I have adjusted the Venturi nozzle according to the above instruction sheet by Tony, and I think I have my Pilot ready for the open water now. It breathes really great, and I think this is the best regulator second stage ever developed! I am really looking forward to getting it into the water now. Here is what the Venturi orifice looks like:
JB, I have been diving the A.I.R. I regulator, which came out just after the Pilot, for decades, and the exhaust tee is not an issue while diving. Like any single hose regulator, the bubble noise is greater as it goes by the ears, but other than that, I have not had a problem. What I did notice, and this applies to all the Scubapro regulators with this design, is that in a current they are very streamlined and easy to keep in my mouth. The current sets the regulator right on my chin, and doesn't pull on the mouthpiece like other regulator designs.
John C. Ratliff Diving since 1959, at age 13. Haven't stopped, and still enjoy getting wet.
I think this is the best regulator second stage ever developed! John
Love my SP Pilot. Special Shout out and thanks to Tony. Just last summer both myself and a friend were diving our Pilots together in an Ohio quarry. Looking forward to a Three-peat this year as another Pilot diver will hopefully be joining us. Long Live the Pilot, the best second stage ever!
DA Aquamaster with Phoenix valve Pico Blvd. DW Stream Air Nemrod Snark III Silver Healthways Scubair J
Great post Tony. I spoke to Tony about the Pilot regulator about six years ago in the process of writing a book. He asked me to post what I wrote in a separate thread. You can read it here: vintagescuba.proboards.com/post/43150/thread
I just got out of the pool this morning after trying out my newly-adjusted Scubapro Pilot/Mk VII combo, and it not only breathed superbly, but also without any of the annoying "popping" that I had before. I have three Mk VII first stages, and this one was a friends (Lynn Herbert) that he gave me; I understand from talking to Paul Schoresman at the Northwest Diving History Meeting yesterday that this first stage (first generation) was not originally mated to the Pilot, but that's okay, as I simply wanted a test platform for the second stage. WOW! What a nice-breathing regulator.
In our meeting yesterday, another pioneer diver, Brent Budden, said that he nearly died while using a Pilot, but from a very unusual circumstance. He was making a professional dive in a cow pond to unplug a large pipe, and a large discharge from the pipe hit the Pilot just perfectly to lift up the diaphragm, and deposite a bunch of "stuff" (including pieces of hay) into the regulator. He tried to inhale, and only got cow $#%&* and "stuff." But he was only in about twenty feet of water, and made his way to the surface. He said he told himself,
"Now, don't panic, you're only twenty feet away from air. Just swim over there and surface." And that's what he did. He did like his Pilot regulator.
This would have happened with the A.I.R. I too, as they have the same basic design. Moral of the story, don't try diving a Pilot in a pipe containing...(well, maybe don't dive there at all).
Paul's brother, Keith, whom I worked with at Etec Systems, Inc., used to be a Pilot regulator technician, and he loved that regulator. He could tune it to a very high efficiency, apparently.
Now, I really like my Pilot, and will be using it in open water later this spring.
Here's some proof (though not very good photos) of my getting the Pilot into the water Sunday.
This was my first attempt. After seeing that the photo wasn't what I wanted, I tried again.
Here we go, with the pilot and my Sea Turtle-Dolphin Swimming Technique. Because I plan to work pretty hard in river currents, I will be using my Pilot more often this summer.
I also found out that the Tualatin Hills Aquatics Center is no longer hosting a scuba time with the kayaks. As they explained it, they have no protocol for the lifeguards for rescue and recovery of a diver. They allowed me in to "test" my Pilot (and the Sportsways Sport Diver) regulators, but I briefed them on my equipment (which is much different than today's divers) and how to rescue me if the need arises, including showing them how to use the double D-ring quick release (on the cross-chest strap, and shoulder straps) and the Para-Sea BC hip attachments (pushbuttons). I also had a CO2 inflator in my Para-Sea BC, and showed them how to inflate it (apparently, these CO2 inflators are no longer used, even on snorkeling vests; we bought one for my wife, and it has no CO2 inflation capability).
John, now that I see how the regulator is positioned, under he chin, I see now why a larger exhaust-tee wasn't made...
I have dived extensively for decades with the A.I.R. I, the successor of the Pilot, and now have a few dives with the Pilot. The regulator shape is really hydrodynamic, in that it sits on my chin, and won't move, even in very high current situations. I've been in Steamboat Creek, up on the upper regions of the North Umpqua River, in a deep hole, and come up to where the current comes into the hole. I could put my head right into the current, and the regulator would not move at all. The same goes for the Pilot. It is the best single hose design for current I have seen. I was looking at trout in the current, and was able to watch them easily and simply stay there, observing. Any other regulator would have tried to be pulled out of my mouth. Here's a photo of my A.I.R. I:
I used my A.I.R. I on the Winchester Dam Project, where we were documenting the loss of salmon to the dam's low-head hydro turbines. I was able to stick my mead into the current there, and watch the fish going into the turbines outflow.
This is a fish I pulled out of the turbine area, which had been inside the fish screens (which the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife had demanded be put into the project). Because of this kill, which happened a year after the fish screens were in place, ODFW shut down the project.
Here's a salmon I was observing in the current.
These were the professional divers who were helping place the fish screens.
The Pilot/A.I.R. I design works wonderfully in the current. Also, it appears to me that the Pilot is a drier regulator than the A.I.R. I, which has a tendency to retain a small amount of water and to, in an extreme head-down position, push that water/air combo up into the divers throat. In my trial Sunday, the Pilot did not seem to do that, and the A.I.R. I defiantly does do that.
Date: May 31, 2019 Dive Site: High Rocks on the Clackamas River Time: 1:33 PM to 2:00 PM Equipment: —Full wetsuit, hood, boots and gloves, and with weight belt and Para-Sea BC. —Knife —TUSA HyperDry Mask with SeawiscopeEY —Float—new (to me) inner tube float with a nylon outer shell. —Scoop Fins —Watch —Scuba: single 72 with Para-Sea BC four-way harness; Scubapro Pilot regulator with AIR-1 safe second, on my Mk 5 first stage. Scubapro analog depth and pressure gauge.
Dive Plan: I planned to dive the site for the first time this year, using my newly overhauled Pilot regulator and my AIR-1, normally my primary regulator, as my safe second. I also used my float for the first time, transferring the line from my old float to the new one. I briefed the lifeguards on my plan too, to enter slightly above the High Rocks area, and then to drift through. I didn’t have a lot of time, as I needed to pick up my wife, Chris at OHSU at about 3:00 PM.
The Dive: The dive started a bit unusually, as four guys with beer were at my entry, and one of the other lifeguards came over the get my briefing. One of the guys with the beer told me to stay away from a dead, bloated deer slightly upstream, and I assured him that I was headed downstream.
I pitched the float out, finished gearing up with fins, mask and gloves, bent down and pushed off over the rocks in shallow water, then sank slowly into the river current. The current is upstream around an island, and soon I had swam through that current into the downstream current, and drifted downstream. I was a bit closer to the main current than before, as I did not go under the main rapids that I usually take as my pathway.
The Pilot regulator was breathing very nicely, without any chatter at all (unlike last summer when I had used it without knowing how to service it). The only problem was that the hose was too short, so it slightly pulled on my mouth when I looked left. I had the Pilot on the top first stage mount, rather than on the sides (I re-mounted it when I got home).
I got turned around just a bit, and thought I was on one side of the river when I in fact was on the other side. This is easy to do when the current is high and the way to deal with it is to surface and get re-oriented, which I did. I had added a bit of air to my Para-Sea BCD, and dumped it as I surfaced.
I descended again, and almost immediately found a very interesting bit of fishing gear, which I pulled off the bottom and the line broke, so I didn’t even need to get my knife out. I put it into my large BC pocket, then continued downstream. The float was pulling a bit more heavily than I had experienced with my old one, so staying in one spot was difficult. Then I spotted another lure, and it was a Rooster Tail spinner. I grabbed it, and put it into my pocket too. Then there was a golf ball, which a pocketed, and a minute later an iPhono was found on the bottom. I again opened my BC pocket, and I had a good collection going. As I drifted downstream, I saw a lamprey, and turned to pursue it. At that moment, my Para-Sea BC pocked opened (it was held in place by 30+ year old Velcro, and spilled my bootie onto the river bottom. I was in a main current, and so tried very hard for several minutes to get back to that spot, which was only 3 feet away initially. But with my new float dragging me backwards, I found it impossible to swim against the current, so I moved slightly to the side and grabbed the bottom. I tried my mountaineering techniques hand-over-hand to get back to the stuff on the bottom, but there were no good handholds on solid rock, and ever rocks as big as a basketball could not hold me in the current. I was breathing pretty hard by this time, and really putting that Pilot regulator through its paces. The Pilot performed extremely well in the current and under this exertion, but I still could to gain distance upstream toward my bootie, and finally gave it up.
I continued downstream to my exit point, surfaced and saw I was going under a guy with a fishing pole, and so pulled in my float, wrapping the line around its plastic line holder, and submerged again to get to my spot. It took me a while to get out of my fins (my fins were the Mares Avanti modified to the scoop fin design), as the Mares design is not conducive to doffing the fins. I talked with two fishermen, and found that I still had the Rooster Tail lure, as it had imbedded itself into the Velcro. I drew my dive knife out of its calf sheath, and quickly removed it to present it to the fisherman and his elderly father, who was also there, with his wife looking on from above. I took my time getting out of the river, as the rocks were slippery. I rolled over onto my hands and knees and crawled out on all fours, as that is the most practical and safe means of exit on really slippery rocks. Once finally onto the dry rock, I could stand up and talk with the fishermen. I found they were from Colorado, and the younger was thinking about diving.
I had to get going, at climb out of the river, up the bank onto the trail and up to my car. As I got to the trail, there was a woman and about a six-year old boy up there, and she said to me that they had been watching me. I told them that this climb was part of my workout. I then leaned over, presented the Pilot second stage to the boy, and said he could push the small, round button in the center, which he did. The resulting rush of air startled him, and he pulled back. I laughed, and said that this was the air I was breathing underwater. His Mom appreciated the lesson I had given.
I did got back to my wife, but it was a bit later than I had hoped because of traffic.
Special Problems and Ideas: --I need to move the place where the line is attached to the float from the bottom of the float to the side. The bottom really increased the water resistance, I think. --I need to re-route the hoses on my regulator, which has already been done. --I should have surfaced with my bootie, and put it into my float. --My car key is inside the float, in a waterproof container, and that worked well. --The mask/SeawiscopeEY worked well, but had some reflections (this is a clear silicone mask, and I like my black TUSA mask better. I used the SeawiscopeEY a couple of times on the bottom rocks and sponge, and it worked well.
John C. Ratliff Diving since 1959, at age 13. Haven't stopped, and still enjoy getting wet.
I need to add that, after thinking about Friday's dive, the Scubapro Pilot was a completely dry-breathing regulator. My A.I.R. 1 is not! The A.I.R. 1 retains a bit of water in the regulator, and when inverted breathing becomes very wet, with a mist coming out into my mouth and throat. I did not experience this at all with the Pilot regulator.
I had my A.I.R. ! second stage on this regulator for this dive, but did not switch because I was contending with high current and a new float. I was going to do a direct comparison, but "forgot." I was too busy trying to get back to my dropped bootie and putting the Pilot through its paces than to remember to get to the A.I.R. 1, as it was only for backup in case something went wrong with the Pilot, which didn't happen.
John C. Ratliff Diving since 1959, at age 13. Haven't stopped, and still enjoy getting wet.
Last Wednesday I was again out in the river, diving my Pilot regulator.
Date: May 31, 2019 Dive Site: High Rocks on the Clackamas River Time: 1:33 PM to 2:00 PM Equipment: —Full wetsuit, hood, boots and gloves, and with weight belt and Para-Sea BC. —Knife —TUSA black silicone Mask with SeawiscopeEY —Float— inner tube float with a nylon outer shell. —Force Fins and Hammwehead Unit (2nd generation) —Watch —Scuba: single 72 with Para-Sea BC four-way harness; Scubapro Pilot regulator with AIR-1 safe second, on my Mk 5 first stage. Scubapro analog depth and pressure gauge.
Dive Plan: I planned to dive the site with my newly routed Pilot regulator and my AIR-1, normally my primary regulator, as my safe second. I again used my float, this time with the line attached to the side, not the bottom, of the float. The lifeguards were just setting up when I entered the water.
The Dive: This entry was easier that the last one, as I was using Force Fins this time, and they are much easier to put on that regular fins. I pushed the float out into the current, taking care that it went in the current and nit behind a downstream rock, then squatted down in the water, leaned forward and pushed off gently into deeper water. I entered with the current, which was again traveling upstream, got down to the bottom, letting out a bit more float line, then found a large boulder to get behind and pulled the SeawiscopeEY down onto my mask for close-up viewing. The freshwater sponge was in good shape, with some tunnels in the spong tissue, probably part of their excurrent system. There were several snails there too. I watched for a moment, then flipped the SeawiscopeEY up out of my vision and started swimming.
Just a bit downstream on the far bank I found a golf ball and a couple of fishing weights. A salmon smolt flash in front of me, and as the current pulled me toward the rapids. I found my reference log, still there but seeming to be a few feet further downstream than last year. Then I ducked under the rapids, and instead of crossing under them allowed the current to carry me dowdstream. I settled into the deeper water, then looked at my depth gauge--22 feet deep. My float line was taunt, and almost directly overhead, so I let out more line. The float wasn't yanking me in the current like it did on my last dive, probably because it wasn't attached on the bottom, but on the side and seemed to be simply skipping around in the current rather than acting like a sea anchor.
I was using my Hammerhead Unit for Underwater swimming, and used the Force Fins mostly with a "whip kick" or modified dolphin kick, which is very efficient in current. At one point I found that a blade had turned (these were actually kayak paddles being used as wing blades). I stopped, twisted it back where it was supposed to be, and resumed swimming.
I diceded in this deeper water to try my Pilot regulator against my AIR-1 regulator, and so spit out the Pilot's mouthpiece, and replaced it with the AIR-1 second stage. I bought my AIR-1 new in the 1980s, and have been using it ever since. As usual, it breathed very easily, but not quite as well as the Pilot second stage I had been using until that moment. I had moved the slide from "Pre-Dive" to the "Dive" position, which on both regulators makes them better breathing, but it did not quite match the Pilot, with its pilot valve. The interesting observation here is that the Pilot was actually destined, per the instripuction sheet, so that the Venturi would not allow a freeflow, so I could get somewhat better performance from my Pilot I'd I wished. The AIR-1 doesn't have a different setting for the Venturi.
As I drifted downstream, I noted a large lamprey on the bottom, turned into the current, and dub into the rocks for a handhold to remain in place. This one was not too active, and had apparently already spawned as it's eyes were milky and it was on its last swims.
Further downstream, I stopped to pick up a piece of lead fishing weight. Then I noticed another, then another in the same spot. Some fisherman, probably in a boat, had lost six lead weights, shiny new, in the same place, probably dropped over the side. I gathered in all of them. By now I sensed that I was on the far side of the river from my takeout point, so I angled against the current, swimming at about a 45 degree angle, to swim laterally to the other side of the Clackamas River. I found the boulders on my takeout side indicating the river bank, and stopped to look at the derbies pile. In it were a couple of dead lampreys, and the exoskeleton of a couple of crawdads. I then drifted further downstream, and stopp to examine a crevice into which I had seen a sculpin vanished. As I watched, the sculpin's outline came into view, as did a crawdad, which came out to examine me. Actually, it was more interested in exploring my glove, first with an antenna, then a claw. I put my SeawiscopeEY into position for close examination, and noticed the multitude of worms on its claws and carapace. These white worms looked like elongated water droplets, with their think hind end attached to the crawdad's shell and their small "head" sticking out into the water to find food. There were over 30 on each claw, all reaching out independently, axamining both the water and my glove. Some were reaching out from the crawdad to examined people the bottom, or the edges of the rock too. It was quite fascinating to watch.
I released my handhole, and swam downstream to my exit point. I threw my Hammerhead Unit up on the rock, and turned over after finding a rock to sit on. This time getting out of my Force Fins was much easier than struggling out of my Mares Scoop Fins. I crawled up on the rocks, and once on dry rock stood up. After reeling in my float, I found that my gloves, Force Fins and mask could fit inside, making the hike out much easier.
My initial cylinder pressure reading was 2000 psig, and my final 500 psig, for about a thirty-five minute dive in fast water.
Version 2 by John Ratliff, on Flickr Here is a photo from last summer's diving in the Clackamas River of one of our crawdads, sans the little worms I discussed. I have a photo somewhere of them on the claws, but cannot currently find it.
IMG_2709 by John Ratliff, on Flickr The plentiful freshwater sponge on the rocks at High Rocks (2018 photo).