Use Heat to Remove Dents in Carbonlite

It’s been a while since I posted about repairing an Eddyline Fathom, a boat made with carbonlite material. Summarizing: I fixed the rips in the boat, but dents remain. I phoned Eddyline, and they suggested using heat to get the dents out.

One time I melted a royalex canoe when I was trying to reform the bottom. A big rupture suddenly opened when the hull got a little too hot. That experience left me nervous about taking the heat gun to the Fathom. I decided to wait for the 90+ degree(F) days of summer and try leaving the boat on the blacktop driveway, and see if that would soften up the dents. Now that the hot days are here, I have questions.

Do I need to apply pressure to the dents, or will just getting the boat hot want to make it go back to it’s original shape? If anybody has experience using heat to improve dents in your boat, I’d love it if you can offer some advice.

Carbonlite is a form of ABS plastic. If you google bending ABS plastic, a bunch of sources come up talking about how to do it.

Never done it myself, so can;t vouch for any of the sources.

You can get different tips for heat guns to spread the heat wider and move it back and forth. Try a hairdryer on a hot day in the sun.

Gentle heat, patience, and the suction devices body shops use for working dents out of cars.

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I suspect “gentle heat” is an art that has to be learned. I’d like to try it, but really would prefer to practice on a junker boat before trying it on the Fathom. The Fathom was a junker boat, but now it’s water tight, I’m a couple hundred dollars and about 15 hours into it, and I feel less callous about it.

Supposedly roto-molded boats pop back into shape when heated. It seems like with the ABS, you’d have to force the material into shape and then, somehow, cool it enough to hold the shape.

Maybe if I had a mold of the hull shape I could use heat, get the ABS to slump into the mold and declare victory. I don’t have a mold. Maybe could strap boards to the outside, spanning the indent, with straps on either end of the dents to sort of approximate a mold. This would be experimental, and I think I am too scared to try it.

Royalex canoes are ABS, too. I had one partial success and one disaster using heat to reshape royalex canoes. The partial success was using boiling water. I read somewhere that royalex melts at about 220F and figured I’d be safe with boiling water since it only goes to 212F. I didn’t melt the hull like I did on the Chipewyan restore, but I couldn’t get the dent completely out, either. But it was better.

Unsure the suction cup would grab the hull of the Fathom, due to scratches on the hull. Would the idea be to pull the dent out to where you want it, then cool the hull while maintaining position with the dent-puller? Seems challenging.

Rambling on into 2LDR territory. But appreciate the ideas. Thanks.

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Picture of dent?

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Here’s a photo showing a dent.

I’m taking the boat out Thursday (7/13) and will try to get other pictures showing the dents.

You might try putting a towel over the area that was soaked in hot water and applying pressure to the dent. I did that for a bent plastic extrusion for a furling sail.

More than what I would call a dent the material is fractured. It needs repaired with more than heat.

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I would remove the dent first then do an epoxy/glass repair.

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Devcon no? Tint it white.

Glass on inside rough it up 36 grit

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Research oil canning. There are a lot off site that deal with trying to get dents out of plastic boats. Sometimes heat works and sometimes it doesn’t. Depends on the size and depth of the dent as well as the exact composition of the hull.

We took the Fathom out last week. It was paddled by two friends. One of the friends had previously paddled this Fathom prior to the tree falling on it. Counting me, three of us have now paddled the boat and we can’t notice the change the dents theoretically must make in hull performance. Therefore, I have lost interest in removing the dents.

I’ve also learned the Fathom is not a boat for me—the cockpit is just too tight. Further disincentive for removing the dents.

I must say the dents are not as severe as I recall them being when I worked on the boat last winter. Could some of the dents come out while the boat was just sitting in the coolish workshop? Then, I laid the boat on the driveway last week on a 90-degree day. The pavement measured 130F. After a few hours, it didn’t seem anymore malleable than normal.

I included a photo showing the worst dent. The sunlight and camera angle accentuate the dent so that it looks worse than it is. Pretty much the same as photo already posted.

I watched this video recently and I thought this repair was done well. They used a heat gun to soften the material enough to remove creases.

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Plautus, that was a good video. Wish I had seen that when I was starting to repair the Fathom. I patched the hull in a fashion very similar to the process used in the video. But they got the dents out first. I wish the video wasn’t time-lapsed so I could see how long it took to soften the hull. Fixing the cracks first, I may have “baked-in” those dents.

Next time!

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You may still be able to lessen the creases with a heat gun even though you’ve completed the repair.