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How to maintain your RIB boat?

How to maintain your RIB boat?

Like any vehicle, a boat must be maintained!

Although designed for sailing and contact with the elements, RIBs are necessarily subject to the ravages of natural conditions and need to be properly maintained.

Wind, salt, but also collisions can damage the aesthetic appearance and even above all the safety of your outings. That's why it is essential toregularly perform maintenance actions to keep your inflatable boat in the best conditions.

Also, Orca Retail, seller of Hypalon repair fabrics, proposes in this article to review the tips and tricks for cleaning and maintaining semi-rigid inflatable boats in order to extend their life.

First, we will see what are the steps of a "spring cleaning", to put your RIB in the best conditions. At the end of the article, we will summarize all the daily tips to take the best maintenance habits.


The material needed for maintenance 

First of all, as far as equipment is concerned, here are the tools we recommend for the maintenance of a RIB boat: 

  • Hull cleaner
  • One or more sponges
  • A high-pressure water jet
  • A scraper
  • A fungus cleaner
  • A small brush
  • A wire brush
  • A broom
  • A classic soap
  • Salt stop
  • A clean dry cloth


How to clean pneumatic floats?

This is the first step in the maintenance of your RIB.

In order to be able to clean it well in all the recesses, in particular the rails of insertion of the flanges, you will have to dismount your floats.

To do this, first deflate your air floats, then remove them from their rails. For a smoother operation, you can use a WD40 type lubricant. This will allow you not to pull on the plastic and facilitate this step.

Be careful, some RIBs have two attachment straps: one at the back and one at the front, located between the bladder and the hull, and which are often not very visible. Remember to remove them once the inflatable bladders are deflated, otherwise you will not be able to separate the floats from the boat.

Once everything is disassembled, you can move on to cleaning the socks. This is a delicate operation that requires the use of the right products. Indeed, the floats being made of PVC or Hypalon, they can be quite sensitive to rubbing and especially to the reaction of some cleaning products.

In order to take the least possible risks, and to treat the most common stains, a classic soap is recommended, with a large volume of clear water, without forcing the flow and pressure of the jet.

You can also use the New Magic product available in our store, specifically designed for themaintenance of neoprene or PVC tubes. More efficient than soap, it allows to bring back the original colors of the tubes and to eliminate the most stubborn stains, grease and glue. This maintenance product is to be used with a soft brush or a sponge. Rinse, then dry.

pneumatic bladder cleaning

If your floats suffer from mold or mildew, we recommend the Schmuffex product. This product should be applied after cleaning other stains. It is easy to use: spray the product on the problem areas, wait for the stains to disappear, then rinse. It may be necessary to let the product work for up to an hour, or even repeat the operation for the most stubborn stains.

White vinegar or bleach mixed with warm water is also an option to treat these stains, but beware of the risk of altering the colour of your socks.

Finally, once your socks are clean and dry, do the reverse operation, hanging them up in their rails, then inflate them again.


How to clean the hull of a semi-rigid boat?

The next step is to clean the hull.

Protect the aluminum parts (with tape for example), as they are sensitive to cleaning products. For the rest, you can prepare a mixture of water and acid (oxalic acid is ideal for de-icing the hull of boats) to be applied with a sponge, or better, with a spray bottle.

Leave it on for 5 minutes, then rinse with fresh water.

In case of remaining stains, do not hesitate to make a second application. Make sure to do it in a temperate climate (at least 15°C). At cooler temperatures, the effectiveness will be more limited. In general, avoid strong heat or direct exposure to the sun, which can alter the properties of the cleaning products used.

To work on the shine of your hull and protect it from salt and other natural elements, apply a polish.

Apply the polish carefully in small strokes and in a rotating motion with a clean cloth, without rubbing too hard. For best results, apply a second coat one month after the first.


How to clean the bridge?

For the deck of your RIB boat, start with a simple water treatment with a high pressure jet (karcher type). 

If you notice black spots, mold or mildew, you can use an anti-fungal product again. 

Adapt the products used to the material of your deck. For a polyester deck, for example, use a universal cleaner. Apply the product where you want it and scrub only very lightly with a small brush. 

If your boat has a teak deck, be sure to first clean it with a mixture of water and exotic wood shampoo. You can then apply a nourishing oil or a sealer, which will better protect andwaterproof the whole. 

teak deck maintenance

A classic wooden deck will not require the use of a special cleaner. Simply varnish your deck after lightly sanding it.

As for the hull and stern, we recommend rinsing the entire boat with clean water and wiping it down with a standard cleaning soap. Don't put too much emphasis on areas that contain electronic parts (and remember to protect the consoles and battery).

Do this in an ideally sunny and ventilated environment so that the whole thing dries properly, and to avoid condensation phenomena (like behind the glass of the dashboard).

If your cockpit has windows, simply clean them like any other window.


How to maintain the engine of a RIB?

First, the first good habit to adopt is to rinse your boat engine with fresh water after each trip.

For this purpose, special rinsing kits exist. You can find them under the name of flushing ears, which are sold between 5 and 20 euros. Alternatively, simply immerse the motor base in fresh water. It is also recommended to use salt stop to remove salt from the engine's water system.

When servicing your RIB motor, at all times, make sure no gear is engaged and as a precaution, stay away from the propeller.

Start your boat's engine maintenance with an oil change to change the coolant.

Then you can run the engine for several minutes, making sure that the water comes out of the hole. The water should flow abundantly and regularly.

If the flow is low or inconsistent, inspect the water pump. It may need to be replaced. It is also possible that an object is blocking the exhaust tube. If this is the case, stop the engine to avoid overheating, and run a metal rod through to try to unclog the pipe.

To remove the air filter from your inflatable boat's engine, start by unscrewing the screws that hold it in place. Then clean or replace the foam depending on its condition and dust the various parts of the filter, such as the housing or the pleated paper.

Also check the condition of the timing belt, making sure it is not weakened or already worn.

For the battery, you can clean the anodes with a metal brush to remove any traces of rust.


What to do on a day-to-day basis to extend the life of a RIB? 

Now that your inflatable boat is back in top shape, and apart from the major cleanings as described above, observe the following rules on a daily basis to protect it over time:

  1. Rinse the boat: After each trip, rinse the boat with fresh water to remove salt, sand and dirt. This will prevent the build-up of salt deposits and corrosion.

  2. Check tire pressure: RIB boats have PVC or Hypalon tubes that are inflated with air. Make sure the tire pressure is correct to avoid damage or loss of performance.

  3. Check oil levels: Check engine oil levels regularly to avoid breakdowns. Replace engine oil according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

  4. Check other fluids: Check fuel, coolant and power steering fluid levels regularly. Replace fluids according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

  5. Check the condition of the propellers: Check the condition of the propellers regularly to make sure they are not damaged or worn. Replace propellers if necessary.

  6. Protect the boat from the sun: The sun can damage the surfaces and materials of your boat. Use blankets or tarps to protect the boat from the sun.

  7. Store the boat properly: Store the boat in a dry, weatherproof location. Avoid leaving the boat in direct sunlight for long periods.


That's it! You now know everything you need to know about the regular maintenance of your inflatable boat. Above all, be careful to use products that are adapted to the type of material being treated and respect the safety instructions for using dangerous products! Do not hesitate to equip yourself with protective gear (gloves, glasses) during your cleaning session for better safety. 

Finally, if you use a tarp to protect your RIB, make sure that both the tarp and your boat are dry before use, because if they are wet, the risk of mold reappears!



You are passionate about boating and semi-rigid boats? 


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