Long-term Testing Clear Vinyl

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Strataglass 40

Our long-term test of clear vinyl and clear-vinyl treatments includes environmental outdoor tests with controls, as well as some real-world testing on one of our test boats.

For the outdoor testing, 8-by-10-inch vinyl test samples of Strataglass 40 mil, Strataglass 30 mil, Regalite 40 mil, Crystal Clear 30 mil, and OSea 40 mil were mounted over cut-outs in painted plywood sheets. One panel of each product was left untreated; one Strataglass panel was covered by a Sunbrella flap and not treated; and the rest were treated with protective sprays and creams.

One set of control panels was kept indoors in a controlled environment. Spray cleaner/protectant products were reapplied every 30 days, and cream/paste products were reapplied every 90 days.

The vinyl materials also are being evaluated, both treated and untreated, for aging effects-including any changes in color, opacity, texture, or stiffness.

Now, two years into the test, we are focusing on rainy weather performance, since this is the primary difference at this time. At the five-year mark, we will dismount all of the samples and perform more rigorous testing.

On-Boat Testing

The test boat has a large clear-vinyl enclosure and large vinyl skylights in the hard top. We applied products that did well at the four-month mark to the windows on the test boat. We used the Imar 302 as a protectant, and the Imar 310 and Star brite View Guard as cleaners.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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