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When.. is it time to get that first stage serviced?

Discussion in 'Regulators' started by Ulfhedinn, Apr 20, 2021.

  1. halocline

    halocline Solo Diver

    8,942
    3,300
    First, and most importantly, if your regulator is the 'one thing keeping you alive' then you had better go back to the beginning and learn how to dive safely. Man am I tired of this absurd belief that our lives depend on our regulators. Ever hear of air sharing and/or redundant air supplies?

    Second, there is very little evidence (if any) that annual servicing increases the reliability of regulators versus servicing them when they show signs of wear, or at least based on usage, like every 100 dives. Instead divers are told to follow an arbitrary calendar designation that does not take into account the hours of usage or the care given the regulator.

    In fact, given the wildly variable quality of training for service technicians at dive shops, there are plenty of stories about regulator mishaps immediately after servicing, either due to sloppy work, lack of testing, or just bad luck with replaced parts.

    Getting back to the original question of this thread, if regulator owners develop an ability to test their own regulators for leaks and IP creep, which is about as easy as checking the oil on most cars, then they can feel confident that their regs are working properly before diving. Still, EVERY SAFE diver, regardless of level of training or dive environment, has access to some form of alternate air source. That could be a buddy, redundant gear, or even just the surface on a shallow dive. Often it's a combination of two or more of those. So let's put this 'my regulator keeps me alive' nonsense to bed.
     
  2. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    17,170
    9,232
    One issue I have seen with a number of brands, that see saltwater regularly, is a build-up of fine crystals between the body parts that getting them apart is sometimes a challenge. Between the main body and diaphragm clamp and on the environmental seal.
    I've seen untrained people resort to vises and pipe wrenches to try and get them apart. I've had to soak regs in hot water and even let them sit in the ultrasonic with the heat on and no vibration, and then carefully use a cheater bar I have on the pin spanner.
    This is due to them not being properly rinsed and the ability of saltwater to find any microscopic little place to leave a deposit that essentially corrodes the pieces together. You'd think they were welded. This is why I charge by the hour on regs. Not by the stage.
    Those that have been used exclusively in "freshwater" may not be as bad, but even "fresh" has dissolved salts and minerals that can accomplish the same thing.
    On the D1, D2, and D3 and the Deep Six regs I recommend that divers occasionally remove the environmental cap with the reg pressurized, wipe the threads and even apply a little line of tribolube (it will get distributed when you screw the cap back on), and replace the cap. Making sure the silicone disc is properly seated. Do not do this with the reg unpressurized!
    Then after you've replaced the cap hand tight, no wrench or spanner, turn the tank off and depressurize it.
    Doing it with the reg unpressurized will result in the silicone disc being deformed over time and compromising the seal.
     
    blue steal, rsingler and Ulfhedinn like this.
  3. M-Cameron

    M-Cameron Contributor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: New Hampshire
    282
    360
    sorry, i havent taken the PADI specialty on how to grow gills.

    i dont RELY on someone being around to have air for me....i dive assuming im on my own.

    also, redundant air still uses regulators, no?.......unless youve mastered the super secret navy seal "breathing out of the bottle" technique.
     
  4. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid DIR Practitioner Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    9,979
    6,688
    On my first attempt at servicing my D1s--their very first service--just after the HOG service class, I found I could not unscrew ANYTHING, even with tapping the pin spanner with a rubber mallet. Finally I sheepishly called Jack Schmidt of HOG, who had taught my class, and he couldn't get them open that way either, so he resorted to soaking them in a powerful ultrasonic (more powerful than my cheapie), then putting them in a freezer, tapping the pin spanner with a deadblow hammer, rinse and repeat, until they finally gave way. He said that the factory seems to disregard torque specs and just tightens the hell out of them. After that experience, I have been very careful to tighten everything just right and not more.

    In the service class, we were advised to service the D1 every 100 dive-hours or two years, whichever comes first. I'm sure I could get away with less frequent servicing, especially given that those D1s see almost exclusively fresh water, but I have been following the HOG-recommended intervals because it is reassuring to see everything looking good inside when I open them up.
     
    Jim Lapenta likes this.
  5. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    17,170
    9,232
    The other thing that works with those things Jack tried is steady even pressure rather than using a mallet. I've even put the stage on a rubber pad on the floor and while holding the 1st stage handle with one foot ( I have one I got a few years ago that's almost 10 inches long) and with the other foot, apply steady even increasing pressure to the pin spanner. It worked!
    I'm also working on a pin spanner design to encircle the entire 1st stage with a pin screwed through it out of 1/4 inch aluminum bar stock. I'll cut on the waterjet and make one to fit each 1st stage. I've seen designs similar to what I want to do, but they are awkward and do not allow the use of a cheater bar. These will.
     
    -JD-, RyanT and Lorenzoid like this.
  6. grf88

    grf88 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Markham, Ontario
    2,187
    1,874
    Here is one I made. A little crude but it works. I plan to cut a square hole in in to use it with a torque wrench or even a cheater bar for stubborn caps.
    Adjusting IP on Deep6 Scribble?
     
    Lorenzoid and rsingler like this.
  7. grf88

    grf88 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Markham, Ontario
    2,187
    1,874
    I also made a square one without the handle that can go in the vise if an environmental cap sticks to the diaphragm retainer. Also made a small hardwood box that fits in the vise than can be used to hold the 1st. stage body without using a holding tool that might stress the port threads. I will take a photo later.
     
  8. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid DIR Practitioner Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    9,979
    6,688
    I don't have access to a machine shop, so I bought a captive pin spanner from www.scuba-clinic-tools.com: Universal Captive Pin Spanner

    It has a square hole that you can attach to a torque wrench, so if you're really anal about not over-tightening, you can tighten that environmental cap to 40 in-lbs.
     
    grf88 likes this.
  9. grf88

    grf88 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Markham, Ontario
    2,187
    1,874
    Wish I had seen that first as I used the same amount of material to make mine.
     
  10. Ulfhedinn

    Ulfhedinn Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: So CAL
    667
    94
    Thanks Jim! Will do this right now..
     

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