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Part 3 – Buying a SAFE used BCD…

I talked to a guy the other day who was bragging about getting an amazing deal on a BCD via eBay. He was on top of the world over getting a Scubaro Knighthawk BCD for $150! I asked him to describe the BCD. He said it was faded, the tank band was a little worn, and there was some scuffing on the safe second reg, but otherwise it looked great. He was going to take it for a dive on the weekend to check it out. I winced on the inside at the description, and the thought of him diving the damaged BCD without a dive shop servicing first. I was sure he would later have to fight to get his money back, and hoped I don’t hear about a drowning! Odds are, based on his description, he bought unsafe gear. Let us go thru why?

BCD materials are made to last for YEARS, free of fading and visible wear, if cared for properly: rinsed with fresh cold water after use, not left in sun, soaked in fresh cold water before storing, etc. This is even more so the case if they are used in a chlorinated pool, as the chlorine eats away at the fabric. The sun increases the rate of fabric and rubber degradation.  Organisms in ocean water and air cause mold and mildew of dive gear. Age, lack of use, and lack of regular maintenance can cause the same issues as listed above. Storing dive gear for long periods with cleaning and maintenance insures mechanical failures and poor resale value to be sure. The folks that you buy used scuba gear form won’t always disclose mechanical issues or internal/non-visible wear and tear (unlike this author). You have to be a savvy buyer to protect yourself from unscrupulous sales tactics.

Whether you buy a used BCD from a private seller, at a dive shop, online, or on Craig’s List, you will want to check the following:

  • Buckles for damage and wear. Unclip and clip them, then give the buckles a good tug.
  • Tank band and buckle for frayed material, stretching, rusting, cracking, and fading. Attach it to a dive tank to assure fit and grip.
  • BCD handle (some don’t come with a carrying handle) for torn seams, fraying webbing, or fade.
  • Valves for signs of wear or damage.
  • Overall fabric for fading, loose stitching, fraying, or other signs of wear or damage.
  • D-rings for rusting (metal), or cracking (plastic).
  • Pockets and straps for stitching issues, holes, tears.
  • Zippers for smooth zip/unzip.
  • Waist band and/or cumberbund for stitching issues, holes, tears.
  • Safe second for cracking, holes, dents or obvious signs of unusually rough treatment.
  • Bladder for leaking. Attach the BCD safe second up to a pressurized tank. Inflate the bladder until the valves release the over-fill. Deflate the BCD some to check the power inflator. If you buy the BCD, fill the bladder and leave the bladder filled, it should hold air without deflating for 24hrs – if not it needs to be returned or repaired. Inhale and exhale on the regulator 6-7x to assess function. If it doesn’t breathe smoothly, or at all, or free flows…if you hear leaks or squeals…it needs to be returned or repaired.

If you are buying online, and can’t assess these items in person, obviously. You will want to get as many close up photos as you can, ask a lot of questions, and force them to state details in an email. The email will help support your case if the item is not as described when you receive it. Any used BCD you buy online should go directly to an authorized dealer/technician for evaluation prior to diving it (pool or otherwise). If the BCD comes with paperwork from a technician, follow up and check credentials, or call the dive shop to verify the paperwork is accurate.

That about covers safety when purchasing a used BCD. It is pretty simple, check the BCD out with a microscope, every inch. If you need assistance a dive shop may be willing to help.But remember, they don’t want to help you buy used gear, they want you to buy their new gear. Don’t be surprised if they seem offended at the request. Don’t be a victim to a shady seller, educate yourself. And, if you have questions please send me an email @ blueorbsales@gmail.com. I will gladly to help – FREE (and I do free estimates). Part 4 of this blog series, discussing how and where to make the purchase, will be out soon!

Authored by Lisa J Henry

“Be the sea”