Equinox Complete Carbon-fiber Shaft Prototype Is Complete (more Pics Added -- Prototype #2)!
By Steve Herschbach
I am one of those people who have always found the armrest of the Garrett Ace and AT models to be just a hair short for my liking. This would include what I’m seeing on the new Ace Apex. Years ago a guy was making and selling an item called the Garrett Gizmo, a machined metal extension for the armrest. It not only made the armrest longer but acted as a counterweight making the detectors less nose heavy. Unfortunately he must of machined up a limited number, as there are no recent internet references that I can find. It seems to have disappeared.
Does anyone know where to get one of these or something like it? If not, here is an accessory sales opportunity for somebody.
I'm not shy about it. Yup. I have big clumsy feet. The good news is it gives me stabilizing ballast should sobriety forsake me. The bad news is it's hell on GPZ 7000 lower shafts. I have broken several. To make matters worse, the lines of communication between my big feet and my small command and control center often get disrupted somewhere between my gullet and my gizzard which allows my big feet to proceed on a different heading than the rest of me. Oops, there goes another GPZ 7000 lower shaft. But I don't take full responsibility for all of these broken lower shafts. I don't recall ever breaking the good ol' GPX lower shaft and they fit at least 10 different detectors and cost less than half of a GPZ lower shaft. So I lay most of the blame at the feet of Minelab and not because of the feet of Klunker. The shaft is just plain flimsy.
Being a "tight wad" by nature I have tried numerous times to repair a broken lower shaft using glues, epoxies, tape, splints and every flavor of bubble gum you can imagine. Nothing worked. I finally came up with the idea of totally replacing the lower end of the shaft and it work splendidly.
This was made from an inch and a quarter by 1 inch pvc plastic pipe tee, a fine toothed saw, a drill, a round file, a sander, a heat gun and a bit of good epoxy.
This repair has held up for a couple of dozen trips and survived the icy conditions of early spring detecting, which is when my big feet are at their worst. If anyone is interested I will post instructions
After using equinox for a year and a half on the beach, I thought it was time to use it also in the mountains, if on the beach the original rod can be fine, in the mountains it is very uncomfortable, I thought of finding a way to reduce it, I had a photographic manfrotto with almost triangular rod, the upper part of the equinox electronics could adapt to the rod but the lower part did not, I looked for something at home that could replace the lower part, an easily foldable aluminum sheet and four knob screws obtained from connectors F for TV and brass screws, in order to easily detach it, the coil attachment and the shaft are of an ace250, the result can be seen in the photos, 570 mm long, easily transportable, it could have been done better but I don't have a 3d printer . Now I have two Nox800s, one for the beach and one for the mountain.
I know there's a long and old thread discussing this topic and other Equinox ergonomics but I decided not to bury this post there. In the last few months I've had some minor issues with the elbow on my swing arm ("tennis elbow" according to my doctor) but worse, recently I've been having wrist pain on the same arm. I don't know if the latter is related to detecting but it reminded me of the above linked discussion (and others) about S- vs. straight-shafts. I don't know if the mod I now describe is new. (After 2 years in the users' hands I would have thought not, but don't recall it on this site, anyway.) Here's a picture of the almost finished garage mod:
In a nutshell, I've replaced the two lower sections of the Equinox shaft with the two lower sections of the Minelab X-Terra shaft. Now I'll start at the bottom and work my way up, describing the differences.
Coil to shaft attachment: Surprisingly (because it seems like Minelab changes dimensions, etc. on every new detector) the gap between the ears is almost a perfect fit. It seems to be slightly looser with this mod, but that may be simply due to wear on the gaskets. I measured the shaft's widths and they are very close, possibly about 0.005 inches (~0.1 mm) different. Different gaskets or just a metal or plastic shim could tighten things up, but for now I'm not going to do that. Next is the screw/bolt and nut. The X-Terra had a nominal 1/4 inch diamter bolt while the Eqx is larger, (I think it's 8 mm, slightly larger than the SAE 5/16 inch). Again, until I find out otherwise I'm not going to be concerned about this as the smaller bolt goes through both parts just fine.
Lower shaft section composition: The Eqx has a carbon fiber lower shaft section whereas the X-Terra has an aluminum shaft with a plastic extension/insert for the coil attachment section. I did a quick test-garden check and the mod didn't appear to give any deterioration in performance. 5 in. deep penny and 6 in. deep US nickel, in moderately mineralized soil, I could turn gain down to 5 and still (barely) hear both in Park 1, recovery speed = 5, Iron Bias F2 = 5. Again, at this point good enough for me.
Middle shaft section: This is the S-section. The smaller diameter of this part is why you can't use the Equinox's lower section -- its diameter is too large to mate with the X-Terra S-section.
Middle shaft section (X-Terra) to upper shaft section (Equinox) mating: This is where things get a bit more complicated. The O.D. of the X-Terra shafts is right at 3/4 (0.75) inch whereas the Equinox is ~0.78 in. This 0.03 (~3/4 mm) difference is not acceptable as is. I used 0.0015 in thick copper tape to build up the X-Terra shaft. The tape's adhesive adds some thickness as well. I needed 15 inch length of tape for a complete wrap to make up the difference. (Note: I'm going to add another equivalent wrap above the alignment pin as well, but as of now -- shown in the photo -- I only have the one wrap.) Next, note that the X-Terra has two alignment pins compared to the single one for the Equinox. Turns out they are 90 degrees out-of-phase. In addition, the pin size (and thus hole diameter required) is different, this time slightly larger on the X-Terra. I'm going to drill two opposing holes in the upper Equinox shaft. Again it appears that the X-Terra was made to SAE dimensions and a 1/4 inch hole is the right size. To make sure I don't get more hole than I need, and to avoid the sloppy 'triangular' hole that standard jobber drill bits tend to make in thin sheet metal, I've ordered a 1/4 inch reamer from Amazon for the job.
Weight difference: The X-Terra lower sections and the attachement bolts & nuts are 80 g. (~2 2/3 oz. or ~0.2 lb) heavier than the equivalent Equinox pieces. I assume this is due at least in part to the carbon fiber composition but the tubing (and other pieces) may also be contributing.
Potential concerns: I start by pointing out that I'm not a beach/water hunter. Apparently the drag, etc. in that form of detecting puts more mechanical stress on the connections and parts in general. In particular, drilling two more holes for the alignment pins in the upper section shaft (which unfortunately are located right at the same location as the already present hole) will result in a weakening of the shaft there. I don't think that will be an issue for me, but water hunters (who apparently prefer straight shafts anyway) could be scared away from this mod. I suppose one might be able to buy a replacement upper section from Minelab.... Those holes are the only thing that keeps this mod from being purely 100% reversible and assuming they don't result in future breakage, I have the best of both worlds. (Of course it helps to have an X-Terra sitting around collecting dust!)
I wanted to give an update on the GARRETT shafts (middle and lower sections) that I've been working on, at Steve's Detector Rods. The first batch of 10 prototypes are complete (I made them in four different colors -- black, green/black, red/black and blue/black), and I am VERY pleased with the result -- I think they have turned out great! The two shaft sections are connected by one of my heavy-duty clamp-type cam locks (as used on my Equinox shafts), which eliminates the twist-lock and the spring button/button-hole design that is used for attachment of these two shaft sections, on the Garrett shaft.
AS A RESULT, my shaft offers four benefits over the stock middle and lower shaft sections...
LIGHTER WEIGHT. My carbon-fiber middle and lower shaft sections offer a 20% weight reduction over the stock Garrett middle and lower sections. (My two-piece shaft weighs 5 ounces +/- .1 oz or so, whereas Garrett's two sections weigh 6.1 ounces +/- .1 oz or so). FASTER/EASIER INSTALLATION AND SHAFT LENGTH ADJUSTMENT. With no twist lock and no spring button/button holes to fumble with, attachment of the lower shaft to the middle shaft is quick and easy; simply flip open the clamping lever on the cam lock, insert the lower rod section into the middle shaft section, and lock the clamping lever closed! UNLIMITED ADJUSTMENT LENGTH OF THE LOWER ROD SECTION. Again, with no spring button/button holes on the shaft, you can quickly and easily adjust the lower rod to ANY desired length, as opposed to having your lower rod adjustment length confined to pre-determined button-hole locations. IMPROVED AESTHETICS/VISUAL APPEARANCE. The high-quality, attractive look of carbon fiber offers an upgrade the look of your Garrett machine. And, you can add even more visual appeal -- making your AT- or Ace-series machine really "stand out" from the crowd -- by choosing one of a number of custom colors for your carbon-fiber shaft. A green/black prototype shaft is pictured, below!
If you have any interest in upgrading to a carbon-fiber shaft for your AT- or Ace-series machine from Garrett, contact me via PM, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Facebook message (www.facebook.com/stevesdetectorrods).