Vintage diving...what was it like?

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

  1. slackercruster

    slackercruster Barracuda

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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

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    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!
     
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  3. gypsyjim

    gypsyjim I have an alibi ScubaBoard Supporter

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    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 Humbolt Squid

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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 Scuba Instructor

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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 Scuba Instructor

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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 SoCal DIR

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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 Scuba Instructor

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

    ligersandtions SoCal DIR

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    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 Scuba Instructor

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    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.
     
  11. sam miller

    sam miller Public Safety Diver

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    The rubber for the original wet suits came from Kirkhill ruber company in Brea California. It was WW11 surplus, having been manufactured as a covering of vechicle and airplane gas tanks.

    As diving became more popular more companies began manufactureing the rubber. The divers demanded that it be thicker and more flexible.

    sdm
     
  12. DA Aquamaster

    DA Aquamaster Directional Toast ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Used in vehicle and airplane gas tanks, as in self-sealing fuel tanks? Interesting.

    ----

    I started diving "vintage" mostly becasue I coudl not afford niceities like an SPG or BC and added them in later. Besides many of the local divers were a decade behind the times and it was still a common configuration.

    In some respects it was a real advantage as it placed a premium on proper weighting, proper dive planning and good swiming skills. In some respects modern divers are way too gear dependent.

    Vintage diving is still an option when regular diving gets boring. Today I either do cave dives with the normal Hog/DIR configuration or I do vintage dives with set of vintage doubles, double hose reg and sometimes a horse collar BC.

    My old Harvey's High Tide beaver tail high waist wet suit did not compress much, but even today if you dive with a 3mm or 3mm shorty, there is not much buoyancy loss to deal with at depth.
     
  13. MaxBottomtime

    MaxBottomtime Orca

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  14. herman

    herman Divemaster

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    If you are really interested in what it's like, why not see if there is a vintage diver in your area. A post here or better yet on Vintage Double Hose forum will likely turn up someone. If you are ever in central NC, I always have a spare double hose and backpack with me. Most divers I know who dive the old gear are more than happy to give you a little instruction and let you give it a try.
     
  15. gypsyjim

    gypsyjim I have an alibi ScubaBoard Supporter

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    When I think of the difference between diving 30 so years ago, and diving today, but with vintage gear I keep thinking of a picture I took of you in Bonaire, Hermen. I picked on you about diving a double hose reg, on a nitrox tank. It struck me as funny for a reason that I had a hard time explaining.

    The difference is a lot more than odd combination, though. In the late 60's and 70's our gear was all there was. Cutting edge. My buddy had the original double hose, while I was using the newest US Divers single hose. We really had no concept of buoyancy control yet. You learned by trial and error how to weight for different conditions.
    To certify all our gear was "dumped" into the deep end of the pool and we had to dive in, assemble our rig and swim to the end of the pool without surfacing once. 7 week of classroom and pool work. Navy tables, which none of us really understood very well, and basic watch and depth guages only.
    Wet suits did not fit you. You forced your body into this stiff black suit of armor and it was tight in spots, and really loose in others; in the waters of Maine and Massachusetts where we dived you got some dam cold spots in those wet suits!
    Masks were anything but low volume. More like long black tubes, with a window at the end!
    Two things I remember from those days:
    We had a ton of fun diving.
    I would not trade the gear that I dive today for my original rig, for any amount of money!
    I might dive with parts of it, but in my opinion the whole world of diving: gear, comfort, understanding of the physics, and safety equipment and training have come a long way from 1970! Would I dive with some of that vintage equipment, you bet, in a heart beat. Would I go back to 1970 diving all the way? Not on your life!
     
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  16. Nemrod

    Nemrod Giant Squid

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    You realize there is a vintage forum here?

    We don't use an "air assist" today either to get back to the surface.

    Quite simply, we swam (swim) down, we swam (swim) around and then we swam (swim) back up. Why do you think this would be difficult?

    Taken a few days ago, vintage brand new Voit 50 Fathom, vintage Sportsways SPG Sea Vue with banjo adapter, Voit Snug Pack, no BC, don't need one. Proper weighting and technique can eliminate the need for a BC even with relatively heavy exposure protection. The lungs make a great BC.

    [​IMG]

    Some people talk about minimalism and streamlining and reducing clutter, I do it.

    We weighted, with exposure gear, such that it was required to swim down, once the suit compressed a bit the diver will go slightly negative, as the tank is depleted much of the dive is completed within the tidal volume of the lungs to adjust for buoyancy. By the end of the dive the diver will be slightly buoyant to assist the swim upward. We did not make safety stops but I can easily hold my 15 foot stops. Once on the surface, the diver will be slightly buoyant with the depleted tank, if an emergency develops on the surface, drop the weights and now the diver will be very buoyant.

    I am often amazed at the amount of lead modern trained divers carry, this is often exacerbated by poorly designed equipment such as poodle jackets that are buoyant due to the padding and bulk even when sucked empty.

    Do jelly fish need a BC?

    [​IMG]

    The less equipment you use, the less equipment you need.

    N
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2009
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  17. Nemrod

    Nemrod Giant Squid

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    American made Rubatex G-231. Suits made with this material are warmer and do not compress nearly as much as the soft, stretch stuff in vogue today. As a result buoyancy shift due to suit compression was greatly reduced. Yes, we used 1/4 inch suits, roughly equivalent to a 7mm. I have a new Rubatex G-231 5/4mm suit.

    [​IMG]

    Much of the equipment available today is actually inferior and cheaply made compared to vintage gear:

    [​IMG]

    Back plates are the new thing, yeah, right:

    [​IMG]

    I believe the Sea Vue was first marketed about 1958, certainly in the very early 60s:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    She dove without a BC:

    [​IMG]

    Come on in, dump the junk, go vintage:

    [​IMG]

    N
     
  18. Walter

    Walter Scuba Instructor

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    Look at this.

    Yes.

    The big companies are going after the mass market. The mass market wants things cheap. For an alternative look here.
     
  19. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest

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    It was the 60s, I was there and diving... therefore, I can't remember.

    Yes, weighting was more precise back then for the depth you were diving to. Although I dove one, I don't remember much about the double hose regs other than that I was glad to switch from them. The J-valve rod often got pulled well before it was needed, usually by snags on the kelp, and therefore the reserve wasn't available when you went to pull it leading to a few emergency ascents. Sure was glad when I added an SPG to my kit.

    As for a BCD, I didn't miss it back then. In fact, the first time I used one (in 1989) it malfunctioned, auto-inflating each time I descended. It was required equipment on those dives as I was part of a Cousteau group. When the divemaster realized what was happening (I had to show her twice), she said something to the effect of "What can we do?" I said I'll just disconnect the hose and dive without it!

    By the way... I have NO desire to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear. I like my more modern equipment and would probably have trouble taking video with a fully vintage setup!
     
  20. Nemrod

    Nemrod Giant Squid

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    One reason that Rubatex G-231 is not used in mass market suits is that it needs a custom fit. Nowadays people are so fat, yes, I said it, FAT, that it is difficult for companies to make hanger suits that would fit the rotund humanoids now populating much of the planet. They need the 3D super stretch to get around their super size butts and bellies. N
     

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