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The First Version of the Mares "Mirage" in photos

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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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Now my gun is 67787 (I purchased it both new and totally unused), Tomislav's gun is 22315, which must be earlier and at 78335 the last gun shown is the latest of these 3 guns. Back to my last question, which gun did that photo of the power regulator bulkhead come from, which is a more open rear bulkhead and what was its serial number? The serial numbers will be the key to figuring when changes were made to the "Mirage". Fortunately Mares stamped in the serial numbers until at some time they switched to embossing it on stickers on their later series of guns, probably because many guns then lack a butt plate as the handles are allowed to flood. Both my "Sten" guns have butt plates with serial numbers, but I know "Sten" guns of a similar style, yet with an open ended handle butt and a protruding integral tag with a hole for tying a wrist attachment line don't. Then the totally restyled "Competition Line Sten" ("Sten 87" series) guns come in which have an open butt covered by a fluorescent lime green silicone rubber moulded over grip which can be removed as many divers did, including me, as soon as I checked out the gun. Those guns and the last of the previous series all are serial numbered by silvery embossed stickers that tend to peel off over time.
 
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tromic

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Aug 13, 2007
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That photo of the power regulator bulkhead is from mine gun, SN 22315. I bought it as a used gun. It was not in good condition and obviously was used in salt water. That is why I was not suspected about the missing O-ring on the power regulator shaft between two tubes. I had to make a new piston for the pumping barrel and to change all rubber (NBR) parts.
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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Well I have been assuming that the serial numbers are a sequential series rather than say a date or product code, but it occurs to me that some of the numbers may indicate a model. For instance I cannot believe that Mares made say 78,000 plus "Mirage" guns with there being a number 00001.

Serial number 22315 must be a later gun as otherwise it would not have that regulator block with the opened up rear face, in fact it cannot be an early gun. So the prefix number must mean something, or prefix numbers, thus at which digit does the gun numbering start?

My "Sten" is an early gun, but its serial number is 40093 and I doubt that it is after 40,000 "Sten" guns have been made. The trigger on the gun has no fine adjustment screw, there is no provision for one as that must have been a future refinement and the piston is zinc plated rather than cadmium plated. I never bought it new, I picked it up from a dive shop where it had been displayed on the wall, but the premises were being refurbished and so it and a number of other guns were being sold off. It could be gun number 93 with the "Sten" model series starting at 40000 for the 90 cm length guns.

As to the two metal tubes, the reason for there being two is to place an "O" ring there in the middle. If the power selector rod had no join in it then there would be only one long metal tube with the "O" right at the back. As that is impossible because the assembly of the power regulator shaft requires the rear section to be short so that it can be angled down into the selector gate, then the pressure seal had to move forwards to keep it away from the join so that the join never passed through it. However water can penetrate into the rear annular space between the two "O" rings, so I thought that the slight gap in the selector rod on my gun (the connection thread was not screwed right up to close any gap) was to let any water out as well as let water in. By keeping water circulating that wards off any corrosion potential.
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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My "Miniministen", purchased in 1970 from the Mares distributor when the second batch had just arrived after the first lot had sold out has serial number 63560 on its butt plate, so the number series may be more complicated than we think. We need more info from later "Mirage" guns as I suspect that there are two or three, maybe four versions of the "Mirage" in terms of the internal layout, but the changes are maybe subtle at first. Check out this photo where I compare at the same scale (as close as I can estimate) Tomislav's gun with mine.
Mirage comparison.jpg
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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Mirage inner barrel breather hole.jpg
Note the single airflow opening in the "Mirage" inner barrel as the designers tried to improve air transport after the air has travelled along a rectangular duct. What kills the "Mirage" in this early form is the length and small cross-section of that duct and the fact that the brass piston plug sits in the direct path of the airflow that has to flow both over it and around it and take two ninety degree turns before entering the duct. Consequently the gun needs high pressure to deliver anything like that from a "Sten" when the latter is pumped up to similar, but lower levels of pressure.
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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Now just referring back to the photo above with my gun and Tomislav's gun "side by side" I am surprised that no one noticed something rather significant. Tomislav's gun has a later version of the power regulator block, but it has the same length nose on the rear handle as my gun. That "long nose" lines up with the end tip of the passive line clip, whereas the front face on the gun that DG modified would be behind the clip (and it is for one of them, but the other one has had the clip cut off). So there are now three versions, long nose-flat regulator bulkhead, long nose-hollowed out regulator bulkhead and short nose-hollowed out regulator bulkhead, but maybe not the same bulkhead. I think Tomislav needs to measure his barrel lengths as the deeper revised bulkhead must take space away from the pumping barrel unless the gun is of a slightly different length, however the main barrel length will answer that question. Unless of course the regulator bulkhead is hollowed out at the back, but is not any thicker than the flat version and the combined gun photo seems to show this, in which case the barrels will still be the same length.
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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The diagram as it should have appeared for the revised version with the longer bulkhead and short nose on the rear handle.
revised gun diagram.jpg
 

tromic

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Aug 13, 2007
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Now just referring back to the photo above with my gun and Tomislav's gun "side by side" I am surprised that no one noticed something rather significant. Tomislav's gun has a later version of the power regulator block, but it has the same length nose on the rear handle as my gun. That "long nose" lines up with the end tip of the passive line clip, whereas the front face on the gun that DG modified would be behind the clip (and it is for one of them, but the other one has had the clip cut off). So there are now three versions, long nose-flat regulator bulkhead, long nose-hollowed out regulator bulkhead and short nose-hollowed out regulator bulkhead, but maybe not the same bulkhead. I think Tomislav needs to measure his barrel lengths as the deeper revised bulkhead must take space away from the pumping barrel unless the gun is of a slightly different length, however the main barrel length will answer that question. Unless of course the regulator bulkhead is hollowed out at the back, but is not any thicker than the flat version and the combined gun photo seems to show this, in which case the barrels will still be the same length.
I just measured the main barrel at 680 mm and the pumping barrel at 500 mm (calculating from the image because I dismantled the gun only partially to measure only the main barrel), same as yours Pete. A actually get L=680 mm * 1039 Pix/1442 Pix (from number of pixels) = 489,95 mm.
 
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tromic

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Aug 13, 2007
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What is the thickness of the power regulator bulkhead as that determines everything else?
Pete here are both bullheads, your and mine, side by side. I would say they are same. Height to width ratio from the image is very close in both cases. Your gun is same as mine but your is nicer, in better condition, like a new.

 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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But surely your bulkhead is cut out at the rear, mine is flat on both sides, so the cut outs have been made into the original mould thickness on your gun by modifying the moulding die. Here again is the photo.
Mirage Bulkheads R.jpg

Mirage bulkhead front and rear.JPG
 
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tromic

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Aug 13, 2007
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OK, I will check it again. Obviously bulkheads are different!
But, despite my bulkhead is hollowed the main geometry and dimensions of barrels and bullhead lengths are same. I did not read carefully all what you wrote before. What do you want to find out? I do not see big difference for guns operation in that that your bulkhead is flat on both sides and mine hollowed on one side. I think mine is nicer :). Your is more robust and maybe cheaper to produce. Maybe I have higher air volume because of hollowed bulkhead. We still do no know who's gun is older!? I have not used this gun for more than three years and have not been thinking about it.
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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My "Mirage" is one of the original models for certain as it came in the brown vinyl carry bag, it had the heavy-duty speartip and the 3 rubber seal piston which not long after in the production run had the front conical seal replaced by a grey plastic bush that acted as a bearing surface. I know that when I purchased the repair kit it only had one rubber conical seal and the plastic bush, the plastic bush being basically a cracked tube so that it could be slipped onto the piston. I never used either part and still have them as my gun, which I bought as a very young man, never worked long enough for me to keep on using it. I know from the salesman at the shop, the Melbourne Sports Depot sports store, there being no dive shops back then, that the "Mirage" was the latest gun available from Mares. I could not buy it back then as it was too expensive, more than a couple of week's wages, however a few years later the guns were sold off and my gun was exactly the same as that first gun I saw. Same colour tank, same folding lever with no top bump and same spears with the same tip. I have absolutely no doubt that this gun is the twin of the gun first seen on the display stand which we could look at, but not touch! As to the later changes, well obviously it is all about the breathing being improved. I can tell now that I know exactly what the changes were in versions two and three what Mares were trying to do to fix the gun. The brass piston plug stayed put and Mares progressively cut back the envelope around the back of the piston to smooth out the airflow directional transitions and slightly reduce the length of the duct making small changes to the dies. Unless they totally redesigned the gun, which would have been a big cost, they tried to modify it as cost effectively as possible. With the architecture of the gun setting constraints that could not be overcome, Mares had a couple of tries and then gave up.

A better “Mirage” could be built, but first you have to ditch the current rear handle and start again as the design tried to make, and succeeded, in having a small pre-chamber volume to pump the gun down to zero. That was a mistake as the compact handle interior makes airflow improvement impossible and that is why the “Mirage” was finally cancelled after the long bulkhead version guns. That long duct under the inner barrel is the “Mirage” gun’s "Achilles Heel" and nothing can be done about it. Sure you can improve it, but it is like hotting up a car engine where the ports can only be enlarged so far before breaking through some part of the casting into the water jacket. There is in a sense no "after-market" replacement cylinder head for a “Mirage”. Having modified car engines with bigger valves and matched ports and improved combustion chamber shapes I can see the relevance to the "Mirage" gun's breathing, or lack thereof!

Well I am forgetting the "second duct" modification by DANILO020 which he outlined here:
https://forums.deeperblue.com/threads/mares-mirage.84190/page-3

but a better gun can be made by taking the "Mirage" pumping circuit layout and installing it in a new gun with a more concentric main barrel and finding a way to locate and trap the pumping barrel inside the gun and assembling it in a simple way which was certainly an achievement of the "Mirage". A new thread should be created to discuss this possibility.
 
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Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
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Few notes from me, just passing time on the airplane...:

- The gun I have with a pumping barrel at 498mm actually leaked at the nose cone. I shimmed the back of barrel (added washers between the back of the barrel and the bulkhead) and that solved the problem, so very likely 500mm is what it should have been.

- In another post somewhere, Jegwan also mentions that some Mirages (perhaps the earliest ones?) have tanks with larger than normal wall thickness. So, instead of 40mm OD, perhaps they are 40.5 or 41mm. I can't recall, but maybe we should measure the OD of our tanks, too.
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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I just measured my "Mirage" tank with vernier calipers at 40 mm OD and 38 mm ID. The tank ends are internally chamfered to aid the tank end squeeze over the "O" rings during gun assembly, however a slight lack of concentricity has made one edge thinner and that edge can cut "O" rings. When I first dismantled the gun I was working over a polished timber floor, the tank suddenly rolled off my work table and bounced a few times going end over end on the floor before rolling to a stop. To my dismay I found that although the tank was undamaged, the first blow had chiselled a tiny curved segment out of one of the timber floorboards.
 

tromic

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Aug 13, 2007
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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?
Here are some dimensions. Mine bulkhead is hollowed from the front side! I did not took out the bulkhead because it was very tight in 40 mm barrel. I could not remove it easily so I left it in place. 14.8 mm dimension might be slightly inaccurate!?

 
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tromic

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Aug 13, 2007
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My Mirage Power Regulator dimensions. Pete, this is obviously different from your although your handle is from outside like mine.
I would say mine is better design... No air leakage from power regulator if OR is 4 x 2 mm, as I already said before. Bended part of the shaft is actually shorter then on the image, 24 mm from the tip of the screw to the outer bend. The threaded part is 8 mm long.

 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Now I am confused because I am not sure what I am looking at here in this latest image (marked with XX). Maybe this diagram will help as you can then show us which side of your bulkhead points in which direction. I cannot see where pumping barrel attaches as the boss with two “O” rings is not identifiable on these bulkhead views.
Mirage bulkead changes.jpg

If what I had thought for a long time was the rear of your gun’s bulkhead is actually the front then I cannot see why anything was changed as those shapes facing into the forward air reservoir space would seem to serve no purpose. My theories have all been based on that face being the rear face ever since when you first posted it. I cannot imagine how those parts are back to back views when we have the image from the side on photo showing a boss that is not apparent on either view of the faces.
 
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tromic

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Aug 13, 2007
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Yes it is confusing to see it from the image to me too! Obviously XX is the side where the handle should be pushed in. The nose of the handle should be pushed in 18, 5 mm. Front part of the bulkhead is hollowed. Neither I can see the boss from the image but from the other image where the gun is on the table dismantled the boss could be seen clearly. I suppose it is in the same place, in same relation to main barrel and power regulator boring as on your bulkhead?
What you marked as overpressure valve might be the pumping valve...?
https://forums.deeperblue.com/threads/the-first-version-of-the-mares-mirage-in-photos.106918/page-2#post-960634

Where the sealing ball is toward the handle (lower-right on the schematic), the oposite side on the bulkhead must be the boss. On front side of the bulkhead there must be a screw pushing the spring and the ball (not shown on the schematic, only the spring and the ball is shown).
Pumping in lower barrel, air is being transferred from blue to yellow space thus making loading in main barrel easier.

 
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