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By Robert Ewing - (contact)

Alternative to blowing up an air mattress by lung power: Air! don't leave home without it.

Ever feel too tired and winded to blow up your air mattress, and perhaps your riding mates mattress also, or perhaps worse having your mate inflate both mattresses and grumbling while you set up diner, asking what pannier the cold beer is in? Do you sometime feel faint and light headed after huffing and puffing for four to five minutes straight? Dislike blowing the bacterial culture of the day into a moist incubator and wonder what new life forms might develop in tomorrow's sunshine?

Well maybe it has not crossed your mind, but this is my answer anyway. Here is what you need: a bicycle pump (the higher the volume the better), one 23 mm inner tube (Your LBS has plenty of them for free, an expensive ultra-light racing tube with a pinch flat blow out works especially well.).

As you are picking through the pile of abandoned Presta tubes, make sure they are sound for about 6 inches either side of the valve. Cut the tube clean on each side of the valve. It the valve core is removable, unscrew it from the stem, cut the setscrew, and remove the sealing mechanism. Replace the now hollow core. If the tube has a non-replaceable core cut or break the setscrew off and the seal will drop out through the tube. Tie a simple half hitch in one end of the tube and you are done. If you want it to look a bit more deco sand the inside of one end of the tube, glue and clamp. When dry sand, glue and patch the outside. Remember you are dealing with very low pressure so it doesn't have to be perfect.

Slip the open end of the tube over the opened mattress valve. Connect your bike pump to the Presta valve and have at it. If your arms gets tired give it a rest, the pump's check valve will hold the air. When the mattress is full, close the valve and remove the inner tube adapter.

The amount of air that the pump pushes is pretty important. Some mini high-pressure pump are an effort in futility. A mountain bike pump or full size frame pump is a must. I use a Blackburn 2 stage Mammoth pump, which really moves some air. A note of caution even with a mountain bike pump you are dealing with a high-pressure delivery system pumping the air into a high volume very low-pressure air mattress. It is very possible to damage your air mattress if you are not attentive. A fully inflated mattress might take 0.1 psi or 7 millibars of air pressure max.

I can inflate my Thermarest Neo Air in three to four minutes of easy pumping, while carrying on a conversation or even sipping that cold beer, and can pump up my Big Agnes Clear View in under two minute if I pump as fast as I can and no beer.

Total weight = 10 grams more or less. Total cost = $0.00

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The complete system

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The simple version

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Deluxe version

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"Air" Copyright © 2010-2014 By Robert Ewing - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on August 19, 2010 17:01 PDT, last updated on April 3, 2013 16:51 PDT
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