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David Wilson
February 19th, 2006, 07:19 AM
I expect, like myself, most contributors to the Sea Hunt forum are keen ebay bidders. However, it's sometimes difficult to to get hold of "vintage" gear that not only fits well but also comes in usable condition. That's why I decided a while ago to do some in-depth online research about commercial sources of classic underwater swimming equipment, products that are manfactured nowadays to a design that has stood the test of time. Here's what I've come up with:

Fins
http://www.tomwilson.com/david/water/rubberswimfins.pdf

Masks
http://www.tomwilson.com/david/water/rubberswimmasks.pdf

Snorkels
http://www.tomwilson.com/david/water/rubbersnorkels.pdf

Suits
Historical Model (also occasionally sold via ebay)
http://www.aquala.com

Reproductions of "Skooba Totes" and other historical drysuits (also occasionally sold via ebay)
http://www.replicadrysuit.com

I would like to keep my "databases" of such modern classic gear up to date.

* Please let me know about any omissions from these collections and I will update them.
* I would also like to know whether the information I have assembled here is of interest to anybody else.
* I'd also be interested in reviews of modern classic gear. Is it as good now as when it was the only kind available?
* If you have purchased modern classic gear, have you experienced problems in tracking it down or buying it internationally?

Dave

pescador775
February 20th, 2006, 09:51 PM
Zounds! I had no idea that there were that many fins in the world, let alone RUBBER fins.

Nemrod
February 21st, 2006, 04:58 AM
I did not see the Voit UDT? Did I miss it? N

David Wilson
February 21st, 2006, 07:26 AM
Yes, Pesky, a lot of rubber fins, and I'm glad to have proved the "doom merchant" wrong who prophesied (can't remember where) that rubber fins would eventually disappear following the plastic revolution. In fact, new applications have been found for them since, e.g. swim training and body surfing. I hope I've done some of the spadework for anybody contemplating researching fin design and development - I'll leave it to them to investigate how many fins are made out of other materials!

Yes, N, I had omitted the UDT fin. Well spotted! I didn't know that it was back in production, otherwise I would have included it! My criterion for what ends up in my "database" is that it must be currently in production, not "new old stock" from discontinued lines.

pescador775
February 21st, 2006, 11:16 AM
About the UDT, we bought them from Art Brown of Huntington Beach. They were called "Duck Feet" and made of brown gum rubber. In 1956, Art's operations were taken over by Swimmaster and Art remained on to supervise production. I used Duckfeet until 1999 when I bought a pair of Apollo BioFins. Never looked back. Actually, the original UDT was not the Duck Foot, but was the Owen Churchill fin. The UDT models were easy to spot, the Churchill and DuckFoot were black as opposed to amber or green. I must say that the DuckFoot was a big improvement over the Churchill. However, so is the BioFin, in the same measure. I'm not a collector. I just like to use the gear that I am most comfortable with, for whatever reason. Some of my favorite kit are vintage or reproduction vintage. Vintage gear can simplify diving, but not always. The old Navy harness is still more complex than a stab jacket. However, the same might be said about some Holgarthian gear. The real difference is attitude. Just how much redundant equipment does a diver need?

KISS (keep it simple stupid)

Nemrod
February 21st, 2006, 02:14 PM
Thee is a current manufacturer of the UDT. I have spoken to him several times but due to a computer crash lost my files. Several places source the UDT new--presumably fromhim. The one I got mine from is www.vintagescubasupply.com . These are brand new and genuine UDT fins. They are quite stiff but slightly less stiff than the last version I owned. I also have the amber UDT but they are unfortuantely no longer serviceable.

I sure would love natural gum rubber UDT fins--they are on my wish list---especially if they were a bit more flexible.

I informal test I have done using a variety of fins my XL UDTs performed on par with my XL JetFins or so very close as not to matter.

The UDT is a fin that has growth potential, a modern, larger, spring strap version with more tip flex could be awesome. N

David Wilson
February 21st, 2006, 03:46 PM
>KISS (keep it simple stupid)<

I'm all for that, Pesky. I once wrote to a UK scuba mag suggesting that modern equipment seemed very gimmicky compared with what I started with. He wrote back agreeing that new gear was often "over-engineered". A diplomatic response.

Great to hear about pioneers such as Art Brown, who ran The Spearfisherman Company in Huntington Beach. The name came up when I was researching historical diving suits:

"In 1945 Bob Brown, who had invented the Spearfisherman Swim Fin, was manufacturing his fins at a shop on Garfield Avenue in Huntington Beach. The Navy asked him if he would try to make a rubber-wet suite. He made a mold of a man, dipped it in liquid rubber, and then cooked it in steam. This was the first wetsuit. This was heavy but used by a number of surfers so they could surf year around."

http://molasar.blackmagic.com/ses/surf/papers/OldHB/BudHiggins.html

N: I have now included the UDT fin in my rubber fin document at

http://www.tomwilson.com/david/water/rubberswimfins.pdf

under SOCOM Store. There's a sense of triumph in the words at

"The most highly acclaimed and coveted swim fin since its inception is back. The molds have been returned to American soil and the VOIT UDT Duck Feet are now made in the USA..."

http://shop.navyseals.com/product/FN36VUF102

Pity Voit seems to have abandoned making, or selling, even basic diving gear altogether now. I read somewhere it had relocated to Mexico.


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