Softop Snaps

or "you mean I gotto get off before I hit the beach??"

As stoutly as Softops are built, they come to me snapped more often than any other type of board. I suppose its because they are primarily used by novices; and they are frequently used and abused as rentals.

More often than not, there is evidence of impact on the tip of the nose, and a buckle or snap 2ft there"aft"er. Such as this one:

near-new rental board, the shop owner nearly in tears, the nose neatly severed - it must have been a hard impact indeed, to have caused such a straight forward snap without any significant delam!
Dry-fitting the bits - during a violent event such as a snap, edges get pushed and shoved ever which way, so that they won't go back into their appointed places without some adjusting, i.e. cutting back with a utility knife. As hard as I try to initially save as much of the original structure as possible to help with the alignment, I usually end up cutting away a fair amount of stuff, to allow the rest to properly fit together.
After taking things apart again and meticulously removing all loose bits, the two halves are clamped securely to a rocker jig, the bottom of the joint taped over (one of the few good applications around boards for Duct Tape!), and Marine Urethane foam injected to "set" the joint and replace any chunks that may have been lost in the accident.
Once the Urethane foam has set (I prefer to "let it rest" overnight, lest there is interaction with subsequent building materials), I re-clamp and grind away all loose and/or superfluous stuff on the bottom, then bevel-grind the adjacent fiberglass laminations. Overall panel thickness is vastly less than in Tuflites, so it takes a bit of practice to get a consistent bevel without digging into the soft foam nearby.
Whatever divets and crevices (plus little grinder slips) are filled with an Epoxy/Q-Cell paste (the slow variety, of course!), to create a smooth substrate for the fiberglass laminations. Big Softops have up to 20oz of fiberglass in their skins, plus extra reinforcement on the rails, so I apply (5) layers of 4oz cloth, well-staggered, lapping over the turn of the rails, plus add (2) additional patches on the rails, since a lot of fairing happens there and some losses are likely.
Repeat on deck, with all layers wrapping the rails, so that all told, we end up with twice as much glass on the rails as on the flats - which is the way they come from the factory.

see the graffiti emerging? cute!

Edges of the EVA padding are cut nice & tidy & parallel, superfluous stuff scraped away with a single-edged razorblade. Laminations are feathered out and faired with VC Epoxy fairing compound.

I always feel like a voyeur when I uncover such scribbles. Left by the Thai builders, they felt certain that their graffiti would be forever covered up.

Deck & bottom faired and primed, the new piece of EVA padding is installed. Cut a smidge longer fore & aft than the available space, and to generously go around the rails and thensome, it is applied with the flammable type of contact cement, rolled down with vigor, and the edges "set" by pounding them with a mallet.

Lest you tear or otherwise maul your handiwork, nothing but a brand-new blade in the utility knife will do to trim the edges of the EVA!

With the sander rotating into the edge of the EVA pad, the new bit is beveled to conform to the angle of the original padding. Any other direction will tear your spanking new pad and force you to start over again! frustrating, that!!

The primer is sanded down in preparation for the bottom paint.

With the edges of the EVA securely taped off - the inexpensive, beige tape seems to stick the best, and it helps to have thoroughly cleaned the EVA prior (I use a soft eraser for this job) - and anything within 3ft of the repair covered or taped off, the bottom gets painted. Even though newer Softops have a plastic skin over their fiberglass, it seems to work well to just paint over it all, as long as it is a decent paint - I use 2-pack LP and have never had to look back.

Once the paint has tacked, remove the tape. Let cure over night. Sand the paint's edges with 320 wet & dry paper, then rub out with a Scotch Purple Pad, to imitate the satiny appearance of the original finish.

With the patterns getting exotic even on these lowly Softops, I give up and go for the "contrast band" look - works for me :)

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