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Fitting 1.5-inch Cam Bands on the KISS Classic Explorer

The KISS Classic Explorer’s counter lung case is design to accept both standard 2-inch width and the narrower 1.5-inch width cam bands for securing the dil and oxygen bottles to the back the counter lung case.  The one problem I find between the two, is that 2-inch wide cam band buckles do not fold down as cleanly on smaller tanks with a diameter less than 5 inches / 12.7 cm as do the smaller 1.5-inch models do.

KISS Classic Explorer with Dive Rite 1.5 inch cam bands

KISS Classic Explorer with Dive Rite 1.5 inch cam bands

Currently Dive Rite is the only manufacturer that offers a stainless steel cam buckle for 1.5-inch-wide cam bands. But like its bigger brother, it only comes in the same standard 36 in / 91.4 cm length. For applications on rebreathers using smaller diameter tanks in the 13 to 19 cu.ft. range this could represent a problem. Fortunately the strap at the buckle end is not sewn, and is instead attached with a stainless belt slide.

There are two ways to size it down for a better fit. One approach is to readjust the slide so that the buckle is moved closer to the soft Velcro portion on the webbing, and then retighten the slide. Afterwards, trim the excess strap exiting the slide leaving a one to two inch section in its place. Be sure to cauterize the freshly cut end with a cigarette lighter to prevent the webbing from fraying.

1.5 inch cambands_5

The second approach is the one I prefer. This involves having the buckles sewn on in the same fashion as on standard two-inch cam bands. This approach seems to limit strap creep, and it gives the tank straps a more polished look. Many shore repair shops have the heavy-duty type sewing machines needed for the job, and will usually do it for a couple bucks for each cam band. Just be sure to request nylon thread for the job.

1.5 inch cambands_2

Before taking them in have them sewn permanently around the cam buckle, I prep each strap by cutting about 6.5 inches off the end of the strap where the buckle had been. This should bring the entire length of the strap end-to-end to approximately 29 to 29.5 inches overall.  Again, be sure to cauterize the newly cut ends with a cigarette lighter will prevent the weave from coming unraveled.

1.5 inch cambands_3

Next, fold approximately 3-inches of that same end around the cam buckle’s bar just like how it would look and a normal can band.  This will provide an area 2-inches long that can be stitched along with bringing the final overall strap length down to 26 – 26.5 inches once completed.

Before running off to your neighborhood shoe repair shop, you should pin each 2-inch tab temporarily in place with a safety pin, tape, etc., for the person that will be doing the sewing to follow.  It wouldn’t hurt to bring a 2-inch wide cam band off a BCD as a guide for how and where the stitching needs to go to help insure they stitch everything in place right way.

1.5 inch cambands_4

Strap stitched and ready to go.

Now that you have your newly customized straps installation through the slots on the counter lung case, you are likely going to discover one slight, annoy problem: as you go about tightening the straps before flipping the cam buckle down, the straps want to slip or walk a little around the tanks as you do it. I have found a very effective fix for this.

1.5 inch webbing slides

Remember that stainless slide that originally came with the cam strap? Take it and stack it with a second 1.5 inch wide slide (preferably plastic) and run the strap through it where it exits the counter case.

KISS Cam Bands 6

You will want the slides to be as close to the slots the strap is exiting from on the counter lung case, while at the same time, the cam buckle is shoved up as close to the other slot at the same time.

Dive Rite 1.5 inch cam bands

Once it is cinched tightly, the strap will not longer try to walk around the tank as you tighten it, making installation and removal easier.

As a final note, Dive Rite’s 1.5 inch cam straps can also be reconfigured as a quick-release style strap with the addition of the Dive Rite DR-BC2036-QR Adapter. While it will make this low profile tank strap more versatile in some applications, I am not sure that the QR adapter will provide very much of a benefit with this rebreather.

About the author  ⁄ Walt Stearns

Walt Stearns started as a freelance photojournalist in 1985. Over the span of his career, Walt Stearns has become known as one of the most prolific and frequently published photojournalists in boating, fishing and diving media, with more than 8,000 articles and 20,00 images published, as well as video work for broadcast outlets such as the Discovery Channel and the BBC to producers like Wild Horizon’s Ltd. Connect with me on Google+