Equipment Maintenance Workshop

Seven of us were round at SCDC‘s Diving Officer’s place on Saturday for an Equipment Maintenance workshop. After depositing my entrance fee (a sixpack) in the fridge, I took a look at their dining room table. The last time I’d seen it was on New Year’s Eve when it had been covered with excellent German food. Now it was covered with what looked like Black and Decker’s entire product range. There was a wide variety of tools, one or two of which I knew what to do with, and some of the others that I didn’t dare think about.

Since I was late I found that I’d missed Andreas showing how to disassemble Catheryn’s Halcyon inflator valve. But because I’ve had to clean my own out on several occasions, I wasn’t too disappointed. Continuing with the inflator valve theme, I’d brought along one from an OMS wing which was sticking open and filling the bag up every time I pressed it. Before long that was in pieces on the table and all the metal and plastic parts were dumped into an ultrasonic cleaner full of vinegar for 10 minutes before being rinsed and dried. They came out looking considerably shinier and newer. Andreas had prepared well by sending Gabi out to buy several sets of o-rings for different types of inflator valve. Using them we put the valve back together again and tested it. Not only did we not have any extra bits embarrassingly lying around on the table, but it also worked flawlessly. Hopefully this means that next time I dive it it won’t be trying to kill me.

Shortly after this Paula arrived. She took one look at all the equipment on the table and pointed out that the only things  that she had were vinegar and a hair dryer! Now was the turn of her inflator hose, this time from a Seac BCD. This had the same ultrasonic vinegar bath and new set of o-rings, and also came away working properly. And the photo on the right shows her soaking the dump valve in the ultrasonic bath.

Next we turned our attention to regulators. Several people had  brought along Apeks regulators which they were going to take apart for my entertainment. Regulators are obviously a lot more complex than an inflator valve and you shouldn’t be taking them apart unless you  know what you’re doing. And as several people reminded me – certainly not at 40 metres, where Rita and I had inadvisedly attempted to fix a free flow several years ago!

First, was David’s first stage, an Apeks XTX 200. The disassembly took a bit longer, and particular care was needed taking out the membrane to make sure the metal part it sits on wasn’t scratched or damaged. Once it was apart, the metal and plastic all went into the vinegar to be ultrasonically cleaned. Putting it back together again is more fiddly, and it’s very important to pay attention to detail and get things in the right order. One of the problems I have is telling which o-ring to use, as some of them are quite a similar size. Since Catheryn also has an Apeks regulator, she was taking a careful look at everything. Andreas asked her to be careful “because we don’t want to damage it do we?”. To which she considerately replied “It’s David’s – I don’t care!” The Apeks first stage has a clear plastic cover, so you can put a label in showing the date of service, which sounds like a good idea.

Once it was all back together again, Andreas told David that he’d be so happy that he’d be buying him a beer all year. David pointed out that one beer for an entire year sounded like a good deal.

Ben and Catheryn also disassembled and reassembled their first stages, both Apekses – a T50 and another XTX200. Unfortunately Ben had to do his twice, as just after he’d got it back together again, he remembered that he’d wanted it as a stage regulator for Nitrox with more than 40% oxygen. Consequently he had to go back and use special grease to make sure it was oxygen clean.

Catheryn and David also serviced their second stages, although by then I’d gone for a curry, so I missed the final 3 hours. What a shame!

So at the end of the day we’d seen the innards of 3 types of inflator valves, 2 different Apeks first stages and a couple of different Apeks second stages. Plus an old Dive Alert that leaked when it is connected between the inflator hose and BCD inflator valve. I’d brought it along to see if we could fix it. Unfortunately  even the ultrasonic vinegar couldn’t save it. Still as David pointed out, I could carry it in my pocket and if I needed the loud audible signal that it provides, I could just hook it up on the surface where the leaking wouldn’t matter. After all, the signal still worked, as Andreas kindly demonstrated – leaving us all temporarily deaf.

All in all it was a very  interesting and useful day. Thanks in particular to Andreas and Gabi for arranging it all. And thanks to Catheryn for the photos.

About Neil Hambleton

I am a British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) Advanced Diver and an Open Water Instructor. I have been diving since 1992, after joining South China Diving Club (SCDC), which is a Hong Kong-based branch of the BSAC. Having moved to New Zealand, I am now a member of BSAC New Zealand.
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