skin diving

Hitch a ride on this scuba sea tow
By RICHARD HANSON

• COSTING LESS THAN $25 or so, this simple tow is basically just a 12 x 24-in. stainless-steel aircraft oxygen tank containing a 1/6-hp. motor and a 12-v. battery. No machining is required. You can assemble the whole thing with common tools, plus a small amount of welding. The sea tow will run for several hours on a single charge, and has a speed of 2-3 mph which can be increased or decreased by varying the pitch of the homemade prop. To keep costs down, many common materials are used in the construction. For instance, handles are made from 1-in. conduit; an automobile horn button serves as the switch and the stuffing box is assembled from easily obtainable plumbing fittings. Begin by cutting the end off the tank, using

A surplus oxygen tank and a 1/6-hp. motor, which is also available through surplus outlets, are the main components of the sea tow. Powered by a 12-v. battery, it will run for hours on a single charge

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A sheet of rubber mounted over the battery prevents accidentally bumping terminals on hull during removal. Carrying handle is made from 3/8-in. stock

Place spacers under the motor if this is necessary to achieve correct alignment. Locate the battery tray as close as possible to 1/8-in. motor base

sea tow, continued either a hacksaw or a saber saw with a metalcutting blade. Grind off the bands about 3/4-in. back from both sides of the cut, so that you can install the two iron bands which form a grooved seat for the end cap. Next, pour liquid rubber into this groove to act as a gasket. Place the battery base as close as possible to the motor base. To prevent the terminals from touching the tank when removing the battery, cut a small sheet of rubber from a discarded inner tube and use adhesive to mount this on the inside of the tank over the terminals. If it's an automobile battery, secure all wires to terminals with small hose clamps, and be sure to use spillproof caps. Ideally, the battery should weigh about 40 lbs., since this will allow you to add extra ballast to balance the unit for easier guiding.

The horn-button switch should be mounted on two 3/16-in. nuts welded to the handle. Run one wire up around the handle and through the %-in. pipe to a motor terminal, then seal this throughhull fitting by filling with liquid rubber. A short length of wire from the other switch terminal should be grounded to the handle at the switch base. Cover the switch and handle with a loosely wound layer of plastic electrical tape, and brush several coats of liquid rubber over this taped section to make the switch watertight yet operable. A word of caution: When charging or discharging, a battery produces highly explosive hydrogen gas, so double-check all hull connections to make sure everything is sealed tightly, and don't smoke near the unit. Wait an hour before installing the battery after charging.

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