Tis the season...
Every spring, like clockwork, our customers dig through their dive bags, garages, boat lockers and closets trying to piece together their arsenal for the upcoming summer months. Their gear was usually put away hastily after their last trip. A little bit of salt water still saturating all the tiny little crevices and threaded connections and the power bands left exposed to air for the past 6 months. And in their scramble to pack for their first trip of the season they often overlook some key preventative maintenance that can be the difference between a successful first trip and gear failure. So in this article I am going to discuss the problems we see the most and the best ways to overcome them.
Preparing for the next trip begins at the end of the last trip
This means you should disassemble your gear, rinse it, then put it away dry. Especially if it's going to sit for extended periods.
I know this sounds obvious. But let me explain we we think this is such an important step. Every year, starting in April, we have customers come in with broken injector rods and dry rotted power bands. The rods are broken off at the base of the threads. Upon examination, each and every one of these spears has a solid ball of rust down in the spear. It looks like the injector rod just rusted in half. Well, in a way it did. Now I am going to get Nerdy. 17-4 PH Stainless Steel is an aerospace grade material that exhibits superior strength and hardness as well as good corrosion resistance. This makes it ideal for spear shafts and tips. But 17-4 PH Can be susceptible to "stress corrosion cracking" in sea water. This is not a big deal for everyday use. But if seawater is left trapped for 6 months in the area at the base of your injector rod, the base of the injector rod can begin to exhibit stress corrosion cracks. Then, when you go to use your spear again the following year the injector rod snaps in half down in the threaded base. (we have not noticed a marked improvement with the use of TefGel either)We get a handful of these every spring and believe it or not, we see this happen more in predators than in nomads. We believe this is due to the fact that people generally remove the injectors from the nomads, but they never remove it from the predator because the rear section is already so much longer. As a result, more predator spears are left to corrode. The bottom line is, at the end of a trip, take your spears apart and wash them with fresh water and let them dry.
This injector doesn't look bad from the outside....
But inside it is now very rusty due to lack of simple maintenance. This is where it will fail.
As for the bands, they are fairly easy to put away for the season. Latex rubber has a few main enemies. Heat, UV exposure and Ozone. Keep the bands out of the sun and, ideally, in the dark, when they aren't being used. Also, don't leave your roller bands stretched out, let them relax when being stored. As for ozone, there is some in the air at all times, but certain electronics like motors and circuit boards can also generate small amounts of ozone. So its best to store your bands away from refridgerators, electric motors, and other electronics. Keeping your bands inside the air conditioning will help them last until the next season, but even under the best of circumstances your bands will last a year max. After that they might look ok but they will have less power and could break. We recommend getting a new band every year and keeping the old one as a spare.
Garage-kept bands will deteriorate faster than bands kept in a closet in your house. These bands will probably fail the first time they are loaded.
What to Check on your Spear Before a Trip
Generally there are only a few things to look over on your spear. Check these before your trip so that you have time to get your spear rigged properly. 9 times out of 10 these items need to be address after the spears have sat in the garage for a while. We promise this will make a big difference. A list of replacement and maintenance parts can be found here.
- Tip System: Check that your tips are sharp and that your cable or spectra is in good shape. Make sure your crimps are not corroded. Replacing your cable is a cheap and fast way to freshen up your gear. Also check your tip retaining band. We recommend freshening that up at the beginning of every trip too.
- Injector rod. Take the injector rod out of the front of your spear BEFORE your trip. Check for excessive rust. If you find rust, clean it off and make sure your injector threads are not compromised. Dap some tef gel or other anti seize grease on the threads and reattach the injector rod to the spear.
- Assemble your spear and check for damage at the connections.
- Check your power band. Does the rubber still feel a little tacky? Or is it very dry? Are there lots of cracks visible if you stretch the band? If your powerband feels dry and exhibits lots of cracks, its definitely time to replace it. However, if the rubber still feels "rubbery" to the touch and there are no cracks, or maybe just a few cracks around the knots, then it is likely good to go. However, we always suggest that you put a fresh band on at the begging of of each season or before an epic trip. This will make your spear shoot at its best. And you can keep your old band as a backup.
- On roller spears, always check your bearings and make sure they are turning smoothly.
This spear needs some love. The crimps have enough corrosion to be concerning. And the band is so dry rotten that it is crumbling. All this can be replaced for about $10.
General Polespear Maintenance Throughout the Season
After a day of diving, here are a few basic steps you can take to keep your gear in good shape.
- Check your cable and/or spectra for kinks or freys. Replace it if necessary.
- Sharpen any tips that are dull.
- Look over the power band for any cuts or other damage.
- Rinse the entire spear with fresh water.
- Check the tip retaining band and replace as necessary.
Additional Maintenance for Roller Spears
Roller spears like their maintenance a little more than a standard polespear does. Here are a few pointers:
- Loosen the band after you use the spear. Latex does not like to be left in the stretched position and a roller spear always has the band slightly stretched, even when it is just sitting in a gear bag. So after you dive, loosen that band up. This will ensure a long and healthy life for your band.
- Our roller bearings are Water Lubricated. This means salt water gets into the bearing, which is totally normal. But over time salt water can keep drying and larger and larger salt crystal can form. These will cause damage do to both mechanical pressure as well as potential corrosion. so when you give your gear a rinse, make sure you blast some nice clean fresh water into the bearing.
We have tried to make it as simple as possible to maintain your Headhunter equipment. You can find replacement parts here.
Do you think you need to get your spear serviced? Send us an email with some photos of what you think is wrong and we will walk you through any simple repairs or have you send the spear back to us for more in depth repairs. You can also swing by our factory in Fort Lauderdale(Oakland Park), Florida.