• Welcome to ScubaBoard

  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

Basic gear from mid-twentieth-century Australia: Turnbull etc

Discussion in 'History of Diving Gear' started by David Wilson, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    The ad in my first posting today doesn't mention a Torpedo breathing tube, but "Dick Deveson" offered one in the November 1966 edition of ASM:

    I'm afraid "Torpedo, plastic" is all I could find about the breathing tube. Note too that "Dick" also sold Torpedo wetsuit jacket and pants, which I presume would bear some resemblance to the ad in my first posting of the day:

    As for the curious Torpedo "Steelflex Flippers" in the ad, you'll have to wait a few more days for further enlightenment. Watch this space and please contribute!
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    We're now in the home straight so far as mid-20c Australian basic diving equipment is concerned. Let's begin with those Torpedo Champion "Steelflex Flippers".

    Torpedo Champion Steelflex Flippers
    The ad caption reads: "Steelflex Flippers. A complete breakthrough into hitherto unknown power and comfort due to the insertion of strong spring steel ribs. 3 sizes. 59/11 to 95/-." The use of steel to reinforce these fins makes them unique as a post-war fin, although I've read somewhere that de Corlieu's original design for "propulseurs" (swimming propellers) was strengthened with metal.

    I'm surprised to find so little information available about this unusual fin. What also struck me when I first clapped my eyes on this ad was the strong resemblance to a fin I already reviewed in another thread:
    The ad above appeared in the July-August and September-October 1957 issues of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) magazine Triton. It was placed by Sub‑Aqua Equipment Ltd of 81 Holland Road, Hove, Sussex, and invited “trade enquiries” about the “Shark Brand” range of swim fins, face masks, hand spears and breathing tubes. “Superfins”, which were the company’s flagship product, came with full foot coverage, open toes, side rails and central rib for reinforcement.

    I'd love to know the story, if there is one, behind the resemblance between these two models, one sold in Australia, the other in the UK. Anyway, the Torpedo Champions came with quite a high price range for their time, almost £3 to almost £5 Australian. Steel reinforcements did not come cheap!

    Torpedo made at least one other model of fin:
    The ad above is from a 1960 issue of the Australian Skindiving Magazine, and there's a pair of "Torpedo Flippers" on sale at 15/9, less than one pound Australian, so unlikely to be the "Steelflex".

    The following ad appears in 1961 in the ASM:
    The "Torpedo Champion Swim Flippers" in the above ad may be the "Steelflex" model, but they are priced at £2 10s 0d, or 50 shillings, whereas the cheapest cost for the "Steelflex" in 1963 was almost 10 shillings more.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    The image above at Spearfishing History in the Pioneering Years | Underwater Skindivers and Fisherman's Association is captioned "Bill Heffernan in a Sladen Suit and Salvus Oxygen Re-Breather taken in April of 1948 during the meeting to form the USFA in NSW’s Pioneering Years."

    Here is the front cover and an inside page from Bill Heffernan's diving gear brochure, whose full text can be found at DIVER OF FORTUNE: 2013:

    In the second image above, you can see a picture at the bottom right of one of the "underwater rubber swimming masks" marketed by Bill Heffernan. And the catalogue page below refers to the "swim flippers" he sold:
    I expect these masks and fins were "bought in" and resold, but there isn't enough evidence to say so for certain. What is in less doubt is the origin of the combined snorkel and mask dubbed "The Pat Breather" (see left above). Here it is in different stages of development, modelled by Bill Heffernan himself:


    Bill Heffernan 1950.jpg

    The purpose of the contraption is to draw air from two sources, as required, the atmosphere in the case of the upwards-pointing tube and scuba or a rebreather in the case of the hose emerging from the bottom of the mask.
    АлександрД likes this.
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    My final posting today is about the role of the brand name Slazenger in Australian underwater sport. This contribution is based on very sparse information indeed.

    Slazenger masks
    So two Slazenger masks, one named "B12" at $4.45 and the other "B15" at $4.50 in November 2016. What they were like is anybody's guess, unless, of course, you know different?

    Slazenger fins

    So Slazenger fins were available in two models, one floating and the other non-floating, both in sizes S, M, M/L and M. Once again, no information about the appearance or performance of these fins, which appear to have been priced at the budget end of the scale.

    The Slazenger brand name has recently been resurrected in the world of swim workout training fins:
    The Slazenger fins above, however, were manufactured by a Malaysian OEM company, which made them for other companies in western countries too:
    $_66.JPG s-l1600.jpg

    That's it for today and also for Australian basic underwater swimgear. I'm minded now to refocus on Europe in general and on France in particular in my next vintage equipment thread.
    АлександрД likes this.
  5. АлександрД

    АлександрД Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Moscow, Russia
    David Wilson likes this.
  6. rcee

    rcee Garibaldi

    I’ve been reading about Hanimex Continental flippers & I’m keen to buy replacements for my old ones. If anyone knows of a pair (or even one) med-large with the full enclosed heel please let me know, cheers
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Keep an eye on eBay and Gumtree: Turnbull/Hanimex Continentals do appear there now and again. I always feel frustrated about how little information is forthcoming when it comes to the Sydney company M. D. Turnbull, which originally manufactured these fins and continued doing so for a while after its takeover by Hanimex.

Share This Page