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Old 07-02-2018, 14:19   #1
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Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

I have several old self inflatable life jackets with the air cylinders.

I have some questions.

1. Is it SAFE to unscrew the air cylinders to replace them ? They are corroded so I believe they may be empty but if not can they explode when unscrewing them ?

2. I was thinking of doing a test by inflating the life jacket manually and if it holds air then replace the air cylinder with a new one. Any problems ?

My main concern is the air cylinders are so corroded I will need use force to unscrew them and I dont want any possible explosion !!!!!


Thanks

arch
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Old 07-02-2018, 14:37   #2
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

Quote:
Originally Posted by arch007 View Post
I have several old self inflatable life jackets with the air cylinders.

I have some questions.

1. Is it SAFE to unscrew the air cylinders to replace them ? They are corroded so I believe they may be empty but if not can they explode when unscrewing them ?

2. I was thinking of doing a test by inflating the life jacket manually and if it holds air then replace the air cylinder with a new one. Any problems ?

My main concern is the air cylinders are so corroded I will need use force to unscrew them and I dont want any possible explosion !!!!!

Thanks

arch

Hi, if in doubt pull the firing toggle, you will soon know if the cylinders are full or not You are going to replace them anyway.
The test procedure is replace cylinder, using a little grease on the thread, firmly not super tight then manually inflate using the mouthpiece and leave inflated for 24 hours, if the vest remains inflated then all is good to go, if not then say your farewell and dispose. Mark the date of test on the jacket and repeat one year later.
Cheers
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Old 08-02-2018, 04:22   #3
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

Quote:
Originally Posted by arch007 View Post
I have several old self inflatable life jackets with the air cylinders.

I have some questions.

1. Is it SAFE to unscrew the air cylinders to replace them ? They are corroded so I believe they may be empty but if not can they explode when unscrewing them ?

2. I was thinking of doing a test by inflating the life jacket manually and if it holds air then replace the air cylinder with a new one. Any problems ?

My main concern is the air cylinders are so corroded I will need use force to unscrew them and I dont want any possible explosion !!!!!


Thanks

arch
The cylinders are filled w C02 which is not explosive. At most you will get a sudden release of C02, but not an explosion. Wear saftey glasses in case that blows some debri your way.

You could pull the manual inflation mechanism to inflate them, then let them sit inflated for 24 hours to test.
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Old 08-02-2018, 21:46   #4
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

I don't know Arch, if they were mine I'd just toss 'em and get new jackets. Personally, those new inflatables look really cool hanging at West Marine, and it seems everyone's getting them, but growing up in the whitewater business and actually having to use PFDs, and swim in them, I am sticking with my ol' reliable non-inflatable paddling jacket. But I am betting the new inflatables are much better and probably worth the expense rather than fitting old jackets with new cartridges.
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Old 08-02-2018, 22:52   #5
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

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Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
Hi, if in doubt pull the firing toggle, you will soon know if the cylinders are full or not You are going to replace them anyway.
The test procedure is replace cylinder, using a little grease on the thread, firmly not super tight then manually inflate using the mouthpiece and leave inflated for 24 hours, if the vest remains inflated then all is good to go, if not then say your farewell and dispose. Mark the date of test on the jacket and repeat one year later.
Cheers
Exactly! and the weight is normally stamped on the cylinders (at least on mine). I unscrew them yearly and weigh them to make sure they are full.
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Old 09-02-2018, 09:04   #6
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

I just did this on a 25-year old Sospenders inflatable. I actually tested in the water. The lifejacket inflated perfectly and held air beautifully, so it is fully operational.

However, when I went to re-arm it, I was able to replace the CO2 canister easily, but could not find the right bobin. I looked online and got one from Landfall, which on their site they were saying it would fit the Sospenders model I have, but still it was not the correct one.

I think that may be the one issue you will face, depending on the model you have, you may not find the right bobin. I did not want to throw away a perfectly functional inflatable life jacket, but in retrospect chasing the right bobin is probably not worth it...
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Old 09-02-2018, 09:31   #7
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don C L View Post
I don't know Arch, if they were mine I'd just toss 'em and get new jackets. Personally, those new inflatables look really cool hanging at West Marine, and it seems everyone's getting them, but growing up in the whitewater business and actually having to use PFDs, and swim in them, I am sticking with my ol' reliable non-inflatable paddling jacket. But I am betting the new inflatables are much better and probably worth the expense rather than fitting old jackets with new cartridges.
I disagree and once you actually use a good offshore inflatable with a built in offshore harness and use jackline vs your current foam units you will be a convert for life. ( I was)
just go to west marine with model number and purchase rearm kit.
A heck of a lot cheaper than a new 100 or more unit . ( if you decide to replace the current units let me know I will be happy to take the old ones off your hands )
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Old 09-02-2018, 09:33   #8
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

Dear Arch
I'm not sure what country your in?
I work for a lifejacket manufacturer, as a service technician, which I will not mention(not wanting to sound biased etc.!) in the UK.
I would recommend you take them to a service station to be inspected and re-armed.
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Old 09-02-2018, 09:38   #9
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

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Originally Posted by FabioC View Post
I just did this on a 25-year old Sospenders inflatable. I actually tested in the water. The lifejacket inflated perfectly and held air beautifully, so it is fully operational.

However, when I went to re-arm it, I was able to replace the CO2 canister easily, but could not find the right bobin. I looked online and got one from Landfall, which on their site they were saying it would fit the Sospenders model I have, but still it was not the correct one.

I think that may be the one issue you will face, depending on the model you have, you may not find the right bobin. I did not want to throw away a perfectly functional inflatable life jacket, but in retrospect chasing the right bobin is probably not worth it...
The original SOSpenders were not Coast Guard approved. You could use them, but they would not meet the carriage requirements even if wearing them. If I recall correctly one of the issues was the inflating mechanism, as a result the original model and the mechanism were discontinued. Replacement bobbins are now hard if not impossible to find.
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Old 09-02-2018, 10:15   #10
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

Quote:
Originally Posted by arch007 View Post
I have several old self inflatable life jackets with the air cylinders.

I have some questions.

1. Is it SAFE to unscrew the air cylinders to replace them ? They are corroded so I believe they may be empty but if not can they explode when unscrewing them ?

2. I was thinking of doing a test by inflating the life jacket manually and if it holds air then replace the air cylinder with a new one. Any problems ?

My main concern is the air cylinders are so corroded I will need use force to unscrew them and I dont want any possible explosion !!!!!


Thanks

arch
It sounds as if you have circa WWII Mae Wests. I'd dedicate them to the scrap heap.
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Old 09-02-2018, 17:40   #11
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

I just tested two older jackets that looked like new. I used the original cartridgees and emerged them in a deep sink. Both jackets leaked all around the seams and were flat in five minutes. I recommend testing with a CO2 bottle not by oral inflation. It is not likely you would be able to orally split the seams.
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Old 09-02-2018, 17:53   #12
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

I just recently tested my 4 year old automatic & manual life jackets. They both worked great, I was amazed how fast the automatic one inflated. I bought new rearming kits and they were easy to do
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Old 09-02-2018, 18:06   #13
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

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Originally Posted by Gordon Henry View Post
I just tested two older jackets that looked like new. I used the original cartridgees and emerged them in a deep sink. Both jackets leaked all around the seams and were flat in five minutes. I recommend testing with a CO2 bottle not by oral inflation. It is not likely you would be able to orally split the seams.
you know them up and use them as a hemorrhoid ring for a couple hours. Any defects will show up .
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Old 09-02-2018, 19:26   #14
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

If buying new, look into the Spinlock Deckvest. Not the least expensive, but certainly the most comfortable.
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Old 09-02-2018, 19:33   #15
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Re: Advise please old self inflatable life jacket

Quote:
Originally Posted by arch007 View Post
I have several old self inflatable life jackets with the air cylinders.

I have some questions.

1. Is it SAFE to unscrew the air cylinders to replace them ? They are corroded so I believe they may be empty but if not can they explode when unscrewing them ?

2. I was thinking of doing a test by inflating the life jacket manually and if it holds air then replace the air cylinder with a new one. Any problems ?

My main concern is the air cylinders are so corroded I will need use force to unscrew them and I dont want any possible explosion !!!!!


Thanks

arch
What make/model and how old?

Personally, and just going on the information provided, i would bin (dispose of correctly) them and get new, the market is loaded with inflatable life jackets to suit most budgets that it's not worth mucking around with the unknown.

But if you are still keen on saving them then get them checked out professionally, remember it may not be you that has to rely on it functioning .....
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