Category Archives: Pumps, Valves & PRVs

Fitting 4.8psi (0.33bar) PRVs to Seawave IK sidetubes

Seawave main page
General article covering PRVs
Unexplained Seawave failures ;-/
Testing unbranded PRVs
Servicing and troubleshooting PRVs

My Gumotex Seawave is a well spec’d IK for my sort of coast-hopping and occasional touring, especially as it was factory rated to run at a higher-than-usual 0.25bar or 3.6psi (Gumo normal is 0.2). That means greater rigidity which adds up to less longitudinal sag caused by paddler weight (who, me?!) . And of course a better g l i d e. My previous Amigo and Incept both ran an even higher 0.3 bar, and it’s said that this Gumotex can also be pushed to that sort of pressure on the side tubes without risking damage. Factory hull pressures are set on the conservative side to limit warranty claims.

Like all the Gumboats I’ve owned, the more vulnerable I-beam floor chamber has a factory-fitted PRV set at 0.25bar/3.6psi (confirmed below). PRVs are important here as if an IK gets hot (typically out of the water on a sunny day) internal air pressure can increase to the point where seams might rupture. If separation happens to an internal I-beam in the floor it will balloon up and becomes a very difficult repair. I would not meddle with the factory-set PRV on an I-beam floor.
As we all now know, the answer to I-beam floor limitations is drop-stitch technology – effectively zillions on ‘I-beams’ spreading the load over the entire area which enables much higher pressures.

In a discussion with a French Gumtexer, he suggested that Gumotex use the same orange dot  0.243 PRVs in all their boats, irrespective of the stated official rating which is either ‘0.2’ like most – or ‘0.25’ on the Seawave. He sent me a photo of his 2016 Palava floor PRV (left) – orangey-pink, same as my Seawave and classified by Ceredi as 0.243.
Officially the Palava is a ‘normal pressure’ 0.2 bar canoe. Upshot? Your Gumboat’s floor may be rated at higher pressure than you think or is officially stated. You’d assume then that the tubed sides can easily handle at least as much pressure. Then again, in the table below, Ceredi state the orange PRV  will open between 0.21 and 0.243 so perhaps 0.21 it is and we all just need to calm down a bit.

Guatemala, Fuego volcano, Strombolian eruption

PRVs use springs set to purge air before pressures reach structure-damaging levels. Then again, my Amigo had no PRVs at all so you assume Grabner were confident their floor construction was solid enough to handle occasional neglect. But I’ve been caught out before and always try to ensure a boat remains in the cooling water when moored up on hot days – even getting up to splash the sides as they tighten up like a drum.

cerediprv

Like most IKs with single side tubes, my Seawave had no PRVs as the tubular profile can handle higher pressures better than the flat, ‘lilo’ floor. However, if you’re planning to run them over-pressure as I am suggesting, that could be risky.
The answer: fit PRVs in the side tubes – just like my old twin side tube Incept. That way you can safely leave you IK out of the water in the tropics, go and hike up a volcano (which might be described as ‘the planet’s PRVs’) knowing that all three chambers will harmlessly purge any excess pressure. Sure, when it all cools again back in the water the boat may be saggy, but better a quick top up with your K-Pump than pulling bits of shredded Nitrilon out of the palm trees.
Ideally I was looking for a PRV set at a reasonable 33.33% over the factory figure of 0.25 bar – i.e.: something around 0.33 bar or 4.8psi.

prvcolours
I admit that the colours look pretty close but it’s pinky-orange for the OE floor and red for my 0.33s

Well-known IK valve-makers Leafield and Halkey didn’t make anything matching my needs (or don’t sell to individuals). The Seawave’s valves are stamped ‘Ceredi Italy’ and once I managed to track them down online, I saw the same Ceredi 6600 PRV series came in options including Red 4.78 psi or 0.33 bar, (above right). In the UK they were a special order via IBS and cost £35 a pair posted.

Ceredi prices too steep for you? On eBay I bought unbranded ‘4psi‘ PRVs from China for about £4 a shot and delivered in less than 2 weeks.
Note these are smaller than your Ceredi and require only a 25mm hole. The back nut will easily fit through the inflation valve hole, once you remove that.
I pressure-tested the valves I received and they stood up to the claim: more here.
Search eBay: ‘Air Safety Release Valve Kayak’.

As you can read from Adam’s comment below, there is – or more probably was – a super valve which combined both inflation and pressure-release duties which means you simply replace the stock inflation-only valve. No need for extra holes to be cut. His link no longer works but I tracked it down to here; the Bravo Super Valve – that’s Bravo as in the Italian branded Chinese-made pumps we all know and love. But there is no mention of a super valve on their valve page anymore, nor in their catalog.


Fitting the Ceredi red dot PRVs

grabtool

Tools and time needed
• Gumotex push-push valve removing tool (fits Ceredi PRVs also). Right;  £12 on ebay

• Narrow-bladed knife or scalpel
• Water pump/lock channel pliers
• 30-60 mins

Short version
• First, remove the side chamber’s inflation valve with the tool. They can be extremely stiff. If you can’t undo it, maybe think twice before going ahead. Or try silicon spray grease of 303 protectorate to lube

• Choose your spot, mark and then cut a 37mm hole in each side chamber. The Ceredi-suggested 35mm was not enough. Or fit the smaller, unbranded mini PRV (~25mm hole); see above.
• Squeeze the PRV’s threaded back collar through the bigger inflation-valve hole, shuffle it over to the new PRV hole and loosely screw on the external part of the PRV by hand
• Reassemble the inflation valve and tighten both valves with the tool
• Fit push-on caps to the PRVs
• Pump up and check for leaks. Maybe retighten some valves with the tool

Read this Interesting post

prvvs.jpg
Hadron

Long version
I chose to fit the PRVs close to the inflation valves and at about the same level. There are mysterious markings on the inside of the Seawave to aid symmetrical positioning (Pic 2, below). I used a narrow-bladed knife and of course took care to gather up the hull skin so I wouldn’t inadvertently puncture the other side of the side tube. 
I assumed the 35mm hole would be big enough to take the back nut. When it wasn’t I was a bit flummoxed. Now I had a gaping hole in my boat, but no way of getting the back of the PRV inside the boat without performing a Caesarian on my Seawave. Luckily two brain cells dropped into my Hadron Collider and it occurred to me that once removed, the nearby main inflation valve’s hole might be bigger. And it was – just.
One stock push-push valve was extremely hard to undo. I wondered if it had been glued in or that the plastic valve removal tool would snap (you can buy a metal one for loads more). When the other side undid with less effort I knew it had to be possible.

Another problem is that the internal collar or nut is only 10cm deep (pic 4, below) and so was hard to grab through the hull fabric. Until I realised this, I was grabbing the inside part of the outer valve body which screws through the collar from the outside. Trying to ‘unscrew’ the valve body from itself is like trying to pull you head off – eventually the valve tool would break. Another ‘Higgs boson’ moment came over me and I realised that by chance the two valve holes were close enough for me to get some water-pump pliers in there, grab the back collar and finish the job (pic 6, below). After that, no more problems.
One thing I noticed while doing all this was the unseen protective patch on the inside of the hull opposite the inflation valves to limit wear and rubbing between valve body and hull when the boat’s delated. Nice touch, Gumotex ;-)

I did all the valves up as hard as possible with tool and hand, and in four more years had no problems. On a hot day in the sun I can hear the high-pressure side PRVs hissing away. The gallery below shows the job in chronological order.

Now it’ll be good know that should I doze off as the tide ebbs away, I won’t be rudely woken by an exploding boat. Another side benefit of doing this is that you’ll never need to use a manometer (pressure gauge) again. You simply pump up all three chambers until they hiss and you know they are at full operating pressure.

smoko

Inflatable Kayak and Packraft Valves & PRVs

Pumps are here
Installing high-pressure PRVs
Testing unbranded mini PRVs
Fixing a leaking PRV

The best inflation valves for an inflatable packboat aren’t the bungs you find on an airbed or an old Semperit. Nor the thin, twist cap stems off a Feathercraft Java or an old Alpacka.
What you want are one-way valves. Like a car-tyre valve, one-way operation as well as a secure seal are the key, so what pumps in doesn’t push back or escape when you remove the inflation hose. Found on cheaper IKS and packrafts Boston valves are simple and effective for lower pressures. More below.
What I call raft valves (left) like Halkey Roberts, Leafield or whoever makes your boat, suit higher pressures and are needed for dropstitch panels. In America they’re also called ‘military’ valves.

gumvalves

With raft valves you either push and twist the button clockwise to lock open (deflating). For pumping up, push lightly and turn anticlockwise so the button springs back up to seal. This closed ‘button up’ position is the best way to transport an IK too. To lose a little pressure (say, the boat is getting hot in the sun) just jab the valve core button, same as on a car tyre.

Many raft ​valves are now ‘push-push’ (graphic left) which work like a clicking biro so are even easier to use. I always refit the cap seal straight away to keep water and grit out of the mechanism.

Two raft valves. On the left the collar goes inside the hull, the valve body screws into it tightly and the dust cap goes on top.
grabtool

I’ve found these valves reliable on all my IKs, although this Gumotex 410C owner didn’t. Once in a while – or after the boat is new – you may want to check the valve is screwed tight against the fabric with the valve spanner, right. They’re also useful for removing the valve (or a PRV; see below) should it play up.

When it comes to inserting the inflation hose, a simple push-fit plug as shown below left can work; just jam the adaptor into the valve body and it usually stays in place while pumping. It looks cheap but on a Gumotex at least, works fine. With higher-pressure boats like Grabners and Incepts and some Gumotex (as well as dropstitch boats), the jam-fit can blow off so you’re better off using a bayonet fitting (below right) which won’t pop off as pressure builds.

Low-pressure valves for packrafts

Alpackas and even Feathercraft used to use crappy, soft plastic twist-lock oral stem valves (below left) which you could never be sure were done up just right and which didn’t take well to pump nozzles. I suppose they were a step up from blow-up airbed plugs (below) which are still found on cheap IKs.

Now best used on inflatable seats and the like, they’ve been superseded by similar one-way stem valves (below right) with a light spring closure easily openable by lung pressure. They’re a bit trickier to deflate: you have to depress the ‘X’ with a finger while squeezing out the air. The one below right is actually on a buoyancy vest.

Boston valves is a generic name for a one-way valve long used on cheap IKs as well as slackrafts and have now become common on packraft hulls. Note they’re widely copied and not all may be identical, like well-known branded IK valves.
The square top cap screws onto the round valve body which itself has a knurled edge to easily unscrew from the hull port (below right). Here you attach your air inflation bag or open to quickly dump the air when rolling up.

Ideally suited to low-pressure boats like packrafts, they use a simple rubber ‘mushroom’ valve on a stem (above middle). Once the main valve body has been screwed back into the hull, unscrew the square cap to finish the inflation process by either topping off by mouth or with a hand pump.

A one-way Boston-type valve eliminates the need for the old separate stem valve and the whole assembly has swivelling plastic lanyards so nothing drops away when unscrewed.

Pressure release valves (PRV) for some IKs

I’ve learned the hard way to be careful and not let an IK get too hot when out of the water. On a hot day you can feel the more exposed sidetubes tighten like a drum. This of course happens to be good for rigidity and paddling efficiency but isn’t good for the seams or an I-beam floor or the sewn seams of a cheap shell&bladder IK.

lefielda6

The floor tube on my old Sunny had a pressure release valve – oddly it’s something rarely mentioned in the specs, even on current Gumboats. It’s there to protect the I-beam floor which could rupture inside under pressure (I-beam floors explained here).
The valve is set to purge (open) at a certain pressure when the air inside heats up, expands and pressures rise. With Gumotex it is 3psi or 0.21 bar. It means an IK can feel a bit soft on a cool morning following a hot day; don’t worry, you don’t have a leak, it just purged some air when hot yesterday and in the cool air make sit a bit soggy. A quick top up is all you need to do.
The handy thing with a PRV is that it makes a good guide to how hard you ought to pump up the other chambers of the boat without PRVs when you don’t have a pressure gauge. At whatever pump effort the floor PRV starts hissing, that’s the same or a bit more pressure to put in the side tubes which usually don’t have PRVs.

As mentioned, the air in an IK can also get cooled, for example when pumping up on a hot day and then putting the boat in a cool river: a normal scenario. Cold air contracts (loses volume/pressure). Because you want the boat to be as rigid as possible, after initial inflation it’s worth topping up again once the boat is in the water; splashing helps cool the sides.
Topping up, or tempering as it’s called, optimises rigidity and with long, 2psi boats you need all the rigidity you can get. Conversely, pumping up your boat in sub-freezing temperatures then putting it on water which actually ‘heat’ it up, though this is a much less likely scenario.

prv-leak
PRV leaking from the sides not through the valve.
Needs tightening with a special tool; a common necessity
with hastily assembled new IKs.

My higher pressure Incept K40 had PRVs on all chambers which meant you could confidently leave it in the Sahara and it would safely purge then feel a bit soft once cooled down back in the water. Picture above: Incept PRV test with the protective cap removed and purging correctly through the centre.
Below: a PRV being resealed after leaking from the edges (left). This was because I failed to check tightness after buying the new boat, as recommended by the manufacturer. (My Gumotex IKs never needed such tightening or checking in years ownership.)
I ended up also fitting sidetube PRVs to my Gumotex Seawave to run higher pressures and the be able to leave it pumped up and out of the water for months at a time.
Like any valve, PRVs can leak due to grit on the seal or a weak or sticking spring. Grit is not so unlikely when you think they can’t have a cap and have to sit on the floor of an IK, with water and sand occasionally swilling in and down into the body. Try removing the cap and blasting it out with air and maybe give the spring a squirt with 303 (UV protectorant). The best thing is to remove the PRV with the same valve tool, inspect and clean the sealing surfaces and reinstall.

Oddly, my Grabner Amigo had no PRVs at all and neither do the latest Holiday models and a few other Grabners, even though all run higher than normal 0.3-bar pressures. One presumes Grabner are so confident in their construction they’re not needed, despite the warnings above.
It should be included with the boats, but if your pump has no gauge, Grabner do pressure relief adaptors to fit on the hose (left) which purge at 0.3 bar, so dispensing with faffing about with a handheld pressure gauge. It’s a good idea.