Restoring Inflatable Dinghy Ribs

Restoring an inflatable dinghy ribs is what we explore in this article.

We use a jet wash, detergent, bleach, household degreaser, Farecla G3, and acetone.

This dinghy is PVC and not Hypalon and has a fibreglass hull.
The first thing that we are going to do with this inflatable dinghy is to give it a quick wash. It looks to me like this hasn’t been cleaned properly in many years.

Restoring Inflatable Dinghy Rib

We may ultimately paint this dinghy at some point depending on the results we get now with this inflatable dinghy restoration.
First things first are to give it a good jet wash then we are going to put some detergent on this inflatable rib to degrease it.
What I am using is ‘Fairy Liquid’ detergent and some bleach.
There are proper inflatable dinghy cleaning chemicals you can buy for this but they are very expensive. Besides, there is nothing exclusive about marine cleaning products at all in my opinion. They are overpriced and rebadged to sell in the marine industry.

Restoring Inflatable Dinghy Rib

As you can all see, this inflatable dinghy rib has seen better days, however, a lot of this is quite simply grimed, patina and even just mold. So what I am going to concentrate on doing today is getting this inflatable dinghy rib cleaned up and freshened up. Then we can see what we have here to restore. Ultimately it’s probably going to benefit from being painted but we just will not know till we have cleaned the project dinghy up.

Restoring Inflatable Dinghy Rib

Now we have degreased the inflatable dinghy rib with a product called Cillit Bang and this is an everyday household cleaning product that is available to buy in supermarkets.
This Cillit Bang stuff is amazing, however, by pure chance, I have discovered that acetone is also fantastic at cleaning up this dinghy.

Restoring Inflatable Dinghy Rib

I started by testing a little portion here as you can see in the photograph. A very brief little test here to see how the acetone reacted with the plastic.
We can see the change in the colour now.

Restoring Inflatable Dinghy Rib

Now a few readers might be shrugging your shoulders or raising your eyebrows because acetone can be a bit detrimental to certain plastics. I have put acetone on plastics before and it has not done it any favours, however, I have tested a little patch and it has had no adverse effect at all. It has all been positive.

These inflatable dinghy ribs are made out of one of two materials. They are either PVC or they are made of Hypalon.

This acetone has worked an absolute treat.

Now what I intend to do is I am going to do this entire dinghy with this acetone and with a bit of luck I might not have to paint it afterward.
With regards to the underneath of the dinghy, I am using something here called Farecla G3. This is a car restoring compound and is used when spraying cars or polishing up auto paintwork.

Cillit Bang
This would be so much easier with an electric polisher, however, it is cold as heck and being wintertime this activity is helping to keep me warm. The hull of this inflatable rib is GRP and this product is working extremely well and that is what I am going to use for the entire below water level.

So we get stuck into cleaning up with the acetone now and I just wanted to share with you at this stage what sort of results I was getting.
I am being careful doing this because the acetone will take any glue off the inflatable. If you do decide to use acetone, then you will have to take responsibility for your actions because even though it’s working for me, it may not work for you. If you decide to use it that is your decision, however, what I can do is share with you what it has been doing for me.
Here you can see for yourself from the photo clearly that is it before and that is after.

dinghy restoration before and after
Right back to the GRP hull now.
I like to swap jobs so I do not get a bit bored and restless as this is a labour-intensive job inflatable dinghy rib restoration.
As I mentioned earlier, people will associate Farecla G3 with car body repairs. On cars, it is fantastic stuff and it is expensive but you get what you pay for.

I use it with water which acts as a lubricant. Do not waste your time with T-Cut, that is a load of crap. It is useful only for getting rid of minor scratches and you can not mix it with water, however, Farecla G3 you can.
Basically what I do is apply it with a saucepan scourer and they are a little bit more hardcore than your usual dish washing sponge.

Farecla G3
You rub it in basically and you just get the motion going. I rub that Farecla G3 compound in and then I come back with a little bit of water and good old fashioned elbow grease.
This section here in the photograph has been done and I think it is pretty obvious that it has made a big difference.

Restoring Inflatable Dinghy Rib
The Farecla G3, it has done wonders for the fiberglass hull. It has been a key component in restoring inflatable dinghy ribs, it is a must ingredient.
I would not say it is a hundred percent done yet as there are still some areas where I have missed.
Considering this has been done manually it has come up very good.
PVC is used in most production manufactured inflatable dinghy rib boats and there are several tests to check if you are unsure which fabric your inflatable dinghy or rib is made from.
Firstly, the back of the fabric if you can see the inside of the tube through the valve, Hypalon is dark grey or black on the inside.
PVC is the same color on both sides.
It turns out the Cillit Bang is so good because it contains industrial strength cleaners and that explains a lot because it does a fantastic job on GRP too.

Restoring inflatable dinghy ribs is indeed possible without having to paint the whole boat. It is just one of those jobs that takes some time. A nice sunny weekend is all it takes at the very most.

If you have any questions at all? please feel free to register with my Norfolk Broads Forum and post your questions.