As UK divers, our dry suits are a vital piece of our dive kit. In my experience, its also the piece of kit that needs the most maintenance. I have had my Typhoon ProSport suit for about 6 years now and have had to replace the neck seal 3 or 4 times. That time has come again for another replacement seal.
It is a question we have all asked ourselves “Do I send it away or try it myself?”
So for the benefit of all you divers who have um’d and ah’d about fitting your own neck seal, I have gone ahead and fitted one myself so you can all learn from my experience. I used a Seal Kit.
Removing the old neck seal
So the first thing that needs to be done is to remove the old damaged neck seal. There is some tape, which runs around the base of the seal. This is stuck down really well and needs to be heated to soften the glue. Best way I found to do this was with a hair dryer to heat up the glue and a pair of long nose pliers to pull off the tape. This took quite a while. The tape tends to tear and you have to pick at it, which gets a little frustrating. You also have to be quite careful not to burn the suit with the hair dryer.
Once the tape is off you can then start to pull off the neck seal using the same method. You do need to try and get as much of the old neck seal off as you can. The cleaner you can get it the better. A bit of light sand paper tidies offI any old glue and prepares the surface for the new layer of glue.
Preparing the suit
Now the one thing that is going to make the whole process a lot easier is to make the neck area on the suit as flat as you can. I made a disc that I cut from a cardboard box (about 13” in diameter). Cut 2 discs and tape them together to make it strong. You then put it inside the suit, under the neck area and bunch the rest of the suit together so it’s nice and tight. Then wrap a bungee cord around the bunched up section underneath the disc to keep it all together. This flattens everything out and gives you a really good area to work on.
After removing the old neck seal you should have a faint line where the old tape used to be. This acts as a guideline for you to gage against the new neck seal. Lay it over the dry suit and see if it matches the old line. If not use can use some chalk to mark out any over hang and trim the neck seal to fit. REMEMBER: Check twice, cut once. You don’t want to ruin your new neck seal before you have even stuck it on!
Applying the glue
This step was the bit I was worried about. But was a lot easier than I originally thought.
When I comes to applying the glue to the neck seal the glue can cause the latex to wrinkle as it dries. To prevent this from happening you need to tack the neck seal to a clean flat surface. When I read this in the instructions I got a little confused. So I’ll try to explain the best I can.
- Apply a thin strip of the glue along the edge on the under side of the neck seal.
- Then stick this to the flat, clean surface (an old chopping board or tea try will do the job). This will prevent the neck seal from wrinkling when you apply the glue to the other side.
- You then apply a 1-inch strip of glue to the upper side to the neck seal (we cut an old credit card an inch wide to create an applicator, made it a lot easier to smooth out the glue).
- Wait for this to dry.
- While you are waiting apply another inch wide strip of glue to the dry suit.
- Once this has dried you can un-tack the neck seal from the board.
- Apply a second coat of glue to the dry suit but only on one half (I stuck one side of the neck seal on at a time so I didn’t have to rush the job. The glue dries quite quickly as well)
- Now slowly start to stick on the neck seal slightly stretching the latex as you go (this creates a better seal)
- Make sure the neck seal doesn’t wrinkle or crease as you stick it down, keep it as flat as you can.
Once you have stuck down the other side leave it to dry.
To finish off the neck seal you need to apply the tape. Use a section of the tape to mark out tramlines around the base of the neck seal (a line either side of the edge of the neck seal). This will give you guide lines on where to apply the glue later. The tape has the same problem that the neck seal had when you apply the glue. It wrinkles. So what you have to do is wrap it round a coffee jar or bottle in a spiral to keep it tight when you apply the glue. The tape also has a rough side and a smooth side. The rough side is what gets stuck down, so have this face up on the jar. So pop a dot of glue at one end of the tape and stick it to the jar and start to wrap.
Once done, you can then apply a coat of glue to the tape, again using your trimmed credit card applicator (cut to the width of the tape this time).
While you're waiting for it to dry, apply a coat of glue to the dry suit in between the tramlines you made.
Once these have gone tacky, apply a second coat of glue to the dry suit. You can then start to unravel a section of tape from the jar and start to stick it down.
Stretch the tape slightly as you go and follow the tramlines. Once you have gone all the way around, over lap the tape by half an inch by using some of the glue.
And that’s it. Leave everything to dry over night and then remove the bungee and cardboard disc. You are now ready to test the suit for leaks. You can do this by plugging the arms with some old plastic bottles and the neck seal with a larger 2lt bottle. Fill it full of air and rub on some soapy water around the new neck seal. If you see any bubbles you need to re-glue that area.
I found this easier than I thought it would be and would recommend you give it a go. The cost of the kit compared to sending the suit away is negligible and only takes an afternoon to sort out. I’d test the suit out on a shallow shore dive before (pardon the pun) jumping in at the deep end.
Our Video Guide
We have created a 3 step guide (yeah, its quite a complicated job) on fitting the dry suit neck seal. Check them out below: