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Repairing a Leaking Cockpit Flange


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My Romany cockpit flange began to leak this winter and I finally got around to fixing it this weekend. Upon investigation, I discovered that it had cracked along the glue seam and was gradually separating from the boat. I needed to know the extent of separation so that I could repair it completely.

Then the challenge is to get a adequate amount of suitable adhesive between the flange and the deck. No easy task at first glance.

First: Seal the cockpit so it can be pressurized. Only a small amount of pressure is required so a single layer of 4mil poly is fine.



Next the space needs to be pressurized so you can evaluate the extent of the crack.

Since there are already a couple small holes in the after cockpit bulkhead and it has a significant slope, I elect to drill a small hole in (my wife's) day hatch cover (just kidding!) and pressurize (and later evacuate) the cockpit through that.


To find the crack (or leaking hatch rim, or hull crack, or whatever) I use a mix of Ivory liquid and water. Even at quite low pressure the effect is dramatic. (It's way better to find a gas leak this way than with a candle)


Mark the extent of the problem area.


While still pressurized, rinse the area you soaped to get the soapy water out of the repair area. Dry the area with a towel and now we are ready to begin the repair.

Evacuate the cockpit through the same hole in the day hatch cover using your vacuum cleaner or, in this case, the shop vac.


At this point, I use isopropyl alcohol to clean the space in the crack. This boat was last used in a pool session so it is already pretty well rinsed of any salt water. If that wasn't the case I would have rinsed the boat very well with fresh water before beginning the repair. You need the repair surfaces clean. I "paint" the alcohol on along the crack with a clean paintbrush and let it get sucked through the crack. (I would refrain from using acetone in this setting. The repair could get very exiting as the vapors get pulled through a Shop Vac.)

Now I'm ready to apply the adhesive along the entire defect and have it get pushed through the crack because of the lower pressure inside the cockpit. (It's hard not to grin as you see it disappear into the crack)

For this repair, i used a product called Gflex from WestSystem. Slower cure time and it remains flexible when cured. Perfect in this application.


I applied the adhesive with the boat on edge and using a syringe, dribbled the glue on along the entire crack being sure to cover it completely (to ensure good suction along the entire crack).



I leave the vacuum on until I think there is enough adhesive in the crack (the syringe is empty).

I leave the boat on edge until the adhesive sets up a bit so it wont run away from the repair site.

Thats it.

You can see how this technique and variations of it are great for finding and repairing a variety of cracks and leaks that are sure to occur in a well used kayak.

Have fun, Jon

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The pressurizing of the cockpit -- do you do that with bleed air from one of the engines -- and which one? And that air must, of course, be cooled beforehand...


Great idea Jon. Thanks for sharing that.

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