SmokeyJ

Vacuum pump safe for propionate sealing?

18 posts in this topic

Been wanting to try using a vacuum pump to aid propionate penetration in my lures since seeing this thread awhile back. So, I placed an order with Cabela's for the mason jar sealer and this vacuum pump. After a PM conversation this afternoon with hazmail, I decided I probably ought to take apart the pump when I got it to see if it is safe. Here is what I found:

Foodsaver%20Vac%20006.jpg

The front portion is a piston pump powered by an electric motor (just behind the red line). From the bottom of the pump a hose runs to the front of the device to a nozzle (detached) then there is a hole from the nozzle back towards the brownish valve located in the top front portion of the pump.

Foodsaver%20Vac%20003.jpg

Here you can see the pump assembly better.

Foodsaver%20Vac%20004.jpg

I believe the brown piece is the one way valve that creates the vacuum. When the pump is on you can feel the air coming out of the side vents in the top picture.

This is what worries me. The acetone fumes will fill the front portion of the pump before exhausting out the side vent. The piston pump housing fits tightly and separates the pump portion from the motor and circuit board in the back, but I don't think its air tight. I'm hoping to not blow myself up :lol:

I want to test it, but I'm not sure how to do it safely. The on button requires it to be held down to operate and it must be held directly on the mason jar sealer in order to work properly (doesn't have a hose or anything) so I can't set it up remotely, I'd have to actually be holding it. I thought about putting a small amount of acetone in a jar and trying it that way with some gloves and a face shield or something, but would that evenly accurately represent the conditions of a jar full of propionate dissolved in acetone? Maybe I ought to just give this sealer to my wife and try something else, but I would like to make it work if it can be done safely.

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Very, very familiar with using vaccuum pumps to evacuate flammables. We do it all the time at work. We have hermetically sealed mtotrs on the pumps, which eliminates ignition from the pump itself, but the issue for us is it coming out the exhaust. Ours vents through something that looks like a muffler and gets it away from the body of the pump. Even with that, we have to keep it in a vented fume hood, so it doesn't ignite from a nearby source, especially with acetone!!!

I'd say that if your pump is venting within the body of the pump, and not venting through a sealed port, you're probably playing with fire, literally. If you do have a sealed port, and big nads, I'd try to to vent it away from the unit in a running spray booth.

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The brake pump looks the goods, but maybe you will have to turn the piston or valves around, I have never used one, but think they are a force pump, for forcing brake oil through a system??? Should be simple enough though. AH, just went to TJ's link, and they are vacuum, so should be ideal. Sorry about that. pete

Edited by hazmail

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I used the reynolds one in that thread..........It didn't really work well with the propionate. Once you release the vacuum, the mixture draws into the wood, then you take the bait out and the acetone evaporates (eventually......takes a long time) and the wood is pourous again. It took a lot more work to get lures sealed. The plastic got inside, but just didn't seem to seal any quicker. You probably get better penetration but you won't get that smooth finish. A thicker solution might make it go a little quicker.

Also made a TON of bubbles, if you try to draw a lot of air out, it'll boil over so be careful.

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Bass, thanks for the harbor freight link. Sounds a lot safer. DT, I figured as much after pulling it apart. I guess I kind of thought that the small amount of flammables I would be using might mitigate the risk, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Although Palmetto hasn't blown himself up yet, as far as I know.:lol:

I'd just send it back, but the jerks put caps over the screws and the only way I could get them out to check the pump out was put a screw in them and yank them out with pliers. Well, the pump came with some canisters, so I guess my wife can use it in the kitchen.

Oh, and clamboni, when I talked to Palmetto Balsa about the vacuum sealing with the propionate, he said he used it to penetrate the balsa to strengthen it and then did a couple of regular (non-vacuum) dips to finish sealing and get a smooth finish. The vacuum is more to strengthen the balsa, which lets you use a lighter (less dense) balsa, which gives you more freedom in your ballasting and has potential for a more lively action while still having a durable lure.

Thanks guys. Any ideas how to set up the brake pump system for sealing lures?

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Learning lots here. It seems to me that, if the mix is too thin, apart from taking several coats to seal, you would be losing the advantage of the light density of the wood, by filling too deep with the plastic.

It may be that the painters viscosity cup could be a very useful piece of equipment, to ensure that once the ideal mix is found, it can be repeated accurately.

The danger of the vacuum pump motor never crossed my mind. Yes, it could be an issue. Hope it works out. I know Palmetto has used a vacuum pump for prop sealing. I'm sure he will jump in here soon.

Dave

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You raise a good point Dave. Sealing up wooden lures so they don't get water damage is essentially negating the whole reason for using the buoyant wood in the first place.

This is exactly why I've switched to having my lure bodies molded. With products like Featherlite and others there seems to be no real reason to even bother with all the negative aspects of using wood. Heck, you can just mold rectangular shapes with it and then go about hand shaping the lure bodies but there's zero worries about water penetration or changing of buoyancy etc.

Don't get me wrong I love wood and have an emotional attachment to working with it but when I see posts that have people potentially blowing themselves up for the sake of making wood less wood-like I have to question is it really worth all that extra time and energy?

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I would be willing to bet that propionate sealed balsa is still less dense than featherlight. I know Palmetto Balsa told me that even with the vacuum sealing the overall weight of his blanks was increased minimally, but the strength was greatly increased. Anyways, I don't make large quantities of lures and make them solely for my personal use, so I doubt that molding and casting lures would be very cost effective for me.

Edited by SmokeyJ

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If you search the harbor freight site for a vacumn punp you will find

2 that use air for the suction,no electrical at all. They are used in air conditioning and have no moving parts. As for a container you can use plastic as long as it is large enough to put a second container in it to hold the chemicals. Just a thought. Tried it for stabalizing wood. Speeking of that has any one tried plexiglass melted with acetone to seal? :?That is what I tried But the wood was to dence but it did go in about 1/6 ".Never tried it on balsa though.

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Smokey,

If you got vacuum cannisters, you might be able to use them with the hand pump. I used to use the canning attachment from our FoodSaver and regular canning jars with the two piece lids to pull the bubbles out of RTV.

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Wait, did you use that pump you linked to with the Foodsaver mason jar attachment? I have the mason jar attachment, that is what I was going to use with the vacuum pump I originally posted. If you can hook that brake bleeding pump up to the mason jar attachment then that would be perfect.

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Smokey,

Yeah, you just plug in the hose the the vacuum pump instead of the FoodSaver. I havn't seen the new one's, but it shouldn't take to much to figure it out.

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OK....decided not to mention this before, but I'll mention it now. All the beer I drank tonight has nothing to do with this decision.:sauced:

When I said be careful, it'll boil over, this was from experience. What I used was the reynolds vacuum pump, the one that you basically stick to the valve in the ziplock bag. I had a tomato sauce jar and two lids for said tomato sauce jar. I drilled a hole in the middle of one lid to use for vacuuming, the other lid (without hole drilled) is for when I'm not sealing......it's just a regular lid for storing. The lid with the hole, I attached the pump, it has an oring to seal it. Pumped out some air and propped the pump up on something....don't remember what it was but that's not important, but it held the seal for a while.

Only happened once, but when I had my boiling over mishap, I was just not paying close enough attention and the acetone/propionate foam went right through the pump. No fire. Had to buy my wife a new pump but that just meant I had on for my own use. The acetone clouded the plastic housing a little but no other affects. The way I figure it, if it was gonna catch on fire, I pretty much made the perfect conditions for that to happen and it didn't.

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CJ, you are a very lucky guy, you must have been over the 2.5 - 12.5% E.L ??? I have not had this happen, but I know what you mean, it really surprises me when I do this, how much air can come out of one small piece of wood, with such a low vacuum.pete

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It does look like a gallon of air is coming out of 3 inch piece of wood but that is not possible under the normal atmospheric conditions. Once you look at the air in the conditions of the vacuum the air has expanded maybe 20 to 30 times (this is just an educated guess) the actual volume. If someone were to use a thick solution of propionate the bubbles would not rise to the surface as fast and then once the vacuum is released you will notice the bubbles that are still suspended will reduce in size by 20X or more.

Even at 1/20th the visible amount of air removed there is still a lot of room for the sealer to penetrate the wood. You can measure how much sealer and solvents have impregnated the wood by weighing the bait prior to using the vacuum sealer and then reweighing the bait once it has just been removed. Then do the same test on the same bait 2 days later and weigh it again and see how much of the sealer stayed in the bait after most of the solvents have evaporated. If I remember from my testing last year with propionate, there is about 2 to 2.5 times more propionate sealer left in the wood (Balsa) after the bait dries fully.(I compared this with a soaked bait made to the same size from the same cut of wood) Paulownia will get greater penetration and hold more sealer in the wood after all the solvents have dried. This was in a comparison to just soaking in the propionate. OK let me try and sum it up. Vacuum sealed lures take about 1 minute and the soaking process takes 15 to 30 min. I feel the penetration is more than 2 times that of soaking because the weight of the soaked lure is including all the propionate that sits on the outside of the lure and in theory that should make up more than 50% of the weight of the sealer that is on and in the soaked bait. If the balsa bait that is vacuumed is holding 2X the sealer, then the outside of the bait is only holding 25% of the sealer so the penetration is 300% to 400% grater than just soaking. Making a stronger bait with out adding much extra weight.

The testing on the Paulownia wood might be able to get 500% to 800% better penetration than just soaking.

For my testing I used the FoodSaver with the hose and wide mouth jar adapter and crossed my fingers. The fears I had were... 1) the jar failing because I would keep the vacuum pressure on the jar and restart the cycle up to 3 times. That would have spilled acetone and propionate all around the FoodSaver. 2) the acetone boiling up and into the hose and back into the sealer motor. 3) the fumes igniting when they were drawn into the FoodSaver and sparking from electrical sparks or from the heat from the heat sealer kicking on when the vacuum cycle cuts off. 4) and the standard fears from working with volatile solvents.

I have not run into any short term problems yet and none of the fears with of working with the FoodSaver have been realized yet.

The outcome is that the few baits that I make out of light balsa keep a lively balsa action and are much more durable than the way I used to seal them.

I might try uncrossing my fingers and get one of those hand vacuum pumps if I can get the same pressure.

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