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Basic gear from mid-twentieth-century France

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

  1. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

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    David
    What an interesting thread you researched and posted today!
    Certainly is appreciated !

    Last time we were in Paris we stopped at every book stand bordering the the Seine and my wife using her best Canadian French inquired about diving books - found one ! In French which I treasure .

    There were a number of the early French books translated into English. I am not certain if they were published in US or Britain but they were published in English Since I began my diving bibliophile addiction around 65 years ago I suspect I have all of them-- However, Mrs. Miller is still on her remodel, paint. & toss so they are difficult to retrieve.

    Certainly enjoy your posts-- remember I am number one in line for a book If you ever published one -- and you should !

    Sam Miller, 111
     
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  2. АлександрД

    АлександрД Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Moscow, Russia
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    P.S. first notice about using rubber balloons was published by Guy Guilpatric in his book "Complete googler" for his separated googles to compensate pressure (see bottom right pic)
    gg_16.jpg
    Such type of googles was popular for Ama divers
    c8ca3300e167b79af2e5572c383d61a8.jpg

    But later Alexander Kramarenko got this idea, when patented his Single glass googles: US2182104A - Underwater goggles - Google Patents
    1a459f427fc9c63357cf5231e3c635ea.png
    4a7987ce55e9e7388152f63986463a43.jpg
    (but he named here not Alex but George)
    from the book
    IMG_0487-copie-1.JPG

    P.P.S I`m confused, why mask above (covered nose, from David`s pictures) require balloons?? Ballons was invited just for googles, not for masks!
     
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  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thanks for the feedback, Sam. I'm very reliant on the Robert Devaux book at the moment for information about the French spearfishing pioneers who had mixed fortunes when they attempted to convert their passion into a commercial enterprise. It's good to know that some early French diving books were translated into English; many of the originals seem to have appeared thanks to provincial publishers who have long since vanished after the French book trade centralised in Paris. A more recent but still great source of information about the pioneers of French spearfishing is a well-researched university thesis entitled "L’aventure sous-marine : Histoire de la plongée sous-marine de loisir en scaphandre autonome en France (1865-1985)", downloadable from L’aventure sous-marine : Histoire de la plongée sous-marine de loisir en scaphandre autonome en France (1865-1985). It marvels at the number of French diving gear companies back then in Nice and Marseilles.

    Thank you for the great images in your post, АлександрД. Yes, those rubber bulbs on the top of old masks and goggles are quite a sight. I presume that the bulbs (called "poires" in French, literally "pears") on the goggles excluding the nose are there to counteract eye squeeze at depth. I seem to recall seeing somewhere some pictures of swimmers with very sore eyes and damaged tissue around the eyes after trying to dive deep with just goggles on.
     
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    ASM_May1961.jpg
    OK, on to Watersport(s) basic diving gear, which was available up to the early 1960s at least. I haven't been able to establish a timeline for products as I don't have the sources to do so. Anyway, what you see above can be dated. This Watersports ad has been scanned from the May 1961 issue of L'aventure sous-marine, one of only two copies of the French diving magazine in my possession. So the Watersports company founded by Dr Raymond Pulvénis was still around in the early 1960s, but I can't tell how much longer it stayed in business. And there's a nice touch for you, Sam. The street where the Watersports company operated in Nice was called "avenue de la Californie". Fancy that!:)

    The ad makes a good point of reference for the Watersports products I am going to review in the posts that follow today and in a few days' time. It showcases a mix of articles, some of them made by Watersports, others "carried" by them. I'll begin with the latter. The "Admiral" depth-gauge was manufactured by WIKA, founded by Alexander Wiegand and Philipp Kachel in the German town of Klingenberg in 1946 and named thus by joining together he initial two letters of their surnames. More information at History - WIKA.

    The other "carried" item is the Nereus compressor, which was manufactured by Radaelli of Milan and exported widely within Europe and as far as the USA. The following ad from the August 1960 issue of Skin Diver:
    Nereus_SDM_Aug1960.jpg

    The remainder of the Watersports ad focuses on products made in-house. Further up you can see a diver modelling a Watersports Dauphin (French for "dolphin") black beavertail wetsuit made from American neoprene, a pair of "hydrodynamic" Watersports fins, references to three Watersports diving masks and a couple of Watersports spearguns, one of them called "Waterless" because of its watertight design.
     
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Let's focus on basic Watersports gear item by item, starting as usual with diving masks. Our first port of call is the Watersports Dauphin, which I have already mentioned was named after the dolphin.

    Watersports Dauphin mask
    ASM_May1961.png
    s-l1600a.jpg s-l1600b.jpg s-l1600c.jpg
    The first image above highlights the mask's distinctive feature of a feather edge skirt. The other three are pictures of an actual mask from an auction site.

    Here are a couple of product descriptions, one Italian, the other German, pointing to the fact that Watersports exported their products.
    HDSItalia20.png
    The italian "Maschera Watersport. Di origine francese, si propone in tre versioni: Standard, con cristallo comune; Luxus, con cristallo infrangibile; Luminal con cristallo filtrante. La morbida carcassa è bianca o azzurra con cristallo ovale bloccato da ghiera metallica. Entrambe in misura unica media." translates roughly as "Watersport Mask. Available from France in three versions: Standard, with ordinary glass lens; Luxury, with shatterproof glass lens; Luminal, with filter glass lens. The soft mask body is white or light blue in colour with an oval glass lens retained by a metal rim. Medium size only."
    Barakuda_1964.png
    The German "DAUPHIN (franz.), elfenbein Luxusmodell einer Tauchmaske mit goldfarbenem Sprengrahmen. Der breite aufgewölbte Dichtrand schmiegt sich besonders angenehm auf das Gesicht. Weiches, verstellbares Kopfband. Sicherheitsglas-scheibe. Nr. 115. DM 8,85." translates as "DAUPHIN (French made). Ivory-coloured luxury model diving mask with a gold-coloured rim. The wide, bevelled skirt edge affords a watertight, snug and very comfortable face seal. Soft, adjustable headstrap. Safety glass lens. No. 115. Price: DM 8.85."

    Not a remarkable mask, but an oval model with metal retaining band and top screw whose selling point is the comfort of its feather edge skirt against the face. It reminds me somewhat of my Typhoon Super Star mask, which comes with the same feature:
    mask-015-jpg.457303.jpg
    img407-jpg.457308.jpg
    The image above illustrates the way to get the best out of the feather edge skirt when donning the mask.

    So that's it for today. Next time I'll review the remaining two Watersports masks, Watersports snorkel and Watersports fins. Thank you for your continuing interest.:)
     
  6. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
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    David
    Several points today
    re: Waterless Arbalete -- in the very early days of US diving any and all spear guns were genetically identified as '"Arbaletes" which of course came from Rene Calvalero' s name for his original 1940 gun. A friend purchased a Waterless Arbalete and away we went to Catalina. We jumped into the water he cocked the gun and the barrel bent.

    the word was out - avoid Waterless Arbaletes-- they have thin barrels

    2) In 1957 I was an early US SCUBA instructor... Most French imports from US Divers had the feathered skirts, The method illustrated in the drawing is Exactly how we --I- taught the students to put on their masks

    3) In US Hal Messenger copied a Japanese mask and patented it and distributed it via a company called Sea Net.

    Most serious divers used home made masks -- Wally Potts made them for the Bottom Scratchers in San Diego and Charlie Sturgil made mask for the LA tribe ( I have posted my article "the Mask" several times on this board )
    I used the Sturgil mask until Art (brownie or Bud) Brown introduced the Wide view-- never another mask for me !

    Sure enjoy your posts --

    Sam Miller, 111.
     
  7. aquacat8

    aquacat8 Solo Diver

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    Thanks I love these posts!
     
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  8. dmaziuk

    dmaziuk Great White

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    Possibly because equalizing a regular-volume mask uses up too much air for a breath-hold diver?

    You can see the mark around that ama girl's eyes, and that's not a super hi-res close-up photo.

    I'm OK at ~4 metres in regular swimming goggles (no "pears" :) but I would not go any deeper in them. I find the "swedish-style" ones quite uncomfortable already at that depth. So yes, it doesn't take much to damage the eyes in those things.
     
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  9. АлександрД

    АлександрД Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Moscow, Russia
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    Girl Experiences a Scary After-Effect from Scuba Diving (6 pics) - it is very famous pictures over internet about dangers of non compensated air pressure under the mask.
    We also call this type of balloons as rubber pears. Груши. (but we have and use another - clyster (клизма) :) )

    Yes, I suspect the same, but... problems with pressure compensating could starts from 15-20m, where you can really feel air insufficience. But how many people can dive so deep? :) May be they really think about non educated divers to prevent "red eyes" as on the link above?

    It is not dents from the air pressure. Those times rubber was not so nice and soft as today, and this glasses has similar design as First Japanese diving mask, that require personal tuning for each individual face by cutting the rubber. I thing it is dents from strongly catch in strap.

    P.S. And thank you, David, for your diving history investigations!
     
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  10. dmaziuk

    dmaziuk Great White

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    You're probably right although the swimming version of this is still around and is fairly popular: nose piece is infinitely adjustable and replaceable, the bungee is replaceable, and the only thing that can go wrong is eye cups get scratched.

    In swimming they are called "swedish" goggles. They don't leave a mark. it's like the diving mask: if it's properly fitted there is no need to over-tighten the strap and come out of the water with a deep red crease on your face. But like I said, diving to only 3-4 metres in mine, the cup presses into eye socket too much making them uncomfortable.
     
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