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Discussion of diving methods and equipment available prior to the development of BCDs beyond the horse collar. This forum is dedicated to the pre-1970 diving.
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antique diver
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:00 am

I was browsing through the 1963 edition of BASIC SCUBA, by Fred Roberts, and for the first time noticed his section on "Home Built Lungs and Equipment" beginning on page 283. Understandably, he discourages conversion of the readily available (at that time) military surplus aviation Oxygen Diluter regulator into diving lungs. Here's a couple of excerpts:

I personally know a number of divers who began their careers with a converted Air Force diluter regulator, and several of the conversions were quite thorough and well planned. However, not one of those divers would trust his unit in water over 30 feet deep, and all but one experienced a failure.

No other unit, or device, in diving has caused more deaths in the course of equipment failures than the home built lungs and surplus apparatus in the hands of a novice.

Unfortunately surplus outlets still have such units available, often in kit form.... They appear safe because of unscrupulous false advertising, and most of the time the people selling them do not know how to use a lung....
The older I get the better I was.

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SurfLung
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:21 pm

- Wow. You've really shown us some ingenuity here Bill. Just seeing all of the different ways it could be put together is probably why Fred Roberts wrote so negatively. Someone like you would have made a much better and safer "Diving Lung" than someone who came to it with no idea how a regulator is supposed to work. Yours is downright elegant.
SurfLung
The Freedom and Simplicity of Vintage Equipment and
Vintage Diving Technique are Why I Got Back Into Diving.

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antique diver
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:23 pm

SurfLung wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:21 pm
- Wow. You've really shown us some ingenuity here Bill. Just seeing all of the different ways it could be put together is probably why Fred Roberts wrote so negatively. Someone like you would have made a much better and safer "Diving Lung" than someone who came to it with no idea how a regulator is supposed to work. Yours is downright elegant.
Wow... thank you Eben for the kind assessment! :D

Strange how Mr. Roberts' stern warning just made me want to make this work well and take it diving more than ever.
The older I get the better I was.

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antique diver
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:56 am

I have been looking for credible documentation of aviation Oxygen regulator diving conversions in the 1940's. I knew it had to have happened, and had heard a few vague references relating to that from descendants of WW II flyers. I finally found something in print that specifically mentions the 1940's diving conversions.

Yesterday I received a pristine first edition signed copy of the Zale Parry - Al Tillman book, DIVE AMERICA. (I had immediately begun the search for a copy after the recent posts by Captain and ScubaLawyer about that amazing publication, and found one on Amazon that same day. It was accurately described as in immaculate condition with inscriptions by both authors.)

On page 28 I found this reference that gave me what I was looking for:

In the late 1940's in America, everywhere, young men were tracking to war surplus stores that had mushroomed up. They bought high altitude oxygen regulators, hose and small 38 cubic foot tanks and fire extinguishers. The clever ones adjusted them to work underwater. Alas, there was aluminum inside the unit that the salt water corroded quickly....
The older I get the better I was.

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antique diver
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:47 pm

I have been trying to find just the right webbing and waist buckle for this project, and spent a couple of hours today looking through the old forgotten stuff bins at a serious old military surplus store. After looking through the whole indoor and outdoor collections of goodies to no avail, I was kindly directed by the owner to a hidden back room/dungeon to see what I could find.

I found old olive drab cotton webbing and best of all, the buckle I was seeking. Just the kind of stuff that I envisioned a typical do-it-yourself diving lung builder would use in the late 40's and early 50's.
vintage webbing & buckle.JPG
:D
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antique diver
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:48 am

Francie is applying finishing touches to the harness assembly. It is composed almost entirely of old military surplus cotton webbing and hardware which I think would have been available in the era of homemade diving lungs.
FT making harness.JPG
The plate and harness should be finished and assembled later this morning.
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antique diver
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:01 pm

Here's the finished harness with old military surplus cotton webbing and buckles. I think these are of types that could have been available in surplus stores of late 40's and 50's. Simple flat aluminum back plate incorporates the crossed shoulder straps like found on the VDH plate, and all straps have been made readily adjustable for size. While I have not seen the crossed shoulder strap design specifically used on vintage equipment, someone could just as easily have built this style in that era... who knows? Anyway, I like the way it works on my VDH plate, so incorporated it here.

Stitching of the webbing was Francie's late night contribution to this project. I'm sure she would love to build more custom harnesses at midnight, so feel free to contact her :roll: ... just don't tell her that I suggested that!
43.harness front.JPG
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ScubaLawyer
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:09 pm

Looks fantastic Bill - hats off to Francie!

Now who is the handsome young model in the SHF T-shirt. 8)
"The diver who collects specimens of underwater life has fun and becomes a keen underwater observer. .. seek slow-moving or attached organisms such as corals, starfish, or shelled creatures." (Golden Guide to Scuba Diving, 1968) :D

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antique diver
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:19 pm

ScubaLawyer wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:09 pm
Looks fantastic Bill - hats off to Francie!

Now who is the handsome young model in the SHF T-shirt. 8)

Thank you Mark.
Just how old are you that you consider 72 young?

BTW: I see that you have already contacted Francie about building 75 vintage harnesses. She was so pleased! :roll:
The older I get the better I was.

swimjim
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:20 pm

She's a keeper! :D

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ScubaLawyer
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:34 pm

antique diver wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:19 pm
ScubaLawyer wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:09 pm
Looks fantastic Bill - hats off to Francie!

Now who is the handsome young model in the SHF T-shirt. 8)
BTW: I see that you have already contacted Francie about building 75 vintage harnesses. She was so pleased! :roll:
Yea, well, as I recall it you put me up to it last night and in a moment of weakness i went along with your diabolical plan to make her cringe. :D

Her response to me was classic and well put me in my place. Here is the song I sent her to play for you. 8)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyXCkjMBK70[/youtube]
"The diver who collects specimens of underwater life has fun and becomes a keen underwater observer. .. seek slow-moving or attached organisms such as corals, starfish, or shelled creatures." (Golden Guide to Scuba Diving, 1968) :D

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antique diver
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Posts: 1988
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First Name: Bill
Location: North-Central Texas

Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:08 pm

swimjim wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:20 pm
She's a keeper! :D
The harness or the wife?
The older I get the better I was.

swimjim
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First Name: Jim
Location: Belgium WI

Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:02 pm

Most definitely the better half! She not only can run the sewing machine.... Not easy to do with this material to work with. But she obviously has a sense of humor and is willing to put up with you. lol Yes, a real keeper!

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antique diver
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Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:10 pm

swimjim wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:02 pm
Most definitely the better half! She not only can run the sewing machine.... Not easy to do with this material to work with. But she obviously has a sense of humor and is willing to put up with you. lol Yes, a real keeper!
I agree. She's also a gourmet chef, laughs at my jokes and likes to mow the yard! Thanks.
The older I get the better I was.

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antique diver
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First Name: Bill
Location: North-Central Texas

Re: "Build Your Own Diving Lung", Revisited in 2018

Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:47 pm

Harness closups

The shoulder straps cross in the back. Look familiar? I found the strap placement on my VDH plate to be very comfortable, so utilized the basic idea here... Thank you VDH. These cotton straps are fairy soft and limp, so at first I found that it was not really easy to slip my hands into the right place through four layers of webbing. That was cured to my satisfaction by having Francie sew double layers of webbing together for each shoulder strap. Having each of the two straps comprising a single shoulder assembly stitched together lengthwise provided just enough extra stiffness to make donning the rig easy, and still soft enough for comfort. There is a pass-through opening where one of the shoulder straps can slide through the other so I can disassemble and make some adjustments later without ripping out all the stitching.

Additional modification was to make strap slots on the backplate wide enough to enable the securing slide to "button" through the plate, allowing simple removal and replacement without cutting strap or having to unthread it. Works like a champ. Shoulder, crotch and waist straps are all easily adjusted while being worn, and very comfortable.
46.shoulder strapx.JPG

The waist buckle piece on left in following photo slips into the crotch strap before being buckled. Crotch strap is stitched to allow its loop to go over the triangular piece, but just tight enough to prevent it from sliding up over either side of the buckle, which could jam it from falling free when opening the latch.
47.Waist buckle.JPG

Harness is finished now, and I'll soon assemble the whole works in preparation for test dives at Wheeler-Branch Lake.
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