Monday, October 18, 2010

The saga around the repair of the World Famous 4GF Fatty Surf Mat!

Just to reiterate, the pic shows the result of an extremely rare incident that damaged the now World Famous Fatty. A rip almost the length of the mat that fortunately did not cause any damage to the i-beams but at this end is all the way to the edge join.

Following this appalling event, I ordered a replacement mat from 4th Gear Flyer in case the fix was not successful and PG very kindly agreed to include a long piece of fabric so as the repair could be carried out without resorting to joining 2 shorter pieces. The new mat is a Standard, as I am most happy with my Roundtail Tracker as the go to all conditions mat.
I have followed PG repair guide that every new matter receives with his mat.

Step 1

I ask Michelle if I can use her masking tape and she kindly agrees.
As this is a long tear, I follow PG's recommendation and start work inserting strips of tape under the fabric in an effort to join the tear up as perfectly as possible

I decide to start at the ends and work my way in towards the middle

This is as good as I can get it and I am happy to work with this join.

Step 2
The next task is to trim the patch to cover the gap. PG has provided me with a piece of material a 3rd of the width of the mat so I go with this as it will easily cover the gap with at least a 3" overlap as recommended in the guide.  Except, of course, at the end of the mat where the tear meets the edge join so I take a template of the curve of the mat at that point so get as much coverage past the tear as possible, which only amounts to a mere 1cm or 2. I do the same at the other end of the mat but only need to take the patch to the inside edge of the join. I use a standard pair of scissors to trim the patch and then check I am happy with the fit. Umm, I think to myself, it is going to be interesting to see how close I can get the patch to the edge with basically a one off chance to place it because tacky contact cement is used to fix it.

Step 3
The next recommendation is to cover the back of the patch with masking tape to minimise it curling up on itself after the contact cement is applied. Important note: This is the shiny side of the material not the rough side as one would initially presume.

Step 4
Now for the messy, tricky bit. The guide recommends two applications of contact cement and I am using Selley's Kwik Grip and as this stuff smells pretty powerfully I go outside on to the deck amongst the tall Karris. To make sure I cover all the area I need to I mark the around the patch with a permanent marker then and apply a 1st layer of cement to each surface and leave them to dry until tacky. I just used the little plastic spreader that came with the cement although PG recommends a brush. For the 2nd coat I decided to use a brush and it was of course much easier to get a smoother layer of cement and I again wait impatiently for the cement to go tacky.

So now the cement is tacky and it is time to drop this patch exactly where it needs to go in one delicate and efficient operation! Suffice to say it turned out to be a bloody wrestling match as the patch attached itself to parts of the mat and itself before eventually ending fairly close to where I intended and with only one little crease. Important word of warning: Do try not to let the contact cement drop between the join resulting in the top of the mat sticking to the bottom of the mat.
"What was that?" you ask.
"Oh, did that happen to me?"
"Oh no, not to me!" mumbled the wide mouthed frog through tightly clenched lips.

I take the now repaired mat down under the house to dry off and ready for a blow up and test the next day!

I wake up the next morning and I am up and out of bed in a flash and down under the house and whacking big breaths in to the mat as I bring it back in and..............?
voila! the mat fills up beautifully and I take this pic to show you that the Fatty has returned from the dead! Confident the job is done, I leave it blown up just to check there are no leaks.

Uh Oh! I come back later and it's drooping - Buggar!

Stricken I start my investigations by squeezing the mat as I hold it to my ear. Ah ha! I hear the sound of air escaping and trace it to a part of the repair where there is an inward crease in the mat over which the patch passes allowing an escape route.
Fortunately, it is near a corner of the patch and with considerable effort, accompanied by much grunting and groaning, I manage to lift the patch back far enough so as I believe that I can effect a repair. I use Enamel thinners to remove as much of the original cement as possible, apply 2 new coats and allow them to dry until tacky and then reposition the corner making sure there are absolutely no creases this time.

The mat gets taken back down under the house until the next morning when again I am up out of bed like a flash to inspect the second repair which looks really good. I whack breaths in to the mat to see if finally the World Famous Fatty is resurrected from the dead mat place.

Success, as half an hour later it still standing proudly erect. Deed done!


  1. I love a mat 'standing proudly erect'!
    Nice work, RS and extra points to you for persevering!
    Many would have just put it into the bin and that's a rubbish idea!

    good on you :)

  2. Thanks NS. We seem to both have been hard at work lately either modifying or repairing. These damned mats take over your life!

  3. PG and Grayman please feel free to pinch the post and use as you would like.