Helmetdiving, IJzeren Man Eindhoven, 21 mei 2000


On May 21, 2000 I got up early and got into my car and drove to Eindhoven because I was going to do something specially, Helmetdiving. Yep, that's right with an old suit and an old helmet, connected to hose and a pump.

Safe Diving in Eindhoven arranged everything. When I arrived, everything was already laying near the swimming pool. Unfortunatly it was raining, but a real diver doesn't care about getting wet. We first had a cup of coffee and met everybody who was there and was anxious of getting into the suit and experience first hand how in the old days people were diving.

First the people from "Helmduiker" explained everything of the equipement, how old it was and how to handle it. And specially what not to do, they are very protective of their gear because it is expensive and very difficult to get some parts etc. for it. The equipment looked in very good shape, and when they finished with the explaination they asked who wants to be the first.....

.....of course, I couldn't wait so I volunteered....

They start pulling the suit up after I put my hands really close to my body, because the suit is ratter tight at some places.

It is a strange sensation going trough the motions putting an old style dry suit on. Without help you just cann't manage. It all connects so close to your body at the sealings that I was afraid to damage the suit, but I did manage the leave the suit intact.

I got into the suit and with some help of the people of "Helmduiken" I managed to get it on without ripping the suit. After some lubricent for my big hands I had to get into the shoes, who each weigh 25 kilograms. Of course I don't succeed at first because of my big sized feet, but fortunatly they had another pair which fitted. 

The next heavy thing which was hanged around my body was the harnas where the helmet will rest on. This harnas has a weight around 15 kilograms. Pretty heavy, they seal it with a kopper brace which they tighten down with copper bolds.

After that is tightend and they are sure it was sealled they put on the helmet. The helmet weight is around 25 kilograms, this is resting on the harnas and that is all resting on your sholders, approaximatly 40 kilograms. But it is a lot of fun to experience it ones.

Then I had to get up and walk to the edge of the pool, there was a small step going down onto they connected an ordinary ledder to go down into the water. But before I could go down they hang some weights onto the harnas. In front and in the back they hang 16 kilogram each. So in total:
15 kilogram harnas
25 kilogram helmet
16 kilogram front
16 kilogram back
25 kilogram each shoe

Total extra weight 122 kilograms.

They explained how to get the air out of the suit while you underwater, there is a valve which you can reach with your face inside the helmet, and believe it or not but you can reach it.
Also installed in the helmet there is a microfoon and a speaker so you are able to communicate with the people at the pump. Because people have to pump air through the hoses connected to the helmet otherwise you will suficate.

....and there I stepped back onto the steps into the water....

....and down I went...

It is a great experience to walk on the bottom of a small lake, it feels like you are weightless. You can imitate Michael Jackson and do the moonwalk, when you fall down you only need one finger to push yourself up again.

Well, I like to suggest to every body who has read this page to try this.

If you want a telephone number to reach the "Helmduiker" please get in touch with me. As soon as their website is up and running I will make sure I set-up a link to their website.

If you wanna read more about helmetdiving equipment etc then have a look at
Diving Heritage from Bert Dodde.

Richard

 


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