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Guide to Mares regulators from 2000-2020

Discussion in 'Regulators' started by lowwall, Mar 16, 2020.

  1. lowwall

    lowwall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    Part 1

    This guide is meant to help answer common questions about Mares regs of this century and to assist those interested in purchasing or resurrecting non-current regs.

    A couple of notes. The following older regs that were still available in 2000 but were being phased out are not included: the MR10 and R1 first stages and the III, Navy and Beta second stages. Also, dates given are from Mares catalogs and manuals and in a couple of cases responses on the forum by Mares reps or service techs. These never exactly match dealer availability, in particular items were usually available in the shops for a couple of years after they disappeared from catalogs as existing stocks were sold out.

    First stage names are a number (2, 12, 15, 16, 32, 42, 52, 72, 82) and may have one or more letters as a prefix or suffix. The second stage names are normally a single word, e.g. "Abyss" and "Fusion", sometimes a suffix is added to indicate a special feature.

    Note that Mares sells its regs as a packaged first and second. Their standard practice for package names is the second stage name followed by the first stage name, e.g. the "Carbon 52X". However, in the past they have sometimes used only the second stage names for the entire package. They have even marked the first stage with the name of its second stage on occasion.

    The exception to package naming is for sales of standalone octopus second stages. Logically enough, these are called "Octopus" followed by the normal second stage name, e.g. "Octopus Rover".


    HP sealing systems
    Mares' original balanced diaphragm first stage, the MR12, used a T-shaped poppet with a plastic laminate surface that pressed against a seat machined into the stage body to provide the seal between the high and intermediate pressure sections of the reg. This was typical practice of the time - in fact the original Mares poppet was interchangeable with the one used in Conshelf, Titan and other first stage - but could result in sealing issues causing air leaks from the second stage if either the poppet surface or seat were less than pristine. Poppets were dealt with by specifying replacement at 100 dives or 1 year. But rough or damaged seats required a new reg or expensive metal work by a specialist technician. Note that Mares wasn't the only company with this issue, a few techs in cave country apparently made a decent living treating HP seats from all the main manufacturers.

    Mares spent several years working on improved sealing designs. The first step was to fit the MR12 with a replaceable seat. All of their balanced diaphragm first stage produced since then have replaceable seats. The next major effort was modifying the flat face of the poppet into a design that appears to have been inspired by a toilet plunger. The new poppet mated with a seat with a matching indent and the whole thing was called the Spherical Core Seal or SCS. In the end, SCS proved to be no better than the earlier design and was eventually dropped. Meanwhile, Mares engineers had been working on improved versions of the T poppet seal, culminating in the Tri-Material (brass, soft polyurethane, and high modulus polyurethane) design which first appeared in 2006. The Tri-Material poppets were a major advance, doubling the standard replacement schedule to 2 years - although still requiring 1 year inspections - and greatly decreasing the need for premature replacements. The Tri-Material poppets are still used in the 22 Navy and as replacement parts for the MR42. In 2015, Mares introduced the Advanced Coating Technology (“ACT”) poppets. These have a further improved sealing surface that have allowed Mares to switch to a two year inspection interval.

    Here’s an old Mares video showing the the SCS and “classic” seals:

    The good news is that, with two exceptions which are covered below, all Mares balanced diaphragm first stages can be upgraded to the current ACT system simply by swapping the poppet and possibly the seat (and minor accompanying parts such as the poppet pin and O-rings). Furthermore, they all use the same upgraded poppets and seats so there is no danger of an older reg being forced out of service by lack of parts availability.

    MR - standard prefix for early balanced diaphragm first stages.
    R - indicates piston first stage.
    V - indicates SCS.
    MR (again) - as SCS was abandoned, the prefix was changed to MR regardless of whether there was a previous MR version.
    [no prefix] - the MR and R prefixes were dropped in 2015, at least in the catalogs. However I have seen a reg marked MR22X.


    CWD - indicates factory installed cold water kit.
    T - indicates uses tri-material poppet, the T suffix began appearing in 2008 to eliminate questions about whether the reg had the new style poppet.
    S - ? May indicate “Short”. It only appears on the final version of the 12S and the current piston 2S.
    X - indicates ACT poppet, first appeared in 2015 with the 52X and 15x
  2. lowwall

    lowwall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    Part 2

    The Regs
    - Unless otherwise noted, all first stages are of balanced diaphragm design and have 2 HP ports (7/16") and 4 LP ports (3/8") including 1 higher performing DFC port for the primary second stage. Weight is for variant noted and in the format yoke/DIN in grams (g) (DIN is lighter). Shown in chronological order.

    2 - A budget piston design that has been around since last century (although not always catalogued). 1 HP port. R2, 2s: 608/432g.
    2S with Rover Second

    12 - This is the classic Mares reg; a simple and durable design was an evolution of the AMF Swimaster/Voit MR12 that dates back to the 1970s. There are still tens of thousands of these in use in around the world. They are a particular favorite as stage and pony regs as they compact, durable, easy to work on and readily available for low cost used. One issue when used as a back-mounted reg is that ports are arranged in a circle around the non-swivelling base of the stage which can result in less than optimal hose routing. Originally Mares flagship, it was gradually demoted to midrange service as newer regs came out. Production ended in 2015. Note that the earliest versions with 1 HP port had non-replaceable high pressure seats and are no longer considered serviceable by Mares. MR12 695g yoke. 12S: 674/574g.
    regs7.jpg 12s.jpg
    '90s MR12 with Voltrex 2nd and recent 2S with Instinct. You can see why it's popular for pony and stage bottles, especially in DIN.

    22 - The 22 replaced the MR12 as the Mares flagship in 1996 and continued in production for 20 years, with the Navy variant still being made today. Mares addressed the hose routing issue of the 12 by moving the ports to the sides of the reg and angling the HP ports down. Until 2019, all subsequent Mares regs had a similar set up for their ports. Originally weighing in at an unusually hefty 1135 grams for the yoke version, in 2008 they shaved off excess metal to make the size and weight a better match to its competitors. The DFC LP port is 1/2" rather than 3/8". Special LP hoses can be purchased to fit although I suspect most people just screw in 1/2" to 3/8" adapter when it is time to replace their primary LP hose. Well, not this guy obviously: A dive to 313m...successfully' . 22 (2008+): 781/616g. 22 Navy (includes cold water kit): 850/666g

    ] abyss.jpg 22x.jpg
    Pre-2008 heavy MR22 marked Abyss with and "Turbo" Abyss 2nd. Post-2008 lightened body 22X.

    Ruby - a V22 with an actual ruby set into the end of the SCS poppet. The ruby proved to be prone to chipping and the hard surface caused premature wear on the seat. Both problems lead to a leaking seal and the Ruby was quickly retired. Like all 22 first stages, the problem parts can be upgraded so there is no reason to avoid this particular variant.
    Damaged Ruby Poppet

    16 - Internally similar to the 22, but lighter than the pre-2008 version and, perhaps because of its conventional tubular body, less expensive. Introduced as the MR16 in 1997, it was the first to get the SCS system and V prefix a year or two later. It reverted back to MR16 when SCS was abandoned. It was discontinued in 2008 in favor of the revised 22. V16: 957g.

    Ti Planet - A V16 variant with a milled titanium body and a few titanium internal parts. Very expensive and quickly went out of production. 580g.

    mares-service-kit-mares-v16.jpg rrmtp.jpg
    V16. Ti Planet first and second

    32 - A somewhat trimmed-down version of the 22 introduced in 2000 as the V32, which eventually morphed into the MR32. Some versions have the 1/2" primary LP port of the 22 while others have only the standard 3/8" LP ports. After the 2008 revamp of the 22 there was no reason for the 32 to exist, so it was discontinued. Note that leftover stocks of the 32 and 16 were shipped into 2010, often paired with midrange to budget Mares second stages which gave buyers a nice upgrade path. V32: 904/710g. MR32: 856/656g.
    V32 with Proton (Metal) Ice

    42 - A high performance very compact first stage that looks like a 3/4 scale 32. In production from 2006 until the compact niche was more or less filled by the 52 in 2012. A really neat little reg that suffers from its orphan status as it uses different internals than all the other Mares balanced diaphragm first stages. For example, Mares never produced an ACT version of the MR42 poppet. Parts are currently available, but there's no guarantees as to how long Mares will keep making them. MR42T: 652/452g.
    MR42T with later Abyss second

    52 - Current top end compact reg. Introduced in 2012. Replaced the 42 and eventually even the venerable 22 in the Mares lineup. Has 2 DFC ports. 52x: 687/513g.

    15 - Introduced in 2013, this mid-sized first stage eventually replaced the 12 as the midrange standard. 15x: 772/598g.

    2019 brought the introduction of 2 new first stages that are the first real design departure since the MR22 was introduced 20 years earlier.

    82x - Current flagship. 5 LP ports on swivelling turret, DFC claimed on all ports. 964/790g.

    72x - 8(!) LP ports to handle any type of hose routing, DFC claimed on all ports. 882/708g.

    Attached Files:

  3. lowwall

    lowwall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    Part 3 (I'm going to add some images after work tomorrow)


    What sets Mares second stages apart is the Vortex Assisted Design feature. VAD is a tube that bypasses the main diaphragm chamber and dumps gas into the area just in front of the mouthpiece when you begin your inhalation. The Vortex part is because the airflow isn't aimed directly down your throat, instead it hits the opposite side of the case and then kind of spins around until you draw it in. This makes for a comfortable breathe and also creates a relatively low pressure area behind the diaphragm that helps keep the valve open during inhalation. This eases work of inhalation without the need for designing in Venturi effect assist or adding the complexity of a balanced valve. This keeps the parts count low, increasing reliability and ease of service, and reducing the tendency to freeflow which is a common side effect of Venturi effect assists.

    Amusingly old-fashioned Mares marketing video, VAD section starts at 1:04. Features Proton Metal.

    The resistance to freeflow is why Mares second stages have traditionally come without the adjustment levers that are required for high performance Venturi effect assist second stages and why they are very well suited for cold water diving, especially the metal bodied (and Carbon) seconds. Note that they will still freeflow if you fully dunk them diaphragm first when you enter the water, so keep them in your mouth or keep the mouthpiece down until you are under. If it does freeflow on entry, flip it over or put a finger over the mouthpiece and it will stop. Mares actually specs the cracking pressure of its octos a bit higher to lessen the tendency to freeflow. If you are willing to be careful about how you enter, you can have them tuned to primary specs. BTW, there are no physical differences between Mares octo and primary second stages of the same name except for this tuning spec and any cosmetic pieces.

    Top of the line - these have all-metal bodies except for the Carbon

    Abyss/Voltrex/Orbiter/Ruby - Mares' classic high performance reg. Its all-metal body and internals are unchanged since production began with the Voltrex in 1993, with the exception of some minor material and parts upgrades and in 2008, a port being added on the side to make it easier to access the internal lever height adjustment. The different named regs are identical except for the faceplate and which first stage they were initially packaged with. The Voltrex first came with an MR12, the Abyss with the MR22, the Orbiter with the V16, the Ruby with a V22. 269g
    Abyss family faceplates. The Turbo is missing, but is shown in the previous section.

    Proton Metal - Compact alternative to the Abyss that appeared in 2002 and lasted until 2011. The trade-off for the smaller size is a touch less ultimate durability and performance, but these are still very nice regs. Production run was much smaller than the Abyss so harder to find used. Cosmetic variants include the Proton Ice, Metal Tech Limited Edition, and Proton Metal She Dives. The Proton Ice Extreme was the same second stage except for a black coating that was packaged with a V32 with coldwater kit. 244g.
    Proton Metal top view, note VAD bypass tube and heat exchange fins.

    Carbon - Carbon composite version of Abyss in production since 2008. Light, strong and expensive. 197g.
    Carbon with 52 first stage.

    Fusion - After several years of stability in the second stage lineup, market pressures demanded a new second stage with external controls. The VAD design doesn’t really lend itself to conventional controls, so the engineers came up with the option to rotate the intake hose one step to decrease or increase airflow. They also threw in a purge button that can pivot up and down a bit. IMO, compared to the Abyss, these functions add weight and complexity for no actual benefits. In production since 2015. 327g.

    Epic Adj - The Fusion sold enough extra units that marketing came back and demanded a breathing adjustment knob. It doesn't do that much, but apparently it matters in the showroom. Introduced in 2018. 329g.

    Midrange - plastic bodied second stages

    Akros/Epos/XTR/XL/Ti Planet - Essentially the same reg with different cosmetics. Very good quality plastic bodied regs with metal inserts to offer some of the cold water and moisture retention advantages of metal-bodied seconds. Ti Planet was the same design, but inserts and front cover were titanium. Available from the '90s through 2004?. 235g (except Ti Planet 195g)

    Axis/Axis Pro - lower cost alternative to Akros/Epos without metal inserts. The Axis had a freeflow issue that was eventually solved with upgraded parts. Most were replaced for free by Mares, you can check if you have the upgrade by removing the LP hose, if the seat connector is green you have the upgrade. The original part was white. Name was changed to Axis Pro to indicate it came with the upgraded parts.

    Proton/Proton XL - Compact and light. Works well, but the plastic mesh purge cover has become fragile with time and replacements are difficult to obtain. The Proton and Proton XL are the same second stage, Proton was packaged with either the 12 or 16 first stage and XL with the 32. Produced 2002 through 2008. 176g.
    Proton Octopus

    Prestige - Midrange workhorse from 2008 through 2018. Most have no adjustments, but there were a couple of versions labeled DPD which have a switch that increases valve opening effort. 193g
    Prestige with 15x first stage.

    Instinct - Light and compact, single exhaust port, just acceptable performance. Brought in as a replacement for the Proton plastic and produced from 2012 through 2017. 151g

    Viper/MV - Reintroduced Dacor Viper. Looks like a Poseidon, performs like an Instinct, compact and works equally well whichever side is up. Available 2012 through 2018, mostly sold in the US as the MV Octopus with a yellow faceplate.
    MV primary version.

    Loop - Prestige quality (i.e., better than Instinct and MV), intake hose enters from bottom of second which may ease under the shoulder/sidemount/pony/stage routing or use as an octo. In production since 2017. 199g.
    Loop with 72x second.

    2019 saw major changes to the lineup of midrange second stages. The Prestige and MV were out and four new regs were in.

    • Dual - No special features. Essentially a replacement for the Prestige. 183g

    • Dual Adj - Dual with breathing adjustment knob. 185g

    • Ultra - Same features as Fusion except in plastic 190g.

    • Ultra Adj - Same features as Epic Adj except in plastic. 192g

    Nikos - early '00s
    Rover - late '00s through today. 200g


    Air Control - combined Octo/Inflator

    I was given the following information from a Mares service tech who did a quick review of this guide:

    I would also probably have included reference to the Italian Dacor from the start of this century.

    1st stages
    D20 – fairly unique, included swivel connection for primary 2nd stage hose at 1st stage body.
    D16 based on MR16
    D12 based on MR12
    D2 based on R2

    2nd stage
    Viper – unique, became MV Octo
    Eagle similar to Proton
    Trainer (not sure)
    Fury similar to Prestige

    Thanks for reading. Let me know of any errors and I’ll make the necessary updates.
  4. Zef

    Zef Divemaster

    This is awesome. Thanks for taking the time to write this up.

    One thing to add and one request:

    Add: To my understanding there was an early version of the 22 1st stage that had the high pressure seat machined into the body.

    Request: The abyss 2nd stage came with different covers. Could you possibly add info for the different cover designs, their names, and approximate years they were produced?

    A local shop owner mentioned to me he could not change my Turbo cover for the current cover without changing the diaphragm as well. He mentioned something about the height of the diaphragm was different between the versions...I figured he would have used this as an opportunity to sell me parts that were not needed but instead he just did not make the change, which leaves me questioning whether the info he gave me is good or if he was just lazy....his statement is not consistent with the info that all the covers are interchangeable.

    Thanks again for putting this together.

  5. Zef

    Zef Divemaster

    I found this but it does not include the "Turbo" cover for some reason:


  6. Zef

    Zef Divemaster

  7. JackD342

    JackD342 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Highland Park, IL
    I have found little if any documentation on the Turbo, but I do know the lever height adjustment is different from the other Abyss versions. So a different diaphragm would not surprise me.
  8. lowwall

    lowwall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    I don't have any direct information on this, but there's an interesting thread from 2006 where Greg Barlow, who had been the technical editor for Rodale's Scuba Diving magazine, says, "The [Abyss] first stage originally came with an orifice that was cast as an integral part of the block. Sure, you could damage it, but short of poking into its recess with something it is unlikely."

    I think he didn't know and couldn't be bothered to check.

    According to the 2001 Service Manual at Mares Dealer Service Manual 2001 - Page 38 of 117 (click the back arrow at the top to see the exploded drawing of the Abyss 2000 and the Orbiter and Ruby tables), the Abyss 2000 (aka Turbo Flow or TF), Ruby and Orbiter all have the same part numbers for the lever and its nut and washer, the diaphragm, and the ring clamp and its screws.
  9. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
  10. Zef

    Zef Divemaster


    Attached Files:

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