Monday, April 6, 2015

Get your double hose ready for diving

 Time to get ready for the 2015 diving season and after being in your dive locker all winter it's time to get em out and get em going again.

Despite what you might hear, regulators do not necessarily need to be serviced/rebuilt every year or even every other year. The key to regulator longevity is thorough maintenance after a dive and proper storage between dives. 

First remove your dust cap and take a look at the inlet filter. If there are signs of corrosion or rust you will need to address it as it won't fix itself.  Next I would recommend hooking up to a cylinder and listening for any external leaks and or air escaping from the mouthpiece. If you are diving a Phoenix or Argonaut external leaks could be as simple as a loose port plug or hose. On a DA or Royal it could be from the hookah port cap or adaptor. (don't rule out bad O-ring on the cylinder valve either)
If you have any leaking from the mouthpiece then more in depth investigation is necessary.  An IP gauge is the necessary tool for the job. On a DA or Royal you will need to attach it to the hookah port using one of these If you have a Phoenix or Argonaut hooking up one of these to your BCD hose is usually easier.  If you are checking IP on a DA or Voit Navy with a non balanced first stage here is a link to guide you through the process.  If you are working with a Royal, Cyclone, Phoenix or Argonaut with a balanced first stage then your IP should be in the 125-145 range. In my opinion if it falls in that range you are good to go. If your IP is in range and you still have air leaking from the mouthpiece it could indicate a worn 2nd stage seat.

On a single stage regulator you are kinds stuck as there is no IP to check....If you are leaking from the mouthpiece most likely you have a worn high pressure seat or the lever height is too high causing pressure on the demand lever holding the seat open slightly. 

Next I would recommend removing the hoses from the horns and opening up the regulator for a visual inspection of the internals.....Just to be sure there is nothing making a home inside or signs that corrosion has started. Give your main diaphragm a good wash with soapy water and let it air dry. DO NOT put silicone on the diaphragm....Especially the sealing edge!! Doing this could cause it to slip out of the groove and that would be a very bad thing indeed!  Lubricants are very good at attracting and holding every minute particle of sand dirt and debris. Putting silicone on a silicone diaphragm is like putting water on water and totally unnecessary.
Next remove your duckbill and give it a wash in soapy water and let it air dry. Before re installing it give it a light coating of talcum powder inside and out. 
If you have a duckbill eliminator just run some soapy water through the exhaust horn and let it air dry. There is no need to remove or lubricate the valve period!
Finally check the locknut on the demand lever is secure and if all else looks good then you are ready to reassemble. 

Neoprene hoses/mouthpieces support the growth of bacteria and there are reports from the Navy of related respiratory problems associated with divers using poorly maintained hose assemblies.  The new silicone stuff does not support this growth but it's still a good idea to clean them all out every so often just to be sure. 
For annual maintenance I would recommend taking plastic container or bucket that will let you lay the hoses flat and holds at least a couple of gallons of water.  Fill it up with hot water and some antibacterial soap and if you are so inclined an 1/8th cup of household bleach. CDC guidelines for using bleach as a sanitizer.   Leave them soak for a while and move the hoses around so the water flows though them several times. This Brush from Harbor Freight does a great job of thoroughly cleaning the insides of the corrugations of the hoses.  
After soaking for 1/2 hour or so, thoroughly rinse everything in cold water and give the hoses a good shake to clear out as much water as possible.  I use rubber bands and hang them up vertically to dry. 

If you are working with a recently acquired regulator and your hoses assembly is brown or rust colored a simple solution is to put them in the washing machine on hot with some old rags or towels and run them on the heavy cycle. 9 times out of 10 this will get them looking like new.  I would highly recommend using a hose brush on original hoses between wash cycles. 

After everything is dry you are ready to re-assemble and GO DIVING!

This post is meant as an overview of the basics not as a complete guide to servicing your regulator.

If you have questions or are looking for solutions for your double hose please E-mail me or visit
The Vintage Double Hose website 

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