FLW

THE LOWDOWN ON HOW BASS BOATS GET THEIR FLASHY VINYL COV­ER­INGS

SA Bass - - Contents - By Joe Ba­log PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF RANGER BOATS

“WRAP IT UP” The lowdown on how bass boats get their flashy vinyl cov­er­ings. – Joe Ba­log

W rapped boats are a big part of tour­na­ment fish­ing these days. The in­creased vis­i­bil­ity as a sign board for spon­sors, cou­pled with wrap de­sign­ers pop­ping up in ev­ery major metropoli­tan area, has led to a huge surge in wrapped rigs on the wa­ter to­day. Con­sid­er­ing wrap­ping your boat? We’ll help you make an ed­u­cated de­ci­sion.

How They’re Made

In essence, a bass boat graph­ics wrap is com­prised of several large vinyl stick­ers that are made to fit a spe­cific boat model. Here’s how the process works:

1. The process be­gins with the de­sign of an ap­peal­ing lay­out for your rig. Most wrap ex­perts have artis­tic staff that can aid in this process, but they will re­quire cus­tomers to pro­vide vec­tor or .eps files (files spe­cific to cer­tain soft­ware pro­grams) con­tain­ing spon­sor lo­gos.

2. Once logo files have been ob­tained and a de­sign is fin­ished, graphic and sign com­pa­nies print the en­tire wrap on gi­gan­tic rolls of vinyl – most start out 150 feet long – and al­low the inks to dry. Dur­ing this pe­riod the vinyl “out­gasses,” which is a type of cur­ing process. Opin­ions on the over­all best vinyl ma­te­rial vary. The most pop­u­lar vinyl prod­ucts are man­u­fac­tured by 3M and Avery Den­ni­son. 3M car­ries a higher price tag, and many wrap ex­perts swear by its qual­ity. How­ever, not ev­ery­one agrees. If you’re con­sid­er­ing a wrap, ask the in­staller about its ma­te­ri­als, and seek re­fer­rals from other an­glers. Even­tu­ally the wrap will be cut to tem­plate sizes for the installation on var­i­ous parts of the boat.

3. Fol­low­ing the cur­ing and dry­ing process, a top coat of lam­i­nate is ap­plied. Again, de­pend­ing on the ma­te­rial be­ing used, nu­mer­ous types of “over-lam” are avail­able, from metal­lic to high-gloss va­ri­eties, car­bon-fiber (for a 3-D look), sparkles, brushed met­als – the sky’s the limit. Many of these op­tions also carry with them ad­di­tional charges of up to 20 per­cent of the wrap cost.

4. When the wrap has been printed and lam­i­nated, then the in­stall­ers (even some boat man­u­fac­tur­ers) turn their attention to the boat. Most lift the boat on jacks for installation, and the en­tire rig is thor­oughly cleaned us­ing ba­sic dish soap to re­move any oils, fol­lowed by a sol­vent cleaner.

5. Af­ter the boat is prepped, the wrap is in­stalled. Most wraps nowa­days are ap­plied dry and fea­ture a “mi­cro-bead” tech­nol­ogy, which in essence are tiny fin­gers that stick to the boat un­til pres­sure (through a squeegee or other ap­pli­ca­tion tool) is placed over the vinyl to seal it down. This al­lows wrap de­sign­ers to ad­just the wrap to en­sure proper fit.

Most high-end graph­ics com­pa­nies warn against the use of a wet ap­pli­ca­tion for boat wraps be­cause if fluid gets be­neath the wrap it can lead to ex­pan­sion and tears. An­other no-no: the use of metal squeegees or blades for ap­pli­ca­tion. They can dam­age the gel coat.

6. Once the vinyl wrap is in place ex­actly, edges and seams must be care­fully ad­hered. Most qual­ity wrap com­pa­nies use a 3M edg­ing tape on the boat’s bot­tom, as this is an area of par­tic­u­lar con­cern. Liq­uid enamel was used in the past, but tape is the ac­cepted mod­ern method.

Around the rub rail, wraps must be sil­i­cone-sealed, as well as around cleats, in the splash­well and any­where there’s an edge. Do­ing so pre­vents wa­ter from en­ter­ing un­der the wrap.

7. Fi­nally, the en­tire wrap should be heated (of­ten to tem­per­a­tures ex­ceed­ing 250 de­grees) to re­move any air bub­bles and to com­pen­sate for weather changes.

What You Get

In gen­eral, bass boat wraps can be counted on to be pretty rugged, con­sid­er­ing the craft they cover of­ten ex­ceed 70 mph on the wa­ter. Cer­ti­fied in­stall­ers know their trade, and the last thing they want is to per­form re­pairs. In ad­di­tion, most boat wraps do not come with a war­ranty, as find­ing the ex­act rea­son for fail­ures is tough, so hav­ing it done right is im­por­tant. Most of­ten, dam­age is caused by a care­less cap­tain. In the event of any major tears, usu­ally the en­tire wrap must be re­placed.

Bass boat wraps of­fer mod­er­ately good pro­tec­tion to a boat. They’re 4.5 mils thick (by com­par­i­son, gel coat is about 2), and eas­ily safe­guard against the bumps and bangs of ty­ing up to a dock or glanc­ing off other boats in a lock.

Care and Re­moval

Once your rig is wrapped, it’s im­por­tant to take care of the vinyl coat­ing. Thanks to su­pe­rior inks, to­day’s wraps don’t re­ally fade, but they can get scratched. Many wax­ing com­pounds can help re­move mi­nor scratches and will add life to a wrap. Gen­eral clean­ing should be done with dish soap, af­ter which a pro­tec­tant and sealer should be used.

A qual­ity boat wrap should last about three years, and most graph­ics com­pa­nies ad­vise against push­ing past that time­frame. If left on for longer pe­ri­ods, a boat wrap will likely crack from sun ex­po­sure, and has the po­ten­tial to dam­age or stain the un­der­ly­ing gel coat.

Re­mov­ing a wrap is fairly sim­ple and re­quires noth­ing more than ba­sic tools, strong fin­gers and a heat gun. Most own­ers eas­ily re­move their wraps them­selves if need be, but wrap com­pa­nies will also per­form the task for a nom­i­nal fee.

The Cost

Per­haps the big­gest ques­tion about boat wraps is the cost. Again, it de­pends. Some bass boat wrap com­pa­nies of­fer pricing as low as $1,000. How­ever, buy­ers should go in ask­ing ques­tions to make sure none of the im­por­tant steps are be­ing skipped. For the most ex­treme wraps with the best lam­i­nates and qual­ity cus­tom work, buy­ers may need to fork over in ex­cess of $4,000.

But, like just about ev­ery­thing else in bass fish­ing, noth­ing cool is cheap.

It takes a skilled hand and care­ful pro­ce­dure to get the de­tails of a wrap just right.

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