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Project 2: The Rouquayrol Denayrouze ‘Pig Snout Mask’

During the research for the regulator backpack in 2004 Rob Krul and myself we traveled to the Holmen Navy Base in Kopenhagen, Denmark. There they had a genuine steel regulator which we were allowed to measure and photograph, but they also had the genuine ‘pig snout mask’ which belonged to the regulator back pack ( see also the chapter ‘1860 Rouquayrol Denayrouze’ ) When Rob held the original mask in his hands he told us that since a long time he had plans to rebuild such a mask. He took it to a quiet place and then started taking close up photographs of all parts and spent over an hour with his measuring tape, caliper and notebook ...

This time I discovered that the snout is probably one of the most inconvenient devices ever designed to explore the sea with. It is a heavy and clumsy thing which wants to fall off your face and onto the chest all the time, putting a lot of strain on the hose inside with the mouthpiece. Another negative comes when you realize that if you lose the mouthpiece inside the mask you can’t reach inside to grab it. My dive with the snout did not last very long. When I explained my experience to Muriel Peissik, of the ‘Museum du Scaphandre’ in Espalion, France she told me that in the museum they have a letter written by the French navy to Rouquayrol and Denayrouze explaining that even though they were quite impressed by the quality of the equipment, the mask was "quite inconvenient": would it be possible to change the design? The result was that the snout mask was given a 'back,' making it into a helmet. To suit the helmet a shoulder piece, or breastplate, was constructed. The helmet and shoulder piece were joined together by a flange with three bolts allowing the collar of a suit to be clamped in between, providing a watertight seal. The 3 bolt helmet was thus born. And when you take a look at early 3 bolt helmets it is easy to see the 'snout' in it, especially with the early Charles Petit helmets and also with Draeger helmets. This 3 bolt design became a new standard over most of Europe and even today 3 bolt helmets are manufactured in Russia and China.

Note. A version of this article originally appeared in HDS SEAP's Classic Diver, issue 50, and we wish to acknowledge the assistance of HDS SEAP President Jeff Maynard in the publication of the article here. Also a version of this article appeared in ‘The Journal of Diving History’ Volume 17, Issue 3 Number 60 summer 2009.

The genuine Rouquayrol Denayrouze ‘Pig Snout Mask’ which is in possession of the Holmen navy base in Kopenhagen, Denmark. Photographs David L.Dekker

Above left: Rob’s father hard solders the main body of a mask. Above right my father who’s a sculptor in bronze assists us with the production of cast parts, he carefully drops some more brass into the melting pot. Photographs David L.Dekker

When the brass is at a temperature of almost 1100 degrees C then its liquid enough to be poured into the moulds Photograph David L.Dekker

After the main body of the mask was hard soldered into a ‘tube’ by Rob’s father, we placed it into a steel mould. After a day of hammering the result was one sore arm ( of the hammering ) and a perfectly shaped body for the mask. Photograph Rob Krul

Not even 1 part which we needed to build the masks was available from any supplier, so each and every piece of it had to be manufactured. Also certain tools like the steel mould for the main body and the moulds for the brass parts had to be designed and built before we could start with the project. After nearly one year since we had ordered the first materials for the project we had finished the first mask. The photograph here above shows the evolution from the ‘rolled up’ copper plate into the final shape of the main body for the mask and at the background the mask all built together with the brass parts which either Rob had machined or we had casted with the help of my father. As joke I had sent the photograph here above to our friends in Denmark saying that the project advanced well and that we did no longer need their genuine mask: ‘when could we drop by to give them back their mask’? For a short moment it caused a slight panic with the danes who believed we had taken their genuine mask to Holland ... we took that as a compliment :o)

Rob proudly holding the first mask. Photograph David L.Dekker

When the masks were finished they were shiny and new ... but that was to change soon ... Photograph David L.Dekker

July 2006. Testdiving the Rouquayrol Denayrouze ‘Snout Mask’ in Oostvoorne

After the difficult dive in the south of France in 2005 ( see the chapter ‘Project 1, RD Regulator’ ) where the valve had not worked well, we rebuilt the valves for the regulator backpacks. Before taking the new snout mask into the water I first tested the new valve myself with just a mouthpiece attached to the regulator. Photograph Jan Paul Galdermans

The regulator now worked perfect so I came out of the water and had the mask attached to the regulator. Photograph Jan Paul Galdermans

After having been in the water a couple of times the regulator backpack and the snout mask are starting to look older and do blend in well with the genuine french diving antiques: the shoes and the knife. Photograph David L.Dekker


Currently we are working on a small series of 5 masks, we already have taken orders for these masks but there are some available for sale as well, inquiries are invited through the email link here below.

1983. Jan van Leest1983_Jan_van_Leest.html

2004. Krul & Dekker (2)

2004. Krul & Dekker

Questions? Suggestions? Diving Equipment or Documentation for sale?


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1832. Hugh Morton

1836. Deane1836_Deane.html
1839. Augustus Siebe1839_Augustus_Siebe.html
1839. Augustus Siebe (2)1839_Augustus_Siebe_2.html
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