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Greg Barlow
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12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:55 pm

One summer day 12 years ago, I received a call from Avalon, California. Jon Hardy, founder of ScubaLab, was on the other end. Jon and I chatted about vintage single and double hose regulators for a while, and the conversation turned to the topic of the Scubapro Pilot. Jon asked if I had ever had the opportunity to use a Pilot. I told him that I had not had the pleasure, but would like to do so someday. About a week later, I found a package on my doorstep from Avalon.

Upon hurriedly opening the box, I found a Mark 5 first stage attached to a Pilot second. It was in somewhat rough condition, but at least I had my hands on a regulator that had a legendary past.

For those not familiar with the Pilot, here is information directly from Scubapro's factory site:

"The Pilot regulator was actually designed by an engineering student as a class project. SCUBAPRO picked the regulator up from him and it became the best deep diving regulator ever made. The Pilot regulator is the only American made Regulator with a servo operated second stage. This “pilot valve” system provided an extremely high air flow and was very easy to breath, especially at the deeper depths. The valve is actually two valves; one valve pilots the other and was extremely revolutionary. The U.S. Navy used this regulator for their record deep dives in 1979, rating the Pilot as the best deep diving regulator. They presented SCUBAPRO with a plaque now proudly displayed at SCUBAPRO USA headquarters in El Cajon, CA."

Upon speaking to staff members of local Scubapro dealers, I found that Scubapro was no longer providing parts for the Pilot. One shop owner told me that very few technicians had experience with the Pilot, and that I had a nice "wall hanger".

Last winter, I decided to have Dave Ali refinish the second stage, so that I could at least have a beautiful "wall hanger". About the same time that I shipped the reg off to Dave, I had some ongoing communication with Pete Wolfinger. Pete literally "wrote the book" on servicing Scubapro regulators for many years. He is also the author of the outstanding book, Regulator Savvy. Pete's reputation as a master regulator technician is widely known. In fact, many consider him to be the authoritative figure on the Pilot. Even though Pete is now enjoying retirement along with his wife, Maija, he agreed to service my Pilot when it came back from Dave.

Yesterday, the Pilot arrived... It is an object of beauty. Pete put it back into its original state, just as I requested. He even installed a NOS mouthpiece and lanyard.

I am planning on making some dives tomorrow, and the Pilot will certainly get wet. In less than 3 weeks, I hope to be diving on wrecks in the St. Lawrence with Rob, Barb, and Allan.

Thanks, again, to the late Jon Hardy, Dave Ali, and Pete Wolfinger, for giving me the opportunity to have a restored Scubapro Pilot regulator!

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Greg Barlow
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luis
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Sat Jun 22, 2013 6:10 pm

That looks great.
Luis

Buceador con escafandra autónoma clásica.

ovalis
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:41 pm

Congrats Greg, the pilot was one of my favorite regs to dive with. I really liked that reg a lot. I was fortunate enough to come across a bunch of parts and the manual for it. After reading the manual and understanding the concept, it's pretty easy to rebuild. If my memory serves me correct, there really isn't any pilot specific parts that need to be replaced. It's just o rings. Even the lp seat was just an o ring seal. I think the only specific part is the sticker on the switch. You have to remove that to get to the screws to take the switch off to replace the o ring behind it. My only advice is to throughly rinse it after use. Any sand or dried up salt left behind can cause issues with it, especially at the pilot valve because it's so small. I think that's why Scubapro discontinued it was because of the service issues. Great idea on paper, but not so great in the real world because a lot of people don't take proper care of their equipment. congrats again

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Greg Barlow
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:14 am

Thanks for your information, Mike. I attempted to rebuild it, but had a lot of difficulty trying to get the poppet collar back on without gouging the LP seat O-ring. A specially constructed press with a press button and machined press plate is normally used for the procedure.

Another common problem with the Pilot is the variation in the length of the piston pins. The spec on the piston travel was 0.025". If the pin travel was too low, it would not properly slave the main valve open. Pete Wolfinger designed chemically milled shims to compensate for the inadequate pin travel. Pete said that the irregular pulsating air delivery was caused by this pin length variation.

The Pilot's internal parts are beautifully finished. It shows a level of workmanship that is seldom seen in today's regulators.

Greg
Greg Barlow
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couv
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:33 am

Very nice, Greg. I'm looking forward to your report after a test dive. I have a Pilot, however it has been converted to an AIR 1 It breathes great, but from what I understand, not as well as the true Pilot.
A sincere THANK YOU to all at VDH who make this wonderful resource available and to all the thoughtful contributors.

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Chris
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Sat Oct 12, 2013 1:17 am

I pulled a Pilot out of my LDS garbage pile because I wanted to make an Air2 to go on my phoenix double hose and It looked like it would work good with a hose port on either side. After looking for specs while trying to clean it I figured out what it was. I breaths very nice but has a slight bad spot in the very thin oring that is pressed in making it free flow slightly. I talked to a guy back east that rebuilt them and he said if it was working that good I should put it on my shelf and save it. So it’s in my dresser drawer and I went back to my bite valve for my emergency second. A neat regulator for digging it out of the trash.
Formerly tripplec. Decided to use my real name since you guys aren't a bunch of flaky internet trolls.

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eskimo3883
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Convert pilot to AIr1???

Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:18 pm

Hi,
Can anyone explain why anyone would convert a Pilot to an Air1 and what is done to perform this?
“A skin diver is a fellow who pulls on a pair of fancy swimming trunks, some rubber fins, a diving mask and canvas gloves, then fills his lungs with air and noses down into the ocean looking for two fisted trouble.”

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Bryan
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Sat Jan 24, 2015 6:38 pm

It's been a long time since i did one but it is not difficult. I never noticed any difference in how it breathed after they were converted. It was popular to do this change to the pilot. They were very expensive when new and great breathers! Couv or Gary D could explain the conversion better than i can. I'll bet they chime in.
Doing it right should include some common sense, not just blindly following specs and instructions. .Gary D, AWAP on SB

vintagefrank
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Tue Jan 27, 2015 6:53 pm

The "update" on Air 1 brings 2 Advantages: Easier to maintain and even spareparts today (D400). It´s very interesting: Nedu report gave the Air 1 a better Performance then the Pilot....

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Bronze06
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:25 am

I've acquired one from a certain person at VDH. Does anyone have the schematics for the Pilot? :?: It appears to be in pretty good shape.
"Where'd ya get that ol' thang, don't cha' know them thare things ill kill ya!"

Live From the Red Sea,

Russ

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Bryan
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:00 am

Not sure if you have a copy (but you should) Regulator Savvy, Pete Wolfinger, pages 94 to 102 he discusses the Pilot in depth with some detailed drawings. No one knows that regulator better than he does. ...

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Doing it right should include some common sense, not just blindly following specs and instructions. .Gary D, AWAP on SB

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Bronze06
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Sat Aug 22, 2015 1:31 pm

Thanks Bryan,

I just happen to have Regulator Savvy. I guess Johnny needs to read some more. The Pilot is in damn good shape by the way.

Thanks Much, Russ
"Where'd ya get that ol' thang, don't cha' know them thare things ill kill ya!"

Live From the Red Sea,

Russ

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Bryan
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Sat Aug 22, 2015 1:58 pm

I purchased it from the original owner who said he only dove it around the lakes in Michigan.
Doing it right should include some common sense, not just blindly following specs and instructions. .Gary D, AWAP on SB

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Bronze06
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Sun Sep 06, 2015 1:04 pm

Hey Bryan and Folks,

Got everything together as per Regulator Savvy and it appears that the "tiny" o-ring (most likely an AS568-002, but could be an AS 568-001) has given up the ghost. This is the tiny o-ring that seals up the air flow around the SS "button" that engages the poppet piston when the push pin is actuated during the intake cycle inside the pilot valve. I don't feel it is the poppet spring or any of the seals around the poppet or valve body causing this. Bryan, if there is any way you can send a couple of these O-rings in my next order, I'll dump some dough to cover your costs if you have them available. Either way, if I order them from some warehouse they'll still take 3 weeks to get here. Just asking. I've replaced all other rings and the reg is pretty much pristine considering.
"Where'd ya get that ol' thang, don't cha' know them thare things ill kill ya!"

Live From the Red Sea,

Russ

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Bryan
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Re: 12 Years of Waiting for A Restored Scubapro Pilot

Sun Sep 06, 2015 2:59 pm

Bronze06 wrote:Hey Bryan and Folks,

Got everything together as per Regulator Savvy and it appears that the "tiny" o-ring (most likely an AS568-002, but could be an AS 568-001) has given up the ghost. This is the tiny o-ring that seals up the air flow around the SS "button" that engages the poppet piston when the push pin is actuated during the intake cycle inside the pilot valve. I don't feel it is the poppet spring or any of the seals around the poppet or valve body causing this. Bryan, if there is any way you can send a couple of these O-rings in my next order, I'll dump some dough to cover your costs if you have them available. Either way, if I order them from some warehouse they'll still take 3 weeks to get here. Just asking. I've replaced all other rings and the reg is pretty much pristine considering.
FYI.....If you need something, please E mail me......Don't rely on the assumption that I read and remember everything that is posted by everyone. I'll always do my best to help though. :D
Doing it right should include some common sense, not just blindly following specs and instructions. .Gary D, AWAP on SB

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