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Vintage diving...what was it like?

Discussion in 'Advanced Scuba Discussions' started by slackercruster, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. slackercruster

    slackercruster Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: NE US
    420
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    Any old time divers out there? Back in the day of no pressure gauges and the J valve, what was diving like with no BC?

    Did they use less weight? And Getting back to the surface from depth must have been a chore with no air assist. Did they even have J valves from the very beginning?

    Clue me in on what it was like...from the hassles to the nostalgic memories.
     
  2. gypsyjim

    gypsyjim I have an alibi ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: capitol region of New York
    22,801
    11,418
    113
    Weighting had to be pretty close to perfect or the dive was a struggle. May West vest made surface swims tollerable, just as the BCD did later, but except for one friend we thought of as crazy, no one ever used them to control buoyancy uw. Guess crazy, and ahead of his time mean the same thing sometimes!:shakehead: I preferred to be slightly underweight and add a rock or two as needed. Things were pretty basic.

    Not being able to check your remaining air while on the dive was always a hassle, and there were a couple of times that the #%&*@# J valve had gotten tripped in surf entry or caught on weeds and was tripped. Course I never knew this till suddenly the reg started pulling real hard, and I reached for the wire to pull it, for that last 500# or so, and ...OS! No safety stop today folks!

    It wasn't until the BCD, the submerable pressure guage, alternate air source (a second reg?, can you imagine that!?) all came into use that we knew how bad we had it before! :D Heck, we were underwater, diving with all the latest gear and having fun doing it!
     
    it_mike and AfterDark like this.
  3. gypsyjim

    gypsyjim I have an alibi ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: capitol region of New York
    22,801
    11,418
    113
    Just noticed this part. Are you saying you use the BCD to "lift" you on ascent? If you are using the expanding air to creat lift, instead of venting as you are slowly ascending you would be in danger of an out of control ascent. Not sure we are saying the same thing, but gradual kicking and drifting up ascent has always been the way to go, even pre BCD.
    (Although another crazy was the May West CO2 assisted race-you-to- the-surface's, but they were just plain suicidal we learned later!)
     
  4. rstofer

    rstofer Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Northern California
    2,199
    1
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    It is important to realize that the wetsuits of old didn't compress as much as the modern suit. As a result, there wasn't the tremendous change in buoyancy from top to bottom. With today's 7mm wetsuit losing as much as 20# of buoyancy at 100' it would be almost impossible to swim up without dropping weights or adding a little lift with a BC. There's a reason my wing has 30# of lift: every bit of it is required at depth with a full tank..

    I have heard tales of divers leaving some weights at the anchor line and putting them back on later.

    There's a vinatge diving forum here on Scubaboard. Like gypsyjim, some of these fellows have been around a long time. Many are still diving strictly vintage. I like the regulators and I'm trying to force them into a more modern setup. I still have an obligation to my buddy. It looks like a 19 cf pony bottle will be part of the solution.

    Richard
     
  5. Walter

    Walter Instructor, Scuba

    18,583
    318
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    You can still dive vintage. Lots of us still do.

    Diving with no BC is a joy! Most divers today would be afraid to dive without a BC, but honestly, if you're properly weighted, your BC doesn't do all that much anyway (unless you're diving in cold water). A BC allows you to compensate for wet suit compression, but it also creates drag. Diving without a BC allows a divers to move through the water much more easily.

    Usually. Most divers today are overweighted. That simply was not an option before BCs. Also, a BC should be either neutrally or negatively buoyant, but most are positively buoyant requiring additional lead just to sink the BC.

    Air assist? No one should be using air assist to assend. As a diver ascents, he should be dumping air from his BC to remain neutrally or slightly negatively buoyant. A properly weighted diver should never have any more trouble swimming up than swimming forward.

    I don't know when they became availbe, but I know they were in the 1953 US Divers/Aqualung catalog.

    Go to Vintage Doublehose to get a feeling for that. Lots of great folks over there.
     
  6. Joe-Diver

    Joe-Diver IDC Staff Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: North Richland Hills, Texas
    1,252
    12
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    Although I'm not a "vintage diver", I do dive with vintage gear. My vintage kit:

    1967 DA Aquamaster
    1969 USD Steel 72 with functional J
    60's USD hard backpack
    60's USD Atlantis oval mask
    60's USD Otarie full foot fins.
    60's USD J Snorkel
    60's USD Calypso wrist depth guage
    60's USD BigAssKnife Mike Nelson style for my calf.

    All gear dates from the mid to late 60's and has endured to this day. I break out my kit in the summer when I can wear my 60's Mike Nelson shorts. I'll dive it on Sunday after all the training dives are done and students are in the water for the first time as certified divers. The kit never fails to get alot of attention, plus the new divers get to see some gear they've usually only seen in pictures and movies.

    I really enjoy diving the kit....I feel totally different in it simply because I don't have so much "stuff" along as I do in my modern Instructor geared kit. Plus, with my bubbles coming out behind my head, it's a much smoother and quiet dive.

    Modern kits are great in their performance, options and configuration.....but there's something a bit raw....getting back to basics....when diving the vintage kit.:cool2:
     
  7. ligersandtions

    ligersandtions DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Pedro, CA
    1,910
    111
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    Hmmm, I had always wondered about this....what made the wetsuits less compressible? Was it just that you didn't use a 7mm wetsuit? I could never wrap my brain around the fact that you could lose up to 20# of buoyancy and how it would work without a BC of some type....
     
  8. Walter

    Walter Instructor, Scuba

    18,583
    318
    83
    A better quality neoprene. You can still get suits made from it, but it can be hard to find.
     
  9. ligersandtions

    ligersandtions DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Pedro, CA
    1,910
    111
    0
    What makes it better quality? Does it keep you warmer? How come they don't sell it anymore (or at least not the same way they sell Henderson Hyperstretch suits or whatever else)? It probably wouldn't matter much for me as I'm a huge wuss when it comes to being cold....I'd dive dry in Hawaii if it wouldn't be a pain to travel with my drysuit!
     
  10. Joe-Diver

    Joe-Diver IDC Staff Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: North Richland Hills, Texas
    1,252
    12
    0
    I like today's suits better. I certainly don't miss donning a 3/4 farmer john with beaver tail top. They were bulky and harder to move around in. They also let water flow more easily. While the thermal protection is slightly sacrificed (no big deal in Texas) the Hyperstretch's are awesome suits. I have a 3mm and 7mm.
     

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