Friday, February 27, 2015

Bonaire Day Three. Let's Go Boat Diving

Bonaire Dive and Adventure has two boats but we only used the larger of the two named Free at Last. They leave several times throughout the day and you make your selection for dives the day before by putting your name and requested site on chalkboards outside of the equipment storage area. First boat leaves at 9am and getting on and off could not be easier. If you want air you don't need to do anything just put your gear on the benches by the boat. If you want NITROX you grab a cylinder from the storage area on the dock,check the pressure and mix, write the info on the clipboard and put your diver number and pertinent info on a piece of valve tape on your cylinder. The boat is small and can only take 12 divers max. There is only room for one cylinder per diver per trip but since most dive sites are 20 to 30 min away it's not a big deal. The crew loads the cylinders for you and everyone takes their seat and you are off. Even with 12 divers on the boat it was not too crowded and there was plenty of room to move around. There is even an enclosed forward area to keep stuff dry and cameras safe on the trip in and out.  The entire time we were there the seas were calm and waves were virtually non existent.  Diving around here is more like a giant inland lake or the largest aquarium in the world. 

Our first site was off the island Kline Bonaire called Mi Dushi (My Sweetheart)

Let me get this out of my system now so I don't have to repeat it........As we were circling around Kline Bonaire to get to the dive site I was horrified by the HUGE amount of garbage all over the shoreline of this otherwise beautiful little island.....I have seen landfills with less trash in them. I tried asking about it but was met with no real answers and the feeling that it was a subject that no one wanted to discuss.....Ok rant about that is over.

Our crew for the boat this day was John who is a big guy from Curacao and a small and comical man called PeeZee from Germany.  We were given a pre dive briefing and told about the entry and exits and normal other stuff to do if problems arose. I thought John did a good job covering the important points but did not keep us on deck baking in the sun.  They ask that cylinders remain stored at the back of the boat and that you assemble your gear after you arrive at the dive site. 
As usual Rob, Barb and I wanted to be 1st off the boat but this time we had Eva with us so it took us a little more time since this was her first boat dive which she took in stride without incident. 
John guided the group around the reef which is crazy full of small fish and various soft and hard corals. The sun was shining and all the colors on the reef were amazing. Despite the shore looking like the sides of the New Jersey Turnpike the reef was in fantastic condition with very little evidence of the thousands of divers who visit it every year.
Rules are one hour dive time and we followed the group but when the majority of your dive is spent around 30 feet you have almost half your air left after an hour.....Which is frustrating but we didn't want to break the rules on the 1st dive. 
Getting back on the boat is super easy via a very wide and stable ladder on the starboard side of the boat. Once you get back in the boat they prefer to have you stand in place, turn off your air and drop your cylinder out for you and then let you go over to your seat with your gear still on your back. The double hose regulators gave them pause as neither had ever seen anyone using one. I decided to let them help me off with mine and told them to expect to start seeing a lot more Argonaut Kraken double hoses in the future...... Ride back in was brief and uneventful and as most boat crews at resorts are they parked the boat and has it secured to the dock within moments upon arrival.  Only 30 minute break before the boat left again so just enough time to grab a snack and log cylinders again if you were diving NITROX...Otherwise the crew took care of air for you.

Dive # 2 for the day was at 1000 Steps where we had been yesterday from land and it was just as great the second day.  I think this is a site that you could visit every day and see something different. This time our guide was the comical PeeZee who wore fins without straps and when asked how he kept them on his feet he would only say...Its Magic....Dive was one hour in length with lots of marine life and even a curious small turtle swimming around the field of staghorn coral.  Since this coral is in shallow water I was really worried that some of the buoyancy challenged divers in our group would crash into it but luckily they watched carefully and I saw no one get close to the delicate coral. 

On Monday nights Bonaire Dive and Adventure hosts a Rum Punch party on the dive dock for a couple of hours. It's a casual affair and a chance to meet some of the other divers staying at Den Leman and talk a bit more with the folks from BDA....Andre was a great host who was quick with refills and introductions.

We had heard about the restaurant down the road from us at Captain Don's  The sidewalk area was torn up so we drove down even though it was easily walking distance but Captain Don's had their lot closed and security directed us across the street to park.  We didn't know that the resort was having a big cookout with live music that night but we walked on in like we knew what we were doing.  After getting though a mass of people we were asked if we had reservations.....Ooops....We said no and we could tell they were swamped with guests. Despite that the man we spoke with cleared us a table in the Tiki hut bar area and got us seated right away. The arrangement that night was a buffet style cookout with a large open flame grill and the smells were very enticing especially after diving all day and missing lunch.  Food was great, varied and plentiful including dessert. The folks staffing the various stations were pleasant and smiling the entire time despite the temp around the grill being closed to a thousand degrees......Perhaps it's just me but is there a sign when you arrive at a resort that says Forget Your Manners? Because despite the restaurant being filled with adult guests the majority were acting like 4th graders in the school lunch line......Stuff like that really drives me crazy!!! How hard is it to wait your turn, say excuse me or Please and Thank You....Sorry...Rant over.....Did I mention that poor manners drive me crazy.....WELL THEY DO.
Our server kept up with us as best he could despite waiting on dozens of other people and we really enjoyed the restaurant and would go there again.

At some point we had been told of a little ice cream parlor by the Den Laman that we needed to visit and they were right...And if you like ice cream then this little place is not to be missed.

This is an awesome place to stop after supper or for a great breakfast burrito. They have many other things on the menu that I would have loved to try but didn't have the chance.  Folks here were really nice and glad to have us there. They have free WiFi that works really well by island standards and have some unique chairs on their patio.....So just go here.

Once again it's time to go back to our awesome seaside patio to fight the mosquitos and get ready for day 4

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Single Stage Double Hose Regulators

Single Stage regulators are about as simple and reliable as it gets. Very few moving parts and easy to service and setup.

For a complete explanation of the mechanism you can get a copy of the original U.S. Divers service manual available for free in the catalogs and manuals section of Vintage Double Hose website.

In a nutshell the single stage regulator takes the high pressure air from the cylinder and reduces it to ambient pressure delivered to the diver in one step. Unlike a two stage regulator there is no second stage and no intermediate pressure to change or adjust. Below you can see there are two types of single stage double hose regulators but very few are of the down stream type.
Dr Ed in the Philippines made a nice video for VDH showing the simple mechanics of the single stage upstream regulator. Click Here to see it. 

The single stage is not without is drawbacks though. Since there is no intermediate pressure available you cannot use a safe 2nd stage, BCD or Drysuit inflator unless you are carrying a pony bottle with another 1st stage on it or using doubles with a separate post and another first stage.
Most, but not all single stage regulators came with short yokes on them and these do not allow enough room to fit a banjo fitting for your pressure gauge between the regulator and valve face. I have manufactured a new yoke nut that allows use of the more plentiful two stage long yokes so this problem is much easier to overcome than it used to be.
Since the regulator reduces the cylinder pressure in one step the work of breathing is slightly higher when used with higher pressure cylinders.  The single stage really comes into it's own when used with low pressure cylinders 2500 psi and below. Not to say you can't use them on higher pressure cylinders (Cousteau reportedly used La Spirotechnique Mistrals up to 5000 psi) but your work of breathing is going to be harder until the pressure drops. 
Here is a PDF of the popular U.S.Divers family of single stage regulators. The Mistral being the most popular and plentiful. It has a great venturi nozzle and was made in the thousands. 
Voit made copies of the US Divers single stage mechanicals and also made a Down Stream regulator for a few years. Click Here for the Voit Family of regulators and more information.
La Spirotechnique made their version of the Mistral and Royal Mistal for years and was the regulator used most often by the Cousteau divers. Click Here for more info.

Most double hose divers have at least one single stage in the collection and diving one is a real treat! Single stage regulators go WOOOOOSH on inhalation when the veturi kicks in and is a sound unique to them. You can even hear the difference in video clips of single stage and two stage divers swimming side by side. 
Single Stage regulators were made by almost every manufacture but parts for lesser known brands are not always available and some are impossible to find parts for.  I am partial to La Spirotechnique Royal Mistrals but even with those you must be careful as some have the first stage sized for European valves and won't work on US valves unless modified. 
If you are looking for an economical way to get started in double hose diving then a U.S.Divers Mistral is a great way to start. Inexpensive, plentiful, all parts are available and for many people they are the first regulator they ever do their own service on. Don't get hung up on serial number date of manufacture nonsense! U.S. Divers Mistrals are all the same on the inside and the only thing that would make one more desirable than the other is a factory installed long yoke.

I hope you find this overview helpful and use it as a segue to doing more research and reading on the Vintage Double Hose website and website message forum.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bonaire Day 2. Let's Go Diving!

Bonaire Day Two…….Let’s go diving

Bonaire Dive and Adventure.jpg
Bonaire Dive and Adventure is located in the Den Laman building with the dive pier and boat launch area all within a few feet of each other.
As with all operations in Bonaire before you dive you must attend a dive briefing and purchase your reef tag which gives you the Ok to dive anywhere in the marine park.  BDA also requires you to do your first dive from the pier so you can check weighting for proper buoyancy. Their boats are small and the staff will remind you many times that they don’t carry extra weight on the boat.
We got signed in at the shop with all the necessary forms and got our reef tags. Andre the owner took photo copies of my NAVED card since he had never seen one and wanted to show the staff in case they saw cards like it in the future….He was very interested in what we were doing and despite being very busy we talked a bit about vintage equipment diving. I did let him know that NAVED was a social club and not a certification agency.
Dive briefing began at 9:30….Don’t put on your wetsuit before the briefing and bring a cup of coffee or water as you are going to be there for a while……..He thoroughly covers the history of Bonaire, the dive sites, the rule etc etc. Also included is a talk by Jerry Ligon on the guided tours he offers to show you the fish and birds of the island.  
Next comes the walkthrough of the diving facility and where and how to get what you need. There is one area where you get your air or NITROX cylinders for diving around the island where you can back your truck right up.  Codes to get the keys after hours and which locker to put the cylinders in. Also how to use the O2 analyzer for the NITROX cylinders and how to log cylinders in and out. Sounds complicated but by day 2 it makes perfect sense.  
Next you walk through where you pick up weights and the large indoor area where you can rinse and hang your gear up to dry overnight. The room is very well laid out with sturdy racks and lots of hangers.  The main door to the room is locked at night but you can access it by using a community key kept in a lock box similar to one used by a realtor for a house.
At the dock entrance which is locked at night but once again if you are diving with them you will have access to a key that lets you on the dock 24/7 so you can dive anytime you want to.  There are another set of lockers with both air and NITROX cylinders right at the dock and they can fill right there as well.  No need to store cylinders in your room for night dives as you can get them on the dock anytime. I never saw a shortage of cylinders on the dock no matter what time we went diving.  It’s a very slick setup and minimizes carrying cylinders around all over the place.
There are long wood benches on the dock with upright boxes to secure your cylinder bottom and plenty of room to put your gear together. Take a giant stride off the end or go down the wide ladder and you are in the water. BDA staff was around helping divers with their gear and providing extra weights or assistance while divers were trying out their gear in the shallow water around the dock.
While Rob and I were assembling our gear we talked with Andre for a while about the Argonaut Kraken and how it all came about and how and why we use them.  He asked lots of questions and had absolutely no reservations about us diving with them.
NOTE….I have read on SB in many threads that Andre was not nice to deal with and various other complaints about him. During the entire time we were there he was the perfect host. He was always available and very involved in the daily operation and made us feel welcome and appreciated.  I talked with him about this and he says the complaints come from people using his dock and pier who are not registered guest of the resort or BDA.  I completely understand his point and would feel the same way…..
NOTE….. Just to the right of our room at Den Leman is a HUGE open lot with free parking and full access to Bari Reef. So there is no need use BDA facilities without paying unless you are trying to grab cylinders for free or are up to something else.

Diving Bari reef is about as easy as it gets. We dove in various spots from BDA south to Divi Flamingo Beach and Casino and all was about the same. From the shore to about 20’ is sand and spots of coral and from there the norm is a gradual slope down to about 100’ where it turns back into sand again.  Some places look more like a wall than a gentle slope but all are easily manageable. Most days there was some very slight alongshore current but nothing of any concern. Always easier to go against the current and coast home than vice versa.
The reef was in good shape and very active with all the tropical fish you could want to look at. Since the current is minimal it’s easy to stop and explore all the cracks and crevices where the little ones hide. A few eels and lobsters but mostly reef fish. Nothing pelagic at all save a small barracuda or two and the largest fish we ever saw here were Tarpon who were by Florida standards about bait size. Most fish hung out between 30 and 60’ in this area and as you went deeper there were fewer fish.
One of my favorite things about diving this stretch of reef is all the rubble and junk that was left over from hurricanes. There are plenty of things to explore and even a couple of small boats along this stretch. An upside down tugboat around 100’ was neat to visit but the Jewfish that supposedly lived there must have gone further south for the winter as we never saw him.  Off of Divi Flamingo there is a big aluminum fishing boat and a HUGE anchor with monument to someone who’s name escapes me.

After we did our checkout / orientation dive most of the morning was gone and Rob and I headed out in the truck to 1000 Steps.
I would agree with others that this is a must do dive while on Bonaire. There really are not 1000 steps only about 70 I think and going down them is no problem. Coming back up after a long dive with wet gear feels like 100000000 steps.  I had to stop ½ way up for a rest.
The shore entry is a little challenging as you go from rocky beach to a berm of broken up coral to water and then another berm that is covered in mini sea urchins…..Walk up or down a bit and look for a sand channel going out which is much easier. Surf was not an issue but getting out was a bit harder than going in due to surge.
This area of the reef was even more active than Bari reef for fish and more varied species.  In the shallows we saw turtles several times and they were not in a big hurry to get away.  This is also a place to see some amazing stretches of staghorn coral. We spent a lot of time hovering over the coral checking out all the things swimming in and out of it.  
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After an exhausting climb back up Mt.Everest, a.ka. 1000 steps we met up with some divers in the truck next to us from the NE who were amazed by the Argonauts.  We shared all we could while we caught our breath and drove on back to Den Laman.  THOSE RED HOSES DRAW A CROWD!

For our evening jaunt we went downtown by the cruise ship dock and it was later in the evening so we counted on the ship being ready to disembark so all the folks would be back on board.  The streets were pretty quiet and we walked up on The Divers Diner  and figured this was definitely the place for us!20150208_184356.jpg
There were only three tables occupied when the 4 of us seated ourselves. Perhaps I missed a sign on the way in that might have read….For Service Please Set Off An Explosive Device because that’s about what it took for someone to come over and ask us what we wanted.  We were able to get 3 waters and a Coke Light.  Refills would be difficult to obtain no matter what we did.  We were starving as we had skipped lunch and ordered some fries with cheese and jalapenos to share while we looked over the menu for entrees.  After an exceedingly long time we were able to place our order but from the start things were missing…..Like Thank You or can I get you a refill…..Would you like silverware….How would you like that cooked….Instead we got staring off into space waiting for us to ask and answer our own questions…...My wife, Rob and I have spent decades in the service industry and know what good and bad service are….We are also exceedingly patient because it’s a tough job for anyone to do….I am also an extremely generous tipper…..
We finally got the entrees and disappointed would be a nice word to describe them…...I won’t bore you with hundreds of food network adjectives or other boring stuff.  Service after we were served did not exist and at one point I considered going to the bar to ask for more napkins….We ate very little and decided that the fries we had at first were the best part of the meal.  Surprisingly while we were sitting around talking the person who cleared the table was very polite, smiling and nice.  This was a first for us at The Divers Diner.
I would put the cuisine below bar food and slightly above after midnight convenience store roticerry hot dogs and frozen burritos.  Our bill of course was closer to Mortons Steak House than McDonalds where it should have been.  If you enjoy being hungry after a meal and feeling like you are not wanted then this is the place for you.

We continued walking around for a while and started encountering a lot of signs on buildings in various languages….The ones in English told of some serious political issues the locals seem to be having with the Dutch government and the overall feel of that area led me to believe that we should do an about face and go back from where we came from.  I don’t discuss religion or politics on VDH so I won’t start here but after researching it a bit I was not surprised by the grievances especially given the attitudes we felt towards us by most of the local population.

We ended the day back at Den Laman on our awesome patio for some mosquito bites and some great Dutch chocolate before retiring for the evening.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bonaire Trip

Bonaire trip February 7th to 14th

Once again I’m not a writer or professional trip reviewer.  I call it like I see it plain and simple.  Those who have been may agree or disagree with me and that’s fine. Those who have not been yet may find some of this helpful in their travel planning.
I have been on more dive trips than I can remember both in and out of the country but the last time I was in Bonaire was 87 so it was like starting with a blank slate there again.

The 4 of us flew from Tampa to Atlanta to Bonaire.  Flights were uneventful and running on time so nothing of note to report there.  Getting off the plane in Bonaire is via ramp as they have no terminals with skyways.  Customs is right at the front door with one line for residents and one line for all others. Customs is more of a formality than a necessity as all they do is say Hi, welcome to Bonaire and stamp your passport.  If you were in the back of the plane and get in the back of the line for customs it may be a challenge to find a luggage cart that is necessary since you have to walk a little ways across the lot to pick up your rental truck. No one will volunteer to tell you that you can go get your truck and drive back up to the terminal for free but it is possible...If you are getting a shuttle or taxi you just walk out to the curb.
Despite E-mailing copies of our drivers licenses and filling out the paperwork in triplicate ahead of time for Avis as we were advised to by the person at our hotel to do they still had no idea who we were and knew nothing about the paperwork we sent ahead to them which was supposed to expedite the rental process….So we had to start again at.. Hello, I want to rent a truck…..
We took a few wrong turns getting to our hotel as it seems road signs are both unnecessary to replace when damaged or missing or to actually coordinate them with the map you don’t get at the Avis counter. I also found it strange that most signs are only marked on one side so unless you are going that direction you have to look in the mirror or have someone read it to you after you pass it.
We stayed at Den Leman Condominiums  we chose the Blue Marlin Room which is the only Two Bedroom Seaside deluxe room in the complex. More expensive yes but the awesome factor was well worth it.  
Den Leman.JPG
The room has a patio with 4 roll up doors and about 10 steps from its own beach and about 50 steps from the dive dock.(room is lower far right in the picture above)  The only improvement they could make to it would be screens to keep out the mosquitoes which were extremely bad dusk and dawn while we were there. The full kitchen allowed us to cook meals (more of why we did that later) full sized refrigerator was great for ice and keeping it stocked with lots of water and snacks.
Couple of minor problems while we were there but they were handled right away by the ladies in the office. Everyone at Den Leman was very pleasant and helpful. As long as I could have this room I would stay here again for sure.
Adjacent to our room between us and the dive dock is the  Plazita Limena restaurant which specializes in Peruvian cuisine although from 1st glance I would have figured they had wood fired pizza but not so much.  20150214_105209.jpg We ate here our 1st night since it was right next door and three of the four of us like to try new things especially food.
The service was good and the people were all pleasant.  A few language stumbles but between Spanish,English and some pointing we got most everything we needed.  Overall we thought the food was Ok but not remarkable at all for the price.  As hard as I tried in both languages I could not get the point across that I wanted my entree SPICY and I’m used to ordering spicy food in many languages but here it was to no avail. I even asked for hot sauce in a bottle which is a foreign concept in all restaurants in Bonaire as I found out as the week progressed. No matter how I asked for it, it was if I was asking for moon rocks or an autographed picture of Burt Reynolds to be placed in the chair beside me...    Also the fact that we would like to have a pitcher of ice water on the table was a tough concept.  When you are trying to hydrate in a desert climate 8 ounce glasses don’t go very far and it would have saved them a lot of trips to the table.
As they were our next door neighbor the girls went back and forth buying colorful cocktails in tall glasses with fruit and umbrellas. Nice folks and I’d recommend you stop in and see them.

Next part of the adventure on our 1st day was to locate a supermarket.  We drove around the roundabouts more than a few times and ended up looking like the UK scene from European Family Vacation.  Finally we found  Van der Tweel Supermarket  which is supposed to be the largest one on the island.  Shopping in grocery stores in foreign countries is always an adventure and I really enjoy looking around at the different items people from other countries eat. This store proved to be a cornucopia of new products and I could have spent hours walking up and down the aisles trying to figure out what things were since most of the packaging was labeled in Dutch.  
After putting a quarter in a slot on the shopping cart handle it released it’s locking device from the one in front of it and we were off… US currency is used on the island so prices were easy to read but hard to believe on most items.  We had to stock up on some sundry items and snacks for the week but really didn’t want to take out a loan to buy them!  I was able to procure some unique cup o noodles which were awesome because they contained a collapsable fork inside so they were completely portable and borderline tactical. Everyone was really happy with the selection of chocolates as well. Be prepared for sticker shock when you visit. I’m sure most of the locals don’t shop here and on our next visit I’ll be shopping where they do.

That about wraps up day one…….Tomorrow it’s on to the diving we hope.

Friday, February 6, 2015

What Double Hose Regulator Should I Buy?

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.