Regulator 1st stages typically come in one of three configurations with a couple specialised alternatives also thrown in the mix. Swapping hoses and changing your hose configurations can be a pretty easy thing for you do do yourself at home for a more efficient setup. The first thing you need to know is that most 1st stages are made from Chrome Plated Brass which is a Soft Metal so you have be careful not to overtighten hoses when fitting them. Slipping or scratching your 1st stage is really obvious too so make sure you’re using the correct size tools and don’t rush things. Avoid adjustable wrenches and spanners and using imperial allen keys or spanners instead of metric or vice versa.
Most hoses are done up to around 5Nm of Torque which isn’t a great deal so only tighten hoses to this, if you have a torque wrench, or nip it up to just more than finger tight, any more can damage the screw threads on both hose and 1st stage which can’t be fixed… only replaced.
Now I’ve taken a few assumptions with the setups below but they’re a good starting point for you to adjust and adapt to your specific needs. The first assumption is that you’ll be fitting a transmitter if you can to your first stage, if you don’t use a transmitter then just leave the port blank. The second is that you dive with your primary and octo on the right side and sometimes in a long hose primary donate setup.
This is usually the cheapest 1st stage design and is found on entry level regs or used for stage cylinders. Each hose is routed out of the 1st stage like spokes on a wheel at different angles which can make neat hose routing tricky…
Most spoke design 1st stages only have one High Pressure Port so you can only fit one SPG which then defines where your other hoses have to go.
With your SPG defining where to fit your other hoses start there and picture how the 1st stage will position on a cylinder behind you. With the high pressure hose at 5 O’clock your octo will be best positioned on your lower right side at about 7 O’clock, Primary above that at 10 O’clock and BCD hose on the left side opposite at 2 O’clock.
If you want to add a drysuit hose then that’s when Spokes can get tricky as your BCD hose has to route upwards at 12 O’clock and Drysuit at 2 or vice versa.
Depending on your diving style typically start with the HP hose again and route that straight down the length of the cylinder or straight up. Your other hoses then depend on what you’re using the stage for but you’ll usually route the 2nd stage hose down the length of the cylinder in the nearest avalable port.
This is the most common 1st stage design and you’ll usually find Two Low Pressure and One High Pressure Port on Either Side. These are pretty simple and the only choice you should start with is whether you want it Inverted or Not. Inverting adds the extra benefit of making your 1st stage more protected and lower profile so if you’re swimming in an overhead or keep bumping your head on the 1st stage…
Again start with the SPG off to the left and BCD hose over that and Drysuit hose if needed. I usually fit the BCD hose in the forward position so it routes over the shoulder better and the drysuit under the arm. On the right side your primary fits in the forward port and octo rear but some 1st stages don’t give you the choice as they have high flow ports made just for primary’s.
Much the same as above but with the 1st stage upside down… Inverting means the 1st stage isn’t quite as vulnerable in an overhead environment so it’s less likely to be damaged and it won’t be as close to the back of your head so you’re less likely to bump your head on it when looking up or making entry.
Turn the 1st stages on their side as you’re only using one half of each of their ports, all facing downwards . Your SPG, Drysuit and Octo fit to your left 1st stage. Primary and BCD hose to your right 1st stage with hoses facing downwards.
Same as your left twin 1st stage above with SPG, 2nd stage and LPI routed down the length of the cylinder.
Swivel turret 1st stages are the most customisable design and often have a 5th Low Pressure Port from the top of the 1st stage. Four of your low pressure hoses can swivel on one axis so hose routing is easier and they can route out at more natural angles. The 5th port allows for more direct hose routing in certain setups.
This uses the benefit of the swivel turret the most and is setup much the same as the upright with your primary and octo on the right side and SPG and LPI hoses on the left with primary and BCD hose forward. The only downside is that some can be quite tall and get closer to the back of your head if you mount your cylinder high up.
Swivel turrets can be quite tall so inverting is usually a good idea. Same again respiratory on the right and low pressure inflators on the left with the gauges only this time much more low profile.
Switching to a DIR setup is easy and you’ll need the 5th port for best results. Put your long hose primary on the 5th port pointing down at 7 O’clock. SPG off the left side with LPI hoses and your octo on a short hose is fitted to the right side to go over your shoulder. This gives you a great setup that is both safe and practical in most situations but will require a few custom length hoses.
You get a nicer hose routing with a 5th port compared to an upright 1st stage as your octo and BCD hose can route at a nicer angle. Turn the 1st stages on their side as you’re only using one half of each of their ports both facing downwards . Your SPG, Drysuit and Octo fit to your left 1st stage with long hose octo out of the 5th port. Primary and BCD hose to your right 1st stage with primary over your right shoulder and BCD out of the 5th port.
Again much the same as the Upright stage setup, 1st stage on it’s side with your HP port straight down the length of the cylinder along with any low pressure hoses you need. The 5th port can be fitted with a short 20cm LPI for your BCD or Drysuit for a nice independant air source…
Fit transmitters to a short HP hose with a swivel pin, something like a 6″/15cm hose is perfect. That way the £250 transmitter can move and be bumped without straining or breaking either the transmitter or the 1st stage.
Consider DIR setups with a Primary Long Hose Donate arrangement, they’re safer and more practical for all environments. You will need some custom length hoses and a little training for proper usage but it’s a prefered setup by advanced divers around the world.
Invest in some decent fixed spanners or wrenches instead of adjustables. If any of the nuts on my hoses are scuffed on the corners it’s because an adjustable has slipped and taken the chrome off.
All High pressure hoses have the same threads so all you have to worry about is length, and if a swivel pin is fitted. Low pressure hoses are usually 3/8″ but there are a very few out there that are 1/2″ but you can literally measure their circumference with a ruler to tell the difference.
Take your time and make sure your tool is fitted correctly before loosening or tightening anything.
Outside of swapping hoses don’t touch or adjust anything. You can damage parts of your regulators, some parts are spring loaded and can be a real pain to put back together if not assemble in the correct order. Some regs have left handed threads inside so if it’s working fine then just leave it alone and if it isn’t working properly then take it to a service centre, and be honest… We can tell when somebody’s been playing around inside their regs