Vintage Scuba: BCD Evolution, From Lifevest to Fenzy – S06E02

What did early divers use before todays BCD became standard? Alec experienced it and takes us from surplus WW2 life vests to the ultimate BC vest, the Fenzy X4.

*** In this episode of Vintage Scuba ***
– late 1960’s fabric life vest by Stebco, model LP-31
– 1971 U.S. Divers, Aqua-Lung, “Aquatic Flotation Vest”, model 7284
– 1965 Healthways “Competition Life Jacket”, model 1982
– 1977 AMF Swimaster “Buoyancy Compensator & Vest Inflator”, model 8BC2
– 1980 Dacor “VIS” add-on optional power inflator
– 1976 U.S. Divers “Calypso Compensator” with 5 clip harness
– early 1980’s Fenzy X4 BC, introduced in 1961 by Maurice Fenzy

Watch “Alec Peirce at the Ranch” for home and ranching ideas.

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Emma Linfoot says:

Hey Alec, I love watching your videos, it makes me so inspired to dive! I was wondering if you had any tips for young divers trying to afford diving. I love scuba so much but its very expensive to rent and buy gear. Do you have any suggestions on how I might be able to reduce my costs?

Scuba Diver says:


TheV8freak says:

Will a BCD burst if you inflate it to much?

Jess Chan says:

Very interesting, thanks!

Colin Richard says:

I love my seatec horsecollar, for warm water recreational diving I wont dive anything else!

Terran Biped says:

Alec – It’s always fun going down memory lane with you. By chance did you know or ever hear of a YMCA/PADI instructor by the name of Al Boehm? He taught me back in the early 70’s on Long Island, NY and was a force to be reckoned with in the early years of diving.

Alain Dumesny says:

the last one, the Fenzy X4, was like the one I started diving with… we wore doubles that had straps on the tanks so no need have a tank support/strap, and those collar type BCD worked quite well. ah the memories…

Miguel Gerov says:

Great video again Alec. See the videos are creeping up into 20 minutes little by little. Love them all. Keep them coming.

Michael Clarke says:

Again, a good video. Thank you.

You made the point that self-inflating BCD’s were full of carbon dioxide and so not breathable. But the Fenzy self-inflates from a small mini-cylinder of air. So, theoretically, in an out-of-air situation, you could breathe from the BCD (certainly a couple of inhalations) safely.

AP DIving (formerly AP Valves), in the UK, took this possibility a stage further and made (still make) BCD’s (Buddy Commando) that can be fitted with a so-called Auto-Air combined power inflator AND second stage that can be used to breathe air from the BCD. This air was/is the air from the main cylinder that is put into the BCD in normal diving UNTIL you get an out-of-air situation on the main cylinder. If you are using this system at the time the main cylinder runs out of air you will feel this situation BUT the device will then switch to give air from the BCD automatically. Then it is a case of using the air in the mini-cylinder to maintain buoyancy AND to breathe. This is a very useful system as it gives a second air source without the extra hose that a normal safe-second uses (naturally, you have to donate your primary to your buddy if he/she is out of air). Just to be clear – normal diving and buddy out of air, switch to Auto-Air and donate primary – self out of air, switch to Auto-Air and use air from the mini-cylinder through the BCD.



What about those inflatable snorkeling vests

Michael Lodise says:

The praying mantis was the Calypso compensator. I had one and it was a nightmare…

Dragomir Ronilac says:

Why to repeat Vintage Scuba S01E04 that was much more precise and detailed?

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