Got a repair job that is going to require some epoxy curing time in a spot that is not easy to clamp? Then you might be looking for just this hack: The Banding Film 'Clamp.'
Richard Van Voris, the recently retired, longtime boatman at Tabor Academy who has moved to Narragansett Boat Club to coach masters and work on their boats, submitted this trick last week, fresh off using it to repair his own single: a King-designed shell that he built himself some years ago from cedar and carbon fiber.
The 'Banding Film' at work is that plastic film first used to secure boxes to a pallet for shipping--and which has long-since been appropriated by athletic trainers (to secure ice bags to athletes) and, of course, by rowing coaches (to wrap everything from loose riggers to shells traveling cross-country). Designed to 'shrink back' after it has been stretched around a pallet of boxes, or--in this case--your elaborate repair, the wrap quickly provides the pressure you need to get your epoxy-ed fix all set.
As Van Voris points out, banding film--which is also known as shrink wrap, stretch film, or bundle wrap--is cheap and you can buy it in any hardware/home center store, usually in the moving supplies aisle.
[And, of course, a roll or two may already be kicking around your boathouse, calling itself rigger wrap.]
Van Voris writes:
"Banding Film can be set up in a similar way to vacuum bagging but with a lot less hassle. Unlike a traditional clamp, it can be fitted anywhere and you can vary the pressure by how you apply it. I used it the other day to fix a split sax board on my single.
"The plastic does not stick to the epoxy, but the small wrinkles of the plastic will 'print' onto the repair. I use a bit of 'peel ply,' a white fabric, between the repair and the plastic wrap. The peel ply absorbs the excess epoxy and leaves only a slight weave pattern, which is easily sanded off.
"As you can see in the photo, I had framed off the repair area with blue masking tape and used a syringe to inject epoxy into the crack I was fixing.
"Note how the plastic conforms to a place that would be impossible to clamp without a vacuum bag set up."
Since 'impossible to clamp' includes, of course, pretty much any hull repairs on the curved surfaces of a shell, the flexibility of Banding Film can help in pretty much any repair job.
You can add extra pressure, if needed, with a few wraps of electrical tape--so that's another one for the Rowing Hack Electrical Tape Use Hall of Fame--and the film will keep the repair dry and ready for the next step even if the shell needs to be rowed as soon as the epoxy cures.
Van Voris also shared this pro-boatman tip with us, as a bonus:
"Uncured epoxy can be removed from skin or other surfaces by using denatured alcohol, but denatured alcohol can dry out your skin quickly. Use a hand sanitizer like Purell instead.
"It is alcohol based but has moisteners as well so it is much better for skin--plus it is also very easy to dispense."
Do you have any sweet boat-repair tricks you can pass along? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.
If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us like Van did here, and we will feature your idea in a future column.