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Zeagle Ranger LTD BCD, 3 years old. I thought I'd post about my recent experiences and see what the thoughts are out there. I'm generally a cold freshwater diver in inland lakes in Canada. Total dives 88. April 2010, I went to the West Coast of Canada for approx 15 dives in salt water. All was well for about 13 dives and then my inflator valve started to stick open, as in inflating. This was not good, obviously. I managed the last 2 dives, nervously inflating and seeing how it would work. Upon my return, the LDS said it was from all the crap / algae blooms etc in the water causing the low viz and mucking up my inflator. Made sense at the time. They cleaned it out, but didn't see anything wrong with it. Then, it started happening in the inland lakes.
March 2011, I just returned from 17 dives in the salt water again and the same thing happened again after about 15 dives. I have to inflate and then be ready to pull the inflator button out if it sticks. It is hard to realize it when it happens untill you start to ascend and then, you'd better be quick. This time, however, it was the best viz I've ever dove in , 60-70 ft. It was stunning, but that's another story. Very little crap in the water to cause my inflator to stick. I'm wondering if it is the salt inside the inflator. All the local salt water divers I dove with said they had never heard of this happening.
Does anybody have any thoughts ? I'm wondering if I have to soak the inflator in clean fresh water after every dive. Maybe somebody from Zeagle has some thoughts. It's not a cheap BCD and it works great, other than this obvious problem.
Let me preface these comments by saying that my advice is not brand-specific. I don't have any experience working with Zeagle products. Don't hesitate to contact your local Zeagle dealer to get the official way to address this issue.
I'm 99% certain what happened to your power inflater is related to saltwater infiltration. It would only have to occur once to cause the recurring problem you're experiencing. Saltwater most likely led to corrosion inside, leading to the "stuck on" malfunction. One or more o-rings might also have failed. FYI, you really should be doing a pre-dive check on your BCD which includes assessment of the operation of the power inflater, among other things. A "stuck on" malfunction will most likely reveal itself at that time. You may have to press the inflate button a few times to "encourage" the malfunction to rear its ugly head.
So what do you do about it?
Well, you probably need to open up your power inflater and clean out the component parts. If it were my BCD, all inflater parts would get cleaned in a mild detergent, then rinsed in water. Metal parts might take a short soak (minutes) in a 50:50 vinegar:water solution followed by rinses with water. All of the o-rings would get replaced and then the inflater would be reassembled. Then I'd test the functionality of the power inflater. Essentially, this constitutes a rebuild of the power inflater. You might need a couple of tools (screwdriver, power inflater tool, etc.) to do this properly.
If you don't know how to do this, by all means take it to an authorized Zeagle repair tech for the straightforward fix.
If the corrosion inside is bad, one or more parts might have to be replaced.
If there is a lot of corrosion, it might be easier just to replace the whole power inflater assembly. In fact, most BCD manufacturers recommend complete replacement of the power inflater assembly when issues like this occur. Bear in mind that this isn't always the most cost-effective course of action for the BCD owner.
Personally, I'd recommend learning how the power inflater works by locating a parts diagram. The designs are generally pretty straightforward. This should greatly facilitate troubleshooting the issue.
Bubbletrubble: Thanks for the reply and the info. I'm going to get in contact with Zeagle and see what they have to say. I was pretty sure it had something to do with the salt water, but I was surprised it was still happening back in the fresh water. I initially thought it would get flushed out in the fresh water. As you say, something inside is / has leaked in the salt, corroded the inside and now it is turning into a constant problem. Thanks again. If I learn anything useful, I'll let you know.
Last edited by coldwaterdufus; March 24th, 2011 at 03:24 PM.
Inflater valves will fail. It's the nature of the beast. You can disassemble the unit and pull out the schraeder valve and replace it with one from a parts store (they're CHEAP). Don't over tighten it, or you'll be buying a new valve. I actually keep a spare valve with me all the time.
In addition to making the bladder easy to flush, it allows you to see part of the spring/valve mechanism when unscrewed. I suppose if you wanted to, a quick trip to Home Depot would find some sort of female/female coupling you could screw onto it allowing you to seriously flush it with a hose also.
Although I've had no problems since I changed it - probably 2-3 years ago.
In my experience, inflators will all eventually do this, even if carefully soaked and flushed. (Of course, 90+ percent of my diving is in salt water.) You can take them apart and service them a couple of times, but although I can't speak for the Zeagle one, the others I've worked on are made of pretty cheap brass and no matter how careful you are, they eventually get scored and the o-rings won't seat perfectly any more. Then it's just necessary to replace the unit.
I have had similar problems after 100-200 dives with the two Zeagle BCDs I have owned during the past 10 years. Inflator button sticking slightly open. I have had success fixing the problem by disassembling, cleaning, and lubing the inflator assembly, although there has been no visible corrosion. But the key to making it work again has been stretching the spring so that it provides sufficient force to push the inflator button fully out again after inflating the BCD, it seems to get a bit weaker after regular use. The spring has been the key part to the issue...
Although it is certainly true that proper post dive care can help prevent this type problem, and I have seen it happen regardless of brand, I can't help but think that if Zeagle would use a spring with a bit more resistance would help to reduce the occurrence of sticking inflator buttons. When searching for solutions when this first happened to me I came across a number of similar issues, and I had to buy an new inflator assembly for one of my scouts after a couple years use.
Having said that, not really complaining, my favorite BCD is the zeagle scout.
Using an Air2, I haven't had this problem (knock on wood). Due to the fact that the regulator assembly needs annual servicing, the inflator and dump mechanisms get cleaned and serviced at the same time with new o-rings.
Last edited by NAUIwowee; March 24th, 2011 at 04:54 PM.