How To Install Hydro-Turf's Aftermarket Traction Pads
At some point every personal watercraft owner installs some sort of aftermarket product or accessory on a craft. Whether it be a high-performance aftermarket exhaust system or just a pair of grips, if you own a PWC, eventually you'll install some sort of aftermarket product on your craft - trust us. While some choose to install aftermarket products for style, others do it solely for increased performance from their craft. Well, this month we've decided to do a "How To" on installing a product that we feel does both. This product is Hydro-Turf's aftermarket traction pad kit. In addition to improving your footing, the Hydro-Turf pads will also give your craft that custom look.
1: Go out and purchase yourself a set of pads. It sounds easy, but if you're like us it'll probably take you a while to decide just which one of Hydro-Turf's colors to go with.
2: Once you've got the pads, you'll need to get some glue to stick them to your boat. Hydro-Turf offers a water-resistant contact cement in an eight-ounce can. The amount of glue that you'll need will depend on the number of pieces in the pad kit that's designed for your craft. Generally one can is enough, but because we were installing the '96 model GTX pad kit that comes with nine pieces, we opted for two cans of glue. In addition to the glue, you'll want to get yourself a couple of cheap (and we do mean cheap) brushes to spread it with. We also recommend getting yourself a couple of pieces of rough grit sandpaper (we opted for 80 grit), a cheap plastic scraper/putty knife, a couple of shop rags and a can of general-purpose adhesive remover.
3: Take the pads out of the package and lay them out for visual inspection. Make sure that everything that is claimed to be in the package is. Also make sure there are not any defects (such as color, wrong cut, etc.).
4: Once you've visually inspected the pads, lay them out in the footwells and on the boarding platform of your craft to make sure that all the pieces fit. Do this before you remove your existing pads (that is, if your craft has any).
5: Now that you've confirmed that all the pieces are supplied and that they will in fact fit, remove your old pads. Depending on your craft, this can sometimes be a real pain. Fortunately for us, the stock GTX pads peeled right off. If you're one of those less fortunate that has a set of pads that resists coming off very easily, we recommend using a putty knife or gasket scraper. (Note: If you do have to use a putty knife or gasket scraper, be careful not to gouge your craft.)
6: Once you get the existing pads off, you need to remove all of the old glue. For this we recommend using a general-purpose adhesive remover, a plastic scraper and some shop rags. At this point it's not a bad idea to get a friend to help you out. Besides saving you some time here, the extra hands can be useful when lining up and installing the new pads.
7: Upon removing the existing pads and all of the glue that held them in place, lightly scuff the surface where the new pads are to be installed. For this we recommend using an 80-grit sandpaper. Doing this will provide the glue with a better adhesion surface.
8: Once through scuffing the pad surfaces, wipe them down completely with a rag and some general-purpose adhesive remover. A totally clean surface will provide the best adhesion for the new pads.
9: Now that the pad surface is totally clean, it's time to install the pads. The first step here is to prevent making a big mess. For this, we suggest laying out some old cardboard on the ground in a well-ventilated and shady area. Now lay the first piece of the pad kit to be installed on the cardboard (face down) and apply a thin coat of contact cement on the back side of it. Remember, only install one piece at a time. For applying the glue, we recommend using one of the cheap (throwaway) paint brushes you should have purchased before getting this far along.
10: Now that you have spread contact cement on the first piece to be installed, apply a thin layer of the contact cement to the area of the hull where the piece is supposed to go. At this point you'll need to let each glued surface tack up. (This should take about five minutes.)
11: Once the contact cement has tacked up, install the pad piece to the deck of the craft. When doing this it is extremely important to apply plenty of pressure to the pad for the best possible adhesion. Continue steps 9, 10 and 11 until the pad kit is completely installed. Once the entire pad kit is installed, try to wait 12 hours before riding the craft. Although this isn't absolutely necessary, it is recommended for the best adhesion.
12: Once you've got all the pads installed (in place and glued securely down, that is), you can wipe off any excess glue with the general-purpose adhesive remover and a rag. Trust us - if you install pads like us, this is one step you'll really need to do.
Keeping your new pads looking new
Although Hydro-Turf pads are designed and manufactured to withstand hours upon hours of riding, Hydro-Turf still offers a couple of care tips to get the maximum life out of your pads:
1) Although Hydro-Turf pads are resistant to fading, nothing is totally immune to UV rays. So when not using your craft, Hydro-Turf recommends keeping it covered up out of the sun.
2) Sooner or later your pads are bound to get a little dirty - some of us tend to get ours a little dirtier than others - so you might want to clean them. For this, Hydro-Turf recommends using water, any cleanser and a scrub brush. Just be sure and rinse away all of the soap thoroughly before getting back out on the water.