Welcome to The Tinkers Workshop

If a jobs costs money then it's worth buggering up yourself on the cheap instead. Plumbing, decorating, making your own breakfast all jobs that "can" be done yourself at a fraction of the cost of paying someone else to do it. If you have mastered these basic tasks you probably feel ready to tackle to some more challenging tasks such as minor surgery or bomb disposal. Here at the Tinkers Workshop we'll look at a whole range of tasks and if you're feeling adventurous you might want to tackle some of these yourself.

So, pull up a stool and grab a tool, err none of that now this if a family club and take a look at what we have for you below.

Disclaimer:
These articles are intended to show that some tasks can be safely undertaken by competent DIY enthusiasts on some of your scuba equipment. They are not intended as step by step guides.
Excalibur Sub Aqua Club in no way accept responsibility for damage to kit, injury or loss of life. If you are in any way unsure, seek professional assistance to have your kit serviced or repaired.

Drysuit boot replacement

Difficulty Rating  rating4
Specialist Tools Rating  lump4

 

There are a number of reasons to change the boots on your drysuit, here are just a few.

 

1.  The size is incorrect on the suit you have.
2. The ones fitted are warn down or leak.
3. You want to switch from boots to socks or from socks to boots.

 

In this case I am changing from size 10 to size 11 boots.

I researched online for prices for this to be done professionally and the price that sticks in my mind was £115 per seal, now if like me you prefer not to hop around while carrying your scuba gear then you're going to want to get both boots done at once, costing somewhere around £200+. If you shop around you may well find somewhere to replace them cheaper.

So on to the task at hand. I bought all the supplies I needed from Sea Skin in total I paid about £55.

 
Tools Required for the task

thingMost of the tools you will require for this task should be in the average toolbox, others you may need to borrow. Some kind of vice like gizmo's come in handy to hold the boot down while you work. You'll need a heat gun, more on that later.

Then you'll need a custom made tool which is basically something to hold the shape of the boot during gluing. The firmer this item is the better. I modified a couple of Ikea storage tubs by cutting the tops off and taping them together.

You could use anything from a plant pot to a small/medium sized dog, something about the size of a Miniature Schnauzer, if you use the head end it'll help muffle his objective whines. He'll settle down after an hour or so, if not add earplugs to your tool inventory.

 

Boot removal

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The first part of boot removal is to remove the tape that bridges the gap between the boot and the suit on the outside. Now I knew I needed to heat this up and peel off the tape and had read it can be done with a hairdryer. Let me put that little myth to bed right now. 20 minutes in after already going beyond the point of no return I was thinking to myself why did I think I can do this? Hairdryer my eye. I carried on for well over an hour with this hot air non delivery system. What I didn’t tell you at the beginning was Mrs Tinker mentioned to me earlier she had a heat gun. However, Mr Grumpy Tinker figured it would be a naff little girly hobby heat gun and not a Desperate Dan industrial strength style which I required for this task. After a couple of hours, it could have been days (it sure felt like it) I sheepishly slinked over to the cupboard to dig out and try this “girls toy” heat gun. Ok so minutes after trying the “Desperate Dan industrial strength” in “girls toy” clothing heat gun I was eating a large portion of humble pie, raw too as time was a wasting. Needless to say tape removal speed picked up somewhat. Once you have removed all the tape, cut the boot off at the bottom of the suit, I used a scalpel to do this. Please note; don't use the same scalpel blade as the one you perform your minor surgery with. You should end up with a suit with no boot.

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At this point I still had about an inch of cut off boot on the inside of my suit that needed removing. With the suit turned inside out I clamped it to the table and worked on heating up one area while working my extra long / thing scrapper between the suit and boot remains. Once I had successfully worked this tool through to the other side with scissors in hand I snipped the boot top. This now allowed me to clamp the longest end of the boot top to my table then point the girly Desperate Dan heat flamethrower right onto the glue while gently pulling the suit away from the clamped boot.

After the suit was free of all boot I gave the inside of the suit a gentle rub with sandpaper to clean it up. During the boot top removal I accidentally lifted some of the vertical tape that runs up the inside of the suit. To be on the safe side I decided to replace these bits of tape rather than find out later they leaked.

Mixing The Glue

You can buy all in one glue, but to ensure extra strength I opted for the 2 part glue. Now with the quantity I was making up doing each boot at a time this was trickier than it ought to have been. The mix was 100 parts adhesive to 6 parts activator. Now when you scale that down to the amount I was making up, I went for 30 parts adhesive to steady...steady now... 1.. steady... 2... "Oh flaming shiny biscuits" way too much activator. Never mind it'll be right. Once you have added these 2 parts together it is imperative you mix them for longer than both your arms can stand it for. If everyone in the your workshop isn't sick of hearing you whine about your poor arms, just keep mixing.

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Custom Tool Time

It's at this stage you'll need to lure your furry little friend into your suit leg and boot to hold the shape during the gluing process. If you don't have an emergency oxygen supply to hand you may want to substitute your Pomeranian Pooch for that Plant Pot you were keeping on standby. So slip your tool into place and take a small stiff paint brush (craft not decorating) and apply the glue to both the boot top and inside of the suit leg which in this case has been rolled over. Wait until touch dry and if you feel it needs another coat, add a little more. Make sure you have enough left over for the tape stage at the end.

Touch Dry

When you feel the glue is getting touchy and dry, then you are ready for completely scuttling all the hard work you have put in so far. It's time for the rolling back of the suit leg. It's at this point you'll want to have your swear jar at the ready and make sure it's a big FLIPPER because by the time you've finished rolling that suit leg over trying to get the placement right and preventing it from creasing you'll have filled that jar and popped enough money away to pay for your next scuba trip. To prevent swear jar overflow or SJO as it's known in the trade, make sure you put the boot on the correct leg and face it the correct way.

Next you need to cut a length of the finishing tape you bought. That reminds me. I never did include what supplies you'll actually need to pull this job off. Anyhow. Length of tape, cut a V shape into the tape so you look super cool while you are scubaing <-- is that even a word? I must raise this as an AOB in the next meeting. Glue up the tape and the area you intend to put it. Now if you aren't using this for go faster stripes on your suit then pop it across the gap between boot and suit. Roll it down with the roller that I have just noticed is clearly missing from the tool photo-shoot. This ensures all air bubbles are longer, wider and flatter than they were when you applied the tape and if you are lucky it might actually remove a couple of the blighters too.

Ok, so you are feeling pretty good about yourself at this point in time. Your workshop, which you can at least close the door on at night has now been trashed for about 4 days "or" is my case the conservatory / dining room. If your Mrs Tinker is as patient and understanding as my Mrs Tinker then you are probably wondering, dare I tell her I am only half way there or should I just leave it as 1 size 11 boot and 1 size 10 boot! Nar, we are on a roll here so lets pulled the other one off. Rinse and repeat as it were. You will be pleased to hear however that as you are now an experienced boot replacer you'll be able to do the other one in half the time.

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The End in Sight

Upon completing the 2nd boot. Replace your head and hands for balloons and pop your suit on fill it with air to about 1.5 bar which means absolutely nothing to me either but sounds pretty technical eh! Then stand in a bucket and check for leaks. If everything is good and no leaks are detected. Take a needle to pop your balloon head and hands then wait approximately 20 minutes for new real ones to grow back. Pop your suit in the shed and give yourself a pat on the back with your shiny new hand and pop the kettle on you're all done.

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