Archives for category: Ideas

Maybe you should seam-seal before re-proofing? Anyway, I re-proofed first (see the last post)…

Seam-sealer seems expensive for the amount you will use on a small tent and I read somewhere about making clear silicone brushable by diluting with white spirit, so I thought I would give it a go.

I guess there are no hard and fast rules on diluting silicone – I made it up as I went along and it worked fine. Sue gave me a most useful tip on mixing silicone and white spirit – add a little white spirit to the silicone, not the other way round. Doing this means you don’t get blobs of silicone sloshing around in the white spirit. A shame she told me this after I had chased blobs of silicone in white spirit with my mixing stick! I got it mixed in the end, but Sue’s way (as described below) is definitely easier.

I used a jam jar lid for mixing the sealer, a thin piece of wood (a lolly stick would be ideal) as a mixer and a cheap artist’s paintbrush to apply the sealer. It’s a messy job, so I wore disposable gloves.

Squirt, say, 2 cm long by 6 mm diameter of clear silicone into the jam jar lid and add a small amount (a teaspoon, maybe) of white spirit and mix. Add a little more white spirit and mix. Keep doing this until you get something that is the consistency of thick-ish yoghurt. You want the sealer to be easy to apply with a brush, not something that sticks to the brush in a lump – like the undiluted silicone would.

Seam after sealing

Seam a day after sealing

At this stage you can either use this mix and make more as you go; or add more silicone and white spirit to mix up a more sealer. Depends on how much you need. Now apply the sealer to the seam. Work it in well and apply to both sides of the seam if you can get to it – see the photo. I was sealing a seam on a tent groundsheet that runs the full length of the inner, so I wanted to get a good coverage. The photo shows the seam the day after sealing, it has dried well – not quite invisible, but hard to spot at first glance.

I have no idea how long the mix wil stay useable, depends on all sorts of things, the mix I made was OK for at least 20 to 30 minutes.

The seam was touch-dry after an hour, but I would try to not touch it for as long as possible to give the sealer a good chance to thoroughly dry.

White spirit seems to make the jam jar lid very slippery – I dropped the lid and , of course, it landed upside down on the grass.

Now I just need to mix up some more sealer to do the seams on the fly – using Sue’s method, of course.


Spring is almost here and I had a free day with a good weather forecast, so what better thing to do than re-proof a tent?

I’ve had my Saunders Backpacker II Extreme for a “long time” – well over 30 years. When I had a look at it a few weeks ago, the fly was in good shape and despite severe tugging along and across all the seams it shows no sign of UV degradation. I knew the fly needed re-proofing and the sewn-in groundsheet definitely needed re-proofing.

I’ve always used Fabsil for re-proofing, but the smell of white spirit seems to hang around for a long time; so I thought I would try NikWax  ‘Tent and Gear Solarproof’, which also contains a UV inhibitor. As it’s a small tent, I got a 300 mL hand spray bottle.

I washed the fly and inner using NikWax Tech Wash. As we live in a soft water area, I used 100 mL of Tech Wash in a bucket of warm water. This did the fly and inner, but produced a lot of foam, so I reckon I could use less TechWash next time round. The good  thing about using these NikWax products is you don’t have to wait for the items to dry before re-proofing, so it is a lot quicker to do.

I pitched the fly in the garden and started spraying – it is quite a coarse spray. I ended up “lightly” spraying one side of the fly and wiping with a damp J-cloth to uniformly spread the coating. I sprayed the other side, then both ends. By then, the first side was mostly dry with a few spots of proofer remaining, so I wiped this side again and then worked my way round the other sides.

Re-proofed tent

Reproofed fly showing beads of water - looking good!

I left the fly for half-an-hour or so; after which it was dry but looked ‘different’, a slight sheen is the best description. My hand was definitely waterproofed and I would recommend wearing gloves and old clothes when using this product!

I knew the seams and along the ridge would need some additional attention so I sprayed and wiped each seam.

I did the same thing with the ground sheet, spraying the long seam down the centre and the seams in each corner where the groundsheet forms the bathtub a second time.

All-in-all a good job done. I reckon I have around half the “Solarproof” left, too. This means, if you are careful, you could re-proof a two-man tent for free! Too late for me, I saw Nikwax have a quiz on their website (still there on 14th March), the prize being a 150 mL sachet of “Solarproof”.

Next post will be on seam-sealing for ‘free’.