How to Fix a Leak ... in the HULK!

The Incredible Hulk has been "part of the family" for a few years and has held up well. In fact, when I won him in the contest and picked him up in the "HulkMobile" he was fully inflated and I have never added air to him ... although he did sag a bit when it got cold as the Halloween Hulk. However, he finally had a "gas leak" - and let me tell you, after a couple of years, Hulk's passing gas was kinda smelly! ;-)

Fortunately, my brother Kurt, who works with Zodiac boats, was coming into town, so he brought a Hulk'in leak repair kit with him and patched up the Big Green Guy and the following week, Hulk once again provided some levity to the 2005 neighborhood parade and was the undefeated champion of the Belly Flop into the pool contest. Scroll on down for the whole saga and/or use these shortcuts to is there a leak? - finding the leak - fixing the leak - testing the leak.

Does the Hulk have a leak?

The Big Green Guy has stood up to some pretty serious punishment (Hulk STRONG!) as can be seen in the pictures below ... but finally something gave. So the first step in fixing a leak is knowing you have one (usually fairly easy to determine, but can be deceptive for small leaks) and in this case, the Hulk's right arm was ... wellll ... a bit flabby! ;-)

Kids like to pound on the Hulk

Jumping off the house is rough also

pool drop

Finding out where the leak is

The second step is determining where the leak is. Easy to do if it is a big leak, but it rarely is. For bicycle tires, you simply pump 'em up, an then submerge/run the tire through a bucket of water and look for bubbles. Another approach is using a spray bottle water (optionally add soap) and spray it on the area where you think the leak might be. Both are pretty easy leak testing with a bike tire ... but a bit harder with a 9' tall green monster! I thought about tossing him into the pool again per the picture above, but since he would need to be submerged to see the bubbles, that was quickly discarded as an idea since it would require a LOT of weight. So I blew air into his arm and Kyle & Kurt used various means to apply pressure on the Hulk ... and the good news is I heard the tell-tale sound of a leak - hissssss. The bad news is that it was on a seam between his arm and chest ... and seam leaks are very difficult to fix.

Kyle providing chest compression - CLEAR!

Kurt listens for a hearbeat with a "Hulk-Hug"

kyle pound squeeze for leaks

Kyle provides some light

And here is the leak - right on the seam - darnit!

flashlight for leaks the leak

Fixing the Leak

Patching a tire or even the Hulk isn't that hard if it's a cut or tear in a flat area. However, in this case, it was a on a seam ... and complicating that was that a number of folds came together there. Fortunately, Kurt had brought his zodiac boat repair kit. This included a set of patches along with some MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) which is a gnarly solvent and Zodiac Universal Glue #7097 along with an accelerator. After thoroughly cleaning the location, the MEK is used to make it really spic-n-span ... you basically apply it and then wait about 5 minutes ... and repeat if neccessary. When repairing a bike tire, you typically rough up the surface, but that's not needed here; Zodiac Glue #7097 is some serious glue! Meanwhile, Kurt mixed that and the accelerator together to get them going and then applied a thin coat around the leaky seam and on the patch itself. After about 10 minutes, he applied another coat, and then put the patch over the seam. This ended up being pretty darn difficult, since there were folds coming in from every direction. We finally had to prop a round can underneath the Hulk's arm to get a decent flat spot to place the patch. Some stone bricks were placed on top of a newspaper to provide some pressure to the patch area.

Kurt aka Dr. Leak Repair picks out patch

Deflating chest chamber and applying MEK solvent

flat really flat

Dr. Kurt mixes up Zodiac Glue #7097

Adding the accelerator

mixing MEK MEK

Dr. Kurt does imitation of the Hulk

Applying the patch

kurt mad patch

Patch applied

Dr. Kurt says the Hulk is going to make it

patch closeup leak-fixed

Kyle (aka Bob the Builder) hopes the Hulk will be OK

Tony the Tiger also provides support

the leak totally flat

Testing for Leaks - did the patch work?

Once you have patched up the Hulk (or anything else for that matter), you need to confirm you actually fixed it. One approach is to pump it up and let it sit and/or apply pressure - if there is a leak, it will eventually lose air. But in this case, you have the advantage of knowing where the leak is, so a best leak detector is pumping up the Hulk, spraying some water (with optional soap) and looking for any bubbles, since you know exactly where to look. BTW, I used the same type of leak detector when I converted my BBQ from LP to NG. In the Hulk's case, there was a tiny, tiny leak on the edge of the patch, so one of those folks messed up Kurt's super Zodiac glue, But this was easily fixed by dabbing a little bit of rubber cement and then the Hulk was ready for SMASHING again!

Spray area with (optionally soapy) water

Kurt (no balding yet!) looks closely for bubbles

leak detector bubble leak check

Dirk helps me check for leaks

Kyle says the patch is SMASHING!

dirk leak check kyle leak check

So now you know how to fix a leak ... in the HULK! ;-)

2007 Update: Hulk sprung some more leaks - watch hilarious video of him deflating.