By Chris Glazier
(all Chris' articles in KitesurfingSchool.org are "Open Source")
Kite bladders can easily be repaired with just a clothes iron. For large rips you will also need some old bladder material for a patch. Below is a picture of a ripped bladder:
Cut away any damaged bladder material, mark the patch area with a felt marker pen. I have cut out a bladder patch (from an old bladder) that is larger than the hole.
Now for a special tool, I glued cloth around wood dowel. I made several lengths of these, but you could actually just use a pencil or something and lay cloth over it. Put this inside the bladder under where you want the patch to be seamed. Then lay the patch on top of the hole.
Set you iron to a low temperature, I use a setting just below steam on a steam iron. Use a layer of paper to protect the bladder. Parchment baking paper is ideal but any thin paper works. Press firmly and iron holding the iron on each part of the seam for maybe 1 second. (Never let the iron touch bladder material directly or you will melt it.) This should melt the patch and bladder together in a seam.
Close-up view of the seam.
Now I use another shorter short cloth covered dowel under where I will seam the next side of the patch. I will cover it with paper and iron it.
After doing all four sides of the patch I pump up the bladder and test it for leaks by spraying with soapy water and looking for bubbles. (Note that one of my wood dowels is still inside the bladder!)
I move the dowel to the end of the bladder, cut the tip off and remove the dowel.
I reseal the tip using an impulse bag sealer. I could easily do this of course with the clothes iron, but I just want to show another technique. The tip will end up about 1 cm shorter, but this doesn't matter.
So here are the tools that were used: scissors, clothes iron, felt pen, cloth cover wood stick, parchment paper, and a spray bottle of soapy water. The impulse bag sealer is handy for some seams but is not really
necessary. You can buy an impulse bag sealer on Ebay for about $50. You can buy parchment paper at a grocery store in the baking section.
Here is a test sample that shows either the clothes iron or the bag sealer both make seams just like the original ones from the kite bladder factory.