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Thread: Input on buying a tank...

  1. #1

    Input on buying a tank...

    I've been doing a lot of reading on the relative merits of various sizes and types of tanks - and now I am thoroughly confused as to which way I should go. I was hoping that I could give you guys an idea of what I am looking for and see which way you would go. This is probably going to be long and overly informational...

    I mostly do local quarry/lake dives, but I have plans to do more dive boat trips into Lake Huron. Dives are usually 40-50' max, average depth more like 20' - so air limits us way before NDLs. I am usually diving in a very large 7mm farmer john/jacket - so it takes a lot of lead to sink my wetsuit... I am negatively buoyant without the wetsuit. I usually dive with my wife and my father in-law. Father in-law has purchased 2 AL80s already, with the intention of doing doubles (we have talked him out of it until he gets better with buoyancy control and has more dives under his belt). My wife currently rents tanks like I do - and at the end of a dive she usually has 500-700psi more than I do left in the tank (I am a 6'1" 270lb guy, she is 5'2" and much smaller than me). My father in-law usually ends our dives for us when he gets down on air - but he is getting better, and he is not always with us on dives.

    I used a steel tank last weekend, and I liked ditching some lead - it helped with my trim. I am leaning more toward steel after that - but price may also become a factor.

    I don't know if the shops in my area can do HP fills, but I do know that the shop closest to my house will do plus fills. I also know that the quarry we go to most commonly didn't fill the steels up very well last weekend - we got hot fills that ended up being 2000psi by the time they cooled.

    With all of that excessive information... I came up with a pro/con list for each:

    AL80:
    Pros - I won't have a ton of air left over when I dive with my FIL using his single AL80s, I won't have to worry about adjusting my weights/trim/etc when I do a 2 tank boat dive, easier to get a "full" fill, cheaper to buy new, lighter out of the water (on average)
    Cons - I run out of air way before my wife - so when we dive together without the FIL she loses out on bottom time, need more lead

    Steel (HP or LP... don't know... any size suggestions?):
    Pros - In general have more air capacity than AL80, "heavier" in water so less lead needed, allow for improved trim because of the lead difference, will be able to stay down long enough for my wife to use up her air if the tank is larger
    Cons - Heavier out of the water (on average), may be harder to get "full" fills at dive sites, I most likely won't be buying 2 - so I will have issues on dive boats doing 2 tank dives, when diving with FIL I may be wasting money on fills (can be solved by dropping him back off on shore and continuing the dive with just my wife).

    So... with all of that excessive information - which way would you guys go?
    -Aaron

  2. #2
    Barracuda Founding Member
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    Need more info (surprisingly, huh?). Do you ever see your self progressing into doubles? Will dive shops up there only fill to the rating on the LP tanks, or over ('cave fill')?

  3. #3
    Grouper bfmorgan's Avatar
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    When I started diving, I determined the length of the dive. It didn't matter who I dove with. I went through an AL 80 in about 30-35 minutes. My solution was to dive aluminum 100 cu. ft. tanks. My SAC is improving, and the 100 cu. ft. tank makes sure I have a lot of air. They are heavier than an 80. That lets me drop about 4 pounds of weights. I happen to own my own, but I have an excellent LDS so I can rent 100s, even with Nitrox.

  4. #4
    Grouper
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    Good question from Fish. If you plan on doubles in the future beginning with a tank that could be doubled up (matched) later is a good start and saves money in the long run.

    From what I'm gathering by your post you are looking to be more air matched with your wife than father-in-law. Like the weight of steel (your not alone there). And possibly need LP due to local fill conditions. Price also a factor..

    IMO for you I would suggest a steel LP108 and wife a steel LP85. This combination should get you more dive time, closer air matched, LP fills, Less lead and be able to make doubles for future uses. Only down side is price. Except: They will hold their value and last a long, long time.

    Your father-in-laws purchase of 2 AL 80's (77.4s) would have almost paid for one of your steels. Not in vain however due to the use of AL80's for stage bottles if ever going into Tech. He would also have an advantage by using a higher volume tank.

    I am 5'10, 240. My GF dive buddy is 5'2. For me to be matched to her use of her HP80, I need to use a HP100. I currently use and own HP120. We do a lot of deeper REC dives average depth 80ft and we plan on her air, so the extra air I (can) carry is a safety margin. Hopes this helps.
    There is a God... Come diving I'll show you!!
    Just found out I'm an Infidel! Translation: FREE!!

  5. #5
    Megalodon
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    As far as size:weght
    AL80: 26.1" L, 31.38 lbs. (7.25" dia)
    LP85: 24.7" L, 34.3 lbs (7.25" dia)
    LP95: 23.7" L, 41.9 lbs (8")
    LP108: 26.5" L, 45.9 lbs (8")
    LP121: 29.2" L. 49.9 lbs (8")

    HP80 : 19.7" L, 28 lbs (7.25")
    HP100: 24" L, 33 lbs (7.25")
    HP120: 28" L, 38 lbs (7.25")
    HP119: 24" L, 42 lbs (8")
    HP130: 25.5" L, 43 lbs (8")

    So, as you can see, the A number of the steel tanks are very similar to the AL80 in length and weight, but all are -2 to -3 lbs empty vs. the +4 of al AL80. Price IMHO is the biggest factor as the steels are 2-2.5 time the cost. But they should last as long or longer than an AL as well. The only other thing I will say is stay away from the LP121 and HP120 unless you're 6' + as they are huge in comparison to the others. You would be surprised how much difference those 3"-4" make.

    I once saved a man in Wichita just to watch him dive...(inventor)

  6. #6
    Barracuda
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    I own AL80, LP85, HP100 and HP119 and I have dove AL100, LP72 and HP120 and my favorite by far is the HP100. With HP100 a short fill will most likely be more than 80 and you can drop a bunch of weight off the belt but the tank weighs less than 2lbs more on land. The down side is the cost of the tanks.
    - Dennis ><()))">

  7. #7
    Grouper
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    Do agree the HP120 is difficult to trim for someone under 6' such as myself. Had to move my wing down, tank up and use a tall STA in order to overcome its size. The perfect tank for me is the HP100.
    There is a God... Come diving I'll show you!!
    Just found out I'm an Infidel! Translation: FREE!!

  8. #8
    Fish: the answer to the doubles question is "maybe"... I don't see myself doing technical diving - but doubles are appealing for a number of reasons. I don't know about what kind of fills I could potentially get - so that is something I should look into.

    bfmorgan: that sounds like a decent option too ... Where in MI are you and what shop do you rent from? Just curious if it is within reasonable distance so I could rent/try one out.

    DiveHard: great info! Thank you! You hit the nail on the head - my wife and I dive together with and without her dad... and he already has his plan for doubles with his AL80s... So matching up with her makes sense.
    -Aaron

  9. #9
    Barracuda
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    On Lake Huron, a LOT of divers dive a steel 130 and carry a 40 cf pony bottle because it is easier on the boats than doubles. I dove doubles on Huron without much issue, but the single 130 may do it for you.

    The doubles or not doubles question is really answered by if you plan to go tec/trimix. Otherwise it is a lot of effort for little return.

    Don
    PADI Dive Master, Master Diver, and Cavern. SDI Solo Diver. DSAT Tec 50. TDI Trimix.

  10. #10
    Navy: great info there! I appreciate that!

    CWSWine: thanks for th suggestion! I'll look around and see if I can try one out.
    -Aaron

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