Do you love big bluegill?
I got my float tube out of storage today after a long hiatus today (since last year) and inflated it. To my dismay, one of the two bladders will go from solid to feels-like-a-down-pillow in 30 minutes.
I haven't yet taken it out of the cover to look for the leak, and before I invest any time into that (and into finding my patch kit; it might be at my desk at work for some reason :p) I wanted to get the opinions of seasoned tubers here as to whether I should bother trying to find the leak and patch it (tube is 3 years old) or just assume that at this age it will leak again soon and just:
A) Order a new bladder
B) Replace it with a low-cost pontoon boat, which has the advantage of being able to put my trolling motor on the rear deck. I think I know what Leo will say to that one already :-)
It would help considerably to know what brand the tube is. If it is an outcast Fish Cat 4 or Fat cat model it couldn't be more than barely broke in. I gave away a couple Fish Cat"4s a couple years ago that were 7 yrs old and used heavily the first couple years. Patch kit and-or Aquaseal should have you good to go quickly. Wish you the best.
I found problem. The tube is a Creek Company ODC 420L, and the problem is with the valve. Unfortunately, it's not on the replaceable-for-cheap screw in Boston valve, but the base that it screws into, which is part of the bladder. There is a hard, raised ring on that base, and a soft gasket in the screw-in Boston valve forms a seal against it. That raised ring has two indentations in it, on the outboard side, about and inch apart.
I can't imagine how they got there, it could be a manufacturing defect that never manifested this much before. I remember that the left bladder would very slowly lose a little air over a day's fishing, but nothing like this in the past. I've had the tube for maybe three years, haven't used it more than a half dozen times. I've found that if I get the tightness just so, it doesn't leak much, but if lateral stress is put on the valve, it will leak a lot.
I'm going to try using either something like JB Weld or a silicone sealer to build up those indentations. Probably JB Weld, because this in a hard plastic ridge. The only other option is to replace the bladder. At $60 for a new bladder or $200 for the cheapest Creek Company pontoon boat, I'll have to think that over if the repair doesn't work. OTOH, pontoon boats are heavy and hard to carry to walk-in places.
I have had good results from calling companies and explaining the issue. They may have had a run of bad valves and are waiting for you to call, but it is probably a one in a thousand. My most recent success came from writing the CEO of a company and I got what I wanted, which was for them to honor a lifetime warranty. Creek Company also has a liability issue, a customer being endangered by a manufacturing defect. Just be sure to carry and wear a pfd, it could save your life.
Heed the advise of Jesse Denton, Contact the company . Explain first how much you enjoy the product , and how shocked you were to find a manufacturing defect.
Explaine that where you would normally return the entire tube for replacement , a replacement bladder would save Creek Co. fund overall ,and keep a customer happy.
The Outcast tubes have a 5 year guarentee, and I would imagine Creek Co. would be similar.