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WEIGHT OFF YOUR BACK
Weightbelts are wonderful, weightbelts are fine, but think of the wear that they cause to your spine. If you carry loads of lead on your belt, wouldn't it be kinder to your lower lumbar areas already straining under the weight of twin 12s if some of that concentrated weight could be moved elsewhere?
If your BC has a hard plastic backpack, one solution is to remove it and blank off any water drain holes at the top with duct tape. If there are two drain holes at the bottom, cover one with duct tape, but leave open if there is only one.
Mix about half a litre of two-part epoxy resin, as found in car or boat repair shops, then test some of it on a strong part of your backpack to make sure it is compatible.
Use a funnel to pour the resin into the backpack then, with your thumb over the hole, shake it to coat all the inner surfaces. Reinsert the funnel quickly and pour in as much lead shot as you want weight off your weightbelt - as much as 3kg. With your thumb back over the hole, give the backpack another good shake.
Reapply some duct tape to the hole and lay the backpack flat while the resin hardens. This will spread the weight evenly but you can move it to where it is most comfortable for you by standing the backpack upright or inverted while the resin sets.
Don't forget to peel any duct tape from the drain holes, and refit the backpack to your BC. Lumbar liberation!
 

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That's quite a good idea. Would mixing the lead in with the resin first before pouring produce a more even mix and covering of the lead with the resin?
cheers taz.
 

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Another top tip - if you dont want to shell out on expensive ankle wieghts for your drysuit, acquire some heavy duty bicycle inner tube, 1 tube of rubber cement and some fastext rucksack buckles (approx 1.99 for a pair)and some lead shot, cut tubing to size of ankles whilst wearing suit with about 6 inches spare for adjustment, cement 3 inches into the tubing and leave it to set, fill with shot to required wieght and then cement the rest fully (approx 6 inches) Next thread through a fastext buckle (not the pull/adjust side) on the smaller end that you first sealed,  cement and apply more binding for strength around it and bond with more cement, next thread the adjustable part of the buckle on to the other end and hey presto .. cheap and effective ankle weights at a fraction of the cost !!!

same time next week to find out how to build your own submarine !!!
 

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Another way of getting weight off your belt and onto your back:

(a) Buy a steel backplate - that's a good few pounds to start with.

(b) Make a P-weight with it.

I only mention it because it's what I dedicated this Sunday to


It was quite therapeutic, watching one of my hated block weights slowly melt away, leaving a nice bright silvery liquid in the bottom of the saucepan.

Then you just pour your molten lead into the central groove in the backplate, which of course you've bunged the ends up on first - Play-do works fine. The lead sets pretty fast, and lo and behold, you've got a lead weight which fits perfectly into your backplate.

I've now got a five-pound backplate and a four-pound lead weight to fit into it. That's not far off half of my weight removed from my waist. (I'm hoping it'll be even better when my new drysuit arrives) And the other benefit is, the lead in the P-weight is about what I usually leave behind when I go into fresh water rather than salt. So come my next trip to Stoney, I just remove the P-weight, and leave everything else the same.

A handy link if anyone's interested:

http://www.cisatlantic.com/trimix/vweight/pweight.htm

When I finally get around to updating my web page, I'll put the photos of me melting lead on it, but that probably won't be for a while...

A final word of warning - don't try this with the plastic Buddy plate. Even Buddys aren't THAT bulletproof ;)
 

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I agree fully on the weightbelt comments. I don't have one now as there was too much pain after every dive when using one. I use the old scubapro jetfins which weigh 5 pounds and I use different combos of v weights, weight on the backplate and sometimes weights in my drysuit pockets (chicks seem to have floaty legs) to hold them down. Ankle weights are evil and affect trim. I have now managed to "train" myself to use the same amount of weight in fresh and salt water wa-hey!
 

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Do you ever de-kit in the water?

I still keep my two 8lb weights in pockets on the harness, to keep them easily-removable. Trying to hand up my full rig plus an extra 20-odd pounds of lead would be far more effort than it's worth.

Only an issue if you dive off RIBs tho, really.
 

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Dom, I used to have to kit up and de-kit in the water because I such bad spinal pain..literally the minute I got out of the water I would be at the edge desperately trying to get the weight belt off - I could even feel pain under the water as it pushed my lower vertebrae down whilst horizontal. I was told never to dive again by a doctor a while back who said the weight belt would cause hidden damage over the years - this applies to many people as low back pain creeps up. The only option for me to be able to keep diving was to step back and completely rethink the rig. I have Halcyon weight pockets (never used) if you fancy trying them out then let me know. It's a pretty good system but I've never had to use it as I worked out my own system. The standard image of a British diver putting on a heavy weight belt is very outdated, but a lot of people think they have to accept that and can't reconfigure weight.
 

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I must say that I have suffered EXACTLY the same problem on all my cold-water dives thus far (agonising lower back pain).  Towards the end of dives even as short as 35 mins, my weight belt feels as though it going to push my lower spine (just above butt level) through into my stomach.  I sometimes have to go "foetal" for a few seconds to relieve the pain!
This has been somewhat allieviated by a recent purchase of a hydrotech weight harness that distributes and softens the localised pain considerably.
That said, I am still looking forward to purchasing a wing and having all (or most) of the weight further up as this will no doubt help.  Additionally, you can use pockets around the waist band too (pleasantly adjustable).  

On this last point, that being one of backplates, wings and comfort, are bare stainless plates really that comfortable?  I only ask because sooo many of you recommend them so highly & clearly they are the way to go in terms of both both "future-proofing" your diving purchases (ie modularity - if that's a word!) and in terms of trim / control etc esp. when using twins.
Its just that some manufactures produce them with padding options (eg Dive-rite), so why is this so?
Also, can you use a plate in conjunction with a weight harness given the harness's greater height than a conventional belt?

Help, as always, appreciated.

take care
Ralphy
 

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Ralphy, make the weight distribution your number one priority in choosing what equipment is right for you.
The onset of low back pain when diving can also insidiously creep up in real life on land and lead to mechanical low back pain - this is where the muscles can't support the spine properly and it affects how long you can stand up, sit down etc without pain. When you describe going into the foetal position, this is commonly known as part of "flexion and extension" both instinctive relieving postures which help with low back pain.
Please do continue to email me privately with these questions and I will help as much as I can - I have mucho experience in matters of weight/back pain etc.
Your aim in choosing/configuring your gear should be to completely eliminate the weight belt but still have ditchable weight to enable descent and in the case that you need to get yourself outta there.
 

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You know, when people complain about lead pressing into their lower back, I do wonder why they don't just move all the lead to the sides and leave their back clear, like I did...

As far as steel plates go - yes, they really ARE that comfy. I often cart my wing around, fully set up (twinset, wing and regs) with only a t-shirt between me and the plate. And it's comfier than my stab ever was.

Why do they sell padding? Same reason they make lots of pointless gadgets for divers - there's always someone who'll buy it. They don't make it because you need it, they make it because they can sell it.

You can indeed use a weight harness with a wing if you so wish. I decided not to, as I didn't want the hassle of two harnesses at the same time. My weight pockets will therefore be threaded onto the wing's waist strap. Other than the P-weight, that is
 

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I've got a weights integrated Wing (Zeagle) which I've had for about 8 years. When I'm abroad I use the weights integrated because it's easier and because we're talking maybe 2 or 4 kilos with a thin wetsuit rather than 10 with a drysuit.
The one downside I've had in this country (and why I still use my 10kg shot belt) is the sheer amount of lead you have to carry, and when you're diving off a Rib, you may not be knackering your back when you're diving, but the guy/lass who is trying to pull in your BC will certainly not like you for having to get that lump out of the water!!
 

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The plate is quite comfy (can't feel much difference between ali and steel), I do the same as Dom and carry the twinset up and down 4 flights of stairs to the house with just a top between the plate, wing etc. Same at dive sites.
The simple answer as to why I can't have weight anywhere on my waist is that my pelvis was shunted out of position and I cracked a load of ribs after a bike accident. The ribs have never set properly and my pelvis will never be the same again and it winds me to carry weight anywhere on my waist.
Perhaps other people can carry blocks on their sides/back/front with no problems, but I can't. I find it easier to accept my own personal limitations and work around them than to make them into an issue and cause further damage and unnecessary pain.
Safe bubble blowing.
 

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That's cool. I wished I could have my weight in my BC, but I always found it awkward kitting up and dekitting.

As always in life, each to their own!!

Mark.
 

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Coming from a hill-walking/parachuting background, I am used to having all the weight in one streamlined blob on my back.  I have always hated weight belts for that reason.  When it came to buying weights, I thought "sod it", and made a saddle weight for the cylinder.  Kitting/de-kitting is easy and much quicker - get into the wing like a heavy rucksuck (e.g. on the ground) or get a strong buddy.  Balance and positioning at surface and during dive is much better.  And I agree; melting lead is so cool!  Bizarre watching stones and impurities floating on the molten lead.

A word of warning;  I thought I'd make some slugs, so poured some left-overs into an air brick.  The sand at the bottom must have been damp and the steam produced made it explode in my face, which was quite exiting for a while.  Fortunately, I was aware of the toxic fumes problem, and although outside, I was wearing an army respirator ("gas mask").  This got a lovely silvering on the front!  There are still a few marks on the two plastic eyepieces, but no real damage to the respirator.  Not quite so funny if I hadn't been wearing it, and two pairs of gauntlets...  But worth doing anyway! "If you gotta be dumb, you gotta be tough" etc...

Hope this is of some use - full weight system for £5.  Can't be bad.

John
"Forget DIR - DIY!"
 

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It may not be ideal with a backplate, but with an ordinary wings BC (e.g. DiveRiteTranspac II), Hydrotech's weight harness is perfect, in my opinion. I bought the Travel version, which takes ordinary block weights or shot pouches, as I want to be able to use it on trips abroad. It's extremely comfortable – you hardly know you are carrying lead – and you can't lose it unintentionally and rocket to the surface. The only thing is that it's important to tell your buddy how it works, just in case. It's very easy to release but may not be immediately obvious.
 

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Hi guys,

Regarding this thread,

Some of you may be interested in something I have been working on for my myself in the weight department!

I dive as often as possible but due to my work load it is often a quick telephone call to a local dive centre to hitch up with them and grab the odd dive or two evenings and weekends.

I have a Transpac harness and Rec Wing, due to the nature of my diving this year it is always a single tank set up so I have not bothered with a backplate.

The problem has been that I have had to carry to much lead on the weight belt for my liking, this got me thinking!

Of course I am aware that other D.I.R. co's may have something similar but I have designed and made three sizes of simple nylon open ended pockets with a 50mm webbing around it to retain the weight and it attaches to the tank bands(webbing, the transpac has two) tucked close into the wing out of the way and gives excellent trim and can also be used on the waist strap where they are also out of the way.

I have used 50mm monster side release buckles that hold the weight (shot pouches or solid) in the pocket, a squeeze of the large buckle and it simply falls open and the weight dumps readily, simple, easy! I am trialing them over the next three or four weeks to see if they work as intended and may offer them as a new product from us.

It means that for single or twins requiring more weight that is carried on the wing, it can be added easily, possibly cheaply and I hope safely, let me know what you think, I may be able to post a pic or two of them soon.

cheers,

Dennis
 

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My weight lives between my cylinders as well, tho in a slightly different manner.

Incidentally, was that Predator drysuits I saw on TV at the gym on Wednesday..?
 

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Dennis,

The problem I found with tank mounting weights is that if the cylinder/cam-band is fitted when the cylinder is damp, the extra weight caused the cylinder to slip when walking to the dive site.  I used a second belt running from the plate and around the cam band - this was fixed with a quicklok buckle to make fitting quicker.

I don't know how much weight you're carrying, but you might want to consider linking the weights direct to the wing to relieve some of the weight on the cam band.  It's awkward when it slips...!

Also, I'd think a bit about the quick release on the weights.  I weighed up the pro's and cons of being too heavy compared with too light, and decided that I'd fix the weights without quick release rather than risk an accidental weight dump and an uncontrolled race to the surface.  If you're not carrying too much weight, it might be more controllable, but for me, I've got 12.8Kg strapped to my kit and I'd have fun staying down if that dropped off...

Just a thought,

John
 
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