By Ocean Eye, Inc.’s Chris Gabel
This month, I thought that we would cover something that gets installed, and let’s face it, gets pretty ignored after that. Those little rubber hoses of joy, the bailout whips.
Typically the QD fittings come in three flavors. The first is the completely open. The quick disconnect version that resembles the fittings that you see installed on your typical home air compressor supply hose. Those are getting rarer to see these days. The more common type that we’re been seeing lately are the self sealing or hydraulic fittings. Of those, you can choose a couple of options. The first of which is the kind of material it’s made out of. Brass is the metal of choice but stainless is also available. You really can’t go wrong with either choice.
The more important option available is the locking detent. This is the version in which you have the detent/cutout on the moveable sleeve and a ball bearing installed on the body. This feature is insurance so that the diver and/or tender doesn’t accidently disengage the quick disconnect and release the hose. I don’t think anything could be a worse feeling than needing bailout air and see your supply hose floating around or hitting you in the thigh.
Since, hopefully, your bailout system is not used on regular basis, your bailout components may not be used or serviced all that often. We can go over first stages in regards to your EGS (or Emergency Gas System) in a different column, this one is dedicated to the hose and fittings.
What we find sometimes is that the hose gets pinched or kinked at the end where the crimped ends are installed. This is an issue since when the hose is resting in the typical “in use” position, the diver or tender or supervisor doesn’t take notice to this discrepancy. We see them when the helmet arrives in its bag or box and the hose is folded over. The hose gets weakened and eventually fails. Those should be replaced immediately. We see these issues more often on the helmet side than the first stage end. One task that should be executed in the daily dive checks is to charge the hose with the tank valve open and the helmet valve closed and leak check all of the connecting points to make sure you don’t have a failure in the fittings or o-rings.
An often ignored section of the bailout whip is the female side of the stainless or brass type of quick disconnect fittings. Since there are moving parts, these parts need to be maintained as well. At the very least, the sleeves in the female side need to be lubricated and cleaned periodically. Behind that sleeve is typically a group of ball bearings that allow things to move smoothly. Make sure these are clean and in working condition. We’ve encountered QD ball bearings that have rusted in place. That sleeve should be able to move back and forth without binding.
On the hydraulic type of fittings, whether looking down the barrel of the female hydraulic fitting or the end of the male side, there are self-sealing parts. When everything is locked in place, then the self-sealing parts meet and open up the air line. When disengaged, the ends seal as to not allow water or dirt to enter the line. That means that these parts are critical to the health of your EGS system. Make sure that they operate smoothly and are truly sealing when closed. That means a check at the beginning of the diving day taking a flat surface, such as a flat blade screwdriver, and depressing the end tab in each side. Both sides should operate smoothly and naturally go back to their sealed position when released.
I know it may sound simple or obvious, but it seems like those are the items that we all take a little for granted. A simple, quick check can keep you safe in the water and keep that safety system in top condition.
For any of your equipment or maintenance questions, contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.