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Help with latex seals on new dry suit

Discussion in 'Exposure Suits' started by AZ Desert Diver, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. AZ Desert Diver

    AZ Desert Diver Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Phoenix, AZ
    I just got my new Bare HD Tech Dry dry suit yesterday and pulled it on. It has latex seals on the neck and wrists that fit tight. I'm not sure if I should trim them or strech them. What is the best thing to do in this case since they fit tight? I know that once I trim them there is no going back, so I want to be sure that I'm making the right decision.
  2. ScubaSarus

    ScubaSarus Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Connecticut
    The dive shop should help you out. They will or should know if its too tight or not. If you bought it online you'll need to find an experienced person to help you trim it if needed.
    Point LDS.

    I would not do it youself as Ive seen botched jobs before requiring a new neck seal and nicked neck seal causing a rip when taking it off. Ive also seen over trimming that loosens up in 3 weeks requiring a new seal.

  3. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many.

    # of Dives:
    Location: Woodinville, WA
    Well, I've read people say that latex doesn't stretch, and therefore stretching it isn't useful, but I have put my neck seals over a 7" tank overnight before I cut them. The latex does seem to relax a bit over the first several weeks, so you don't want to cut the seal until it's perfect, but leave it just a tiny bit uncomfortable to begin with.

    Cutting seals is not that difficult. It's best to have an assistant to hold the seal under slight tension, and you need a very sharp cutting instrument. You want as continuous a cut as you can manage, because any abrupt edges will be starting points for later tears. If you are at all unsure about your ability to do it, take it to a shop and pay them. Messing it up can ruin the seal immediately by making it too loose, or shorten the life of the seal significantly.
  4. BuoyantC

    BuoyantC Instructor, Scuba

    I don't know if all latex is equal, but I got a Dacor drysuit a few years ago used and the latex neck seal was a great example of how notto trim. I did a nice straight cut to even it out, and saved the cut piece to see how much it could take before it broke.

    The zig-zag piece varied from 1/16" to about 3/8" wide, and I could stretch this about 2 ft. wide! I showed this numerous times to other divers and it has never broken yet. I use it as a rubberband for some stuff in my dive bag still. I would have never guessed it could be that tough.

  5. SDAnderson

    SDAnderson Dive Charter

    # of Dives:
    Location: On a good day, Lake Michigan
    Latex seals should be cut, neoprene should be stretched. Latex will stretch a little bit, if you give it enough time but not enough to fit properly. Neoprene can be cut if there is too much length to the seals but this is rarely needed. If your local dive shop didn't offer to do this for you when your suit came in, they suck.

    I'd take the suit back to the dive shop and ask them to do it for you. DIY seal trimming requires a sense of adventure, plenty of patience, a big dose of caution, a few tools and if you mess up it's expensive. In other words, if you don't know what you're doing, it's probably better if you let your favorite DSM do it for you.

    You'll need:
    • A couple of very sharp straight-edge blades.
    • A couple of short pieces of PVC pipe - approximately 2.5" and 5" in diameter, depending upon the size of your wrist and neck.
    • A bottle of whiskey.
    How to proceed:
    1. Start with a wrist, they're easier to do. They're also cheaper to replace if you screw up. If your wrist seals are the kind that are closed end, cut the tip off.
    2. Insert the small PVC pipe into the seal and position the seal over the pipe/form, making sure the seal is neatly lined up and even on the form.
    3. Each pass should remove no more than 1/4" of material - you can always take another bit off but once cut, you can't change your mind. Besides, you need the practice, get it on what will become waste material.
    4. Nicks and wobbles are the enemy of a successful cut! Torn seals usually start their run at tiny dings in the cut, so carefully cut the seal in a perfectly even line around the form. Take your time, cut slowly and delicately.
    5. Try the seal on. Wear it for a couple of minutes before you decide to cut again. Seals should be tight but not so much so that they make you turn blue or lose feeling.
    6. Once you have a fit that you like, proceed to the next seal.
    7. The whiskey is used to steady your nerves or to drown your sorrows, or both, as required.
    If you screw it up, kick yourself in the pants for trying something like this based upon what some guy on the internet told you, then take the suit in to your LDS and ask them to fix the mess for you. Bon chance!
  6. Tafflad

    Tafflad Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Wales
    I had Latex seals on a suit for first time ... the manufacturer had a size chart, which told you how many 'rings' to cut off.
    I cut one size smaller so I can trim again if necessary.
    I put the wrist seals over a wine bottle and drew a line around the ring where I wanted to cut with a biro - to make it easy to follow.
    Then used a scalpel (Craft replaceable blade type) at followed the pen mark in one smooth gentle cut using blade at obtuse angle rather than just the point.

    Put the neck seal over a glass bowl .. and did same thing.

    Looks perfectly neat, and after a bundle of dives no leaks.
  7. *Floater*

    *Floater* Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Here, there and everywhere
    I recently had to replace a latex neck seal because it had become too loose over a few years (and I never even trimmed it), so keep that in mind when cutting.
  8. dave4868

    dave4868 Old diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Vero Beach, FL, USA
    Agree! Latex is amazingly resilient depending on age, thickness, exposure to UV, ozone and oil, etc. I wonder if there are differences in latex quality, but I've only used DUI, so I don't know.

    Like you, to make an old seal less prone to tearing, I've trimmed away some splits or tacky spots and found the trimmed pieces were remarkably strong despite the poor condition and ragged edges. But if I pulled on the weak spot a certain way, it would fail immediately.

    I've been lucky and never ripped a seal yet, but I trim away even tiny weak spots as they get old. :D

    Dave C

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