Tear-Aid Vinyl Repair Patch Type B: Product Test
Our van is now 14 years old, and the vinyl skirt on the pop-top has developed some small cracks and holes in the corners along the creases where it has been crimped repeatedly when the top is lowered for travel. We have tried a number of patches over the years, but all have been unsatisfactory, either because of inadequate adhesion or unsightly appearance.
When we were in Yamba, NSW, earlier this year, we took the opportunity to cruise through one of our favourite camping shops – All about Camping – which carries stock that we have not seen elsewhere. This time, we found a vinyl patching kit from the US that sounded ideal for our purpose. It claimed to be an airtight, watertight elastic patch that would not be torn off by moving or folding the vinyl, although repaired items are not to be put in the washer or dryer. The type B patches can be used on any vinyl or vinyl-coated materials.
The translucent film can be cut with scissors, and doesn’t need any liquid adhesive. It claims to work in temperatures from -20°F (-28°C) to 190°F (88°C) without discolouring or melting.
The kit contains three patches (3x12in, 7/8x7/8in, and 1 3/8x1 3/8in), a reinforced filament to strengthen a torn edge, and two alcohol wipes.
We cleaned the area to be patched thoroughly and wiped over with the (supplied) alcohol pads. When it was dry, we cut the patches to suitable size, to allow a 2.5cm margin around the holes. The edge of the adhesive film was carefully peeled from the backing and this edge was pressed firmly to the vinyl beside the hole.
The backing was then carefully rolled back as the film was applied, smoothing with fingers to avoid any air bubbles. Adhesion is only 50 per cent on application, but reaches 100 per cent after 24 hours, because the adhesive has to perfuse into microscopic pores in the vinyl to achieve the maximum surface area to adhere to. Curing can be speeded up by application of a heat gun, but overheating will alter the appearance of the patch. We let ours cure naturally, but left the pop-top up for 48 hours to be sure.
Three months after application, and after 9000km of travel, the patches are very firmly adherent and almost invisible. The holes are still evident, but are now water-tight when sprayed with the hose and haven’t increased in size since they were patched. We are very happy with these results.
At this stage, we haven’t applied any patches to the outside of the vinyl skirt as there doesn’t seem to be a need to do so, and we have kept the remaining film for future use.
Type A patches are also available and can be used for canvas, rubber, neoprene, nylon, fabrics, plastics, fibreglass, polypropylene and many other surfaces, but were not included in this test.
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #544 December 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!