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Old masks - do we need to replace after a certain number of years?

Discussion in 'Fins, Masks and Snorkels' started by jclin10, Mar 24, 2019.

  1. jclin10

    jclin10 Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: NYC

    We have masks that are about 10 years old that we haven’t used in 10 years and we don’t anticipate using them for another 4-5 years. Do masks degrade and need to be replaced, or can they continue to be used? Will masks have changed much during that time that makes it worth upgrading?

    Thanks in advance
  2. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc Dry too long. ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Berkeley, CA
    I have an old mask that was protected from sunlight and worked fine. Fit is the big thing on masks. If it fits, you might keep, otherwise try again next time.

    ScubaPro Split Fin - are there better (particularly lighter weight) options?
    On fins, I'm not a split fin fan, but I think it was the Atomics that were good not the scubapros.

    Sell or store BCD
    On BCs,
    The bladder may be more subject to degrading. And they are big. Depends also on what you got. The steel plate and webbing of a BP/W are very durable. Some types of BCs have been moved on from to better options.

    On regs,
    Sell or store regulators
    I have two old scuba pro that I really like. It just depends on what you have. Hoses and o-rings get old, but good old regs are still prized. (ScubaPro 109, Balanced, G250, mk5, mk10, play highly on that list.)

    I answered all your questions as one because it depends. How big is the garage, how good was the gear, etc. You've given too little info to answer any more meaningfully. And even then it depends.
    Damselfish likes this.
  3. jonhall

    jonhall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Indianapolis
    Have had mine since 1998 with the same prescription lenses. It stayed in my closet for 7 years before I started diving regularly. My routine for caring for it is rinsing it after a dive with fresh water and tossing it in a gear bag until I get back to where I'm staying to hang it up to dry. At home I keep it in a plastic case. Have replaced the strap once. I just cleaned it (really cleaned it) for the first time ever after my last trip. Took the lenses out, cleaned the skirt and nose pocket, and it looks almost new. I would say that a mask will last for quite awhile.
  4. JackOfDiamonds

    JackOfDiamonds ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: The Holy Land
    As long as it works, does not matter.

    Might want to change the strap every year or so otherwise they can break
    Sam Miller III likes this.
  5. Eric Sedletzky

    Eric Sedletzky Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Santa Rosa, CA
    The old rubber skirted masks will degrade steadily over time and will eventually crack or begin to leave a black smudge on your face from the disintegrating rubber. I’ve heard of some people storing them in a ziplock bag or a container filled with argon. Others swear by rubbing them with talc and claim that will make rubber last.
    With the newer silicone masks they do not degrade. If the mask still works, has no abuse tears/damage, and fits ok and you like it then there is no reason to replace it.
  6. drschibi

    drschibi Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco
    I have had the same Tabata Tusa mask since 1987.... still works perfectly. Made of surgical silicone.
    Got it while studying to do research diving at Stanford. The head of the program convinced us to get the best mask we could find. At the time $70 seemed like a huge splurge. But 30 years later she was right and it was worth it. The window to diving.
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    These two British diving masks in my collection date from the 1960s, meaning they are both at least 50 years old:

    Typhoon Super Star


    Typhoon Blue Star

    In both cases the rubber body remains supple with no signs of perishing whatsoever. For a mask to stay as good as new, it must be made of good quality materials and stored away from extreme temperatures, direct sunlight and corrosive chemicals.
    AfterDark and Eric Sedletzky like this.
  8. Fish in a bag

    Fish in a bag Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Atlanta
    Really digging that Typhoon~! Use it much David?o_O
    David Wilson likes this.
  9. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    I've snorkelled with it, but sparingly. The sea hereabouts (North East England) can be choppy and over the years I've lost one or two other, expendable, classic ovals in the waves. The Super Star was a birthday gift from my parents, so it has sentimental value as well as offering full functionality and a perfect fit. The Blue Star was an eBay acquisition and from its condition and the presence of its original box I suspect it too has been lovingly conserved across several decades.:)
    Sam Miller III likes this.
  10. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!

    FYI Old masks

    How long will a mask remain functionable under the constant use, abuse of an occasional diver?

    Many years ago in an unpleasantness I sustained serious facial injury which resulted in 165 stiches and several corrective surgeries -- My face was rather sensitive for an extended period.

    I am currently using and have been using Swimaster Wide View, a company and a mask that ceased production about 40 years ago. When they ceased production I purcbsed six masks for what I though would be a life time supply. I wore one until it was no longer comfortable at about 30 years and have been using mask # 5 for about 10 years which I will never wear out

    However, my all time favorite mask and one that was custom made to my then youthful face was by the great late Charlie Sturgil and has with stood the test of time

    A rather old article from my dedicated column "The way it was" from the now defunct national magazine Discover Diving about making a dive mask in the genesis of diving, 70 years ago. It has been published several times on this board but do to its historical nature warrants reposting -- It was and is my all time favorite mask

    'The Mask,

    One of the great pioneer divers of all times was the late Charlie Sturgil. "The Old Walrus," as he was affectionately known, started his diving career in 1929 in the frigid waters off Northern California where he hunted for abalone by a method he described as "feeling for abalone." He would dive on a reef, feel until he found an abalone and pry it off, without the use of mask, fins, snorkel or thermal protection.

    Charlie began diving with a mask using a Japanese mask in the late 1930s which was loaned to him by his good friend Bill O'Conner. A few years later after the end of WW 11, Charlie, a master tool and die maker and an inventor of sorts, developed the necessary tooling to produce masks on a semi-custom basis for himself and a few close friends. I consider myself very fortunate to have been included in the latter category.

    In early years during the genesis of recreational diving the masks were either too large, too small, too stiff or after a few dives, would rapidly deteriorate into a gummy, sticky mess. This did not make for comfortable diving! After using a number of the masks of that era, the Japanese imports, and the American made Sea Net, I decided it was time to contact Charlie to ask him if he could make one of his custom masks for me.

    After checking my meager finances, found I could possibly afford one of Charlie's masks, so I gave him a call. "Sure, Sammy, I'd be happy to make a mask for you, come on over", Charlie replied to my request. Within moments I was off to the temple of Southern California diving, Charlie Sturgil's garage.

    I was met by this jovial hunk of a man with his infectious, ever-present smile. "Hey ya, Sammy" was always his cordial greeting. Alter a few moments of catching up on the diving scene it, was time to get to work. "Sammy, I'm now making two masks; the original for $6.00 and a new oval model for $8.00", Charlie explained. After considerable soul searching and penny counting, I opted for what I felt I could afford, the original round mask for $6.00.

    Now, Charlie's garage was something to behold. It appeared to be in total disarray, and the best way to describe it would be the day after a big sale in a bargain basement. Diving equipment in various stages of repairs, pieces of metal, lengths of stainless rods scattered about... Omnipresent was the huge metal turret lathe and miscellaneous metal working machines. But to Charlie, it was his arena, it was where he excelled in turning these seemingly scrap pieces of metal into custom spear points, spear shafts, yes, even masks.

    Charlie knew the location, size, shape and type of everything in his garage. His storage system was logical and certainly workable, but it still defies the imagination how he managed to find anything, let alone make anything, but he did.
    Charlie went to work with the speed and skill of a emergency room surgeon. He immediately uncovered a length of 5 inch O.D. soft rubber World War 11, surplus firehose, from which he cut a 4 inch piece. He placed the piece of rubber hose in the wooden mold and proceeded to his trusty bench grinder where he slowly cut a 1/8 inch wide, 3/32 deep groove all around the edge for the glass. This was followed by the rough contouring for the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip. He then went to his metal rack and withdrew a piece of 3/4 x 16 inch 22 gauge stainless steel, which he placed in his specially constructed mold and carefully, yet skillfully, forced the stainless steel around the mold forming it into a familiar round mask shape. His next step was to form the band evenly and smoothly around the mold creating the lip for the compression hand with light rapid laps of a hammer. Using silver solder, the welding process of the era, he soldered the tabs for the strap and the compression screw tabs to complete the band. A piece of pre-cut 1/3 inch glass, the same kind used for window glass, was taken from the shelf and fit into the groove; the compression band placed around the mask and the compression screw tightened.

    At last, the mask was assembled. My own custom Sturgil mask! Charlie proceeded to take some cursory measurements of my then youthful face, and returned to the grinding wheel, skillfully grinding a little here, a little there, another trial fit, a little more grinding. Finally, a perfect fit. A final hand finish with fine sandpaper, attaching of the strap, cut from a truck inner tube, and I was the proud possessor of a real genuine Charlie Sturgil Original Style Diving Mask.

    This occurred many years ago when diving as well as life was much simpler, a time when pride in workmanship and ownership were at a premium. Charlie made almost 40 of these one of a kind custom dive masks, however only three are known to have survived the rigors of our disposable society, mine, Alex Pierce's of Toronto, Canada and Charlie's widow's Laura's mask which now on loan and rests in a Southern California museum. And indeed they are museum pieces... the three remaining masks are all 70 or more years old and represent an era which was experienced by only a precious few which will never be experienced again upon this earth.

    Charlie has reverend position in the fraternity of diving pioneers; he won the world's second Spearfishing contest in 1950 with a pole spear of his own design , was a LA County Underwater Instructor and serendipity developed much of the spearfishing and SCUBA equipment which has become mainstream in todays diving.

    I will never forget Charlie, nor will anyone who ever knew him.... nor will there ever be another mask like a Sturgil Mask.
    Dr Samuel Miller,111
    (Copyright Dr. Samuel Miller,111 & Dr. Samuel Miller,IV and Lee/CCnews/TPR; may not be used with out permission of author and Lee/CCnews)

    post script;

    Charlie passed on November 15 1984, 35 years ago- long before many of you were born or were engaged in this noble activity. His devoted wife Laura passed on a few years ago at the age of 90. If Charlie knew you and liked you he always addressed you in the familiar; Ie Sammy, Bobbie, Jimmie,--Those he didn't have great admiration or didn't know well it was formal Sam, Bob or Jim. I was refreed to as Sammy

    A little about Charlie Sturgil...
    Charlie along with team mates the late Bud Abernathy and Freddie Kittles of the SoCal Skin Divers team won the 1951 International Spearfishing meet. Bud and Freddie used a Sturgil modified Champion Arbalete spear guns with Sturgil points. Charlie used his trusty legendary pole spear. Charlie Sturgil was the only person in the history of spearfishing competition to win an international meet with a pole spear.

    The Fathomiers spearfishing club has been presenting the "Charlie Sturgil Pole Spear Spearfishing meet" for about 35 years...It came full circle when Charlie's grand daughter, Laura Lee Gonta won the meet several years ago using one of grandfather Charlie's legendary pole spears.

    His daughter Laura Lee was married to Billy Meistral, one of the twin brothers who founded "Dive n Surf" and the very successful "Body glove." Billy also passed on several years ago. Brother Bobbie passed away about 5 years ago
    So now you know...

    I still have my "Custom Sturgil Mask" tucked away in a 50 Caliber US Ammo box, along with my home made snorkel constructed from a WW11 gas mask hose and a short piece of plastic aquarium tubing.

    In the genesis of recreational diving we improvised, invented or if an item costs over a dollar we made one in our garage workshop- or were fortunate to have a talented friend like Charlie

    ~~~only three Surgil dive masks have survived these many years... Mine, Charlies Widow Laura's which is in a museum and Harry Vetter's which is currently owned by Alex Peirce and is featured on his blog about masks

    A story of my first custom dive mask--A Sturgil --- many years ago when life was simpler- and divers were few in

    Sam Miller, 111

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