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VDH BP/W package review

Discussion in 'Vintage Double Hose' started by tbone1004, Jun 1, 2018.

  1. tbone1004

    tbone1004 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
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    Here goes.

    It is no secret on here that I am a massive fan of Deep Sea Supply. Their plates allowed me to get back into diving one piece harnesses a few years ago and I have been thoroughly impressed with their plates and wings.
    A few things spurred me into buying another single tank rig. The main one being the fact that while I rarely dive single tank, I bought a Kraken last year and wasn't really happy with how it was working with my long pattern plates. Add to that, I don't like having to move rigs around, and with my SS plate on my rebreather, Kydex on my doubles, I was left high and dry for single tank. I grabbed a Freedom plate late last year for the double hose and it isn't compatible with my DSS LCD30 wing. I thankfully have a Dive Rite Travel wing, but I've never really liked it. Barely enough lift for most of the diving I do, the lower dump is on the outside of the wing, on the right so doubly wrong side for it, and while it worked on the Freedom plate, I wasn't happy with it.
    My wife is also starting to get into scuba so I stuck the LCD30 onto a normal people sized SS plate for her, and decided I needed a bigger wing for single tank diving.

    Research phase started. Obviously DGX is offering a great deal on what is essentially a Dive Rite Travel wing, SS plate, and HOG harness for $300, or $200 for just the wing. My problem with the DR wings is that there is no inherent roll control built in, nor can there be for compatibility with the Transpac. I'm not a fan, and the 25lb of lift wasn't quite enough. I wanted something in the 30 ish lb range, compatibility with my Freedom plate, ideally made in USA, something beefy, and reasonably priced.

    Knowing @OWIC647 was working with a legit wing manufacturer, knowing that I was going to use it quite a bit with my Kraken, and wanting to support the little guys, I took a gamble. I grabbed a complete bp/w rig since I wanted a spare bp/w setup to have as a loaner, and off we went.
    Backplate arrived, looked really nice. Good flexibility with cam band locations, good finish, felt good. It's a piece of steel, so not a whole lot that you can really say about it other than it easily met expectations. If you're in the "normal" height range, it'll be a good choice for you.
    Harness is just a harness, so nothing really to comment on for that.
    As a textile engineer, and having done some wing development work with several manufacturers, this was the part that I was very curious about. Wing looks/feels/basically is an Oxycheq Mach V. Very impressed with it. Nice thick bladder, heavy duty outer cover, embroidery looks spot on. Fit and finish of the sewing is spot on and not something I've seen from a lot of the DR wings, and the couple DGX wings I've seen.

    Now, at $225 for the wing vs $200 from DGX, I think it's a no brainer, especially if using on a normal backplate, if anything due to the integrated roll control. Both wings use SS grommets for bolt hole alignment, and if you use sex bolts to hold the wing on, the combo if the wing nut and the sex bolts will cause the tank to easily slip off the spine of the plate. Lots of frustration with that years ago and caused me to use STA's for a long time. The roll control helps to keep the tank from cocking off at an angle and is nice. Build quality again justifies the extra few bucks as I think this is a. a much better profile, especially for a larger wing, and b. it's just a more robust product. I will be exchanging the dump for one from Deep Sea Supply though, Tobins are much better.
    At $300, their base price as a package is the same, but to get a SS plate *which unfortunately they are out of stock atm, same with the big wings*, and to go to SS cam bands, you're looking at $365 I think from VDH vs. $300 from DGX. Makes the price gap a bit bigger, but you get Highland SS cam bands vs. generic SS cam bands, but I personally prefer the nylon cam bands. Much less painful if you cock up and get a finger pinched, and I just prefer nylon bands, so there's that.

    So if DSS were still shipping, or if you're reading this after Tobin gets up and running, where do I stand? The DSS rigs are around $500, so significantly more than either option up there. I'm torn. I believe Tobin makes a wing that is easily on par quality wise with this one. If you're doing a lot of diving, especially in salty stuff, I think the fast removal from the plate is super convenient. I prefer his plates, both SS and much prefer kydex to aluminum. The kydex plates are super comfortable if diving single tanks because the sides flex more similar to a fabric plate, and they're nicer for doubles/ccr than aluminum. Being as tall as I am, I need the long backplates to dive comfortably and my Freedom plate is also an extra long plate. For me, the comfort would be worth the extra money and for those that fall outside of that height region for a normal plate. As for now, I'm convinced that I'm changing my opinion on the best "value" backplate and wing on the market from DSS to this VDH plate and for those that are in the market, I highly recommend you give Bryan a call
     
    Inkedobiwan, enduser, couv and 7 others like this.
  2. Bryan@Vintage Double Hose

    Bryan@Vintage Double Hose Instructor, Scuba

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    Thanks Tom......If I wanted to offer an import wing I could sell the whole package for $250.00 and still make a profit. The Argonaut Kraken is not a cheap regulator nor are any of the parts used to build it. I wanted the wing that had the Argonaut name on it to be the best one I could offer and have it made in the USA with the best parts and materials available to me. Also, the nylon bands, webbing, flat D-rings and sliders are all made here in the USA and by November I expect to have my own bands with heavy stainless buckles which closely mimic the ones I offer from XS Scuba now but at a more affordable price. If you shop by price only then I'm going to get beat almost every time.....
    The old saying goes, " If your entire product marketing strategy is to simply negatively advertise the competition then YOU probably don't have much of a product to begin with"
    If you look at the package I offer, the wing comes with a service kit and tool for the inflator, choice of hose length and bands. I'd simply ask those that are shopping to compare quality, price, value for their dollar and customer service. The VDH package stands up to any other on it's merits alone and I don't need to knock anyone else because there are a lot of good rigs on the market now.

    I do apologize that I ran out of things so quickly. I had not sold SS plates in the past so I had no idea how many to order. The #35 went about as fast as I could put them in the store. I do have them on order and will have them in about 3 weeks. The #18 is a favorite of my customers so I bought a lot more of them. SS plates wont be along till the fall.
     
    DeepSeaPirate likes this.
  3. DeepSeaPirate

    DeepSeaPirate Angel Fish

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Planning my next vacay
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    What single tank diving are you doing that requires 30lb lift? A lot of colder stuff?
     
  4. RayfromTX

    RayfromTX Student Of Gas Mixology Staff Member ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Hill Country of Central TX
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    @tbone1004 huge congratulations on your wife getting into scuba. That tops everything else I've read today. Diving with my wife is one of life's great joys.
     
    noj3333 likes this.
  5. tbone1004

    tbone1004 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
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    most of my diving is colder unfortunately. The Travel wing I have was close at 25lbs, but for teaching I can't get my head quite high enough out of the water to be happy so I wanted a bit more. I'm not entirely convinced the 35lb wing is actually 35lbs, so will be measuring that at some point using the method that DSS uses. Put it on the backplate, put a LP120 on there so it's 8" diameter and long, then fill with water and find out how much it displaces. It is definitely more than the travel wing, but I think it will end up closer to 30lbs with a tank on it as it is quite narrow

    @RayfromTX it's a big dragon that she had to slay to get over her fear of water on her face from a near drowning as a baby, and we aren't all the way there yet, but real close. Going to Cuba in December and she really wants to dive the reefs down there so it's enough motivation for her to work in the pool this summer to slay that dragon

    @OWIC647 I don't shop on price, I shop on value which I have explained many times on here. As you're well aware, I paid full price for the rig, so it's not like I'm doing this review with any sort of key-man pricing like I'm used to from most places.
    Very much looking forward to seeing the SS bands that you get in as well as getting the SS plates in stock as this is starting to look like a real winner for a lot of divers, not just the guys that know you through the vintage reg crowd
     
  6. nismomobber

    nismomobber Angel Fish

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    @tbone1004 I have a VDH 35 wing that I tried to put a brand new DSS dump on. It didn't quite seal up properly and seemed to bled down before the wing was super firm. With the VDH standard dump it will hold a much higher pressure. Please report back if you get one to work. Also I am very very interested to see what your true buoyancy check results are with the 8" cylinder.

    I have 3 dives so far on my VDH wing so far and I think it's very very nice. If anyone is looking I would highly recommend these. I plan on buying an 18 before my next warm water trip.
     
  7. Bryan@Vintage Double Hose

    Bryan@Vintage Double Hose Instructor, Scuba

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    @tbone1004 My reply was not necessarily just to you but more of an overall rambling on some of the feedback and questions I've had from various divers. I have lowered the price on wings quite a bit from when I first started selling them (explained how in another thread) Until I can order hundreds at a time I don't think they are going to get much more inexpensive.
     
  8. Bryan@Vintage Double Hose

    Bryan@Vintage Double Hose Instructor, Scuba

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    I am using #'s from the manufacturer. I originally asked for a #30 which is what was popular when I was selling other companies wings but the Argonaut wing manufacturer advised they had a #35 pattern that was almost as small as their #23 and had good feedback on it so I said GO FOR IT. Anything you can do to streamline a wing of that size is a + in my book.
     
  9. cool_hardware52

    cool_hardware52 Dive Equipment Manufacturer

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    I'd be cautious about using manufacturer's numbers. Most cut and sew shops don't have a back plate or cylinder or cambands on hand to use for testing. Many have no idea how the gear assembles. They just fill the wing in the "Free" state, not the constrained condition that a plate and cylinder presents. Not a knock on you, but I've seen quite a few "30" lbs wings that offered ~25 (or less) capacity when mounted. Same issue, the contract manufacturer building them had never seen a back plate.....

    Tobin
     
  10. cool_hardware52

    cool_hardware52 Dive Equipment Manufacturer

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    You probably need to replace the outer nut too, not just the OPV cage, seat , spring and cord.

    The soft seat needs to seal on the end of the *INNER T NUT" *not* on the lip in the outer nut. Many OEM outer nuts have an inner lip pthat is too tall to allow the soft seat to reach the end of the T nut. This is why we offered two different kits.......

    BTW, wings don't need to retain more than 1-2 psi. In use the pressure differential between ambient and inside the bladder is effectively *zero* Stiffer Springs in the OPV just put more load on the wing shell and maybe the bladder when a diver leans on the power inflator......

    Tobin
     

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