Final (I hope) lessons learned.
Thought I'd share my experience in case it helps anyone. I haven't heard of anyone else having exactly my problems, but you never know.
I was having problems with the stopper valves on my Smoke. The company kept giving me advice about the old flapper style valves and bragging on their new style valves, but the new style is what I have.
New valves consist of a bunch of holes in the bladder itself. Then the valve is glued on, centered on the hole, and contains the stopper ball. Finally, over the valve is a donut piece of plastic that is "welded" to the bladder outside the perimeter of the valve.
First problem I was having was the ball kept getting stuck in-between the bladder material and the valve perimeter. I learned that if you just pump the hell out of the thing, the pressure would (usually) pop that ball into place.
The other lesson I learned was that ball being stuck in there, and the subsequent dorking around to fix it, tends to cause problems with the valve glue job. I had to steam it, remove the valve, clean it up and re-glue.
Now re-glueing the valve under the donut is a royal pain. It ended up a not so graceful installation. Wrestling match, actually. My fingers were covered in glue for days. The bladder itself was glued together in oh-so-many places. I was able to peel apart most the places where the bladder was folded together, glued to itself. I didn't get them all and it looked ugly as can be. I figured it would never work, but it's flown a couple of times for me and not had any problem. I'm hoping it will get me through a trip to Maui next month, but at least when I'm there I can probably score a replacement bladder...unlike where I live.
Oh, and the final moral of the story is after all the glue debacle, I looked on the counter and saw the stopper ball. Now I just do it old school, pumping, coving with my finger and switching to the valve plug as fast as possible. Works ok as it's the leading edge, but I'd worry a bladder would lose too much air too quick.
Anyone else have problems with the new Wainmans? I bought a barely used demo version. maybe it was one of the first. Maybe the bladder tech was just having a bad day. Maybe I was doing something wrong.