Monday, June 26, 2017

Best 100--Chapter 6


Every contingency repair kit includes duct tape, along with parachute cord, a knife and a pair of pliers. Some types are by there nature, temporary; masking tape is graded for its ability to peal off. But some types are permanent or very nearly so.

Here is  list of my favorites, some times by brand name, and sometimes more generically. Because there are so many useful types, I'm going for 10 "best" items this time:

26. Blue Masking Tape. It boils down to how long the tape will be in place. If you will pull it today, the cheapest stuff will do. If there is any chance you will be a few weeks getting back, only good quality blue of green extended life tape will do. Generally I go with 3M, but other recognizable brands seem just as good. Still, there are  limits; if it is going to be several weeks in the sun and rain, expect trouble.

27. Butyl Tape. I bought mine in an RV store in North Carolina a decade ago, so darn if I know the brand. It should stick to itself, extend almost without limit when pulled slowly (if you hold a strip, within a minute or so it should start stretching to the floor under the force of gravity alone), and be free of fibers. Great stuff. I like that I can keep it on the boat for bedding small things, and it NEVER goes bad. If in doubt, contact Mainesail for a proven product. I think West Marine also carries it now.

In my experience, it is good for  30 years in most bedding applications. It has no bonding ability, so it is best for items that are secured by bolts and have such a larg bonding area that removal will be difficult other wise. I like it for winches and hatches.

Also good for holding stainless screws in the driver.

28. Teflon Tape. I like the yellow gas-rated tape better. It is softer and thicker, allowing it to seal better at moderate temperatures. You only need the white tape above 300F. Alternatively, Teflon pipe dope is very good, and is also useful as anti-seize on bolts.

29. Sail Repair Tape, Bainbridge Sailcloth. Forget the cheap brands and forget any products that claim to be great for repair of vinyl etc. I've had some real disappointments, and in testing, only the Bainbridge brand resists aging and creep under load.

The cloth must be clean, flat, and you must rub it down well. If it is part of a permanent repair, stitch it down as though it were cloth (polyester tape only). The rip-stop version is incredible for spinnakers and reachers. I've kept old dogs flying with yards and yards of this stuff. Apply to both sides for best results.

It does NOT work on Sunbrella. Either sew the repair or consider gluing using polyester caulk (See "Keeping a Cruising Boat for Peanuts" for a comprehensive review of sail and canvas repair using adhesives).

30. Electricians Tape. I like white and use it for rigging tape and for wrapping lines before I cut them (cut right through tape and there will be zero fraying of the line). No, you won't use much on wiring, though it can be helpful for chafe protection.

31. Duct tape. We all hate duct tape for the mess it leaves when used for a bad "permanent" repair. But it has its place:
  • You've remove some hardware and the hole must be covered to keep the rain out.
  • Need a spare set of hands. Yesterday I was installing a long awning track, and duct tape held the other end.

32. Gaffers Tape. Used in the theater business to secure all sorts of gear, this stuff lasts for years in the elements without noticeable deterioration. I like the Polyken brand, usually in white, though other colors are available. I use it to close the end of the boom to keep the birds out, and under clamps on stainless railings to reduce slipping. I also use it in conjunction with cord when wrapping helm wheels and rails--it is the only tape that lasts as long as the cord. Does not stretch like duct tape, so it does not conform to odd shapes as well. But being non-stretch also keeps it tight.

 X 33. Self Sealing Tape. In my experience, this is a "not favorite." I've used it but never been impressed. IMHO, use something else. Not a "best."

34. Aluminum Duct Tape (Nashua). Good for sealing rigid ducts. But it is also the BEST thing for sealing paint cans, since vapors cannot go through metal (FE, mylar coated balloons). Wrap the lid with aluminum tape and the paint will last. With regular tape it will not. Also good for keeping the stink inside sanitation hoses--the stink can't go through metal either.

35. Athletic Tape. I probably use more of this than any other type, typically Mueller. It doesn't last to long in the weather, but it adds grip to slippery tillers, wraps line while splicing, and makes a useful short term rigging tape. The best material available for preventing a clamp (grill or rod holder) from spinning on a stainless railing.  Even more important is its place in the first aid kit. It is just the thing for bracing weak arches or a sore wrist.

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