
5. I forgot that I have got absolutely NOTHING of a solvent nature in my apartment. Not even fingernail polish remover. Failed Girly 101, I guess.

1. When what the dive shop guy suggests (back the hole with removable tape) makes sense to you in your mind than what the tube suggests (back the hole with removable tape, overlapping the edges - hey, isn't that gonna end up with things all puckered & pulled out of shape?), it may be wiser (and faster and a lot less messy) to try doing it the first way.
2. The "cold" faucet in my bathtub makes a surprisingly decent form on which to carry out a small patching operation of this type (but only once I switched to doing the patch the way Dive Shop Guy said to).
3. In the event that a person finds themself in a situation where their hands are liberally anointed with urethane sealant goop, and there is no solvent available with which to remove the goop, and there are no disposable gloves in the house to keep from getting everything else in the apartmemt sticky, a pair of small plastic bags of the type you put produce in at the grocery store make a surprisingly effective pair of disposable gloves.
4. It is actually possible to type while wearing a pair of small plastic produce bags on your urethane-goop-covered hands...

OK...are you laughing yet? This is all kind of embarassing to admit publicly like this but I hope the mental image you have in your head right now is HALF as silly-looking as the actual scene...'cause if my mess makes anybody laugh, it was worth sharing! I'm certainly having a good laugh at myself over the whole thing - that's in fact why I thought "heck with dignity, I should write this up - bagged hands and all".

Of course if after all this, the patch doesn't work, that won't be quite so amusing - but it was worth a try - and Randy did order a gasket for me that should be here in time if it didn't work & a full replacement is in order.

And that, I actually know how to do & if nothing else, this has been a good memory jogger on some of the details I'd forgotten.

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