By Chris Gabel, Ocean Eye, Inc.
This month, I thought that I would comment on some questions that seem to repeatedly come up in conversation. They’ve come up often enough that I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the questions and related answers with you. So here is goes:
Q I want to repair my own drysuit seals. Does it matter what glue that I use?
A Let’s face it, we live in a DIY (do it yourself) world. More people want to be able to build and repair things themselves. The challenge is getting all of the facts in one place so that the consumer is fully informed on the process. This is one of those cases.
The answer is a resounding YES. The material you are trying to bond together is going to require an adhesive that was designed for that purpose. Elmer’s Glue will not bond vulcanized rubber. It may taste great, but won’t seal that drysuit ring system in place. I’m going to cover this in more detail in a future article, but I think it’s also important to note here. There are a lot of variables to consider. For instance, if you use standard Viking glue on an HDS suit and want to dive in contaminated water, you just turned your HDS suit in to a Viking Pro 1000/1500 (depending on the material thickness). What do I mean? Well, the components are only as good as the adhesive. If you don’t use the glue that was designed to conform to the materials and/or environments that you are going to use the equipment in, it’s not going to perform as designed.
Q I’m using the glue that was recommended but my seals won’t stick, why?
A OK, this is a two-parter. The first part is material preparation. For instance, did you appropriately prepare both the sleeve and the cuff so that the adhesive will adhere itself to both materials? If at this point you ask yourself “What in the @#$% is he talking about, preparation?” Please put it in a box and send it to a trained authorized repair facility. If you don’t, at best you will be cursing like a sailor for days. Or worse, you’ll have a substandard repair that will come apart when you least want it to (like at 50 feet in cold contaminated water).
Here is the second part, you know how to do the repair and have done it before successfully. You did the preparation as you did before. You are using the right glue and still everything has gone sideways. This is when bad things happen to good people, right? I ran in to this situation a few times myself. Often, the culprit is what is on the suit. What do I mean? Well, I’ve had issues with people doing things like using ArmorAll on their drysuit. The issue may not be that overt. It also depends on what the diver was submerged in. Especially when it comes to petroleum. The resolution to this issue is to thoroughly clean the area you’re working on with an appropriate cleaning agent. For instance, Heptane on a Viking Pro 1000.
Q I’m doing shallow dives, why should I be bothered buying and maintaining an EGS bottle with my demand hat?
A Frighteningly enough, I’ve had this discussion more than once. The scenario is this; the diver/company is only doing shallow work. Perhaps a bone crushing 8 or 10 feet. The normal comment is that they can swim to the surface in an out of air emergency. Why bother with the additional equipment and hassle.
Here is my answer. If you’re wearing enough weight to nail you to the bottom, 8 or 10 feet might as well be 80 or 100 trying to get to the surface. Although OSHA talks about the following four items requiring the use of a “divercarried reserve breathing-gas supply,” it’s an extremely rare exception that safety would be compromised where a diver above 100 fsw should not carry one (for instance, confined spaces).
29 CFR 1910.425(c) (4) (i), (c) (4) (ii), and (c) (4) (iii). For dives deeper than 100 fsw or outside the no-decompression limits, each diver must: be tended by a separate dive-team member; have a standby diver available at the dive location while the diver is in the water; and have a diver carried reserve breathing-gas supply, except when heavy gear is worn.
29 CFR 1910.425(c) (4) (IV). A reserve breathing-gas supply is required at the dive location for dives deeper than 100 fsw or outside the no-decompression limits. 29 CFR 1910.425(c) (5) (I) and (c) (5) (ii). For surface-supplied air diving with heavy gear, deeper than 100 fsw, or outside the nodecompression limits, an extra breathing-gas hose must be available to the standby diver, and the hose must be capable of supplying breathing gas to the diver in an emergency. Also, an in water stage must be provided for the diver(s) in the water.
29 CFR 1910.425(c) (6). A diver-carried reserve breathing-gas supply must be provided to a diver in the water when the diver is prevented by the configuration of the dive area from ascending directly to the surface (i.e., when the diver does not have “free access to the surface”), except when the diver wears heavy gear or when the physical space does not permit the use of such a breathing-gas supply. The diver-carried reserve must be sufficient under operating conditions to allow the diver to reach the surface, or another source of breathing gas, or to be reached by a standby diver. Heavygear diving is exempted from these provisions because the gear carries its own reserve.
So the bottom line is that a bottle, first stage regulator, pressure gauge, an overpressure relief valve, and a low pressure whip is cheap insurance. Maintaining this additional gear is simple and minimally invasive to your annual budget. OK, simply put, just use it.
I do need to note here that this does not count for heavy gear, I included 29 CFR 1910.425(c) (5) (i) and (c) (5) (ii) to cover part of this. The rest is a different story.
In future issues, I would like to continue from time to time addressing your questions. I’d like you to send in some maintenance questions that you want to have answered. You’re the reason that these articles are written, so I want to work on subject matter that you are interested in. Send your questions to me via email at CGabel@oceaneyeinc.com