My best 'trick'" with balloons is inflating two in my mouth at once. On a good day, I can inflate as many as five (if they're all lined up just right)
pi * diameter * diameter * length 260Q Volume = ----------------------------------- cubic inches 4 A fully inflated 260Q is really 1.75" in diameter, and 50" long. 3.14 * 1.75 * 1.75 * 50 260Q Volume = ------------------------- = 120.3 cubic inches 4 1 cubic foot = 12 * 12 * 12 = 1728 cubic inches 120.3 260Q Volume in cubic feet = ------- = 0.07 cubic feet 1728The problem is getting it in there in the first place!
Of course mine is the only balloon that goes anywhere, but I pretend not to notice and continue - now tie them like this (huffing and puffing from the volunteers with intense laughter from them and the audience) ... make the first twist, then the next (I usually make something quick and nice like a teddy bear) ...and here it is!..I turn to the volunteers and ask "How'd you do?". At this point I offer to be a good sport and blow it up for them. "Would you drop them on the table please? I think I'll take fresh ones, thank you." I hand the teddy bear to the closest volunteer. If I had the time I usually pre-twist a few balloons which I now retrieve and hand to the other volunteers as I ask that they be applauded for a great job. I usually feel I will lose the audience's attention if I start twisting new stuff for each volunteer so I always keep a couple of toys in my pockets for just such emergencies.
Note: Don't let them try blowing too long as some people become light headed or worse from this! One or two tries is enough to accomplish the fun you are after!
"You don't want a balloon I spit on, do you?"
Since when do any of us spit ON a balloon? or IN a balloon? I've been mouth inflating for 5 years and have yet to do either of these 2. Yes, some gets in on occasion while inflating, but who actually spits? Mind you, yes it happens that sometimes you see it, in jewel tones, but 95 percent of the time you don't see anything. Also, they aren't touching the INSIDE of the balloon are they??
Then, put on some safety glasses before you try any of this!
About 1/3 to 1/2 of the people who try Ashland 260A's and 245A's can blow them up in their first session; most of the rest can master it the next day. Practice with them a while. You can blow good balloons and have fun, but they'll pop more easily than heavier balloons. Once you're comfortable with them (e.g., can blow them up in one breath), then try getting some Ashland 260Es or Qualatex 260Qs. They're heavier and will take more abuse while twisting, but are harder to blow up. It took me about six weeks from being unable to inflate an A to reliably inflating Es.
Above all, don't get discouraged. It took me about 1/2 hour just to get my first 245A (a green one) started.
How should I practice? A couple of balloons a day? My first try is usually the best, and I get worse after that. Do a few a day. Most importantly, stop when you start to feel pain. If you're that determined, you'll get it. This is probably the hardest thing about ballooning.
First, make sure you are using your diaphragm. The average person breathes only a third of the air required for a full breath. They only use the top part of their lungs.
Let's try this exercise to strengthen your diaphragm:
Do this maybe twice a day in 5 minute sessions. You will find that when you let the air out slowly it will last longer and longer. This is because your lungs are filling up with more air and getting stronger.
Nowadays, that's no longer an option. Instead, what I usually recommend is to use a pump to inflate 260Qs, then let all the air out of them, then try blowing them up by mouth. At first you'll probably have to inflate them completely before deflating them, possibly more than once. As you get comfortable with that, inflate it somewhat less, and work on fully inflating it by mouth. Don't work on trying to inflate a balloon by mouth for any period of time; if it doesn't work in two or three tries, put it down and come back in an hour or two.
Do this regularly, possibly a few times a day. You've got muscles to build, and it will take time. Once you can do it reliably, then you'll need to start working on stamina. Just like exercise (which it is), you'll need to work on building up your reps. Keep going, and perhaps someday you'll be able to handle a couple hundred in a few hours.
I traveled far and wide, from the Wichita, Kansas factories to the rubber tree jungles of South America. Month after month went by, and I was losing hope; high up in the Andes, even my Sherpa guides deserted me. Then one fateful morning above the tree-line, amidst the barren, snow-covered peaks, a wisp of smoke trailing from a rock outcropping caught my eye. With my binoculars I could just make out a lone monk seated cross-legged in front of a few glowing embers. I headed for the smoke and when I crested the ridge I found the slope below him littered with piles of brightly colored ballon dogs ten feet deep! I knew at once that my search was over! I threw myself at his feet and begged "Oh great master, show me the way to inflation!"
At first he did not even acknowledge my presence. Then after an interminable silence, he opened his eyes, took a (deep) breath and spoke these words of wisdom which I will _never_ forget: He said..., uhhhh... no, wait, it was, errrr... oh yeah -
"High Altitude Training."
At long last I had the answer, only to realize that I didn't know how to apply it. So I stayed and studied with him for two months, while he opened my mind to Zen and the art of balloon folding. When I was ready to leave the Maharishi gave me this corollary that I would now like to pass on to you, Aaron:
"One small puff for a 130, a giant blow for 350-kind."
I return to this holy mountian once a year to expand my lungs and my consciousness, but every year it gets more expensive. I hope my research is of some benefit to you and the other readers. If so, please send your contributions to the "Go tell it on the mountian Fund," care of Balloon HQ.
A combination of 2 and 3 allows you to get the most control over how the balloon gets filled.
Take the OTHER end of the 260 - the one without the opening - and suck in a 1 to 2 inch long bubble of air. Squeeze the balloon shut, turn the balloon around and then blow - (Remember from blowing up 260's that the first puff is the hardest.)
Yes, it works, but I'd be very afraid of sucking of the end of a 130. Their quality is so awful that they explode for no particular reason, often just when I'm inflating them. The last thing I want is for a piece of latex to fly into the back of my throat while I'm sucking on it. I wouldn't encourage anyone to do this with a 260 either for the same reason.
Wishing you Many Twists and Few Pops
Fred "The Balloon Dude" Harshberger
DO NOT SUCK A BUBBLE ONTO THE UNINFLATED NIPPLE END OF THE BALLOON!
The wall is thicker at the nipple end (due in part to the presence of a latex "drip" on all Qualatex 260Q's) making it a little harder to inflate than the rest of the balloon. So, it helps if you weaken the balloon _at_the_nipple_end_ by stretching it locally (a couple of good, strong sideways and lengthwise stretches - not a bunch of weak ones). Then wrap your fingers around the length of uninflated balloon that you wish to keep uninflated, so they act as a support. Force air into the nipple end by squeezing the existing bubble at the nozzle end, which causes the nipple end to "magically" inflate. Check out the instructions in the guide, under blowing up a balloon backwards. Same idea.
_ _ _ __|_|_/ /__/ /__ (_____/ /__/ /___ (____/ /__/ /____ /_/ /_/ | | @
The pre-inflation method is for those who inflate with lung power. Pre-inflate the 260 straight, then deflate it before wrapping it around your finger to make the curly-Q. It's hard to blow up otherwise.
I wrap the balloon around one or two fingers, (one makes a much tighter spiral) and then stick the pump between my thighs, well really almost my knees, just barely above them) or after you get it all wrapped up it can be fun to ask the person your making it for to help you pump it up!
It does feel a bit awkward at first, but it's really quick once you get the hang of it.
Try making the Vulcan "Live long and prosper!" hand sign. Using this hand configuration, grasp the nozzle of the balloon between the thumb and index finger. While stretching slightly, wind the balloon back and forth around the two finger groupings as per the illustration below. The nozzle should end up in the center, at the top, between the middle and ring fingers. BLOW! Add in your favorite twists and garnish w a Sharpie to your heart's content to make a snake any man-child would be proud to have.
nozzle | | / \ / \ \|/ / \ / \ | || |(O)| || | | || |___|___||___| | || |_____________] |___||___|___| || | [_____________| || | __ | || |___|___||___| | \ | || |_____________] | \|___||___|__/ // / | [__________/ // / \ | || |/ // / | | || | // / | / \ / \ / \_____________/
However, being from the olden days - - there is nothing quite so fantastic as watching an balloon artist do it all from start to finish with no pump. In the long run all thing change. I have seen many fantastic balloon performers who talk with the kids about the safety of balloons and being careful. They make it part of the act and part of the fun and excitement of the creative process. Many areas of our society think that insulation from dangers of balloons, drugs, and unprotected sex is the answer. I think comunication, conversation and education is the better choice. If we fail to be the educators, we give the media the power to be the spokesmen about the safety and the use or banning of our products and our potential livelihood.
I have several pumps... from T's pogo pump, pump1, the hand held faster blaster, to balloon buoy rechargeable and Cheezo's pouch pump to my newest addition of The Balloon Masters floor model. Most of which I still use. Following is my own personal review of the pumps I have based upon my usage of them in the well over 200 shows per year in which I perform.
Each pump has its specific usefulness for specific venue. ie... I no longer use the battery operated pumps in restaurant situations as the noise simple prohibits continuing conversations during the time to blow up the balloons and, as fun as it can be, is offensive to some people wanting a bit quieter of a dinner.
I find the rechargeable pumps much better suited for outdoor venues or even large indoor carnival type events. Cheezo's pouch pump is at the top of my list for these. The battery NEVER runs out of a charge! This thing has lasted me for over 5 hours at a clip. It does get heavy though, so if weight is a problem balloon buoy does do OK if you make sure to bring along a spare completely charged battery or two. I found it more convenient for me to just switch positions of Cheezo's pump from strapped over my shoulder to the other shoulder to even around my waist, then to have to stop to change batteries which were an extra thing to have to carry along anyway. Cheezo's battery does take a bit longer to charge as it holds the charge longer, so just make sure you put it on to charge the evening before you have a long gig.
The hand held faster blaster is a GREAT little pump. It pumps air on both strokes so takes half the work of most hand pumps to fully inflate a 260. I use this a lot while on stilts and don't want to sling the heavier pump on my shoulder. I just attach a balloon to the end of it and to the end of me to make sure if I loose my grip on it, it doesn't fall to the floor. This is also a great little pump to bring along with you if you prefer not to blow up by mouth but like to keep balloons handy where ever you go "just in case" you might want to make someone you meet a balloon. I always keep a spare one with me just in case my main pump I have for the event breaks somehow.
Now this next commentary is going to be a tough one, cause T, I love ya... and I know what a great job you do with your pumps... but I have to say, I am using my new pump from Balloon Masters the very most. It is an absolutely wonderful design and terrific pump!! (and I am NOT getting paid to tell you all this either) You can pick up the Balloon Masters pump with just one hand and carry it with you anywhere... no more strap to hold it together. It is also extremely light weight and yet I have found it to be one tough pump!! It blows up a 260 with just one pump... The handle design is great... I have found it wonderful to hang my stickers from to give out to each child that gets a balloon, as well as a little bag that I keep my extra little toys that I buy from T Meyers.. (which, btw, I highly recommend. T has great alternatives for our little ones too young for a balloon.) This pump from The Balloon Masters Really is GREAT. I use it for more venues (from birthdays to restaurant work to trade shows) than any of my other pumps put together. I highly recommend checking it out. It is also one of the most reasonably priced of balloon pumps on the market that I am aware of.
All of the pumps I have mentioned above I am able to blow up 160's with as well. You just have to get used to getting them over the nozzle... it can be done and quickly once you get the hang of it.
Well, I hope this has been of some help to those that were asking the questions about pumps.
Below are a list of links to the sites I am aware of that you can go to to take a look at the products I have mentioned.
I am not aware of a site specifically for the Balloon Buoy pump, however, I THINK you can check it, as well as the faster blaster I mentioned, out thru TMeyers.
I explain that these long skinny things are special balloons. They are very hard to blow up. It takes lots and lots of practice to be able to blow them up. That makes my business very hard to get into! Therefore, I bring along a super-special-custom-made-balloon-blowing-machine!
I call it the Ferrari of balloon pumps, and just like a high performace car, this high performance pump needs the delicate touch of an artist. Like myself.
Then I do the gag where I blow up the balloon, but release my grip on it and it flies away. I act embarassed, and next act 'very careful' as I inflate the next balloon.
I do that that by slowly inflating the balloon, and get a big grin as it fills. I grin at the audience, and ignore the fact that the balloon deflates as the pump goes down.
In my show, I get mad at the pump, and say to it, "so much for being delicate, can you do this!" and inflate the balloon my mouth so it pops. Audiences love watching balloon pop in your face. But I don't recommend doing it more than once. It hurts!
Think of the pump as a new prop, and your stage character should be able to find uses for it. If your character is goofy, you can do tons of clown gags. If your magic character is the smooth kind in a tux and tails, you can start to look at the balloon, and then say, "I'm putting this thing in my mouth." No proper gentleman would.
Or, you could be honest and say, "check out my pump. That means we can talk while I make balloons, and I won't run out of breath!"
The idea is: think of some kind of apparatus or tool that would fit in your routines and make the pump that tool. Embellish it if need be (stickers or whatever). I am sure your audience will not have a problem with this. There will always be those that try to make fun because you are not mouth-inflating. Ignore them. I never felt mouth inflating to be essential for twisting except for the bulkiness of hand pumps, and since I got the small blaster, that problem is solved, too.
Rawlings Double Action Pump Kit
Includes: Double Action Hand Pump (an all-black "130 Blaster" look-alike) 1 plastic inflating needle (for 130's/160Q's) 3 metal inflating needles (for basketball/football/soccer balls) 1 whistle (something to blow into, now that you have a pump for inflating balloons...) 1 red-white-blue basketball net (something to, uh, to... wave on flag day?)
Euro pump or Faster Blaster
If any seals are not good, the out stroke will lose pressure. Put your thumb over the nozzle and do an out stroke. Try to figure out where the air is going.
Take the pump apart and look for missing or broken seals. Make sure there are no chunks of dirt or globs of grease holding a seal open.
If anything feels tacky, clean and lubricate. I don't know what the best lubricant is for this. Lots of stuff will work but you want to make sure the big O ring notch doesn't get clogged and the O ring can seal in both directions.
Other hand pumps that work for inflating balloons
Name brand: Spalding
Model #: AA-245NSP
UPC: 25033 60572
So, since I am terrible at mouth inflating I use this 160 blaster for 260s also. It is far smaller and less bulkier than the standard two-way pump I use, so it's easier to carry around with me, for when I suddenly and unexpectantly get that ole twistin` feelin. You can inflate the 160s with the standard pump, too, but I prefer the Blaster.
The Invincible Free Standing Balloon Pump
The Filbert Pump
You might consider the ethics of publishing plans. Try turning it around. I watch or hear of your performance then I copy your performance and offer the copy to the same market.
At the risk of sounding like an ego maniac, let me explain what I think are and are not my original ideas and what came before and what came after.
Certainly I did not invent the piston and cylinder. They have been around for who knows how long in a huge variety of configurations. A common tire pump uses a vertical cylinder.
Before I made the first High Volume, Low Pressure, Self Standing, Vertical Piston, Manual air pump, made to fully inflate a 260, such a thing did not exist. At least, not in my experience. In thinking about what I needed to do the job, I went through all the materials and compression devices I could think of. There was no configuration of these things to do the job already existing in the world. (Well, I later found out someone had manufactured a bellows with a riser pipe for twisty balloons but my pump works very differently. I'd love to see one of those old pumps if anyone knows of one.)
Not enough people needed a manual pump for a 260's worth or air at a fairly low pressure to justify engineering and manufacturing such a thing in the regular business world.
I was also not aware of anyone using PVC pipe as a cylinder for an air pump. The inner wall of plumbing pipe is too variable for an engineer to seriously consider making it seal air in a manufactured air pump. As far as I know PVC plumbing pipe had not been used for this purpose before.
I used PVC because it was available and inexpensive for a large pipe. I set up the vertical cylinder so that your body weight would create the main force, not your muscles like a large hand pump. The vertical cylinder also placed the nozzle and the push point at a convenient location.
In 1985 I made the first one on a picnic table outside of Seattle. For the next 8 years I spent what seemed like 1/2 the time on the road building a market for the pump. I did hundreds of lectures and workshops teaching people how to have a good time and make money twisting balloons. What this pump did for twisting was make it possible for anyone to inflate mass quantities of balloons. Twisting was no longer limited to people who could inflate a 260 by mouth. I think the pump, my workshops and the free catalog have had a large part in growing the number of twisters.
As I made and sold more and more pumps I started seeing variations on the theme of the self standing vertical cylinder manual PVC pumps. The more different their guts are the less I feel that they are directly copying but I would suggest the base idea of all these manual, high volume, low pressure, vertical cylinder, PVC pumps for 260's comes from my original pump back in 1985.
Now I'm not saying that someone else could not have come up with this independently. But for them to claim independence in their invention they would have to assert they were not aware there was a manual, self standing, high volume, low pressure, vertical cylinder, PVC pump for 260's. This is an assertion that I do make because there was not one before I came up with it.
I don't claim control of this idea. I request respect. Certainly, the worst offense, in my mind, would be drawing plans of Pump 1 and publishing them.
T (free hard copy catalog, just ask) Myers - TMyersMagi@aol.com
BLAZE THE BALLOON-BLOWING GOAT
"The curious take a close look at Dr. Happy LaClair as his goat "Blaze" blows up balloons for balloon animals."
It's a picture of a clown holding a 260 to the goats' mouth for inflation.
I saw this goat in Ronanoke, VA. Before the goat blows up the balloon he gives it a pretzel then acts like he sticks it in the goats mouth, what really happens is the wagon the goat pulls has a air pump in it , in which a hose goes into his pants leg up to his white gloves. which then blows up the balloons.
It's expensive. I've got a PumpO and a lot of large props, so I ordered a total of nine feet in three different colors (rolls are two feet wide). They normally sell rolls of 200' or more, so you pay a higher price per foot for a small order. You are also charged a $10 small order charge above the cost of the paper itself. Add in shipping, and a few sheets of colorful vinyl cost me more than the PumpO itself.
There is a nearly infinite variety of colors and patterns to choose from. The sample card they sent me had about 36 patterns and as many colors, with each pattern available in each color. You can easily color coordinate your pump and props with your costume (or your car, depending on your taste or lack thereof).
It looks so cool! My PumpO is now a glittering blue and gold. IMHO, this stuff can go a long way to dress up props, especially if you work primarily for kids. We all know that dealer props are almost always horribly decorated, to the point that there is little you could do to make them look worse (Turkish Turmoil anyone?) Kids love glitter and flash.
My conclusion is that if you are in a competitive market, having props that look customized is something worthwhile. Of course, all the prism tape in the world isn't going to help a lousy show.
Battery powered pumps make inflating a 260 easy. Just push the button. If you want to be a roving entertainer, able to twist a few balloons and move on, a battery powered pump might be just the thing. The noise would draw attention. You could do a few balloons with lots of entertainment thrown in and move on. Or maybe you want it for parties. The noise is fine for kids parties. Kids parties are noisy to start with. They'd get a kick out of pushing the button. If I'm making balloon hats for a line of customers I'd rather have the Pump 1 or PumpO. The constant buzzing of an electric pump coming from my area would drive me bananas and limit conversation with the customer. Cranking out hats would heat up a battery pump and I'd have to slow down to let it cool. I'd be worried about running out of juice. But I am cranking out balloons. That's my style. I test battery powered pumps by sitting in my living room and fully inflating and tying 260Q's one right after the other. As if I were getting ready to do a workshop. This is not a field test. This is about as hard as you could be on a battery powered pump.
from T's 97 catalog:
Ed Rohr has put together a nice little rechargable electric pump. The recharger is a separate piece that comes with the pump. He uses a brand name tool battery so they are safe. I sell extra batteries, or you may find them locally. The balloon buoy comes in a padded pouch with a shoulder strap and a side pocket. It weighs 3 pounds and is fairly comfortable to use. The padded pouch helps muffle the medium, loud noise. This is a great little walkaround tool. It could probably inflate 400 poodles during an afternoon with one battery. It inflated 130 full 260q's in about 25 minutes before the battery needed a recharge. During the test, the compressor got hot, and I had to slow down. After an hour recharge it did another 130 full 260q's. It is very light, tough and reliable. Ed's been selling this for 2 years, and they have built up a good reputation. 14 Day, money-back, 1 year defect warranty. #2070 $199.00 + shipping.
I got to use a Balloon Buoy yesterday, and I think I'm going to get one. Outdoors, the noise isn't bad at all. It does sound in a way like a mini fog horn, and it does wonders to draw the crowd, but that's because of the distinctive sound, not the volume. People were as fascinated by the pump as the balloons. (It got even better reactions than the Pump O usually gets.) In fact, when the battery died on me, and I started inflating by mouth, the kids complained that what I was doing now wasn't as cool. A few kids asked me if the thing in my bag (the balloon buoy) ran out of air.
Battery life - It did about 2.5 gross of balloons on a single charge. This is real life use, not Tom's rapid fire full inflation of balloons. It did slow down towards the end, and I may have made quite a few poodles, but I was happy. Two batteries will get through most events that I do, and I have no problem inflating a couple gross by mouth if I need to. The battery to the Balloon Buoy is easy to change out. It is a Skil tool battery, available at hardware stores. If you are taking your time with twisting the balloons I don't think overheating the battery pump would be a problem.
I just had a very long day of ballooning last week. My Balloon Buoy, on one charge, went through 3 gross of balloons before I changed batteries. This is not a normal thing, but I thought those keeping tabs on how much use you can get out of a charge would be interested. I think the key is that I wasn't just pumping out balloons. I played around with folks as they came up. There was never a line. It was just steady work entertaining. So, the battery kept getting a rest and could keep going longer.
I have a few complaints:
- I wish the nozzle was tapered to make it easier to put various sizes of balloons (130s, 350s) on it. It was definitely designed for 260s, but that is what I use most.
- I found it easiest to operate the pump two-handed. This made it impossible to control where the air went in a balloon as I inflated it. That's a limitation I think I can live with for most things on busy days, and I can inflate by mouth for those sculptures that need it. I'll probably get the hang of one-handed inflation over time too.
- Lastly, I wish it inflated the balloons faster. The difference between what it does, and what I do by mouth is probably only a couple seconds, but it felt like a long time.
For walk around at picnics where I'm doing mostly balloons, it's great, and I'm willing to take a chance with it on long balloon days just so I can carry less stuff.
Other Rechargeable pumps
The pump is fairly light weight and quiet (for a pump). It has a 12" retractable hose and two attachments (one a basketball needle). I did not like the other attachment that came with it, so I use a plastic one from another pump. It seems to be durable, as I knocked it off the table, (born klutz) and it kept on a workin.
I have used it three times. The first was 2 hours of a steady line. I did not estimate number of balloons. The Gold batteries were still going strong. Second job, oops I forgot to recharge the batteries until 1/2 hour before I had to leave. This was another 2 hours of steady lines, but Gold batteries died after an hour and 1/2. Silver batteries (easily changable in seconds) finished the job. Third job was 1 and 1/2 hours and I remembered to recharge batteries, but for some reason Gold died after one hour and silver lasted the rest of the time. Stacey said the fully charged Silver batteries last about an hour. I am not sure what the problem was with the Gold, but I might not have charged the batteries long enough (still learning).
Overall, this is a good pump for newbies, a good way to get started. I have seen other pumps, but have not used them. I know Balloon HQ has excellent sponsors that sell good products that have long reputations (how about that for covering my backside). I think the serious, I'm doing long hours and lines forever, twisters should get those pumps. But, for those of us that 2 hours covers our jobs, this pump is fine. I always have my hand pump, so I am no worse off on longer jobs.
If you need to run your compressor out in the middle of a field somewhere, you may want a gas-engine powered model (but they are noisy, and have vibration, exhaust...)
My compressor paid for itself (the first big job we used it for) and eliminates the need to store tanks of nitrogen.
Small electric-motor driven compressors use household 110V power. If you decide on an electric-motor driven compressor with more than 2 or 3 horsepower, it will require 220V power (and those compressors which can be wired for either voltage will always last longer on 220 since the motors will run cooler). So you need to ask yourself whether or not 220V power is going to be available where you want to use the compressor.
If you desire to operate an inflator or air tool at a certain pressure you will obviously need to keep your air tank pressure a bit above thae desired pressure at all times, to account for pressure drops in the regulator, lines, etc.
Preferably you would keep your air hose length between the compressor and the inflator/air tool as short as possible to minimize pressure drops. If you set up several inflation stations, feed full tank pressure straight to individual regulators mounted at the stations to minimize any problems with pressure drops that would occur when stations fed from one hose/regulator were used simultaneously.
If you can, get a "direct drive" compressor where the motor is mounted directly to the crankcase of the air compressor (no belt). These are more efficient, more compact, lighter in weight (easier to lug-around), and have fewer parts to break than the belt drive models.
Compressed air will have condensed water in it, especially on humid days. When people talk about humidity effects on devices, they often make the distinction between "condensing" and "non-condensing." Whenever you throttle air through a pressure drop (like what happens in a pressure regulator), the temperature of the air is lowered. On a day where the relative humidity is high, that lowered air temperature is often below the dew point, and water droplets *will* form. You should consider an in-line water separator if you are worried about keeping water droplets out of the valves in your inflator. More importantly for latex balloons is the oil mist that could be present in the compressed air - oil and latex don't mix. The new oil-less compressors out today obviously won't have this problem, but a standard compressor having oil in its crankcase should have an oil-removing coalescing filter installed in the air line.
The necessary Cubic Feet of air per Minute (CFM) is then V x B.
Air compressors capacities are typically given as a number, followed by the term "Free air CFM @ 90psi". These numbers are always given right next to the horsepower numbers, even on Sears Craftsman air compressors. Call that number "F"
So a capacity of "4.9 Free air CFM @ 90psi" means that when:
So, the minimum requirement is that the compressor output equal the necessary CFM for inflating the balloons:
Q = V x B
If each balloon contains 0.4 cubic feet of air, and you wanted to inflate 12 balloons per minute, then from the equation above you would need an air compressor with a MINIMUM rating of "Q" = 4.8 Free air CFM @ 90psi.
A compressor with the minimum rating would run continuously
during use. It would also have no extra capacity for adding
more inflation stations in the future.
A compressor just slightly larger than the minimum requirement would be starting and stopping all the time during use, and this isn't the greatest thing for motor life. The bigger the air tank capacity, the fewer the number of starts and stops though.
Finally, a compressor that could deliver 1000 times the minimum requirement would cost a lot of $$$, be rather difficult to move around, and probably need its own electrical substation.
So obviously, how big above the minimum you decide to go is up to you.
Calculate your requirements and choose based on the Free air CFM @ 90 psi number even if you are setting your regulator at 50 psi; because the compressor is pumping air into the tank, and the tank pressure will typically hover around 90 psi during use.
You don't have to be limited to the tank size that comes bolted to your compressor. If you unscrew any of the pipe- fitting plugs in your compressor's air tank, you can install a female quick disconnect coupling in its place. Then you can buy a roll-around auxiliary air tank of any capacity and put an identical coupling on it in the same way. With male quick disconnect couplings installed onto each end of a short piece of hose, you can connect/disconnect the tanks in seconds. This combination will give you any size tank you desire, and since the female quick disconnect couplings are self closing you can still use your compressor w/o the auxiliary tank whenever you want to. I've used this system myself with great success. The auxiliary tank won't weigh much either.... until you fill it full of compressed air :-) :-)
That brings up an important point:
*** Make sure you tie it down when you load it into your vehicle ***
If someone cuts you off and you have to swerve or stop hard, a 100 pound compressor is not the thing you want to have hit you in the back of the head at XX mph! When I got my first pickup I brought my compressor to a friends' house without tying it down, and almost had it come through my back window. The experience left me shaking for a while... I later learned that even briefcases left on a back seat have killed people when they start flying around the car in an accident.
*Below temperatures of 140 degrees farenheit, there should be no problem.
Temperatures way out of the normal range would need to be reached before you
should be concerned.
*Most tanks can handle a pressure of up to 4000 psi (a typical full tank has about 2200 psi).
*Tanks are equipped with a safety valve that will rupture if pressure gets too high. After rupturing, the valve will allow the helium to vent from the tank slowly, thereby avoiding an explosion.
*He did not discourage storing tanks in a hot garage.
To roll a tank, first make sure the cylinder's cap (protective valve cover) is on.
Tilt the tank a few degrees off the vertical (just enough so that the tank is balanced on its bottom edge - it's balanced when you don't have to exert any significant lateral force to keep it from falling over). Keeping it balanced, roll it on its bottom edge (just don't do it on a wood, tile or other type of floor that is easily scratched).
If you stand behind the tank, you can give it a gentle kick to start it rolling.
To stabilize the tank, keep your hand on the cap, palms inward. Let the tank rotate and make the subtle adjustments necessary to maintain the balance of the tank. (it's just like learning to walk. At first you fall a lot. Don't worry - tanks are made to withstand being dropped off of loading docks. If you don't trust yourself though, practice with an empty one; besides, they're lighter. Just keep friends, family, pets, fine china, etc. out of the way of falling tanks.)
Done correctly this does not take a lot of strength. It's just like walking... as long as you're balanced, it's very little effort. Walking only takes effort when you start to fall and have to recover. The more you practice, the better you will get at keeping the tank balanced, and the less force it will take.... You will only have to apply a large lateral correcting force when the tank has fallen way off its balance point.)
Start out practicing with one tank, and after a couple of weeks when you're comfortable with it, you can graduate to two tanks. Cross one in front of the other (think of an "X" with you behind. Use one hand on each tank) so that the tanks gently rub against each other. If you have questions or want more tips, ask the guy who delivers your tanks.
Of course, it goes without saying: when you get the tank to its final location, don't leave it free standing. Secure it to a cart, a wall, or use a tank stand. DO NOT move tanks with regulators in place. Always use the cylinder's cap (protective valve cover) when transporting tanks. Don't tip tanks over and roll them horizontally. Don't lift tanks using your back. Use common sense.
And while we are on the subject of helium, during a previous thread about the dangers of the gas, I said that I had a paper that I got from my supplier. I have now located it (that's what happens when you clean your desk off) and I would like to pass it along to all of you.
A SLEEPING GIANT
I am a compressed gas cylinder.
I weight in at 175 pounds - when filled.
I am pressurized at 2,200 pounds per square inch (psi).
I have a wall thickness of about 1/4 inch.
I stand 57 inches tall.
I am 9 inches in diameter.
I wear a cap when not in use.
I wear valves, gages and hoses when at work.
I wear many colors and bands to tell what tasks I perform.
I transform miscellaneous stacks of material into glistening ships and many other things when properly used.
I am transform glistening ships and many other things into miscellaneous stacks of material when allowed to unleash my fury unchecked.
I am ruthless and deadly in the hands of the careless or uninformed.
I am too frequently left standing alone on my small base - my cap removed and lost by an unthinking workman.
I am ready to be toppled over when my naked valve can be snapped off and all of my power unleashed through an opening no larger than a lead pencil.
I am proud of my capabilities. Here are a few of them:
I have been known to jet away faster than any dragster.
I smash my way through brick walls with the greatest of ease.
I fly through the air and reach distances of half a mile or more.
I spin, ricochet, crash and slash through anything in my path.
I scoff at the puny efforts of human flesh, bone and muscle to alter my erratic course.
I can, under certain conditions, rupture or explode. You read of these exploits in the newspapers.
You can be my master only under my terms:
Full or empty - see to it that my cap is on, straight and snug.
Never, repeat, NEVER leave me standing alone. Keep me in a secure rack or tie me so that I cannot fall.
TREAT ME WITH RESPECT . . . . I AM A SLEEPING GIANT.
(As published in SALUTE, March 21, 1969. Courtesy, Lewis Belden, Head Safety Division, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington.)
Next, use a soapy water mixture to check cylinder valves for leaks. Even some of the handtight valves need to be tightened slightly with a wrench to make sure you get a good seal and no helium leaks. Sometimes the cylinders are pretty beat up and can leak.
The problem with these tanks? They only fill a limited number of balloons, with the 15 cu. ft. tank only doing about 24 standard 11" balloons. Therefore, the balloons become quite expensive. If you buy the tank retail, it will cost approximately $1 per balloon to inflate. You're much better off leasing a helium tank.
Also, they are not refillable. You throw them in the trash, never to use it again. They are hazardous waste and need to be disposed of properly. Certainly not to an incinerator. The government tells us what we CAN'T do with them but does not say what the proper way to dispose of them is.
There is a market for these tanks. You may have some clients who live in far remote areas, who have a limited number of balloons to do, and want to do it themselves, forgoing delivery or pick-up costs.
Whenever I encounter a person who has purchased one of these things, the reaction is invariably the same. They don't hold enough helium! Even though they often come with a bag of 50 or so cheapo balloons, they can't fill them all. How disappointing for our sad, would-be decorator! I discourage anyone from using one of these horrid little beasties under any but the most dire circumstances. Let's say the leaders of the free world are depending on you to build the archway to forever end world hunger and you are 4 cubic feet short of a Nobel prize. Then, I'd say get that crappy little tank and blow your way into history! Otherwise...
Precision Air Inflator
For a free catalog and distributor in your area call: (800) 877-8889 or (213) 245-2842
Q: What's the advantage of a Precision Air Inflator?
A: The Precision Air has been developed for balloon professionals who frequently work with precisely sized air-filled balloons. The self-contained electrical unit doesn't require heavy cylinders or an air compressor to operate. The Precision Air automatically inflates two balloons simultaneously at the tap of a foot pedal and has a cycle counter. The Precision Air is approximately 30-45 percent faster than using a single outlet air machine with templates.
Q: What's the difference between the Precision Air and the Dual Split-Second Sizer?
A: The Precision Air is powered by a blower motor that is synchronized with digitally controlled solenoid valves. The Dual Split-Second Sizer is powered by a source of compressed gas or an air compressor.
Q: What is the difference in speed between the Dual Split-Second Sizer and the Precision Air Inflator?
A: Depending on the size of the balloons, the Precision Air performs approximately 10-20 percent slower than the Dual Split-Second Sizer. In other words, approximately 6-12 minutes an hour slower. To compensate for the slower speed, it's important to calculate the amount of time saved and the inconvenience of having to load and unload heavy cylinders.
Q: What justifies the expense of purchasing the Precision Air?
A: The simplicity of taking only one 21-pound box onto a job versus transporting several heavy cylinders or an air compressor. The time saved transporting and setting up cylinders, plus the expense of the cylinder rental and gas. Automatically sized balloons are more accurate that balloons sized by a template. Inexperienced workers can consistently produce professional results.
Q: What features do the Precision Air and the Dual Split Second Sizer have in common?
A: Both units have: digital settings, foot pedal control, two balloon simultaneous inflation, detachable power cord, and a carrying case.
Q: What can the Dual Split-Second Sizer do that the Precision Air cannot?
A: The Dual Split-Second Sizer can be set to inflate two balloons of different sizes simultaneously. The Dual Split-Second Sizer can work off of helium, nitrogen or an air compressor. Compressed gas power allows two operators to run the unit without concern of over heating.
Q: Can the Precision Air Over Heat?
A: The Precision Air has a spring loaded heat-reduction valve that automatically opens and vents the hot air to atmosphere at the end of each inflation cycle. The valve makes a "click" sound when the cycle is complete. (This process is usually completed in the time that it takes the user to tie the pair of balloons.) Larger balloons require more time to vent the unit than small balloons. If the Precision Air is not allowed adequate venting time the unit will over heat and the automatic thermal shut-off valve will disable the unit until it has properly cooled down.
Q: Can more than one worker operate the Precision Air at the same time?
A: No. The Precision Air needs the cool down time between cycles when the operator is tying the balloons to allow the unit to properly vent the hot air. Two workers do not allow enough time between cycles for the unit to operate properly.
Q: Can the Precision Air inflate 260Q's?
A: Yes. To inflate 260Q's on the Precision Air it is necessary to place the balloon over the outlet and stretch the balloon upward until the balloon begins to inflate.
Q: Can the Precision Air inflate double stuffed balloons?
A: No. Too much pressure is required to inflate double stuffed balloons.
Other Regulators and Sizers
Unfortunately, Cramer-Decker has gone through several design changes. The newest ones no longer blow very freely (80 p.s.i.) and they no longer carry the AM211 tilt valve. They did send me a larger version of the AM211 valve that was very expensive and couldn't handle the pressure. All of these valves broke the first day we had them.
This is no knock on any particular manufacturer but... we have now tried West Winds (nice design but VERY slow!) and we're not big fans of Conwin Carbonic, as they (like many) are more into the push valve. I like the tilt valve better, it seems to give us more control - especially at the high speeds we need.
This "speed racer" needs help. Any thoughts on where to get the AM211 valves or any other manufacturer making something more speedy than what seems to be out there today??