Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Practical Sailor--What Would You Like To See Tested?

rev. 3-8-2013

About 50% of the testing starts because a contributor has a problems and decides to expand his research enough to make it worth publishing. I started by investigating phase separation and additives because I was having trouble on my boat, but I went much farther down the rabbit hole than I would have for my own interests alone and learned a lot. We get curious. 20% comes from new stuff we see in a boat show or catalog or someone talks-up. The fuel tank vent filter bit started that way; I though it was a gadget but found value when I looked farther. The remaining 30% comes from suggestions or problems we hear of that seem common enough and where some research might yield an answer for many. The Joker valve bit started that way; I've seen too many valves ruined by propylene glycol and that brought fire to my pen. I tend to focus on chemistry-related topics; I'm a chemical engineer by training and long practice. But I've branched out occasionally if I saw a question I thought I might be uniquely suited to research. Some times a topic is assigned to me and I have to grow interested; by the time the article is finished it becomes the most important thing in my narrow little life... at least while I'm in front of the keyboard.

So, what would you like to see researched? A few that are all ready on the burner:
  • Dehumidifiers (draft in progress).
  • Diesels additives (draft submitted).
  • Joker valves and chemicals (draft in progress and 50% of trials complete).
  • Mildew preventatives, both coatings and vapor-type (tests started).
  • Water repellant treatments for canvas. Long-term (collecting materials).
  • Flexible window materials (Strata Glas etc.) and waxes. Long term (collecting materials).
  • Follow-up on sanitary hose (write in spring).
  • Follow-up on holding tank vent filters (write in summer).
  • Followup on gasoline and diesel vent filters (write in fall).
Your list, here. anything. I'll pass them along.

  •  Long term tests of Canvas. Color, abrasion, strength. Would take 5 years minimum; my mainsail cover is 16 years old. Ouch. Hard to accelerate.
  •  Same for coated products.
  •  Polyethylene pipe for sanitary use.


  1. Drew -

    I am interested in what you know or could develop regarding Water repellent treatments for canvas, and mildew preventatives - the coating type (which might also be applied to the canvas, although water repellency goes a *long* way to retarding mildew).

    Also, I have learned that there are very different types of vinyl available for biminis and dodgers. On the set of canvas that came with our boat, the sunbrella outlasted the vinyl. On our current set, it looks like the vinyl is going to far outlast the sunbrella. I don't know what the vinyl was on the first set, but I could probably find out on the current set. Anyhow, the point is that there are apparently big differences in the ability of vinyl to resist sunlight. UV exposure aging tests, with/without abrasion would seem to be in order (our old vinyl was apparently coated - it rapidly turned cloudy and brown where it had been abraded).

    s/v Eolian

    1. Both subjects will be covered in Practical Sailor artcles this fall/winter. Good ideas!

  2. Yes, I would also like to see treatments for Sunbrella and canvas like products. I used silicone spray on my dodger last year under the advice of a fellow sailor. It worked very well. I've also been told of wax dissolved white spirits as a canvas water treatment. It would be great to compare these with off the shelf products

  3. How about a study to compare sanitation hose to Alkathene pipe (MDPE). I'm about to install alkathene pipe to replace my sanitation hose. Hopefully to cure the smelly boat syndrome. Nobody has done it yet, that I can find on the internet; and yet it makes perfect sense to me. Made of the same material as polyethylene holding tanks, one should eliminate the permeated hose problems that come about with sanitation hose. You can read about my thoughts on it at my blog site.