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Basic gear from mid-twentieth-century Britain: Typhoon (E. T. Skinner)

Discussion in 'History of Diving Gear' started by David Wilson, Apr 2, 2018.

  1. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Let's move on from masks to snorkels. E. T. Skinner & Co. (Typhoon) offered a range of breathing tubes during the 1950s and 1960s.

    1956 Typhoon catalogue
    Typhoon_56_4.jpg

    1966 Typhoon catalogue
    Typhoon_1966_6.jpg
    "Schnorkel" is perhaps an unusual choice of spelling. During the 1950s, there was some debate in the UK about what a breathing tube used in underwater swimming should be called. One school of thought was that "breathing tube" was a good enough name for the article. The German word "Schnorchel", from which the English term is derived, has no "k" in it. Perhaps the British English spelling "Schnorkel" came about because the German "ch" sound is only found in Scottish vocabulary such as "loch". In any case, the term "snorkel" has become the universal spelling in the English-speaking world.

    As for the range of different models available from E. T. Skinner (Typhoon) during the 1950s and 1960s, it varied widely, from the simplicity of the J-shaped "T1" model to the complexity of the "Typhoon Universal Ball-Valve" with its special head harness, its flex hose fitting into the tube socket of the Typhoon Super Star diving mask and its British Patent GB781597A, "Improvements in or relating to Valves for Underwater Breathing Apparatus":
    patentdrawing-jpg.457789.jpg

    We'll take a closer look at each of these models in the next posting.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  2. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

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    David,
    Great work ! Great research ! Keep on posting !

    I note the original German spelling of the word Schnorkel that is currently spelled snorkel .
    It took me many years before I began using the English spelling-- I now question when the change occurred

    SDM
     
    David Wilson likes this.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thank you, Sam. As a linguist, shifts in terminology can be a source of fascination for me. Here is an article by Alan Broadhurst about the language of diving and G. F. Brookes' response, both from 1957 when British recreational "underwater swimming" was still in its infancy:
    Broadhurst_1.jpg
    Broadhurst_2.jpg
    Brookes.jpg
     
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  4. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
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    Very interesting..
    Some years ago I published and article along the same lines in a magazine titled "What's in a name ?" In the article I traced the origin of diving from R&D Aerophore to Hass Swim divers to Aqua lung to Lungs to SCUBA diving and all points in between

    Thanks for sharing
    SAM
     
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  5. iain/hsm

    iain/hsm Manta Ray

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    Just to add a small addition to the Surfmaster Mk II story in that a non magnetic military version of the fin is made for the Royal Navy other European and friendly middle eastern military operators for warm water clearance diving.
    The original stainless steel buckle for sports divers was replaced with a bronze non-magnetic version as shown in the photos below.

    The design and tooling and assembly of the fin was undertaken by a small engineering company in Loughborough England. The NSN (Nato Stock Number) was different for both the four part buckle assembly, the fin strap and what was called the fin blade. The first order to the Royal Navy was for 2500 pairs. Used for warm water diving due to the smaller foot pocket as opposed to the then Jet Fin that used of all things a house builders red brick for the original prototype sizing of the foot pocket.The bronze rod diameters used for the buckles were made from imperial sized bronze rod while the two screwed nuts on the buckle were made metric thread.

    This was done deliberately as a friendly “up yours” to the Yanks who were insisting in the UNF/NC thread forms at the time and used loctite to secure the nuts. 4-40 UNC is M3x .05 but try telling that to the French.
    The main reason (not well known or discussed) for the move away from the Jet Fin rubber compounds was due to the rubber polymers used. While perfectly fine for recreational diving using re processed rubber from recycled tyres is a cheap and suitable material but it was concluded as potentially dangerous in the event any traces of metal from the steel cord from the original car or truck tyre got into the compound when used for military MCM.

    It should be recognized that mine counter measures at the time had to consider close diver intervention and Iranian and Chinese made magnetic close proximity triggers were becoming extremely sensitive. So much so that in the UK even with the wet suits used these also were magnetically ranged to ensure that in the event a broken needle tip from the sewing machine didn’t end up logged inside the neoprene sponge.

    Note: The white speckle on the fins is from the mould release spray

    IMG_0310_zpsl9yhddbj.jpg [/URL]

    IMG_0323_zpsjbkmbzxp.jpg [/URL]

    IMG_0312_zpshvdeovj6.jpg [/URL]

    IMG_0319_zps5us0uyz3.jpg [/URL]

    IMG_0316_zpsylkbqjkl.jpg [/URL]
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
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  6. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

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    Iain
    Very interesting !
    Thank you for posting.

    This reminds me if the US Divers non magnetic two hose regulators for EOD. After one production run the project was sub contracted to Biosystems of 651 South Main Street, Middletown CT. Only a few units were produced with a very high unit cost .

    In the eary 1980s they were phrased out on favor of non magnetic rebreathers. Now the Bio System's regulators are prized collectors items.

    I question now if the Surfmaster !1 which is identical to the US Divers Rocket fins have also appeared on the surplus market and are collectable.

    Keep up the interesting informative posts

    Sam Miller, III
     
  7. iain/hsm

    iain/hsm Manta Ray

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    Hi Sam.
    I wouldn’t have thought any of this stuff was collectable, at least not on this side of the pond. Incidentally staying on topic with fins US Divers bought a lot of there fins from a company called Diverplast SpA in Genova Italy, just not sure about the Rocket fins. I know that the old USA rubber supplier to USD was the Shamrock Rubber Company always remember that name it was such a memorable company.

    The US Divers Rocket fins blades were shipped in the biggest cardboard box imaginable must have been five foot square you could reach down only about a foot but could'nt reach the middle then someone would have to climb in and pass the things out.

    Another true story over here is that the scrap Rocket fin blades would be "V" cut with a Stanley knife (box cutter) to stop them being returned for replacement for credit and these now “Split Fins” fins were supposed to be dumped at the local tip. They never were but did become the original “Split Fin” design. LOL The "designer" was a chap called Terry King dont suppose he got much credit for his design mind.

    As for Bio Systems most of our "specials" over here were all non identifiable with all idents removed, most ended up buried in some sand dune somewhere if you catch my drift.
    The rest of the standard Royal Navy stuff never seemed to have the same interest with our lot.

    Maybe becuse it was better by miles than anything you Yanks could ever attempt..... we just never wanted to hurt your feelings, LOL

    HSM%2009.2011%20008_zpsqkapbcrc.jpg [/URL]
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  8. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Interesting information about Typhoon Surfmaster Mk II fins, Iain. I didn't know much about them as they arrived towards the end of the vintage diving era.

    Back to Typhoon breathing tubes. I promised an individual review of each one.

    Typhoon breathing tube Model "T1"
    Lillywhites_1956.png
    Small_1955.png
    Typhoon_56_4.png

    Ley Kenyon commented thus on this "schnorkel": "Typhoon. Straight tube with cap valve. I found it suited me well. Costs less than £1."

    So the J-shaped, aluminium alloy barrelled "T1" came with a "splash cap" to protect the rube opening when submerged. Here is an image from 1954 showing the "T1" in use underwater:
    T1_1954.jpg
    The picture shows air being expelled from the top of the snorkel while the swimmer is under water. The "T1" was available for purchase during the 1950s and 1960s.

    Next up is the "T2".
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
  9. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    The Typhoon "T2" breathing tube, which came with the same aluminium alloy barrel, featured the now familiar ball-in-the-cage valve:

    Typhoon breathing tube double bend (Model "T2")
    Lillywhites_1956.png
    Small_1955.png
    Typhoon_56_4.png

    In 1957, Ley Kenyon commented thus: "Typhoon. Double bend, with a ball valve operated by a plastic ball. I personally find a ball valve vibrates during a quick ascent and is not easy to clear of water, but some prefer this type of schnorkel (sic)".

    This breathing tube model was the first snorkel I ever owned. According to the 1956 product description above, the snorkel was designed to give a definite "indication to the wearer when the tip becomes submerged". As all ball-valve snorkel users will know, the "indication" of submersion came as something of a sudden and disagreeable surprise when it occurred. Nevertheless, I grew fond of my snorkel with its ball valve and only discarded it when I moved on to my university sub-aqua club and purchased a shorter model with an open top. The following photograph from Peter Small's 1957 book Your Guide to Underwater Adventure not only sums up underwater fun perfectly in the caption to the illustration below but also features a Typhoon "T2" breathing tube:
    snorkelfun-jpg-57821-jpg.458623.jpg

    That's it for today. I'll review the Typhoon "T3" breathing tube next time.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
  10. АлександрД

    АлександрД Manta Ray

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