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How often to clean orings

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I just got my new inon Z-330s. The manual says to clean and lube the i-rings before every dive.

My friends says that's overkill and to do it every two or 3 dives. Thoughts? I feel like constantly taking the orings on and off might be worse than cleaning them each dive. I'm a Dive master and I dive 4 to 6 times a week with my camera. 

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I clean and lube mine every time - the issue with INON o-rings is you are screwing on the cap over the o-ring and unless its well lubed it tends to bind and they get a little salt water in the groove which slowly dries out to make salt crystals which can damage your o-ring.  If I change out batteries on the following day the cap is tight and I have to go very slow to remove.

It probably depends on what type of diving you are doing - if it's shore diving the risk is sand in the o-ring and I would definitely clean them every time. 

The biggest concern for me is the salt water in the groove it seems like it gets on both sides of the o-ring once you remove the cap.  I use the following procedure:

  • remove o-ring and put aside in clean spot
  • wipe groove with tissue to soak up water and inspect and clean as needed.
  • clean o-ring - shake first to remove water then run through fingers and inspect&clean then grease and install it
  • wipe out cap with finger and inspect.  take a very small smear of grease and wipe inside cap - it helps the cap go on over the o-ring.
  • Inspect o-ring through cap

You can do it pretty quickly once you get the hang of it - better to spend 5 minutes getting it right than buying a new strobe.

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With all respect to my fellow moderator, Chris, let me offer a slightly different view.

I only clean strobe o-rings when I change the batteries. I had until recently Inon Z240s and found I could usually do a day's diving on one set of batteries - say 3 dives maybe 250 images. I figured if the strobe is sealed happily after one dive, why open it up unless you really need to?

Once I'd removed the batteries for charging/replacing, I'd then clean the o-ring, relube it and clean the o-ring groove as Chris suggests. Pop in new batteries and then close it all up.

One thing I would suggest with the Inons, is that you turn the whole strobe upside down to remove the cap and batteries - so the batteries almost fall out when you remove the cap. This helps prevent water popping into the battery chamber when you unscrew the cap and cover.

 

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Another question. Are you guys cleaning the analog plug o-ring every time or leaving that sealed if you don't use it?

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I never open it (I use fibre optic) therefore never open it. 

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Unlike Chris I typically only take the o-ring out once a week or so. But I do inspect to make sure there is no sand or grit (In Bali I clean it every day). I do clean out the threads in the cap regularly and put a bit of Tribolube on the wall of the cap so it screws in easily. Haven't flooded an INON (15 years) but have had a couple of floods with S&S. 

Bill

 

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Exactly the same as Tim with my 240's.  Just do it at a battery change. I use a wired connection and once the plugs are in place in the housing and the Inon's, I don't take them out routinely for cleaning/greasing. Never had any issues ar all with these or previous makes of flash . Good luck.

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Posted (edited)

I am a firm believer in limiting handling and stretching of o-rings as much as possible. Lube sliding o-rings only and avoid stretching them completely.  Loose o-rings are a major cause of floods.

I have the Inon-330's for about two years now.  I dive almost every week one or more times.  I almost never remove the o-ring from it's seat.  I do very lightly lube them with every battery change.  I wipe and lightly lube the inside of the battery caps as well.  The only time I ever have removed the o-rings from the strobe body is after week long dive trips of 20-30 dives.  Then I wipe out the groves and rinse of the o-rings in clean water.  Same applies to my Nauticam port o-rings.  The housing back o-ring is compression so I  never lube the it at all as that will just attract grit, but wipe it with a microfiber before re-sealing.

Edited by davehicks

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12 hours ago, TimG said:

With all respect to my fellow moderator, Chris, let me offer a slightly different view.

I only clean strobe o-rings when I change the batteries. I had until recently Inon Z240s and found I could usually do a day's diving on one set of batteries - say 3 dives maybe 250 images. I figured if the strobe is sealed happily after one dive, why open it up unless you really need to?

Once I'd removed the batteries for charging/replacing, I'd then clean the o-ring, relube it and clean the o-ring groove as Chris suggests. Pop in new batteries and then close it all up.

One thing I would suggest with the Inons, is that you turn the whole strobe upside down to remove the cap and batteries - so the batteries almost fall out when you remove the cap. This helps prevent water popping into the battery chamber when you unscrew the cap and cover.

 

Maybe my wording was wrong - by every time I mean every time I open the cap, not every dive.   I agree, I can get a full day out of a good set of batteries.

On the other comments, each to their own - I don't see any issues with removing o-rings to check them.  I have Z-240s and the cap definitely traps water.  It would be so easy to design it so that it didn't trap water and grit. 

I have an INON dive torch and those o-rings rarely come off - the cap screws down onto an external o-ring and I never see water or grit get in past the external o-ring and into contact with the yellow sealing o-rings. 

The sync cable port cover also never comes off.  Once an o-ring seals as long as it remains intact it won't unseal.  I would change those o-rings out when I changed the o-ring of the main cap.

 

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I don't have those strobes, but I've been diving with a number of cameras and strobes, and I never lube the orings daily.    I especially don't like the idea of removing them, cleaning them and replacing them often and in the field.  In my mind it's the best way to get a hair or thread in behind the oring.   I lube them yearly, but then I only go on dive trips once or twice a year.

The purpose of lubing an oring is so that if can slide and rotate a bit in the groove and not get stuck to a sidewall.  If it gets stuck in one part, another part may be getting stuck onto a part that opens, and then you rip the oring a bit as you open the door/compartment.   It doesn't need a lot of lube for that.

 

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4 hours ago, phxazcraig said:

I don't have those strobes, but I've been diving with a number of cameras and strobes, and I never lube the orings daily.    I especially don't like the idea of removing them, cleaning them and replacing them often and in the field.  In my mind it's the best way to get a hair or thread in behind the oring.   I lube them yearly, but then I only go on dive trips once or twice a year.

The purpose of lubing an oring is so that if can slide and rotate a bit in the groove and not get stuck to a sidewall.  If it gets stuck in one part, another part may be getting stuck onto a part that opens, and then you rip the oring a bit as you open the door/compartment.   It doesn't need a lot of lube for that.

 

The INON strobes have a screw on cap and the o-ring needs enough lube so the cap will screw on - I find my Z-240 caps gets quite tight when removing it when changing the battery so every battery change I relube at least a thin smear on the cap.  Different strobes might have different requirements, but INON's need enough lube to screw on the cap.   You have to be careful removing the caps sometimes.

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2 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

The INON strobes have a screw on cap and the o-ring needs enough lube so the cap will screw on - I find my Z-240 caps gets quite tight when removing it when changing the battery so every battery change I relube at least a thin smear on the cap.  Different strobes might have different requirements, but INON's need enough lube to screw on the cap.   You have to be careful removing the caps sometimes.

I had exactly the same experience as Chris with the Inons. The screw-on battery cap can indeed be tight if the o-rings are dry and this can lead to twisting.

As Chris says too, you do have to be careful when removing the screw cap. Water can flick into the battery compartment area if you're not a little careful - hence suggesting earlier unscrewing the cap with the battery compartment facing down. Water drops will then fall away from the battery compartment.

These issues are not a big deal but a habit worth developing with the Inons - which, by my experience with them over almost 20 years, has been terrific. 

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So...I typically change batteries after most dives. My reasoning for doing so, is that I have no idea of how much charge is left in the batteries after a dive. By changing I reverting to a known charge level and can attempt to ensure that the strobes will work when I am shooting "that" amazing shot.

In terms O ring maintenance, I will inspect them every time I open the strobe. I will only clean them or lubricate them if there is dirt on them, or they appear dull.

To prevent the O rings binding and extruding when you screw the top on, a thin film of grease on the sealing surface ensure that the O ring is not displaced. I would normally renew this periodically...rather than after every dive. 

 

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Inon z240, with envelop batteries has +- 240 flash capacity. Usually I am using my Inon on 50% power (easier to change to other power settings) what makes a capacity of +- 450 flash’s on a full charge of eneloop. 
Usualy I change the batteries 1 per diving day (3-4 dives), as on average I take 50-60 photos per dive. 
and when charging the batteries I see that usually I have already 2 or 3 bars lit of 4 bars (totally charged) on the individual battery status of the charger. 
The exception is if I go for a night dive, them I put a new set of batteries on the strobes, as I use them as dive lamp and I want to grant that I have enough power if something goes wrong. 
I do not lube the o-ring every time I change battery. It depends on 2 independent factors:

- if last dive was in an area with thin sand/mud and I have been close to the bottom, I clean the groove, the cap and wash and lube the o-ring (enough grease to make it shiny).

- If unscrewing or screwing the cap I feel it is not smooth Or feel it “grabby”, I do the procedure explained on previous point

i do not lube the inner face of the cap because the prong also need to “work” on the oring  groove, and lubing the oring directly is the only way to grant that None of the surface will be missing grease and do not cause any malfunction of the oring due to the cap screwing. 
besides that is the write way to validate if the oring is on proper conditions (no cuts, no debris, etc)

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Posted (edited)

Just to piggyback here, rather than make a new thread.

 

Is Tribolube 71 safe with ikelite o-rings? Can't seem to find that information elsewhere.

Edited by longbord1

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Tribolube 71 is safe with all O-rings!

So yes, this includes Ikelite

Adam

 

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So...hypothetically, 4th dive of the day...one set of batteries and playful pod of dolphins arrives and proceeds to interact with your and your buddies. Midway...you run out of strobe batteries. You have just lost the opportunity to capture this "once in a lifetime" experience.

Changing batteries and inspecting O rings is the only way to ensure that you do not potentially miss shots. 

The purpose of lubricating O rings is to prevent them binding. In this instance the binding is caused by them catching on the cap as you screw it down and the extruding. A thin film of lubricant within the cap's sealing surface prevents this from happening.

While lubricant does keep O rings supple, this is nothing to do with lubricant being visible on its external surfaces, and can be achieved by periodic (e.g. pre/post trip) greasing. Remember visible O ring grease actually attracts contaminants onto the O ring and can cause leaks..

Lastly, Inon has deliberately designed the caps to be transparent so the O ring is visible and it is possible to visually check it has extruded.

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4th dive of the day, I “used” 180 strobe flash’s on the previous dives, of the 450 plus strobe flash’s. I still have 270 flash’s at half power. And probably I will want to reduce the strobe power to allow faster recicle times, which means even more flash triggers. 

Besides that, usually the 4th dive is a night dive, which means new batteries.

Completely agree with the small amount of grease. It is only to get the oring shiny. The grease does not seal. It is there only to avoid the oring to be stressed/damaged due to the friction of the oring with the surfaces it seals against.

I do not recommend to put grease on the cap itself. The oring works against the cap but algo against the groove of the oring. 

The debries/sand/small particles most probably goes inside the oring groove. Putting the grease directly into the oring with the oring inside the groove is not the proper way to minimize risk. In my opinion it increases the risk of leakage. 

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Nearly 40 years now with underwater o-rings. I never clean them daily unless they are exposed to sand to fibers or hairs. I'm careful when handling the gear. Charge the ike batteries and inspect the ring and reassemble on my Ike 161's .I do this daily without hanging the O rings . Over handling them is worse than anything. Keeping them clean is a frame of mind.Adding a bit of grease when needed. 

Take off and clan if sandy or you see an issue.

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Lots of different viewpoints on how often to clean - I would make the point that different strobes have different requirements.  Ikelite tends to use face seals a lot on the flat back of their housing and on their strobe battery packs - these o-rings do not need to slide and are normally not greased, so a quick inspection and brush off is entirely appropriate.  Others are piston design with o-rings installed on a groove in the cap which is pushed into place - straight sliding against the battery chamber inner wall needs the lightest coat of grease.  Most demanding is a screw on cap where the cap is screwed on over an o-ring in a groove so you have sliding friction to deal with and you don't want the o-ring to hang up. 

On my Z-240s without a light greasing of the cap they have always grabbed the cap and the O-ring turns with the cap unless I put a very light coat of grease on the sliding surface of the cap.  The difference it turning resistance is very noticable.  The o-ring seems to wipe this light coat off as the cap is screwed on.   If you are concerned about stretching your O-rings you can always change them annually.  I'm still using my original O-rings 4 years later and they are behaving the same and still sealing perfectly.  I don't fell comfortable screwing the cap back on if there are big drops of water clinging to the o-ring which is often the case with my o-rings so I always pull them off and dry out the groove whenever I change batteries.

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Removing orings from the strobes is the only way I managed to damage them ever
Back in the days I removed the orings when I was checking in the luggage now I don’t do that either. I do however only change the batteries in a clean environment even if I need to go back to the room or cabin. I never shoot full power and strobes typically do at least two dives sometimes I even leave them for 3 if I am doing macro. But again the strobes are almost always at max 1/4 power benefit of a cropped camera shooting mostly f5.6-f8


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