You know that feeling when you are out on a rainy day, and the water starts working its way up your sleeves. Soon your sweater is soaked up to your elbows. Even worse if you are working with your hands above your head.
One particularly rainy day I was doing just that, and as water was streaming down my arms, heading for my shoes on the inside of my raingear, I thought "Enough. I can do better than this". As I do a lot of scuba diving, the idea of adding wrist seals easily sprang up.
Step 1: What You'll Need
To modify your raincoat, you only need a few simple tools.
- A pair of latex wrist seals
-Two empty bottles or other sylindrical objects with the same aproximate diameter as you raincoat sleeves.
- Cotton swab/ rag or similar
- Two component contact glue (I use Beaver aquabond)
- Sand paper ( around 240 grit)
- Paper cup
- Wallpaper roller (optional)
Latex seals can be purchassed in dive stores or on ebay. Make sure you get the right size for you.
Step 2: Prepare the Raincoat
The first thing you should do is to turn the coat inside out and put the bottles into the sleeves as pictured. This should be a tight fit. If the coat cuffs are not streched, it is going to be hard to do a good glue job. As you can see on the picture, I had to increase the diameter of my bottles by adding a little cardboard and some ducttape.
Now you need to wipe of what is going to be your glueing surface with acetone, or some other solvent. Glue doesn't stick well to greasy surfaces. Now is a good time to put on gloves, both to protect you from solvents, and to protect your work from the fat on your fingers.
Make sure to do this job in a well ventilated space. Outside is perfect.
Step 3: Prepare the Latex Seals
Now put the latex seals on the bottles. They have one shiny side and one matte side. The shiny side is the outside, so put this side against the bottles. Pull the seals up to where you want them on the sleeves of the raincoat. Fold the seals back about 2 cm. This is going to be your glue surface.
To make the glue adhere well to the latex, you need to sand it lightly to rough up the surface. After sanding, wipe of fat and latex dust with acetone.
Step 4: Apply Glue
Mix the glue as per instructions on the box. I usually do this in a paper cup, as the glue melts most plastic cups.
You don't have to use contact glue, but it is highly recommended. The glue I'm using is purpose made for latex seals. It has the advantage that when the seals are eventually worn out, it is fairly easy to pull them of and put on a new pair. A raincoat should outlive manny pairs of wrist seals. With other kinds of glue, you also risk that the seals move before the glue sets and end up in strange positions.
Apply the glue in several coats on both surfaces. Don't be afraid to put the glue on a bit beyond the actual glue surface on the rain coat sleeves. this will ensure that the seals sit well.
When you can touch the glue without getting any of it on your glove, it is ready for a new coat. This happens fast, and by the time you are done with the second sleeve, you can usually start on the first again. I usually apply three coats of glue. Make sure to apply a little extra over seams so there will be no gaps.
Step 5: Roll On
When the glue is dry enough to touch after the last application, it is time to roll the seals on. You should go slow and steady with this step. This is contact glue, so once the surfaces meet, there is no going back.
Roll the latex seals slowly back over the sleeves by pushing them back a little at the time. Rotate the bottle and push all around. Don't try to rush it by pushing all the way up on one side before you push on the other side. Latex is very flexible, so this will only end with folds and an impropper seal.
When the seals are rolled all the way back, apply pressure to make sure the two glue surfaces meet up perfectly. This is where the walpaper roller is very handy.
Leave it to dry. As this is contact glue, you could theoretically use it straight away. However, experience has shown that it is best to leave it for a few hours, or preferably to the next day.
Step 6: Bind Excess Glue
Most probably there is exposed glue left somewhere on the seals or sleeves. This stuff works for increadibly long after you think it is dry (yes, that is the voice of experience speaking). To bind this excess glue and prevent the arms from glueing shut, rub on some talc, corn starch, flour or other powdery substance.
Step 7: Use and Enjoy
Now you are ready to greet the heaviest rainfalls with arms towards the skies. You can even show the clouds the middle finger without getting a drop down your sleeve.
Out fishing or picking clams? No problem. You can plunge your arms into water up to you elbows and still stay perfectly dry.
To preserve the wrist seals as long as possible, it is smart to use some kind of dry lubricant like talc, corn starch or potato starch on the insides before you put them on.
The oils in your skin eat up latex over time, so it is a good idea to wash the seals with some soap now and then.