Part 4 – Time to buy your used BCD…

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Part 4 – Time to buy your used BCD…

Sweet! You are educated ad ready to shop for that used BCD. Just a few last details and you are out the door… There are a number of places to buy a used BCD safely. You can review your local and/or regional Craig’s Listings. Be sure to check the pics. Ask for more pics and close ups if you need to. Ask for details on size and diving history. Ask for paperwork on service history. And above all, meet in a public place to do the deal…safety first.

Another place folks go BCD shopping early in their search is eBay, Bonanza, Webstore, Oodle, Auctionfire, eAltBay, and the like. I have purchased a BCD on eBay. It was a DISASTER. It was advertised as like new, good working order, and all pics seemed to support those claims. I payed what seemed an appropriate price, via Paypal. When the BCD arrived I attached it to a tank and found that the safe second free flowed. I filled the bladder with air and left it to hang for 24 hrs, and it did not hold air. The next day I contacted the seller who was very nice and apologetic, swearing he dove the BCD a week before with no issues. I told him I would give him 2 choices: 1) I could send the BCD back for a 100% refund, with a report to eBay that he had sold an item very much not as described. Or, 2) I could take it to a dive shop, get it repaired, and charge him for any parts and labor beyond what would be charged for the annual servicing I would have had to get done anyway (ALWAYS GET USED LIFE SUPPORT EQUIPMENT SERVICED BEFORE YOU DIVE IT).  He agreed to option 2. Turns out the safe second was poorly cared for and NEVER serviced, damaged beyond repair. The valve on the bladder had sustained damage and needed replacement. He denied damage. Luckily, I had saved all our emails. Because he had agreed to pay  for repairs beyond servicing, then later declined to pay what he agreed to,  and because the item was not as described, eBay refunded 100% of my money and did not require that I send him back the item. But, I paid the same amount in servicing and replacement parts to make the BCD dive safe. This process took 3 months. It was a misery and very time consuming. There are plenty of honorable sellers on eBay, I am one. But, there are some frauds too, and you don’t know if your seller is a fraud until it is too late. So shop the good deal on eBay. BUT, if the price is too good to be true, it is! And, make sure you cover yourself with lots of email trails just in case the item is a bad buy. BUYER BEWARE!

There are MANY online used scuba gear sales sites, that will sell you a quality used BCD. The bigger name venues are a little more spendy, but tend to have better refund policies and customer support. They also have more overhead to support, as most are brick and mortar dive shops extending their sales online. The smaller sites will be more personable, easier to communicate with. Some used gear websites are not safe though. As you shop online, keep you antivirus programs running, avoid sites that cause a warning on your computer. You will not likely have the option of additional pics and etc. Check for references, reviews, and quality assurance certifications. Make sure the payment system is secure and has buyer protection. And, be wary of sites requiring payment via check, cashier’s check, money order, or wire transfer.

Dive shops will want to sell you new gear. If you insist on used gear they may have some rentals or student gear to sell. Most shops are very good about servicing rental and student items before resale. But, you need to be as vigilant buying from a shop as everywhere else. You just never know. And, ask for paperwork on the servicing history. I’ve been told they are required to keep servicing paperwork for 5 yrs, you can certainly get a copy.

Friends and instructors/professionals are good places to buy used gear. Don’t be any less stringent on your shopping safety rules though. And, take the gear by the dive shop before you dive it, even if you know the entire history of the gear and owner.

Look for a used scuba gear shop, or a consignment scuba gear shop, in your area.

Attend a real world auction, estate sale, garage sale, or gear swap.

And lastly, check the ads in your local newspaper. Before closing I want to make a brief comment about pricing a used BCD. New gear depreciates quite rapidly. If the gear is less than 5-7 years old, you should expect to pay between 35% and 50% of the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) for good working gear. This is NOT what you should expect to sell your own gear for incidentally, if you sell to a shop or business for resale. If the gear is 7-10 yrs old, expect to pay ~35% of MSRP of a similar item, give or take. This is the case whether you are shopping a generic brand, or one of the high end brands. The older gear becomes obsolete and no longer usable because you can’t get repair parts. If the shop can’t service it, you shouldn’t dive with it. Sometimes older will be sold “for parts”. Be sure to verify the serviceability of older gear before you buy it, and check the ad for any indication the BCD may be non-working and sold for parts.

Be sure to read parts 1-3 as well, before you start your used BCD search. Your ready! Go forth and buy your used BCD with confidence, and be proud when you score a great deal. Don’t be disheartened by your dive shop or instructor admonishment for not buying new, just get it serviced before you dive it. Remember, the dive shop makes money on selling new gear, and all things in the dive shop are gear towards funneling divers towards that end. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at blueorbsales@gmail.com.

Authored by Lisa J Henry

“Be the sea”

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Part 3 – Buying a SAFE used BCD…

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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”

Part 2 – Buying a pre-owned BCD…with GREAT GADGETS!

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Part 2 – Buying a (new or) pre-owned BCD…with GREAT GADGETS!

Fun blog today! This blog is part 2 in a 4 part series on buying BCDs. I love gadgets, especially dive gadgets. I am always so excited at DEMA to see what is coming up in the advanced technology of diving for the year, and what new thing they are upgrading on BCDs. OK, down to business. Gadgets on BCDs and how this affects you BCD shopping…

Extras on a great BCD are the bomb, and I love them. Extras on a cheapo BCD are like putting a pig in a dress. A pig in a dress is still just a pig in a dress. I am NOT going to address the goodness or badness of any particular BCD today, but merely list the accessories you might look for as you shop for the perfect deal on a pre-owned BCD. I will start with the most necessary and basic accessory on the BCD, the C or D-ring!

Yep, the C or D-ring is number 1 in my book, for obvious reasons. It is the gadget that allows me to carry so many other gadgets! Many BCDs come with a massive deficiency in rings, having only 2. I always look for 3 minimum on the shoulder straps. But, a ring on the left shoulder can be an irritation too, as it can tangles with the safe second regulator. It can be a problem in an emergency situation, so I never really use it.  If I can get 2 on the front bottom, and 2-3 on the top shoulders, I am pleased. If I can get 2 more on the BCD bottom I am singing. And, they put out BCDs with ABS plastic rings, as well as cheapo nickel (they rust after first couple dives), which I think are completely inadequate. I am looking for hearty, stainless steel, D-rings.  The more the better!

There are a couple 2 or 3 common types of clips for the shoulder straps: open side squeeze buckles, solid side squeeze buckles, and round swivel buckles. I’m sure there are other that are slipping my mind. They are all made out of plastic. My preference is the old fashioned heavy duty solid side squeeze buckles. I find that the swivel buckles (you push the top “button” and they slide apart, and the swivel allows the shoulder straps to position for a better fit ) are difficult to disconnect in a hurry or in chop at the surface when you are removing the BCD to hand up to the boat crew. I also find the swivel buckles don’t always feel securely fastened when I reconnect them. They make me nervous, frankly. But, some folks love ‘em, and you might be one.

You can buy little dollar plastic hose keepers, but many BCDs come with these. They have a clip of some sort on one end and hooks for your hoses at the other. Costs the company almost nothing to throw one on the BCD when they manufacture it. I think is an obvious touch.

Your BCD should come with a heavy duty Velcro strap on the left shoulder, this keeps your corrugated hose safely trimmed. I have seen some of the less expensive BCDs without this standard hose keeper. I believe they are a must, you may disagree. Something to consider.

Pockets, pockets pockets! The all important pockets. Newer jacket BCDs with quick release weight systems tend to come with front pockets on either side overtop of the weights. I think these are somewhat impractical as the bulkiness of the weights makes it difficult to shove anything in the pocket, especially in a hurry at depth. Other jacket BCDs come with two chamber/zipper pockets on each side of the front. One zipper allows non-ditch weights to be added, and the other is a pocket for stuff. I don’t like these because if you dive cold water, with 5 mil gloves, you have trouble even getting zippers open, and you are in a pickle if it is the wrong pocket you do manage to open! Many of the quick release weight pockets on the back inflate BCDs don’t really allow for front side pockets, although some BCDs might have a small roll out pocket for trinkets. Many BCDs that come with a heavy duty cumberbund will put a small pocket on the front of the cumber bund, with a flap and velcro or a zipper closure. The rare BCD comes with a small hidden pocket to stash a car key for shore diving. I say pockets are wonderful, but they must be easy to access, they must not mess with your trim, and they must be totally separate and AWAY from your weight system. Safety first!

BCDs come with a basic safe second regulator. Some manufacturers (the old Zeagle Ranger for example) come with a MANUAL inflate safe second regulator. So if you need to use it at depth or at the surface you are blowing it up like a balloon. If I am dealing with a high stress situation at depth, or lots of chop waiting for a boat at the surface, or worse yet I am trying to ascend with a stressed out or unconscious diver, I DO NOT want to have to manually blow up their BCD! So, when you buy, especially if the BCD is older, make SURE the safe second is a POWER inflator. You will be happy later. If you have $50-250.00 extra to play with, I suggest you upgrade to a really good power inflator. Scubapro’s “Air2”, Atomic’s “SS1”, or Aqualung’s “Airsource”, will do nicely. This is a piece of life support equipment, go safe.

Tank pockets are great, especially on the back inflate BCDs. You can add some weight back next to the tank to even you out at depth. Many BCDs add them standard, but not all, so check it out.

BCDs come with 1 or 2 tank bands. I prefer 2. It takes some extra energy when you don and doff the tank, but it feels more secure at depth. I own 3 BCDs, and 2 of them only have 1 band. I always make sure they are heavy duty, stiff, durable weave bands.

Buckles on the tank bands are important. They come in metal (again look for stainless steel), and in plastic, or a combo of the 2. They come as cam buckles of different sorts. I prefer the durable all stainless steel solid construction buckles. Good and tight. Be sure to check the weave of the band through the cam buckle. Yes, if it is incorrectly done you risk losing the tank at depth.

Tank rests. Some BCDs come with plastic housings, or raised plates for the tank to rest on. Some have a cushioned plate, and some have just padded material. I have a BCD of each, and they all work fine for me. My oldest BCD is from the early 90’s, and has a plastic ballast chamber for the tank to sit on called a “Transpac”. The hollow plastic tank holder system would be filled with lead shot of some sort, which could be released, refilled. It is a workhorse of a BCD, made to last forever! I dive cold water with it. In any case, try some different styles before you decide. Plate, no plate, pac, lots of cushion, no cushion, it is all up to the wearer.

Weight systems can be quick release or no. Quick release are great, in a rush you reach to your chest and grab the handles. PULL. And the weight pockets are free, allowing you to drop and ascend very quickly in an emergency. I prefer quick release…safety first! Back tank pockets are NOT quick release.

Your BCD should come with a chest strap. And, you want it to be adjustable. Easy peasy, not much to say about that. Basic, but ya gotta be sure it is there.

Many manufacturers add a safety whistle to the corrugated hose. If there is not one there, go spend the $1 and get one, zip tie it snugly on your corrugated hose. You want to be able to get help on the surface.

Last, but not really a gadget, shoulder strap position. The shoulder straps attach to the lower body of the BCD in many positions (the swivel clips mentioned earlier apply here). Some connect towards the front, some way towards the back. On the heavy duty “Knighthawk”, for example, Scubapro attaches the straps up front, like suspenders, putting pressure from the tightened shoulder straps on your chest rather than digging into your shoulders. Whereas on the “Litehawk”, Scubapro’s travel BCD, the strap attaches to the back, not unlike a tec diving backplate/wing setup. In the Litehawk, when you tighten the shoulder straps to get a good snug fit, it tends to dig into you armpit/shoulder area. Again, as I said in part-1, test as many types of BCDs as you can before you buy something pre-owned. You want to be sure you are getting what is best suited to your unique needs.

Normally, I would consider this an aftermarket goodie, like a tank light or something. But, some BCDs are made with grommets on the left pocket to which you can permanently attach a dive knife/tool. Pocket knife grommets can be wonderful, or frustrating. The Mares BCDs come with this feature, and they sell the knife to fit. But, there was a design flaw and the knives tend to come loose and get lost. I think Mares adjusted this issue in newer BCDs however. So, make sure your grommets are well attached and periodically check and tighten them, or bye-bye knife/tool.

GOOD, STURDY, DURABLE, VELCRO. I will leave it at that.

OK, we have touched on pockets, zippers, trim, bands, clips, whistles, straps, buckles, and on-board knives/tools. I think I have given the “BCD extras” issue a thorough going over. You are almost ready to get out there and shop. The next blog, part 3 of a 4 part series, will address safety issues when shopping for pre-owned BCDs. There are special considerations when shopping for a pre-owned BCD, save your money and your life and look for part 3 soon.

Authored by Lisa J Henry

“Be the sea”

Part 1 – A comprehensive series on buying your BCD…

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Whether purchasing your first BCD or replacing your 15yr old BCD, the things you look for are the same. There are a lot of choices, and a lot of things to consider before you cut a check for one of 2 of the most expensive pieces of dive gear you will buy. You need to sift through manufacturers, features, types, safety features, drawbacks, and costs, to make sure you invest wisely. Buoyancy compensator shopping is complicated by the fact that it is life-support equipment, so you need to get it absolutely right.

In the beginning, there was the dive instructor and the dive shop operator, who fit you for certification using dive shop gear. Following certification you receive advice from friends, dive buddies, and “loyalty pressure” from the dive shop/instructor/other involved professionals. Folks tend to dive what they used in class, or something similar, due to the comfort factor. It can be overwhelming, as a new student or diver, to process all the information the market, your buddies, and the dive pros have to offer. This 4 part blog offering should help you develop a general idea of what you need and why, thus making your shopping experience a far less stressful one. Part-1 will explain the types of BCD styles. Don’t get stuck on what your buddy, the boat operator, the instructor, the dive shop, or the online advertisement says. Your BCD needs to be comfortable, rugged, and meet the needs of your diving style, bottom line.

The purpose of the BCD (buoyancy compensator device) is to allow the diver the ability to float safely on the surface of the water, to control buoyancy at depth, and to support the tank and backup breathing source for the recreational scuba diver. The BCD has the following basic parts: “bladder” – holds air during the dive, “power inflator”/”safe second regulator” – inflates/deflates the bladder and serves as a back-up apparatus for breathing at depth, and a harness – the mechanism that carries all the parts. Common types of BCDs are the “jacket”, “back-inflate”, and hybrid styles. There are some other types applicable to technical diving, but they will not be addressed in this blog. Here is a more detailed explanation of recreational diving BCD types:

The jacket style BCD has an air bladder that wraps around from the back to the sides of the chest. As the BCD is inflated it tends to squeeze the divers torso. In doing so, it can feel bulky and restrictive. But, they do the best job of keeping a diver upright at the surface. An example of a back inflate BCD is a Seaquest “Diva”, or a Sherwood “Avid”. The jacket, also called “vest”, BCD´s are the most common. Jacket BCDs typically have large front pockets, they are suitable for warm and cold diving, and they enable the newer diver to feel the air inflate/deflate. This can make learning the skill of neutral buoyancy much easier for the new diver.

Back inflation BCDs have an air bladder on the back, behind the diver. The advantage of back inflation is ease of movement and a slimmer trim, since there is no air at the chest.  Back inflate BCDs don’t have front storage pockets, they use multiple extra D-rings on the shoulder harness instead. The air bladder on the back provides more stability with a horizontal trim at depth, but learning this skill can be harder for the new diver. At the surface they tend to push the diver forward, who leans back as in a recliner to compensate. These BCDs tend to have a greater lift capacity, and can be heavier, making them great for cold water diving. But, there are many light-weight travel versions on the market. Examples of back inflate BCDs include Scubapro Knighthawk, Aqualung Balance (a good travel BCD), and the Mares Icon (folds into a small package to travel). I dive back inflate BCDs exclusively, and own 3 for different uses.

The hybrid BCD is just like its category name implies, a combination of jacket and back inflate styles. This type of BCD reduces front clutter and supports the diver well at the surface, and allows for the floating horizontal position and neutral buoyancy like the back inflate. It is appropriate for warm and cold water diving. It is becoming an increasingly popular style in the recreational diving community. Examples of this type of bcd would be the Mares Hybrid, Aeris Jetpack, or the Sherwood Shadow.

Ultimately, your body style will play a critical role in your BCD comfort and choice. There are BCDs designed specifically for a woman, being shorter in torso length and more narrow thru the curved shoulder straps (compare Scubapro Knighthawk-men to Lighthawk-women). You can also find unisex BCDs. And, you buy to form and function. Keep in mind though, nothing is worse than investing in your most expensive piece of dive equipment to find it uncomfortable and unmanageable at depth.

I suggest, especially as a newer diver, you rent the three different styles for test dives. You should get a feel for how each style affects your unique body and trim. Do you like the upright floatation of the jacket, the horizontal trim of the back inflate at depth, or the combination of the hybrid? Do you like more D-rings, or your front pockets? Do you travel to warmer waters, dive the chill, or do a little of both? Look at what you will use the BCD for. Also, look at the weight of the BCD, packing weight and volume is an issue for the traveler. Any dive shop should be able to assist you in your purchase, whether new or pre-owned. Although, be warned, they might push you to the new BCD where there is profit for them. A trustworthy used BCD seller will answer questions, allow you to test the BCD (if you put down a deposit to cover loss/damage/theft), and will educate you as to the specifics of the item you desire to purchase. Some sellers, will gladly answer questions and offer free education, as well as free estimates on equipment you might wish to sell.

I hope part 1 of this series has been informative. Please refer back soon for part 2, where I will discuss more specific options on BCDs and their functions.

Authored by Lisa J Henry

“Be the sea”

Part 3 – did you check out the valve on that tank? Buying used scuba tanks.

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Part 3 – did you check out the valve on that tank? Buying used scuba tanks.

As promised, this is the follow up on the 2 blogs about buying used scuba tanks. What do you look for in the tank valve, when buying a used scuba tank?

In the first blog in this series, I discussed things to look for when buying a tank. As part of that discussion I briefly touched on assessing the tank valve as part of the general pre-purchase inspection. The second blog went into details about the assessment of used tanks. This blog will go into some additional detail with regard to types of valves, how they function, and what to look for before you purchase the tank.

The purpose of the tank valve is to release the air compressed in the scuba tank in a controlled manner. In other words, it switches the air flow either on or off. Valves are available in several styles. These are the “K” valve, “J valve”, “H valve”, and the “Y valve”. They have a “yoke” or “DIN” attachment for the first stage regulator.

“K valves”- are the simplest and most common of the scuba diving tank valves. They are currently found on most tanks, and have “yoke” attachments. The O-ring on the valve expands with air pressure, creating a seal between the regulator and the valve. Thus the importance, as mentioned in previous blogs, of a close inspection of that O-ring when purchasing a used tank.

“J valves”- are similar to K valve. The J valve, however, has an the addition of a small mechanical arm that moves in a vertical fashion. The small arm is attached to a rod that runs the length of the tank. This is a reserve lever, and is now an obsolescent feature on the standard tank. The reserve lever functioned to allow access to an extra 300 – 500 PSI of reserve air within the tank near the end of a dive. This served as a safety feature until pressure gauges came into common use. To tap into the reserve air a diver simply pulled down on the rod, in turn pulling down the small lever arm on the valve. Pulling down the lever would allow access to the remaining 300 – 500 PSI of air, thus allowing the diver safely to surface. Unfortunately, if the reserve lever was inadvertently triggered during prep or entry, when the diver pulled the lever, having already activated, there was no reserve…a dangerous thing. Divers that scuba in zero visibility can still use the valve when the gauges can’t be read. Otherwise you rarely see them in use.

“Y valves”- with a valve body split into two posts, and shaped like a Y, allowing for dual systems and redundancy in technical diving. The “H valve”- is adapted from the Y valve dual outlet setup. The H adapter screws into the crossbar outlet of the K valve, allowing a second regulator to be attached. It looks like an H. This is a redundancy used in a technical diving setup in the event of a regulator or hose failure.

The Y and H valves are similar in function and nature with the only main difference being the shape of the valves. There are also other types of valves such as the J valve and in the past, the R valve, but these valves are no longer used widely as they pose a safety threat to the diver when not handled properly.

The attachments for fitting the first stage regulator can be either “Yoke” or “DIN”.

A yoke regulator, is also called a A-Clamp regulator. The “yoke” is a metal oblong fitting that slides overtop of the valve on the tank. The regulator is locked into place with a large screw, which tightens it to the valve. It is very common in the USA.

A DIN (Deutsche Industrie Norm) fitting attaches the first stage regulator with a threaded post. The threaded post on the first stage regulator screws into the tank valve. There is no additional fitting. The O-ring is placed differently than in a yoke. Thus the O-ring is placed behind the post, and not squished into place by pressure. This prevents extrusion of the O-ring, thus preventing leaks at depth. It is called a “captured” O-ring, and is more common outside of the USA.

To add to the madness, there are two different kinds of DIN regulators/valves: a larger and a smaller PSI (or BAR). They are different sizes and require longer or shorter posts with more or less threads. The 300 bar valves require a longer post and more threads. The choice lies in the pressure the tank valve is rated for. A 300 bar DIN regulator can be used on a 200 bar valve, but a 200 bar regulator will not seal properly to a 300 bar valve. It makes little sense to buy a 200 bar regulator, when the 300 bar fits all. Otherwise, there is little difference as far as the regulator is concerned. When you are purchasing a used scuba tank, you will want to be sure you match your yoke or DIN regulator to the valve on the tank. You should also check the pressure on the tank by looking on the neck of the valve. The pressure in the tank should never exceed the tolerance listed on the valve, ever. Additionally, there are adapters than can be used to convert a yoke to a DIN, and visa-versa. If you need your rig to do everything, go with a 300 Bar DIN regulator, and a DIN to Yoke adaptor.

If you are not buying a system you are familiar with, or if you are trying to get a yoke matched up to a DIN, you should probably run it buy your local dive shop for safety’s sake. Again, when it comes to the life support equipment in your total dive system, you can never be too safe.

Last thing I want to discuss is a nifty valve made by XS Scuba called the “Modular Pro Valve”. What I like about the valve is this: The valve has a unique hand wheel that is bicolored, allowing the diver to see visually if the valve is off, on, or somewhere in-between. There are a set of green and red rings on the wheel near the valve stem. As you turn the wheel to open or close the valve, the color on the wheel changes with you. So, a closed valve is red, and an open one is green. In-between open and closed will show both red and green. This is a great little plus on your valve. Pro Valves are available for cylinder pressures of 2400 psi (165 bars), 3000 psi (200 bars), and up to 3442 psi (240 bars). Safety first!

This is the last of the 3 part blog on buying used scuba tanks. Now you are an old pro! Go forth and dive…

Authored by Lisa J Henry

“Be the sea”

Part 2 – More on buying used scuba tanks – beyond the visual inspections!

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More on buying used scuba tanks – beyond the visual inspections!

This is my second installment on buying a used scuba tank. This blog I am going to discuss sizes, capacity, buoyancydurability, and price considerations when choosing the right scuba tank. If you are boat diving, you will find that most dive operators supplying your tank carry the standard aluminum “S80”. The S80 is the “go to” tank for many dive companies because it is cheap, probably the cheapest and most prevalent tank on the market currently. And they are buying in bulk.

But, you are likely not buying in bulk. There are a plethora of sizes, shapes, and air capacities to choose from when you are buying your own. Here are some things to consider as you narrow down to the tank style you want.

Look at size: How big, or small, should you go…and why? Is length an issue, or width? The main considerations is your body size. Obviously, if you are a taller individual, the length of the tank will be less of an issue. But shorter statured folks may find a longer tank interferes with overall lower body maneuverability at depth, sitting on the bench while prepping donning a BCD may be impossible, and walking the tank without dragging along the ground is out of the question. The average aluminum S80 is about 26 inches long, which may be too much length. There are companies that make 80’s that are 3 inches shorter, and slightly wider. You can find tanks with a lesser air capacity for around 22 inches. There are stainless S80’s that shorten the length all the way up to 20 inches. The average diver is 5ft 9in tall. The average human trunk on this 5ft 9in individual (from lower neck to tailbone) measures 26in in length. So you can see, anyone less than 5ft 10in is probably feeling their tank on the base of their skull or back of their thigh on occasion.

Look at air capacity: Naturally, more compressed air means a longer dive. But, when is big just too big? More air is better, of course, but you’ve got to have an intelligent balance between capacity, physical size, weight, and buoyancy. To confuse the issue further, there is a difference between a tank’s volume (capacity of cubic feet of air the tank will hold) and the tank’s pressure tolerance (the amount of air pressure the tank can withstand against the walls without rupturing). Bottom line: yes, there is such a thing as a tank that’s too big.

You can find can find tanks with air capacities from 63cuft (smaller tanks are available for rescue and backup purposes) all the way up to 130cuft. And, you can find LP (low pressure tanks) with PSI of <3000, up thru HP (high pressure tanks) with PSI of 4400. You can put higher pressures of gas into steel tanks. Meaning a steel tank can carry more air and be lighter than its aluminum counterpart. Confused, yes? So, my advice would be to look at the diving you will be doing the most. If you will be doing shore diving in warmer climates, you may want a larger air capacity. You can stay down longer. If you are diving a cold water shore dive, you may be too cold to go on with a dive long before you blow thru 4400 PSI.

Look at buoyancy: Weight is important at the outset of your dive, but it becomes a bigger issue as your dive progresses. As you use the air in your tank, the weight of your tank changes. As the tank weight changes, so does your overall weight and trim at depth. For example, an aluminum tank tends to float “tail-up” towards the end of the dive, changing your trim and making your feet point up. And, you could lose enough weight to make it difficult to control your ascent. Tank weight also makes a difference when lugging your gear to and from the dive.

An aluminum S80 might weigh 33lbs, and it may have a 4lb positive buoyancy when empty. You will have to accommodate in extra weight at the start of your dive, for that 4lb pull toward the surface at the end of your dive. A steel tank on the other hand, might have a published weight of 31.5lbs, and be 6.5lbs negatively buoyant when empty. So while the published weight of the aluminum tank is greater, the diving weight is actually much less. I have to say, I dive with steel tanks. I use the weight of the tank to my advantage when diving. I would rather add air to my BCD at depth to maintain neutral buoyancy, than risk difficulty staying at depth, or worse an unplanned ascent.

Look at durability: Aluminum tanks have had issues with cracking in the past. They both can dent and/or deform with improper handling or storage. See below on the “Eddy-Current” test in that regard. Aluminum tanks also have the ability to oxidize. And, steel tanks rust, which is a more serious problem to be sure. But, these issues should be addressed appropriately with the hydro, vis, and burst disk, inspections which should be done (or current) on any tank you buy. There is essentially no difference in longevity between aluminum and steel tanks if properly stored and cared for.

Last, and possibly most important, is a look at price: All tanks, aluminum and steel, new and used, can put a dent in your wallet. Used offer less of a dent. I am a fan of buying used tanks for just that reason. Well cared for pre-owned tanks have a long life, 20-30yrs or more! You will find that aluminum tanks are almost half the price of steel tanks. And, HP tanks are more expensive thank LP tanks. And of course, valves can alter the price as well (another blog subject I think). A reputable seller will gladly educate you and answer questions, as well as offer up appropriate paperwork without you needing to ask. BlueOrbDiving.com will answer questions and give you free estimates if you can email them pics and information. Google.com is always good for the general question. And, a good dive shop may be helpful (or they may steer you toward that new tank buy with all sorts of used tank purchase horror stories too!).

When you finally decide what type, size, and PSI tank you want, give the previous blog a read. You can also check out a blog on buying used scuba gear. There are some important inspection and safety items you will need to address before you write the check. There are also some important storage and maintenance tips as well.

More on the “Eddy-Current test”: This is a test with an electronic device used to detect micro-cracks in neck of a certain type of tank made near and before the 1990’s. This is done IN ADDITION to a visual inspection on older tanks, with an additional fee. The jury is out on the necessity of this test. Some claim many tanks are wrongfully condemned by the test, or shop owners are being greedy. Some argue you can never be too careful with life-support equipment, the test is valid, dive shops can be incompetent or make mistakes, and lives are saved. In the end the choice to pay for the additional testing lay with your comfort level.

Buying a scuba tank is a great way to save money, recycle the metal, and gear yourself up for more diving. And, you remove the hassle and extra cost of rentals. I hope the information presented has been helpful as you search for that used tank to add to your total dive system. If you have questions please feel free to email me.

Authored by Lisa J Henry

“Be the sea”

Why buy used scuba gear?

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What can Johnny teach us about buying scuba gear?

Well let me tell a story to shed a light on scuba marketing strategy. I am probably not gonna be too popular with some of the Dive Pros out there. I apologize at the outset, but I want to pull back the curtain.

Johnny has wanted to learn to dive for years, but he thinks it’s too expensive. He finally can’t stand himself and checks into his closest dive shop despite the high cost. They talk him into taking an open water class, and offer to let him make payments IF he signs up with the next class series. He does. PAUSE: To their credit they let him make payments. But, it is with an agenda. They know they have to talk Johnny past that first staggering cost hurdle. Dive Pros have to set the hook. PLAY: They tell him he MUST purchase fins (boots too)/mask/snorkel for the class, and they will provide him with the rest. But, he will get a 10% discount (on the 100% markup retail price they charge at dive shops – “Keystoning”), while he is a student,  on dive gear bought in that shop. WHAT A GREAT DEAL. PAUSE: why can’t they just provide everything for free as part of the class, and let him buy after? The shop guarantees a sale on the expensive brand name gear right out of the gate. And, once he spends a chunk of change, he is more likely to stick with the sport…and spend more cash. Every student has a financial expiration date. Shops don’t make much money on the classes (but they do make some). PLAY: HE writes a check for NEW gear to their shop ($130 for fins, $50 boots, $50 snorkel, $80 mask= $310+ for NEW gear, plus the $3-400 fee for the course – 10% off). He attends class #1 and is told he must come up with another $150 (often plus food and/or gas and/or hotel) to do his final certification testing in “open water”. Done. Hoorah he is now certified, yeah Johnny!

PAUSE: Throughout Johnny’s certification process, every dive professional he comes in contact with has been programmed to make him believe the fate of his certifying dive shop’s financial success rides on poor Johnny’s shoulders. If he doesn’t “stay loyal to his local dive shop” they are doomed to going out of business, and he will be disappointing those that are about to become his buds and mentors in a very tight club. PLAY: So, now certified, Johnny wants to finish buying his total dive system. He is steered, with hugs and tons of camaraderie, directly and promptly to HIS local dive shop. They sell him a top of the line “Brand” name (“cuz all the others are unsafe or just plain junk, and the used stuff…it is downright dangerous, this is your life support equipment”) BCD, regulator set, weights and a belt/harness, lights, catch bag, gloves, hood, wetsuit, rash guard set, safety sausage, decorated mask strap cover, t-shirt, baseball cap, dive knife, dive tool, computer, analog gauges, tank or 2, tank decorator, and colored hose protectors.

Now he is ready to “hang with our amazing tight knit group of dive buddies, and go on exotic adventures constantly”! PAUSE: why is used scuba gear “junk”? Granted, some of it can be poorly cared for, and you need to be smart when you buy. But, much of it is amazing and affordable gear! And, used dive gear is certainly appropriate to keep using! Used gear will save you 30-50% on the price of like-gear, new. PLAY: “It is OK” they tell him at the dive shop, he “can break it all up into 2-3 large payments, or buy things 1-2 at a time”. PAUSE: No more discount. Johnny is no longer a student. He is committed to diving, owns some gear, and is not likely to give up. His mentors work hard to keep him local with all that good bolstering and community encouragement. PLAY: They finish him off with “dive shop gear, OUR GEAR, is safe… you want to be safe, you want that warranty, you want to be part of us, and you want to support us, right? Your one of us now, right”? Johnny buys his gear, and is excited.

Johnny is ready to dive, and chomping at the bit to use his brand new, color coded, $2-4,000.00, total dive system. He goes on a couple easy dives, and they tell him he is “ready to dive with the big boys, cuz these local dives…well they ain’t nothin’!” Johnny wants to fit in, he looks great in his gear, he has found an amazing new sport, and new friends that instantly love him. So, when his new dive leaders encourage him to go on a grand all-inclusive dive trip, he jumps at the chance to spend another $2-3000 to see the amazing “blue water”. Johnny doesn’t really have the money, and he feels like he is bleeding large bills, but he doesn’t want to disappoint his new mentors or his new crew, and it is all so wonderful and new. Besides, he spent a fortune getting started at this. Johnny’s Dive Instructor (now “friend”) tells Johnny he can make payments on the trip, just like he did with the gear. Johnny goes on the trip. Johnny dives, and parties, and has the time of his life. Johnny is addicted! And, it all only cost him $5-7000.00! And, what’s more, he was loyal to his Dive Instructor and dive shop owner. And, Johnny looks great in his top dollar, brand name, shiny, new gear!

PAUSE: Johnny is many of us. Johnny is how most of us entered into this sport. PLAY: Now that Johnny is a seasoned diver he occasionally adds gear to his system, or exchanges parts.  

Great, what a nice (long) story. But, why buy used scuba gear? This is why:

  1. It is acceptable and cost effective for dive students to buy used mask/fin/boot/snorkel packages. Spend less on what you will outgrow fast. Then buy new when you know what and why you are buying. The dive pro may not really know what you need for the long haul. You won’t know till you have some dives under your belt. Do some research into how to size a mask, fins and boots, and what types of snorkels are out there. When you go into the dive shop, ask them to assist you with a USED purchase. But, remember, it isn’t in their best interest to put you in GOOD used scuba gear, they may not even carry any. And, they probably won’t make a referral. That dive shop may not be friendly about it all, be prepared. Find a friend who dives to help you out. BUY USED GEAR TO SAVE MONEY GETTING INTO THE SPORT.
  2. It is perfectly acceptable for new divers to decline to purchase gear through their local dive shop. You HIRED and PAID them to train you. You do not OWE them. Dive shops need to work to retain your business, not the other way around. Do not fall into believing the “we are doing you a favor” mindset that will subtly flow from many dive shops. There are dive clubs, dive buddies, dive trips, and dive shops all over the place. And, the dive shop will not fail if you decide to purchase a used BCD from places like blueorbdiving.com, Craigslist, Webstore, eBay, scuba message boards (like scubaboard.com), or your local newspaper. Blueorbdiving.com and other sellers will buy, sell, give free estimates, and instruct you along the way…FREE! It is your job to protect yourself, protect your hard earned dollar, and to do what suits you best. BUY USED DIVE GEAR TO SAVE MONEY AS YOU BECOME PROFICIENT IN THE SPORT, AND LEARN WHAT NEW GEAR YOU REALLY WANT.
  3. Scuba gear manufacturers REFUSE to allow anyone that is not a fully functional brick and mortar dive shop to carry their products. It is how they regulate the dive shops and their brand, and the way the industry markets goods and services. Your dive shop won’t go broke if you and your friends don’t buy $3000 each of used gear from them. They will lower prices or learn to market differently, or the industry will change the way it does business. BUY USED DIVE GEAR TO PROMOTE YOUR OWN BUYING POWER.
  4. Your BCD and regulator are true life support systems. It is fine to buy these things used; FINE. BUT, you need to be sure that you have educated yourself first. You need to check everything over very well before you buy. You are saving a hefty chunk of change, but you are still buying without warranty. And, you MUST take them to a professional dive technician to have them examined and serviced BEFORE you dive with them. You are your own lifeguard! BUY USED DIVE GEAR SO THAT YOUR SYSTEM IS TAILORED TO YOUR NEEDS, NOT AVERAGE JOE BUYER.
  5. You do not NEED a warranty on everything! BCD, regulators, computer, MAYBE! My motto is this, if they made it worth the money you are about to spend on it…why should they expect it to break! I don’t buy extra warranties. However, if you are dropping NEW gear prices on a NEW $800 regulator, avoid the online deals and get it at your local dive shop – for the warranty. BUY USED DIVE GEAR ON EVERYTHING THAT DOESN’T NEED A WARRANTY.
  6. Lastly, for the record, I am not dissing dive shops here. My local dive shop supports my used gear business, NW Scuba LLC is GREAT that way. Shops serve their purpose; fills, new gear, classes, trips. They are the place we all must birth from. I am vocally dissing the way the dive industry (manufacturers and scuba schools) choose to market, manage, and limit, enterprise within industry. I am sure I will close some doors because I am expressing. I am also dissing the mindset that looks on the surface to be all about taking caring of the local dive patrons, but is really just another financial funnel at the bottom of your wallet. BUY USED DIVE GEAR BECAUSE YOU WANT TO BUY USED DIVE GEAR…buy new if you want new.

Authored by Lisa J Henry

“Be the Sea”

Used regulator shopping, how to buy smart…

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Used regulator shopping, how do I buy smart?

That is a really good question, and here is where you will find the answer! When you go on the hunt for a good, solid, durable, pre-owned regulator, you are really going on the hunt for 1 of the most important parts of your Total Dive System. You want your regulator in peak condition, it is your life support.  So, how can you be sure the regulator you are about to lay good hard cash down for is a safe one? This blog will tell you how…

Let us look at some regulator basics:

Modern scuba regulators are all 2 stage, in that the air pressure coming from the tank (at around 3000psi) needs to be regulated to 125-160 psi for you to comfortable breath. To do that a regulator system (1st stage of pressure reduction) is placed over the tank valve to reduce pressure coming from the tank. Then air pressure is reduced again at your mouth (2nd stage pressure regulation) thru a second system. By the time the air is being inhaled from the 2nd stage regulator the pressure has been reduced to a comfortable 125-160psi. An inhalation of ~3000 pound per square inch of air will explode the inner bits and pieces of your lungs. Imagine, it takes just 35 psi to float your car on its 4 tires going on down the road! This is why they are called “regulators”, the air pressure is regulated throughout the system from an unsafe to a safe breathing pressure.

1st stages are either piston or diaphragm in design. Two different ways to get to the same end. As you inhale, the air pressure in the 1st stage decreases, allowing sequential movement of the inner parts. Either a metal piston (similar to that in your car engine), or a flexible diaphragm (yep, like that too), move. This movement opens a valve, which in turn allows air to flow from the tank into the 1st stage. When the pressure reaches a certain point the valve automatically closes and the piston or diaphragm resets.

Which is better a piston or a diaphragm? Well, piston regulators come into contact with sea/fresh/pool water. They can be damaged due to corrosion or blocked by small particles. But, they have fewer moving parts, so they have less failure points, are cheaper to service, and are thus less expensive to purchase. When you took your scuba certification class, your instructor taught you that it is imperative to get your regulator set serviced annually or every 100 dives, maybe more frequently with heavy diving. The long held “1/100” rule of thumb has changed a bit in recent years as manufacturers have improved the overall design of the regulator. Many regs you buy now will come with a service guide for 1yr or 100 dives, extended to once every 2yrs or 200 dives, as a standard for that system. It is important to know which regs are relegated to which service timeframe.

On to the purchase:

Purchasing a balanced 1st stage and an unbalanced 2nd stage will provide the average recreational diver with more than acceptable performance and good cost savings. However, you need to weigh out the some issues specific to buying used. There are 2 kinds of divers that will be looking to buy used regs, for the most part. New divers who want to enter the sport, but have limited cash and can’t afford the expensive shiny new gear. And, experienced divers who have been around the reef and know that new gear comes with a 100%+ markup for the dive shop! New divers should be wary when buying used regs. First, you might not have the experience on board yet to recognize a good, OR SAFE, deal from a not so good one. Second, you might not have a good feel for your personal needs and tastes yet. I am not saying new divers should not buy used regs, I am saying new divers should buy used regs with great care (and maybe the guidance of a more experienced dive buddy).

Do you want to buy something with more parts, that will be more costly to service, and possibly even more costly if repairs are needed (repair is different than a basic service)? Maybe the reg you want is out of your price range new, so the cost for the servicing/repair is still a savings and you get the specific reg set you are determined to own? Or, maybe the basic workhorse of a reg that you can trust to last for years, on your limited income, is the best find?  There is a lot to consider.

You want to get your used gear in the best shape possible. Are there visible signs of wear, does it look cared for or beat up? Do the hoses, connections, fittings, caps, plugs, all looks as they should? Is the reg so old you can’t find parts or get it serviced. Has the reg seen a technician recently? Unless the seller can provide valid receipts from a recent service that YOU CAN VERIFY, you need to go take that newly purchased used regulator or reg set to your local authorized dive technician for servicing.

In summary, check the following as you assess your potential buy:

  1. Hook the set up to a tank and breath through it.
  2. Check that the moving parts move and the non-moving parts don’t.
  3. Check for connection tightness, fraying, whistles indicate air leaking.
  4. Check for obvious signs of wear, misuse, mishandling, dents, etc.
  5. Check for any signs of corrosion; pitted metal, rusting, discoloration, frozen parts.
  6. Check for signs of repairs via non-authorized technician; scratches, ill-fitted parts, parts that don’t match manufacturer brand.
  7. Check for paperwork from authorized repairs and make the call to verify the info BEFORE the sale.
  8. Check the body of the hoses and housings for splits, cracks, or defects.
  9. Check for signs of debris in any open areas.
  10. Is this reg a 1/100 or a 2/200?
  11. Is the 1st and/or 2nd stages unbalanced, balanced, or overbalanced?
  12. Is it so old it is obsolete, or soon to be obsolete?

*If you don’t get the right answers, walk away! If you decide to make the buy, take your life support equipment to a dive shop for servicing before you dive it, even in the pool. 

Regulator Maintenance Tips:

  • Always replace the DRY dust cap over the first-stage opening as soon as you disconnect the regulator from the cylinder.
  • Keep damaging water OUT of the 1st stage! With the dust cap in place, rinse the regulator system in fresh water, after each use. This removes salt, sand and other potentially damaging debris.
  • After a dive trip, soak the regulator system in fresh water overnight, then rinse thoroughly. While soaking in water do not depress the purge button, or leave reg with purge button in a way to be depressed by comingled equipment.
  • Air-dry out of the sun. Store it in a cool, dry, place. Do not tightly coil hoses, this stresses connections. Do not hang the regulator to store it, it puts pressure on the hoses and connectors.
  • Keep a regulator bag handy for storage and travel.

Last word: There are many points to ponder carefully. Your reg set is not only the second most expensive piece of basic dive gear you will by, it is life support equipment! Buying pre-owned scuba gear can save you a bundle of cash. But, you have to take your time, educate yourself, and make smart purchases. Anytime you can get a copy of a receipt for work done on your gear when you buy it, is a bonus. Anytime you can track back to the servicing technician or shop and verify,  is a bonus. Any time you can add a solid piece of gear to your total dive system, is a bonus. But, any time you can get brand name well cared for scuba gear without paying the 100%+ mark-up at a dive shop…YOU WIN.

Authored by Lisa J Henry

“Be the Sea”

Part 1 – Things to consider when buying a used scuba diving tank…

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Buying a used scuba tank doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. There are a lot of places to find them, making a good used tank relatively easy to acquire. Whether you shop online, or from a local seller, a garage sale, or estate sale, there are a few things you want to consider:

Is there any damage to the outside of the tank?

Examine the outside of the tank, top to bottom. Check out the base, and pull off the boot. Look closely at the neck where the valve is inserted. There might be dents in the metal, bubbling paint or discoloration, rust, pitting in the metal, paint chipping, or other signs of water damage underneath the boot and/or at the neck. Anything that could weaken the structural integrity of the metal could prove catastrophic at depth. Steel tanks are more prone to oxidation and degradation than aluminum, but both types should be assessed carefully.

Does the valve O-ring look old?

Take a good look at the O-ring in the valve. You want to check for dings, scrapes, chips, or other defects to the ring. It isn’t a bad idea to change that O-ring out just to be sure. It will only cost you a few pennies. A bad O-ring can blow out at depth and leave you grabbing for your dive buddies air source in a close call.

Does the tank need a visual inspection?

Since Vis’s are due on a yearly basis, it is a pretty good bet your potential tank has an inspection due. If you overlook this assessment you may end with up with a $35.00 surprise on the first fill. Your local dive shop can’t fill that tank until the vis is current. Keep in mind, if you buy a tank with an expired vis, you will be adding cost on the back end of your purchase. Be sure to look for the vis sticker on the tank.

Does the air tank need a hydro inspection?

The Hydro is due every 5 years. Again, your dive shop can’t fill your tank for you unless this pressure tolerance test is current. Look for STAMPED abbreviated dates in the tank, different from the original markings on the tank, a “month/yr”. The most recent year date on the tank should be within 5 years. Buying a tank in need of a hydro means you could be buying a tank with internal cracks or other damage preventing it from containing air/gas at high pressure. Most dive shops will charge nearly $40 to do a hydro. So, if this step is missed you will be paying on the back end of your purchase. And, there is the possibility (in tanks older than 10 years or tanks with visible defects) your tank will fail the Hydro. In Aluminum tanks made before 1990, certain manufactures used a 6351 alloy with an increased propensity for cracking (most commonly Luxfer and Kiddy). An Eddy-Current test ($20-$30) is required on these tanks. Check that stamp!

Does the tank have air in it?

A tank that has been sitting without a full air fill can have moisture damage. Moisture in the tank will cause corrosion and fail your Hydro, or be a safety risk on a dive. Crack the tank to make sure air expels, or put a gauge on it. It might be best to pass by a very old tank with no air and an expired Hydro. Sometimes a really good deal is just too good to be true.

Is the Burst Disk patent?

In the valve, there is a special disk designed to burst with an air pressure over fill. Valves are periodically cleaned, and the burst disk is evaluated for patency. This is usually done at the time of the Vis/Hydro. If the Burst disk has ruptured, indicating an over fill, the valve needs to be examined, cleaned, and the disk should be replaced ($30-$40). This will be in addition to the cost of the Vis/Hydro. Check that stamp date…again!

Scrap metal value of scuba tanks: Lastly, if you failed to do your home-work and have an unusable scuba tank, you can take it to the scrap metal yard and make some money back. Make some calls on scrap metal payment rates first, and get the best price you can.

In summary:

  • Look for external signs of damage. Remove the boot. If it has any dents, deep scratches or rust, then it is unlikely to pass inspection.
  • Check the valve for signs of damage (change the O-ring if you buy it), crack it to check for air, and put it on a gauge to check pressure and function.
  • Check the inspection dates…then check them again.
  • Ask if the tank/valves have been inspected while the seller has had the tank. If these things have been done, the seller is required to retain the receipts from the dive shop or repairing technician. Copies of these records should come with the tank. Ask for them as part of the deal.

If you find defects, if the inspections are lacking, if there are valve issues, or if the paperwork is not available on the tanks, consider passing this deal by! There are lots of other used tanks out there!

Last bit of info – don’t store scuba tanks for long periods on their sides, stacked. Metal is malleable and weight can change the shape over time. Don’t store your tanks on cement or other porous or moisture holding materials – moisture will wick onto the tank metal over time. The safest way to store tanks is upright, against a stable surface (wall), with a chain or some other appropriate retainer. Or store them upright in a metal tank rack.

Hoping this has been a beneficial blog article for you. If you like it, sign up for more, or email blueorbsales@gmail.com.

Authored by Lisa J Henry

“Be the Sea”

5 quick tips ways to sell your used scuba equipment!

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So, you started scuba diving less than 10 years ago, and have been having the time of your life ever since. You have visited all the hot dive sites, and you have dropped on all of the best reefs. Your scuba diving equipment has served you very well…maybe too well. That 5 or 8 or 10yr old gear has shown you such a good time it is starting to look dingy and need more frequent maintenance. Fear not! It is not as hard as you think to give that used gear a new home, giving you cash for the shiny new stuff.

Lucky for you, there are plenty of options for recycling that pre-owned stuff. It isn’t that difficulty really. I know, I know. You look at all the gear piled in the garage or basement and think recycling is going to be a time consuming pain in your back side. But believe me, it’s going, going, gone on your first option: 1) Give that still-good gear to Goodwill. Sometimes they will come get it at your door. That’s right, they take it away. And, you will get a percentage back on your taxes if you itemize and claim the deduction. Someone who can’t afford the pristine newly minted gear will appreciate your generosity. Don’t forget to get the Goodwill associate to sign & date your itemized list of donations, you want the tax-man happy with your decision too! Find a Goodwill near you at http://www.goodwill.org/locator/.

If you aren’t close to a Goodwill, this next suggestion will help out: 2) List your wares on your local Craig’s List. You can find your local site at https://www.craigslist.org/about/sites If you have never used “CL” don’t be intimidated. It is easy to get started, and easy to keep the listings going. You have the option to sell the whole bundle as a “lot” for one overall price, or you can piece everything out and sell it individually. There are pluses and minuses to both strategies, better saved for the next blog. In any case, you will have to be willing to let folks find you by phone or email. And, you will need to venture out of your home, or let folks come to your home, to do the deal. In the end, you can control the price and the sale, and the cash is great.

Another option for unloading that gear is: 3) Get on Google.com and find a local dive shop that will pay you to take your gear off your hands. You might not make as much money as the CL option, but you can likely get it all unloaded at one time. How to negotiate with the dive shop for the best price is a subject to be covered soon.

This next option is probably your best bet: 4) find a local diver who makes a living (or part of a living) buying and selling used scuba diving equipment. This is not as hard as you may think. Many times your local dive shop can point you towards someone reputable. Often times there are ads online…”sell used scuba gear, Sacramento, CA” would be a great Google search phrase. Here in Oregon I go to http://www.blueorbdiving.com/ for help. They will even give you a free estimate on each piece or the lot, by email. They can be very accurate if you have a photo to email them, blueorbsales@gmail.com. If you see someone posting many ads on CL over a course of time, you can contact them and ask if the buy and sell or just sell.

Our last quick option is a little more time consuming on your end, and may produce limited results: 5) Post your sale on your favorite social media site. You can often find a dive club to join, or find free ad pages on there. Obviously, your success is wholly dependent on word of mouth and how many Friends or Likes you can get.

Hopefully, this short blog has been a snippet of helpful information for you. There are many options to quickly and easily pass that great pre-owned scuba diving equipment on to its new home, netting you a little something for your wallet in the process.

Good luck.

Authored by:  Lisa J Henry    

“Be the sea”.