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Inflatable lifejacket Servicing


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#1 motorbike

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 07:23 AM

Apparently there is now a requirement to have inspection documentation for inflatable jackets onboard during some races. For commercial use as I understand it  they all require annual servicing, seems like a pretty good idea for the obvious reasons. For recreational use some brands demand that it be done yearly by an approved agent and some dont. I made enquiries and for one brand that was $30 plus parts plus GST, they had to have their trained technician inflate it for 24 hours, measure loss of pressure in the bladder, check expiry dates, weigh the cylinders for gas content, replace corroded cylinders, O rings etc. It all sounded pretty techo, then I called another well known NZ brand and they said for recreational use its self service yearly which means a once over of the dates, a visual check and blowing the bag  up and leaving it overnight and making sure it was still pretty full i.e. use your common sense.

 

I had an auto inflate jacket that I purchased in 06 that was manufactured in 03, making it 14 years old, lives in the boat , not a super crusty environment but its been worn a lot, drenched with spray and rain many times, put away damp if not wet etc. I thought I'd do a test after the info about yearly recommendations that have never been done, did a visual and the cylinder which has a zinc plating had some surface discolouration otherwise fine, and on the spur of the moment threw $50 and caution in in the wind by chucking it  in the tide. About 5 seconds later the bag popped open as designed. Good I'm now alive and sea lice bait.

 

I inspected the jacket that required professional service and it was immaculate as expected as its 2 years old, very well built and used the standard inflatable cylinder/valve/auto trigger assembly, I really could not see the point of spending yet another $150 to service four of them annually given their level of build quality, simplicity and use. In fact I would be extremely pissed off that a such a fundamental life saving device wouldnt last many years without service and in fact proved my point with the test of my much abused older jacket. This has definitely influenced my buying decision for future jackets

 

Checking the prices for the replacement cylinders etc which we should probably carry onboard, I get the feeling that we are yet again been asked to pay a premium in parts and servicing because we have "Marine Munter" tattooed on our foreheads.

 


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#2 Sabre

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 07:42 AM

If your jackets aren't kicking around in the bottom of a locker with rusty hooks and gaffs then not going to be a problem.. ie looked after when not in use.

Obviously if the cylinder is corroded it needs replacing. Personally I would base it on condition and maybe replace every 3 years. You can always blow them up with your lungs if the cylinder fails.

Just another good reason not to get involved in racing.
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#3 Dagwood

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 07:51 AM

If your jackets aren't kicking around in the bottom of a locker with rusty hooks and gaffs then not going to be a problem.. ie looked after when not in use.

Obviously if the cylinder is corroded it needs replacing. Personally I would base it on condition and maybe replace every 3 years. You can always blow them up with your lungs if the cylinder fails.

Just another good reason not to get involved in racing.

 

I haven't done that to any of mine but one "failed" when I self serviced it this year.


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#4 Sabre

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 07:56 AM

I haven't done that to any of mine but one "failed" when I self serviced it this year.


Did the cylinder fail or the jacket itself?
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#5 raz88

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 08:15 AM

It's interesting that self servicing is ok for one brand but not the others. Seems kind of like the other brands trying to ensure a continued revenue stream rather than something that couldn't be done yourself.
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#6 island time

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 08:48 AM

I have had 2 Baltic jackets fail to stay inflated over night, both less than 4 years old, both cared for. They need to be "professionally" serviced as well. I biffed them.
I have 4 old hutchwilco jackets, they allow self service, are 14 years old, still fine. Design and comfort have improved a lot since then though.
I won't buy any jacket that requires pro service again. Boating is expensive enough as it is.
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#7 ScottiE

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 08:51 AM

Agreed IT. Let's hope Hutchwilco maintain their position on self servicing
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#8 Knot Me... maybe

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 09:12 AM

I had a early inflatable and used it skiff sailing so it got wet each sail. It was then chucked in the boot until next week, no washing no drying no care, repeat for many years.

 

Then had to do one of the safety in the ocean course (and help teach the teacher but that's another story) so thought lets have a suss when we did the wave pool bit. Pulled the string and instantly POP it went and a pile of excess gas vented off the fully inflated jacket. Did the pool thing then chucked it in the car inflated. About a week later I deflated it, screwed in a new cylinder* and it went back into the jacket supply pile. I sussed just now and it has no maintenance requirements written in it, nothing on the manufacturers website and I doubt the local agent would know if their arse was on fire let alone jacket servicing.

 

The cylinder was taken from a box of them I brought to power my Crossman 'Morgan Cat Tickler', a slug pistol. Purchased from a gun shop in Taka, a 12 cylinder box for $18.

 

I sussed new cylinders for my flasher bigger jackets, which I also self service, and these use the bigger 33gr cylinders. I got a few and they cost me $12 each, I could have got them for $5 if I brought a 100. I see the same ones at Marine not often Deals for $42 and Burns for $40. It is an area some do seem to be taking the piss price wise.


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#9 motorbike

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 09:27 AM

Wasnt going to mention the brand but I'll be buying Hutchwilco from now on unless something better comes along and surprisingly the Hutchwilco was a better fit as well


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#10 island time

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 09:38 AM

I have recently bought a couple of crewsaver jackets from burnsco. Nice fit, slim jacket design, also self service. Happy so far...
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