Singapore Regulator Servicing
Have you ever wonder what goes on when you send your regulator to a dive centre for servicing? In the past 20 years of experience in equipment servicing, we have heard and seen all sorts of strange and scary stories of equipment servicing gone wrong. We decided to write an article to educate divers how they should be selecting a company that handles their regulator servicing and what really goes on during the process.
The Basic Requirement of a Service Centre – The Table Selection
This is the most fundamental and basic knowledge of any technicians and most dive centres with a “technician workbench” do not follow this basic rule. When selecting a proper table for servicing, the tabletop needs to be a solid table. Why solid? So the table is strong enough to hold onto a good vice and it gives the technician a stable top to work on, especially when there are difficult regulators.
If you ever see an IKEA table as a servicing table or workbench, please just walk away from such service centres. IKEA tables were constructed as work desk, something for you to place a few pieces of paper and laptop. It was never designed to be workbench. The flaw of such tables is the way the legs join to the table, with only a couple of screws and chipboard, the tabletop is too weak for any form of servicing.
Most inexperienced or paper chaser technicians would not realize this mistake and the importance of having a good workbench. Below are some other out-of-the-box workbench solutions. Personally, we give them 100% for creativity but 0% for trying to use such tables for servicing.
A good table-vice or clamp
A good table vice or bench vice allows the technician to work comfortably. A good bench vice is one that allows the technician to use a soft clamp attached so as to prevent damaging the regulators.
A good table or bench vice is bolted down to a good woodbench. This is another reason why a solid and sturdy workbench is recommended.
When technicians start using cheap made-in-china table vice or bench vice that are not bolted to the table, very often, they can damage regulators when they are trying to open up client’s regulator.
We have seen many regulators that have been chipped because of inferior vices that has been used by technicians. There are times we need to use adjustable vices but this is only when we need an additional pair of hands to hold onto a part gently. Very rarely are such bench vices used by technicians. So this is another tell-tale sign that the dive centre actually do not have the right knowledge on equipment servicing.
Cleaning of regulators.
DO NOT BE FOOL INTO TECHNICIANS TELLING YOU TO USE VINEGAR OR OTHER CHEMICALS FOR CLEANING.
After taking apart the regulator and it is thorougly degreased, your regulator is send for cleaning. A good ultrasonic (that is one that has the ability to heat up) coupled with a food grade solution is important. Many dive centres without the budget to invest in a good ultrasonic cleaner have resorted to some of the “smartest” idea in the technician world.
Using white vinegar. It is a house-hold product, we use it for cooking, it should be safe right? Google white vinegar removing rust or metal cleaning, you will come across millions of website advocating it. Vinegar is corrosive by nature and it attacks silicone and rubber compound. It is never recommended by anyone to use white vinegar for cleaning regulators.
Another “smart” idea that has been recently been spotted is to convince divers they do have a ultrasonic cleaner. So instead of investing in a proper ultrasonic cleaner, they bought themselves a jewellery ultrasonic cleaner on Qoo10.com for SGD$ 20.00
A proper ultrasonic cleaner should be deep and wide enough to hold the majority parts of your disassemble regulator so that the cleaner can do a proper job. A $20.00 ultrasonic cleaner will be able to do the job, and you probably can have a partial clean job or the technician will take probably a month:)
Tools, tools and more tools.
Having only a couple of tools will not allow you to service the entire spectrum of different models and brands of regulators.
This is the second most important and expensive investment of any technician. Most high end regulators require some form of special tools. Take Apeks Flight for instant, a technician require a total of 6 special tools to open the regulator up for cleaning. It is almost impossible to use substitute without the risk of damaging the regulator. A technician wall of tools is also his wall of pride. DO request a tour of the servicing area of your dive centre and see if they have the proper tools for servicing your regulator.
Inspection Equipment and Lighting.
A servicing area should be brightly lit. No technicians should be working under dim light or warm light conditions. Another light that a technician should have is known as black light. We often use black light after degreasing and cleaning to inspect for traces of carbon in the regulator. This is rather crucial for divers who often dive with enriched air or any form of air higher than 21% mix of oxygen.
A proper table top magnifying lamp is also required to inspect closeup for any faults and this is the most important part of regulator servicing that is often overlooked by technicians. A custom flexible inspection camera is sometimes used to inspect area that the naked eyes cannot reach.
Parts, Service Kits, Maintenance Kits… …
We guarantee a 3 days turn around servicing and the reason being we are one of the biggest stockist of service and maintenance kits of all major brands in Singapore.
Every model regardless of brand of regulators require their own specific maintenance kit. Most technicians are often using cheap o-rings from rubber manufacturer. However, there are some parts of a regulator that uses special o-rings that looks like a regular o-ring. When the wrong o-ring is used, it can cause the regulator not to function the way it was supposed to be.
Testing, Tuning and Water Testing
This is the final part of servicing your regulator. Once appropriate maintenance kits replace existing parts in your cleaned regulator, a technician needs to “cycle” the regulator and return the settings to factory default. This can only be done with very precise equipment, including a Poppet & Seat setter, Airflow Analyzer, HP Manager, IP Gauge and a Magnehelic Gauge. Only when the settings are returned to factory default, a water leak test is conducted to ensure there are no leaks and also that the second stage will not free flow during the dive.
It is extremely costly to setup a proper service workbench and IT IS NOT SAFE to have your regulator or your clients’ regulator serviced in a bare environment. This is a life support system and it should not be taken lightly. There are only about 3 dive centres here in Singapore located centrally and maintains a proper servicing facilities that you can visit without making any prior arrangements and booking.