This is probably the question I get most often and the one with no easy answer. I guess my first response would be...Don’t buy the first one you see.
Buying your first double hose is just like buying anything else for the first time and if you are smart you will do your research first. If instant gratification is all you require then I’ll be glad to equip you with the newest and best double hose setup made to date and you can go diving.
Rarely do double hose divers just have one regulator and I hope by providing information over the next few weeks you will be able to make a more educated buying decision. The information I’ll be sharing is not intended to be a history or historical timeline of regulators. Phil Nuytten, Ed LaRochell and several other much more qualified than I are the best resources for that kind of information.
Since double hose regulators have been available since the early 50’s there are quite a few to choose from.
Note: Just because it’s old does not make it good or bad...Nor does it make it valuable or rare.
If you are a collector then you will want one of everything and every model. The same applies if you only collect trophy shelf queens (regulators you polish and talk about but never use). If you are looking for a regulator to dive with then the field narrows down very quickly.
The two key players in the double hose world were always US Divers and Voit here in the US. They made millions of regulators and many of the parts used on the first models were still used in the last ones. The advantage here is that most parts are still available as NOS or have been reproduced and in many cases improved. La Spirotechnique in France (parent company to USD) also made millions of regulators whose parts were virtually unchanged through their years of production.
While you are perusing the internet and other places you will no doubt run across manufactures such as DACOR, Healthways, Sportsways and Nemrod just to name a few. Parts may or may not be available and if they are they may be difficult to acquire. Some models were made in very limited numbers and some were just bad breathing regulators when they were new. Some of the hard-core double hosers enjoy a challenge and have taken these brands and made some really good diving regulators out of them. But when looking for your first double hose I would not recommend them.
I hope you still have your wallet safely in your pocket….. Next you need to decide what type of diving you are going to do with you double hose. Are you interested in historical correctness, down to the period correct dust cap on your 1st stage and the fillister head screws on your mouthpiece clamps? Are you a devil may care, mix and match modern and vintage gear, go with the flow diver? Do you dive mainly in cold water in a dry suit or dive only in the tropics in just your swimsuit? None of these have to be set in stone as double hose regulators are very flexible but it’s easier to decide on gear if you know your diving style to begin with.
Once you decide on what regulator you want your search can begin. You can buy from established online websites, E-bay, Craig’s List, or local contacts to name a few. Don’t get caught up in a rush to buy or the euphoria of winning an auction. You will likely end up paying too much for too little and still need to spend quite a bit to get your regulator into diving condition. Research past auctions and sales on the web and watch the message forums for regulators that pop up for sale.
Once again 90% of the regulators you would use for diving are neither rare nor hard to come by and you are more than likely going to own more than one in a short period of time.
I do offer refurbished regulators on VDH that are of a grade to which I can guarantee. They don’t last long on the site and I don’t do many at a time.
Once that you have your twin hose jewel, you will most likely need to get it serviced. Most regulators are more than 50 years old and are in need of a complete service. This is not an area to shortcut or to try to shave off a few bucks.
Get your new to you regulator in the absolute best condition you can to start with, maintain it properly and it will give you years of trouble free diving.
Unless you buy your regulator from someone willing to guarantee it to be in excellent working condition and can provide proof of service with a warranty you are on your own! Buyer Beware.
Many people choose to rebuild their regulators themselves and all the factory service manuals are in the download section of the website, parts are available on line and the website forum has an extensive database and search engine to return answers to most every question you could ever ask about servicing a double hose regulator. If you have experience servicing regulators or are simply good with mechanics then there is no reason you can’t do it yourself. I would strongly suggest if this is your 1st regulator you service and you foresee yourself doing a lot of it in the future then you should definitely pick up a copy of Regulator Savvy It will help you understand WHY and HOW a regulator does what it does.
Rebuilding a regulator does not mean taking out all the parts, flipping over seats, greasing up old parts, re-installing them and calling it rebuilt...This is a scam and fraud in my opinion. NEW reproduction parts for these regulators have been available for more that 10 years now. Unless you get your old parts back with your just rebuilt regulator you got the shaft.
I am not saying by any stretch that VDH is the only place that can rebuild a regulator; far from it. I have dozens of peers in the community that I would trust with my personal gear. I also know a few that, as well meaning as they might be, I wouldn't trust to put my regulator on a cylinder valve correctly.
If you hear, Oh I know how to service Brand X and these simple old things are beneath my regulator service god’s skills…. Walk away….Just let it go….Simple they may be, but double hose regulators like all other mechanical items have subtle nuances and a knowledgeable person who understands this will get it right the 1st time.
Next we start talking what’s what about actual regulators.
I appreciate your comments and feedback.