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PRO TIP - Regulator service

Discussion in 'Deep 6 Gear' started by cerich, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. Angelo Farina

    Angelo Farina Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Parma, ITALY
    Well, on my vintage motorbikes i never do any mechanical work until it is really needed. I just change oil and filter, but only after surpassing systematically the prescribed mileage. The less you do, the less you damage...
    But an a motorbike what happens in case of failure is that you are on your feet, but there is no real risk, you do not depend on the engine for breathing.
    But regulators are a different beast: when they fail, you are in trouble (also if I usually dive with two complete regulators, that's two first stages connected to two independent valves, even on a mono).
    Of course I will never leave someone else than me to do anything to my vintage regulators. They are all Scubapro, four MK5 first stages, one MK15, and six 109-156 second stages (all converted to 156). I service them regularly, even if I passed some long periods without diving (up to 4 years), during which of course I did nothing to them.
    Luckily enough for my regs all the parts are yet readily available, so I never had problems changing everything which did look suspect.
    As others pointed out, the regs suffer if stored improperly, with salt water inside them. At the end of the diving period, when a long period of storage is planned, I substantially dismount them, and store most parts inside air-tight ziplock envelopes (those for frozen foods). At the beginning of the next season I remount them, change the parts which had some wear (seats, dynamic O-rings), apply proper lubricants and check-retune them until they are perfect.
    During the season I simply wash them carefully in water at human body temperature, then I make them dry accurately removing the fist stage cap and detaching the second stage from the hose, so that air dries also the interior.
    In over 1500 dives (since 1975) I had problems only twice, and in both cases it was the air filter at the entrance of first stage clogged with debris (rust, actually) coming from inside the rented steel cylinders. So one part that I change very often is the air filter, although when a lot of rust is coming from the cylinder, even a new filter will occlude easily. And this is the reason for always using two separate first stages, connected at two independent valves with independent dip pipes, and possibly on two independent cylinders.
    Whatever a good maintenance is done, the real safety only comes from redundancy.
  2. cerich

    cerich ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Georgia
    your bike has breaks, they fail and you are in trouble. It blows a seal and leaks all over your rear wheel you are down. light go out in wrong unlighted place, could be bad..
  3. Angelo Farina

    Angelo Farina Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Parma, ITALY
    Sorry, I did not clarify that my bikes are strictly offroad and very vintage. Most are trial bikes, maximum speed around 20 MPH. The brakes are old-style, not discs. No oil in my brakes...
    you see them all here: Fantic Motor Photo Gallery

    Of course bikes used on the road, or even on the highway, could be dangerous in case of mechanical failures.
    Mine are not, and I have broken almost everything: brakes, suspensions, engine, transmission chain, control or braking cables, tyres exploded, etc...
    cerich likes this.
  4. Bigbella

    Bigbella Barracuda

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: San Francisco
    Soaking while pressurized is king. Failure to do that will all but insure a shorter regulator life, and an increased likelihood of failure . . .
  5. wbatten1

    wbatten1 NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: San Antonio, TX
    I think you might be referring to my post, right before I joined the Deep 6 team. According to Cerich, the regs had about 75ish dives on it before they were in my hands. Here's the link:
    Regulator Failure (about time!)

    Disclaimer, I do NOT recommend anyone doing what I did. A ton of extra planning had to go into every dive for safety purposes. It's not worth it. Also, as @aviator8 points out, reg failure is not a static event that occurs at a specific point. Everyone's mileage will vary. Oh... last thing- liquid nitrogen and our regulator don't mix... :wink:

    cerich likes this.
  6. aviator8

    aviator8 Professional Photographer

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Georgia
    Yep that was the post I read, thx. whats the story with liquid nitrogen? I cant image what you were doing there.
  7. Divectionist

    Divectionist Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Gold Coast, Australia
    Hmm.. I screw on a DIN cap that seals with the O ring and first rinse the regs under flowing water, then let them soak in warm water with the capped DIN thread part still protruding out of the water. I do not feel like any water would realistically get in there, with the cap on tight and no place for air inside the unit to be displaced by water, which does not surround the actual orifice. Although I make sure not to submerge the whole first stage and always purge air through before or after the drying process. Not sure how well I would trust those yoke caps in the same scenario, but I haven't handled one of those in 10 years.

    As far as servicing goes, I am seriously debating what to do once the recommended service period comes around. First of all, I don't trust any dive shop here to take care of my stuff. Given the constant stories of how people receive their regs back with new problems after routine services, as well as the general sloppy nature of dive professionals everywhere I look, I would almost be surprised to get them back in equivalent or better condition if nothing was wrong in the first place, surely feeling really sketchy about the first few dives. Who knows what they scratch inside or assemble incorrectly (reminds me of my pony reg that had an internal O ring placed incorrectly, sealing the hp port so that I went through a couple of button SPGs, thinking they were broken).

    Whilst I am OCD about gear and certainly someone that has their car etc. top notch maintained ahead of schedule, I more and more tend towards ONLY servicing my regs once I see symptoms on the IP gauge or otherwise detect any hints of deterioration. And I really don't care about any savings here, it is literally just the fear of hamfisted sloppy techs that leave half their sandwich inside my reg.

    Warranty is a joke anyway, and since Scubapro took away their free parts for life policy, anything that could be a warranty issue is a service item/issue anyway. It's unlikely that the housing will crack or whatever would need to happen to benefit from staying on top of the servicing demands.

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