Scadden / NFO "Bravo" Air Valves

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Michael Nelson, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. The new Outlaw series uses a nonstandard filler valve made by BRAVO in Italy. It is a nice enough valve in operation,
    but parts are a real problem, since few people use these valves other than NFO, near as I can tell.

    On my boat I managed to pull one of the valve cap retainer strings (hereafter known as VCRS) out of one of the forward
    valve bodies while I was unpacking the boat for the first time. Scadden was no help at all in getting the problem taken care
    of, he told me to use a fly tying bobbin threader to snake the string back through the hole in the body valve.

    Problem is, the body valve is screwed down so tight against the tube material that you can't get anything even as small as
    a bobbin threader through there. The valve body has to be unscrewed, then you can re-thread the string and retighten
    the valve body.

    There are lots of tools around to disassemble the standard Halkey-Roberts and Summit valves that look so similar, but when
    I asked NFO they said the sizing on the Bravo valves is different enough that the production tools won't work... so NFO makes
    their own. I ordered one from them for five bucks, and although it does fit the valve (I haven't yet tried to unscrew it), it looks
    like someone took a short length of PVC and took it out to the back porch and whittled it down while sucking on a corncob pipe.

    This is the tool:


    These are the valve caps with string attached:



    It takes very little force to pull the VCRS free. It is held in place by a single overhead knot with no tag end, so tug and the knot
    comes untiled, and the cap is no longer teathered. If you take a string and tie a single overhand knot in it and tighten it well,
    the protruding tag end will make the knot withstand a large amount of force before coming untied. But if you cut the tag end
    off close to the knot it will take very little force to untie, and that is the case here.

    In one of the pics above you can see that the knot is tied, then pulled up into a recess in the cap, and then the tag end is
    cut off.

    You can also see on the other end that the knot has come untied. This has now happened on three of my five valves, and
    I have managed to lose two of the caps as a result.

    I wrote to NFO three times about this explaining the problem and asking for replacement valve caps and strings, as I really
    can't use the boat without them. I further stated I believe this is a design / workmanship defect because of the way the knot
    is trimmed.

    I have had zero response from NFO. I am pretty sick of dealing with them at this point, they really don't seem to care at all
    about QA or customer service. Anyone know of an actual company that has Customer Service and can supply parts that can
    supply these valve caps? NRS and the other big suppliers don't have anything.
  2. Michael,

    In an inflatable kayak forum I've seen mention of Bravo Valves before. Advanced Elements sponsors one of those boards. Perhaps a call to their customer service will shed some positive light on those bravo valves that you can't seem to get from North Fork Outdoors. Here is there info, and best of luck.

    Customer Service:
    Toll Free: 866-262-9076
    Tel: 707-745-9800
    Fax: 707-745-9805

    A UK company carries what they call a Waveline valve tool. It appears the same as yours but it is hard to tell. They also sell a tool for that valve that looks a lot different than your NFO PVC pipe device.
  3. Thanks Mumbles. Advanced Elelments does not use Bravo valves. I had found that Waveline valve tool, but that turned out to be a dead end too,
    because although they show that valve in the tool illustration they don't seem to actually sell that valve or parts for it.

    Pretty frustrating trying to be an NFO customer when it has become obvious they are all about getting the sale, and everything else is way low
    priority for them.
  4. Sorry Michael, I had hoped there could be an end to your frustration in site. On a side note, I hope you are feeling better.
  5. Funny how those single and double OH knots fight you extremely hard when you want to untie them, but will magically untie themselves when the consequenses are dire. Just wondering if a small snap swivel will go through the hole that you can then tie the cord to with a bowline backed up with an OH, or a figure 8 loop.

    I sincerely hope all your troubles soon fade to distant memories, so you can really enjoy your new boat.
  6. So why, one wonders, would a major manufacturer like NFO use a little-known and sparsely-deployed valve requiring scarce, specialized tools to R&R like the Bravo instead of the tried-and-true Halkey-Roberts or Summit units? While the cynic in me screams, "To save money, idiot!", on second thought, I can't believe that any of those units costs all that much, so the cost difference between them, especially at wholesale, has to be quite literally pennies.

    Am I missing something obvious?

  7. NZ does the Kayaks but the boats are all NFO. I have owned NFO/Scadden for years. Halkey Roberts valves all the way. Never heard or seen this valve before.
    Sounds like we got a witch hunt here...LOL
    Tool might not look like much, but it gets the job done. I can name a bunch of Items that are way over priced for what they are.
    As far as service from them....I have to say, I have always had prompt, beyond the call of duty response from them.
    Hope you are feeling better though.
  8. It's not obvious, but I had a Summit valve on my Outcast FatCat and this valve operates in a slightly different manner, IIRC. With the Summit,
    assuming it is closed and holding air, if you want to release air, you push the center part in against spring tension and as long as you hold it in
    it will release air. If you release the center, it reseals. If you want to LOCK it open, you have to push it in and turn it 1/4 turn, and it stays open
    even after you remove your finger. If you want it to be in the sealing position you have to unlock it with another 1/4 turn the other direction and
    it will then lock open. This is all to the best of my recollection.

    With the Bravo, you push the center all the way in and it locks. Push it partway in (say to burp a little air on a hot day) and it will usually reseal,
    but if you push too far it will lock. Pushing it again all the way in will release the center of the valve and it will seal closed. Subtle but somewhat
    annoying difference. I personally prefer the way the HR and Summit valves work, as the "burp" can easily result in a "lock open" with the Bravo
    valve, resulting in a sudden total deflation of the tube. This characteristic is what makes me feel it is unsafe to operate this boat with these valves
    without the covers screwed on to protect the valve. Can you imagine being out in the middle of a lake and inadvertently bumping the center of an uncovered Bravo valve? You could easily completely lose that compartment very suddenly. With a Summit or HR, you lose 0.2psi or so.

    HR, Summit, or even the Leafield valves would be preferable IMO because of the wide availability of replacement valves, tools, and parts.

    Oh to be able to deal with one of the best in the world at Customer Service (NRS) instead of one of the worst. If I hadn't just been laid off I'd be
    tempted to replace all the valves with Summits or HRs.
  9. They don't sell these valves. I already looked there. Did you?
  10. Please go ahead and say what you mean.
  11. Thanks for the link. I know they were working together and have been for a few years. I am not reading where the new boats are Incept?
    It states he is using some of Incepts technology, specially the oars, but the U boats are Dave Scadden. Am I missing something?
  12. From what little I know about NFO boats, Scadden gaurantees the bladder type tubes for 15 yrs, bladderless tubes for life. If it were me, I'd quit worrying about the valves and just send the tubes back!

  13. Incept builds the boats for scaddden/nfo.

  14. Wow. I would find it difficult to imagine a dumber course of action for this issue, other than perhaps just lighting myself on fire.
  15. Dumb question, but since I am thinking of a Scadden, how hard is it to replace the valves? Sounds like these are put in in NZ, so can I do it myself with confidence???
  16. The Bravo valves are much smoother that the Halkey valves and allow you to inflate your boat with portable 12 volt pumps without opening the valve to do so. "once down to open... two down to close" operation of the valve.
    They are more expensive than the Halkey Valve for NFO to purchase and implement but Dave feels they are worth the extra.

    Incept Marine handles NFO's southern hemisphere distribution They have done a few procedures for NFO over the years. North Fork has 7 different fab shops and 42 employees and a number of various vendors that go into every boat we sell.
  17. Dave Scadden finally called me yesterday. He apologized for all that has gone on and said he wasn't familiar with the details, but he wanted to make things right. I accepted his apology and told him all he needs to do is send me the valve caps I requested and issue me a refund for the oars they have been unable to supply. He said he would do both right away. I will report back as to what happens and when.
  18. UPS just dr4opped off the valve caps, and I have repaired my boat. Now for the refund on the oars, and it's finished.

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