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Old 05-08-2012, 14:39   #106
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

Very good read.
Lots of information
I think this Winter I will give it a go
(late 80s Avon 6 man)
Last service 08

Thanks Bryan
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Old 05-08-2012, 16:51   #107
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by icemanbryan View Post
Very good read.
Lots of information
I think this Winter I will give it a go
(late 80s Avon 6 man)
Last service 08

Thanks Bryan
Be sure and post your experience!
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Old 13-08-2012, 19:53   #108
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

If you have an older life raft in just perfect condition, many life raft service companies are not even willing to service it for one simple reason. That is: money! To service a life raft makes them not enough money for a 10-20 year old raft. The input is not much, but if they certify an old raft, then most "business" customer would question them, why do they need to buy new rafts, when they are only 5-8 years old. When a company is selling a new life raft. their margine is higher than normal commercial margine and this is how they make money. Selling a new raft is simply more profitable than servicing. Anyway, there are many parts of the world, where noone can certify a repack and also no certification needed. 99 % of all life raft will never be used, which even insurance companies would like to have that kind of return on ins. policies.
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Old 01-02-2013, 19:05   #109
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

Here's a little something for ya'll.......

The below guide gives you a good insight into the work carried out during a liferaft service.

The container or valise is visually inspected for damage.

The container or valise is opened and the liferaft is removed for inspection.

The CO2/N2 cylinder is removed for later inspection and weight tested.

A detailed inspection is performed while unfolding the liferaft to identify any damage or deterioration of the fabric or adhesive.

The raft is filled with dry compressed air to its proper inflation pressure. The pressure relief valves are tested at this time to confirm proper operation.

The liferaft is further inflated to stretch the fabric prior to commencing the specified leak test on each tube. During the pre stretch, the fabric and seams are again inspected for any signs of deterioration. All attachments are also inspected at this time.

The air chambers are then pressure tested for the specified time. The pressure is recorded at the beginning of the test and checked again at the specified time. The end pressure is adjusted for temperature and pressure changes. The end pressure is recorded and checked for loss.

The equipment packs are checked during the pressure test period. Dated items are replaced only if they have reached their stamped expiration dates.

The CO2 cylinder is inspected at this time for damage, hydrostatic test date, and is then weighed.

UK MCA/SOLAS and USCG liferafts must undergo additional testing after ten years of service. These tests include a Necessary Air Pressure Test (NAP), a floor seam test, and the liferafts CO2 system must undergo an operational inflation every 5 years on most life rafts.

At this time the emergency packs are secured to the inside of the liferaft.

The light system, cylinder and inflation system are reconnected and inspected. The valves are tightened and checked. All attachments are inspected and secured.

The liferaft is then repacked according to the manufacturer's specifications.

The firing cable for the inflation system is attached to the painter line, making the liferaft fully operational.

Container gaskets or seals are replaced and bursting straps are installed.

Valises are sealed or laced. All labels are inspected and replaced as required.

All test results, repairs and renewals are recorded on the service inspection report. Documentation is kept on file at our premises as required. A Certificate of Service is issued and the owner is notified that the liferaft is ready to return to service.

Additional equipment may be packed into your liferaft

Good luck!
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Old 23-03-2013, 08:47   #110
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I spent about $500 servicing my Avon life raft last summer before my big summer cruise. I thought it was a good value. The labor was only about $150, and there were skills involved (I watched) which I know I couldn't replicate myself, including hydrotesting the cylinder, regassing it, and replacing the firing head. The rest of the cost was replacing emergency items. Some of these were probably subject to an excessive markup, but I was allowed to choose what to replace and what not. I did not replace the flares as I have a fresh, in-date, complete RORC set of flares on board in my grab bag.

Your life raft is something you pray to God you never have to use, but IF you do ever need to use it, you want to be as sure as you can that it works. $500 every three years doesn't seem to me to be such a bad deal.
500 I might do. I also have an AVON 8 and as I pointed out above, I have to UPS the thing $$$ or drive it to Cleveland (5 hours), leave it, and returnt to pick up - all on weekdays only so I would need to take vacation. Cost is quoted 1500 or more - even if the thing is junk.

How does one open the thing without pulling the cord or damaging the hard case? There is a soft foam rubber gasket at the joint. It resists any attempts to pry apart. Is it glued?

This is a video of a 4-man of about the same age and similar box. To me, it looked like the foam gasket was torn apart, therefore, glued to the case.
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Old 23-03-2013, 08:59   #111
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
500 I might do. I also have an AVON 8 and as I pointed out above, I have to UPS the thing $$$ or drive it to Cleveland (5 hours), leave it, and returnt to pick up - all on weekdays only so I would need to take vacation. Cost is quoted 1500 or more - even if the thing is junk.
I have a similar situation with my Avon but only a 2 hour drive. Don't remember the exact quoted price but well over $1000 and the companies I spoke with did not give me any option on replacing the expired stuff inside. They claim they required by (who???, USCG, company policy, "them") to replace everything inside.

At least mine is in a soft pack so easy to get inside.
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Old 23-03-2013, 11:01   #112
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

Skip, I could understand if an authorized repack station was required by their franchise to repack "everything that model shipped with" so that once certified, anyone could count on it being what it said it was. Especially for commercially mandated use.

OTOH if the "stuff" was originally optional or was added by the owner...Call 'em back ask them directly "Really? Whose requirement is that?" and put them to it.

I had a couple of scuba tanks hyrdo'd this year, by a gen-you-whine CGA and DOT approved hydro shop. Asked the man about getting the+ rating reinstated on them and he mumbled about needing special equipment and procedures and they don't have the ability to do that.

Found a formal statement from the DOT online saying all they have to do is put 10% more pressure in the tank, read a chart to see that it still has the correct percent of elasticity, and voila, the 10% rating is still good. All they have to do is run the compressor 15 seconds longer, read a different number from the same chart...No, that's too hard for anyone to do. And, they are required to know that before they get certified to do hydros.

Of course, the + punch might cost $125 (or $10 if they use an old star chisel) and that would only last 20 years or so. And they'd need to ASK the customer which rating they wanted. But if a customer asks?

Oh, and the scuba shops? You know they all require a current VIP inspection. Did you also know, the DOT requires one by the trained hydro technician before they are allowed to do the hydro? So that when the scuba shop does another VIP with a hydro, it is totally redundant, and a complete rip-off? Institutionalized theft, by an entire industry.

All you get is FUD, apparently only the cave-diving crazies in Florida have got their hydro shops to "just do it".

Repack stations? Oh yeah, I trust them as much as I trust Her Imperial Brittanic Majesty, Elizabeth II. Totally.
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Old 23-03-2013, 16:54   #113
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

Well, I used putty blates to break the foam rubber seal and open the case. Here is what I found.

There was NO sealed vacuum bag.
Things had a sort of moist feel.
It stinks like a 1945 army surplus poncho.
It had a water initiated light system with one bulb inside & one out. Bulbs are IC. The batteries were a strange device and a gooey mess.
The stowed 'ditch bag' had:
about 1/2 gallon of foil pouches of water - looked OK
a flash light with exploded batteries
a very old pouch of emergency meds. Dry at least.
tiny paddles - not much good
air pump; small; works sort of. not impressed.
flairs- expired. not bagged. looked OK
Additionally, knife on an upright,
Drogue
Spool of Polypropylene line and ring
rope boarding ladder.
Gas canister looked mint. Loud bell if shaken.

Personally, i say the least skilled of us could do a better packing and supply job than the last "certified" packer. I consider the contents of emergency stuff lacking in many ways. No fishing equipent for one, no batteries. Old tech. The ditch bag will have the important stuff but I think the raft should offer a bit of self sufficiency if the ditch bag doesn't make it.

I used the shop vac to inflate. I pumped it up good and hard. It holds air well. I would hate to have to inflate with the supplied hand pump.

I will let it rest inflated for a few days and clean the surfaces. The tech devices that go back will include solar LED flash lights, tackle, new med stuff. some freeze dried food and a few other items as we think about it.

We have a manual water maker, hand-held VHS, GPS, EPIRB, to go in the ditch bag. Probably a solar charge soft mat & batteries for starters.
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Old 23-03-2013, 19:21   #114
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

From your photo of the cannister label it appears that the fishing kit, repair kit, and parachute flares (very much more effective than meteors) were all omitted at last repack, but there's no repack dating on the label either. Was it a DYI by a previous owner?

The musty Army poncho smell is probably because a similar fabric, rubberized cotton, has been used. Perhaps in the canopy. ALL of the calendared fabric materials degrade and start to come apart, rubber, urethane, doesn't matter, in that sense PVC can actually be more durable.

I would suggest using plain talc when you pack it up, inside and out. Talc stops oxidation, lubricates against chafe, actually makes a damn fine "rubber" preservative with no risk of attacking the materials. As opposed to ArmorAll type products, which can make glued seams release over time. And as the folks at Windex explain, any product with ammonia in it will attack any latex type materials (including latex wall paint) so you may want to find a gen-you-whine marine grade ammonia free life raft cleaning product that won't make any seams or calendared material release as well. (Ivory flakes in warm water?)

I'd hate to ask what a new gen-you-whine Avon foam gasket for the cannister would cost. That must be the really expensive part that explains the high repack costs, right?
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Old 24-03-2013, 09:23   #115
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
From your photo of the cannister label it appears that the fishing kit, repair kit, and parachute flares (very much more effective than meteors) were all omitted at last repack, but there's no repack dating on the label either. Was it a DYI by a previous owner?

I would suggest using plain talc when you pack it up, inside and out. Talc stops oxidation, lubricates against chafe, actually makes a damn fine "rubber" preservative with no risk of attacking the materials. As opposed to ArmorAll type products, which can make glued seams release over time. And as the folks at Windex explain, any product with ammonia in it will attack any latex type materials (including latex wall paint) so you may want to find a gen-you-whine marine grade ammonia free life raft cleaning product that won't make any seams or calendared material release as well. (Ivory flakes in warm water?)

I'd hate to ask what a new gen-you-whine Avon foam gasket for the cannister would cost. That must be the really expensive part that explains the high repack costs, right?
The last re-pack exp is on the hard case (1999). I have no idea who did it but the lack of vacuum bag and other omisions makes me suspect the PO or a crappy service.

I wiped it all down with mild bleach & water. It no longer stinks. Its totally dry now an looks much better. 24 hours now on the fill and no loss of pressure. The materials look good and the seams are solid. Is there a suitable, safe anti-microbial that can be packed with it?

The Admiral is out of town for a week so I can leave it inflated in her Majong parlor. I want her invovled in the re-pack and to see it and get familiar with all of it.

I managed to separate the gasket using a putty blade and scalpel. THe material is coincidentally material we stock at the machine shop by the roll. (sticky one side foam rubber sheet 1/2" thick). I'll take luck anytime.

The list on the case shows fishing stuff missing. The rest was there - just mostly junk. Its instructive that the ditch bag you keep on deck is probably all you can really count on. I think the deck ditch bag is really a 5-gallon white plastic pail formerly fillled with pool chemicals. Air tight & easily re-sealed. Nice to have a serious bucket in the life raft too.
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Old 24-03-2013, 09:31   #116
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

By the way, it is possible to DIY vacuum pack. There a couple ways to do it.

But I am not sure, have no idea, how much value/protection it adds vs just say a sealed garbage bag when the raft is already in a supposedly sealed case.
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Old 24-03-2013, 09:47   #117
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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By the way, it is possible to DIY vacuum pack. There a couple ways to do it.

But I am not sure, have no idea, how much value/protection it adds vs just say a sealed garbage bag when the raft is already in a supposedly sealed case.
I think its not possible to "seal" the hard cases. As I noted, I had to cut the gasket but the interior showed that there was definitely moisture inside.
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Old 24-03-2013, 10:46   #118
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Skip, I could understand if an authorized repack station was required by their franchise to repack "everything that model shipped with" so that once certified, anyone could count on it being what it said it was. Especially for commercially mandated use.

OTOH if the "stuff" was originally optional or was added by the owner...Call 'em back ask them directly "Really? Whose requirement is that?" and put them to it.
Well, in my case I think the "stuff" was part of the original package so I do see their point. However, some of it, to me at least, seemed marginally useful at best. Like a few (very expensive) pints of water. Not enough to last more than a day or three, makes the raft a lot heavier and I have a hand operated desalinization machine and will have water in my ditch kit. Other items: flashlight (probably a cheap piece of junk and I have my own), batteries for the dome light, etc, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
I had a couple of scuba tanks hyrdo'd this year, by a gen-you-whine CGA and DOT approved hydro shop. Asked the man about getting the+ rating reinstated on them and he mumbled about needing special equipment and procedures and they don't have the ability to do that.

Found a formal statement from the DOT online saying all they have to do is put 10% more pressure in the tank, read a chart to see that it still has the correct percent of elasticity, and voila, the 10% rating is still good. All they have to do is run the compressor 15 seconds longer, read a different number from the same chart...No, that's too hard for anyone to do. And, they are required to know that before they get certified to do hydros.

Of course, the + punch might cost $125 (or $10 if they use an old star chisel) and that would only last 20 years or so. And they'd need to ASK the customer which rating they wanted. But if a customer asks?

Oh, and the scuba shops? You know they all require a current VIP inspection. Did you also know, the DOT requires one by the trained hydro technician before they are allowed to do the hydro? So that when the scuba shop does another VIP with a hydro, it is totally redundant, and a complete rip-off? Institutionalized theft, by an entire industry.

All you get is FUD, apparently only the cave-diving crazies in Florida have got their hydro shops to "just do it".
Careful. I used to be one of those cave diving crazies.

And yes, it's pretty much standard to get the + rating if you hydro tanks in N Florida. I did get stuck with about 15 Al 80s that the DOT no longer allows to be hydro'd. If I had been paying attention I think there was some sort of trade in allowance but I missed the deadline so now I have a shed full of scrap metal unless anyone wants a good deal on some perfectly good but out of hydro tanks.
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Old 24-03-2013, 10:53   #119
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

And yes, it's pretty much standard to get the + rating if you hydro tanks in N Florida. I did get stuck with about 15 Al 80s that the DOT no longer allows to be hydro'd. If I had been paying attention I think there was some sort of trade in allowance but I missed the deadline so now I have a shed full of scrap metal unless anyone wants a good deal on some perfectly good but out of hydro tanks.[/QUOTE]

I hear that if you cut the bottom out, they make wonderful bells.
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Old 24-03-2013, 11:13   #120
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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I think its not possible to "seal" the hard cases.
Sure it is. Yours may not have been, but it is certaintly possible.

The challenge is that as you encounter temp changes the case will want to "breathe" to equalize pressure. That's what the seal has to be strong enough to withstand.

It will probably not be sealed unless the gasket is a continuous loop. If the gasket just has two cut ends that meet up it will usually not be tight at that point. This is sometimes done by cutting the ends of the gasket at a slant (a scarf joint) and then super gluing the ends together.

Also make sure the bottom edge of the joint is very clean so the film adhesive adheres and seals continuously around. Then you only have the top edge of the joint to be concerned about.

Then of course the hard case has to be properly designed to compress the gasket.
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