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Subject Topic: Leaky cotton tent...oh dear
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Message posted by lynnie75 on 24/4/2014 at 6:23pm
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Hi di hi campers! Right first off an admission we are new guys family of four and are planning our first summer under canvas. Tent is a used outwell yellostone falls. Now we had a test pitch last weekend and the tent seamed to be letting in a bit of water at certain seams. Following advice that I picked up from the trailer tent forum (see these new guys posting in the wrong forums!) I got my hands on some seam sealant and sorted them out. However on advice from outwell I fabsilled the tent but OMG ive went through 7 litres so far and still havent done the roof or the back....IS this normal? Does it mean there is something rotten in Denmark with my used tent? Do I need to put a second coat of this stuff on ? Any and all advice very appreciated. Sure we dont have a clue if we are doing this right.

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Message posted by achy on 24/4/2014 at 6:33pm
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I'm no expert but I suspect you needn't have treated it at all. Poly-cotton and cotton tents need to be 'weathered' to make them water tight. You may have found the next time the tent got wet it was absolutely fine. I would wait for others to answer to let you know what action to take now. Best of luck.

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Message posted by lynnie75 on 24/4/2014 at 7:22pm
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thanks achy. I had given it three good soakings with the hose and there were still drips, the water didnt seem to be "beading off" everywhere, here and there it seemed to soak in. The fella we bought it from had never treated it. Looking on the outwell faqs they say they treat the fabric with repellant and that it does need topping up every so often. Now they say to use water based stuff, but every camper on here seems to reckon if your going to do it do it with fabsil. We are heading to Kerry soon with the kids and cant take the risk of getting soaked. Most of it is done now, but if it needs another coat Ill give it one. If it didnt need it in the first place, hopefully I havent wrecked it. Anyone with any notion of whether Ive fecked it up please shout. Thanks


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Message posted by LightFantastic on 24/4/2014 at 7:23pm
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Seven litres is a heck of a lot for that size of tent when you've not even done the roof or the back.

I reproofed my Conway Crusader FC recently, the whole canvas, and I used about 9 litres, but that was three complete coats, allowing it to dry each time.

How are you applying it? Are you rubbing it into the material as per the instructions on the tin?

This thread may have some useful pointer.

Message posted by Bob61 on 24/4/2014 at 7:37pm
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Geez! 7 litres...must be costing more than the tent!

If the entire tent looked like a limp rag when it got wet then giving it a coat of Fabsil should cause water to bead and run off. This protects the material and will make it last longer. Fabsil also adds UV protection. Small patches where the water seems to have soaked in is normal on most tents (even some new ones) and is not a problem

There would have been no problem if the water wasn't beading providing it wasn't dripping through the material itself but it would take much longer to dry when you are packing up to go home.

Fabsil won't stop the seams leaking. For that you need a seam sealer applied to the seam on the inside of the tent.

I recently did my tent, a polyester Coleman Da Gama 6, and it took 3 x 600ml spray cans.

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Message posted by arsenaldes on 24/4/2014 at 8:31pm
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You may find that you now have to Fabsil every year as it tends to clog the cotton in the fabric and it loses it natural waterproof properties so its only really suggested as a last resort.

Post last edited on 24/04/2014 20:38:29

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Message posted by lynnie75 on 24/4/2014 at 8:39pm
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Hi there, yip costa alotta lolly alright the canvas just sucked it up. It went nowhere. Now should I/do I have to do the rest? I sealed the leaky seams so they are much better, no more leaks. This tent had belonged to a family with three kids and had done a lot of very hot weather trips inc 3 weeks in Italy and there are some lose threads here and there and the fabric is a bit on the faded side...another reason for the fabsil. We would like to get a good few years out of the tent and are hoping if we fabsil it (every year? every two years?) then we can depend on it for another ten years. Is this a bit hopeful? So should i do another coat? Does it really need it? Light fantastic I rubbed it in with a paintbrush but it didnt really require any rubbing it just got sucked up by the fabric is best way to put it.

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Message posted by lynnie75 on 24/4/2014 at 8:47pm
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Light fantastic, the thread you recommended used three coats, holy moly if ive to give it three it will cost me a fortune. How does this sound for an idea. Im going to leave it up till next big belt of rain...if it doesnt leak...no more coats. Any leaks recoat. Does this sound like a plan that might work? Or do you reckon its case of "you have started so you best finish?"Sont mind redoing every year. Time wise it didnt take me any longer than a couple of hours and I want to be able to sleep peacefully in Kerry and not have to worry too much about the rain coming in on top of us.

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Message posted by Bob61 on 24/4/2014 at 8:57pm
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I must admit I know little about canvas or polycotton but I do know canvas tents need to get wet to be waterproof. I also know that some people regularly Fabsil their canvas tents.

I was of the opinion that polycotton tents were similar to polyester tents with regards to a waterproofing film on the outside which can wear off after prolonged use or extreme weather conditions, as can the UV protection.

If that is correct and your tent is polycotton then you have not particularly done anything wrong by replacing the silicon outer protection and how often you wish to reproof it (if ever) depends on what it is like in a year or two's time. There are no time limits or rules.

Since you have started I would finish so that you know the whole tent has been treated.

Obviously if my opinion is wrong I am happy to be corrected.

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Message posted by lynnie75 on 24/4/2014 at 9:04pm
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Thanks bob61 the yellowstone falls is cotton that has been treated with repellant by outwell before sale. The consensus seems to be that if its untreated cotton (never treated) then leave well alone. But these are treated by the manufacturers and they do say if it needs it do it (albeit with something water based so to me useless silicone wont disolve in water) fabsil seams the popular choice. The trouble is its taking so much of the darned stuff. Anyhow another three litres should do it. Then again...more differing advice some folks are saying dont do the roof (leave an area that can breath). Gordon Bennet so many things to think about. And no two opinions the same.


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Message posted by LightFantastic on 24/4/2014 at 9:20pm
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Quote: Originally posted by Bob61 on 24/4/2014
....then you have not particularly done anything wrong by replacing the silicon outer protection and how often you wish to reproof it (if ever) depends on what it is like in a year or two's time. There are no time limits or rules.

Since you have started I would finish so that you know the whole tent has been treated.



Agree, on both counts.

I still can't understand how it's soaked up 7 litres and not even covered the whole tent!, but if you've gone that far as Bob said I'd be inclined to do the whole lot.
Quote: Originally posted by lynnie75 on 24/4/2014
How does this sound for an idea. Im going to leave it up till next big belt of rain...if it doesnt leak...no more coats. Any leaks recoat. Does this sound like a plan that might work?

However I can see that being a preferable option for yourself if you don't want to be spending a fortune on more Fabsil the way it seems to be soaking it up. No harm in letting it get wet, seeing where you're at and then taking it from there.
Quote: Originally posted by arsenaldes on 24/4/2014
You may find that you now have to Fabsil every year as it tends to clog the cotton in the fabric and it loses it natural waterproof properties so its only really suggested as a last resort.

I never quite understand when I read posts like that. I've seen another post where someone said that if you put Fabsil on you will then have to do it every two years, which is nonsense, so to say it may need done every year is just nuts.

If polycotton needs reproofed its because it's already lost it's waterproofness, so putting on Fabsil isn't (can't) make it lose it any more! It will only improve it.

As for clogging the canvas. Eh? How does it clog it up? It's silicone that is adding the water repellency but it still allows the canvas to breath.


Message posted by LightFantastic on 24/4/2014 at 9:23pm
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Just saw your posted as I was typing my previous reply.
Quote: Originally posted by lynnie75 on 24/4/2014
Then again...more differing advice some folks are saying dont do the roof (leave an area that can breath).


Nonsense. If the roof needs doing then do it. You don't need to leave an area to 'breath', the fabric will breath just fine with Fabsil on it.


Message posted by Bob61 on 24/4/2014 at 9:53pm
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Quote: Originally posted by lynnie75 on 24/4/2014Thanks bob61 the yellowstone falls is cotton that has been treated with repellant by outwell before sale. The consensus seems to be that if its untreated cotton (never treated) then leave well alone. But these are treated by the manufacturers and they do say if it needs it do it (albeit with something water based so to me useless silicone wont disolve in water) fabsil seams the popular choice. The trouble is its taking so much of the darned stuff. Anyhow another three litres should do it. Then again...more differing advice some folks are saying dont do the roof (leave an area that can breath). Gordon Bennet so many things to think about. And no two opinions the same.




Right, ok...I have just watched a small video on the Outwell website which states it is pure cotton (not polycotton) which is 'naturally waterproof' but they do put a water repellant treatment on the outside to make the water bead off.

They don't say what that treatment is.

'Naturally waterproof' means that it doesn't need any treatment (even though Outwell have put one on) and once 'weathered' i.e. soaked with water, the fibres tighten up and stop the water coming through. In actual fact what happens is the water forms a 'skin' within the micropores and that stops the water pouring through. That is why you should never touch the inside of a cotton/canvas tent because that breaks the skin of water and allows water to leak through.

The Fabsil I used on my tent is silicon based for polyester. I believe you are saying you were advised to use a water based. There is obviously a difference but I wouldn't know what that is. If you have gone against the advice and used silicon it might have been the wrong stuff.

I have also seen all sorts of conflicting advice re waterproofing...it seems to be a difficult subject. My advice would be to email Outwell and ask them directly...they should know one hopes.

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Message posted by arsenaldes on 24/4/2014 at 9:55pm
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I dont see why you find that strange as if you read the original post you will find OP stated it was only leaking at the seams the fabric was not leaking. The general consensus of opinion with regards polycotton tents is they should only be fabsiled as a last resort as the fabric is naturally waterproof. I also used the word "may" need to be fabsiled every year


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Message posted by Bob61 on 24/4/2014 at 10:01pm
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Outwell Video

Silicon Fabsil It does say it is suitable for canvas tents so no need to worry I don't think

It also states 1ltr will cover up to 18 sq metres of nylon, 7.5 sq metres of light weight canvas and 5 sq metres of medium weight canvas. A light 2 person tent is approx 6 sq metres. That might give you some idea re quantities.

Interesting to note that in the video the presenter states that the outer repellent causes light rain to bead, so if you have been belting it with a hose the beading might not be too apparent - lol.

Having researched it a lot better now my opinion is that it probably didn't need waterproofing but you have done it now and apart from the cost no harm has been done. I would finish it off and if it finally ends up taking 10 litres, one thing is for sure...it will withstand a monsoon!

Post last edited on 24/04/2014 22:27:52

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Message posted by LightFantastic on 24/4/2014 at 10:32pm
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Quote: Originally posted by arsenaldes on 24/4/2014
I dont see why you find that strange as if you read the original post you will find OP stated it was only leaking at the seams the fabric was not leaking. The general consensus of opinion with regards polycotton tents is they should only be fabsiled as a last resort as the fabric is naturally waterproof. I also used the word "may" need to be fabsiled every year



Yes, the OP said it was leaking at the seams, but on the advice of Outwell, for whatever their reason was, the OP then put on Fabsil. It may not have actually needed it, given that it was just seams leaking, but the fact is that he has applied it and so replies have been based on that.
I don't agree that the general consensus is that Fabsil is a last resort. What general consensus?, a few people saying so? Why is it a last resort? It doesn't harm the fabric, it doesn't kill it's waterproofness. It simply restores/adds waterproofness, not to mention adding UV protection which helps prevent canvas/polycotton fading and degrading from sunlight.
The 'issue' I have is people saying, some shouting from the rooftops! (not you BTW!), that the act of applying Fabsil means that you may/will then need to be applying it every one/two years. It's simply nonsense.
I know you said 'may', but I still say that it's incorrect that you 'may' need to apply it every year, you simply won't.

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