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Diving in the Bering Sea/frozen regulator

Discussion in 'Regulators' started by auen1, Oct 21, 2012.

  1. auen1

    auen1 Angel Fish

    Hi All!

    I am suction dredging, (gold mining), off the coast of Nome, Alaska.
    The water is 33.3 F
    We are using a hooka setup and our regulators keep freezing up.
    I was looking for any ideas on how to keep the regulator working.
    By searching the forum, I have learned a lot and found some possible solutions.
    A) Do not breathe from the reg before diving.
    B) Buy a cold water reg. ( We are a long ways from any dive store and probably only have maybe two weeks left of diving... at least until we ice mine in Feb-Mar)
    C) Find a cold water kit.
    D) Figure out a way to heat the reg. (We use hot water in our wet suits.)
    E) I have seen "socks" over the place you exhale from the reg.

    I am asking for any ideas (ie. homemade, easy, quick) on how to keep the regulator working.
    Many thanks!

    263 air compressor, (hooka)
    Ocean Reef EN 250 full face w/reg
    Oceanic GT3 reg
  2. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    The best by far is to use the hot water to warm your breathing gas, common on saturation dives below ~600'. It will also keep the diver warmer. Unfortunately these heat exchangers are pricey.

    You can jury-rig a rubber boot from wetsuit material that fits around the FFM regulator and feed hot water to it from a ¼" hose. Do the same for your bailout first stage and switching valve if you use one… which you should! You may have to experiment a little to get it right since high flow rates could overwhelm it.

    You could also make a hood that covers the head and demand regulator. It will be a bigger hassle to don but your head will also be warmer.

    LP air from a compressor will have more moisture than HP, even in that climate. You could also get a better air drier for the compressor.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  3. Kunundrum

    Kunundrum Divemaster

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Ajax Ont. Canada
    as was mentioned above you want to minimize the amount of moisture that is pumped to the 2nd stage, if you can get a moisture separator for the hooka compressor it should help minimize the freezing up quite a bit.

    CAPTAIN SINBAD Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Woodbridge VA
    Found any gold yet?
  5. halocline

    halocline Solo Diver

    Wetsuits in 33.5 degree water? That's what I would call 'refreshing.' (Or maybe 'insane' :D)

    Then again, think what all those people did for the first alaska gold rush.
  6. epointer

    epointer Nassau Grouper

    I think he is talking about hot water being pumped through the wetsuit, not just filling it with hot water then jumping in.
  7. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    Commercial hot water suits run about 2½ gallons/minute at 110° F delivered to the hip manifold… per diver after hose loss. I am not sure if they are just using wetsuits with a hose stuffed in them or hot water suits with built-in water distribution tubes.

    Hot Water Suits for commercial diving by DUI - Diving Unlimited International
  8. auen1

    auen1 Angel Fish

    Thanks for all the replies, guys.
    Ya, it's cold water.
    What we do is run water thru 1/4" copper tubing that is tightly coiled around a modified exhaust muffler on our dredge pumps. I have two pumps, so I made two hot water heaters. From the mufflers, the copper tubing gets routed to a mixing tank. The heat is adjusted by regulating the flow of water through the heaters and by a 1/4" cold water line that is plumbed into the mixing tank. Works great if designed properly. There is a risk of being steamed, caused by a blockage in the heater coils, but luckily it has never happened to me. I like the water about as warm as a hot tub. Sometimes my hood is soaked in sweat, because I'm so warm. We insulate the heat line leading to the diver. We stuff the end of the heat hose down in a regular 7M wetsuit.
    I think some guys are using these garments, (links below) converted to use hot water. I hear that they work very well.
    Cool Shirt® Systems - Emergency Services, Garments, Pants
    Cool Shirt® Systems - Emergency Services, Garments, Fire Rated - Long Sleeve

    This year I spent most of the mining season,(mid May- mid Oct.) dredging in a river. I ended up getting forced out by the river freezing over. But probably got about 20 oz., in another words, broke even.
    I've only had about a week in the ocean so far this year. We had a wet and windy summer up here resulting in poor visibility conditions for gold mining. A lot of days off.

    I think I'll give your idea a try. Sounds like it might work.

    Thanks for all the replies so far.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
    CAPTAIN SINBAD and halocline like this.

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