Sunday, August 18, 2019
  • Welcome to the DeeperBlue.com Forums, the largest online community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing. To gain full access to the DeeperBlue.com Forums you must register for a free account. As a registered member you will be able to:

    • Join over 40,000+ fellow diving enthusiasts from around the world on this forum
    • Participate in and browse from over 496,000+ posts.
    • Communicate privately with other divers from around the world.
    • Post your own photos or view from 7,300+ user submitted images.
    • All this and much more...

    You can gain access to all this absolutely free when you register for an account, so sign up today!

The First Version of the Mares "Mirage" in photos

popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
3,035
590
153
Australia
Blustery winds were blowing when I took these photos today, as when I turned my back for a moment the inner barrels rolled off the table and ended up on the grass. I then chocked the tank with the plastic snap lid box that I keep all the small parts in and waited for the wind to die down to take most of the photos. I will check later, but I don’t think I have lost anything and the inventory of parts is engraved in my memory. If the gun looks clean to you then the reason is that on last dismantling it I immediately stuffed the still oily components into separate plastic shopping bags so that I did not have to clean everything next time I assembled the gun. That was about two years ago, how time flies! This “Mirage” has probably had about a dozen successful dives in all (and has shot fish) as it always gave trouble the next time I checked it out and had again sprung a leak. I think I know why, but have been in no mood to fix it as the answer lies in the floating metal tube that holds the power regulator control rod “O” ring and the similar tube behind it hidden in the rear handle. That has another “O” ring trapped behind it (neither this “O” ring nor the second metal tube are shown on the parts diagram) which you can only get at with an angled tipped awl to tease the second metal tube out of the plastic channel it sits snugly inside. This “Mirage” gun came in a nice press button flap, brown faux leatherette carry bag actually made of very thin vinyl cloth, so thin it was like paper! I kept all the black plastic packing pieces and the only part of this gun that I have used almost continuously is the Mares Universal loader that came with the gun and for a short period I used its bayonet rear valve cap on my “Sten” until I found another one in a dive shop junk box which the owner kindly gave me for nothing, The “Mirage” spear tip, which I have yet to photograph, had one outing on my “Black Sea” gun, but I don’t remember shooting anything on that occasion. The slide ring on the 8 mm shaft functioned like a tilting lock washer on a caulking gun and tore stripes off the cadmium plated shaft every time I used the pumping barrel. The 7 mm shaft had a much better slide ring, but I bent the tail of that shaft while trying to load the gun under washing machine surface conditions where I could not easily control my body positioning. With the performance less than expected I decided to not waste my time with a 7 mm shaft. I never met another “Mirage” toting diver and one time when I was re-emerging after only just recently entering the water with the “Mirage” I was asked by a bystander where I was going. I replied “back to my car to get a longer and better gun”.
Mirage ARX.jpg
Mirage BRX.jpg
Mirage CRX.jpg
Mirage DRX.jpg
Mirage ERX.jpg
Mirage FRX.jpg
Mirage GRX.jpg
Mirage HRX.jpg
Mirage IRX.jpg
Mirage JRX.jpg
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
popgun pete

popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
3,035
590
153
Australia
All the inner barrel "O" rings are in their own annular grooves cut into the barrels, although it looks like one "O" ring there are actually two rings sitting side by side on the pumping barrel nose. For some reason only known to Mares the exact same size "O" rings are doubled up on the bulkhead boss that fits inside the rear of the pumping barrel. So at the front end the "O" rings are heavily stretched to near breaking on the outside of the barrel, although the locating groove is deeply recessed, while at the rear they go inside the barrel bore! I once counted how many "O" rings are in this gun, but will need to do it again as I have forgotten, however there are more rings than are indicated by at least one which is the one buried inside the grip handle, When speaking to a Mares service person who did repairs on the "Mirage" guns I was told that "O" rings were in different places at times as if the production assembly people were unsure of where the parts were meant to go and just put them anywhere convenient. If the gun held air for a minute or so then they probably put it on the outwards tray for shipping without ever trying out the power regulator operation. The service people were happy to see the back of the "Mirage" as it was a fiddly gun to fix as it had to be crammed together without the pumping barrel dropping out or pinching one of the body tube "O" rings with the outer tank being pressed into place.
 

tromic

Well-Known Member
Aug 13, 2007
1,551
149
153
Croatia
... This “Mirage” has probably had about a dozen successful dives in all (and has shot fish) as it always gave trouble the next time I checked it out and had again sprung a leak. I think I know why, but have been in no mood to fix it as the answer lies in the floating metal tube that holds the power regulator control rod “O” ring and the similar tube behind it hidden in the rear handle. That has another “O” ring trapped behind it (neither this “O” ring nor the second metal tube are shown on the parts diagram) which you can only get at with an angled tipped awl to tease the second metal tube out of the plastic channel it sits snugly inside.
..
Pete, I have exactelly the same model of Mirage but yours seems to be like a new!
I wrote about the same problem here:
https://forums.deeperblue.com/threads/mares-mirage.84190/page-4#post-947370
Neither I did not solve it quite good. When I used it last time, couple years ago, I used some teflon tape around the O-ring because I did not have O-ring of higher CS. But now I believe it uses floating O-ring design and maybe it wount leak the air if on high preasure. High preasure should squize the O-ring around the power regulator shaft and prevent air leakage.
 

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,268
309
138
Shanghai
Thanks SO much for this!
I will forward to the doubting Italian guy;-).
One of mine has those double o-ring barrels, but has the newer handle.

Cool looking piston btw.
 
Last edited:

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,268
309
138
Shanghai
Hey Pete,
The Italian says thanks for enlightening him. Between the lines and what Google might lose in translation he is entertaining the thought that it might have been sold overseas only... Haha, find the country pretty much the farthest from home territory and ship them there. Who knows. Perhaps they were never meant to go out and someone sold them out the backdoor.
Four decades later, it happens all the time in China ...;-(
 

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,268
309
138
Shanghai
On another note, you have the oval knob on the power regulator. I always get confused on that one. Is the round or oval supposed to be the early version?
 
OP
OP
popgun pete

popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
3,035
590
153
Australia
This is the early version, if you look carefully it has no seams in it and looks one smooth piece whereas the later knobs have a joined appearance that indicates they are fabricated differently. This version can break off if you are careless and let it take a big bump sideways which will bend the neck and snap it.
Power regulator.jpg
 
OP
OP
popgun pete

popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
3,035
590
153
Australia
My impression is the flat bulkhead of the early regulator block was to maximize the length of the lower pumping barrel, it must be shorter if the main barrel is the same length in the later versions of the 80 cm gun as their bulkhead is deeper, but by how much I am not sure. Similarly the early gun must have a shorter power regulator rod than the later guns use. Tomorrow I will measure all the barrels and rods on my gun for length. I suspect once the early guns were out Mares began to have doubts and began a series of changes, through careful examination we should be able to work out what they are. A problem is Mares never changed the parts diagram as the bulkhead never looks any different on the diagrams and they still show the "scalloped" hole on the front of the grip face which actually disappears once the bulkhead changes with the new power regulator rod mounting system.
grip face.jpg
 

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,268
309
138
Shanghai
Here are some measurements of my Mirage 80/84:
Shooting Barrel Length: 680mm
Pre-loading Barrel Length: 498mm
 
OP
OP
popgun pete

popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
3,035
590
153
Australia
Now that is very interesting as I just measured the main barrel at 680 mm and the pumping barrel at 500 mm. The power regulator rod is 83 mm from the front end of the brass transfer port plug to the rear end of the stainless steel shaft. So where does the extra depth come from in the later version's power regulator or partitioning bulkhead and my guess is that they have shortened the front boss on the rear handle. As a reference I placed my vernier caliper jaws down into the power selector gate and measured where the gate is positioned relative to the front face of the grip and found a length of 86 mm (see photo).
Mirage gate set back R.jpg
 

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,268
309
138
Shanghai
Yeah, that is indeed interesting and first I was gonna tell you that I would measure mine in a few days' time but then it was obviously clear to me from memory.

The V2 handle stops short right in front of the o-ring. There's actually not even a full o-ring groove. The groove's most forward wall is being made up by the back of the power regulator bulkhead. Always thought that was a tad funky - but now, I guess that's how they found the extra length needed...

I'll look for a pic for you, in the meantime I have marked what is"missing" on the newer versions:
DH Mirage gate set back R.jpg
 
OP
OP
popgun pete

popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
3,035
590
153
Australia
I was looking through my old notes and found this survey sheet on the “Mirage” which I created as a reminder all those many years ago when I first opened it up to see what was wrong with it. The notes mark the problem rings and indicate the fault and their replacement, note this is on a brand new, unused gun just as it left the Mares factory. “O” ring 46 on the pumping barrel piston had four semicircular nicks taken out of its periphery when the factory worker pushed the piston past the four air outlet ports on the pumping barrel which acted like cookie cutters. Rear body ring 36 had a jagged edge slice taken out of one side where the tank tube had cut into it when the latter was pushed onto the gun. Trigger “O” ring 28 was torn, over-pressure valve “O” ring 15 was stretched completely out of shape, instead of being separated both “O” rings 37 were jammed side by side at the rear of the second metal tube that is not shown on the drawing, remember that technically the second “O” ring 37 does not exist. Both these “O” rings were torn and distorted and when I spoke much later to a local gun service person they said that was how it had been (wrongly) assembled in the first place. With both “O” rings 37 located right back there the gap in the control rod where the knob connects via the fine screw thread into the rear of the control rod would regularly travel back and forth through the rings gradually chopping out their inner surfaces whenever you moved the power regulator knob. The rearmost or “phantom” ring 37 only acts as a gasket for sealing the second “phantom” metal tube into the handle frame, hence both “phantom” items were considered part of grip handle 19 which is why they don’t appear on the parts diagram. The “phantom” ring’s inner surface being damaged by the join in the control rod has no adverse repercussions for gun sealing, but if that “O” ring was torn right through thereby destroying its function as a gasket then air could get past that rear metal tube and cause both an air and oil leak. So you cannot ignore the “phantom” ring, but it is difficult to extract as you have to pull the metal tube out without scratching the bore it sits in!

Hence no wonder the “Mirage” was a leaker in that parlous condition, but how did it progress past Quality Assurance? I think the obvious answer is there was none, or they had all thrown their hands up in despair and totally given up. Meanwhile the factory was pumping out a bunch of faulty “Mirage” guns which first-up adopters were paying well over $200 for. Half that and you could buy a “Sten” and a “Miniministen” with leg holster then only cost $30 (actually $29.95). Now you know why the “Mirage” was a bit of a problem, at least here in OZ. “Mirage” by name and mirage by nature was how one wag succinctly put it.
mirage ring damage survey R.jpg
 
OP
OP
popgun pete

popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
3,035
590
153
Australia
Yeah, that is indeed interesting and first I was gonna tell you that I would measure mine in a few days' time but then it was obviously clear to me from memory.

The V2 handle stops short right in front of the o-ring. There's actually not even a full o-ring groove. The groove's most forward wall is being made up by the back of the power regulator bulkhead. Always thought that was a tad funky - but now, I guess that's how they found the extra length needed...

I'll look for a pic for you, in the meantime I have marked what is"missing" on the newer versions:
View attachment 42624
Great, I look forward to seeing it!
 

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,268
309
138
Shanghai
It's actually amazing I/we didn't spot the much longer boss on the Early Handle as I have spent countless hours modifying V2 handles for my custom grip project and posted plenty of pics. Case of not seeing wood for the trees:):
MIRAGE_V2_HANDLES.jpg

MIRAGE_HANDLE_V2.02.jpg

MIRAGE_HANDLE_V2.jpg
 
Last edited:

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,268
309
138
Shanghai
I was looking through my old notes and found this survey sheet on the “Mirage” which I created as a reminder all those many years ago when I first opened it up to see what was wrong with it. [...]

Hence no wonder the “Mirage” was a leaker in that parlous condition, but how did it progress past Quality Assurance? I think the obvious answer is there was none, or they had all thrown their hands up in despair and totally given up. Meanwhile the factory was pumping out a bunch of faulty “Mirage” guns which first-up adopters were paying well over $200 for. Half that and you could buy a “Sten” and a “Miniministen” with leg holster then only cost $30 (actually $29.95). Now you know why the “Mirage” was a bit of a problem, at least here in OZ. “Mirage” by name and mirage by nature was how one wag succinctly put it.
View attachment 42625
It's crazy that they risked it. It was a niche product but still it carried the Mares name and as such could hurt the whole brand.

My very first gun, and I think the reason for me starting to post here a few years back, leaked by the trigger pin. After much research and help from you guys I finally found out that it had simply shipped with a totally wrong o-ring size (too big). It was covered in oil in the shop I bought it from and so were the others in the same batch, but since I knew nothing at the time and only had that one shop to buy from, I didn't think much of it.

I have sinced speculated that it was collateral damage from moving production to China and/or changing from from Assos to Hunters on the assembly line. Mine was a Hunter with a 2mm pin vs. the 3mm pin for an Asso. I'll never know, but yeah - that batch should never have shipped out nor should yours.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
popgun pete

popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
3,035
590
153
Australia
I think Mares made a big mistake using China as they lose their skilled assembly workforce in Italy who are now out of a job (assuming the parts are not shipped in for local assembly, but I don't know for sure). Those workers take with them "know how" which is often not written down, but passed down through the generations as new employees understudy some of the more seasoned workshop veterans and team leaders. As a qualified management professional after my first technical life I know about this first hand as local plants have closed down. As for the problems with the "Mirage" it is easy to see what happened, experienced workers now had a whole new gun to learn how to assemble and the throughput of guns would still be expected to be high, so mistakes began to be made. With extra "O" rings to be fitted and many not much different in size, and shore hardness changes in the future which would be a torment yet to come, the "Mirage" program must have looked very shaky and profit can only be maintained by containing costs, so the time on each gun could not be allowed to blowout. Under those circumstances any negative consumer sentiment would be a feedback loop that traumatized the plant and at some time the "Mirage" program would have got the "axe", however I think that galvanized the company to making changes in order to create a better version (without spending too much "new" money) and a longer version to increase the gun's appeal, but I don't know the actual dates or timing. Special work teams could have been created that only built "Mirage" guns, but at some time the bean counters must have ran the numbers and said despite our passion for this exciting product we are just not making enough money and the resources used have to be directed somewhere else. Otherwise the "Mirage" would still be in production, but you never know it may rise again some day, however only if the numbers look right financially and that means charging a hefty premium price for the gun.

As to the handle being shorter in the front, well were too busy looking at your grips and never really thought about gun changes until Tromic posted his photo of the back of the regulator block. At that time my "Mirage" gun was fully assembled and had been that way for several years as I had tired of pulling it apart and had left it to sulk in a cupboard. During that time it had spitefully let its oil fill run into its towelling cloth transport bag turning the lower section of the bag a fawn colour. Two years later I decided that I better pull it apart to check with the photo as I had said on the thread that I would eventually do so, but first I had to raise my enthusiasm level to actually do it.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
popgun pete

popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
3,035
590
153
Australia
Check out the "Mirage" power regulator selector rod sealing diagram, the Mares assembly workers put my gun together as shown in the top diagram. When I pressurized the gun, and before all the air gushed out via the other numerous leaks, I found that air blew out as the join in the selector rod pushed through the rear seal which seemed odd at the time. Due to the join in the rod the pressure seal cannot be located so far back, but as long as no one moves the selector from the rear "high power" position any leaks from that location are hidden, thus a bunch of faulty "Mirage" guns could escape from the factory!
Mirage power regulator shaft seal.jpg
 

tromic

Well-Known Member
Aug 13, 2007
1,551
149
153
Croatia
I suppose we are both talking about the same Mirage. This is a photo of mine after I bought it:



I can not remember exactly but I think neither mine had the sealing O-ring on selector rode? It had not O-ring between two tubes. I did not check if there was O-ring that acts as gasket to seal the rear tube in handle. Maybe it is still there?
 
OP
OP
popgun pete

popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
3,035
590
153
Australia
What is the gun's serial number as that will be a guide? You know what mine is and you can even see it in my photo of the butt plate. However some time ago the photo of your bulkhead was shown, I combined it with mine and display it again here.
Mirage Bulkheads R.jpg

Or is this one on the LHS from another person's gun?