Fellow Amel yacht owners,
In response to Mr. Parry's request, I submit the following:
Having sold hundreds of second hand Amel's over the past 25 years, I have
had to face the restoration of the fallen vinyl in Amel boats many times.
In preparing them for the market, I have personally participated in the
restoration process on many boats, and supervised the entire job more times
that I can recall. We have made all the mistakes so the following is solid
and reliable, learned in the school of hard experience.
All Amel's, every one, built prior to 1993 model has vinyl that will
eventually fall down. Why? The vinyl had a polyurethane foam backing that
gave a cushioning effect and also "held the glue" better than a smooth
backing. Over the years, the foam gets thermally cycled each day as the sun
goes up and down, becomes brittle and dry, and then turns to polyurethane
dust. It happens first in areas of highest heat transfer and is exacerbated
by washing/cleaning the vinyl as this compresses the foam. Boats built
after 1993 use an organic cotton (felt) backing and, so far, these boats
have had no vinyl failures and probably will not for the foreseeable future.
To repair the fallen vinyl is pretty simple, yet time consuming and a
genuine threat to your health. Really. Additionally, if you attempt to do
this with your spouse, be forewarned, if you can't hang wall paper together
without undo friction, your relationship will be seriously tested by the
stress of restoring the vinyl correctly.
First, put your cutting tools away. Far away. Get out a screw driver
instead. Unscrew all molding and trim pieces of wood wherever you find it
on the vinyl or around the edges of the vinyl. You will then better
understand the processes to follow next.
The most important thing at this moment is to buy whoever will be involved
in the process from this point forward a very good mask respirator that
filters the smallest of particulate matter. Vapor or solvent removal is not
important. Particulate matter is. Why? Because when you take the
presently installed vinyl down prior to re-hanging it all the foam backing
that has disintegrated will fill the air and, eventually, find its way into
every single nook and cranny inside the boat. These particles seem to have
a negative charge and attach themselves tenaciously to all they touch. It
is advisable to completely remove everything from all storage areas in each
compartment as you proceed with the repair. It is absolutely essential that
you wear your respirator and not breathe ANY of this disintegrated foam.
You will get very, very ill if you do with severe respiratory distress. The
long term effects of inhaling polyurethane by-products are truly grim.
Please, obtain the best respirators you can find and wear them
conscientiously. Those 3-m throw away nose/mouth shields will NOT do the
job. Ask me how I know this.
With all the trim removed, you will discover how you can easily remove the
vinyl from the surfaces upon which it is mounted. Gently pull the vinyl
away from the surface. Before you cut anything, think twice. Very little
cutting is required and it varies from model to model. Just really think
twice and cut once.
After the vinyl is down, or hanging from its edges, take a stiff brush and
remove all remnants of the foam backing from the vinyl and the surface it
was on. The keyword here is "all". You will never actually get it all, but
get as much as you can. Don't pull the vinyl out of the areas where it is
permanently secured behind woodwork such as the wood mounted on the cabin
vertical areas where the ports are.
Now the hard part. You can reattach the originally installed vinyl and it
will look about 90% as good as it did when the boat was new. The success of
your work will depend on your planning, your skills, and your choice of
DO NOT USE "MAGIC" GLUE or CONTACT CEMENT. Instead, use vinyl wallpaper
cement that is approved for use in high humidity environments (bath
rooms/showers). You will find this at any good household wallpaper and/or
paint store. I have found that the only ones that work well also require a
primmer/sealer to be installed before the glue/paste. These adhesives,
unlike contact cement or magic glues, will have a reasonable "open" period
before they bond. This allows you to work out the wrinkles and get good
adhesion in the corners. Contact cement sets on contact. It also has
solvents which will discolor and sometimes melt and destroy the vinyl. Try
all adhesive products on a discreet area to test them before you do an
If you work carefully and thoughtfully, you will be happy with your results.
Remember to use plenty of primer, you almost can not use too much. It's
best to start inside the forward hanging locker first to get the hang (get
it?) of the process. If you don't do a perfect job in the hanging locker,
learn from your mistakes before proceeding to more visible repairs. Don't
forget your respirator or I'll get your boat for sale sooner than you wish.
There are many ways to skin a cat, this is just one. You can also use
wooden battens on a fore to aft bias which is easier but, generally not as
You can also remove the vinyl and replace it, or put in removable ceiling
panels. However, unless your handy skills approach that of a true
craftsman, these repairs are best left to the pros.
Work slowly at first, consider carefully your every move, use the best
materials you can find, and wear your respirator. You'll be pleased with
Joel F. Potter, SMM # 400 "MARY BROWN"