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Basic gear from mid-twentieth-century Britain: Typhoon (E. T. Skinner)

Discussion in 'Vintage Equipment Diving' started by David Wilson, Apr 2, 2018.

  1. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    On to the Typhoon T3 breathing tube, which was a "frontal" snorkel of the kind now used by competitive swimmers.

    Typhoon breathing tube Model "T3"
    Since the breathing tube was positioned at the front rather than the side of the swimmer's head, it could not be retained by the mask strap in the same way as conventional breathing tubes were. The "attachment bracket" seen halfway along the barrel not only served served to anchor the snorkel to the top screw of a mask fitted with a metal rim but also functioned as a fulcrum enabling the snorkel to tilt backwards when the mouthpiece was released.

    Here are a couple of images of the T3 breathing tube attached to a Typhoon Blue Star diving mask fitted with the optional stainless-steel rim:
    Typhoon_T3_Snorkel 1.jpg
    The first picture is from the 1956 edition of Skinner's handbook for skin divers and comes with a caption suggesting that a frontal breathing tube was "the type now favoured by the experienced underwater swimmer." The second image is from the British Sub Aqua Club journal Neptune and comes with a caption describing the same configuration as "a combined mask-tube of the type which many previously made for themselves." Both allude to a preference among mid-1950s British snorkellers for frontal snorkels long before such devices became a component of the competitive swimmer's kit.

    Here is a photograph from the 1956 publication Underwater sport on a small income by Barry J. Kimmins:

    The frontal snorkel was actually invented by Dr Raymond Pulvénis in France during the 1940s:
    He was a medical doctor who researched syphilis, wrote the first spearfishing book and invented the frontal snorkel he called a "tuba", which remains the standard French word for "snorkel" to this day.

    Returning to the Typhoon "T3" breathing tube, here are are a couple of pictures of swimmers using the model:
    The first image shows a Jantzen ad from Neptune. Jantzen is best known for its swimming costumes, but it "carried" other companies' underwater swimming equipment during its long history.

    The second image is from an August 1965 Which? consumer report on masks and snorkels. Here is how the "T3" fared in comparison with other breathing tubes of the day:

    That's it for today. I'll move on next to the Typhoon Universal Ball Valve and the "T4" breathing tubes in the next posting.
    АлександрД likes this.
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    Time to review the Typhoon Universal Ball Valve, which earned a British Patent and was used in combination with the Typhoon Super Star diving mask.

    Typhoon Universal Ball Valve

    The Universal Ball Valve appeared as follows in Skinner's handbook for skin divers:

    Typhoon patented the automatic valve in 1957. Here are the patent drawings of British Patent GB781597A, "Improvements in or relating to Valves for Underwater Breathing Apparatus":
    If you want to read the full text of this patent, it can be downloaded from Espacenet - Original document.

    The Typhoon Automatic Valve was by no means unique for its time. The French diving equipment Hurricane, whose products were carried by Typhoon, had a similar device in its repertoire:
    Both the Typhoon and the Hurricane versions claimed that the valve would operate correctly whatever position the user was in. US Divers had a different version called the "Marino" for the American market:
    The Typhoon Universal Ball Valve appeared in both 1956 and 1966 editions of Skinner's handbook. The product was discontinued before the mid-1970s, probably because it could only be used with one model of diving mask, which was then unserviceable as an separate unit without the ball valve attachment. Probably one of the earliest cases of overengineering in diving equipment manufacturing and certainly not the last!

    I'll leave it there for the Typhoon Universal Ball Valve, which could not be used independently of the diving mask with which it was combined. Next for consideration is the Typhoon "T4" snorkel.
    АлександрД likes this.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    The Typhoon "T4" breathing tube first appeared in the 1966 issue of Skinner's handbook for skin divers (Breathing tube page above).

    Typhoon Breathing Tube Model "T4"

    The first image is from a 1967 Lillywhites catalogue, where the snorkel is simply described as "polythene, yellow". The second is from the 1976 Typhoon catalogue. The third is from an August 1965 Which? consumer report on masks and snorkels. Here is how the "T4" fared in comparison with other breathing tubes of the day:
    The "T4" model was my first "serious" snorkel, purchased when I joined a university branch of the British Sub Aqua Club in the mid-1960s. It was shorter and came with a wider bore than the aluminium ball-in-the-cage "T2" Typhoon model I previously owned.
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    1976_2-png.460563.png Snorkels_1976.png
    The Typhoon "T4" model breathing tube originally came with a short wide-bore yellow plastic barrel and a rubber mouthpiece with a fixed U-shaped extension (above). However, the "T4" name passed in the 1979 Typhoon catalogue to a new model sporting a flexible-hose mouthpiece.

    Typhoon Snorkel Model "T4" (T-Flex)
    This was Typhoon's first flexible-hose snorkel. The design was originally intended to be of benefit to scuba divers, because the mouthpiece dropped out of the way when it was not needed.

    We'll move on to Typhoon snorkel models T-5 to T-8 (see picture above) in the next posting.
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    On now to the remaining Typhoon snorkels, models T5 to T8. Let's start with the "T5", whose barrel came first with a twist in the barrel before the U-bend leading to the mouthpiece. The twist was absent from its successor, which had a straight barrel before the U-bend leading to the mouthpiece.

    Typhoon Model "T5" U-type Snorkel: Twist Version
    Lillywhites_1967_plastic.png Small_1957.png

    The first image is from a Lillywhites 1967 catalogue. The second is from from Peter Small's 1957 book Your Guide to Underwater Adventure, where the breathing tube is captioned "Some tubes have a twist and bend to enable them to be held more comfortably in the mouth." If you have read my thread about Russian and Ukrainian snorkels at Russian and Ukrainian snorkels, you will have seen an image of a Mosrezina snorkel with the same distinctive feature:
    This Soviet design dates back to 1960 at least and the rationale of the extra forward curve in the barrel is that it eases the positioning of the mouthpiece in the mouth.
    The above drawing is from the most comprehensive treatise on Soviet underwater equipment published in 1969, P. P. Serebrenitsky's Техника подводного спорта, which provides geometrical dimensions and angles absent from Western publications on basic diving gear. The rationale of the twist and bend is explained thus: "The snorkel has a small reverse 15-20° bend, which sets it to a vertical position when swimming face downwards."

    The original Typhoon Model "T5" with twist and bend came with a metal barrel. A second version of the Typhoon breathing tube model "T5", available in 1967 or earlier, assumed a more conventional J-shaped configuration with a straight plastic barrel.

    Typhoon Model "T5" U-type Snorkel: Straight Version

    Lillywhites_1967_metal.png Lillywhites_1968.png 1976_4_BlackU.png
    The images above are dated 1967, 1968 and 1976 respectively. The third image from the 1976 Typhoon catalogue is captioned "T.5 Black 'U' type Snorkel. Rigid plastic tube with 'U' bend and mask securing loop". The 1979 Typhoon catalogue image of the snorkel was accompanied by the legend "Flexible with particularly soft mouthpiece. Mask loop and reflective tape". The reflective tape at the top of the snorkel was there for safety reasons to alert others engaged in open-water pursuits, such as boating, about the presence of snorkellers in and under the water. German Standard DIN 7878 for snorkels (Tauchzubehör Schnorchel - Maße - Anforderungen - Prüfung), which appeared in February 1980, mandated the use of these reflective safety tapes on snorkels.

    Three more Typhoon breathing tubes to review. "T6", "T7" and "T8" model snorkels made their début in the 1976 Typhoon catalogue and will be the subject of my next posting.
    Last edited: May 23, 2018 at 7:13 AM
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    The "T6" model snorkel was a relative latecomer to the Typhoon scene, arriving as it did in the mid-1970s.

    Typhoon Model "T6" Black Rod Snorkel
    The product description in the 1976 Typhoon catalogue read as follows: "T.6 Black Rod Snorkel. Flexible plastic tube and mouthpiece with mask securing loop." Here it is again in the 1979 Typhoon catalogue (second from left below):
    where attention is also drawn to the reflective safety tape around the top, the way the mouthpiece can swivel to affect a comfortable oral position and the bargain asking price for the product.

    The "T6" is reminscent of the L-shaped snorkel, whose design claimed to increase breathing ease, cut water drag, and eliminate "water trap". Here is a description of the "Snork-L" snorkel, which epitomises the L-shaped snorkel and may have inspired the Typhoon "T6" breathing tube:

    And finally a word about the Typhoon "T6" snorkel's product name: Black Rod. Yes, the snorkel came in black and bore a passing resemblance to a rod, but the name "Black Rod" carries other connotations in the UK, where the snorkel was manufactured and sold. "Black Rod" is the short title of the "Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod" or the "Lady Usher of the Black Rod", an official in the British Houses of Parliament.. Black Rod is best known for their part in the ceremonies surrounding the State Opening of Parliament and the Throne speech. He or she summons the Commons to attend the speech and leads them to the Lords. As part of the ritual, as Black Rod approaches the doors to the chamber of the House of Commons to make their summons, they are slammed in their face. This is to symbolise the Commons' independence of the Sovereign. Black Rod (below) then strikes the door three times with their staff, and is then admitted and issues the summons of the monarch to attend.
    This ritual is derived from the attempt by King Charles I to arrest the Five Members in 1642, in what was seen as a breach of the constitution. This and prior actions of the King led to the Civil War. After that incident, the House of Commons has maintained its right to question the right of the monarch's representative to enter their chamber, although they cannot bar them from entering with lawful authority.

    We'll take a look at the Typhoon "T7" model snorkel in the next posting.
    АлександрД likes this.

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