New Diver need advice on mid range gear, (diving mostly in California ,Mexico, South east Asia)

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Cutting tool. I use these trauma shears in a pouch on my waist belt.


BTW, Piranha is a great resource for random bits of scuba gear like spools, hoses, line. You can also call them if you aren't sure about something.
 
hello new diver, looking into buying midrange gear, maybe used and just get them serviced at a local dive shop(for the regs) found a couple good deals online, need advice on what to choose.
Frankly, as a new diver, I would avoid used regulators like the plague, regardless of the brand, having worked on equipment for years -- and having seen my fair share of regulators for sale, reduced to paperweights by outright neglect or from barely-there maintenance -- and there had even been a clumsy effort at concealing rodent damage to a pricey full face mask / regulator combo that I had serviced, a few years ago, and whose seller astonishingly asked if the hole could just be patched like a bicycle tire!

All said, after parts and replacement costs and service, that client had eventually been within only about 250.00 of a new FFM, minus the headaches and the typical eBay / Paypal circle-jerk.

Brass, as a rule, is a decent heatsink, though is notoriously soft as an alloy and easy to damage; and you won't know what you don't know, until you have it serviced. A couple of scratched sealing surfaces = a hefty paperweight, to go along with a tacky nautically-themed office, along with a poncy brass diving helmet and some kitschy, multicolored glass floats.

Even if some used deal looks great online and is nicely photographed (and who cannot produce one nowadays?), there's no telling what you have on hand. I had a friend, when I was in Mexico, who waxed and polished his Chevrolet truck (humorously pronounced "Chevroulette" down there) until you could see your reflection in it along with the blazing Baja sun -- washed it on a weekly basis, if not more frequently; always looked like it came new from a dealership; but he managed to trash the engine by never checking the oil -- no kidding -- all surface appearance and nothing under the hood.

There are a number of new mid-range regulators, nowadays, that won't break the bank or cost hundreds in maintenance (HOG, DGX, etc), after those inevitable used gear overhaul charges and the frequently cracked hoses that have to be replaced. I would also advise you to purchase brands that will eventually sell you their parts and service kits, should you ever desire to work on your own gear, down the line -- otherwise, it's just a manufacturer's con.

It's far more likely, for example, to get serial offers for Rick & Morty blotter acid during any five minute walk in San Francisco, than it is to legitimately obtain ScubaPro service kits.

I recently worked on a regulator for a friend, who, in horse-riding parlance, "rode it hard and put it away wet." It looked superficially OK, but all four hoses eventually required replacement and they're not cheap; some rubberized components in the second stages had to go; and it required two trips through an ultrasonic cleaner and action with an old electric toothbrush before work could even be begun -- there had been that much saltwater corrosion and verdigris. Surprisingly, aside from a slightly discolored sintered filter, you'd have little idea the extent of damage inside.

It was nearly 200.00 in hoses before any real servicing began; close to 100.00 for the internal 2nd stage components; and almost 100.00 in rebuild kits (the first stage and two seconds) which I sold to him at my cost. The servicing itself had been on my dime but could easily run over a hundred dollars, if not far more, at a local dive shop -- and they would have never put in the time that I did to get it back to specs, since servicing makes the least amount of money for the shops, for the time involved -- mostly, it's from those padded WTF classes and trips to Micronesia.

Save yourself the headache; don't buy someone else's problem, and buy new; the rodent bite to that full face mask component, alone, ran a cool US 250.00 . . .
 

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Looking over your calendar, my first thought is that your gear is going to be a small fraction of what you are spending on diving overall, so while you don't want to waste money, there's no need to fight for every dollar.

Which leads nicely to the regulator question. Of the two you mentioned, I'd go with the ScubaPro. But honestly, add an octo and the price is not that attractive, especially if it needs a service. So what would I recommend? Let's look at regs with features that will work for any kind of diving, even if you decide to get into really cold water at some point in the future.

If you don't mind mail order service then one of the following.


These are comparable regs, although IMO the Deep6 looks better and you have the advantage of being able to deal directly with the designer's company. The Deep 6 package is around $900 versus $550 for the DGX packages. But the Deep 6 does include a free first service versus $245 total for DGX (parts and labor for 3 stages). Deep 6 also includes free service kits for life with this reg, which will save you over a hundred bucks for each subsequent service. [Edit - see LandonL's response below]

If you want something that can be serviced anywhere in the world, the standard options are Aqualung/Apex (Aqualung currently owns Apex), Mares and ScubaPro.

Aqualung/Apex have financial issues that would cause me to stay away from their regs right now.

For Mares, their reg that is most comparable to the ones above (flagship environmentally sealed diaphragm with turret first stage and balanced adjustable seconds) is also conveniently available from DGX at $950 for either the single tank or streamlined package. This is covered by a worldwide warranty and can be serviced pretty much anywhere:


I'll leave ScubaPro to someone else. I'm personally not interested in new ScubaPro because I object to the company's anti-competitive dealer practices. This has nothing to do with the quality of their regulators which is top notch, but it results in prices that are much higher in the US than Europe, where these practices are prohibited by law.
DGX, HOG and Deep 6 also encourage DIY service - their regs are Apeks or IST clones(themselves based off Scubapro or Tabata/Tusa designs). Around here, I can get Scubapro serviced easily, followed by Aqualung and Mares - I have almost 20 year old Mares MR42T/Proton Metal/MV Octo. They breathe fine and I have people tell me they’re beautiful regs. Besides that, I also dive Tusa’s T-Wing BPW and Scubapro Seawing Novas. When I do travel, I’ll consider Go Sports or similar. I’ve been diving since August.
 

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