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Old 11-02-2011, 10:57   #1
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Checkup for Liferaft

How much is on average the cost of having a 6-men liferaft verified in the US, possibly the gaz bottle refilled and a few other things?
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:12   #2
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It cost me $980 in the Caribbean. Sorry, I can't tell you in the US but would expect it to be cheaper.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:33   #3
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Seems like a great oppurtunity to learn about this critical piece of equipment. I check and service my dive equipment regularly (before every dive trip), periodically, I have a pro look at it (Every 2 years). I have heard it cost from 600-900 for servicing. I'd not hesitate to open it up and manually inflate it myself, review the store, make sure all is shipshape. This will give you confidence in your ability to use the thing in what I am sure will be a VERY stressful circumstance. If the need calls, then take it to a service center for repack.
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Old 14-02-2011, 13:08   #4
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Checkup

I am wondering if I should inflate the raft in my basement, to see how it looks, it was provided with the boat when I purchased it in 2006, since then I have not had any use for it, therefore it was stored in my house. But would it be a good idea to inflate it and check for mildew first? This way I would know if I am due for the purchase of a new one or not? Has anyone done that?
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Old 14-02-2011, 13:26   #5
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In the UK I have just paid about $200 for a 3 yr service by an accredited service company, replaced all flares, medicines, batteries etc.
Raft inflated, gas cylinder weighed and inspected (This for a 6 man RFD raft in GRP container.
Once a raft is over 15 years old, it gets more expensive, and may be more cost beneficial to get a new one.
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Old 14-02-2011, 14:23   #6
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Roland, you will need to ask authorized repack stations FOR YOUR BRAND. If the kit includes SOLAS-rated pyrotechnics that are outdated, more expensive again.

In the US "gaz" would refer to a brand name of cooking gas, which is a butane/propane blend. The inflation bottle in a raft is usually CO2 and/or nitrogen and again, cost will vary by the brand and by the service they require as they age. (In actuality, these inflation cylinders can and should go 25+ years without the need for a discharge and refill if they have been properly built and stored.)

Expect that as a raft hits ten years old, servicing will become prohibitive if it is still allowed. For instance, Zodiac "condemns" their rafts and will not service them after ten years.

As there have been some problems with authorized repack stations, I would strongly suggest that you call ahead and make sure you can actually observe the raft being tested and repacked. A reputable dealer will have no objection to that.
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Old 15-02-2011, 06:10   #7
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Zodiac raft

Mine is a Zodiac and I have no clue where to find its manufacturing date. I will check it, look for a plate or label. I didn't know that the CO2 is good for so long. But if it does inflate and all looks well, once the flares and other gear is replaced why would the raft not be safe for use? Is this because the material being folded becomes weak or any other reason why 10 years protected from UVs would kill the raft, while a dinghy can last 10 years exposed to sun rays, water and sand ?
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Old 15-02-2011, 09:29   #8
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Roland-
The explanation given to me by a Zodiac-US rep was that the Zodiac rafts were gleed, not fusion-welded. I don't know if this is still the case. According to them, the French government (Zodiac being a French corporation) required Zodiac to condemn the rafts at 10 years because of failures of the glued seams, making the rafts unreliable after that age.
Personally I would say that was a manufacturing defect, a bad glue choice or process, if it failed. After all, we literally glue the wings onto some combat aircraft, and that glue never fails. I also rmember helping a friend reglue seams in an older Achilles inflateable, and it was like playing whack-a-mole, every spring a new leak to seal. Eventually he literally threw the boat out.

What the truth is, I do not know. I would also expect that time spent sealed in a case shouldn't cause anything to fall apart, but apparently the entire life raft industry has been focused only on the commercial customers, who simply follow regulations and write off the expenses as part of the cost of doing business.
Having maintained my own SCUBA gear, including the BC and suits, I can only note that some materials literally DO fall apart on their own, while others are nowhere near as frail as the industry claims. And "proper" offficial servicing and care often is done by underpaid help, and done not as well as any reasonably cautious owner would do it.
I can understand the concept of "the valve in that old gas bottle might fail" but as long as the bottle can be weighed and found to still contain the full charge of gas, by weight, I think I'd be just as happy to have a clean old bottle, as an untested new bottle. Considering the way that brand new parts ALSO sometimes fail to operate, even the first time.
I would suggest you contact Zodiac about your specific raft, and let us know what their current story is. And whether Zodiac-Canada says the same things Zodiac-US did.
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