Sticky tent fly coating problem

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by Kayak Jim, Dec 22, 2018.

  1. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    I have an older 4 season tent where the heavy duty fly and floor coating has gone "sticky" to the touch. Its a North Face Mountain 25, maybe 15 years old. It has had fairly light use but has saved my bacon on exposed shorelines in wild weather with its robust materials and tight rock solid pitch.

    Is there anything I can do to get rid of the stickiness? I recall years ago recoating a tent fly and after drying the instructions said to dust with "something" (talcum powder maybe? I can't recall).

    Thanks

    edit: well an internet search has revealed the stickiness is probably the beginning of the end as the PU coating breaks down. Although the coating still seems well adhered, the small urethane window has completely disintegrated so I've sewn over a piece of coated nylon.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  2. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Sad to say, the tent is toast when, as you say, the PU coating gets sticky. I have lost 2 or 3 tents to the PU sticky pox. You can dust with talcum powder, but it does not restore the coating.
     
  3. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Coating gets sticky and then the 'tomcat urine' smell arrives.....
    Since it can happen to tents that are 'stored perfectly', it's more vexing for me than if a tent gets 'worn out' from UV and abrasion, or if I ruin it by letting it get mildewed.
     
  4. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Polyurethanes are tricky to formulate and lay down onto a surface ... and they can be susceptible to water-accelerated decomposition, unless all the loose, reactive ends get tied up in cross linking. I really am amazed at the variety of coatings made from them. I expect your tent fabric's surface has a lot of unreacted ends now exposed.

    Kayak Jim, you really do not have anything to lose here, so you might try painting on a coat or two of System Three's WR-LPU clear satin coating. A quart will run 80 bucks, but they offer 4 oz samples for about 6 dollars US. You add the cross linker just before brushing on a layer, so there is some chance it will tie up those loose ends.

    I can not get the link to paste in here. Their number, Auburn, WA: 253-333-9339

    Call them up and tell them what you are up to. Their tech support people are very good, and may be interested in your dilemma. Note that you can get colors other than clear.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  5. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    Thanks for the advise guys. Yes, I'd much rather burn gear out than have it fade away. This probably doesn't have much more than 30 nights in the field. It might have a couple more years in it but I've got roomier and/or lighter options I tend to choose over it. Maybe I could get a hundred bucks or so for it?

    On a flyer, I contacted NF Warranty Service- hoping they might give me a discount coupon or something- but not expecting anything. I'll try the System Three support after the holidays. Seems the 4 oz sample doesn't come with cross linker. McNett (Gear Aid) sells a one part PU sealant that I used once with mixed results (as are the reviews on line).

    Once it's totally shot it seems there should be something it could be used for rather than garbage. Fly and poles only pitch as an emergency shelter on a day trip? Resew fly for pole supported car camping picnic table shelter?
     
  6. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    The boat canvas makers have a slick method for exact patterning over frameworks, generating separate patterns for canvas panels that can be sewn together. That might be the way to go for the fly. The floor could likewise be patterned and a fresh floor could be sewed in place.