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Beatles vs. Rolling Stones August 28, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany.
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Please excuse the interlude from the theme of my blog. The only connection is with the “older” part of the title. I’m old enough to remember this stuff and also my mind rambles.

When I was young the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were emerging. The Beatles had the hair but otherwise clean-cut fun-loving image, while the Stones were the bad boys. One sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” while Mick sang “Let’s Spend the Night Together”. Fans and historians might remember when Mick had to sing “Let’s Spend Some Time Together” to meet the requirements of network TV in the sixties.

There’s was also a big “who do you like better” thing going on and loyal fans willing to argue both sides. I must say that I was a bit more a Beatles fan early on but grew into the Stones in my teenage years. I even saw them live once but it wasn’t that great a concert (the “Voodoo Lounge” tour in an uncovered stadium (CNE) in the rain, where we were a long way from the stage).

Now, much later, I have XM Satellite radio in the car and like to listen to “Little Steven’s Underground Garage”. Besides Steven Van Zandt, sax player for Springsteen in the E Street Band and sidekick to Tony Soprano, Andrew Loog Oldham, former producer for the Stones is one of the disk jockeys. He likes to play obscure Stones songs and it struck me that I haven’t heard/don’t recognise a lot of them. Now the Stones cut more albums but there’s probably not a Beatles song that was released that I don’t know the title, tune and at least some of the lyrics. I wonder why? Is it the number of songs or are Beatles songs just more memorable, or does it go back to my younger more impressionable days where my memories are clearer?

I’m going diving in the St. Lawrence this weekend. Looking to do some deep diving where it’s too dark to take pictures with my minimal gear, although I’ll see what I can do, and report back here.

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Adjusting the second stage August 8, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Equipment, Technical Diving.
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My Apeks TX50 second stage came back from service a little too “hot”. It leaked slightly unless the venturi control was screwed at least 1/2 way in. The first thing I did was check the intermediate pressure coming from the 1st stage (an Apeks Black Pearl*). To do this I borrowed a pressure gauge from my local dive shop, immediately noticing that it consisted of a standard workshop pneumatic pressure gauge with a standard 1/4″ fitting fitted with an adapter for a standard inflator hose. I have to find me one of those adapters.

The IP was 130 psi (~9 bar), which is fine. So next I simply unscrewed the 2nd stage from the end of its hose with an 11/16″ wrench and gave it a 1/4 turn clockwise. This stopped the leak, and it breathed fine on the surface, but I observed that the flow when pressing the purge valve was weak. So it back it off an 1/8th of a turn (or maybe a bit more) and then it was perfect.

* Those of you familiar with the Black Pearl might be wondering why I had a TX50 second stage on it. The story started on a recent trip to Tobermory Ontario where I was about to dive the wreck “Forest City” in my doubles. My doubles setup as 2 Apeks Tek 3 regulators with a TX50 second stage as the primary, and an Apeks “Egress” (more about that later) as the backup second stage. When setting up my gear on the boat, I noticed the hissing coming from the TX50 and swapped it with the Black Pearl second stage (like a souped-up TX200) , and haven’t changed it back.

The Egress is a reasonable regulator for it’s purpose. It has no controls – and I’ve compared it to a backup ‘chute. You don’t need (or even want) fancy stuff on something that’s only there to take you to the surface – and I’ve breathed it at deeper than 150’ without undue effort. Having said that, and with some deep diving coming up, I’m planning to use the TX50 as a backup second stage on my tec setup, even though that leaves my poor Black Pearl second stage with two Egresses. The Egress points straight up when mounted on a necklace and invariably free flows when I jump in the water from the dive boat in the Tec gear (it’s fine with my recreational setup where it’s pointed in a different direction). That’s enough to make it less desirable for technical diving where one needs to aim for perfection.

Tidying up the Tec Gear August 4, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Equipment, Technical Diving.
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Using a dry suit as secondary buoyancy is all the rage  these days, so a single bladder BC is all that’s required. I see the point, but that precludes warm water technical diving in a wet suit. I like to feel the water when I’m in it, and I also move faster in a wet suit, so I’m sticking with my double bladder OMS BC. On the other hand it’s time for some changes, so I’m about to spend a bit of money to make things better. This is the plan.

  1. I’m ditching the oversize OMS “no-sag” pockets. They’re just too large. I could use them to carry weight, two lights, a spare mask, a pocket camera and Jon line, plus a bit more no doubt. The problem is the drag, the difficulty in reaching things, especially with gloves on, and that they would get in the way when attaching stage bottles to the D-Rings. I stopped using them a while back but before I do any serious technical dives I need some stuff to carry the spare parts.
  2. So the first things are cheap, a mask pocket and a Jon line pocket. I’ll see where to put them when I get them but the mask pocket will go on BC belt on the right hand side (I don’t wear a weight belt with a wet suit – no need), and the Jon line I hope I can mount near the tanks. It’s only used at the end of the dive so it can be out of the way most of the time.
  3. Next, it’s time to ditch the lights in pockets. For that, I already have one light that used 3 C cells and is tied to my shoulder strap with a clip and a bungee. The second light, I plan to invest in a wrist mounted self contained unit. I’ve see these up to 1200 lumens which is almost good enough to light up a stadium and no canister is required.
  4. Then, I will buy commercial (Halcyon, most likely) stage bottle rigging instead of the metal units and home made rigs I have now. I’m not convinced that I’ll ever be at risk of being trapped by rigging that can’t be cut with a knife, but having a non-removable ring around the neck of the tank means it has to be drained to be taken off, which has proven to be a pain. The commercial kits are maybe 10-20% better than the home made ones (at least as well as I can make them) in my opinion and I’m willing to pay for that extra 10-20%.
  5. Finally, in Florida last April my reel slipped off my belt, D-ring and all, and by the time I went back to look for it, it was gone. So I’m buying a Light Monkey 400′ reel. It will be a nice upgrade and I have high hopes it will operate more smoothly than the OMS reel it replaces (and much more smoothly that the one I borrowed to penetrate the Spiegel Grove).

More on this when it arrives.