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Flooded GATES EX1 housing


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#1 Brumpy

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 11:14 PM

Hi guys,

I have a sad story :-(

You can read here the mails between me and GATES about what happend etc...
You will read that GATES is saying that it is unpossible there fault!!!!



GATES observation

Observations
Upon receipt the manual focus gland was indeed loose, and by over three threads. The gland showed evidence of blue Loctite, the application of which is our standard installation procedure. There was friction/resistance when rotating the gland, more than could be provided by the manual control itself when rotated.
After tightening the gland the housing passed all our standard pressure/vacuum tests.

Reviewing the previous data:

The housing has been used for more than 50 dives. The housing flooded catastrophically (as opposed to a minor leak) on the 3rd dive of the day in Sipadan.

Conclusions

The evidence strongly points to an event prior to the 3rd dive that caused the gland to loosen by a significant amount. Four factors standout:

The housing has been used more than 50 times and was operating properly on the dive prior to the flood.
Loctite was used to secure the gland in place, and requires a tool to loosen.
The gland was loosened significantly, more than three threads, and turning the manual control did not cause the gland to turn. Loctite was still providing sufficient friction to prohibit movement from the control alone.
The flood was catastrophic, which is consistent with the gland having been loosened by the amount observed here at Gates.
We cannot offer further information on how the gland was loosened, but can say with near certainty that it did not occur on its own or as a result of product defect. Indeed after tightening the gland the housing passes all pressure tests and meets factory specifications.
The housing has been repaired and the gland once again secured with Loctite. It is ready to send back to you.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My answer


Hello John,

First i am going to tell allitle about myself!
I am diving now for 20 year and almost 10 years with a camera underwater, the last 8 years i do this about 20 weeks a year!
Organising trips, working on live aboards etc......
I started with a simple housing/videocamera in a Ikelite housing, then i changed to a litle bigger in Light and Motion housing, i had 3 difrent LMI housings and the last one was for the Z1, i was one of the first owners of the housing from LMI for that camera.
I filmed almost 3,5 years with this setup Z1 in LMI housing and this worked perfectly, till it flooded a few months ago! this was my own fault i made a mistake, my first housing that flooded in all this dives/years!

The last years i started to get more and more a PRO, i won the Antibes festival, i made musicvideoclips, and i worked on a few international documentaries and the time was come to buy me a better camera and housing!
So i heared allot about GATES in the past years and most of it verry good things, then the EX1 was the camera i needed for the future and GATES was the company with the perfect housing for it!
So i invested allot (camera, housing, HD external monitor), and orderd even the wide angle for it a few months ago!
In the bigining it was difficult to make the change between the electronic controls and the GATES controls but after 20+ dives i realy started to like it!
I was feeling perfect in the water with this housing and camera, till a few weeks ago!
I was in Sipidan (luckely for fun and not for a job) and the first day i did't 3 dives without eny problems!
Day 2 was in Sipidan island where we planned to do 4 dives, the first 2 dives no problem but in dive 3 the housing flooded on the moment i was using the Manuel Focus about 30 min in the dive! it flooded not completly (i went up like crazy from about 70 feet), but more then enough to KILL the camera ofcourse, after trying to dry the camera i started thinking what happend because i did't not open the housing between the dives or enything! and i rememberd that i was using the Manuel focus so i looked to that and i directly see/feel that this is the problem i was able to loosen this with my hand!
Now you guys are telling me that the only way this gland can get lose is with a "TOOL"
Now i can tell you 100% sure i never used eny tool or whatever on this controls/gland!!!!!!!!!
After flooding my Z1 a few month ago i really am a fanatic about my housing ( a specaly if everthing togheter cost +15.000 euro!!) so i cleen everthing and make sure i do what i need to do with the housing etc...
But this gland is somthing i do not think that i have to look to them to chek if they are tightend? there is no way to chek this!
After done more then 2000 dives with a video camera underwater my experience is perfect to know that there is no way that this is my fault!!!!!
When i flooded my Z1, i also directly know that this was my mistake!! i never contacted LMI to complain or whathever i was verry verry angry but only on myself!

THe only thing i can think that happend is that this gland never was perfect locked! This control togheter with the ND filter are somtimes really difficult to use and somtime i really need to use allot of presure to let it do what it need to do for me!

So my conclusion is that the fault of the flauding is absolutly with GATES!!!! there is no way that sombody our myself have done somthing on the gland between the dives, the housing was on a small boot with me between the dives!!!!!


I am hoping that we can find a solution for this problem

P.S. sorry about my english but i supose you understand everthing? writing in another language is not always simple.

Kind regards
Bruno Vanherck

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Answer GATES



Hello Bruno,
Your considerable experience underwater and prestigious awards are well taken. Rest assured I am not accusing you of purposefully flooding the housing. It is my sole intent to simply inform you of our findings.
So for the moment it remains a mystery how the gland could become loose. I trust that you did not do so purposefully, but I am equally certain this is not a product defect. For example, we have repaired housings damaged by airport security, customs agents and baggage handlers. So I pose the question to you: could something have happened to the housing before you arrived in Sipidan that initiated the problem, only to be discovered on your second day?
Regardless, our commitment to your success remains. Your housing has been repaired (the gland re-secured with Loctite), inspected, tested, cleaned and is ready for you to take back in the water. There is no charge for this service and we can ship your housing back at any time.
Before we ship, however, can you provide more information about the difficulty with the ND filter and Manual Focus? If you are pressing hard we can adjust the control for better contact with your particular camera. We can also include a tool and short instructions on adjusting them yourself.


Sincerely,


John

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The housing is just arrived back to the dealer, and i have no camera enymore so i have to buy a new for 7000 euro!

I really loved Gates in the few dives i did't with there housing but 1 thing i know i am diving allot for meny years now, and i never had a problem like this with other housings!

I am still on talking terms with GATES but i am really angry now i do not know what to do next!

What do you guys think about this sad story?

Greetings Bruno
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#2 pmooney

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 11:31 PM

Hey Bruno - Welcome to the club. ;) :D

Flooding cameras is never fun, still you have to be prepared for that each time you take one into the water.

As the user of the equipment you are absolutely responsible for ensuring that it is watertight. This means prior to every dive you need to check the unit and be satisfied that everything is in order.

It's just like crossing a busy road - just because you didn't get run over yesterday doesn't mean you don't need to look each way today.

My 2 cents.

PS - Sorry about your camera
PM me if you want to sell the water damaged unit.

#3 wagsy

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 12:14 AM

Sorry to hear about your flooding. :D
That is a tough one and abit hard to blame anyone for it really after having done a heap of dives with it.
I sometimes check, recheck and recheck again, then have others check before sending something to the printers only to find a spelling error once back. ;)

Did the camera completely flood?
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#4 jonny shaw

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 12:15 AM

Did you have insurance....?????

Sorry for your loss, floods are an absolute nightmare.

Jon

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#5 Drew

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 12:58 AM

Bruno
Sorry to hear about the flood.
From what I read, the manual focus button could've possibly been just waiting to release and that last bit of pressure from that last actuation pushed it past the limit. It happened to me once although mine was just a small leak from a broken piece which didn't flood during the test dive but when I had to shoot.
Now the issue of how it got loosened may be a mystery you'll never solve. Could it have slowly loosened over 50 dives? Possibly. Gates says the assembly requires a tool to loosen the loctite. So for Gates to accept responsibility, the gland had to be badly assembled and tightened, then slowly loosen (even with the loctite) over 50 dives.
Yet according to Gates, the rotation of the control did not rotate the threads. If they tested it under pressure, then really it'd be asking a lot for them to accept it as a Gates issue.
Without absolute proof that the assembly was bad (eg. pics of the threads loosened on day 01 etc), you have very little ground to protest.
I understand your frustration and anger. I do think you can look in the 2nd hand market. It may not be necessary to buy new. And this time, buy insurance!

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#6 Brumpy

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 02:07 AM

you guys are telling me to check and recheck!!!

OK no problem but how the hell do you check this controls???????
If you never open this "glands" why do i have to check this? and how the hell can i check this? do i need to take a pressure tank with me and put in before every dive?

There is no way in hell that i have done somthing wrong with this "glands" and the fact that they are comming lose is in no way my responsibilty the only thing i can think of is that it never was perfect locked and by using the manuel control (where i need to put allot of pressure on) it came lose, what is not allowed!

No i do not have insurance, i looked for it but i did't not find a company to insure a camera for underwater use here in Belgium!

The camera not completly flooded, and is on the moment in repair with sony i hope to recieve answer from sony fast of there is somthing to fix or not, but they told me there is a verry small change to fix this :-(
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#7 Drew

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 05:42 AM

Bruno
I understand your frustration and need to vent. You are right, there are some things you can't check for. I usually lower the housing to 20m via a rope and weight belt if the boat has one after a long and bumpy flight.
I've had airport staff drop housings ( the Gates VX1 test housing which John E very graciously didn't bother to charge me anything for) and not pack the bags properly once opened ( the Amphibico Endeavor test). A lot of things can happen in transit. Manufacturers also make mistakes I'm sure but in this instance it's not possible to absolutely claim bad assembly by Gates. Even John E has admitted it's "near certain" and not absolute. It's just one of those unfortunate things that happens. I know that doesn't seem like consolation but it is what it is.
Hopefully, the repair won't be too much. I would consider getting insurance from DEPP which sells overseas as well if I'm not wrong.

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#8 DeanB

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 03:49 PM

Brumpster... I can feel your anger bro ... reading Drew's last comment he certainly goes through a ceremony to make sure he's safe but even then its not a 100% done deal...

I think you maybe on a stalemate and that sucks and this is where insurance comes into its own and owning that sort of gear i would have tried out side of Belgium ... No matter what you've achieved in your past filming or how careful you are it doesn't me shite in these situations... Gates is now a business and will be run as one... If you were Howard Hall It would probably be a different story ... who knows...???


Anyway Hope all goes wells mate

Dive safe

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#9 lemon

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 04:17 PM

bad news, man. sorry to hear about your camera.

#10 Brumpy

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 04:27 PM

Bruno
I understand your frustration and need to vent. You are right, there are some things you can't check for. I usually lower the housing to 20m via a rope and weight belt if the boat has one after a long and bumpy flight.
I've had airport staff drop housings ( the Gates VX1 test housing which John E very graciously didn't bother to charge me anything for) and not pack the bags properly once opened ( the Amphibico Endeavor test). A lot of things can happen in transit. Manufacturers also make mistakes I'm sure but in this instance it's not possible to absolutely claim bad assembly by Gates. Even John E has admitted it's "near certain" and not absolute. It's just one of those unfortunate things that happens. I know that doesn't seem like consolation but it is what it is.
Hopefully, the repair won't be too much. I would consider getting insurance from DEPP which sells overseas as well if I'm not wrong.


So you lower the housing on a rope before every dive???? The leak happend after the 3th dive of the day whitout opening the housing between dives!

Then what you are saying about airport problems!
I take the housing with me as handlugage! i have a special troley full of foam its to bigg but till now after telling them what is inside and the price everthing is OK for them and i can take it in the cabin!
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#11 JFS

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 07:55 PM

So you lower the housing on a rope before every dive???? The leak happend after the 3th dive of the day whitout opening the housing between dives!

Then what you are saying about airport problems!
I take the housing with me as handlugage! i have a special troley full of foam its to bigg but till now after telling them what is inside and the price everthing is OK for them and i can take it in the cabin!




Years ago I had a Gates housing ( Pc 120) and almost the same thing happened to me except I was able to get to the surface with my housing and camera before any damage occured. I can't remember which control it was but the housing was brand new and had less than a few dives on it. I sent it back to Gates and they did find the problem ( their fault) so yes their housings sometimes are not as watertight as they claim. When anyone orders a housing they should always take it for about 5 - 10 dives without any CAMERA in it just to make sure. Play with all the controls and then do a thorough inspection afterwards. Everyone wants to get in the water right away with a new rig but this is something I do. Make sure you have a good leak detector in the housing as well! Sad to hear about the flood because I know gates makes a great product.

#12 jonny shaw

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 08:55 PM

Hey Brumpy,
Do you have a picture of the gland in question... I'm paranoid now about my housing and want to double check everything!
What about household insurance... can you make a claim on that... just say you got water on while out sailing with friends....

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#13 HMP

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 02:23 AM

Hi
Flooding a camera that your attached too (emotionally and/or financially) is a gut wrenching experience. But it happens and happens to everyone no matter what awards they have won (reminds me of a king sitting in a chair trying to stop the tide).

Gates is not at fault here. There are no faulty parts. A part that can potentially come loose, came loose.

And yes, you should every now and then, check the control rod glands and see if they can be tightened (gently though, use a spanner but dont use to much force, a bit better than hand tight will do). No matter what padding you use, vibration through transportation will take its toll and loosen anything eventually. The control rod glands on the Gates are very good and can be easily replaced/removed and blanked as a product of their design, as a consequence of this though they can come loose (but its rare). At the end of any journey to a film location and as part of pre-dive sequence prep I would check those glands. It only need be done once on a trip (at the start obviously). The fact that your housing survived a couple of dives prior to flooding means nothing. The thread may be many revolutions deep but it only takes a tiny fraction of a turn for the seal to finally break.

You were unlucky and I sympathise greatly, but your wrong to blame Gates. (Blame Loktite - joking)

Know the quirks of your housing (each manufacturer has their own), and try not to be too attached to the camera, your taking it underwater after all.

Hugh

Edited by HMP, 29 August 2009 - 02:33 AM.


#14 Brumpy

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 04:41 AM

Hi
Flooding a camera that your attached too (emotionally and/or financially) is a gut wrenching experience. But it happens and happens to everyone no matter what awards they have won (reminds me of a king sitting in a chair trying to stop the tide).

Gates is not at fault here. There are no faulty parts. A part that can potentially come loose, came loose.

And yes, you should every now and then, check the control rod glands and see if they can be tightened (gently though, use a spanner but dont use to much force, a bit better than hand tight will do). No matter what padding you use, vibration through transportation will take its toll and loosen anything eventually. The control rod glands on the Gates are very good and can be easily replaced/removed and blanked as a product of their design, as a consequence of this though they can come loose (but its rare). At the end of any journey to a film location and as part of pre-dive sequence prep I would check those glands. It only need be done once on a trip (at the start obviously). The fact that your housing survived a couple of dives prior to flooding means nothing. The thread may be many revolutions deep but it only takes a tiny fraction of a turn for the seal to finally break.

You were unlucky and I sympathise greatly, but your wrong to blame Gates. (Blame Loktite - joking)

Know the quirks of your housing (each manufacturer has their own), and try not to be too attached to the camera, your taking it underwater after all.

Hugh


Offcourse i know winning awards or wathever do not make a diffrence! but i just let them now this way that i am not a stupid guy wo is not able to dive and have a expensive housing whithout experience! you see allot of this kind of people around this days :-)

Then you are saying i have to check the glands with a spanner somtimes! i do not agree! if there is loktide in place i will be able to break this seal even trying to make it more tightend!
And if there is loktide being used, vibration can not making it loose!!
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#15 HMP

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 08:09 AM

I'm not suggesting that you go around and break the Loktite seal. I am suggesting you check the seal.

If you gently apply a bit of pressure with a spanner (because its easier to apply the correct pressure with a spanner and not your fingers) and it doesnt turn, then the loktite is fine and and the gland doesnt need tightening. If of course it does turn, then you need to tighten it!

Loktite is not epoxy, its not some permanent glue. There are several grades, each with different levels of strength, some more permanent than others (Loctite 242 is temporary and forms a soft bond, and loctite 270 (studlock) is semi-permanent/permanent, there is a third, loctite 290, that is for penetrating pre-assembled parts but I doubt thats the one they use), but they are all, releasable with a spanner no matter what 'permanent' claims are made.

Loktite helps stop things coming lose under vibration, its great stuff, but if you think its a permanent solution that requires no checking, ever, then I'm afraid your probably going to flood another camera. Sorry to be brutally honest.

#16 DeanB

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 10:02 AM

Sorry to 'maybe' ask the obvious, I've never owned a Gates housing, but is there an accompanying manual with the housing that suggests checking the glands etc, etc every so often... ??? Even us award winning shooters can't know or think of everything... ;)

Dive safe

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#17 Steve Douglas

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 10:07 AM

While it is a bit late for this info, DAN, which is worldwide, also has gear insurance and, unlike DEPP, will send you a check rather than replace the cam, just in case you decide on a different or newer model.

I have seen many cams flood underwater over the years, from large Beta Cams to almost every model and brand of housing I can think of. Many years ago I had my first flood in Tahiti using a Gates housing and a Sony 2000. I was in a rush and my lanyard caught between the back plate. This was 100% my fault and Gates took great care of me regarding refurbishing the housing. The cam was my responsibility but my insurance took care of the problem. I was embarrassed over my own stupidity.
I have known other videographers with Gates housings who, often at the last minute, found loose controls. Fortunately, they checked their housings over before going in the water even if their last dive was fine. Over time and a number of dives almost anything can be loosened. God knows I have seen some really dumb moves by airport security so who knows? It is our own responsibility to check these things out. The question may be just how to check something out that can't be reached or noted. That would be an answer only John or Gates staff could supply.
While I am no longer a Gates user, I have always believed that you can't get a more solid and rock built housing than what Gates produces. I feel your pain but it goes with the profession. Like a motorcyclist, you've either been down or are going down. I've been down so I guess the future looks bright. Got it out of the way. Now you have too.
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#18 Drew

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:42 PM

DAN Insurance is only for US residents. The coverage is worldwide but only if the insured is domiciled in the US. DEPP accept overseas customers (or at least use to).

Bruno
I understand your train of thought. It does bring up a very important question of product warranty. To what extent does a manufacturer have to warranty their product, since so many things can cause damage and the typical customer cannot possibly check out of spec parts/assembly which can cause floods.
Even IF the assembly was defective (there is no evidence it was), what is expected of the manufacturer?

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#19 Nick Hope

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 09:55 PM

Sorry about your flood Bruno. Been there myself a couple of times. I feel your pain. I hope Sony can do something for you without writing off the camera completely.

Regarding housing design, there may be better methods than Loctite for this sort of application. I used to be a domestic appliance design engineer, and one thing we used to use in a situation where there was vibration was a washer that is "folded up" on one or two sides of a nut after it has been tightened. Can't remember what they're called. Cars, engines etc. have these things in too. Galvanic corrosion is an issue with a housing, but maybe an aluminium washer could be used? The washer needs some sort of key to the housing to stop it rotating. Or maybe some neater interlock design. I'm sure there's a workable mechanical solution that would be more secure than Loctite.

By the way Bruno, what did you do to your Z1 / LMI rig that made it flood?

#20 Paul Kay

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 03:28 AM

Brumpy. Sorry to hear about your flood but perhaps you could try to look on it this way. You say that your housing had had 50 dives on it prior to the flood. You also say that the gland had loosened and this is what caused the flood. So I'd say that you have 2 scenarios:

Firstly, that each dive the gland loosened slightly until after 50+ dives it had become undone sufficiently to cause the flood, or

Secondly, that something had caused a substantial change in the way the gland was secured and that it had loosened over a short period of time.

Unfortunately if it was the first, then I'd say that everyone who suggests that this should have been picked up on a pre-dive check was probably right AND from what you state of your experience then I'd suggest that you may well have noticed that the gland was not sitting as it should. Which makes me suspect that it was the second - a sudden change in the secureness of the gland. You may never establish the cause BUT my experience of baggage handling in transit is not good and I have had glands damaged as control rods have been bent - even with the housing secure inside a Pelicase - and I'm not alone in this. I have no idea what the handlers/security people do but it wouldn't even surprise me if they have removed the housing and knocked/dropped/otherwise damaged it. It may well be that this is the cause - it would certainly be my best guess.

As for future checks, well I check controls very carefully after transit, feeling for stiffness, tightness, etc. as well as a visual check to ensure that nothing is untoward - a boring time consuming chore but unfortunately very necessary.
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