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Basic gear from mid-twentieth-century Australia: Turnbull etc

Discussion in 'History of Diving Gear' started by David Wilson, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. happy-diver

    happy-diver Skindiver Just feelin it

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: same ocean as you


    Is this Elly May about to concrete pond it
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    On now to the Turnbull Multifit Flipper Range.

    F7 Multifit Flipper Range
    Catalogue description: "F7 Multifit Flipper Range. Available in junior, medium and large sizes, in green rubber, with rustproof buckle. Featuring broad foot fittings."

    Available in 1955 Lillywhites catalogue, where its description is “Australia’s most successful and popular fin. In pure natural rubber or multi-colour”:
    So the accent appears to be on the ability of this model to accommodate shoe sizes from 2 to 12. This range of sizes is much larger than normal for the mid-1950s, when huge or tiny feet were usually ill-served when it came to fins. The adjustable heel strap came with one buckle at the back instead of one on either side, which is a feature we have already encountered in Turnbull masks and fins.

    The Multifit Swim Flipper was also one of Turnbull's oldest fins. The legend embossed on the top of the blade below includes the words "Made in Australia and New Zealand":

    My hypothesis is that Turnbull began by dividing fin manufacture between Australia and New Zealand before concentrating production in Australia. The following is therefore likely to be a later model:
    s-l1600-3.jpg s-l1602a.jpg
    Have you noticed that the heel strap of the small-sized Multifit Flipper differs from its counterpart on the medium- and large-sized models? The small-sized version comes with a single buckle at the back of the heel, while the medium and large sizes have more traditional twin buckles at the instep. However, whatever the size, we are left in no doubt which way up out fins should be. There is that reassuring word "TOP" again in uppercase letters just in case.:)
    АлександрД likes this.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Second Turnbull fin of the day: Hanimex Junior Frogman Swim Flippers.

    Junior Frogman Swim Flippers
    This ad is from The Sydney Morning Herald of Sunday, October 24, 1976, over seven years after Turnbull was taken over by Hanimex. Note how this "Junior" fin has twin buckles and is retailed as one component in a "swim set" that also includes a mask and a snorkel.
    Sam Miller III likes this.
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Third Turnbull fin of the day is the Pacific Continental.

    Pacific Continental Flippers


    The ad above appeared in the October 1968 issue of Australian Skin Diver Magazine, so only a few months before the Hanimex takeover. The name "Pacific Continental" looks back to Turnbull's "Continental Flippers" and "Pacific Flippers":

    Here are some more pictures of the Pacific Continental:

    My observation on this fin is that it bears something of a resemblance to Turnbull Continental Flippers, but the Pacific Continental is a lighter, less rugged affair without the extra bits jutting outwards from the side rails.
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    And here's a "bonus" fin, which I have no proof whatsoever came out of the Turnbull-Hanimex stable: The Dolphin.

    The Dolphin

    The words embossed on the blade do say "Made in Australia and New Zealand" and make me want to make the connection with Turnbull Multifit Flippers:
    which also say "Made in Australia and New Zealand" on the blade, but the link may be too tentative to draw the conclusion that "The Dolphin" may have been Turnbull's first fin.

    That's all, folks, for the moment. I'll return with the "etc" bit of this thread, the other basic diving equipment manufacturers of Australia.
  6. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!
    Once again a great informative post

    Brings up the question about names ? or nomenclature ? of "Swim Fins"

    Interesting there is a genealogy of the now accepted names for the now swimming fins

    De Corlieu of France and the accepted father called them Swimming propellers

    When the appeared on the US market :
    Churchill introduced the to US as Swim Fins
    Concurrently in the US Romano (Sea Net) they were Flippers
    Later Brown gave the name of Duck Feet

    I recall when I began instructing diving in 1956 - Flipper or Fins was acceptable/
    A few years later most "serious " divers were using Ducks.

    Now apparently after reading posts on this board divers have snorkeling fins, SCUBA fins and free diving fins and GOK what else ?

    How were the fins identified in UK ? Russia ? and any county who would like to comment ?

    Sam Miller, III
    David Wilson likes this.
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Sam, you're right about the multiplicity of names for the swimming devices worn on the feet. Here's an article from the May 1957 issue of the British Sub Aqua Club journal Triton:
    So it was just as much a jumble of terms in the early days, in the UK at least, as it is now. As a linguist, I'm interested in the way the terms "fins" and "flippers" in particular have been respectively deployed in print over the decades. Their use in official specifications is especially noteworthy. US Military specification MIL-S-82258 entitled "Swim fins, rubber" of February 15, 1965 uses the term "flipper" to refer to all the parts of an open heel fin other than the heel strap:
    Another specification for fins, this time the Soviet national standard, comes with an English translation (Swimming rubber flippers. General specifications" of its Russian title "ЛАСТЫ РЕЗИНОВЫЕ ДЛЯ ПЛАВАНИЯ. Общие технические условия":
    Some languages have just one term, e.g. "palmes" in French, "(Schwimm)flossen" in German and "ласты" (more rarely: "плавники") in Russian. Spanish has "patas de rana" (frog feet) as well as "aletas", Portuguese "pés de pato" (duck feet) as well as "nadadeiras" (Brasil) and "barbatanas" (Portugal), Greek "βατραχοπέδιλα" (frog feet) as well as "πτερύγια".

    I called myself a linguist earlier and when it comes to linguistics, there are three basic approaches to usage: prescriptive, proscriptive and descriptive. I prefer to be "descriptive", telling it as it is, not as it should or shouldn't be. Unlike the French and the Spanish, there is no national academy in charge of English language usage either in the UK or the USA. English is a fluid language and usually muddles through perfectly adequately without anybody being too prescriptive or proscriptive about its use. So "fins" and "flippers" both work perfectly well for me as words defining what divers wear on their feet.
    АлександрД likes this.
  8. dmaziuk

    dmaziuk Regular of the Pub

    I would say those correspond to English "fins" and "flippers": "ласты" for mammals and by extension humans, "плавники" for fish.

    Also, swimmers tend to refer to short narrow straight full foot fins as "swim fins". As opposed to diving/snorkelling fins that are ill suited for swimming laps: the blades are too big for proper cadence and foot position, and the angle makes them slap on the surface instead of pushing water. These are about the swimfin equivalent of the jets: https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/finis-zoomers-gold-swim-fins-1267/
  9. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Thanks for the input, guys! I'll move on, as promised, to the "etc" bit of this Australian thread and I feel I'm entering uncharted waters as there is so little information online, so I'm relying on others chiming in to correct me, and better still, to provide original experiences and data. I'm going to start with "Torpedo Products", a company like Turnbull based in Sydney. Here's a typical ad for the firm from the November/December 1963 issue of Australian Skin Diver Magazine:
    1963-1112_ASM.png This ad shows every item of diving equipment I know to have been distributed by Torpedo Products of 3 Rawson Place, Sydney, New South Wales with one exception: a drysuit:
    I conclude that the Torpedo drysuit may have been popular with early Australian cave divers. I may be pushing the evidence here, but the following "Aquasuit" ad from the November 1958 of Australian Skin Diver Magazine may be for the Torpedo:
    I have no definitive evidence of this, but I do note that the drysuit comes with ankle seals at a time when they were a rarer accessory than they are now. Can anybody help with further details?
    АлександрД likes this.
  10. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Time for a closer look at more basic Torpedo gear, beginning with the "Super Mask".

    Torpedo Super Mask
    The caption reads: "SUPER MASK. The mask with the widest vision, best fit and greatest comfort. Shaped frame and luxurious rubber strap. Compensator. 31/-."

    This diving mask appears to combine all the latest features in an early-1960s oval model, namely ear-clearing compensator bosses, a split strap and a metal rim with a top screw to keep the lens secure. The price was 31/-, meaning 31 Australian shillings or One Australian pound and 11 Australian shillings.

    You will notice the twin hooks on the front of the mask, which I presume are there to assist in the process of squeezing the nostrils for equalisation purposes. Here is the a contemporary American mask with similar "equalising levers": The Voit 50 Fathom mask.

    You may conclude from the original ad that Torpedo only ever marketed one model of diving mask, but this is not so. Here's an ASM ad from May/June 1961:
    So at least two Torpedo masks were available in 1961: The Torpedo Compensator and the Torpedo Super. I have not come across, yet, any illustration, let alone further details, of the "Torpedo Compensator" mask.

    In the following month's issue of ASM, "Dick Devesons" offered spare parts for diving masks, including the Torpedo:
    Diving masks may have been harder to replace in far-flung Australia in those days and "Torpedo Safety Glasses" and "Torpedo Tinted Lenses" provided options for purchasers when it came to the faceplates. Diving masks were easier to disassemble back then.
    АлександрД likes this.

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