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October 2006 Vol. 32, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Scubapro Recalls Dangerous MK20 First Stages . . . Finally

from the October, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In early October, Scubapro and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of the Scubapro MK20 first stage. If someone servicing the regulator over-tightens the yoke or DIN retainer, it could cause a stress crack that might ultimately interrupt air supply. Divers should stop using the regulators immediately and bring them to any Scubapro dealer, where the retainer will be modified (with a so-called “upgrade kit”) to prohibit over-tightening.

This recall comes more than 16 months after the problem first surfaced. In June 2005, Undercurrent reported that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had ordered all their Scubapro MK20 regulators out of the water after four first stages cracked. Scubapro, which had stopped selling the MK20 in 2001, replaced NOAA’s MK20s with MK25 models, which do not allow over-torqueing. A spokesperson for Johnson Outdoors, the parent company of Scubapro, told Undercurrent that the NOAA reports were the only cracking incidents the company was aware of. Subsequently, however, we learned otherwise.

After our article appeared, we heard from several readers whose MK20s or similar models had failed. Jim Reilly (Lafayette Hill, PA) said, “I sent them not one, but two emails asking if my regulator was safe to use and never got an answer.” He then took his three MK20s to his local dealer where he was told that the regional Scubapro representative had directed dealers to offer a discounted trade-in on an MK25. For $220 the shop upgraded his MK20s to MK25s.

However, in May 2005 Scubapro had quietly begun making its upgrade kits available to dealers, but only if requested. In other words, a diver had to hear about the problem (eventually a notice appeared on Scubapro’s website) and ask for a repair. Unlike Reilly, they would not have to pay for the upgrade.

When we told Johnson Outdoors’ spokesperson Cynthia Georgeson, she said: “Since the initial stories appeared and our dealers receiving the service update resolving it, we have received a few additional cracked units. . . At Johnson Outdoors, diver safety comes first and we are confident that based on these independent findings, our recent MK20 service update is the right and appropriate step to help prevent issues in the future.”

After the recall, we called Georgeson to ask why there was more than a year’s delay between their discovering the problem and the recall. She replied, “We issued the recall to make sure we’d made every attempt to reach the broadest number of dealers and consumers.” Georgeson insisted that there had been no new incidents in the intervening 15 months. Nevertheless, unless an owner of one of the 48,500 regulators that were recalled went to a dealer, or read of the problem on the Scubapro website or in Undercurrent, they would not know of the potential problem.

After questioning by Undercurrent, she called to confirm that warranty holders would now be notified of the recall by postcard. But don’t be surprised that you read it here first.

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