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Best type of Pony Tank setup?

Discussion in 'Tanks, Valves and Bands' started by Zac3G, Dec 29, 2003.

  1. MikeFerrara

    MikeFerrara Instructor, Scuba

    Handing off a pony reg...

    Like anything else it can certainly work sometimes but...

    The hose is short and if it's been turned off and you haven't been breathing it, you don't know that it works. There's all kinds of things that can and do happen to stowed regs. A bottle that's stowed and off is for stages and decompression. If it doesn't work when we turn it on we have other options but those situations allow more time than an OOA.

    If you hand off a reg that you've been breathing you know you're giving the (likely upset) OOA diver something breathable. If it's on a long hose, so much the better. It's nice and simple and it always works.
  2. Genesis

    Genesis Great White

    Three things at once! Oh Boy! :)

    First, handing off the pony does not necessary imply not giving away the long hose. If you really need gas you're gonna mug me anyway. If you are calm enough to signal then its calm enough for me to hand you a reg.

    As for HIDs, Pug was talking about using them during daylight dives. If you lose your light there, your backup will NOT work for signalling purposes. Indeed, if your lights are not pretty-well "matched" the weaker won't work for signalling in daylight conditions either, because you'll never see it.
  3. rstark

    rstark Barracuda

    I KNOW just as much as you KNOW that your necklace reg is going to work, is purged, etc. After all it's my reg, it's been with me the whole time, I know I've taken care of it not always true with a buddy. Everyone is human and makes mistakes even your buddy. Self sufficiency first, buddy second.

    I agree. That's why the OOA diver has his own pony and takes care of himself, knows where the reg is, knows the condition of the reg etc. It is just as likely to fail as a necklaced reg that in a buddy situation MUST work or else. If fate has it that two systems (back gas & pony) completely fail (not likely but I'll give it to ya) then we go with plan C, our trusty buddy that also has two redundunt systems, his back gas with long hose and necklace and his pony.

    Absolutely! I agree. If someone swam to me OOA in a panic they would get my long hose instantly and I would get my necklace. Then would be time to assess the situation. WHen everyone is calmed down we would transfer the pony over to him and we would go up. If they never completely calm down I definetly don't want to be tethered to them on the way up. I always have the option of using the long hose and necklace though, and I really like options when it come to my life.

    Again I am not trying to argue as I think your way is simple and if it works for you and your buddies, great. I just was trying to show the group the application that I use for a pony.
  4. freborg

    freborg Angel Fish

    Now that we have established that a pony may or may not be a good thing, should the pony be pressurized or not? I as an admitted neo-naut vote for having air at the ready with no fumbling with valves and the like. Seems like the safest way or am I missing something.
  5. RiverRat

    RiverRat Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Connecticut
    Ok, this thread is crazy, will finish it later. I read through quite a bit of it but jumped to ---> here..............................
    I'm a new recreational diver, limited number of deep dives in warm water and training dives in shallow, cold, low vis water. I would like to possibly do some beginner class NJ wreck dives say 60 - 80 fsw to start and maybe then a little deeper to say 100 - 130fsw max, within recreational limits. I'm thinking of getting a steel tank, PST e7-100 or maybe even a 120 for local stuff. Now I'm thinking I'll need 2 tanks so that I can make 2 dives off the boat if that's how they do it in NJ and at some point I could double them up if I go that route. I see that the NJ operators enforce a pony or doubles. Most tech divers seemed opposed to ponies although then I don't understand why they recommend them in NJ if that's the case, other than to pull in guys like me that want to dive entry level wrecks. As long as gas is managed properly a Y valve sounds like a good idea to me. Ok, so for you wreck divers out there, if you were me, buy one steel tank now for local single tank dives and a pony for the easy wreck dives or go right to doubles, which would also give me 2 singles? Oh wait, I forgot, good thing I have a BP but I would need another wing for doubles.........ahhhhhhhh
  6. rstark

    rstark Barracuda

    I think that the on/off question depends on what type of diving you do. If diving with deco/stage bottles then it is important to have them off because you can't afford to lose your gas. If rec diving with a pony I don't think the question is as important because if you do losea significant amount of gas from your pony then you should plan accordingly by letting your buddy know that he is sole redundency now and continue with the dive or abort if you don't feel comfortable with that. Either way it's not a life threating situation.
  7. Uncle Pug

    Uncle Pug Swims with Orca ScubaBoard Supporter

    ... so this may be coming in sideways... but I do love my pony battles. :D

    Think this one through with me:
    At what point would you realize that you had *lost* the gas in your pony?

    If you are in the habit of checking it every time that you check your main tank's SPG then perhaps you could do as you suggest and notify your buddy.

    But what if you have one of those peanut SPGs that are hard to read... or you back mount with out an SPG that can be read during the dive... or you just don't check often enough?

    I think it is safe to say that most folks would figure out that they had lost all their pony gas when they went to suck on the reg in an OOA and it was a dead reg.
  8. rstark

    rstark Barracuda

    Isn't this fun.
    No argument this time.

    I do check the pony as much as my main tank as it is an air source and should alway be checked throughout the dive.

    I don't really like those peanut gauges (and I did try one) because they are inaccurate and hard to read. I have my pony setup as a stage bottle with a 6in hose bent back with a regular spg on it. As far as back mounting is concerned (yes I tried that also) I think it is one of the most comfortable ways to carry a pony but I wouldn't do it again. I feel that if you are going to back mount a pony then you might as well not have it because you can't rely on it and in my eyes defeats one of the purposes of having one which is handing it off. More importantly you can't monitor your gas supply which is really scary.

    Unfortunately this is probably true and where your argument against pony bottles stands a lot of ground. A pony is not for everyone. In my opinion you should not use one unless you have thought out what you would do in as many emergency situations as you can dream up. That way you will know in what circumstances a pony will or will not work.

    Scuba diving is a technical sport. In order to do it safely and have fun you must be comfortable using technical equipment CORRECTLY. If you are the type of person that has someone setup your equipment and you put it on and dive in then you should not be diving with a pony and you probably should be diving with a divemaster or instructor. For those of us that are very comfortable with the equipment, it is there for us to use as long as we monitor it and practice using it because no matter how comfortable you are with diving it can always throw you a curve ball.
  9. TimM

    TimM Guest

  10. fishwatcher

    fishwatcher Angel Fish


    Just thought I'd add my view to the mix! :)

    I have decided to use a backmounted 13 cu. ft. pony bottle with a traditional 1st stage and octopus.

    I dive mostly in the Caribbean and a little bit in the Northeast. The boats in NJ require at least a pony bottle, so I've been renting one when needed. I have no plans to perform technical, mixed gas, deco, wreck penetration, or cave diving, and would be fine purchasing additional equipment if I change my mind in the future. Other than the pony bottle, I do not own my own tanks.

    I don't have a regular dive buddy, so on all my dives, I'm paired with whoever on the boat is available. My "buddy of the day" may seem like a good communicator on the boat, but I've found that most buddies are not that good at staying nearby underwater or even at checking to see if you're okay underwater. This has lead me to conclude I need to be more self-reliant, and for me, part of that is having a backup air supply.

    I calculated my air consumption rate and found that the Spare Air doesn't have enough capacity for me to return to the surface, let alone do a safety stop. While 19 cu.ft. would suit me pretty well from 120', even allowing me to do a safety stop while breathing more rapidly from stress, I calculated that a 13 cu. ft. would also work in most cases. My calculations tell me that if I came up short, I would have to omit or shorten my safety stop, but could make it to the surface. The 13cu.ft. is also easier to pack in my luggage than a 19cu.ft.

    I looked at the H2Odessy Extra Air Source, but decided that a hand held 13 cu. in. cylinder would be unwieldy. Even if my air consumption rate allowed me a smaller cylinder, I'd rather be hands free. I'll be using my hands for my dive computer and inflator hose and want to minimize task loads - especially in an emergency.

    So that left me with purchasing a pony bottle with normal 1st stage and octopus.

    I decided to backmount my pony bottle. That keeps my setup simple and familiar. The bottle stays out of the way of my other front mounted gear, does not dangle below me, stays closer to the center of my body without blocking my weight belt or other releases, and, being next to my main tank, is more streamlined than front mounting. Given the type of diving I do, I also feel it is less likely to get snagged (okay maybe during the occasional swim-through). I realize that if a snag did occur, it would be harder to fix the problem by myself.

    I feel that a back mounted pony bottle shifts around less than a bottle clipped to the front of my BC -- my two tanks (main and pony), become bonded to each other in a manner similar to having doubles. Since it doesn't shift, it's easier for me to determine a spot to put trim weights (left rear BC weight pocket or tank band - left side), which allows me to better control my buoyancy (less rolling to the side from the weight of the pony bottle). It's easier for me to maneuver as well. I sometimes like to hover close to the sand or even inverted so that I can peer under ledges close to the bottom. These common positions (common for me) would be made more difficult with a front mounted pony. Many times, I'm diving in marine parks where you're not supposed to touch anything ("take only pictures, leave only bubbles" ) and may not even be allowed gloves. With a back mounted pony, it's easier for me to stay off the coral.

    From my point of view, the purpose of the pony is predominantly to allow ME to return to the surface. However, if either I or my buddy run out of air, we would abort the dive and return to the surface with one of us using the octopus attached to the pony. We would be in contact, using the same method to share air that many divers have already been taught in their open water classes. I didn't have to learn a new method for using my backup regulator or for sharing air. Importantly, there was also nothing new for me to teach my "buddy of the day."

    I can imagine circumstances where I'd want to hand off my pony bottle to someone else, but have decided to wait on adding that capability. In the future, I could get a pony bracket with an underwater quick-release such as the Quickdraw, and could have clips on the pony (like a stage bottle), so that I could attach it to someone else's BC. For now, my setup still improves safety over not having a pony bottle.

    There is very little new that I had to learn to use my pony bottle. By mounting the pony on my back with my octopus coming from the pony -- my backup regulator remains in a familiar location for using or sharing.

    NEW LEARNING: how to connect and disconnect my pony bottle bracket. It's similar to connecting a BC to a main tank.

    BEFORE EACH DIVE: remember to turn on the valve on my pony, check the attached mini submersible pressure gauge (SPG). I also take some test breaths from the octopus attached to my pony bottle, but I normally test breath my octopus before each dive anyway.

    AFTER EACH DIVE: verify the quantity of air remaining in case there has been leakage during the dive and remember to turn off the pony valve.

    I may add a 2nd stage held around my neck with surgical tubing as some tech. divers do. That way, I'd have two regulators from my main tank, plus the pony+octopus.

    It would be nice to have an SPG upfront and some day I may get one on a hose rather than a mini SPG. The mini's are harder to read, but a hose is something additional to manage, decreases streamlining slightly, and adds something else that could become entangled.

    I hope this was useful to someone (Caribbean recreational divers?),

    Phil :)

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