How to inflate balloons – tips for round and non-round balloons

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)
– Unknown

How much air does a fully inflated 260 hold?

              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
                             1728

The problem is getting it in there in the first place!

Why blow up a balloon by mouth?

  • The part of the true magic of the balloon is in the blowing. It has a person’s breath trapped inside, to give it life. A pump does not take away the magic of balloons, but blowing them up by mouth adds to the magic.
  • Have you ever seen a mouth inflater at work? It adds an incredible amount of excitement to an event, even if he/she is far away. It is kind of like action and color in motion.
  • There are balloon pumps that make this task somewhat easier. If you are interested in balloon sculpting as just a hobby, a pump can be a great asset. However, I strongly urge anyone who plans to use balloons in an act to learn to blow them up with his mouth. It looks much more impressive than using a pump and means that there’s one less item to carry to shows. That doesn’t mean that if you’re twisting balloons for an audience you should avoid pumps. If you’re inflating more than a few balloons a pump can be a very handy tool.
  • There is also a case for being able to blow by mouth when the need arises! There isn’t anyone who hasn’t seen or been in the situation of having half the shift to go and a long line of anticipating moppets when the pump snaps, jams or otherwise thumbs its nose at you.
  • When I inflate a balloon by mouth, it takes 1 – 2 seconds. People are usually impressed by how quickly I inflate and tie off. It doesn’t interfere with my patter very much at all. If you do shtick while you’re inflating, you’re probably taking more than one breath to blow it up, which makes it more difficult.
  • The mouth inflation method is the most convenient for me, and I’ll stick with it. I recommend trying it. I think the impression you make by being able to blow the balloons up by mouth is worth more than being able to talk to someone for the 10 seconds it takes to inflate the balloon. It just takes practice. . . remember keep those cheeks in!
  • I have a Pump-0 and a Pogo pump, but I have yet to find anything that gives me the freedom of inflating by mouth.
  • Blowing balloons by mouth gives me two very important benefits. The first is the freedom. When I am doing a large group (indoor or outdoor), it gives me a chance to circulate and mingle, and this is much better for me than standing in a single place for long hours. The second benefit is perhaps the strongest. The interplay between the group and myself about the ability to blow-up 260’s is worth the effort to practice the blowing. It’s a great way to handle hecklers, to challenge the big strong macho guys, and to make your performance remembered by everyone.
  • I always have a banter going on with the audience. Even when blowing the balloons up, I’m making faces or doing a take on a member of the audience. I feel that you can’t have this kind of intimacy with your audience when you use a pump. (Hey, you can’t get much more intimate – you just gave them some of your spit.)
  • I have a pump, but I mostly inflate balloons by mouth. I like to make faces when I blow up the balloons. One face is me out of breath. The other face is that the balloon is going to explode. Usually my comment is like “this color (what ever it is) will usually EXPLODE!” before I proceed to blow it up. I use this routine in twisting as well, and it helps in two ways. If the balloon explodes, no one is surprised, and I just get another one. If I make a mistake and a part of the sculpture deflates or explodes, I just say “Well I was afraid of that” and continue.
  • I can blow up two balloons at a time with my mouth, plus flash inflate. You can’t do those with a pump.
  • I blow by mouth. Not only is it impressive for the parents and any others who have ever tried to blow these things up, but it gets the balloon up in the air which is good for visibility (in restaurants, etc.). Plus, not having a pump means one less thing to haul around.
  • The audience expects a twister to blow the things by mouth, and the kids love to be tickled by them as they are being blown. If you can blow them up by mouth, you can more effectively engage an audience and adults by challenging them to blow the balloons up themselves. It’s quite a laugh to see them try!
  • I ask for volunteers that are really strong and daring. I select at least three – this makes the volunteers less self conscious. I try for at least one adult if possible, the bigger the better. Next I whip out a 260 for each of us and explain how it is their lucky day because they have been selected to learn to make this incredible balloon sculpture. They need only do as I do… Now everybody take a deep breath and blow them up like this…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!
  • There is a difference in the feel of balloons blown up by mouth and by pump. Pumped balloons are tighter and of a larger diameter than mouth inflated balloons. It is probably due to the fact that mouth inflated balloons contain warm moist air from your lungs while pumped balloons are full of air at room conditions.
  • From years of experience, I would agree that humidity makes a big difference in the feel, resilience, and workability of balloons. They also seem to squeak less when blown my mouth than when they’re pumped with drier ambient air.
  • Inflating by mouth, I also find I can control how the balloons inflate. I have had problems in the past with what I call puff marks in the balloons. These may be best described as changes in the diameter of a 260 at the change of breath point. Since I have the lung capacity to full inflate a 260Q completely by mouth in one breath I can keep a fairly consistent shape in my balloons.
  • I use a pump, but I still do a lot of “spontaneous” twisting where toting a pump just isn’t practical.
  • Some say that we are teaching to put it in their mouths. WRONG! Kids and adults alike put them in their mouth anyway!!!! Remember getting an uninflated round balloon as a kid–did you ever have a pump handy? 99 percent would say “no”. It just automatic for non-balloon types to do this. Otherwise how would you inflate it? It’s like air mattresses and inflatable toys. People don’t have air pumps laying around for when they get balloons.
  • WRONG! Just because we didn’t use pumps in the past doesn’t mean we shouldn’t re-educate the public. Also when did you see somone choking on an air mattress or inflatable toy? No comparison!
  • My point is, power to the pumpers, power to us mouthers. Just blow it up, twist it and make someone happy! That is the job we do, right?
  • Everyone has their preference, whether for ease, the way it looks, or whatever the reason. The point is to get the balloon inflated and make it into something cool, wierd, pretty or all of these together. Although, I gotta comment on some of the statements I saw: “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??

How to blow up a balloon by mouth

FIRST read about the health complications of mouth inflating balloons.

Then, put on some safety glasses before you try any of this!

  • When you first get started, you will probably be tempted to stretch the balloon. You may find that it helps some, but more likely, you’ll just change the shape of the balloon and possibly weaken it enough in some areas that it will pop when you start twisting. Stretching the balloon is useful if you want to fill it a little differently, like with a bulge in the middle, but that’s about it. The more they are stretched or weakened, the sooner they’ll pop. The best way to fill the balloon is with one large breath without pausing. Unfortunately, most people can’t do that. Nevertheless, the fewer breaths it takes to inflate the balloon, the smoother the balloon will look and the easier it will be to work with.
  • Hold the nozzle of the balloon in your mouth and pinch the balloon about one inch away from the nozzle. Just hold the rolled nozzle (collar) between your lips, not your teeth. I always tell people to hold the balloon with the palm outwards, back of the hand above the mouth and shielding the eyes. I’ve had balloons blow up in my face many times. About half the time there’s some warning — the balloon will blow up with a kink in it, or inflate with a decidedly variable flow, or behave strangely in some respect just before it goes. Not nearly always, though. If I didn’t always wear my glasses when twisting, I suspect I’d have gotten slapped pretty good at least a couple of times. As it is, I just get a stung cheek once every night or two.
  • After being snapped in the eye once, I changed my inflation procedure. I hold the balloon between my thumb and index finger, palm out. I place my index finger against my nose, causing the back of my hand to be protecting my eyes. I let the index finger and thumb of my other hand glide down the balloon while I inflate, “feeling for imperfections”. If one is felt, I stop and check it out. I still get popped, but not in the eye, and it has certainly decreased getting snapped as much as before. Also, aim the ballon down and away as you fill it. And I notice that, of the hand in my face, the middle, ring, and little fingers are almost in my eye. Don’t mess with your eyes! I still worry a bit that a balloon might blind me. The minimum I suggest to those who mouth inflate is wear glasses (even if you need to put plain glass in there). Also, twist away from the face since the balloons can also pop afterwards.
  • Blow into a small section of the balloon and try to form a bubble. While blowing, stretch the section of balloon you are holding a small amount (grab the balloon about 2 inches from the nozzle and stretch it outward another inch or two). It’s much easier to fill the rest of the balloon if you have a small bubble to get you started. After forming this small bubble, pinch the nozzle closed so no air comes out, and take a deep breath. Now, if possible, fill the balloon with one breath. Use stomach muscles and not cheek muscles. Puffing up your cheeks and blowing from your head will only succeed in making you dizzy and possibly hurting your eyes and ears.
  • Tip for those who just can’t start the silly things: Carry a palm pump to start the balloon and blow the rest.
  • The idea is to blow through the small opening you form with your mouth around the balloon. One common mistake is to blow hard while letting the cheeks fill with air. Doing so will only build pressure in your mouth. Also, remember to breathe through your nose. Blowing into the balloon isn’t a good reason to forget about breathing, and hyperventilating isn’t the best way to be reminded.
  • If you find that it hurts to blow up the balloon, you are probably blowing too hard. Relax and blow a bit more softly. When I started, I’d persist until I went red and got all these pretty stars in front of my eyes. I’m sure this isn’t good for you. A bit of ‘relax’ ‘focus’ ‘gentle’ Zen-stuff from the masters would have done me a world of good. If you really can’t get the hang of it now, use a pump and try to blow it up with your mouth later. It isn’t worth hurting yourself. The fun part is the twisting anyway.
  • The one big problem I had when I was learning to inflate by mouth was blowing too hard and keeping my mouth closed! I would get trememdous pressure, but it couldn’t go anywhere.
  • From where I sit, as a professional entertainer, in both the music world and family entertainment, blowing a balloon by mouth is not a problem. When it is done correctly, with the correct technique, there is no damage to be done. It is only slightly more back pressure than playing most wind instruments. This is not just an opinion, but backed from 20 years of university teaching and professional performing on wind instruments as well as 15 years as a twister. The biggest problem arises when the technique to inflate the balloon by mouth is wrong. When this happens, you can most definitely hurt yourself. As a trained musician, using correct diaphragm technique and embouchure (French for the way you form your mouth for playing an instrument), I can tell you that I have never experienced a problem. Early in my twisting days, I hadn’t yet been taught the correct way to ‘start’ the balloon and regularly had headaches and other problems. I learned the proper technique from The Balloon Video from Flora and Co in Albuquerque. Ever since that time, there has not been a problem.
  • It does take some practice to get it down so you don’t pass out. The most important point is that you push the air out of your lungs with your diaphragm, through your mouth and into the balloon. Squeeze your cheeks tight! (No, not THOSE cheeks). Your cheeks should never puff out; if they do, they will surely be sore! If you feel like you’re blowing too hard, you are. Relax. It takes a lot less effort than you realize. Sometimes just blowing more gently is all it will take to fill the balloon.
  • I understand that are many newcomers (and old hands) that get frustrated by the dizzy feelings and the light headedness when first blowing balloons. In my experience (8+ years) balloon blowing is just like every other new thing in our lives. In order to become good at it you must practice it. You will gradually increase your capacity by blowing balloons every day. This is a good way to practice your twisting and to experiment with new figures. The key for me was to blow balloons every day. Try this for a month and see if your capacity increases. Now I can do 600-700 hundred balloons in day with very little discomfort.
  • You will also find that you’ll get dizzy if you try too hard and long. Slow down, pause between attempts. Give it up for ten minutes and come back. Once you get better, you may still find you get dizzy now and then, or get a headache after doing many balloons. Again, practice will help both of these. Any time you do a lot more blowing than usual, you are likely to have these problems. Even now, if I skip for a few weeks, I’ll get a mild headache after an hour or two of inflating balloons.
  • Not blowing into the balloon is the most common mistake. Blowing very hard will tend to close the balloon opening and result in your cheeks exploding before the balloon inflates. It’s learning how to focus your breath INTO the balloon that will suddenly make it easy.
  • A hint I found for blowing up balloons more easily is to pull on the balloon slightly, start blowing (not too hard, but firmly), and then slowly release the pull on the balloon – at some point a bubble will appear, and the rest is easy!
  • Blowing balloons up is simply a physical feat. There’s some technique, eg., not letting one’s cheeks puff out, and blowing into the balloon (not squeezing the nozzle too hard with one’s lips), etc., but mostly it’s just brute force. Pulling just a nudge’s worth when starting to inflate the initial bubble is a good idea, but mostly I think it just helps one concentrate into maximizing effort for an instant (like the kihap yell in martial arts).
  • Unfortunately, just attempting to blow a balloon up is like walking up to a set of weights and trying to bench press 180 lbs. Not too many people can do it. Working up to it is the key.
  • Your diaphragm, cheeks, and lips all have muscles that must be built up to handle mouth inflation. Remember those cheek muscles especially. If you let your cheeks puff out when inflating balloons, they’ll get incredibly sore and painful. If you can’t keep them in just using your facial muscles, try using your fingers (holding the balloon like a cigarette (British style) and wrapping the hand around your cheeks to hold your cheeks in — it works for many people.
  • I recommend pre-inflating balloons with a pump, fully deflating them, (try doing this again once or twice) and then reblowing them by mouth. Once you can do that easily, then try just inflating a little bubble in a balloon and working from there. Once you’ve got that, then try inflating it entirely by mouth.
  • I learned to blow a 260 by first blowing a bag of balloons up one at a time with a compressor and then letting the air back out. This stretched the balloon enough that I could inflate them by mouth. I have been doing this for a couple of years now, and, in a pinch, I can blow them up without pre-inflating them. I have the process down to an art and can pre-inflate a bag in about 20 minutes. I like pre-blowing because I weed out the defectives and the balloons are easier to blow by mouth when I’m working long hours. I have found that pre-blown balloons do not seem to be any weaker than fresh balloons. Plus, the pre-blowing process weeds out the weak ones or the ones with pinholes and helps if you need to sort colors. I have had other twisters observe me at work and ask why I have so few pops.
  • If you can’t blow up pre-inflated balloons, then get an easier balloon to inflate. 350s are very easy, for instance. Also Tilly 260’s are easier to inflate than the 260 Q’s.
  • Also, practice with different colors. Different colors are often noticeably easier or harder to inflate. With Qualatex 260’s, clear seems to be the easiest; orange seems to be the hardest. Also, cold balloons are much harder to inflate than warm balloons, so practice on warm balloons.
  • Personally, I learned on relatively easy to inflate Ashland 260A’s about 12 years ago. Once I could reliably blow one of them up, I got a gross of 260Es and started trying to blow those up. After about six or eight weeks, I could reliably blow up 260Es (which are about as hard as Qualatex 260Qs).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.
  • Like exercise, I’d also recommend lots of short efforts. If you can’t inflate a balloon at all, working on it for more than five minutes won’t help anything. Just work at it for a minute or two, and then put it away for a few hours. Once you have the strength to do it occasionally, start working on building up your reps. Once you can do a modest number of reps, then do something a little tougher and work your way up gradually. As with exercise, you need both the strength to inflate, and the stamina to do it on demand repeatedly.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.
  • Once a long while ago, someone asked if there was an exercise to help you inflate a 260. Here’s a thought. Whistling! I am a chronic whistler and recently noticed that after doing a bunch of balloons, my whistle was wilted and wouldn’t work. The cheeks, the diaphram and the lips are all intrinsic to both actions.
  • Take up a musical instrument! I’ve played the trombone for a long time and (not to brag) blowing up 260Q’s is pretty easy. I find that it’s about 80 percent technique and 20 percent diaphram. Next time you’re in the library see if you can find a book on playing instruments. I’d look for one on brass and look in it for topics about your embouchure (pronounced \.a:m-bu.-‘shu.(*)r\ ). There’s lots of info there!
  • You can tell if you’re doing it right if your face and cheeks DO NOT get tired. In fact, I find that my diaphram starts to get tired after about 5-6 hours where my face and cheeks still feel fine.
  • I blow my balloons up by mouth, although it did take a little practice. I believe in the diaphragm theory. I also do a lot of singing and teaching which helps with the diaphragm. There is an exercise to strengthen the diaphragm for singing, and I guess it would be helpful for those learning to blow up balloons. I’ll try and explain it.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.
    • Put your right hand on your chest about three inches above your shoulder, then your left hand on your chest about three inches below your right.
    • Take in a natural breath, holding it for a couple of seconds, then exhale through your nose.
    • If your upper hand moves in more than the lower hand then your not using the full capacity of your lungs.

    Let’s try this exercise to strengthen your diaphragm:

    • Take a deep breath, hold for a couple of seconds and exhale slowly.
    • Do it again, but, when you let the air out, make the sound of a long extended eeeee. Your tongue should be arched and the tip touching the bottom teeth.
    • While making this sound, push up with diaphragm (pretend you are lifting a heavy weight, straining to pick it up) and try to send that sound right up to the top of your head.
    • See how long it takes until all the air is gone from your lungs.

    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.

  • 260s can be blown up without a lot of effort if you use the right muscles. I’ve left more than one trumpet player dumfounded because they couldn’t inflate a 260 after seeing me inflate 3 at once.
  • I need to note that many have been purporting the diaphragm theory regarding inflating balloons. The diaphragm, when it contracts, moves downward (inferior) to create a vacuum, which draws air into the lungs. Expiration happens naturally as the diaphragm relaxes. Forced expiration occurs with the contraction of some of the intercostal muscles. The diaphragm is an antagonist to some of the intercostals, and vice-versa. To forcefully exhale, the diaphragm must relax a lot. I cannot accurately say whether the diaphragm retains a degree of tone to achieve the pressure necessary to inflate a 260, but I can say it is not the diaphragm that is majorly used to inflate them.
  • 130’s are difficult to inflate by mouth. Marc (PsychGuy@aol.com) writes: I do routinely inflate 130’s by mouth. I started working out a few months ago, especially aimed at my stomach muscles. It made all of the difference.
  • Whatever muscles are involved, I think they are “the same” muscles as used when playing an air-flow musical instrument (especially brass, such as trumpet, but also singing!). I have a degree in music and never had trouble blowing up balloons. I’ve seen other musicians pick it up quickly, too. We have learned to “use our diaphragms,” but perhaps that is a misnomer.
  • There is one issue of concern for those who receive balloons from people who inflate the balloons by mouth, and that is germs. While they are impressed that you can inflate the balloons without a pump, they also are not happy to see their child sucking on the balloon in the same place you just had your mouth! In fact I know of one balloon worker who was inflating by mouth and got sued. One kid, who received an animal, later came down with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. The parents claimed the balloon worker had inflated the balloon by mouth, and had coughed a few times at the party. They served him with a subpoena, put him on the stand, asked him health questions and got a list of parties the balloonist did 2-4 weeks prior to the plaintiff’s party. They found that some kids from the parties had become ill afterwards, and the balloon worker was nailed as the carrier! The balloon worker lost the suit, and was ordered to pay all medical bills, pain and suffering, etc…
  • I’ve learned a few things about balloon inflating over the last few years, and, since we are on the subject, let me just share some of my wisdom with you all.
    1. Always blow into the end with the hole. As it happens, many on this list are constantly complaining about holes in their balloons. I have found, however, that without one it takes me upwards of a day to get the darn thing inflated.
    2. Remember to tie the knot AFTER you inflate the balloon. Getting this mixed up is going to make it difficult to inflate. See #1 above.
    3. With the fingers that are holding the balloon close to your mouth, don’t pinch too hard. Pinching too hard is akin to tying the knot of #2 which leads to #1.
    4. On the other hand, when giving the balloon that little tug, you want to pinch that end real hard. Otherwise the balloon snaps up and hits you in the nose. That can hurt, but it also might get you a few birthday gigs. Caution – give your brain a rest – don’t think too hard about which hand pinches hard and which hand doesn’t. You’ll hurt something for sure.
    5. If it hurts, buy a pump (or you can do like my kids do and get someone else to blow up the balloons for you!).
    6. Watch out for the point of no return. This is the thing you see in cartoons all the time. You blow, and you blow, and, just when you think you’ve got the darn thing all the way full, it decides to deinflate right back into you. You fill up with air and go bouncing down the street. (Not a pretty site, and it hurts too!).
    7. “Don’t forget to stop blowing when the balloon is full.” Explosive decompression upon over-inflation results in loud initial noise, followed by “duck call” like noise from continued exhalation through balloon remnant. Similar to #4, loud noise can be painful, but then again, duck call may result in birthday gigs (or being attacked by over-amorous water-fowl.)
  • Does anyone know any exercises to improve lung capacity so I can finally blow up a 260 without a pump?
  • Lung capacity is not the issue here — the issue is strength. In the good ol’ days, one could buy 260As (A = Amateur) and use those until they weren’t nearly impossible to blow up. Then one could buy some 260Es (E = Entertainer) , and work on those until one could inflate them reliably.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.
  • Try starting with larger balloons than 260’s. Start with a 9″ round. No problem? Go to a 5″. Still no problem? try a 350, then a 321, hearts, etc…
  • At each try go slowly…concentrate on exactly what your muscles are doing. Keep your cheeks in – use your diaphram muscles. Blow into the balloon with a very directed streem of air like blowing into a straw. At the begining of a 260 it helps to strech it slightly while your blowing into it. (Watch that you don’t pinch the balloon shut with your finger while your holding it!) Once you have a small bubble it should be easier but try not to stop until you have a significant bubble.
  • Most of all – go slowly. Don’t let your self get dizzy or try until your cheeks and whole head is sore. In fact, try practicing the directed stream of air without a balloon.
  • In reply to Aaron (and many others over the time I’ve been reading this list) — once you get that initial little bubble started in the balloon, the rest is easy. And starting that first little expansion is easy if you do this: (Now, I have to say in all honesty, that this is the way I always think of the process, but I’ve been utterly unable to teach my wife or anyone else the concept) — Get the balloon end firmly seated in your mouth and imagine that you are at a water- spitting contest. Your job is to spit a big mouthful of water as far as you can, so you do NOT use your lungs, you close off your throat and use the pressure from your jaw (a very strong muscle indeed) to get maximum force.
  • Inflate a gross of 260Q’s with a pump, let the air out, and set them aside. Upon arising on the following day, inflate as many of them as you can. Stop when you even think you might be getting a headache from this exercize. I mean it! Don’t try to do even one more. Keep the ones you’ve inflated by mouth seperate from those inflated once by pump. Don’t use them again for the exercize. Wait until later in the day and repeat. Do this until you can inflate a whole bag of pre-inflated 260Q’s in one sitting. I think that you should be able to do a fresh, pre-“UN”inflated 260Q at this point. Be encouraged, even if you only get a fresh one to start a little bit; it’s a beginning. Keep after it, and you should be able to get to the point of blowing them up all day long. If after a week or so you aren’t near being able to complete the preinflated exersize, you may be one of those that will never be able to inflate by mouth. Not to worry. Get a hold of T. Myers for a professional balloon pump. That’s what they’re there for, and I’m sure he’s sold a lot of them. Even though I blow all my balloons by mouth, I own one. I use it when I am physically ill because I can’t inflate them by mouth and keep working, and I also don’t wish to spread germ warfare.
  • Everyone else has just about covered it all so far. The only other suggestion I might add is to inflate a gross of 260Q’s with a pump, let the air out, and set them aside. But not for too long. The latex is viscoelastic, and given enough time (less time required if you increase the temperature), it will relax back to its original pre-inflated shape.
  • That’s why I said to begin the excercize on arising for the day. They relax enough to make you work, but not near their original elasticity, so as to defeat the purpose. Times may vary from person to person. If you find the excercize too hard after leaving the pre-inflated balloons overnight, shorten the time between preparation and execution. If, on the other hand, you find it too easy, lengthen the time span. Either way, a big THANK YOU to Mark for pointing this out.
  • Many years ago, I too wanted to inflate 260’s without a pump. After reading a hundred conflicting pieces of advice on this mailing list, I set off in search of the truth.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.

  • To burp or not, that is the question.
  • It depends upon how you blow up the balloon. If by mouth or with a large pump, then the balloon is stiffer and may have too much air and you need to burp a little. But the smaller handpumps seem to leak air, so the balloons start out softer and may not need to be burped. It’s a matter of judgment, just practice, practice, practice and the hands get used to feeling the amount of air in the balloon and then adjusting for it.
  • Also it depends upon the sculpture that is being made. A simple animal with just a few twists may not need to be burped, whereas one with many bubbles should be burped. Some needed to be burped so as to be almost limp, especially those that are folded and twisted en mass such as flower petals. See the web site.
  • It is better to burp a burp and live in shame, than to squelch a belch and live in pain.
  • While in polite society it is terribly gauche. . . oh, wait gauche means left and since I am a lefty, that is not terribly politically correct to state. . ummmm well burping is a no-no . . . But in the balloonie toonie world of professionals, burping is the action of letting a bit of air out of a newly inflated balloon just before tieing the knot so that the balloon will be less likely to build up so much air pressure that it explodes while you are twisting.

Special effects

Blowing up a balloon backwards

  • Filling it up at the tail (nipple) and ending at the mouth (nozzle. This is useful for a sculpture like an elephant where you want a long thin trunk and a thin tail, or if you’re going to be making a lot of twists, and you need room for the balloon to expand on each end. There are several ways you can do it.
    1. Stretch the balloon as much as you can while inflating. That is, hold the nipple of the balloon in an outstretched hand while blowing into the nozzle. This is sort of difficult to get the hang of, and it’s a lot harder to get air into the balloon.
    2. Stretch only the nipple end of the balloon a little before inflating. By stretching one spot on the balloon, you’re weakening it at that point. That spot will naturally get inflated first since the air will be stretching some latex that’s already been stretched. Once a bubble is started, it will continue to fill from that spot.
    3. Wrap your fingers loosely around the balloon leaving only the tail free.

    A combination of 2 and 3 allows you to get the most control over how the balloon gets filled.

  • Even with 260’s, I have a lot of fun doing this when people try to blow up 260’s. “Well, if you have trouble blowing them up from the regular end, you can turn them around and blow them up from the other end. Then you can inflate them backwards.” That always seems to throw them.

Blowing up balloons from the middle

  • To blow up balloons from the middle, prevent the air from going anywhere else. Simply stated, if you want a balloon to inflate from the center, you place one of your hands above and the other below the center of the uninflated balloon while air enters it and inflates the center portion. You then let the air out, and set the balloon aside until you are ready to use it for a special effect. The pre-stretched portion will then readily inflate when applying air to it.
  • One quick but effective bit I’ve been doing (learned from the Dan Garrett video, Kid Show Konivery, a variation is in the first issue of Balloon Magic) is removing a bubble from a balloon. The first time when you get the balloon out (prestretched and preinflated with just a small bubble in the middle) you also palm a 2″ balloon bubble of the same color (see “meatballs” section for several ways to make these) blow up a bubble in the balloon (which having been prestretched should inflate in the middle). When the bubble is the same size as your palmed bubble, pinch the nozzle and make a comment about how they’re not supposed to blow up that way (hold the balloon in the left hand the palmed bubble in the right) bring the right hand over to the bubble place your palmed bubble on the balloon bubble and allow the balloon to deflate and show your bubble, it really looks like you pulled the bubble off the balloon

The Suck Method

  • There is an alternate way to inflate balloons (including hard to inflate 130’s) by mouth. The mouth muscles are stronger at sucking in air than they are at blowing out.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.

Altering the shape of the balloon

Controlled variations in thickness

  • Get a 340 and stand on the tail of it as you stretch the nozzle up to your mouth. The more you stretch the balloon the thinner it will blow up, and the harder it is to inflate. With a smooth single inflation you can make a flamingo’s neck and a fat end for the head. This is an effective shaping technique, but have a big, soft chair behind you to catch you when you pass out.
  • The Pump 1, PumpO or Pogo can make thin sections. These pumps give you a free hand to control the balloon as it inflates. The Pump 1 and PumpO can do anything in terms of inflation control that anyone can do by mouth (except maybe sneeze or spit). If you cut the nozzle off to make the air hole bigger, you can do the instant inflation. You can stretch the balloon 2 arms length from the nozzle to blow the whole thing up thin and long. That’s hard to do by mouth.

Puffing a poodle tail and making antennas/feelers

  • The following is the method I use (and teach) for moving a small amount of air inside a 260 i.e.: “The Poodle Tail Move” used for making the poodle tail. It takes a Liability (and potential hazard – sucking on the end) and replaces it with an “Effect”, making it an asset:
    • Twist the bubble at the base of the tail to separate the amount of air you want to move to the end of the balloon (if the whole bubble moves, the hind legs may unwind). Loosely making a fist, wrap the little and ring fingers of the right hand around the bubble you have twisted (like a “finger palm” in magic). The lower edge of the little finger pressing against the first bubble (next to the hind legs) will keep it from unwinding when you let go with the other hand. Wrap the middle and forefinger of the right hand gently around the un- inflated portion of the tail above the bubble. Do this gently, like you would around a paper drinking straw; enough to hold it and keep the bubble from edging upward when pressure is applied, but not tightly enough to collapse the straw.
    • You should have a 1/2 inch of balloon still exposed above your right forefinger. Now press firmly with the little and ring fingers, and the bubble of air should travel to the end of the balloon, without stretching the middle portion of the tail. Now pinch closed the “tube” with your forefinger or the side edge of your thumb. With your left hand squeeze the new bubble at the end of the tail, to stretch the latex so that the air does not go right back to the base of the tail.
    • You can squeeze it with the left thumb and forefinger, or “bop” it with the palm of the left hand. If you have a long “tail” you wish to traverse, as on a jesters hat, you can wrap the necessary number of fingers of the left hand around the “tube” until you have only the last 1/2″ exposed. With practice you can leave out twisting the original bubble, but I like the accuracy/control it gives me.
    • Normally I use patter as I work on the poodle building up to the effect. “…yes, poodles are fun. They have that silly haircut. We’ll make this poodle for you complete with the silly haircut!” (nearing completion, working on hind legs) “…of course the important thing on a balloon poodle is to have just enough air left at the end… (twisting base of tail bubble) …for the little poof at the end of the tail… ” (getting grip for the move) “…right HERE!” (point to the uninflated 1/2″ sticking up above right fist) “OOPS!…I guess we ran short of air. Could you help me? Have you ever blown out the candles on a birthday cake? Could you blow AT this for me?” (hold the balloon in front of them, a foot or two away, and as they blow, do the move.) “Thanks!” (now squeeze/bop end ). Note; the reference to blowing out candles gives a clear image to them of blowing AT, not into. If you prefer you can blow at it yourself, or make a magic gesture.
    • Another cute “bit” is to blow into your left hand and “throw that air into the tail end. Also if the child is a little balloon shy, you can ask them to blow air into YOUR left hand (you can demonstrate, “like this…”), and then transport it over to the tail. This method seems to work quite well for most people.Wishing you Many Twists and Few Pops
      Fred “The Balloon Dude” Harshberger
  • Here’s how to inflate a small bubble at the end of an uninflated section of a 260, which is often used for poodle tails and antenna or feelers on insects and crustaceans.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.
  • Just before you do the final bubble for the poodle’s tail touch it with your D-Lite (having it light up as you touch the balloon). The bubble will pop up glowing. The effect is pretty cool. When I tested it on my friends, I got quite a few Ooh’s and Aah’s.
  • After twisting the poodle, I’ll point out that it doesn’t have the “poofed” tail. “I know! I’ll use my ‘air gun’!” Having said that I make a “gun” out of my hand (make fist, point index finger out and extend thumb up) and “shoot” the tail of the dog (let thumb snap down like the hammer of a gun while squeezing the bubble to make the poofed tail). I’ll sometimes do this without saying anything, and when the “customer/child” seems surprised, I’ll ask if they have never seen “an air gun” before. It might be funny to shoot it twice with no effect and the 3rd time hold the poodle with the gun hand and shoot at the thumb of the empty hand as if you thought you were doing the same thing – The magician in trouble situation – When you realize your error, the poodle tail is there, and you have done it, Ta Da. (Pop up the tail when you shoot the third time.)
  • When putting the ball on the end of a poodle tail, give the tip a few good stretches to weaken the skin and squeeze the inflated part at the other end. If you don’t allow the bubble to just lengthen out, a round bubble should pop out at the end. (Nothing new so far). Now the trick – as you squeeze the bubble with one hand, stick the tip of the opposite thumb in your mouth and make a show of blowing on it. It looks like you’re inflating the bubble by blowing through your thumb. It always gets a laugh from the adults, and sometimes a kid’s eyes will bulge out to match the bubble, and you *don’t* have to suck on the balloon.
  • I prefer blowing on the actual tail itself, and while blowing (I guess it is more of a puff of air), I squeeze the bubble, making the tail appear. The goal, obviously, is to make it look like you inflated the tail while blowing on the outside of the balloon.
  • I get a great response from both the kids and their parents when I tell the kid that they have to help by blowing on the tail “like it is a birthday candle.” As they blow, squeeze up the bubble. I find everyone wants the poodle after the first one. Just be sure not to have it pop up too close to the face. I had a balloon pop when I “poofed” the tail. Part of the balloon flew into the child’s eye. The mother of the birthday child removed the small piece out of the child’s eye like you would remove an eyelash. Nothing came of it except I am now more careful and am glad I carry liability insurance. Also, make sure the child does not blow into your face. I hold the balloon to the side so that doesn’t happen. Before I started doing this, I caught everything they had to pass on to me.
  • Don’t suck on the end to get a bubble. A very easy way is to make a quick twist. . . leave a bubble that’s about the size the tail pompom needs to be, and gently hold the uninflated part of the balloon so that it can’t inflate, but air can move in it. Then, give a squeeze to the new bubble you just made with your free hand, the air should be forced to the end of the tail. Pinch the tail with your fingers and give the end bubble a quick squeeze, to keep the inflation, and voila! a non-damp puffy tail.
  • When you suck the bubble on a balloon, you are definitely going to leave lots and lots of spit all over the outside, and if you set aside the unsanitariness of that, you’re still left with a spit-covered balloon, not the most appealing of thoughts. When I first learned balloons, I was taught to suck on the end, but I have since learned how to do that twist and squeeze method. I find the twist-n-squeeze method to be more appealing aesthetically as well as quicker and more efficient. If you suck on the balloon you could have it pop and go down your windpipe. Also, if kids see you do it, they will do it. As you squeeze the air into the tip of the balloon, have a child blow on it and up it comes like magic. I always pinch the end of the balloon and snap it to expand the latex. Then I put my hand around the middle part of the tail and force the air into the end that I stretched (pinched). I always have the kids blow on the end of the tail and they think they did it magically. Always gets a good laugh!!!
  • The last time I sucked a bubble on the end of a poodle tail was the *last* time, because two of the boys who saw me do it immediately put their swords in their mouths (balloon swords, of course!). The fact that it is such a neat effect makes it irresistible for kids to try out. The least they’ll get is all the germs you’ve picked up from the multitudes of tips handed out by your phlegmatic customers!
  • I’ve stopped sucking poodle tails because it encourages children to put the balloon in their mouths. Especially when, as often happens, they squeeze the bubble off the end and want to put it back. They then tend to try to do what they saw the twister do. On many occasions, when I’ve made a poodle for a child, they squeeze the dangly tail bubble, and it goes away. They then do what they saw me do — hold the middle of the tail and squeeze the bottom. It doesn’t usually work, but at least they don’t stick the balloon in their mouth. Some years ago, I used the suck technique and I would see kids doing the same thing to re-inflate their creatures’ tails. Unfortunately, kids are kids and do what they see other people doing, even (especially?) if they’re told not to. I don’t twist if I’m sick, but it still seems a poor idea to (even indirectly) encourage kids to share my germs. Finally, the squeeze technique is more surprising and entertaining.
  • I used to like “sucking” the tail of a poodle too until I was almost a victim. Back in 1987 or so I was working at our Festival and had a lot of people around me watching and waiting. I sucked the tail, and it gave away and went down my throat!!! I ran to the nearest trash can and stuck my finger down my throat. It was very, very scary, and, believe me, that was the last time I ever tried that!!! Luckily, I am here to tell about it. Now, when I am doing a show, I have the kids take an oath – saying that they will not put the balloons in their mouths. Of course, the parents hear it, and they watch too. This is something we can’t be too careful about.
  • A variety of methods have been presented here. What I use depends on whom I’m doing it for and how many times I’ve done a “bit”. I like to change things so that the people stay entertained.

Curly-Q’s

  • Wrap a 260 around two fingers and make sure it doesn’t twist or overlap itself.
        _   _    _
     __|_|_/ /__/ /__
    (_____/ /__/ /___
    (____/ /__/ /____
        /_/  /_/  | |
                   @
    
  • As I inflate the balloon, I keep moving my fingers inward so that I keep the curl straight. I inflate it a little more slowly than I do a straight balloon, but I keep a steady stream so that it has a consistent width.
  • I wrap my balloons with the nipple near my palm and the nozzle at my fingertips. Does anyone do it the other way?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.
  • Mouth inflating a 260 spiral is more difficult than a straight 260. I was absolutely floored watching Anthony Mackey inflate 260 spirals at IBAC. What I would give for his set of lungs. . .
  • Once you get the hang of it, you can go for the single finger method and make the very tight curls. It does take some practice, which is fine, since you will improve with every one you make.
  • The tighter you can wind the balloon, the tighter the spiral (Up to a point).
  • Problem – I need to know an easy way to make a spiral out of a 260Q balloon. I have tried blowing it up, letting the air out, wrapping it around my 2 fingers, and then blowing it up again, but I get half way around, and the spiral stops and won’t let any air into it. If I let it go a little bit, to let the air pass, it doesn’t turn into a spiral, it just looks like some odd crooked thing.
  • Solution 1 – You get a twist when the uninflated balloon slips off your finger. To keep this from happening, you need to lead the bubble as it inflates. The position of the wrapped fingers in relation to the inflating bubble is most important. Watch the balloon inflate and move your wrapped fingers in a small spiral as the balloon spirals. It is a knack, but this is a good way of thinking about what you are trying to do.
  • Solution 2 – A 260 gets wider as you inflate it, but it also gets longer. If you don’t apply tension (a stretch) when you wrap the balloon around your finger, the length increase (upon inflation) will cause the wrap to loosen. When this happens, the balloon will twist about itself, closing itself off and preventing you from getting any more air in.
  • Why does this happen? Well, as the balloon is inflated, the axial length (or height) of the spiral increases. This puts the balloon in torsion, making it want to twist itself. To visualize this behavior (which is what makes coil-springs work) find a garden hose with a stripe on it. Coil the striped garden hose on the ground, making sure that the stripe is straight (not twisted). Then grab the last coil of the hose with both hands and lift it up, keeping it parallel to the ground. Watch what happens to the stripe on the hose that lifts up as you raise and lower the top coil. If this interests you further, look in any book on helical spring design for the grisly details.
  • It’s not necessary to pre-inflate the balloon before making a curly-Q if you are using a pump. Making the curly-Q with an un-inflated balloon seems to make the curls stronger (I think it has something to do with the rubber not getting stretched out straight first, then curled). For super tight curly-Q’s, inflate curled, deflate, wrap around finger again, re-inflate.
  • I use a T. Myers Pump1. I take the 260 and wrap it around my first and middle fingers fairly tightly about 4 times. I hold the tip at the 1st knuckle of my first finger and usually end half way round the inside of the hand (back of the hand pointing towards your face as you inflate). I then inflate, making sure to keep the spiral even by moving my hand enough to let the balloon expand in place. This works like a charm, but it took a few times to get the hang of it. As always, make sure that the balloon doesn’t twist or you will hear the loudest *POP* you can imagine.
  • I have tried just wrapping it around my fingers, and trying to blow it up with a hand held air pump, but that is nearly impossible.
  • The Pump 1, PumpO or Pogo can make spirals. There is no need to pre-inflate the balloon or to wrap the balloon around more than one finger. These pumps give you a free hand to control the balloon as it inflates. If you are out there trying to make lots of spirals with a 2 handed pump, you are working hard with a wimpy tool. There is complete information on inflating a spiral in the book, “Balls N’ Balloons”.
  • Marvin Hardy’s book, “The 260Q Decorator”, says “Spirals are easier to form when another person holds the tip of the balloon to the pole.” Since then, he’s found an easier way. At IBAC, Marvin demonstrated a very nice method of inflating spirals. He uses a clothes pin attached to a piece of 1/2″ or 3/4″ pipe, mounted on a camera tripod. Marvin clips the 260 nipple in the clothes pin, applies a little tension and wraps the balloon in a helix around the pipe, maintaining the tension. He holds onto the nozzle, and inflates with a compressed air source. Then unclips the balloon and ties it off.
  • Try wrapping them a little more loosely around your fingers. I have been doing it for about 8 years. It just takes practice and a lot of lung power. T. Myers does it with his pump by wrapping it around 1 finger. When you blow them by mouth you need to wrap them around 2 fingers – but not tightly!!! It’s really fun when you get the knack of it.
  • I have made great spirals by using a 260 battery powered pump. I have a WYCO pump from WYCO props (they have their own web page). I don’t preinflate the balloon but hold the tip of the balloon between a finger and thumb and wrap the rest of the balloon around my hand or arm and hold the nozzel on the pump and press the button – which is right under my palm. I have done a lot of these and it works well.
  • What I do is I wrap the balloon around my left index finger. Then I put the pump between my knees (just above them) and use them to hold the pump. Then I put the balloon on the pump with the help of my right hand and pump the balloon up with the right hand, the knees holding the pump and the left hand moves up and down with the right hand.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!
  • Magic Mike and Skiddles couldn’t have said it better, heck I couldn’t have explained it that well! Just remember to watch where the balloon goes while pumping. You have to move your left hand, if that’s the hand you wrapped around, to guide the spiral so it looks like a spiral and not a pretzel! ;-p You’ll need to practice some to get this down.
  • Also, you might want to blow it up completely, straight, and let the air out first to stretch and this will help make the spiral come out longer.
  • Spiraling with a pump: First, getting the balloon to spiral nicely is a knack that takes some practice no matter how you do it. My most complete description of it is in the book Balls and Balloons.
  • With a 2 way hand pump it is possible to hold the body of the pump between your knees, pump with one hand and spiral with the other. This not only takes a fair amount of coordination, but it looks quite odd.
  • Another way is to have a second person do the pumping. They should hold the handle/nozzle still and move the body of the pump while you spiral the ballooon.
  • Another way is to have the balloon wrapped around a broomstick, the kid’s arm (look out for popping in the face), whatever, and the end of the balloon held while you work the pump. I haven’t been very successful at this method but I’ve talked to people who swear by it.
  • If the balloon gets loose and flys around the room I call it my Tazmanian Devil.
  • We use nitrogen (pressurized tank), a tilt-valve nozzle, and a broom stick.
    • Tightly wrap a 260 (smoothly, no kinks) around a broomstick by holding the neck and the broomstick with your right hand and coiling the 260 around the broomstick with your left hand. The tighter you wrap the balloon, the tighter and more even the spiral will be.
    • When you reach the end of the balloon, hold the broomstick and the end of the balloon with your left hand and hold the broomstick and the neck in your right hand. Fit the neck over the nozzle and begin inflating. If the balloon doubles onto itself, use your wrist to guide it – you’re holding onto the end of the balloon the whole time.
    • I leave just a bit of a nub at the tail for expansion – slide the balloon off, lock off about an inch from the neck and tie it off.

    It does feel a bit awkward at first, but it’s really quick once you get the hang of it.

  • Here’s another variation on a curly-Q: wrap the middle of the balloon around your finger with equal portions of the balloon straight before and after the wrap. Blown up it sort of resembles the end of a safety pin. I’ve used it in a number of ways on hats and stuff.
Uses for the Curly-Q
  • Curly-Q’s are often made when someone asks for a snake. If you want a tongue for your snake, leave a bit of the nozzle uninflated during the preinflation.
  • Lazy S SpiralTry 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)|   ||   |
              |   ||   |___|___||___|
              |   ||   |_____________]
              |___||___|___|   ||   |
             [_____________|   ||   |
          __  |   ||   |___|___||___|
         |  \ |   ||   |_____________]
         |   \|___||___|__/   //   /
         |    [__________/   //   /
          \   |   ||   |/   //   /
           |  |   ||   |   //   /
           |                   /
            \                 /
             \               /
              \_____________/
    
    
  • I have found that placing one spiral on the end of an umbrella handle/ critter leash/ whatever makes it easier for the kids to get a grip on the creation. You can also fasten it to their wrists more easily.
  • You can release a Curly-Q at shoulder level where it will spin around like a pinwheel basically in one spot in the air. You can usually snatch it back and re-inflate it again 2 or 3 times. Hum as you blow up a Curly-Q. Tell the kids that when you let it go it will sing and do “The Twist.” If it explodes, say that it was “pop music.”
  • I’ve found I can involve the audience in twisting sprials by wrapping the balloon around their arm and having them hold the tail. The kids just love it. Soon every one in line wants to do it to. Another trick with participation is doing thin inflation by having the child hold the tail while I step back strecthing the balloon. Until I came up with this I had trouble doing one balloon dino’s and other twist that require a soft but long balloon.

Spirals

See Curly-Q’s

Multiple balloon inflations

  • 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). It really isn’t harder to do than 1 balloon, you just have to line them up right and take a couple of breaths, instead of one. It looks very impressive and gets OOH’S and AAH’S from even the most skeptical, especially if they’re in the process of trying to inflate one.
  • I can inflate 5 260’s at a time. For multiple inflations, it is all how well you can get them lined up in your mouth. I use my front teeth to gently grip them and then tug a bit to line the balloons up. hen just focus and go.
  • When I blow up three, I place the nozzles in my mouth one at a time, just inside my lips, all touching. I then grasp them between my index and middle fingers of my left hand (I’m right handed) snug, but not tight, palm inward. I let the nozzles leave my mouth while, with my right hand, I hold the nipple ends out, slightly pulling so that the nozzles come to rest against the inside of my left hand’s fingers. Sorry if this sounds redundant, but if I go over it in detail, I’ll be sure not to miss any pertinent information. PUCKER UP!! Place the left hand against your lips VERY tightly (I mean VERY TIGHTLY!!!!!!!) and Blow!
  • Mine usually start to inflate one at a time too. It seems to add to the overall effect. “Poof! Poof! POOF!” At this point, I hold my looks of pain. “Never let ’em see you cringe.” As I let the air out of the balloons, I reach up with the pinky of my right hand and tweek the inside of my right ear, while tilting my head right, closing my right eye, fluttering my left eyelashes, AND opening my mouth, stretching my jaw so as to pop my ears as if in a high-rise elevator.
  • In a related “impress your friends” note, after the 260 has a bubble in it, its not too hard to blow. So, put two or three 260’s in your mouth and inflate them ALL at the same time.

The Flash Inflate or the Blast Method

  • I thought I saw a magician blow a balloon really fast and asked him about it. He, of course, denied it, but he knew of the technique. Seems it was developed in Japan since they don’t like to stick things into their mouths. While trying to explain it to the rest of the group I attempted to demonstrate. ONE SMALL PUFF and the entire balloon was inflated. To say it was fast is a bad understatement. It was as close to magic as ballooning can get. It was just there!
  • One warning, this did hurt my cheeks the first few times when learning. I have a hard time controlling how much I inflate so I limit this to making monkeys and swords.
  • What you do is literally use both hands to pull the mouth of the balloon open. It doesn’t spread all that far, but you have to stretch it open as far as it will go. Now you have to pretend like you are going to play the trumpet (or blow a pea shooter), purse your lips and use the tip of your tongue to plug it. Build up pressure behind the tongue then snap the tongue back so the pressure can escape (of course, you have to be holding the mouth of the balloon to your mouth at this particular time). If it works, you don’t see the balloon inflate. . . it just IS inflated. It makes a neat whooshing sound too which adds to the over all effect.
  • One “gotcha” I found is it only works on never before inflated balloons. I’ve tried inflating balloons, letting the air out and trying again just for practice but it just won’t inflate properly the second time.

Nose inflation

  • Three balloons inflated at once is almost always followed by a “nose job.” Just when they think they’ve seen it all, I take one of the three (preinflated) and blow by doze! sniff, sniff. The grand finale comes when I twist up a dog with said balloon and ask someone to check and see if pooch’s nose is cold, cause I think it might be sick. Now that’s sick!!!!
  • As for the nose job, I think it’s more technique than trunk (though I do have a rather big one). With my right hand, I rest the nozzle on my thumb, hold the rest of the balloon in my palm with my fingers closed around it. I flare my right nostril and place the nozzle at the very front of this flare. While placing my thumb against the nozztril, which is now in my right nosle. Wait a minute! I think I’m getting a bit mixed up. Anyway, holding it all together with nose, nozzle, and thumb on the right, with any digit from your left hand close off your left nostril and blow!
  • How do you make a balloon dance?
    Put a little boogie in it!

Up Your Nose with a Rubber… What???

  • Who says humans are smarter than animals? Frank Olivier swallows a balloon, makes it come out of his nose, and then blows it up out his nose. The way to learn this balloon trick is to sniff the end of a piece of dental floss up your nose. Then when it hits your throat cough it out your mouth. Then tie the dental floss to an animal balloon and use it to pull the balloon through your nasal passage.
  • I saw someone do something like this at this last year’s IJA (Int’l Jugglers Ass’n) convention in Las Vegas. Frankie Olivier performed on the Renegade Stage one night. He started by inhaling a bit of dental floss up a nostril (maybe an 18″ piece). Then he spit up the end of it (out the mouth). Then did a short “nasal floss” demo, tied the nostril end of the floss to a balloon and fished that through, nipple end first. Then inflated the balloon, tied it off, and did the trick mentioned (squeezing the nozzle end to inflate the nipple end). Grossed the audience out pretty good. It was awesome!
  • On a tape from Steven’s, Todd Robins does the weirdest thing I ever saw with a balloon. He blows it up about 2 inches. He then takes the tail part proceeds to stick it in his nose!! He reaches into his mouth and pulls out the tail. He then squeezes the air in the part hanging out of his nose and has it inflate the part hanging out of his mouth!!! This would KILL on the birthday circuit!!!!
  • Did anyone see the Penn and Tellerthon the other night. They had a guy on that did some really strange things… but in particular really grossed me out with what he did with a 260. He blew up about 6 inches of it and did an impression of a “tadpole” at first… then showed how he could make the bubble go from one end of the balloon to the other… then said that’s no big deal in and of itself but then he realized he could do this with it: He then proceeded to stuff the uninflated end of the balloon up his nostril until he was able to pull it out of his mouth… thus leaving the inflated portion hanging from the nostril with the uninflated out of his mouth and from there squeezed the inflated end at his nostril till the air inflated the part coming from his mouth and went back and forth several times!!! I must say it totally grossed me out on this unique way of utilizing a 260!!! Now THAT should have been accompanied by a disclaimer to not try this at home as did most of the other things that was done on their show!! This is a great routine for appropriate functions.
  • Some tips for learning. Start out with 160’s. It is much easier to use a balloon with a bubble at the knot end as this keeps the uninflated part a bit stiffer and easier to push through. Lubricate the balloon well with saliva then just push it through your nostril and down until you feel it at the back of your throat, reach into your mouth and pull it forward. This is best practiced in private at first as the gag reflex can be quite strong and may have unintended results. Try with both nostrils and you will probably find that one is slightly bigger and more comfortable (I am left nostrilled, personally). 160’s are OK for small groups but you will want to build up to 260’s for bigger audiences. I can do condoms as well and am hoping to achieve 360’s one day. From a health point of view, I would probably not recommend trying this trick although I have not experienced or heard of any ill effects. I certainly would not try it at a kid’s party.

Other Tricks

  • I learned from Neil Sklar that you don’t need to get 160Q balloons if you don’t want to. When stretched all the way and inflated all the way to the end, a 260 BECOMES a 160!!! I did find this version of the 160 a little harder to work with, but Neil showed me that with practice he now handles them with ease. This can be used to make devil horns much more pointy at one end than the other. If you hold one end of the balloon stretched as far out as you can and inflate, stopping before the end, it starts at one end looking like a 260 and the other looking more like 1″ in diameter. Has a nice pointy effect.
  • Exactly how does one ‘deflate’ a self sealed microfoil balloon? The simplest method is to insert a ‘straw’ or balloon stick up the valve and let the air escape. I put a book on it to help it along.
  • We put a long balloon straw partially inside the hose of a vacuum cleaner and taped it in place and all around it so that the vacuuming was through the straw. (We taped the hose to the edge of a counter so that we could put the straw inside the balloon without having to juggle the hose and the balloon.) Put the straw inside the balloon and suck away. A word of warning: don’t suck too far, or the balloon crinkles up. We found we could reuse several of the 20″ rounds. As for the 36″ Stars. we found that once we’ve deflated them, they never seems to hold well again.

Tying Knots

  • After inflating the balloon, you may want to “burp” it by letting some air out of it before tying a knot. This softens the balloon a bit. An important point to keep in mind is that burping the balloon will not make it shorter if you’ve inflated it too much. It will only soften it.
  • When I inflate 260’s and 130’s, I just make a little bubble about an inch or so from the nozzle and release the air in that bubble so I’ll have lots of room to tie the balloon.
  • David Hamilton was at the Iowa State Fair a couple years ago and used all one-handed knots in his show, as well as a simple 3-twist one-handed dog. After the show I asked about the knot and he showed me his method. Keep a long nozzle when you inflate, and before releasing the end from your mouth, wrap the nozzle around your index and middle fingers. Then roll the end of the balloon with the wrapped nozzle off the end of your fingers with your thumb, making a knot. It’s the same principle as tying a knot in the end of a thread when you sew on a button.
  • Marvin showed me a trick that helps prevent raw fingers when doing lots of tying. Start with the balloon a little further away from the tip of your index finger than you normally do. Roll it towards the tip of your index finger with your thumb, causing the nozzle to twist and become round like a piece of rope. When you get to the “roll the end of the balloon with the wrapped nozzle off the end of your fingers with your thumb,” This already round, twisted nozzle rolls down your finger… with the greatest of ease.
  • And speaking of tying knots, you can do various slapstick bits related to forgetting to tie the knot, tying the knot on the wrong end and tearing the balloon in half and giving the halves to the kid (which then go zooming off).
  • Pearlized and metallic balloons are more difficult to tie than standard balloons and are rougher on the skin (which is probably why you had sore fingers your first job out).
  • I tape up my fingers with Sport tape to prevent excessive skin wear and tear (ouch). It’s great to protect the cuticles!
  • I keep first aid tape in the tool box for my son who has this problem with fingers hurting.
  • To avoid or reduce finger pain and speed up the tying, practice tying balloons by wrapping them around your finger nail area and not up at the knuckle.
  • I suggest clear tape wrapped around the areas where you are most likely to hurt your fingers (before you start tying, of course). It helps a little.
  • Are your fingers getting raw and blistered from tying or are the joints in your fingers getting stiff? A solution for raw fingers is to take medical or duct tape and tape up your tying fingers before you start a big project. You need tape that is sticky enough to stay on your fingers, but not too sticky that it rips off your skin when removing.
  • For sore, stiff fingers, you may want to purchase the first QBN video where they present a good technique for tying (too difficult for me to explain, probably easier to watch it). Start learning the professional techniques now, especially before you start training a crew (i.e. family members). If they learn it the right way the first time, you will be very thankful as it’s much easier than trying to break old habits. Tying balloons into duplets gets much easier with a little practice.
  • Also your fingers will build up strength through repetition (that doesn’t mean they won’t still stiffen up they day after a HUGE job).
  • I have just become aware of a balloon knotting device. I don’t know how old it is, but it is made by H & M Enterprises in Cookeville, Tn (615) 526-1129. It is a hard plastic device that slips over the fingers with an extension coming out of the palm of your hand. I bought some last week and my crew absolutely loves them. I first saw this device at IBAC 12. It was demonstrated at one of the booths at the Trade show across the street. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to figure out how to use this when I want to tie a ribbon into the knot of the balloon so I can “slide and size” the ribbon length. Otherwise, it’s a great hand saver, but not as quick as the “over the thumb” method for me.
  • At a ballon show in London I saw a firm, ZIBI I think, selling gizmos to help tie balloons so I got one to try out. It’s basically a grooved, tapered stick with a split in the end, and it takes a bit of getting used too. I personally don’t think I’ll use it often, but there are times where my tying fingers get sore where it would be useful. It may be useful for anyone who finds tying a problem.
  • Marvin Hardy taught me how to make my own “knot tying gadget.” You take a short length of pvc pipe. Starting at one end, cut off a 4″ long, wedge-shaped piece of the top half of the pipe. Discard the 4″ piece. Taper the cut edge to form a “scoop” and sand the edges. To use this tool to tie knots in balloons, hold the pipe section as a handle and wrap the inflated balloon nozzle around the tapered end. Tuck in the rolled lip, then slide the balloon off the pipe – voila, you have a knotted balloon. It even works on 3 footers. If you feed arch line through the pvc pipe you can tie the balloons for a string of pearl arch right on the line using this gadget. It works great!
  • West Winds http://westwinds.com sells two different products:
    • “SNAPPY KNOTZ” a new hand held balloon tying tool for small decorating jobs or for sale to retail customers using balloons, and
    • “Snappi Seal,” an automatic latex balloon sealing machine which seals latex balloons in 1.5 seconds using special tape.
  • You can also check out these tools and supplies to tie balloons:
    • http://www.knotaballoon.com/
    • http://americancustom.com/knotty/knotty.htm
      Knotty – Balloon Tying Aid
      Address: 1210 North Willow Ave
      Cookeville, TN, 38501
      Phone: (615) 520-8610
      Email: acs@multipro.com
    • http://www.balloonhouse.com/device.html
  • Finally, here’s a self-sealing balloon that doesn’t need tying:

    TYING

  • West Winds has a new “automatic latex balloon sealing machine” which seals latex balloons in 1.5 seconds! No leakage. The system also has the ability to attach ribbon the same time the balloon is being sealed. Unit attaches to a helium cylinder and seals the balloon with a strong adhesive strip. Doesn’t distract from the balloon! Suggested retail price is $159.50. Check out the product on our website http://westwinds.com . IT’S A REAL TIME SAVER. IMAGINE BEING ABLE TO SEAL OVER 2000 BALLOONS IN AN HOUR! E-mail westwind@apk.net or call us for more information 1-800-783-8590. Distributor inquiries welcome.
  • Do you use discs, clips or hand tie the balloons?
  • We have found it fastest to hand tie them, but it could be because that’s what we’re used to.
  • Hand tying has always been fastest with me too, do what works for you.
  • My husband and I found that hand tying is absolutely the fastest and safest way to insure a good seal with our balloons. We don’t do a lot of delivery, but I hand tie and lay the ribbon over the knot so that it slides freely and then tie a little extra knot so that it won’t slip while outside.
  • I learned about making your own “knot tying gadget” from Marvin Hardy. You take a length of one inch – schedule 40 pvc pipe and cut the top half of about 4″ off one end of the pipe. Then you taper the bottom half off to form a sort of scoop and sand the edges. You wrap the inflated balloon around the tapered end, tuck in the tail, then slide it off the pipe and you have a tied 16″ balloon. It also works on 3 footers. If you feed arch line through the pvc pipe you can also tie the balloons for a string of pearl arch right on the line using this gadget. It works great!
  • You might also consider using the plastic discs that are about the size of a quarter. I have not used them in several years, but they were always good for staff members who just could not “stretch” the necks of the 16″ balloons. I know Conwin carried them, so check your distributors. Remember these are about the size of a quarter and have a hole in the center. You do not want the ones that are the same size, but have a slit from the edge to the center.
  • There is a WONDERFUL device called “knot-a-balloon” sold by Flowers, Inc Balloons I used it to do a 300 balloon drop for the 4th of July, and believe me, I am buying one for every assistant!!!!!!!!!!
  • I have tried the “Knot-A-Balloon”. Dolly has them on hand specifically for the staff who find it tough to tie 16″ latex and also when knotting thousands for a balloon drop. You can become very quick with them after a little practice. No sore or bleeding fingers. A great tool to have for those balloons that strip the cuticles. Made by : H & M Enterprises – Tennessee (615) 526-1129
  • I have tried a “Knot-a-Balloon” and I loved it!! I used it on my first large decorating gig, and have purchased one for anyone that helps me ever since.
  • I found one thing that made a huge difference in preventing sore fingers. Leave more slack while tying the knot. I was stretching a tiny portion of balloon around my fingers to make the knot. My fingers got sore real quick. If I tie a looser knot, and use more balloon while doing it, my fingers NEVER hurt. You can always roll the knot down towards the nozzle, if needed.
  • How much you inflate the balloon is critical. Leave about a half-inch of balloon uninflated for each twist you’ll have to make. If you end up without enough air in the balloon, you can make adjustments by reducing the size of some segments. If the balloon is too full of air, your creation may pop before you finish it. Always hold the balloon about one inch from the lip end as you inflate it; this will make it easier to tie.
  • Wrap N Tie – the sore finger solution!! If you have not ordered or you need more information on our solution to tying latex balloons, e-mail us at Balloonjoy@aol.com

Why blow up a balloon with a pump?

  • Using a pump is better for your health than mouth inflating.
  • With a pump, the kids can help you blow up the balloons so they feel that they are participating in making the creation. The older kids can fill and twist their own balloons.
  • With a pump, a defective balloon won’t pop in your eye.
  • A pump helps limit the spread of germs (germ warfare) when you’re physically ill.
  • It’s more “sanitary.” There’s no moisture or condensation in the balloon. In restaurants I keep as much as I can out of my mouth. It doesn’t look quite right biting on a balloon that you are about to give out. Also, my post-pop airborne saliva seems inappropriate as a condiment or dressing for the customers’ vittles.
  • I use a pump all the time for safety reasons. I do a lot of kid shows. I always tell kids not to put the balloons in their mouths, so I don’t want the kids to see me putting balloons in my mouth. If the kids see you putting your mouth on a balloon, they will put their mouth on the balloon. If the kids _don’t_ see you blowing up or even sticking balloons in your mouth, they will assume they shouldn’t either. The possibility of the balloon popping in their mouth is wonderful potential for choking and lawsuits!
  • I have asthsma, and blowing balloons up by mouth just isn’t an option.
  • I have glaucoma, and blowing balloons up by mouth could be dangerous to my sight.
  • The potential of breathing in the powder that they put in the balloons is not for me – I have enough breathing problems already.
  • Pumps allow you to keep talking while the balloons are being inflated. A pump frees your mouth to interact with customers. I use my pump on large jobs, if for no other reason than the fact that I can keep up a steady line of verbal ‘shtick’ with the kids.
  • Not as much stamina is required for l-o-n-g ballooning stints with a pump. I pull out the pump when I am doing a lot of balloons or am getting winded.
  • A big pump also gives you a physical barrier between you and your audience. This could be beneficial with that rough crowd. . . just hold it up as a weapon and tell them to watch out or you’ll blow them all away.
  • There are at least three very good reasons not to blow balloons by mouth when working with either twisting or round balloons:
    1. Development of sensitivities to Latex on lips and mouth area – plus possible inhalation of the powers used in production can get into the lungs.
    2. Rupturing the blood vessels of the eyes.
    3. The extreme pressure put onto the abdominal area can cause small blood vessel ruptures, in severe cases – this can cause doctors to suspect intestinal cancer.

    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.

  • The Qualatex(tm) package does say on it “Do not inflate by mouth,” yet people expect you to blow up balloons by mouth. So it is our resposibility to change their way of thinking. We have got to find a new, CREATIVE way of blowing up balloons which will make them forget of the old way. When I used to blow a whole balloon by mouth ( which took me 3 months to learn how without blowing my brains out ๐Ÿ™‚ people would shout “WOW!”,”HOW’D YOU DO THAT?” My reply would be “I don’t smoke.” I figured this would give a good message.
  • The key is to get a good pump which fits with your character and that you *enjoy* using. I use two different pumps, depending on where I’m performing. Most often I use my Balloon Buoy (made by Ed Rohr). It’s small, lightweight, fast, and loud enough to attract all the attention I want. I introduce the pump in my act as a funny prop before I ever blow up a balloon with it. This way, when the audience sees what I’m using it for, there’s no ho-hum reaction at all. It just belongs.
  • You are always telling kids not to put a balloon in their mouth because they might choke, YET you are standing there with a balloon in your mouth. What message is this giving the kids? It’s like drinking a beer while you tell your kid “now don’t drink alcohol.” You are giving kids a mixed message there. I used to blow by mouth for 25 years until one night in a restaurant I told a 6 year old kid not to put the balloon in his mouth. He said “well you just did.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve used a pump ever since. Maybe I should design a pin that says “OUT OF THE MOUTH OF PEOPLE”. While I’m on the balloons in mouth subject… A while ago some of us brought up the idea of having the balloon companies put a “bad Taste” agent on balloons except around the lip area. I am thinking of persuing this with the balloon companies. I want to hear pros and cons about doing this.
  • I’ve been a long-time advocate of the “lung power” school of twisting. Its quick, convenient, and those little stars that start to float in front of my eyes are kind of pretty… BUT, I got a bit of a cold this weekend and had two parties to do. While I felt fine about sneezing on the kids (kind of a sweet revenge sort of thing, for all the kids that have coughed in my face…), I just didn’t have the wind I usually do so I got out the old PumpO and limbered it up. At first, I felt pretty awkward, but I got used to that pretty quickly. What amazed me was the kids’ reactions (first group 6 year olds, second was 8-9 year olds). They loved the pump! They thought the noise it made was cool, and with the balloon inflating up instead, of down or to the side, there were lots of ohhhs and ahhhs as the balloon inflated. I’ve never before had comments about how big or long the balloon is. I suspect that the pump will be a part of my group twisting from now on.
  • Get a pump for the really big gigs. I can blow by mouth for a long time, but not all day. And not nearly as fast as I want to to keep the line from getting too long. I have the Pump 1 from T Meyer and wouldn’t do a corporate gig without it. I use it any time I want to make figures in less than five minutes (I’m doing 3-5 balloon creations). There’s some entertainment value in blowing by mouth, but most of the entertainment comes from how you interact with the customers while building their sculpture. After seeing a person inflate 10 or so, the “wow!” factor is significantly diminished.
  • You can do cool pump tricks like this:
  • Levitation – A steady stream of air from any source will float a small, light, round object and lock it in position over the stream of air. John does this with lung power and a ping pong ball. I do it with a 3 inch round made from 350 leftovers. I use my Pump1 or a fully inflated 350. The balloon ball floats about a foot above the nozzle. If you use a 350 for the air source, you can ‘tow’ the floating ball all over the living room…uh…I mean, stage.
  • The Pump1 and PumpO, when clean and lubricated, slide down on their own weight. This causes a light stream of air that can float a small balloon (like a 3″ round bubble with the knot trimmed.) It is an interesting and curious activity if you find yourself with wait time. I expect the Pogo air stream could float something very light.
  • General The pogo is big, gaudy and attracts attention and conversation when table-hopping. Since I did away with the inner rubber return “spring”, I can set the pump down as I arrive at a table and it will slowly drop to its lowest position, since I carry it from the bottom of the big tube. This extends it to its tallest as gravity pulls the stand down. This sinking movement usually causes the customers to notice it out of the corner of their eye. Most of the time they think its falling over and they grab for it. Or, they’re startled by this “thing” moving all by itself. Either way, its fun and starts the interaction. I also use Bruce Kalver’s schtick about the pump being a giant pepper mill or parmesan cheese grinder. I also blow air at little kids’ hair to demonstrate how it works. I never shoot it in their faces. I’ve actually been asked how often I have to replace the CO2 cartridge inside!!

Pump Disadvantages:

  • Lack of portability, slightly slower, can break down.
  • The kids love my Pump-O and it does draw a crowd. My biggest problem is getting the kids to leave the pump alone. I usually tell them in a nice way not to touch it because it breaks easily, and that I won’t be able to make any more balloons if the pump breaks. This works about 50 percent of the time.
  • When kids are left to their vices, they will always play with your pump, no matter how many times you tell them not to, and this leads to breakdown too. Floor pumps get dirty easily cuz the kids love to stand on the base.
  • My biggest problem is getting the kids to leave the pump alone. I got a hoolahoop and stand in the middle of it. That is my “space” and they have to stand on the outside of it.

Pump Testamonials

  • I use a Pogo 90 percent of the time, but still blow them up orally whenever challenged or called a cheater. I also do it when I am walking around a table and have left the pump at the other end of the table. When I started (1969), there were no pumps available (as far as I knew) so you blew ’em up or found something else to do. I’ve had headaches. I’ve had eye pain. I like using both methods and find that the pump isn’t all that slow, once you get the rhythm of getting the nozzle over the inflation tip and doing the actual pumping.
  • Another thing I like about using both methods is the ability to use both kinds of comedy. I can use the mouth-blowing gags and the pump gags too! Plus, it eases the boredom of doing the same thing every time. And the security of knowing I can still do the gig if my pump breaks is very comforting.
  • For me blowing them up is faster because the pumps just slow me down. I have worked large events with another twister who uses a pump, and I have found that for the most part we make about the same amount of creations in the same amount of time. However, I can work faster for the first hour, whereas she can work at a consistent speed the whole time.
  • I’ve been inflating by mouth – ever since my one pump (a Q 2 way) broke in the midst of an event. The rest of that event all I did was mice, tulips, and small poodles – none of those big ‘ol parrot hats. Now, I always carry at least two pumps if I’m going to be using them and not inflating by mouth.
  • Here’s a solution to this whole mouth vs. pump problem. Just ponder these questions yourself and then decide which direction you want to go.
    • Would you rather decorate your mouth or your pump with little pictures of the balloon animals that you do?
    • Can you still inflate and talk effectively by mouth if you have a tip container hanging from your lower lip?
    • You miss all those great jokes about pumps.
  • Of course there are down sides.
    • Your mouth rarely gets hung up in the x-ray machine at airports. (Did you ever try to check a Pogo? For some real fun, take a trip to another country with one of those little palm pumps and watch the gathering of customs officials as they try to figure out what it is but won’t dare ask. If they’re really curious, they might go so far as to bring the drug sniffing dogs out to inspect it. Yes, this really happened. Now you know why T. “DRIVES” all over the country!)
    • If you use a pump, no one ever says “My, that’s an impressive pair of lungs you have there”.
    • 3 out of 4 times, the children at the table won’t want to play with your mouth.
  • First, as many of you know, there are several pumps out there on the market, as well as our very own home grown in our own body respiratory ones. ๐Ÿ™‚ We are all very different with our own personal preferences and experiences through out the years of entertaining, so opinions on this will, of course, vary greatly. No one thing is set in stone or is the absolute BEST for every one of us. Now with that said…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.

    • index.html at home.communique.net – This is The Balloon Masters site
    • T. Myers Magic, Inc. Balloon, Clown and Facep… – T’s site of course
    • Clown Supplies, Inc. – Cheezo’s pump can be found here.
    • Albert the Stickerman – where I get my clown/magician stickers from.

    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 recommend PUMP1 and PUMP0 by T. Myers – no battery, and they still just keep on pumping and pumping and pumping….
  • I have two battery pumps from the Edwards Group. They are the best battery pumps that I have tried out of three different ones. Less noise and the battery lasts the longest. His phone # is 609-488-7584. He is in New Jersey.
  • I used to inflate my 260s by mouth for 14 years, then decided to try pumps, and I have 3 of TMyers pumps now, Pump O, Pump 1, and Pogo, and I swear by them. They are quiet, you can put your ad on them, or your balloon designs, they attract attention to you, they prove you are real pro who knows what he is doing, and many times I have had people come up and ask if it is helium, or compressed air, so if you ever get tired, or need a break from the never-ending mob, you just say, sorry, I seem to have run out of air on my machine, and they would believe it, althousgh I have never done that. Also, they need no recharging, and can go on for 14 hours without a problem, just need to add a little lubricant spray from time to time.
  • I’ve gotten myself to use my pump more, just to save energy when I have multiple parties in one day of have a long gig, like a festival. Sometimes it definitely pays to inflate by mouth so I can get the line down faster, and I can leave on time. I get plenty of jokes about “great lungs”, “You don’t smoke, huh?” because they’re so impressed I can even do it. However, I DO NOT inflate metallics by mouth, only in a pinch, because it’s just way too hard and takes too much energy–I LOVE MY PUMP FOR THE METALLICS!

Cheater,Cheater…

  • If I’m not in the mood to inflate by mouth, and someone decides they have to question my manhood by asking why I’m using a pump, I would hand them a balloon and request they inflate the next one for me. If that doesn’t keep em busy and quiet for a while, and they actually DO inflate it, then I would ask them to imagine doing that 5 or 6 hundred more times tonight. Usually they smile and give no more problems.
  • We have to find a way to get the same reactions from the public with a new way. A pump – “Hohum, he uses a pump.” The shmuck can’t blow a balloon up. [Your favourite one-liner on pumps] What an excuse. That is exactly the reaction we entertainers don’t want. You want to entertain the person from when you blow the balloon up until you give it to that person. If some Balloon-company could manufacture a creative way to pump up balloons, we should buy it. Maybe we should give them ideas. I have a magician friend who has a Teddy-bear with a air hose in its mouth. The bear sits on his table. When the balloon goes to the bear’s lips, the magician pumps it up with his foot. THE KIDS LOVE IT. Point made?
  • I don’t see a problem with a creative one-liner, or even a story (humorous or otherwise) explaining your use of a pump. (The line I have used all these years is “I’am a clown not a fool!”) As long as you have a good pump that matches the high quality of your act, it can fit in quite well.
  • I build on and play off of a customer’s reaction to my pump. Them: “Hey, you’re cheating..” ( NASCAR racing is big around here so) Me: “You’re darn right… I was right there on Gordon’s bumper into the last turn at Daytona… tried to make a balloon animal… blew out a lung… right into the wall… BANG!… do you think I’m going to chance that again… no way!”
  • When someone gives me a hard time about my pump, I usually respond that I do a lot of hospital visitation on the cancer floor, and the kids, or adults for that matter, can’t have my germs on their balloons. Its a matter of cleanliness. (Besides, who wants clown spit on their balloons!) (smile) When I tell it like this (as it happens to be true), people think about it and really appreciate your caring about their health and not spreading germs. I have never had a negative response when explaining my use of a pump like this. In fact, I usually get complimented on my thoughtfulness and consideration. I know as a mom myself, I really wouldn’t appreciate a stranger putting my child’s balloon in their mouth. Also it helps in setting a good example to kids whom you have just told to make sure to never put a balloon in their mouths if they see you don’t either.
  • As I prepare to use my balloon buoy pump I say that there is a little magic person that helps me out. Before they hear the noise for the first time I caution everyone to stand back and not be scared. For some reason the laughs are even better after this. I follow with “whoops, I guess he needs a new muffler” – laughter from the kids, groans from the adults.
  • “Hey, you’re cheating!”
    Do you really want me to give something to a kid that I’ve had in my MOUTH??? Never, never, never, ever, put a balloon in your mouth for ANY reason! – That’s dangerous!
  • “You tell children not to put a balloon in your mouth yet you stand there putting balloons in your mouth. What are you teaching them? It’s like the doctor who stands there puffing on a cigarette, and he tells you to stop smoking.”
  • Whenever someone tells me “I’m cheating”; I ask them if they drove to the restraunt or if they jogged. It takes a second to sink in. I just smile and keep twisting. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • THAT’S CHEATING!
    (To Man ) Do I tell you how to inflate your blow-up doll?
  • I say “I used to blow the balloons up by mouth, but one popped and the whole line ran for cover. The balloon wilts everytime I try to blow it up! I don’t think anyone would want my breath in their balloon.”
  • Those are the lines I use, sometimes just one sometimes all of them delivered “Rodney Dangerfield” style. I don’t get any respect!
  • I mention to them that I used to blow them up by mouth but had to stop when after a long while of inflating them with my mouth I would start seeing balloon colors in my bag that weren’t really there. Like plaid and paisley!
  • I answer them with this remark, “Hey there ain’t enough of us ballooners out here making people smile as it is. I think that they should use a pump if they can’t or don’t want to do it the way I do. All I can say is the pump adds MORE POWER TO `EM.”.
  • Everytime someone says, “you’re cheating” which is at least once a night I take out an uninflated 260 (usually one of the tougher ones, like the metallics) and make an offer. I tell him (usually it’s a guy) that if he can fully inflate the balloon on the first try that I will buy him a beer. In the past 3 years I have bought only 1 beer. Usually I get a huge apology after these big strappin’ guys nearly blow their brains out trying to inflate it to get a free beer. The funniest part is when the smart guy sitting next to him tells him, “all ya’ gotta do is stretch it….” Try it, it always gets a laugh.
  • “Where are you from? Boston? Did you walk here or take a car? A Car? YOU CHEATED!”
  • Here is what I do. Before I start my first balloon I say “Watch me blow up a balloon the old fasion way” – and I blow my first balloon by mouth. I then say “Now watch me do it while hoding my breath”. I then use a pump. I get some laughs/groans. I then use the pump for the rest of the job. They now know that I can do it if I wanted to. Not that I have to apologize for using a pump, but this avoids some of the negative remarks.
  • “Who says Cheetas’ never prosper!” lol! They laugh every time!
  • Once I replied “yeah, some people can blow these things up without a problem. It always impresses me.” On that, I grabbed two balloons and inflated them at once. “I guess it’s something I should practice.” Several mouths hung open, but no words came out. This is a great feat!! I do it rarely, except when I want to “blow” someone away.
  • Pumps have great potential for entertainment. Besides dressing up the pump, you can use it in your show. Personally, I rarely use my pump to actually inflate balloons, but I bring it along because it’s a good visual prop, and I have some good material that I use it for. Here are some ideas that I use: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!”

  • When I am actually doing a performance or routines, I incorporate the pump by making it one of the props of the story. So far it has been many things:
    • a wizard`s magic sceptre of living balloon generation (I combine it with a small flask of ancient balloon skeletons suspended in magic ether i.e. uninflated balloons)
    • a butcher`s sausage machine
    • a blacksmith`s metal bar machine and several other things
    • My small 160Q blaster has been a Jedi`s lightsabre (it actually looks like one).

    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.

Balloon pumps

Hand pumps; those inexpensive, usually disposable tools for balloon inflating and how to use them.

  • Our dream pump:
    1. is not too expensive
    2. doesn’t break
    3. doesn’t make a lot of noise
    4. is small, light weight and easily portable
    5. inflates the balloon with little effort
  • One must apply proper technique when pumping. Snapping several pumps in a single day (which really isn’t anyone’s fault since the pumps don’t come with any instructions) means you are not applying the proper technique. It takes a little fiddling with any new tool before you can feel comfortable with it and be able to utilize it as an extension of yourself. Even using a hammer takes practice. Here are some tips:
  • I put a skinny balloon on a pump nozzle by holding the lips of the balloon lightly between my thumb and forefinger. Once the edge of the nozzle starts into the lips of the balloon I just roll the lips on over the pump nozzle. Some people quickly pull the lips open with both hands, but it seems very awkward to me.
  • Hold the pump around the cylinder. If you cover the air holes on the end of the pump, it will not work.
  • Don’t push sideways while pumping! As the piston rod moves out, it increases the leverage of any side force that your hand may be exerting on the nozzle. You need to pay attention to pumping in and out in a straight line. The less strength your arms have the more difficult it is to apply force only in a straight line.
  • Each stroke should be just short of hitting the end of the cylinder. If you are using the pump to tell you when to change direction, you are bumping the internal piston into the end caps, and your pump will not last. It is easier on the pump if they do not hit. Learn how long a stroke is by starting with quick short strokes and working out.
  • The typical hand pump will put large visible ripples into the inflated balloon. Any stop/start during inflation will affect the resulting shape of a long skinny balloon. It depends on the balloon, the pump, the pumper, how closely you look and how much you care. Trying to keep the air flowing evenly is all you can do. Usually, if I get any ripples, it’s only one or two, and, generally it’s my own fault (sub-standard pump technique), and the ripples are never evident by the time I’m done twisting my animal. A palm pump does not produce ridges. It does, however, leave your hand very sore.
  • Quickly changing direction while pumping cuts down on the lost air between ‘puffs.’ The 2-way hand pump is an ingenious invention. In one version the O-ring on the piston moves axially in its groove to make a seal on one side of the groove and allows air to travel past it on the other side of the groove and into the center tube. Each time the pumping direction changes, the O-ring has to seat on the other side of the groove in order for it to seal and allow the device to pump air. Quickly changing direction while pumping helps the O-ring rapidly make a new seal.
  • The out stroke is usually less efficient. The out stroke has a smaller effective pumping area than the in stroke because the piston rod takes up some space. The out stroke also has 3 places to seal compressed air, and the in stroke only has 2.
  • These cheap plastic pumps are just that. They are disposable. Buy lots of them and be surprised when one lasts a year. The old blue Qualatex Hand pumps were notorious for breaking immediately. The purple ones are better. The purple pumps have a nozzle hand piece that comes off. The center tube has a rubber washer and two pins. When the handle is pushed on, the pins follow a slot, and, when the handle is turned sideways, the pins lock into a notch. There are little arrows on the black handle that many people never see. Sometimes the handle comes off by accident. Glue it on with plastic cement or super glue.
  • The cost of making a good heavy duty pump doesn’t yet fit the size of the market. (My large hand pump is $50 because each piece is made one at a time.) It will. I’m working on a heavy duty 2-way pump, but it will be expensive too. The market needs to get bigger to support the expense of molds and large runs to make a less expensive heavy duty pump.
  • One thing I don’t like about hand pumps is that using one requires keeping both hands on the pump. When working in a packed dining room, I want a hand on the balloon to keep it away from patrons, waitstaff, and places the balloon shouldn’t be. When inflating by mouth, a floor pump, an electric pump or a cylinder of compressed air, I can keep both hands on the balloon.

Palm pumps

  • Palm pumps are squeeze bulbs with a one-way valve in the nozzle. They are good for inflating 130’s, or starting a bubble in a 260 for continuing by mouth. It takes about 50 squeezes to inflate a 260 with a palm pump, giving you plenty of time to talk to your customers as you develop carpal-tunnel syndrome. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket or purse, tucked inside a bag of balloons. A palm pump does not produce ridges in the balloon. It does, however, leave your hand very sore.
  • From my own experience and from observing some of the ‘greats’ at work, I’d say that using a palm pump to repeatedly _fully_ inflate many, many 260’s is not really what the palm pump was designed for. You could literally squeeze squeeze squeeze squeeze squeeze squeeze that thing forever! Instead, use it to get started! One squeeze – poof, a small bubble is born. Then go on to mouth inflate. We’ve all had friends beg for a balloon, determined that _they_ can blow it up, we watch until they are on ther verge of passing out, then give them a small inflated bubble to start with, and usually they can inflate the balloon. I’ve witnessed Royal Sorell mouth blow and twist for hours and hours, but later, when sitting around ‘jamming with friends’ he just couldn’t get any more balloons to inflate. He promptly pulled a palm pump out of his pocket, used it to start a small bubble, and then mouth-inflated the balloon the rest of the way.

130 Blaster

  • T Myers sells a small, slim, black, mini-mag-lite looking, double-acting hand pump called the 130 Blaster. It is made in Sweden and very well built. It has a long, very thin, black detachable nozzle which is ideal for inflating 130’s. The nozzle is carried flipped around inside of the pump to keep it from breaking when not in use. It costs $8 and works just as wonderfully as the 260 Blaster.
  • T (free catalog, just ask) Myers writes: Try the 130 Blaster. It’s a 2-way pump and looks like one of those little black flashlights. By the way, I just got a new nozzle for the 130 Blaster that works better for 160’s and 260’s than the plastic basketball needle that comes with it. It takes lots of pumps for a 260 but it’s small and works great for the 160.
  • 130 Blaster look-alike seen in sports department of K-Mart:Rawlings Double Action Pump Kit
    Price: $4.99
    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

  • The Euro pump is a double-acting hand pump that is smallerand lighter than the Qualatex AirInflator. The neck doesn’t snap off like the Q-Pump. They come in Blue, Red and Yellow, but the case pack is something like 2500 of one color, so they rotate the colors. You get whatever color they have that month. The nozzle tip of the Euro pump is not chamfered (beveled), like the one on the Qualatex pump. Since the bevel makes it so much easier to get the balloon nozzle onto the pump nozzle, I did a little file work on the Euro nozzle, followed by some emery cloth to smooth out any rough spots. I would recommend this modification to anyone who has a Euro pump.
  • I am crazy about the Faster Blaster II sold by Potsy and Blimpo, or 260 Blaster sold by T. Myers, or Blaster sold by All American Balloon Supply. For a type of pump which is usually considered disposable, it’s built like a brick, um, outhouse :-). This is no cheap plastic party store unit. It’s a good, solid pump, that even opens up for servicing should it become necessary. I’ve put it through its paces. Other plastic hand pumps I’ve used would have broken under similar conditions. This little baby is unlike any hand pump I’ve ever worked with. And it’s colorful, too. The pink, white, and blue 130T’s are difficult to inflate by mouth. Today I tore apart an old Sharpie marker and found that the tip fits perfectly on my Faster Blaster II pump!
  • The faster blaster makes a great squirt gun! Submerged in water it makes a handy water balloon tool (although tiring on the hands).
  • The only way I inflate 160’s is with the faster blaster. All you need to do is stretch the end a bit to get it over. A gentle tug on the end of the balloon as you start to pump makes it a bit easier also. Once it starts, it’s just like it’s big brother, the 260.
  • My Faster Blaster II is half dead. It only inflates on the down stroke. Anyone know of a surgery procedure to save “Old Blue?”
  • There are 5 places to check on the out stroke.
    1. The large O ring that fits into the O ring notch on the end of the center tube. It needs to seal against the lower edge of the O ring notch and against the outer tube.
    2. The small O ring that circles the center tube needs to seal against the center tube and against the flat rubber washer that closes the top holes.
    3. The flat rubber washer needs to seal the top holes closed.
    4. The top screws on. If the threads are crossed or not screwed tight, it could leak air.
    5. The plastic of the cylinder and center tube can’t have any cracks in it.

    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.

  • I bought a single-action pump designed to put water in the water balloon yo-yo’s. It is turquoise plastic with a metal shaft and a clear plastic air chamber. It is very noisy (which the kids love), smaller than the Qualatex pumps, and most importantly is still going strong after 2 years!!!! I put it in my balloon box for small events when I will only be inflating 20-30 balloons. I think it was $6, and I bought it either at Conwin Carbonic in LA or at All American Balloon in Santa Ana. They tried to talk me out of it and recommended the other pump, but it was one of my best purchases.

260 Blaster

  • I just got my first 260 blaster in the mail, and I’m really impressed with its apparent sturdiness and the speed with which it inflates. Less strokes than my old Euro pump (which, BTW I’ve used for about 5 years without a break, you roughnecks). The only thing I was having to adjust to was the larger nozzle…until…I just discovered the big nozzle comes off and there’s one under there just like I’m used to. DUH!! Do I feel dumb or what?? Anyway, just wanted to give the pump a thumbs-up review.
  • The 260 Blaster costs $5.50. We also have a 130 Blaster for $6.00. I really like both these pumps. They seem to hold up well, and they don’t leak. You can unscrew the end to clean and lubricate the inside. The 130 Blaster has a basketball type needle for a nozzle. It is stuck into the pump for shipping. The only complaint I’ve had is the nozzle on the 260 Blaster. It is flat ended, not like the beveled Qualatex nozzle. It is a little harder to put the balloon on, but once you get the knack it is no problem. If you want it beveled, grind the tip to an angle. A grinding wheel, a file, the sidewalk can all grind down the plastic nozzle. I seriously like this hand pump.
  • I have a youth balloon ministry with 22 teenagers. We have been using 260 Blasters since January and have not broken one yet! If 22 teenages aren’t an acid test, I don’t know what is. Obviously, I recommend the 260 Blaster for durability. Plus we like the colors.
  • I wonder if many of you find this to be the case: “the latest TMYERS 260 blaster I purchased has a new nozzle tip that I find difficult to use speedily.” I’ve found that holding the lips of the balloon at the tips of the thumb and first finger and placing the lips against the pump nozzle at an angle allows me to roll the balloon lips right onto the nozzle. The 260 Blaster used to come with an extra nozzle piece to inflate larger balloons. About a year ago they redesigned the handle and nozzle so the extra piece was not necessary but the nozzle did change shape. If I was designing this nozzle, I’d make it a little smaller with a beveled opening. T.
  • I always have the 260 blaster with me as a back up for when the noise of the buoy is too much or when the battery runs out. Someone once advised that I get a second battery. The 260 Blaster is a great pump and definitely a “best buy” for the price. I have to admit that since seeing the pogo on Bruce’s Airnimations video I often dream of a shiny new one of my very own.

Qualatex AirInflator

  • The Qualatex AirInflator -is about $4 from T. Myers Magic. It fills a 260 in about 4-5 strokes, since it works on both the in and out motions. It is about 2.25″ in diameter and about 13″ long, so it is easy to carry and you can tuck it under your arm or between your knees, or drop it to the ground if you need to while you twist. It inflates balloons faster than the Euro pump does. This pump can inflate 130’s; they fit on the pump’s nozzle. However, the construction and materials are not the best – many users report a variety of structural failures. Many of these can be repaired with an application of Duco Plastic Weld, but if you use this pump professionally, it is best to carry a backup.
  • Qualtex Hand Inflator is handy – good for 4″ and 9″ if you aren’t using nitrogen and a valve and only need a few.

Pump T

  • I just received T’s new Pump T, and love it. It is a hand held pump made of plastic and will fill a balloon in about 2 1/2 strokes. It is a little larger than most hand pumps. As far as small pumps go, this puppy is nice. It feels like a real sturdy pump. No need to oil it like T’s other pumps. It is “pre greased” at the factory. I wish T would build a bag or holster for it. If you are walking around you will need to figure out a way to carry the Pump T. I love it for at home use because I lay it on the floor and make whatever I am making right there. No need to worry about how to carry it around. For sculptures that require an exact amount of air (Taz, Tweety), this pump helps me measure the amount better than others do.

Other hand pumps that work for inflating balloons

  • For bullet proof use, use an ordinary sports ball pump with the plastic screw on tip designed to fill inflatable mattresses and floats. They are single-action pumps, but you can pump much faster since you don’t worry about breaking them.
  • In Wal*Mart I came across a US $4 pump. It’s about 12 in. long and 1.5 in. in diameter. It is easy to grip and seems to be well built for an inexpensive pump. Much better than another plastic $4 pump I saw that fits the description of what Qualatex distributes. It is distributed by Spalding and is meant to be a general purpose hand held pump. The body is a single piece. From what I can see of the valve system, I seems of good quality. It even comes with a needle for pumping up balls, and a plastic nozzle for blowing up other inflatables. The last can be used when you want to twist a beach ball, nylon inner tube (aka humungus geo), or air mattress, as well as pumping up balloons. The nozzle that it comes with looks very similar to what T. Myers has in his catalog for $1. The pump’s handle even has a storage compartment for the plastic nozzle (or maybe an extra one). Now for the drawbacks. It is only a one way pump (vs a two way pump). I tried pumping up some 260Q’s, and it took 12-13 strokes. Still, it is much better than the small blue palm pump that I started out with, and it is easily available to those in the USA. If you’re a beginner you might look into it.Name brand: Spalding
    Model #: AA-245NSP
    UPC: 25033 60572
  • I’ve seen a pump available through Morris Costume supply in New York that is built into a small magician’s style table. The pump is actually the stand, with the nozzle sticking up through the center of the table.
  • I am looking for a 260 pump about the same size as the purple Qualatex pump that is mustard yellow, though I hear they come in some other colors. They have a tip that’s a little smaller than the Q pump. I think they are manufactured in Canada. If I remember correctly, those pumps were made by “Unique”, which also made 260’s. I think they are still in business, since I see their balloons in party shops here in my area all the time. The mustard yellow 260 2way pump used to be made in Poland, then Sweden and is now made in Canada. The quality of the neck is stronger than qualatex and about the same as the 260 blaster. It’s cost is $5.00 – check it out at http:\\www.clownsupplies.com under balloon pumps manual.
  • I use a pump which is an inch in diameter and 9 inches long. It easily slips into a pocket. It pumps both ways. It takes more strokes than usual but ideal for carrying say in a bumbag with a handful of balloons as I usually do. It’s available in England from Coz and Magick Enterprises.
  • I found the perfect pump for any one who sits down while doing their thing. It is about 3 inches in diameter, and pumps on both the up and down stroke. You hold the shaft with your foot, and It will blow up a 260 in two strokes. I found this at K-Mart in the sporting goods section for only $7.95. It is called the “Super Air Pump” — the name fits. I quit doing balloons for over four years and now that I have found this pump I have started back, and I’m having a blast.
  • I have been a mouthblower for over 14 years but now use a rechargeable pump on big jobs. The one I use is called The Cyclone. I don’t know who makes, it but I bought mine from Pioneer Europe. It is not cheap (Pounds 99), but it will blow up over 1000 260’s on a single charge.
  • I know several twisters on a tight budget that get good results using a Spalding sports pump. They went to Walmart and got the little metal handled dojobber that pumps up volleyballs. It has an attachment nozzle meant for beachballs, and sells for about four or five bucks. So it only pumps one way. It really is a tough little number.
  • Pump 260 (no orings) $135 plus $4.95 shipping 2 year warranty Royal Sorell uses this pump and loves it.
  • For 160s I use a small cylinder pump, which is, I believe, called a 160 Blaster. It`s a small, handy and very good pump. I am really terrible at inflating by mouth. I could use a lot of excuses like the air inside is cleaner (which is probably true), has less germs (probably true), balloons last longer (dunno, never timed it), but the truth of the matter is I just can`t do it. I keep trying, and I hope to get it right someday (anybody got any tips?).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.

Floor pumps

  • There are 4 manual pumps made by T Myers, and they have confusing names. The PumpT, Pogo, PumpO, and Pump 1. Pump T is a big hand pump (see above). Pogo is good for walk-around or stationary use. Pump 0 and Pump 1 lend themselves more to stationary work because of their size and bulk.
  • All the T. Myers pumps allow you to control the amount of inflation. The Pump 1 and Pump O give you the same kind of pressure control that you have by mouth. You use your body to control how hard you want to blow. Just stop pushing and take the balloon off the nozzle when it is as full as desired. Both pumps leave you one hand free to manipulate the balloon as it is inflated.
  • It takes 2 1/4 pumps to fully inflate a 260Q with the Pogo or Pump 0. The Pogo and the Pump 0 have a valve to keep the air in the balloon while you set up the 2nd stroke. Multiple pumps can be seen as a benefit though, because 2 pumps allow you to control the degree of inflation better than 1 does. Ex. one pump for mice and poodles, two pumps for giraffes and dinosaurs.
  • Don’t try to oil your tmyers orange pump. It doesn’t need it, and you will mess it up big time – the little rubber washer swells and gets soggy ๐Ÿ™ So the moral is DON’T WORK ON IT IF IT IS WORKING FINE!!!!!

Pump O

  • The materials used on this aren’t as strong as Pump 1, but otherwise they should be about the same. It’s great because it inflates the whole balloon in one shot. Fine for stationary use but too big and bulky to use for walk-around. You should be at least 5′ 5″ to use this pump. I recommend getting the cloth carrying case; it makes transport very simple. Would be nice if it had a built in strap for walk-about action. After using it for hours at a time, my palm hurts from pushing the tube down.
  • It takes almost 25 minutes to inflate a gross of 260q’s with a PumpO, working extremely fast.
  • One other thing about the battery pumps. They slow down as the battery runs down. In blowing up 4 to 9 hundred 260’s for a workshop, the Pump O was more work but faster than the battery pumps in balloons per hour. For $ per balloon, the PumpO is your best deal.

Pump 1

  • It’s called “the Rolls Royce of balloon pumps” in the catalog. It will probably last you the rest of your life and then some. It will fill a 280 in a single stroke, up or down. It’s probably about 3 feet tall and 6 inches in diameter – Not a small thing to lug around. Good if you are going to be stationary such as at a mall where you are set up to have people come to you. It is also large enough that you can pull the sections apart and stuff a large supply of balloons inside for compact travel. If you get moving fast and forget yourself, you might take it apart on the upstroke.
  • To clean the Pump 1 PVC try rubbing alcohol or 409. On hard spots use a SOS pad. I don’t know of anything you could just dunk it in and have it come out clean. You kind of have to rub it.
  • I have T’s the Pump 1. I really love it. It is heavier than the other model, but has a longer guarantee. As for portability, I went to Builders Square and purchased 4 caster wheels to put on the bottom… it works GREAT! I can wheel this around with me where ever I go. It is great for restaurant work because it’s quiet so it doesn’t interrupt conversations. Also, it’s because it blows a 260 up in one swipe. I kid aroundwith people and tell them its a vitamin shot for my pet elephant when they want to know what it is! The handle on the one under side of it has an indent in it to easily grab hold of it to pull it along with you. (Nice design there, T)
  • I also find that it is great for the kids. This thing is practically indestructible. The strap for it takes a bit getting used to and is a tight fit, but don’t give up on it. It WILL fit, and makes it much easier to transport from one place to the next without it pulling apart.
  • As far as getting the repair kit with it… I got it. I think you are better off being safe than sorry and being prepared for whatever emergency may arise. The kit is reasonably priced and makes a good little insurance policy against mishaps.

Pogo Pump

  • As described in T Myers ’97 catalog, the new POGO 3.0 costs $105, and it’s guaranteed for a year. If you are short (less that 5’5″) or light (less than 110 lbs.), the Pogo is easier to use than the big pumps. A novel feature of the POGO is that the wooden dowel can be cut down to fit your height. The whole idea is to use your weight to power the pump. If the pump starts out at your chin, it is hard to get your weight over the pump. You’ll end up using your muscles more instead of gravity.
  • If for some reason you need to extend the leg of the Pogo, try this: (both methods may require some sanding on the Pogo leg to get a good fit.) :
    • Jam it into a piece of 3/4 PVC pipe cut the pipe to be whatever height you like, or
    • Cut a section of 3/4 rigid electrical conduit and jam it 1/2 way onto the Pogo leg. Use a 3/4″ dowel as an extension by jamming it into the other half of the conduit.
  • A wooden base comes with the pogo pump to keep it upright. Put an uninflated 260 across the fitting on the base and then put the dowel into the fitting. Now the base stays attached when you you can lift the pogo to move it to a new location.
  • After a long day of twisting, my wrists tend to get a little sore from using it.
  • The latex tube in the Pogo pump breaks. But the pogo still works if the tube breaks so you’re not completely stuck.
  • I replaced the fragile inner tube with a small garage-door-type spring.
  • While at the Physical Therapist’s office, I noticed spools of rubber tubing. The therapists were cutting off 3 feet of it at a time for their patients to stretch for their exercises. It is the perfect size for the POGO Pump. It is very strong to take the abuse that people give it but stretchy enough to work in the pump. The brand name is THERA-BAND (as in therapy band). You want the RED tubing (Thickness sized based on the color). It cost me $5 for 3 feet. I’ll bet if you go to a Physical Therapy Clinic near you, you will find it.
  • I also use a pogo pump and am constantly breaking the surgical tubing inside. I tried Bruce Kalver’s rubber eye glass tubing; it too breaks after about ten hours of use. Now, I don’t even bother replacing it. I just plop my foot down on the base, pull the tube up and push it back down to fill a balloon. I have installed a vacuum cleaner drive belt just beneath the black plastic cap at the top of the tube, the one the nozzle protrudes from. It helps me grab the tube to pull it up as I hold the balloon nozzle on the filler nozzle.
  • The elastic would break every so often, and I stopped replacing it. When the elastic is not there, the pump will compact better. It is also a little shorter. I think T should make them without the rubber band. I really prefer sliding the pump back up when I am ready to use it. Either way it is a fine pump.
  • The other pump I use is my Pogo Pump (made by T. Myers). It has the advantage of being quiet for those times I want to be silent. It looks just as unusual to most people as the balloon buoy and still gets great reactions.
  • The Pogo has been improved. There’s mention of the elastic band in the pump breaking regularly. The new pump has a metal spring in it. No more elastic tubing.

The Invincible Free Standing Balloon Pump

  • ABS construction.
  • Brass fittings and handles.
  • 36″ tall, measured from floor to nozzle tip.
  • One stroke easily fills two long Qualatex balloons.
  • Fleckstone faux granite finish, virtually scratch proof.
  • Choice of colors.
  • SOLID red oak pedestal base.
  • SOLID red oak neck ring which doubles as Sharpie holder. (Not asplinter of plywood in this baby!)
  • Lightweight. Beautiful balance.
  • And best of all: GUARANTEED FOR LIFE!
  • If the Invincible should ever fail to perform to your needs or reasonable expectations, I will repair or replace it absolutely free. You will only be responsible for postage. The Invincible comes as a sealed unit. It must be cut open for repairs. Do not try this yourself, as this will void all guarantees.
    Total cost is $150.00 plus $10.00 shipping and handling, prepaid.
    Send your POSTAL MONEY ORDER in care of my agent:
    Bruce A. Peck
    P.O. Box 437
    Avondale Estates, GA 30002-0437
    (404) 899-5557

The Amuzemetist

  • THE AMUZEMETIST PUMP 260 is a piston floor pump – This one is my personal favorite. No lubrication required, yet really smooth action and fills with a single stroke. Fred also has some nifty balloon-holding net bags that attach to the pump, convenient yet out of the way, too. Contact him for more information if you are interested. This is the correct phone number: 937/294-6952
  • Pump 260 (no orings) $135 plus $4.95 shipping 2 year warranty Royal Sorell uses this pump and loves it.

The Filbert Pump

  • THE FILBERT PUMP is another piston floor pump – 518-765-4585

Convert-A-Pump

  • Cheezo makes the CONVERT-A-PUMP – Dual action floor pump – Disassembles and stores in own carry case $99.00
  • Eric Persson aka CHEEZO has a new two way pump called the CONVERT-A-PUMP which can be used sitting or standing. It comes apart and stores in it’s own carry case. Check it out at www.clownsupplies.com
  • We sell a new pump called the Conv-A-Pump for $99 with a 1 year warranty. It is a 2way floor pump that comes apart and stores in its own sport bag with extra room for your balloons.

Balloon Master

  • Call BALLOON MASTER – the Hamiltons created this pump for their own use, they are great balloon twisters and artists and everyone tells me their pump creation is fantastic. It is their only product, but it is light – you can carry it with one hand, it’s durable – no o-rings, easy to store and they even give you a two year warranty!
  • See the Balloon Master Pump at http://home.communique.net/~jhvh/index.html
    Justin and Vicki Hamilton

Making Your Own Pump

  • T. Myers writes: I understand the desire to make your own pump. I’m all for do-it-yourselfers. I’d just request you don’t publish plans for my pump. It’s described well enough in the catalog that you ought to be able to figure it out. It’s very simple. If you can’t figure it out, it will probably end up costing you more to make your own even if you have plans.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

  • It isn’t hard for a handy person to build their own battery powered inflator. Well, here’s how to go about doing it (better check for patents before you start mass-producing them though…). Go down to your local auto-parts store and buy a replacement motor/compressor for a set of after market 12VDC air horns (they’re just a little bigger than a man’s fist), some rubber tubing and hose fittings. Then go to a good electronics warehouse store and buy a sealed, rechargeable 12V lead-acid battery (miniature versions of the kind they use in aircraft, with a gel electrolyte – perfectly safe. The battery charts you’d need to determine what size to use are available from the battery manufacturers, either as data sheets or in their engineering catalogs.), or the Skil power pack and charger (The Balloon Buoy uses a Skil brand cordless-tool power-pack), some wire, a fuse (or better yet a DC circuit breaker) and a push-button switch rated for switching DC at whatever current the air horn compressor draws (easily measured with a multimeter). A discharged lead-acid battery is easily swapped if you wire it in using any type of plug/socket connector, and it can be recharged with any motorcycle battery charger.

Living, breathing pumps

  • At last, our prayers have been answered. No more hand pumps or the drone of machine pumps. As we all know, to really have the balloon inflate properly you need the air preheated, and there should be moisture in the air to help expand the balloon properly. In the past you could only get the right combination of heat and moisture by blowing with the mouth. Well no more! Now a clown in the hills of Tennessee has the answer. While on vacation a week or so ago, I had the opportunity to see Dr. Happy LaClair and his buddy Blaze. You see, Blaze is a balloon blowing Goat. No fooling – a goat that blows up balloons! So everyone throw away those pumps, not more sore mouths. Let’s all get a goat!
  • One of the best entertainers I’ve seen was a clown here in Orlando that had a cart drawn by a goat. The goat blew up the balloons for the clown!!!! I couldn’t believe it at first, but it was true. The clown held the balloon to the goat’s mouth. (I couldn’t see, but I suspect he had some apparatus in the end of the balloon to hold the mouth of the balloon open since it looked like the goat clamped his lips down hard.) I thought it was a wonderful act!
  • The Fremont, Ohio News Messenger ran a photo with the following tag line and caption:

    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.

Carrying Pumps

  • I have the pogo pump. I used it as a walking stick while I was walking parades.
  • When I do walkabouts at fetes my hand pump gets tucked under my arm, which is awkward.
  • At IBAC Marvin taught that you can make a hand pump holster out of a shampoo bottle by cutting the bottom out of it and adding slots in the side for your belt to go through. Paint it if you don’t like the color. I also like Larry’s idea of tying the pump to your person, which can be combined with the holster just described.
  • The Balloon Dude in California (His real name is Fred something-or-another) rigged my pump for me at the last COAI convention, to make it easy to hold. He ties 2 260’s around the pump and then around his forearm. When not in use, the pump hangs from your forearm. I found that I really didn’t have an interference problem with the hanging pump. When you need the pump, just drop your arm to your side, and in falls into your hand.
  • I wear an outfit with big sleeves and I made a pouch in the sleeve for it to sit comfortably. The balloon is up in 4 moves, so that’s as impressive as using lots of puff. The pump is brilliant.
  • I used to connect a string to my small plastic pump and put it around my neck – then it was at my waist and available. I could just drop it and know where it was. I may tie a string onto a small, thick rubber band that I can put around the pump and then take it off easily. Kids often want to run off with the pump while you are busy.
  • I bought some really colorful nylon rope (mountain climber stuff). I taped the ends, tied it around each end of the pump (using some fancy knots because they tend to gradually slip out of the nylon rope) and made a strap for my hand pump. Now I just sling it over my shoulder and across my chest. I tied the rope at just the right length so that it is not in the way of my twisting yet easy to grab without looking. I had tried pockets and holsters of all sorts, and this works the best for me.
  • I carry my pogo, and it carries everything I need.
  • I’ve thought for a long time about a pump, probably similar to a Balloon Buoy, but smaller and quieter, that could be worn concealed under a jacket, with a tube/air hose running up the sleeve…if the tube’s on a pull, similar to John Kennedy’s Flame thrower match, the hose could be concealed until you need it…the balloon inflated at the fingertips, as you “blow” air at the outside of it……kinda like doing a poodle tail.. but on a grander scale… If you could get the Buoy switch to be remote you could run a 1/4″ tube through your clothes and out your sleeve to your hand. The Bbuoy could be at your feet (or even further with a long enough hose) and you could stand there holding a balloon in your hand and just look at it to inflate it! This could be marvelous! You would probably get caught of course, but think of all the fun you could have with that!
  • Hey, you guys came up with the exact same thing I was working on! I have a Pump1, and I like it; however, I’m not sure I like getting stuck in one spot. Also, I’m a pretty strong guy, but that thing takes a bit of strength to operate it all day. Solution? I’m designing another pump that straps under my shoes. Because this is on my feet, I can walk around. (I can actually inflate large balloons just by walking). I have the design laid out, and am getting parts together. Next I have to build it. The idea is that I step on one foot, and an air hose runs up my pants leg, down my sleeve, and into my hand. Also, there is another pump under the other foot, so I can step back-and-forth between the two. My calculations indicate that one step on each foot gives the equivalent volume of a Pump1, and that I can even pump larger balloons by simply stepping left-right-left-right (I wanted something that would let me continuously inflate a 350 or larger balloons). It’s a little complicated and I have several pneumatic check-valves so I can have both foot pumps sending air into the same tube. BTW, I have a day job and am not really interested in going into the pump business. If anyone wants the plans, I’d be happy to post them after I’ve tested and revised them.
    –charley charleyb@cytomation.com
  • I did a 4-hour gig for our local hospital’s Health and Safety Fair on Saturday and had a chance to try out my ‘new’ foot pump. I got it for a buck at a garage sale and spent another $3 fixing it up, and it’s the handiest (‘footiest?’) pump I’ve ever used. I don’t know its original purpose, but it’s a 6-inch diameter hollow rubber hemisphere with two valves. The output valve had about a 15-inch hose on it that I replaced with a 5-foot one (that and the clamps were the $3 expense). A poodle takes about two ‘stomps’ on the pump, and 6-7 stomps will fill the balloon completely.

Decorating Pumps

  • I made a list of the animals I make and printed it out on transparency film. I taped it around my pogo pump. I made a second transparency with my name and phone number and wrapped it along the bottom of the pump. I then took a little plastic basket and added one of those clips that you hang your mops and brooms up on and attached it to the basket. The basket can then be clipped on the lower part of the pogo handle. It holds my markers and balloontags.
  • At BJ’s WHOLESALE CLUB I bought a huge package of alphabet pretzels. They came in a clear plastic jar that was shaped like 2 large abc blocks on top of each other. I attached the 2 broom clips onto the jar and now I can attach the jar to the bottom of the pogo handle. I keep my assorted balloons in the jar. I can even screw on the lid and the container is secure and waterproof. The jar holds 4 bags of balloons.
  • On the top edge of the pump (the black area) I glued a piece of velcro to hold my plastic letter opener which pops and cut off pieces of balloon.
  • The most amazing decoration I’ve seen was done by a clown in southern California. I don’t remember who it was, but she had made an outer tube in which the pump slid up and down. The whole thing was painted like a cowboy (I think). When she picked up the pump the cowboy’s mouth opened wider and wider, and, when she pushed down, the mouth closed. Very cute and clever. On the pump tube she had painted the head down to the middle of the mouth including the upper lip and teeth. Then the black hole of the center of the mouth went all the way down the tube. From the lower lip of the mouth down was painted on the extra outer tube so the mouth hole was covered until the pump was pulled up.
  • I was playing around with the new gray balloons and made a B*** Bunny. It was next to my pump with the hand on the nozzle, and it hit me. The greatest decoration for the Pump-O has been right in front of our noses. I wrapped his arms and legs around the pump, and turned his head and it looks great. If you put the arms around the pump about three or four inches below the nozzle and attach the legs a few inches above the bottom, the pump works great, the balloon is not in your way, and what a great advertisement. Any of the big multiple cartoon characters would look great. The Duck, the Coyote, the pink Panther, tropical birds, etc., etc. Duh! Why didn’t I think of this before??
  • I have a neighbor who does pin striping on cars for a living. I had him candy stripe my Pump-O in exchange for balloons at his daughter’s birthday party. It looks great and was cheap too! I think anyone could do it, but I took the easy way out.
  • I’ve painted PVC pumps by light sanding, primer and Krylon Spray Paint. My paint jobs ended up chipping when the PVC knocked against something hard. I’ve had people tell me they did the same thing and it has not chipped. Partly chipped paint means repainting or getting all the paint off. Stickers, Tape, gluing something to the pump seems to be easier to clean or replace.
  • I have a Pump O which I have decorated with scraps of self adhesive vinyl gleaned from friendly instant sign companies around town. The stuff is used for lettering and graphics cut out on a computer. The vinyl comes in rolls, and they usually throw out the last couple of feet on the roll end. It sticks permanently and is impervious to spills, baby vomit, salsa, water, margaritas and sweat. You can cut out shapes with an X-acto knife and stick them to the body of the pump. I covered mine with a field of bright yellow. I then took blue and red dots, along with some black squares, and stuck them on so it looks like confetti falling. The yellow came from a large sheet that I cut to just wrap around the circumference of the tube. It’s worked great for almost two years!! It is durable, brightly colored and really adds to the look of the pump, and it attracts a lot of attention!!
  • Make a skirt for your pump. It looks like a christmas tree skirt and has a pocket for each balloon color/type. Each pocket is the color of the contents. The skirt will hold about 30gr of balloons and when transporting you just reverse the skirt, tie it, and off you go (pump/balloons) with everything in a sling. I made my sling out of a martial arts belt- soft, wide, easy and cheap.
  • Someone gave the name of Apex Inc. in New York as a supplier of prism vinyl for decorating pumps and other props. I called for a catalog and ordered some vinyl. Here’s what I found: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.

Portable, Battery Powered Inflators

  • There are mini electric pumps small enough to fit in a fanny pack which can inflate a couple gross of 260s on a single battery charge.
  • Regarding battery operated pumps, you have to remember that any electric or rechargeable pump is nothing more than an electric air compressor. They all make noise, and the motors can get warm and even hot after continuous use. There are several good electric inflators on the market now, and all have their pros and cons. Which pump you use depends on what kind of entertaining/twisting you will be doing. If you are working outdoors or in a large crowd, any of the electric inflators can be used without worrying about the noise. They are also good if you need to keep mobile. If you are in an intimate setting though, you will want to keep the noise level low an a hand pump, or PVC style push pump is the way to go. For restaurant work, I would not use an electric because of the noise factor. The ‘whirrrr” of the motor (over and over and over) can be distracting/disturbing to those people who want a nice quiet meal.
  • I found those portable pumps to be too noisy for indoor use. A restaurant would throw you out if you used one.
  • I find those battery operated pumps too noisy for restaurant work. They also get hot after a while.
  • Pushing a button is a very easy way to inflate a balloon. Manual pumps require effort. If a manual pump is hard on your body, use an electric pump. It is possible to spiral inflate a 260 around your finger with a battery pump. It inflates fast and you have to get the knack.
  • The number of balloons they can blow up depends on how fast you go (a hot battery uses power faster than a cool battery) and how much you inflate each balloon. Making hats with lots of full balloons will use more power than making detailed figures. How long a battery will last you depends on your style. Among pump makers and sellers there is no common way to measure the number of balloons a pump will inflate.
  • Which pump to choose depends on your style. How many balloons do you use in how much time? How important is the weight? Do you move around a lot? Do you mainly stand in one place? The work situation and your style of ballooning should determine the type of pump that works best for you.
  • When using a hand pump it takes two hands, making shaping a balloon while blowing it up almost impossible (for me). With my battery powered pump, which I can use with one hand (including holding onto the balloon) I can shape the balloons as they blow up. What a difference!
  • As the pump heats up, the air going into the balloons is warm. Making for a softer (I guess) balloon. I think this must be what all the mouth blowers have been talking about when they say there is a difference in the feel of the balloon when you blow up by mouth instead of a pump. They are more pliable. Which was a surprise for me.
  • The electric pumps are either on full power or off. You lose some control.
  • They inflate the nozzle end and makes the balloons slightly more difficult to tie.
  • What do you do when you run out of power? Start huffing and puffing?
  • Can the battery be easily changed?
  • I’m totally convinced that a T. Myers Pump won’t let you down. As long as you’re in good shape you never have to recharge. Stick with the Pump. As a matter of fact, consider upgrading to the Pump 1. I have two, and they are great!
  • I think the battery devices are great, but I have yet to see one quiet enough for me – particularly from going table to table. If you’re stationary in the lobby or such, then any of the pumps would work.
  • If you really crank the battery powered pumps they get hot. They are not made for several people to share at once. I’ll fully inflate 600 to 1200 – 260’s in my motel room for a workshop. I use all the pumps to do it. If there is something I want to hear on TV, I’ll use the PumpO or Pump 1. Otherwise, I’ll use the Buoy and the Inflator. As the electric pumps get hot, I’ll switch them out. It is more than any one battery pump could do on it’s own.
  • In my opinion you can’t beat the PumpO or Pump 1 for working a line. And I’d choose the Pogo or the Pump T for walk around. They are fast and give you more control over the inflation. (The battery pumps are all the way on or all the way off) With the manual pumps there is no noise to interrupt conversation. My opinion may be a tad slanted.

The Inflator

  • I have the Inflator from Eric (Cheezo) and Marie Persson at
    CLOWN SUPPLIES INC.
    The Castles Rte 101 Ste c7
    Brentwood, NH 03833
    Phone: 603-679-3311
    Fax: 603-679-3311
    rie@clownsupplies.com or cheezo@clownsupplies.com
  • I had a problem with the original design, and it was upgraded. It has a relatively heavy 12 volt battery in it which is soldered in. The upgraded one is lighter since the transformer was taken out, and a 12 volt charger is used. He has a socket for an auto cigarette lighter for the charger, and there is a cable to recharge from a car. It seems to work OK.
  • My wife uses the Inflator from Clown Supplies Inc. We have one that’s about 15 months old. It’s been put through the paces big time. The one we have has the integrated battery and charger. He’s updated it since then to have the battery charger externally. Also, the button on ours is the old hard to push one. We will be upgrading the button in the near future. It lasts about 4 – 6 hours at our level of usage (1+ gross/hr). hen we plug it in to the wall and keep going. Yes, it gets hot and can mess up the balloons, so you have to be careful and judge when to stop for a few minutes. Having two major pumps, person’s, and T’s, we can do this as necessary. We are also thinking of buying another one so Frances can swap back and forth as they get hot. Also, for the big jobs, we have some friends that help us inflate the balloons in advance, and try to keep up with us as we go ๐Ÿ™‚ In case you’re wondering, my wife has wrist problems and has a hard time using T’s pump, so she uses the inflator. Also, It’s a mite bit easier to carry being smaller in size.
  • Does anyone have any comments on Inflator vs Balloon Buoy? I sell the Balloon Buoy, but I don’t make it. I make a variety of manual pumps. Cheezo makes the Inflator and some smaller pumps too. They are all good pumps. The more powerful the battery the heavier it is.
  • The Inflator by Clown Supplies Inc in NH is a great pump (I’ve had mine for over 7 years), and for the same price you get more inflation power. It will inflate 4 to 8 gross of balloons before it needs to be recharged. Although it weighs 10 pounds, its advantage is the amount of balloons you can blow in one sitting.
  • I have Cheezo’s inflator. I first had a lot of problems with it as it did not last long enough to blow up balloons. Sometimes it would not work at all. After sending it back for a new battery (and upgrade) it works very well. I have not run out of charge. I believe that the Balloon Buoy is a little less noisy than the Inflator. The noise is not too bothersome, and it does attract attention. There are some people who are sensitive to the noise, and in a noisy area it is not really noticeable. I have not seen others in use, but the one with the fanny pack and hose looks convenient. Being able to change batteries is a plus. Cheezo’s inflator uses a gel type heavy battery which on mine is soldered in and can’t be easily changed. It inflates so many balloons that I have not wanted to change it for a fresh one. I believe his new model allows AC operation and can be used where an electrical recepticle is available.
  • There is no throttle on the inflator so it is difficult to control the inflation and you cannot do things like spiraling the balloon. The small hand pumps (which I use for a backup) require two hands. A larger vertical pump like the Pogo can be used for spiraling balloons.
  • However when making a rainbow octopus with 4 balloons, the inflator can fill them quickly. Kids are very impressed with the inflator, and it is noisy.
  • The Inflator is made by a clown named Cheezo and sold through Clown Supplies in Brentwood NH, their # is 603-679-3311. They also now have a web site at www.clownsupplies.com. I have had my Cheezo pump for almost 10 years with few problems, anytime it did have a problem, cheezo was more than happy to fix and/or upgrade it (his pumps also have a warranty). I love mine, ’nuff said. Patty Sorell CBA
  • I have both the inflator and the balloon bouy. The inflator (in my opinion) wins hands down. The balloon bouy, which I had purchased first, would run out of juice after a gross or less of balloons. The inflator at the same gig would last all day (6 hours) on a charge. It was getting tired by the end of the day but it was still running.
  • The inflator is usually used by setting it on something so you don’t have to hold it. I think the battery is a trickle charge that takes overnight, and it is not made to easily replace. It is heavier and more powerful. Cheezo has made lots of improvements over the years. I’ve heard about but not seen his latest models.
  • About pumps, I have had many over the last 14 yrs. I have T’s big Pvc pump, and a balloon bouy, that I loved but it was only good for about 2 hrs. of heavy twisting. The one I am using now is the Inflator by Cheezo, and in my opinion it is the best for a durable long term battery pump. It will go 7 or 8 hrs. with heavy inflation and recharges overnight, weighs 7 lbs. I love it!!
  • The cheezo pump has a shoulder strap that is detachable, and he has several other smaller battery operated pumps that have replaceable batteries. Give him a call, he will be happy to tell you all about his pumps.

Pouch Pump

  • The Pouch Pump also by Clown Supplies in NH is a 4 1/2 pound pump very much like the Buoy, and it will do 3 to 5 gross and is $165 + s/h
  • Pouch Pump Review
    I want to review this pump in the context of professional twisting. I bought the pump from Cheezo’s Clown Supplies Inc. I was looking for something to use at large gigs. The pump battery now has a capacity of 9 gross on one charge. That’s about 1200 to 1300 balloons. Not bad! The pump is pretty powerful and fills them up fast. You can use the louder noise of the pump for gags. Smaller kids don’t like it too much, but other kids love it. The sound of the pump catches every one’s attention, especially if you have a balloon inflating right out of your side. You can conceal it and have some great fun. The sound has good advertising quality too in that the sound and the uniqueness can draw customers. I used the pump for a while yesterday around one shoulder, and with five pounds, it was a bit too heavy. I also used it around my neck and under one arm, but this was also tiring. I weighed it in at 7 lbs with the battery. Anchoring on the waist was great today. The pump fills 260’s, hearts, bees, geos, and other shapes with ease. The pump can be controlled fairly well in the 260’s lengths. However, blowing up the 260 adds quite a bit extra air, and the balloons are fatter and tighter than by mouth. Qualatex balloons can pop a bit easier with these pumps, when twisting. The balloons do get a bit thin this way. Primarily, the balloons get very filled in the first 6 inches of the 260, especially right by the nozzle. I let out a good amount, a good two gasps. Also, the nozzle is a bit far from the button, and you have to get accustomed to this. All in all, this pump is good for large hats and other fully inflated balloon stuff. It seems like I need to get a bit used to the thinness for a lot of pop twists and stuff. The pump is a bit pricy ($240) but you can pay this off quick. I got it to not have to push down on my stand-up pump all day.

Balloon Buoy

  • The Balloon Buoy is good and does what it says it will do.
  • The 95-96 T. Myers catalog has several brands of these battery powered electric pumps (with short reviews) in it on p. 9-10, and they sell for $165 and up. One brand is called the Balloon Buoy. Here’s what I (T Myers) wrote in the catalog about the Balloon Buoy:

    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.

  • I saw an ad in January’s Genii magazine for the “Balloon Buoy. The ad reads: “New Balloon Buoy will pay you back. Or we’ll buy it back. If it doesn’t help you do more business within two weeks we’ll gladly buy it back. This is the world’s fastest automatic push-button balloon inflator, delivering one-second inflation with excellent length control. Tie Helper nozzle makes it easier to grip and tie ends. Comes in an ultra-lightweight 3-lb. shoulder pack. Safe, dry 12-volt battery fills up to 400 260 balloons with fast, one hour recharge. Call collect. 419-536-7496. $199. ($6 shipping and handling)”from T’s 97 catalog:

    BALLOON BUOY

    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.

  • BALLOON BUOY/ED In the same padded case, the ED has a bigger battery and the pump casing is metal. It weighs 3/4 of a pound more, but it pushes up to 70 percent more air. That’s about 220 full 260q’s.
  • I have been using the Balloon Buoy (original one) for almost a year now. It has made my life a lot easier. I feel that T. Myers has given it a bad rap. Sorry, Tom, if I were you I would want to sell my own pump also. The battery lasts about two hours. I carry an extra one so I have the capability of going about four hours. The battery charger allows me to charge one up (it takes about an hour) while I am using the other battery. I have not had any problem with it heating up. It does get a little warm but not hot enough to pop balloons. If I was going to just blow up balloons, one after another, without stopping to twist them it probably would heat up too much. But I always make something out of the balloon I have just blown up. I used the original T. Myers pump for 10 years and loved it. But it was a lot more work to blow up the balloons. The Balloon Buoy makes a little noise, but it’s not as loud as other electric pumps that I have heard. The sound does not frighten anyone. They just laugh and think that it is smart that I don’t have to blow up the balloons by mouth. Blimpo blows up the balloons by mouth, and I tell them that I am not as full of hot air as he is. The difference with having an electric pump and exerting the energy to push on the T. Myers pump has really made a difference to me. I still have my T. Myers pump and won’t give it up. It was a good work horse, and I have it to fall back on if need be. I think pumps are a personal thing. Whatever works for you. You might be saying that I am talking it up because I sell them. Well, I had a Balloon Buoy before I decided to sell them. The profit margin on them is very low. I started carrying them because I wanted to share a good thing. Pat/Jack Frank
  • Tom writes: I didn’t think I ‘bad rapped’ the Balloon Buoy. I like it. I’m happy to sell them. I just don’t want anyone disappointed because it makes noise or gets hot when you work it hard. I try to describe it as honestly as I can.
  • I used T. Myers big pump since the WCA convention in San Diego in 1985. I just changed over to the Balloon Buoy electric pump because it just weighs 3 pounds. I still use T. Myers pump once in a while because it just keeps going and going and going. I am also happy with the electric pump because I can do balloons for two hours and I am not “glued” to one spot. I am also not as tired as I used to be after a job. We started selling the Balloon Buoy pump because I was so happy with it. They now have one that is a little bit more expensive because it has a heavier duty compressor and battery and will pump up more balloons. But it weighs 3.7 pounds. That doesn’t sound like much, but if you are a fragile female it means a lot.
  • We have been selling the Balloon Buoy Pump now for at least six months. The only complaint we have had is that one only lasted one hour. We sent the compressor back, and it was replaced post haste. I am very pleased with my balloon buoy pump. It does make noise but not as much as other battery powered pumps. I have the original model that weighs just 3#. They have since come out with a more powerful model that weighs 3.7#. I have to admit that it is the weight and size that sold me on the pump. I have had no trouble with my personal pump. I used a T Myers large PVC pump since the 1985 convention in San Diego. It is a wonderful pump. I make sure I have it for a back-up just in case my Balloon Buoy goes out. This has not happened yet. I carry an extra battery so I have at least 4 hours of balloon blowing right on my hip. The profit margin on these pumps is very low. We only carry it because we have been very happy with its performance and wanted to share it with others.
  • I currently use the Balloon Buoy and I love it except for the noise. A lot of times, the kids hold their ears and some children have even been afraid of it. Personally, I think the noise is kinda cool, but it does pose a problem in some situations.
  • Here is Larry’s extensive review:

    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.

  • The Balloon Buoy works really well. It is a bit noisy, and the tie helper nozzle is just a longer nozzle that would allow you to slide the balloon on farther. Anyone who can twist a 1″ bubble and then let the air out before tying doesn’t need the tie helper. It does recharge amazingly fast and comes in a nice bag that allows you to keep it hidden even while inflating balloons. The bag has a small pocket on it’s front, but it is too small for balloons. Maybe a good place for postcards?
  • I happen to be an owner of the Balloon Buoy. I was very excited with my purchase, but I was slightly disappointed with the performance. It really just depends on what you’re using it for. I found that at restaurants, when going table to table, the noise was sometimes bothersome or the kids would make fun of the – how shall I say it – expelling gas noises the pump makes. If you’re in a really noisy place, I’m sure it wouldn’t matter. Also, I found that the battery would die about 1 1/2 hours into my 4 hour shift. I told Ed (the owner of Balloon Buoy Co.) about my problems, and he replaced the battery, but it really didn’t help. Needless to say, My Balloon Buoy is in the closet, and my purple Qualatex air inflator pumps are back in action. I wonder if I will ever find a pump that I’ll be really happy with.
  • I mostly use the balloon buoy. Usually balloons are only part of my act. I strap it over my shoulder and its always ready to go. Yeah, it makes noise but I try to work it into my act – “sorry the muffler broke” or “wow! his cold is getting worse”. The solution to the run down battery is to have two. Always have the charger with you if you have access to an electrical outlet (I learned this amazing trick from the video guys I meet at parties ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • The balloon buoy came with an attachment that fits over the pump nozzle for 160’s. Unfortunately as with all small things that are not physically attached to my equipment I dutifully lost it before I ever finished my first bag of 160’s :-(. (Hey T I’ll be calling about how to get a new attachment).
  • About your Balloon Buoy that didn’t work. It sounds like a low battery. Make sure it’s fully charged and check the battery. A hardware store should be able to check it for you. I don’t have a Buoy in front of me, but as I remember there is just a short tube from the compressor to the nozzle. Inspect the tube for cracks or slipping off its connection. Put your thumb over the nozzle and see if you can tell where the air is going. Call the office 1-800-648-6221 and ask them for Ed Rohr’s phone. He’s good about fixing them. Or return it to whoever you bought it from, and they should send it back to Ed for repair.
  • Your best bet is to call the maker. His number is on the case, and he is very good about troubleshooting. My best guess is to ask you when you oiled it last. Three or four drops of 3in1 oil will work wonders. After oiling, run the pump to spit out the oil, or you will get it in your balloons. Next, charge your battery and have someone check the voltage. Power packs dont last forever. It’s a good idea to have a spare pack, at least for me. Ours gets a lot of usage.
  • I LOVE my battery operated balloon pump! I have a Balloon Buoy. It goes for around $200, is only about 3 lbs with the battery and is about the size of a hip pack. It uses a 12v battery like what would be used for a power drill. I keep two extra batteries on hand charged up all the time and a hand held pump just in case the motor should ever go on me.
  • The kids and adults alike get a kick out of the noise it makes. In a quiet situation, say hospital visitation I do feel a bit ackward using it… but even there, I just kinda look around and say … excuse me. Most people are so amazed by how fast it blows up the balloon, they dont even think about the noise. One other really good point I make with it is that my germs don’t go on their child’s balloon. That always goes over extremely well.
  • To get more information about the Balloon Buoy give Ed Rohr a call. He offers two models now. The original and an extra duty model. In his ad in Laugh Makers it says to call collect or fax (419)536-7495.
  • I saw a Balloon Buoy in action, and I was impressed that it was lighter and less noisy than the Inflator that I have (from Cheezo). I have wondered about putting a nozzle cap over the existing nozzle to have an easier time with 130’s, although the Inflator will blow up the balloons if they are held on top of the nozzle without actually pulling the end over the nozzle. It blows them up quite fast. I used to overinflate the balloons when I first started with it.
  • The Buoy is lighter and is often carried on a shoulder strap or belt but people set it down too. The battery is easy to change and charges in an hour. An extra battery charging while you work should be able to keep most twisters going.

Airman Pump

  • Does anyone know about the new Airman electric pump? It’s $59 plus shipping, can inflate about 300 balloons, and looks like a hot glue gun. A friend of mine saw an ad for it in “Clowning Around,” the WCA publication. Has anyone ever seen one? Tried one? Is it loud? Louder than a balloon buoy?
  • I got one of the new AirMan battery pumps. I’m thinking about carrying it because it is small – fits in a big pocket, not blue jeans – and it will fully inflate 100 – 260Q’s. That is 3 or 4 hundred poodles. It’s just very slow. Faster than a palm pump but slower than a 260 Blaster. It takes 14 seconds to fill a 260 and that is only the “pushing the On button” time. It’s also pretty loud. The reason is because it is a piston type pump, and it can create higher pressure than a vibrating diaphragm type pump, but it moves less air to do it.
  • The AirMan can inflate a poodles worth in 4 or 5 seconds and a mouse even quicker. If you use lots of 160’s it fills them in about 6 seconds and a 160 poodle is pretty quick.
  • The AirMan weighs 2 pounds 3 ounces. It is about 3″ X 2 1/2″ X 8″ with a top that sticks out about 2 1/2 inches including nozzle. Recharge time 15 hours. Retail Price @ $60.00
  • About the Airman pump. This is a report from a friend. I tried, but did not see it. She is a birthday party clown. She does not do all that many balloons. She ordered the pump, and returned it because it was such a lousy product. She said it was *very noisy* and that it took an inordinate amount of time to inflate the balloon – she said something like 20 seconds. However, this may suit a certain type of twister. Also read TMyers’ review.

Other Rechargeable pumps

  • I bought a little battery operated pump from a company in Atlanta that does a great job, and I use it when I am doing a lot of hats or having a super busy day. It is noisy – but it does a good job, and I believe it sells for something around $140.
  • A new pump is the Black and Decker Multi-Purpose Cordless Inflator. I bought it from a Black and Decker store in an outlet mall. Cost of the pump, 2 batteries (2 required at a time) and battery charger was under $30.00. Additional batteries (Silver) cost $8.49 each, but I went with the “Gold” version batteries which last 60 percent longer than the silver batteries. The cost of the Gold batteries was $12.50 each. So for less than $60.00, I had a pump and four batteries. The batteries are from the Black and Decker VersaPak system, which allows you to interchange the batteries in a lot of their products.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.
  • I love my battery-powered pump from WYCO Props. Kansas City Ks. (913) 788-9338. My arm used to get so tired from the hand and floor pumps. I can use my wyco pump for about 4 hrs. with my “electric pump” and not get tired. Now they also carry a light weight pump for $175 and it has a rechargable and replaceable battery.
  • I don’t know about the one from Cheezo, but I have been using one that I got from One Balloon Place in Atlanta for about 5 years. The thing just never runs out of steam. It is powered by a nickel cadmium battery, so I keep it charging all the time. I have used it for all day events and have never been left high and dry by it.
  • I recently purchased a cordless air compressor from WalMart for inflating my 260’s. It works great. It’s a Campbell Hausfeld and delivers 220psi. It’s not FAST, but it’s rechargeable. I don’t know how many balloons it will blow up at a charge yet, and I will have to admit it is a bit noisy (aren’t most of ’em ), but it was only about $45. Sure beats the $150 – $250 elsewhere. It comes self encased (nozzles, tubing, and electrical cord) with a handle. It’s about 11.5″ X 4.5″. I have not had much of a problem with the noise. I “warn” the kids ahead of time, and they seem to be OK with it. If I’m working a job outside, it calls attention to me (like I really NEED to call attention to a clown anyway.)
  • The cordless air compressor I use for balloon pump has the WalMart # 1090704, upc #45564 20181. Delivers 220 PSI. Price was about $43 or $44. It weighs about 10 pounds which is not light, but with the handle, it’s not bad. Comes with two inflation needles (one for basketballs, etc, and one for balloons), a DC 12-volt recharging adapter (for ciagrette lighter use), an AC 115-Volt Recharging adapter (I use for regular electrical use), a replacement 15-amp fuse, pressure gauge, and a 28 inch air hose with universal adapter. The box says 1 fully charged battery will inflate 8 car tires @30 PSI, 29 rafts @1 PSI, 190 soccer balls @9 PSI. It doesn’t mention balloons, but with this capacity, I’m sure it would do wonders. Also, for info, running time for TV @8 watts = 14 hours, Light @ 55 watts = 2 hours, and a car vacuum @ 55 watts = 2 hours.It’s great! I love mine!

Air Compressors

  • I have an air brush artists air compressor that I use when I am blowing up the balloons for the Indiana Pacers. It never shuts off unless you unplug it. It is great for that job!! I bought it used for $75.
  • There are numerous artist’s airbrush air compressor models that automatically shut off when the demand for air isn’t present. Besides being quieter, they save a lot of money down-the-road on wear-and-tear maintenance and repair of the ‘pumps’. They require a ‘storage tank’ and have the added benefit of user selected air flow and storage pressure. For any airbrush or similar compressor, the air flow rate and delivery pressure can be regulated, but not all models come with these ‘regulators’ attached; be sure and get them separately if buying a compressor without them!!! Anyhow, my experience is with compressors made for ‘studio’ work and which shut themselves off. They are muffled, very quiet, and some ‘Badger’ models look sort of like a flying saucer, so they might make attractive props!!!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.

  • An air compressor works with a tank to store the pressurized air. When the tank empties below a certain pressure, the compressor turns back on and makes a LOT of noise. Get one with a large tank – Conwin suggests a size to go with their dual sizer.
  • Air compressors do go on and off while you’re filling. Most electric motor driven, single stage air compressors have a pressure switch set to turn them on when the pressure drops below 80 psi and turn them off when the pressure reaches 110 psi. You may be able to get a serious commercial unit that can generate 140 psi or more and has adjustable pressure switch. If not, you may want to operate your inflator at, say, 90psi instead of 100psi, because the two-stage air compressors needed for generating higher pressures cost quite a bit more.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.
  • Q: Is the horizontal style or the vertical style better?
    A: “Better” depends on how you plan to use it. In general, Vertical-tank compressors take up less floor area and are generally meant for permanent installations, as in a shop (Though small ones are available with wheels nowadays). Horizontal-tank compressors take up more floor area, though their reduced height allows them to be stored or installed permanently under a table or shelf. Additionally, they are available with wheels and a handle for portability.
  • I have a Sears model with a large tank. I have done small (5 inch 5 pack columns) that have taken about 48-52 balloons before the compressor cycles, and as few as 2 16 inch balloons. Personally, having used my dual sizer on both Helium and air now, I prefer the air if I’m not onsite, and there’s no company in the house.
  • It is noisy. Home based users need to ensure that the compressor is placed in a garage, or outside in a shed. (and get a 24 foot air line extension and the proper extension cables. It’ll save your sanity and especially your hearing) (what’d you say???)
  • the compressor DOES go on/off and it can drive you bonkers. My solution? 2 parts go to local gun/hobby/sports shop and buy a) the disposable ear plugs (about 24 for $5.00), or b) a high quality (airport quality) headset.
  • We have been using compressors for about five years. We currently have three compressors. The first was four horsepower with two horizontal tanks. It kept up with three people inflating at a time, but not with four. The second one is 4.5 horsepower with a twenty gallon horizontal tank. We have not been able to overcome this one. The third one is engine driven with a horizontal 15 gal tank, for outside work when there’s no electrical power.
  • We never bring the machine into the room where we work because of the noise it makes. We plug it in outside the door and run hose 100 to 150 feet. We have an adapter that will split the one feed line to three filling stations.
  • All compressors at Sears are rated in cu ft of air per minutes at the specified preasure ie 3.5 cfm at 90 psi or 5 cfm at 40 psi.
  • We normally fill balloons at 50 psi.
  • Sizing the compressor:
    You obviously don’t want the compressor to be the rate determining factor to how fast you can inflate balloons, so it must provide enough capacity to do the job continuously. To ensure that you get a powerful enough compressor, you must calculate what minimum capacity you need.
  • The method described below is the same way that you size compressors for use with air tools, spray guns, etc. For compressors of equal CFM capacity, the horsepower number is only going to tell you which design is more efficient. Horsepower is not the determining factor; they just use that in all the advertising because people are more familiar with the term “horsepower.” It’s just like advertising in the vacuum cleaner industry which pushes the number of “Amps” used as a measure of performance, when that term is really only of secondary importance to the real measure of how a vacuum cleaner sucks. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • First you need to know the volume of air in a balloon. Say that a balloon contains “V” cubic feet of air for this exercise.
    Let “B” be the total number of balloons you want to inflate per minute, counting all the stations you have attached to the compressor.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:

    • the compressor is running
    • the gage on the tank reads 90 psi pressure
    • we are draining air out of the tank as fast as the compressor is stuffing it back in to maintain the tank pressure at 90 psi,

    then the compressor is supplying 4.9 cubic feet of air, measured at atmospheric pressure (sometimes you will see this given as “4.9 Free air SCFM @ 90psi” instead of just “CFM.” The “S” stands for “Standard”, which means that the cubic feet are measured at atmospheric pressure, room temp).

    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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    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.

  • I can’t inflate by mouth, the palm pump is giving me carpal tunnel syndrome, and I don’t like the ribs a hand pump puts in the balloon. The solution I opted for is compressed air. I bought a 5 gallon air tank, attached a mini-regulator that I set at 30 psi and connected a 25 foot 1/4 inch air hose. At the working end of the hose I put a brass button valve and one of the nozzles I got from the T. Meyers catalog. The button valve allows me to precisely control how much air I put into the ballon. I switch between a large and small nozzle depending upon whether I’m filling 260’s or 350’s. I fill the tank from a small compressor before I leave the house. If I run out of air I have a small foot pump for refills. You can always get somebody to do the pumping for you. This set up is the ultimate for a couch potato like me. I leave the tank under the end table and drape the hose over the back of the couch. I can effortlessly fill a balloon and spend my time trying to figure out how to twist it. I attempt to do at least one balloon per commercial break while I’m watching television.
  • I’ve seen ads for a CO2 powered balloon inflator. It says it can do as many as 3 balloons on 1 CO2 cartridge, so obviously it’s more a bit of business than a serious inflator.
  • Canned air dusters: They sell them in computer and camera shops. I used one for a gag. Have the canned air in a bag of balloons. Attach a balloon to the nozzle. Take out a balloon and try to blow it up. When you blow the balloon in your mouth release some air from the can, and a balloon in the bag will start to fill. Try not to invert the can – it will release liquid freon and the balloon will pop.

Air blowers

  • The cool aire II won’t inflate a 260.
  • I have a Belle Gold, also called “Big Red”, which is a very powerful blower, and I can get it to inflate a 260. I stretch the lip over the inflating tip, and then with the full force of the blower on, I stretch the balloon way out, and it will start filling as I’m stretching it. By the way, a nice side effect of stretching the balloon while inflating is you can get a really straight balloon when it’s inflated.
  • Get an old Electrolux cleaner, clean the guts out of it, place a funnel on the exhaust end of it and place the mouth of the balloon over the funnel. This will blow them up readily. Unfortunately, power is not available everywhere you perform (but you can inflate the balloons before the show).
  • I bought a small electric impeller pump which runs on 12V. I now have it fitted in a wheel-around box complete with speakers and cassette deck so that I can have music whilst I travel. It’s also useful for holding extra bags of balloons, cold drinks, etc.
  • For decor, which we do mostly, we use a cool air inflator, which is really only designed for 11″ or bigger, and cost about $140- 150. We find that the hand pumps don’t do the job for the big balloons. The air machine was well worth the money!! We accidently forgot it for a job, luckily it wasnt’ a very big one and had to physically blow 64 11″ balloons for 2 small columns. NEVER AGAIN! We learned our lesson, Never forget the air machine! ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope that this helps.
  • Red air machine, made by Belle Gold.
    407-465-6622
    8407 S. Indian River Dr.
    Ft. Pierce, Fl. 34982.
    I’ve used these machines for years and have sent them back occasionally for repairs, but only rarely. They are almost bullet proof. They will even inflate two 5″ balloons at the same time.
  • I recommend the Conwin Airforce 3. The newest model is a big improvement over the older ones. My only problem is that I have 2 older units. I bought the first one in ’91 at a NABA convention. IT WILL NOT DIE!!! After almost 8 years of use and abuse, it still rocks! I don’t have a decent excuse to buy the new toy! I have used it, though, and it works really well. It also has more “transport-friendly” features. Conwin has a great line of equipment. Check them out.
  • I dont know if Zibi inflators are available in your location , but I have used them for over two years. Reliability is good ,and they have a continuous option as well as the ability to stop in between inflations. Models vary, some have a timer facility which is rather useful. Zibi are a Swiss company but I think they have distributors in other countries Germany U.K. etc. Compact design not too noisy
  • Conwin has just released a new Add-On Foot Switch for the Air Force 3. The add-on unit is designed to work on Air Force 3 inflators that have a detachable power cord. The Add-On Foot Switch enables the Air Force 3 to shut off between cycles. This now makes the Air Force 3 an ideal choice for retail settings. The Add-On Foot Switch will be available from Conwin Distributors June 10, 1999.
  • I bought a used Cool Aire recently, and I finally got to use it to work up a heart sculpture for a wedding reception. I love it. I am just starting out, and I don’t yet have the money to invest in an automatic sizer, nor a compressor. So I got the Cool Aire. I kept it on continuously, and had to use a cardboard template to size my 5″ pearl down to 4″. I used Pearl white BSA balloons, and Qualatex pearl baby blues…. The Cool Aire did the BSA’s with ease. The Qualatex were a little more difficult for the unit, but even on the LOW setting, they inflated quickly. If you’re like me, and on a shoestring budget, the Cool Aire is fine. If you have larger jobs than a heart sculpture, or have a crew that needs multiple inflating ports, then consider a Conwin Air Force 3.
  • Buy the Conwin air inflator with 3 nozzles -it’s called the Air Force. It’s great for inflating two balloons at once or for three people working at the same time – easy to carry to a site, long cord, etc. Great unit – great value!
  • Conwin is (or will be) selling a terrific tank cart – it is slanted to angle the tank to a more comfortable height, is far easier to maneuver, has a tray to hold supplies AND converts to a hand truck. I’m waiting anxiously to purchase the one with the conversion.
  • For an air machine I would recommend the Conwin air machine that has three outlets on it. My second choice would be the Cool air inflator that I believe Premier makes.
  • Adjusting the conwin “blue bucket” three outlet air inflator to blow up 260s: As you put the 260 on one valve, cover one or both of the other valves with finger tips. Of course your hand needs to big enough to spread between the 2. When I am using just one or two of the valves, I remove the ones not in use, put a nickel under it and replace the valve. This works great to increase the pressure in the one(s) in use. Also a few years back a friend had changed the valves on their inflator to have the on off switches kind of like you would have on a garden hose. He got the adapters from Home Depot garden department. He removed the original, added the adapter and put the original back on the adapter.
  • For anyone with an asthamtic in your house, the breathing treatment machines, called “Nebulizers” are great for 4″ foils. These machines are built to deliver consistently cool air, and we always have success with 4″ foils inflating and staying tight after sealing.

Helium and “Balloon Gas”

  • Latex balloons and helium are not good bed partners, period. Helium is a tiny, monatomic molecule. In a short space of time the helium will diffuse through the wall of a latex balloon and then the balloon will stop floating and go for ground zero. Depending on the thickness of the balloon wall, and the size/shape of the balloon, it might float anywhere from 45 minutes or several hours. Foil balloons filled with Helium are much better at remaining up in the air for a long period of time. There are liquids on the market called “Hi Float” and “Super Hi Float” that you can squirt into a latex balloon prior to inflating with Helium, and the balloon will last up to a week rather than the traditional 16 hours. Check with your local balloon delivery shop for what they are using, since there is more than one brand available. See the Balloon Care section for more details on Hi-Float.
  • In my area “balloon gas” is becoming popular. This mix of Helium and Nitrogen(?) is being sold to local party stores, florists, and anyone else who inflates. My distributor delivered this stuff to me prior to a large decorating job, and I went nuts! Needless to say, I’ve since changed distributors. Be aware of the difference between “compressed Helium” and “Balloon Grade”, or “Balloon Gas” Helium!!!
  • Don’t use CO2 or your balloons won’t last very long. At a nightclub they thought they could save money by doing part of the balloons themselves. After all, it was only swags around the dance floor. They didn’t have air blowers so I guess that CO2 was the next best answer since they use it and have it on hand. Cheaper than helium in there case. The balloons started out as 11″ and within approximately 2 hours, they were down to maybe 5″. Quite interesting.
  • I checked with my technical contact at our helium manufacturer, and he informed me of the following:*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.
  • Why on earth can’t they make a lighter weight tank, though? Moving these monsters is the only negative about balloon work.
  • You can purchase aluminum alloy tanks which are lighter than the steel ones. It might even be possible to rent aluminum alloy tanks instead of the steel ones for a premium.
  • The safest way to move a tank is with a tank cart. The easiest way to move a tank over a short distance is to roll the tank on its bottom edge. Here are some tips for doing this. For the record, I would never advise anyone to do this. Officially, it’s far too dangerous…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.

  • Regarding safety issues for helium cylinders, we have a page on our website that lists all the do’s and don’ts for helium cylinder safety. It would be a good idea to print this out and post to all store employees http://www.westwinds.com/hdst.html We also have booklets we can send if you e-mail your address to Donna Marie.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.)

  • In our state you are required to keep the cap on the helium tank until you get where you are going. The guy who rents helium tanks to me says that a tank is safe as long as the cap is on, even if you have an accident. The cylinders they use are quite tough and quite heavy, provided the protective cap is secure they are quite safe to drop from shipping decks or allow to destroy the inside of your car by rolling around. (just a little sarcastic) After diving for cover for the 5th or 6th time when I saw one dropped with the cap still on (I WILL hit the dirt if the cap is off), I am now only annoyed by the noise.
  • However, don’t move a tank with the balloon filler (regulator) installed on the tank. Always use the cap. This point can never be stressed enough. If you drop the cylinder and the valve breaks off, you will have a 200 pound compressed air torpedo… nothing to joke about.
  • Don’t let people stuff a tank in a car trunk, or be careless around tanks. The Department of Transportation has very strict rules about transporting Helium tanks. Always make sure the tank has a cap on it and that it is very secure in your car or van. You do not want it to roll around. If moving heavy tanks is a problem, buy aluminum cylinders to save weight. If you are small, and or don’t know the technique of kick rolling cylinders invest in a cylinder hand cart, preferably one with a folding third wheel.
  • When loading a tank in your car or van, place an old blanket under the tank to protect your car from the dirty tank. I have seen some pretty ugly tanks. If you handle them without gloves just look at how dirty your hands get! I recommend the use of gloves.
  • I have never in 11 years purchased a helium cylinder, I rent from Liquid Air and use their cylinders in as short a period time as possible to avoid demurrage charges, (possess no one cylinder longer than 30 days).
  • Also never use Oxygen to fill balloons, and make insistent twits who absolutely MUST suck helium sign waiver forms with the word DEATH prominently featured in many places on them.
  • Find the source of all helium shipped to your area. This will almost invariably be the one who supplies the hospitals with theirs. Get refills from them as they will not need to charge as much overhead.
  • Sometimes when you bring a tank into a hall or restaurant, they will ask to see your insurance. Depending on the liabilities you are required to take if you own your own tanks, it just may be cheaper in the long run to rent.
  • We get helium from a local distributor for $29.00 for a 242 cubic foot tank which will inflate approximately 500 11″ latex balloons. Also, because of the volume we use, the distributor waives the HAZMAT charge and the delivery fee! To help defray any costs, we offer, for rent, a 242 and also a 40 cu ft tank. The 40 is also handy when delivering a large helium job and a few extra balloons are needed. We also like the 110’s because of their reasonable weight and reduced bulk!
  • We rent out many helium tanks on a retail and wholesale level. We carry liability insurance. We are also backed up by our vendor with their insurance.
  • When your helium is delivered, have a gauge to check the tank pressure (psi) to be made the tank is full (can vary slightly with temperature). Through trial and error and some common sense, we have saved ourselves a lot of time, money and grief by checking the tanks when delivered. We have established with our vendor what is considered a full tank (1900 – 2200 psi). We have even received empty cylinders by mistake and wouldn’t have known until we went to transport them to an on-site decorating job (DISASTER). We don’t hesitate to contact our vendor if there is a problem. They always make it right for us.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.
  • Supposedly, you’re not supposed to use the last 200-300 psi of helium because of contamination, but we have never had any problem draining the tanks completely.
  • To my knowledge, there are 5 grades of helium available, at least in my area. Pure helium, or as pure as it gets 99.9999 percent, then 99.999 percent, then 99.99 percent, followed by 99.9 percent and last but not least what most evrybody uses is generally 96-98 percent pure. The higher grades are goverment spec, used primarily in filtration and cooling systems of commercial and goverment aircraft. I have sold all grades to evrybody from Uncle Sam to Boeing. The prices of the higher grade range anywhere from $.50 to $1.95 per cubic foot! Do the math. What you’re using might even be what commonly refered to as “balloon gas” and may be mixed with between 20-40 percent other gases (filler).
  • After pricing hardware like regulators and tanks from various sources for quite a long time, I found that the cheapest was the local welding shops that sell welding supplies. You can buy regulators from them, or rent them (less than $5) when you rent their helium tanks.
  • Once you gain rapport with them, you can often purchase helium without leaving a deposit for the tank, or it your need is small, be able to keep the tank for longer periods of time for no additional cost.
  • First try your helium supplier for the regulator. Next Conwin carries a full line. Also Balloon Wholesalers Int’l in Fresno California (800- 444-9891) carries both regulators and air inflators as well as the Conwin line. Conwin is a great manufacturer, but the best deals are with their authorized master distributors. Check http://www.BalloonNet.com/balloon/
  • RE: Non-skid Matting – we find the same material in the shelf lining department of the drug or grocery store (with the Contact paper). It comes in a variety of colors. We always keep some in our tool box – it is perfect to help you open helium tanks!
  • There is a valve made by Conwin called a 60/40. It attaches to your tank and dispenses a combination of 60 percent Helium and 40 percent Air. No nitrogen involved. HOWEVER – IT IS ONLY RECOMMENDED FOR USE ON BALLOONS 14″ and UP! It does save on the cost of helium when using it for decorating purposes. We don’t use it for our delivery bouquets.
  • The 60/40 is well worth the money. i did a party and filled (30) 3 foots with only a 55cubic tank. I have used it with 11′ balloons that were hi floated with no problems on flight time.
  • As for getting a “pre blended” tank, maybe talk to your helium supplier. If you think you’re paying too much, maybe it’s time to shop around and price out other sources.
  • Disposable Helium Tanks
    Disposable tanks are usually sold at retail stores, such as Paper Warehouse, Michael’s, Target, and other stores….. They range in size from 10-15 cubic feet, and usually cost between $15.00 and $25.00 US$.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…

  • For helium valves we use the conwin products. We have 2 of the dual inflators (2 valves on one connection), one of them has the Fast valves on both sides, while the other one has one regular and one 50/50 helium/air mixer valve (we use the mixer for almost all 16″ helium).
  • Valves – think you need to have a variety – with guages. Start with one spin on with tilt valve for latex (use on your nitrogen tank, to rent out, as a spare back up) and a two way regulator for mylars (auto shut off) and latex. Move into autosizers, remote fills, air/helium mixers, and digitals when you see the need to do so.

Nitrogen

  • Some people use nitrogen to blow air filled decor. Nitrogen is a gas but will not fly balloons like helium. This is great if you prefer to haul another tank if you have to instead of an air compressor. The air compressor I am talking about can be purchase at Sears, Montgomery Wards, or some balloon distributors like Conwin Carbonics. You should be able to get your nitrogen from your helium distributor. Most have a policy that you must have separate tanks for each gas. This means you cannot bring in your helium tank and fill it with nitrogen and vice vesa. The advantage of this is if you have a big air filled job you can hook your dual inflator to your tank or air compressor and work much more faster then if you manually blow and size. It helps too if you have novices on the job because the dual will maintain the sizing of your work. On helium pricing most distributors have set pricing, but if you do enough big volume you may be able to negotiate a better price. Someone did a price study a few months back, and you should be able to find it in the balloon archives.
  • We use nitro instead of air when we need to do photo shoots or a rare retail job. I have calculated that using the largest tank of nitro available (291 cf) which costs us slightly less than $20.00 delivered and using the air mixer valve on our automatic sizing regulator, our cost is about $.02 per 11″ balloon – less for 5″ balloons. And, of course, there are really no extras needed except our trusty hand truck.
  • Nitrogen is non toxic; its only health hazard at standard temperature and pressure is that it is an aphyxiant and may displace atmospheric oxygen. See: http://www.voltaix.com/msds/newn2.htm for a material safety data sheet. When compressed and transported in cylinders, N2 represents the same hazards as any other compressed gas (i.e., risk that a catastrophic cylinder failure will result in the cylinder becoming a projectile, risk that direct exposure to venting gas will cause frostbite/freezing of exposed skin, etc.). I wouldn’t worry about nitrogen use unless the cylinder is being handled carelessly or you’re in a closely sealed and poorly ventilated space.
  • I still sometimes bring nitrogen onsite to jobs. I will usually calculate costs for Nitrogen, and substitute Air. It isn’t unethical, as I am not quoting the air type (i.e. he, or Ni) to the customer anyway, and so is just extra profit… Much better profit margin once the compressor’s paid for. (I calculate around 3-4 cents cu foot (pcf) ) for financial calculations. I have used nitrogen, and I usually did cost analysis at about 10 cents pcf.
  • I like to use a nitrogen tank to inflate balloons. This will obviously only work where you can stay in one place, or you have to drag this huge tank with you. I do a couple of school carnivals where I’m stuck in a booth, so it works for me. A regular black rubber helium tilt valve works great. Nitrogen should be available from helium suppliers, and it comes in a variety of sizes. The smallest tank I’ve seen is roughly the size of a steel 110 helium tank. Warning – Nitrogen does make for a much firmer balloon, so inflate accordingly, and burp the balloon before tying.
  • The simplest way to inflate 260Q’s as well as other entertainer balloons is from a small, portable tank of Nitrogen. Have a 6 to 10 foot hose attached to the regulator with a tilt valve on the end of the hose. A small tank will fill hundreds of 260’s. If you decorate the tank, it will add to the performance, and it is quiet, clean, and easy to carry. Contact Conwin Carbonics at 1-800-for their catalog. They are probably the best source for tanks, regulators, and the like as well as being a full line Qualatex distributor.

Sizers and Regulators

Dual Sizers

  • The Conwin Digital Dual Sizer is awesome. You can operate it three different ways.
    1. You can do 2 balloons the same size at the same time.
    2. You can do 2 balloons different sizes at the same time.
    3. You can do one balloon at a time to a specific size.

    Price I believe is around $800. Can be bought for closer to $700 if you buy at a trade show or at an event or seminar where Conwin has authorized it.

  • The most valuable piece of equipment in a balloon decorating business is the Conwin Digital Dual Sizer. Yes, it costs a lot. However, all those I know who have one swear it pays for itself inside a year. It allows you to take on the big jobs that would otherwise be too labor intensive.
  • Have you tried the single balloon sizer, or the dual sizer by Conwin? They have a nozzle like the regular rubber type, but you do not bend it. You can adjust the psi to be VERY fast – and I love my inflator!
  • Thanks for the tip on the dual sizer. We do have one, and it is great BUT… We generally use it for in-house projects. We may have as many as five or six, or more people needing a regulator at the same time. Whether it is at one big job, or out on the road at several stops at the same time, or preparing orders in the warehouse. Therefore one “Sizer” will not be enough. As we all know, the “Sizers”, though a terrific product, are very expensive. Too much money to buy a bunch, or to have out in the field constantly where they can be mishandled or worse (stolen, that is!).
  • Also, control can still be a problem. When setting a “Sizer’s” regulator on high you get one “blast” of gas that is constant. You can certainly be more careful, or perhaps subtle, when using a regular tilt valve. Gradually opening or closing a valve (especially at high speeds) cannot be obtained with any kind of “sizing” regulator I am aware of.
  • For decorating jobs we have found the dual sizer to definitely worth the money. It has reduced our time to less than half. Even if I am doing a job alone I might close one side down and still be able to work faster than with the standard regulators.
  • If you have a dual autosizer, just lay it down so that it can’t fall down, and you won’t need to chain it.

Duplicator II

  • What about the automatic sizers? I love my duplicator 2 the best because it does foils as well as latex beautifully.
  • Conwin Duplicator 2, or a Digital Dual Sizer will inject the same volume of gas every time.
  • I just got Conwin’s duplicator II and find that I am using it for lots of jobs because it has the automatic sizer (single) plus a mylar inflator. Please never eyeball balloons for decor purposes – you need absolute accuracy for garlands arches etc to look clean and professional. I also have an old Balloon Baron Exacto which is starting to die on me :o( I loved it because it never needed electricity – but the company is out of business so exactos are extinct (if anyone has one they are willing to sell – e mail me privately). I also have Conwin’s top of the line dual port duplicator (?) and its great for columns and arches but its a lot of $$ for a new business to spend. However it DOES pay to get an automatic sizing regulator because the time and money you save in labor is considerable. If you are short on $$ then the lower end of regulators will do fine with a set of templates.
  • Regarding life expectancy, you could always ask conwin or any other regulator manufacturer about the life expectancy of their regulators – they’re usually happy to help.
  • The best item for centerpieces and retail work in Conwin Carbonic’s Duplicator 2. It has a timed latex valve, and a separate auto shutoff foil nozzle. I believe that they’re shown in US Balloons (or FIB) as well. When you can afford it, Conwins dual sizer is the absolute best time saver in the business. Any of us who do serious decor work can give you detailed info on this great tool.

Precision Air Inflator

  • Precision Air Inflator
    Conwin’s Precision Air is a state-of-the-art Precision Air inflator to automatically size latex balloons without the use of heavy cylinders, noisy air compressors, or time-consuming templates. Electrical unit provides digital timing to accurately size two air-filled balloons simultaneously at the touch of the foot pedal control. The Precision Air Features:

    • A built-in cycle counter allowing user to quickly determine how many balloons have been inflated.
    • Versatile inflating outlets feature a removable extension tip for ease of inflation of 5″ balloons.
    • Includes a carrying case to properly protect unit when transporting it to and from jobs.
    • Power cord and foot pedal are detachable for ease in setting up and packing.

    For a free catalog and distributor in your area call: (800) 877-8889 or (213) 245-2842

  • We didn’t purchase the Conwin Precision Air Inflator (yet) but wanted to comment on it. It is a great machine. Slower than a Dual Sizer. At a recent seminar where it was being used we discussed it quite a bit, and I think the consensus was that It is definitely worth buying but only if you already have the dual sizer. If you have neither get the dual sizer first. If you have a dual sizer and are considering getting the Precision Air , get it too.
  • Precisionair machine from Conwin. The general concensus was 75-25 against it for the time being. Most people said it overheated in less than an hour, and everybody said itwas much slower than using the dual sizer.
  • I have been using the precision air from Conwin for a couple of months, it is a great addition. We inflated over 4,000 9-16 inch on sat. and worked like a charm. It is a little slower than I would like, but it is great to plug in and go. I have one problem, when doing small balloons 4-7 inches, the size is never uniform. I do lots of balloons that size, and it is very aggravating, to say the least, never to have the consistency I demand. It seems that sometimes the sides don’t fire at the same time and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough pressure at the start to inflate the balloons.
  • We’re starting to get some excellent feed back on the Precision Air inflator. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions we’ve received that will help you in determining if the Precision Air inflator is the right piece of equipment for your business.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

  • Are the speed inflators worth the cost? Only if you find that your crew keep waiting to use the tank. Any downtime that’s lost is $ lost. I like the speed inflators for releases and drops and balloon ceilings best because you are usually dealing with lots of #’s of balloons and sizing is less critical.
  • As an additional note we still have 4 qualatex inflators that were bought between 1985 and 1987 and all are still working. Also I would recommend having 2 air machines so if one breaks down you have a spare. We leave one of the Qualatex in the van all the time.
  • It’s been suggested you have at least 2 electric air inflators. Great advice! As a means to gradually recoup your capital outlay on equipment ….. rent out the second (spare) electric inflator for those customers who need to inflate hundreds of latex without using lungs. Eg; the local scouts group who don’t want a decorator ….. just the balloons for the kids to inflate themselves. We have about 6 inflators and 2 or 3 rented out every weekend.
  • Is it my imagination or are regulators getting slower (speed wise, that is)? We have been having the hardest time finding regulators that blow freely enough for our needs.
  • A number of years ago we started using regulators from Cramer- Decker Industries in California. We could take any of their “professional grade” regulators and “soup them up”. We would change the internal spring to a 150 p.s.i. spring and change the tilt valve to a (what they call) AM211 tilt valve. This valve had a female threaded opening that would need a double threaded metal coupling so the valve could be attached to the regulator. These two changes made the regulators blow very fast.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??
  • Regarding using regulators for different types of jobs – consider where you will be in a couple of years and how much money you can afford now; this will determine what you should buy so that your needs will be met now and later.
  • One was a combo pushdown latex valve, and down facing foil valve One was down facing latex valve, with up foil valve
  • I was wondering about some products. Sorry I don’t have the names/pages/model numbers here, but one was a combo pushdown latex valve, and down facing foil valve, one was down facing latex valve, with up foil valve, and I was also wondering about the gizmos that do automated sizing via internal (and external timing gadgets). There were 2 or 3 of these and they ran around $200 each.
  • In general I would advise you to stick to Conwin’s products, as they are very reliable, and offer very fast service, if needed. Stay away from the cheaper stuff you see, (tank mounted, battery opperated) as most of us have had mixed (at best) results with those items.
  • What about sizing templates (for arches/clusters/etc.) Does it pay to use one of these complicated sounding electronic units, use the manual cardboard templates, or just eyeball it??
  • Eyeballing doesn’t work. You should have templates for small jobs, convenience, and as a backup. The only time efficient way to get uniformly filled latex is a duplicator or dual sizer!!!!

MB 12/12/95
LM 12/17/95
MB 12/22/95
MB 07/07/96
SKB 10/02/96
MB 05/4/97
MB 06/14/98
SMB 9/12/99