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One of the more unusual bits of PPE available is the Resp-O-Rator from Duxterity LLC.  Unlike most dust and vapor masks that cover the mouth and nose and are held in place with straps that go over the head, the Resp-O-Rator connects a scuba-like mouthpiece with a pair of round filters via a pair of tubes that go over the wearer’s shoulders. This has a couple of advantages: no straps to interfere with glasses (safety or otherwise) or ear protection, the filters are farther from the source of dust or fumes, and there is no need for a mask to seal against the wearer’s face — the last being especially important for those with beards or behind a few days on our shaving schedules. 

So, I got myself one for Christmas, and here are my first impressions.

There is a nose clip that keeps your nostrils shut while you’re using the ROR, rather like a swimmer’s nose clip. It’s a bit tricky to get properly aligned, and it’s probably the least comfortable part of the whole assembly. I think I might look into replacing it with something a bit softer. 

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The mouthpiece feels a bit odd at first, but that feeling went away almost immediately.

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Indeed, it actually felt more comfortable to leave it in place than to let it simply hang loose. 

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The ROR doesn’t stick out from the face much at all, so it didn’t interfere with even my most close-fitting face shield. 

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I wore the ROR while using both an angle grinder and my 2x90 and while welding with flux-core wire. In all cases, it worked great. I couldn’t even smell the welding fumes or the grinder dust. 

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It was pretty cold in the shop today, so there was a bit of an issue with condensation dripping from the front exhaust port. I may end up adding a bottle to catch the drips, like the modification recommended by Michael Cthulhu/Irish Mike/Michael Craughwell:

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Verdict: I like. Easy to wear, surprisingly comfortable, no fogging of glasses. I found myself realizing that I was still wearing it several minutes after I'd finished what I was welding or grinding, whereas I probably would have torn off my old mask the moment I was done. That's a very good sign.

Con: the filters have a proprietary fitting, so theoretically I’d have to but Duxterity’s own replacements. However, I don’t think it will be difficult to make an adapter from a worn out pair and the P100 fittings on my old 3M mask.

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One criticism that I’ve heard about these is that the hard plastic bar across the back (connecting the two filter attachments) has a tendency to break eventually, and some users end up replacing it with a leather strap. I expected to have to deal with this some day, but with the shop being around 18F this afternoon, that day came sooner than anticipated. 

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So, I twisted up a quick replacement out of a worn-out bandsaw tire:

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This actually makes it much easier to put on and take off, so this is really an improvement. I may do something a bit fancier later on, but as ThomasPowers says, there’s nothing half as permanent as a temporary solution. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Update: after another decently long session of cutting, grinding, and welding in the shop, I have a few more observations:

First, I had made the replacement strap at the back too short, so the side pieces were bumping into the sides of my neck and disconnecting from their fittings in the front. Some untwisting of that strap to lengthen it, and the problem went away.

Second, this thing really is startlingly comfortable. I found myself forgetting that it was there most of the time and leaving the mouthpiece in place even when I wasn't grinding or welding.

Third, I'm still not crazy about the nose clip, but it didn't bother me much. Still interested in trying out a swimmer's nose clip instead, but I'd have to remember that the next time I'm in the store. (I have a mind like a steel trap: illegal, rusty, and lost in the woods.)

Fourth, it was cold and humid in the shop, so there was condensation EVERYWHERE. This made dripping something of a problem, and I'm leaning a little harder towards the condensation-catcher option. No decisions made yet, though.

Fifth, the filters behind my head were completely out of the way of both my face shield and my welding mask. No annoying bumping of a respirator against the inside of a face protector.

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Good review John, I'm liking the sound of the resp-o-rator better all the time and I liked it first time you brought it up. 

Thanks, 

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 1 month later...

Further update: with the original filters starting to clog up, I decided to move forward with adapting the Resp-O-Rator to accept 3M filters. So, I cut the bayonet fittings out of the R-O-R filter holder and from my old 3M respirator (model 6391) and glued them together with a piece of PVC pipe in between. 

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And here they are, installed with a pair of 2096 (particulate + nuisance level acid gas) P100 filters. 

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Not a particularly neat job, but it works well. Nice to know that I’ll also be able to use this with VOC filters and the like. 

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MAN, Resp o rator sure expects it's users to spit a LOT! Do they offer spit bottles with some style? Maybe a critter with a lampray mouth or a kissing bug? Ooh OOH a Kermit! 

You could make a killing in after market sales!

Frosty The Lucky.

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