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Just got back from Tupper Lake Tinman and noticed a tear developing in the right shoulder of my Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit.
It's fairly small(5cm), but I can see the stitches beneath the seam. I bought it in 2009, so its out of warranty. I wrote the manufacturer and they suggested I send it to a small shop in California... considering I live in NYC and IMLP is only about 4 weeks out, this is probably not the best option.
Anyone have suggestions for dealing with stuff like this? Should I go the wetsuit repair shop route? Or just use a little wetsuit cement since it's out of warranty...
I've always used Aquaseal on my wetsuit tears but I can't say I've ever had one as large as 5cm.
Post a pick? Sounds to me with the size that you should be fine with Aqua Seal or Macnett Seal Cement.
Repair is fairly easy.
wipe down the area to make sure it is clean and make sure to let dry
Make sure the tube/jar are mixed/shaken and then pour a small amount onto some wax paper.
Stir the cement with the end of a match stick or a q-tip with the swab removed to make sure it is mixed.
Using the end, put the cement into the tear and make sure it is all the way in and on both sides and close/position the tear so it is firm... basically you don't clamp it, but it should have light pressure naturally if you position it right. I generally lightly rub off the excess. Let that sit and cure/dry.
Come back 12 - 24 hours later and then put a second coat on top of the seal. Your first coat is more about bonding the sides of the tear to each other, and the second coating is to help put a seal and add strength to the top surface.
This is about as good a photo as I can muster with my laptop...
It may be smaller than 5cm dry, but when stretched it comes to about 5cm. Are there times I shouldn't use Aquaseal?
Hard to see a lot of the detail. Is there rubber missing? It almost looks like at the bottom there is a small chunk/gouge in it.
If that is the case, you may be able to "fill in" the section, but I start getting a little iffy when it comes to that. For the seal to really do well it needs two close surfaces to bond.
I have done both. For a larger tear, I sent it in to be repaired. They actually had it turned around to me in less than 2 weeks. But that was in September.
I have also repaired smaller tears with wetsuit cement. It is easy to use.
Your tear sounds large... I'd be tempted to send it in. Is there a way you could rent your exact same suit for the race while yours is being repaired?
I don't think its missing any rubber, just that the seal is starting to pull away and the stitching seems to be coming loose a tad. Thanks for the detailed instructions Maui5150! I've got a few more open water swims planned before raceday, so I'm thinking maybe the homebrew repair may have to do it for now, unless you think the loosening stitch presents a problem better suited for a pro.
It is hard to judge without physically seeing it.
Generally the "home" seal approach is good for nicks and tears on the surface where the jersey/lining material is still strong and providing most of the base of the suit, and the repair/patch is to keep the nick/tear from spreading. Once the underlying material/jersey/liner gets compromised of you are getting loose stitching then that starts getting outside the strength/abilities of the cement.
In general I would say cementing it is probably better than not, with the only caveat that it is likely that it will not hold long term and the question arises does your temporary work hinder a longer term fix which I don't think it does. Now if you intend to use the suit and not seal it... the tear could compromise more.
Are there any scuba diving shops in NYC? I just had a smaller tear in my wetsuit repaired at my local dive shop, picking it up today - fingers crossed...