How much can a PVC toy stretch without treatment?

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  • bubblesNdragons
    Senior Member
    • Oct 2019
    • 103

    How much can a PVC toy stretch without treatment?

    Ok, so I'm in LOVE with my giant beach ball and I find myself overinflating it all the time. Only problem is I'm too lazy to use softening chemicals or even heat it up. So I want to know how far can I overinflate it without using any fancy tricks.

    Don't settle boring old beach balls when you can have these large, colorful, and durable beach balls! can you handle them that big?
    *notices bulge*
  • Bass Boll
    • Jun 2023
    • 60

    Re: How much can a PVC toy stretch without treatment?

    It is not the absence of softeners or heat that may harm your beach ball, but too high pressure that will eventually split a seam. Many beach balls I rode to death in my younger years first exposed a little hole where three seams met, i.e. at the pole caps, and these holes regularly grew into seam splits. (I didn't know anything about patching or reinforcing back then.)

    Using softeners can even be detrimental to seam stability; if applied, these substances should better be avoided along the seams. Heat stretching is also nothing to produce higher burst-stability, the heat just allows for a certain permanent stretch under moderate pressure.

    Love your beach ball as you like it with higher pressure, but avoid new pressure records, and be prepared for an eventual burst in mid-action, I'd say.


    • georgebayer_1
      • Jan 2015
      • 75

      Re: How much can a PVC toy stretch without treatment?

      Exactly. The seams are always the weakest point, they don't like heat and overpressure.

      Do You inflate your beachball with mouth? And did you ever do a B2P of a beachball with mouth? If yes, they you probably know, how strong is to blow to do a beachball B2P. If y don't blow so strong, then you don't need to care and simply enjoy your beachball


      • heaviest
        Senior Member
        • Jun 2018
        • 497

        I once did a test, and described it here, where I stretched a beach ball with weight alone. I started with an Intex 24 inch ball, the one with every other panel clear, and those seemed stretchier than the solid-panel ones. If I recall, it was 50 inches around when fully inflated, and I got it to something like 66-inches before it developed a leak. While I was on it, it was larger than 66 inches around, but I don't remember how big it got under load. I'd put a lot of weight on it, but nowhere near my full weight (I'm really large), then reinflate it while it was stretched and measure it unloaded. I repeated that quite a few times until I found that when I got off of it it wasn't puckered and underinflated anymore. It was stretched so much that it wouldn't go any farther.

        And I once had a woman sit on a 20 inch ball and it stretched unevenly, and we did the same thing. We added air periodically. That ball, some of the panels stretched more than twice their original size, while she was on it, and didn't come close to recovering when she got off it.

        Anyway, what I've found is that if you store a toy overinflated, it will eventually develop a leak, even with no weight on it, so return your toys to partially underinflated before you put them away. And if you've stretched them, you have to check on them in a bit and let more air out, because as they shrink they will become tight again, and they are overinflated again despite previously being soft. You may have to do this several times. You get to see how much of your stretch was permanent by measuring how big the thing is when it finally stops shrinking.

        I've tried quite a few times to permanently stretch swim rings with weight alone. When I put them away they are lumpy and uneven and stretched way more on one side than they other, and generally looking like they've been run over with a vehicle, but they mostly recover when they are unloaded overnight. I've posted a number of times my before and after measurements.

        I looked up a post I did about stretching the pillow of a cheap air mattress and see I got about a 50% stretch before it developed a leak. That's with my full weight on the mattress but nothing more. I've put a lot more weight than that on a cheap air mattress, up to about 1400 pounds, and gotten the pillow to stretch a lot more than 50%. What I've found is that inflatables will take a crap ton of weight for a short time, but even a modest load will cause them to leak if the load is long term. 1400 pounds will pop a cheap single-chamber air mattress nearly 100% of the time (as opposed to just springing a leak), but it takes as much as 10 minutes, and the pillow gets ridiculously large. One of these days I want to unload it and see how much of that abusive stretch is permanent.

        I've found that simply overinflating will fail to get the maximum stretch before it leaks or pops. With air mattresses, anyway. I've seen people blow pop beach balls with no heat and get great results. I think fast overinflation will get the biggest stretch, but the results are so unpredictable. There's a clips4sale store that does overinflation with a compressor.
        Last edited by heaviest; 09-10-2023, 19:50.