2004. Krul & Dekker
As explained in the ‘1860 Rouquayrol Denayrouze’ chapter, in 2002 I had been lucky to find an original 19th century Denayrouze helmet in an antique shop in the south of France. Shortly thereafter I asked my friends if any of them knew of a regulator to go with the helmet. The only one who wrote back was Philip Nathansen of the Danish HDS. He sent me a picture of an original regulator made of steel and asked me if that was what I was looking for. It was, but the apparatus was property of the Danish Navy and not for sale. So the only option I had to get a working Rouquayrol Denayrouze (R&D) regulator appeared to build one. Philip again came to the rescue and arranged for my friend Rob Krul and I to come to Copenhagen in 2003 and inspect and measure the steel regulator. Once we had gathered all the measurements we required Rob proceeded to built the regulator with my assistance.
Project 2: The Ludwig von Bremen ‘Pig Snout Mask’
Above left: Rob’s father hard solders the main body of a mask. The photograph at the right shows the evolution from the ‘rolled up’ copper plate into the final shape of the main body for the mask and at the background the mask all built together
The original German made ‘Pig Snout Mask’ which is in possession of the Holmen navy base in Kopenhagen, Denmark. The maker: Ludwig von Bremen was the German sales agent for Rouquayrol - Denayrouze. Initially he sold the French made masks but later made his own masks. Photographs David L.Dekker
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Rob proudly holding the first mask. Photograph David L.Dekker
When the masks were finished they were shiny and new ... but that was to change soon ... Photograph David L.Dekker
July 2006. Testdiving the Rouquayrol Denayrouze ‘Snout Mask’ in Oostvoorne
After the difficult dive in the south of France in 2005 ( see the chapter ‘Project 1, RD Regulator’ ) where the valve had not worked well, we rebuilt the valves for the regulator backpacks. Before taking the new snout mask into the water I first tested the new valve myself with just a mouthpiece attached to the regulator. Photo right: The regulator now worked perfect so I came out of the water and had the mask attached to the regulator. Photographs Jan Paul Galdermans
This time I discovered that the snout is probably one of the most inconvenient devices ever designed to explore the sea with. It is a heavy and clumsy thing which wants to fall off your face and onto the chest all the time, putting a lot of strain on the hose inside with the mouthpiece. Another negative comes when you realize that if you lose the mouthpiece inside the mask you can’t reach inside to grab it. My dive with the snout did not last very long. When I explained my experience to Muriel Peissik, of the ‘Museum du Scaphandre’ in Espalion, France she told me that in the museum they have a letter written by the French navy to Rouquayrol and Denayrouze explaining that even though they were quite impressed by the quality of the equipment, the mask was "quite inconvenient": would it be possible to change the design? The result was that the snout mask was given a 'back,' making it into a helmet. To support the helmet a shoulder piece, or breastplate, was constructed. The helmet and shoulder piece were joined together by a flange with three bolts, allowing the collar of a suit to be clamped in between providing a watertight seal. The 3 bolt helmet was thus born. And when you take a look at early 3 bolt helmets it is easy to see the 'snout' in it, especially with the early Charles Petit helmets and also with Draeger helmets. This 3 bolt design became a new standard over most of Europe and even today 3 bolt helmets are manufactured in Russia and China.
Note. A version of this article originally appeared in HDS SEAP's Classic Diver, issue 50, and we wish to acknowledge the assistance of HDS SEAP President Jeff Maynard in the publication of the article here. Also a version of this article appeared in ‘The Journal of Diving History’ Volume 17, Issue 3 Number 60 summer 2009.
After having been in the water a couple of times the regulator backpack and the snout mask are starting to look older and do blend in well with the genuine french diving antiques: the shoes and the knife. Photograph David L.Dekker
Currently we are working on a small series of 5 masks, we already have taken orders for these masks but there are some available for sale as well, inquiries are invited through the email link here below.
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