Airbag leak at the inflation tube

Is it worth trying to patch an airbag that is leaking near the fitting where the inflation tube is mounted? The bag is tearing right at the edge of what appears to be the tube collar–the round thingy, sort of like a washer, on the inside of the bag.

Patch it? Or just shop for a replacement?

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

garbage, unfortunately. you can goop it up w/ aquaseal but…

start shopping. it’s called a ‘safety device’ and you don’t want/need funky repairs.


I’ve used it to patch small leaks as well as a blown seam. I swear the Aquaseal repairs are stronger than non-repair areas.

I don’t know…

– Last Updated: Jun-05-06 1:15 AM EST –

I don't know about others, but on my whitewater canoe; if anything doesn't look the way its supposed to look, feel the way its supposed to feel, or there is the slightest indication that it will not function the way it's supposed to function,I replace it.

I want to give myself the best chance at success on whitewater. I don't want to take unnecessary chances with patched, repaired, jury rigged gear. If I have too, I'll do without something else to pay the price for what I feel I need.

Example: The last swim I took was the result of a failed low brace. The reason for the failed brace; the paddle blade (an old Werner) did a 90 degree turn, and sliced thru down the water as I applied pressure. Then the blade fell off the shaft. Yep, I can glue it back on, and I will.
But it won't fail me again on a low brace in whitewater; it won't be going.

Just my opinion,


I definately hear you bob

– Last Updated: Jun-05-06 5:26 AM EST –

But I guess I start from the premise that roping into an open canoe unprotected, thin-nylon bags to keep out water is pretty much a jerry rigged affair in the first place.

I hesitated to repair rather than replace mine the first time. But having done it and having seen how the repairs held under pressure, I'm comfortable with that aspect of my gear.

You really have to picture the fact that the aquaseal penetrates and completely bonds to the nylon and that the patch is probably 5 times thicker than the virgin bag material.

All that said, it will soon be time for me to replace those bags because of their age. But, given fresh bags with the right kind of leak, I'm comfortable with my approach. But, your bag mileage may vary. I respect that.

but then again …
Where your leak is, it may not be a great candidate for the Aquaseal. You describe it as a tear near the tube. Your situation sounds different than any I have done.

If it is truly a tear, then you would have to pinch the nylon in order to bring the surfaces together. I would’nt like the physics of that under pressure. Also, if the tube itself is involved, the Aquaseal can’t penetrate and form a strong bond.

Sorry I didn’t read the details better the first time.

try a nylon patch
over the area and use McNett seam sealer to bond the two, or try Pliobond contact cement (great stuff, follow the directions).

I would combine a nylon patch cut
to slip around the tube, with Aquaseal as an adhesive. Is there a dump valve on the bag? They can be handy when you would like to get inside the bag, for example to keep the Aquaseal from glueing one side of the bag to the other.

You need to review what put enough stress on the valve tube attachment to cause the tear. Unfortunately even the best manufacturers usually make no provision for tying that loose tube down properly.

Gotta get inside to glue it
Couple things.

Cause of the tear–tubes hang downward and often unsecured while the boat is on the car. I sometimes let the bags get too tight…amazing how they swell when it gets hot. No doubt six years of flopping around in 70 mph wind weakened the fabric where it bends a lot.

Risk of failure–yah, but its just an airbag and I don’t paddle that Tangzu wilderness. Catastophic failure of the airbag isn’t going to kill me. Pretty funny story about the paddle blade letting you down (pun intended).

Aquaseal is a good suggestion. Any cleaning required? But I won’t do it unless I can glue a a pair of washer-shaped patches, inside and out. I will need to see if I can pull the whole tube to bag assembly out the big stopper hole, er, dump valve. A single patch on the outside at the joint seems destined to fail.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I should shop and see how much all this aggrevation is worth. $50 or less, I should just buy it.

Thanks for your thoughts.


Truck tubes as airbags
I procrastinated on replacing my airbag, and I had agreed to take a former colleague fishing yesterday (he’s not a paddler). I planned to take him where there were modest rapids, and decided it would be a good idea to have that bow bag back in the Tripper. So, an hour before I was due to leave, I’m running around grabbing gear and remember, the airbag.

It only takes ten minutes to slap on a patch. Opening the big valve, I can get my finger on the spot inside the bag where I want to patch. I roughed it with some sandpaper and cleaned it with alcohol, but then I realized it was going to be really hard working a patch into place, not to mention swabbing glue, etc. Okay, I’ll just cut the bag and then I can patch the cut…oh, screw it, I just need to buy a new bag.

Meanwhile, Saturday, I went out with a truck inner tube crammed in the bow. I just stuck it in the bow inside the lines that held the airbag and inflated it. It worked great as far as filling up the space and forming a nice tight ball of floatation. And we managed to keep the boat upright and not need it.

We fished until my friend had to leave for a dinner engagement. It was a beauty of a day, and after Thao left I went out again, this time with the pole. I poled down Seneca Breaks (the remains of an 1800s rubble dam) and around in the rocky channels, and poled back up as dusk was settling. I drove home happy, but real tired, and when I got home I crashed, leaving the boat on the truck.

Today, it got hot–97 degrees. The air in the inner tube expanded and ripped off the ‘D’ ring that held the airbag restraint lines to the bottom of the boat. That never happened with the airbags. I think the airbags are less elastic–they only expand so far, whereas the tube will stretch and stretch until it pops. So be careful of air pressure if you ever try to use a tube as floatation.

Another repair to procrastinate on. Yippee.