Friday, 14 August 2015

KUBI FITTED DRY GLOVE SYSTEM

Followers of my blog and Facebook page may know that for some time I’ve been having issues with my Si Tech Antares system, and the final straw was a full suit flood whilst acting as a safety diver for TEKCamp 2015.  FFS!!!  As Kubi was one of the suppliers who had a stand at TEKCamp 2015 I decided to have a look at the systems on offer.  Originally my first choice of dry gloves back in 2013, I opted against them as I didn’t like the over seals that had to be fitted to suits to get the system to work.  Luckily Kubi have recently launched a Fitted System to their range, and after a long chat with Peter I decided on getting the system fitted to my drysuit, with 80mm rings and XL gloves.  Black gloves come as standard so I also opted to get a pair of the white gloves as I feel that they will be better for teaching. 

Both Peter and Martin have been excellent, offering impartial advice and not pushing a sell, and when I had an issue with the system on its first dive, and a few others, (see below), their response was immediate in trying to resolve the situation.

Once I had decided I contacted O’Three to try and get a set sorted before the summer holidays.  Unfortunately this was only 2 weeks away, however, because of all of the previous issues I had been experiencing with my Si Tech Antares system, Josh arranged collection of my suit, and fitting of the gloves at no cost (I still had to pay for the Kubi's).  And promised all would be done within my time frame. 

As promised, the suit arrived on time with the work completed.  The only compromise was that O’Three had run out of grey neoprene and had to use black on the arms, as just like the Si Tech Antares system, the diameter had to be altered.  Personally I don’t mind and I think it looks ok. 

The first thing I did, other than try it on, was to cut the label off the glove liners, as I had heard of leaks due to the label becoming trapped in the o-rings.  I also replaced the black gloves for the white ones and sized them up (although it would take a further 3 or 4 dives to get them sized correctly so that I didn’t end up with flaps at the end of my fingers).

The merino wool glove liners are extremely effective at keeping your hands warm, even during a glove flood, and are not so thick that you lose dexterity. 

On Peter’s recommendation, I went for the 80mm rings that fit my hands (XL gloves), but it can be a bit of a squeeze to fit through.  However this does mean that the rings on my suit are less obtrusive.  In transit, one obvious advantage the Kubi has over the Si Tech Antares system is its size.  Effectively the system pushes flat and fits inside the red canvas bag, and other than o-ring care there’s nothing to worry about.  The aluminium rings are sturdy, and although scratch easily; appear to be able to withstand a battering.  Compare that to the plastic clips on the Si Tech Antares system, which could, and often did break. 

The only real downside at the minute is the fitted system.  As previously mentioned, I didn’t buy the Kubi's before as I didn’t like the over seal; however the wife did and you can see a picture comparing the 2 systems.  (Other thank the leak – see below) I have found that if you push too hard on the gloves when donning them it can release the O-ring that secures the cuff quick-release. 

Despite my initial impressions that the dry gloves feel quite soft, especially compared to the Showa’s fitted to the Si Tech Antares system, they are actually quite robust.  My wife has not managed to puncture hers in 18 months.  The black standard gloves also have extra grip on the palm and fingers.  As previously mentioned however I chose the white gloves.  These are sized slightly differently to the black gloves, so it is definitely worth trying a set on prior to purchasing any, however I was XL in both.  The white gloves are extremely effective in poor visibility, although I have noticed that they are quite grippy, especially compared to the Showa’s.  I need to apply much less pressure onto my spool when deploying my DSMB. 

1 – 8 August 2015
My first dive in the system was 2 days later at NDAC on a staged decompression dive, and they leaked almost immediately in the right arm.  I got out and had a play, but they still leaked so I had no choice but to carry on with the dive.  Needless to say O’Three got a stern email that night.  The next day I was diving Mewstone out of Plymouth, and they dived dry, which was a relief, and they continued to do so for another 3 days until they again leaked.  2 days on the trot.  In either one, or both arms.  After some fault finding, the ‘glove’ system is working fine, however the ‘cuff’ system connected to the suit appears to be the problem.  More correspondence with O’Three and I find out that this is a known issue with the sealing o-rings on the fitted system which Kubi are looking at.  They have another suit in the factory at the minute with a similar issue.  To be honest, I’m slightly annoyed as I’ve gone from one system to another, over £500 spent, and both have had faults. 


Is it me?  Is it my suit?   Is it O’Three suits and dry gloves?  Who knows?  So where now?  Kubi are sending new o-rings in the post, and O’Three are ringing me tomorrow so hopefully we can move forward to find a solution.  But with diving all next week, and most of the week after, and without a spare suit, I have a feeling it’s going to be a very uncomfortable period. 

To be continued…

10 August 2015
Today I experienced another wet dive with a leaky left arm.  In the mean time I have been in contact with Kubi and O’Three and both are trying their absolute best to resolve this issue.  According to Kubi there were a batch of 80mm o-rings with incorrect tolerances.  Kubi are sending me a complete new set of o-rings and O’Three are sending me a set of cuff o-rings to the dive centre.  In the immediate short term, I replaced the offending o-ring with a spare I have from a set I bought initially with the suit.

11 August 2015
As expected, the o-rings did not turn up prior to leaving for diving so I crossed my fingers hoping that this new o-ring would work.  But alas it didn’t.  The leak in my left arm wasn’t as bad but I still had a soggy arm at the end of the dive.  However, on return my o-rings were waiting for me, so once the suit had dried, both sides were replaced and fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Regarding the new o-ring, the new one (left) appears slightly smaller than the original, but appears tighter and was much harder to get on the ring.  Also, the rings were much tighter on the suit ring when installed. 






However, when changing the o-rings I managed to tear a wrist seal.  This also happened with my Si Tech Antares system, but luckily due to the design they could be changed out in minutes. 








12 August 2015
So, today was the day, and...
…I was dry.  Hopefully Kubi and O’Three have managed to resolve this issue.  Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

13 August 2015
No dive with this suit I’m afraid.  It’s a drysuit zip issue (that I had been informed of by O’Three when the gloves were fitted but I didn’t find time to resolve).

Summary
Over the last couple of years I’ve had a roller coaster ride with dry gloves, especially the last 2 weeks.  But I am please to say, despite only confirming for one dive following the replacement o-rings; I believe the Kubi Fitted Dry Glove System is the best system I have seen.  Small, robust and simple to use.  But more importantly, the customer service from Kubi and O’Three has been outstanding.  I have been massively impressed with the prompt correspondence and the willingness to fix the fault from both manufacturers.  In fact, as we speak O’Three are sending out a loan suit free of charge whilst my suit is repaired so I don’t miss any diving over the next few weeks, and a complete set of Kubi o-rings should be waiting for me when I return home. 

2 September 2016
One year later and not a single wet dive.  Couldn't be more impressed and I would highly recommend  Kubi.  

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI and SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: tim@rectotec.co.uk l