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Basic gear from mid-twentieth-century France

Discussion in 'Vintage Equipment Diving' started by David Wilson, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. JMBL

    JMBL Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: France
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    Salut !

    Pourrais-tu m'indiquer la marche à suivre pour commander ton ouvrage sur le Commandant Corlieu, s'il te plaît ? Je t'ai déjà adressé un message privé, mais je n'ai pas l'impression que tu l'aies reçu.

    Cordialement,

    JM

    PS : sorry folks for messing a bit with the thread.

     
  2. Popgun Pete

    Popgun Pete Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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    Pierre Andre Martineau was a prolific inventor and had a very imaginative approach to diving, but his equipment was often talked up rather than reflecting reality, a case in point being his dry barrel spring guns. There are a number of patents on these and I have read all of them, but the first couple describe his "Carabine" gun and the remainder are embellishments which would be lucky to work, such as a lever loading version and a twin barrel version. The "Carabine" spring gun was heavily built and looked like a tank-buster gun with a very big and purposeful looking muzzle, but the reality was a pneumatic gun would run rings around it. This was because although the dry barrel improved performance from a spring gun as had been done in the earlier "Waterless", the springs rub on the barrel tube as they buckle and that creates friction which reduces the efficiency enormously. Martineau must have been concerned by the pneumatic guns appearing at the time, but many leaked like sieves and were somewhat unreliable, but once that was fixed the spring gun was toast for all but the few die-hards that had been using them since Alexandre Kramarenko and Charles Henry Wilen set up the "United Service Agency" spearfishing company following their work on the first patented spring speargun in 1937. In order to reflect the company's initials the guns were called “Fusil Americain” and a number of examples still survive to this day, including the twin grip monster “Dreadnought” which looked like a spring gun, but which was actually a band powered impeller drive rollergun.
    Hurricane dry spring gun R.jpg Hurricane Carabine Rafale diag R.jpg
     
  3. Popgun Pete

    Popgun Pete Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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    You can read more about the Hurricane "Carabine" here. Hurricane "Carabine", the early pneumatic gun's rival

    The guns were very expensive to buy in their day and must have been a huge disappointment to their owners as when flooded the "air bubble" that makes them lighter in the sea when pumped clear of water (by the sliding handle rear air pump) disappears and the “Carabine” spearguns then become exceedingly heavy. This flooding occurs as during muzzle loading water pours down through the muzzle opening despite the presence of a rubber seal in the muzzle. This conical shaped rubber seal gets collected by the stop diameter for the line slide mounted on the spear tail which will chip small chunks out of the rubber every time the gun shoots and then water will gurgle down the barrel completely filling the gun up with water. Even the “Baby”, the second smallest version of the “Carabine”, weighs 4.7 pounds without its spear, which is a lot more than any tube gun double its firing stroke as these “Carabine” spearguns only push the spear from the mid-handgrip forwards.
     
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thank you so much for these fascinating insights into French speargun history, Pete.:) I particularly appreciated the background you provided about the Hurricane company, its "overengineered" products and its prolific inventor-director André Martineau. Do you have any information about the Marseilles Jopen-Match company to share? I know they produced spearguns too as well as the usual run of masks, fins and snorkels that I have showcased earlier in this thread. I feel frustrated that I have been unable to identify the brainchild behind this mysterious company.
     
    Sam Miller III likes this.
  5. Popgun Pete

    Popgun Pete Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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    I am aware of those guns, but I never came across a patent that I can recall and they may only be a registered design in any case. The "Match" and the somewhat similar "Submarine" spearguns are an exercise in being different as there is no real merit to them as practical spearguns being of a somewhat flimsy construction with two skinny barrel tubes instead of a single large diameter barrel. The bands would not be quick to replace in the event of breakage and they are in a sense a then modern take on the side-slotted barrel guns using an impeller drive for the spear, however here they just use the usual band mounted wishbone dropped into a drive notch on the exposed spear.
    Match & Submarine spearguns.jpg
    I have seen a few "Submarine" guns and all but the one in the above photo had busted plastic parts. Lateral drag on the traverse is high when ideally you want it to be low as while wide guns as a paddle can be tolerated, you don't want that occurring in the vertical plane.
     
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thanks, Pete! I'll move on now to Beuchat fins, beginning with the earliest models.

    Beuchat Espadon adjustable open-heel fins
    Ref_400_EspadonAdj.png
    Stock code 400. This open-heel fin comes with an adjustable strap with twin buckles and prominent side rails reinforcing the blade. The model was available around the early 1960s and very likely before then as well. It can be seen in the following document from the Musée Dumas dated 1961:
    Beuchat_1961.jpg

    Beuchat Competition closed-heel fins
    Ref_405_Competition.png
    Stock code 405. This closed-heel fin can also be seen in the 1961 product range above. The blade was reinforced not only with tall side rails but also with a centre rib. The foot pocket dispensed with the toe opening popularised by Luigi Ferrraro's Cressi Rondine full-foot fin design. Toe openings were known to accommodate growing feet, to enhance comfort and to remove debris from the interior, but they were also allowed cold water to circulate freely inside the pocket, chilling the feet. In this respect, Beuchat Competitions closely resemble the yellow Champion Hydromatics illustrated below and made by René Cavalero's company in the same location, Marseilles, around the same time, the early 1960s.
    $_60a.JPG
     
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    beuchat_1961-jpg.515124.jpg
    Neither the adjustable open-heel Espadon nor the closed-heel closed-toe Competition lasted long within the Beuchat fin range. They were soon replaced with two new models, both of them awarded patents at home and abroad.

    Beuchat Espadon Record fins
    1391487346_a.jpg 1391487340_a.jpg Stock code 407. Espadon Records were closed-heel fins with closed toes. One variant came with an adjustable heelstrap for added security, reminiscent of the Healthways versions of the Cressi Rondine, although they featured instep straps rather than heel straps:
    The-Competition.png

    Espadon Records also closely resembled their patent drawing prototypes:
    Patent.jpg
    Here's an explanation of the workings of the Espadon Record:
    Beuchat_Palmes_Record.png
    Paraphrasing, their selling points are their speed and lightness. Their principal features are the two pronounced parallel nervures (ribs) stretching from the tips to the heel and the tiered blade yielding progressive levels of flexibility. The justification for the extra heel strap is that it permits the same pair to worn barefoot or with booties.

    Espadon Records also came in yellow:
    2012121.JPG

    I'll finish here for today, as these two postings have taken much longer than I anticipated. We'll move on to the Beuchat Jetfin next time.
     
  8. Popgun Pete

    Popgun Pete Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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    I had a small brochure showing the "Record" fin listed as "Parallèle" fins, in fact I tried to order a pair and the shop guy sold me instead the open heel Jetfins as they had just come in to augment the full foot and strap original Jetfin. That lead me to buying dive boots of the hard sole variety (for tramping over rocks when shore diving) and it was Jetfins from then on as I already had the full foot versions.

    I might add on the subject of open toe fins that in some reef locations small wrasse bite your exposed toes as I have had more than a few nips from the pesky blighters.
     
    Sam Miller III and David Wilson like this.
  9. Popgun Pete

    Popgun Pete Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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    I dug my first three pairs of Jetfins out of a storage cupboard and hosed all the protective talc off them for this group photo. The first pair are of 1966 vintage and sat forlornly in a Melbourne department store (Foys) for about 2 years when I haggled them down to $12.00 from $22.40. They were the only pair ever in that store and had no chance of selling when Voit "Skin Diver" full foot fins cost only $6.00. Another city store, Hartleys, specializing in sporting goods had a couple of pairs and that was it, all were of the same size. Dive shops as we have today did not exist here back then.

    In 1970 for scuba diving and shore diving near wave washed rocks I bought the open heel versions which were touted as Giant Jetfins, but they were not overly large. For these I wore Moray hard sole dive boots which were the best boots ever as they had zippers and flat soles with Black Diamond neoprene, better than anything we have today.

    By 1974 for spearfishing I was after more thrust and purchased the open toe pair. They were great fins and I used them for years, but I never walked on the rocks with them, hence they are not chopped up. The Maori Wrasse liked these long fins, or more accurately my bare toes within!
    Jetfins first group R.jpg
     
  10. Popgun Pete

    Popgun Pete Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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    The full foot fins were a big surprise when I first saw them as until then Jetfins had closed toes and short wide blades, but here the blades were longer and had a reasonable rake angle on them and the venturi vents were very pronounced in size to enhance the jet effect of the flow over the rear face of the blades, which is the top surface when you are finning along. Pumped hard the water "boiled" in your wake as you steamed along at full pelt.
    full foot Jetfin 1974 pair R.jpg
    full foot Jetfin 1974 detail (800x328).jpg
     

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