Gumotex: An European Kayaking Marvel Unveiled!
Now, for those of you living outside the Old Continent, the name Gumotex might not ring any bells. It’s a brand that has been crafting top-tier kayaks for over seven decades, and you’ll be astounded to learn that it’s located a mere stone’s throw away from our very own Dale’s Boats headquarters. Talk about a fortuitous proximity!
Intrigued by the whispers of Gumotex’s remarkable craftsmanship, we wasted no time reaching out to them. Our initiation into the world of Gumotex began with a delightful encounter with Petr, a dedicated Gumotex employee. Petr welcomed us with open arms at the Tulin boat show in Austria, where we engaged in a riveting discussion about the meticulous artistry that goes into creating their waterborne marvels. Needless to say, we couldn’t resist the temptation to witness the magic firsthand. With uncontainable excitement, I asked Petr, “When can we embark on a grand factory tour?”
And so, after a nail-biting three-week wait, we found ourselves standing in the colossal expanse of one of the largest factory clusters we’d ever laid eyes upon—a sight that would make even the automotive industry envious. Trust me, folks, navigating these sprawling manufacturing premises without the aid of GPS would be a Herculean task. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Gumotex’s domain even boasts its very own theater! Yes, you heard that right—a theater within a boat-making haven!
But enough about the magnificent scale, let’s finish up our coffee and cheeky Gumotex chocolates and dive into the nitty-gritty of this epic boat-building journey.
A Google Maps View of the Gumotex Site
From Nature to Nautical
Well, almost. Our voyage commenced in the mixing building, where colossal mixers, reminiscent of buses, played host to the marriage of natural and synthetic rubbers. These mammoth contraptions, with the power to handle a mere 100 kilograms of rubber per batch, subjected the concoction to scorching temperatures of 150 degrees Celsius, resulting in a thick rubber compound.
Natural rubber waiting to meet its impending doom in 'the mixer'
The motor from the mixer, this is as tall as me!
A rubber blend after mixing
Now, here’s where things get interesting. The rubber, transformed into a smooth tube-like substance, goes through a mesmerizing process of being infused with sulphur—essential for the subsequent vulcanization process. Witnessing this rubber alchemy unfold before our eyes was nothing short of awe-inspiring. What started as a hulking mass of rubber was gradually metamorphosing into a malleable strip that held the promise of becoming something extraordinary.
The huge rollers used to smooth out the rubber
This was amazing to see, the huge roll of rubber is transformed into a thin strip that travels several metres to the 'stacker'
Last but not least, the rubber goes through the process of ‘stacking’. It heads over to another set of rollers where it is squashed to a uniform width, and then stacked ready for transport.
Here's one we prepared earlier
The Pulse of the Product
Our journey through Gumotex’s mystical manufacturing realm led us to a sprawling edifice that housed the preparation of the inner layer of rubber-coated fabric—a vital element in the construction of their esteemed kayaks.
But before any progress could be made, Gumotex ensured that each roll of fabric was subjected to meticulous thickness tests. Sure, the process may be slow, but as Radek Pochyli, a seasoned Gumotex Project Manager, explained, this stringent quality control ensures the longevity of your beloved boat. Any fabric that doesn’t meet their exacting standards is swiftly discarded.
Fabric Thickness being Tested
Now, it was time to merge rubber with fabric. The rubber, diluted into a solvent and infused with a dash of pigment, transformed into a liquid rubber concoction that is easily soaked into the fabric, giving birth to a harmonious union.
The liquid rubber mix
The fabric before coating
The fabric after coating
Noemi enjoying her tour of the factory!
What you see, is what you get
The final steps in fabric preparation took place in one of Gumotex’s newest production lines—a sight that could easily be mistaken for a high-tech ship rather than a mere assembly line. It is here that the outer layer of your Gumotex kayak or canoe materializes.
The Rubber Ship
The previously prepared fabric, now infused with liquid rubber, is loaded into the machine. As the fabric descends, a thick layer of rubber is firmly pressed into the weave, resulting in a robust and resilient material that exudes confidence in the face of any aquatic adventure.
The rubber being loaded before being pressed into the fabric
A finished roll of 'Gumotex'
But hold on tight, folks! Our journey is far from over.
We have arrived at the culmination of all this hard work—the birth of a stunning kayak, canoe, or raft. This is where Gumotex’s masterful craftsmanship truly shines, and I must admit, it’s the most intricate step of the entire process.
The roll of material takes centre stage. A “non-stick” layer is carefully printed on the insides of the pontoon areas, ensuring effortless inflation—because let’s face it, a kayak that refuses to inflate is no kayak at all!
In a delicate dance, skilled workers strategically place reinforcement strips at specific locations on the kayak material. Once complete, another layer of rubber is applied, and the assembly undergoes a final press, firmly fusing the pieces together. More workers jump in with razor sharp blades to trim the rubber with surgical precision. The result? A masterpiece that is beginning to bear an uncanny resemblance to something that might float.
It's getting steamy
The fabric must now undergo the transformative process of vulcanization, where the rubber reaches its ultimate composition. Racks upon racks of soon-to-be kayaks embark on a steamy journey within a colossal steam oven, where they are carefully “cooked” for an hour. Following this intense session, they are swiftly moved to a cooling tank to halt the process and ensure perfection.
The Steam Oven
Like peas in a pod
Sew, Sew, Sew my boat
The grand finale awaits at the sewing and final prep department—a realm that leaves no room for mediocrity. Here, the prepared rolls of kayaks ascend to new heights as they undergo expert stitching, with handles and accessories meticulously glued into place. The valves, essential for inflating and deflating with ease, are seamlessly installed, ensuring a hassle-free experience for avid water-goers.
At this stage, you really see the boats come together. The last stage is the testing department. Every aspect of the boats are tested, including all the components, for at least 24 hours. The pressure is measured before and then after, with a strict allowance for lost pressure.
The testing section
Everything is tested, even the smallest parts
With every element scrutinized and fine-tuned, the boats are meticulously packaged, brimming with anticipation to embark on their global odyssey.
At Dale’s Boats, we take immense pride in being the proud purveyors of Gumotex’s exceptional creations, offering free worldwide delivery. If you’re still pondering why we wholeheartedly chose Gumotex, I invite you to quench your curiosity by delving into our detailed blog post on the subject. And if you’re ready to explore the complete range of Gumotex boats that await your command, simply click here!
Remember, we’re always at your service, eager to answer any questions or assist you in any way we can. Feel free to reach out to us via email or phone—we relish the opportunity to connect with fellow water enthusiasts like yourself.
So, fellow adventurers, seize the opportunity to experience the wonders of Gumotex’s watercraft and embark on unforgettable journeys that will redefine your relationship with the open waters. Happy boating!