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June 2003 Vol. 18, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Luxfer Tank Trade-In Is No Bargain, But Worthwhile

from the June, 2003 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In the March 2000 Undercurrent, we reported on the problem of sustained load cracking in certain scuba tanks manufactured from aluminum alloy 6351 before 1990. Some of these tanks developed cracks in the neck and shoulder area. A few catastrophic ruptures have resulted in "serious injury, death and/or property damage," according to an advisory notice from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Luxfer Gas Cylinders, the major manufacturer of 6351 tanks, recommends that they be electronically tested for cracks at least every 30 months. Many technicians perform these eddy current tests along with each annual visual inspection.

Nevertheless, some shops are flat out refusing to refill 6351 tanks, leaving owners with no recourse but to replace them. In a classic case of turning a near disaster into a marketing ploy, Luxfer has announced a trade-in program for these bad boys, but only Luxfer's 6351 tanks made in the U.S. qualify, and there are a few other wrinkles to the program, as well.

Owners of the suspect tanks must call the Luxfer Customer Service Department (800-764-0366) to request an authorization number. The customer service representative will ask the model number, serial number, and original hydrostatic test date for each tank. If you're eligible, the rep will then tell you how to ship tanks to Luxfer -- at your expense, about $15 each -- to receive a $50 credit voucher -- now worth $35 -- for each tank.

You take the voucher to a participating dealer and apply it toward the purchase of a new Luxfer 6061-alloy scuba tank, which runs about $130, without a new valve. So basically you get about 25 percent off the price of a new tank, and Luxfer gets to remove these potentially dangerous cylinders from use while driving customers to its participating dealers. Sounds better than a recall, doesn't it? And their great $50 credit program garners them scores of free publicity.

Jim Mularkey of Dallas, TX, believes "Luxfer is doing what is best for Luxfer." His local dive club is stuck with 50 of the 6351 tanks and -- after some shopping -- found a dive shop that offered to fill out the paperwork and accept the tanks for bulk shipping back to Luxfer, while providing replacement tanks, less valves, for about $82 after the Luxfer voucher. Luxfer advises that "it pays to shop around to determine which shops are offering special discounts and programs of their own."

Still, you save $35 and lessen your risk of an accident. So you might as well go for it. For more information, check Luxfer's website (www.luxfercylinders.com) or call 800-764- 0366. The trade-in program expires at the end of the year.

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