Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wing Washing

Just to give you guys a heads up, SkyMai, my daughter Maile, is doing a Science Fair project on paragliding wing material durability.

She is getting swatches from various manufacturers and is going to introduce them to the elements salt, sun, water and beating the crap out of it like we do. She is actually following some manufacturer tests, but Hawaiian style.

Reaper has ordered her some swatches and we will see what happens. Hey, if she does a good one we'll just have to publish the results here.

Anyway that was the background. She started doing the research the other day and was reading to me out loud how detrimental salt, dirt and our humidity is to our precious addictive attachments.

I started to grow concerned. I love my Sport 4. I want it to have a healthy long life, and listening to her alert me to these facts was, frankly, freaking me out. I decided it was time for my treasured wing that has seen me through thick and thin to have a bath.

I was not sure on the procedures, but after consulting the internet and various experts on island, I decided to give it a go. (Thanks for your inputs.)

I flew Kahana with Alex and Harvey, and the picture above is me looking down on Alex's wing - I had to take it, since when his new appendage arrives we'll be done seeing this. I landed after two hours, and stuck my Sport 4 in the stuff sack because I knew it would soon be coming out when I got home. I had to pick up SkySurfer and SkyMai on the way home and did some kiting in their playground to clear out all the loose debris.

Well, a few wings have been rinsed in my backyard but never dunked in a tub full of Woolite. The line was set and it was time to dunk the wing, lines and risers. I felt like the Sport 4 was looking at me like a dog reluctant to take a bath, but I forced it in. SkySurfer, daughter Kalei, was my assistant.

OH... MY....GOD !!!! After swooshing it around and pulling it in and out, the water turned to mud. It was disgusting, not as disgusting as my truck, another story, but very filthy water.

It was a job to get it into the bin I was using. I think a bigger bin would be better. I laid some plastic down on the yard to start the unraveling process to get it on the line to rinse and dry.

Thanks to some hooks that Maui Doug made for his wash, the wing hung nicely on the line from palm tree to palm tree. While I was rinsing Donna came home. "Holy $&!^! Did you land in the water again???" "No", I said, "Maile's project freaked me out, and after looking at the wash water, it was way over due."

It took awhile and it started to get dark, but while sitting in the hot tub staring at the wing waving through the spot lights, it already looked brighter. God, I know it has to be lighter in weight - I filled a pot hole in my yard with mud.

Well, it is drying out there tonight on the line by itself, and I hope it will be okay. It better be - I wanna fly.

I will keep you posted on the performance stats after washing, and SkyMai's report will be coming out by year end.

It's Time to Fly, Get Your 'Dirty' Gear and Go !!!!!


JeffMc said...

Cool, Thom - I bet you'll be pleased with the results! I just did mine a couple weeks ago as a matter of fact. I use a large outdoor plastic trash can (55 gal?). I soak once with a small bottle of Woolite for a few hours or even overnight. Then I empty the dirty water and rinse it by refilling and soaking in fresh water 3 or 4 times. I do it about once a year.


DaveZ said...

What a great project Thom, I look forward to seeing her results!

James Bender said...

Another thing to consider if you have performance probs is line shinkage. You may have to stretch the lines. Reaper can tell you how to do this. Not really a big deal. All the different types of fabric, even the type of thread, shinks at a differently. Good luck!!
Do you still rent a room in your house?

Thom said...


It is clean & crispy and yes I am doing the line stretching per information gathered using weights and pulleys.

I did not soak it over night but did a constant flip and spin to release the MUD salt etc.
Hung it on the line and rinsed it and gave it a colon cleanse up each cell.

This morning it was crispy dry and ready to FLY

Sharky said...

I've washed my wing twice and both were great experiences. Sidehills Wayward ParaWashing service was the most recent. But prior to that the last time I landed in the bay I had the easiest time washing my wing in a temporary 10-12ft kids baptism pool they had put up at Hope Chapel. It was just a set of interlocking metal sheets with construction sheeting to act as the "pool".

After the kids were done I offered to empty the pool ...of course after I'd washed my wing. It was only 2ft deep but I was able to jump in with the glider and give everything a good scrubdown. Then drove to Sandy's and kited it dry. It felt like a 10 ton pig wet, but it dried pretty quick.

In between then and my last dunking I used to use the advice Reaper gave me for wing "flossing". Just hit Sandy's or Kualoa in the morning while the dew is still on the grass and there's some wind, and kite your wing! It's a mini scrub for your wing and I've always had it come out cleaner than when I brought it! For those of you not into dunking your gliders, this may be a great alternative.

Thanks Tom for the update! Your wing looks pretty bright in the pic you took of it hanging.


Puka Wai said...

s, it's amazing how much dirt can accumulate on a wing. I washed mine in the bathtub and then took it outside in a large trashbag to hang it up to hose it off and let it dry. This also kept the lines from getting wet, so no restretching needed. Alas, if there is any white on the wing and it meets Hawaii red dirt then it will never be white again. This was made clear when I laid my "clean" wing on a Chamonix glacier!

Anonymous said...

I have never seen anyone from a fabric manufacturer or a glider company ever recommend washing a wing. I am also skeptical that loading up lines can actually keep them stretched.

Having said that I have dunked a few wings over the years. The last one, I just jumped in a swimming pool with, agitated and hung it out to dry. It looked great and flew fine, ask Scrappy, he still flys the G-Force.

I have even stretched the lines on one side of a glider only, expecting to feel a difference, I never noticed anything.

My two cents.

Fireman Dave