The following are our personal procedures, based only on our own experimentation and intended as advice only. If you choose to follow our procedures you accept full responsibility for your own safety and equipment. This is a delicate procedure that takes quite a bit of trial-by-error and and skill. The manufacturer’s website contains valuable product information and is found at protective.ansell.com
Another useful reference is Stuck on Adhesives by Chris Gabel, Ocean Eye, Inc.
All of that being said, we hope you find this informative and benefit from our experience.
You must prepare your gluing surfaces for the best possible bond on both the drysuit and the hood itself. The bell (bottom portion) of the latex hood will cover your neck seal so ensure it is in serviceable condition. We do this by roughing the areas with a die-grinding tool (such as a Dremel) but an abrasive surface (such as sand paper) will do the trick. Find something to put in your suit that will take the wrinkles out of the neck seal and provides a flat gluing surface. We use the rim of a construction hardhat stuffed inside the body of the suit. Other common options are large scuba tanks, K-bottles or really whatever you can find that will yield the shape you’re after. Electrical tape is a very useful tool for holding things in position. Remember to put the sticky side out as the tape can damage the latex.
From here on out you will be handling hazardous substances and should utilize proper personal protection measures. This includes adequate ventilation, absence of ignition sources and use of eye protection and nitrile gloves. Additional discipline must be followed to not cross-contaminate your consumables or poison yourself. The general rule is that the more toxic the glue, the better it works. Please ensure you respect this stuff and follow safety protocols. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are available online for all of these substances. Please do your research.
After the glue surface has been roughed up it is important to clean the area. Thoroughly brush away the loose material from the roughening process away then clean with acetone, allow for the surfaces to dry (this doesn’t take long). Try not to touch this surface again prior to gluing to ensure cleanliness. If it does get dirty, simply treat it with acetone again.
Prepare the glue. This is a commercial-grade product, use at your own risk. We use Viking glue and associated hardener for the vulcanized rubber suits we dive for commercial applications. This glue is very strong, durable and flexible but there is a variety of options out there for different materials and manufacturers, be to sure to have the right adhesive for your suit for the purposes of this article I will run you through the Viking glue process. To mix the glue use a small plastic container (I will usually cut the bottom of a flat bottomed bottle) and pour in a measure of glue. The ratio of glue to hardener is about half a cup for 10-15 drops. The consistency of the glue should go from semiclear to opaque when the appropriate amount of hardener has been added. This is a very delicate step and it is very easy to accidentally add more hardener than you want. Holding a thin, cleaned knife blade across the mouth of the small bottle will help you add drops more precisely. Additionally, the hardener is the most toxic substance in this process and getting this stuff on your skin can be very harmful and ingesting any of it accidentally can easily kill you. Be safe.
Apply the glue to both the hood and the suit. Allow for the glue to dry in between coats (10-15 min) before applying another glue layer. Two or three layers of the glue should be sufficient, look for even distribution on both surfaces.
*Note* latex tends to roll up during this process, try to keep the glue surface from rolling onto itself, which will activate the glue
When the last coat of glue becomes tacky to the touch the installation of the hood is ready. This process can be done with one person but an extra set of hands makes it much easier. Line the opening of the hood with the center of the chest on the suit, this is a good place to start to ensure proper hood orientation. The hood is manufactured flat so a fold aids alignment. Apply heat with a heat gun (not too much that the suit/hood are damaged) to activate the glue. Hair dryers are often a preferable alternative to industrial heat guns because it is much harder to damage your suit with a dryer. Torching a hole through brand new expensive dive gear is about the worst feeling ever. From this point slowly add heat as you place the two adhesion zones together. Remember that this glue is extremely strong and once the two surfaces have adhered together they are extremely difficult to separate. Move slowly and patiently to get the best results.
Once the hood has been placed onto the suit use a rolling tool and light heat to roll out any air bubbles that may have been trapped in the process.