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  #1  
Old 02-24-2009
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Inflatable life vest leak test

Hi all,
So I have this 10 year old set of SOSpenders, auto/manual inflation, with built-in harness. It's in excellent apparent condition, because I hardly used it, and not at all for the last 5 years or so. It's been in its carry bag while stored in a clean dry place.

I'll need a harness and auto/manul life vest when we bring our boat home this Spring. I'd like to avoid buying a new one, but will of course if necessary.

Sooooo, I knew I would have to rearm (replace the pill, CO2, etc.), and I knew I had to leak test this one to be sure it's OK. So I put it on, and pulled the ripcord--worked perfectly (it was also amusing). The manual said to leave it overnight to see if it's "still firm in the morning".

Well, in the morning, after about 12 hours sitting, I could tell it wasn't quite as firm as it was to start, but it still had good shape. By 12 hours after that (24 hours total), it was getting softer, and was noticably loosing its shape. I would be skeptical that in the +24 state it would be safe.

This SEEMS to me to have failed the test. But then I was wondering--how long is this thing supposed to hold air? I'd really like it to hold air for a LONG TIME. But I don't want to buy a new one if this is the way they all are.

Does anyone know--did this vest fail the leak test? Or are they all like this--really only meant to last for 12 hours?

I appreciate your help!
-J
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Old 02-24-2009
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Yes, it failed. Should be holding air longer than that. I don't like using the ripcord to inflate them to test them, since inflating them manually is gentler to the fabric and such.
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Old 02-24-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josrulz View Post
...But then I was wondering--how long is this thing supposed to hold air?
A little bit longer than it takes to get rescued, or to die of hypothermia, whichever comes first.

But seriously, I have always assumed they would need to be "topped off" periodically via the oral inflation tube.

Along with puncture issues, this is another reason why some folks stick with closed cell foam. But I switched to an inflatable because I'd rather have a 24-hour inflatable that's comfortable to wear, than a fail-safe closed cell foam jacket that's disappearing over the horizon with my boat.
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Old 02-24-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
I'd rather have a 24-hour inflatable that's comfortable to wear, than a fail-safe closed cell foam jacket that's disappearing over the horizon with my boat.
I have to agree with JohnRPollard 100%! We have two excellent Mustang inflatables with built in harnesses. We have also bought two more without harnesses. The new ones are lighter and we do wear them, almost all the time. When needed, we either, also put on a harness (the rings are higher in the chest area on a harness) or we switch to the heavier ones with the harnesses.

I am in no way related to Mustang Survival- but, as a boater, ya gotta love a company who's byline is "We save lives for a living!"
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Well OK, so I just pulled out the life vest again. It's now been 41 hours since I inflated it originally. Now, we all know that if there's a tiny leak, once it gets down to less pressure, it probably stops leaking for the most part.

Anyway, I put it back on, opened the inflation tube, breathed in two and a half full breaths and it's completely topped off again.

Hmmm....

I'll top it off again tonight, then see how it is again after 12 hours, and see how much air it takes from me to top it off.

It seems to me, the question is--how much topping off is normal, with the vest just sitting (not being worn, in the water--no "load" on it)?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rikhall View Post
I have to agree with JohnRPollard 100%! We have two excellent Mustang inflatables with built in harnesses. We have also bought two more without harnesses. The new ones are lighter and we do wear them, almost all the time. When needed, we either, also put on a harness (the rings are higher in the chest area on a harness) or we switch to the heavier ones with the harnesses.

I am in no way related to Mustang Survival- but, as a boater, ya gotta love a company who's byline is "We save lives for a living!"
I agree with you guys about wearing one.

Here's the deal--we plan to buy some comfortable, new, non-harness vests for wearing in general on the Chesapeake. But I need one with a harness for our trip down from New England to the Chesapeake. I'd LIKE to avoid buying a new harness model (if this one will do), since I'm already going to buy a non-harness model for around the Bay. I think for Bay sailing, I'll be more likely to wear it if it's light weight (sans harness).

I suppose an alternative would be to buy a new non-harness model now, then buy a separate harness just for the trip. But it is nice to use the all-in-one setup. I'd like to use this vest I own for my coastal trip, but obviously NOT if it's really failing the leak test.

By the way, I assume failing the leak test means it's garbage, correct? You don't get these things repaired, do you?
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Old 02-24-2009
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Personally, I would save your $$$$ and just use the harness one ALL the time. ALL of my Mustang inflatables have harness's. I will not buy one for my boat without the harness. The what, extra lb or so for the harness versions are nothing in the overall scheme of things. besides, that much easier to install the tether when the time comes.

To me anyway, it appears to have stayed ok, but an email to Mustang or manufacture equal if still around, let them know the results, and see what they say. Then again, as mentioned, how full should they stay in 24hrs? with out the person attached not manually adding some air at times. Especially here in Puget sound with the water temp at 40-45F, some shrinkage might occur due to the cooling of the air in the bladder of the LV.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by blt2ski View Post
Personally, I would save your $$$$ and just use the harness one ALL the time. ALL of my Mustang inflatables have harness's. I will not buy one for my boat without the harness. The what, extra lb or so for the harness versions are nothing in the overall scheme of things. besides, that much easier to install the tether when the time comes.

To me anyway, it appears to have stayed ok, but an email to Mustang or manufacture equal if still around, let them know the results, and see what they say. Then again, as mentioned, how full should they stay in 24hrs? with out the person attached not manually adding some air at times. Especially here in Puget sound with the water temp at 40-45F, some shrinkage might occur due to the cooling of the air in the bladder of the LV.

Marty
I hear you. When we go to actually buy them, we'll try them on to compare. We just won't have much use for harnesses on the Bay. We won't sail at night much if at all, and it's not like I'll have jacklines run most of the time. But if the vests are comfortable enough with the harness, then we'll get them. I just want to make sure people are wearing them, and not skipping it because they're bulkier/clankier. Keep in mind, the only thing I have to compare this to are my 1999 SOSpenders, which I likely not as comfortable as newer options.
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Old 02-24-2009
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hey jos if you are not going to use it i will take it off your hands. i only have the cheap orange ones, which i dont wear but do have around. i would bet even with it leaking you could swim across the bay before it deflates.

honestly keep it on board as a spare or add some weight and some velcro and use it as a non approved throwable, its better than nothing for a throwable, and i would bet it can be thrown farther than a horse shoe one
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I prefer to have the PFDs with integrated harnesses, as it makes it a lot simpler to get in and out of the gear. The primary one I use is a SpinLock DeckPro, and it has a great integrated harness.
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