Historical Archive

Dive Helmets

 

DESCO

DIVING EQUIPMENT & SUPPLY CO. INC

Desco has been around since 1937, and still makes helmets to this day.

This  is a four light, 12 bolt AGAR  helmet according to the name tag , but after talking with a few people, it is said to have probably been a prototype for the  Kirby  Morgan air hat. Desco probably made the breastplate and bonnet, then Kirby Morgan added the fittings and plexigass ports. The air control is on the front left side of the bonnet and the air exhaust is on the right side back. Air intake is in the center back.

Name tag reads:

DIVING EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLY CO. INC.

DESCO

MILWAUKEE WISCONSIN

MODEL          SER. NO.   

AGAR             3037       

  C. E. HEINKE & CO.

 

 

This company was established in 1820 and then sold to Siebe Gorman and Company in the 1950's.

This helmet is a three light, six bolt . The breastplate is solid brass with the name made into the casting. The spitcock is on the left  side  and the air exhaust is near the back on the right side, with the air intake in the center back.

The name tag casting reads:

C. E. HEINKE & Co. Ltd

London S.E. 1

Serial number  #491

   

A.  SCHRADER  MARK  V

 

 

A. Schrader  and Son was Founded in 1844, making them the second oldest dive manufacturer in the USA, A. J. Morse and Son being the first.

This Mark V has seen a few changes in its life, most noticeable is the large front port. It measures 8 1/2 inches across giving the diver great visibility. Some of the other changes include an air control valve added to the left side of the bonnet, a bale out connection on the front of the breast plate, and the spitcock being removed.

The name tag reads:

UNITED STATES NAVY

DIVING HELMET

MARK V               MOD.-1

SERIAL NO. 818B DATE OF MFC. 10-43

A. SCHRADER'S SON DIVISION

SCOVILL MANUFACTURING COMPANY

INCORPORATED

BROOKLYN, N. Y.  U. S. A.  

RUSSIAN 3 BOLT DIVE HELMET

 

This 3 bolt 3 light dive helmet is made of copper and brass with glass ports.

The back of the helmet has the air intake and telephone connection in one unit. The exhaust value is lower down and to the right.

HELMET WEIGHT: 37.3 pounds

HELMET HEIGHT WITH HANDLE: 20.6 inches

HELMET WIDTH: 15.3 inches

HELMET "head" DIAMETER: 12.6 inches

Date of manufacture: 1991 

KOREAN DIVE HELMET

 

This is a 12 bolt three light helmet made of copper and brass with glass ports.

 

SNEAD SHALLOW WATER HELMET

TYPE 2

 

Unlike many other shallow water helmets from this time era, the Snead didn't require heavy lead weights to sink them. The type 2 was made of cast iron or bronze, both having the weight of approximately 60 pounds. The helmet had a smaller curved plexiglass faceplate than the type 1, and the air intake was moved from the front to back top still using the 1/4 female pipe threads. The carrying handle was part of the casting on top center.

The name plate is molded into the helmet and reads:

SNEAD CO.

JERSEY CITY, N.J.

PAT. PENDING

There is very little history on these helmets, except it was made in Jersey City from the early 1900's to about 1940.

 

SNEAD SHALLOW WATER HELMET

TYPE 1

 

The Snead helmet was made of cast iron and sank under its own weight at 60 pounds. It has a curved single light faceplate made of plexiglass . The air intake is on top front just above the window and is 1/4 female pipe threads. The carrying handle is  part of the casting on the top center.

The name plate is molded into the helmet and reads:

SNEAD, CO.

JERSEY CITY, N.J.

PATT. PENDING

There is very little history on these helmets, except it was made in Jersey City from the early 1900's to about 1940.

 

CHINESE CONTEMPORARY HELMET

This 12 bolt, three light helmet has clear plastic grid to protect its face port and contoured cast grids over the side ports.

Name tag reads:

Model -TF - 12

REPUBLIC OF CHINA

DALAU DIVING GEAR WORKS

DATE OF MANUFACTURE

JUNE 1996

 

 

ABOUT THE GRISWOLD HELMET AND THE DESIGNER

Charles Earl Griswold (1935-1996) was a life long inventor, practical hand and designer of odd and unusual items. He was trained at the University of Washington in Industrial Design and Political Science. In the early years Chuck spent most of his time working with the Department of Oceanography, NASA and the Coast Guard. He sailed with the icebreaker Northwind as a civilian scientist on two trips to the far North Pacific. For  several years Chuck maintained the only civilian submarine fleet in the Pacific Northwest, and he organized and taught a school for submariners in Seattle.

Chuck began diving before graduating from high school in 1953.  His diving and technical skills led to his designing a decompression chamber which was used by Seattle's Virginia Mason Hospital to treat recreational divers who developed the bends.  He also assisted Rocket Research Corporation in developing and testing guidance motors for early space exploration.

During the 60's and 70's Chuck regularly as a commercial diver, favoring the Northwest style helmet on a MKV or commercial breast plate.  During the 80's Chuck worked internationally, primarily as an inspector or consultant on underwater oil and gas field development.  The Griswold Helmet was designed both from his own interest in historical diving apparatus and as an answer to the increasing number of  collectors and decorators who just has to have a "real" diving helmet and were constantly offering to purchase his working hard hat gear.  As a result, the Griswold Helmet is an authentic shallow water working helmet that can be dived.  A nice touch to the design is the helmet's capability to sit solidly on deck in a moderate sea.

In his own words..  "This hat had to look like in belonged in the sea and circular windows had been built into most of the helmets in the world.  I had always been fond of the 60 degree isometric ellipse as a design element--turtles and clams has used it for eons, so that became the shape of the windows and the handle.  The constraints of foundry practice eliminated side windows.  Having logged a lot of hours in small three windowed helmets, I had learned to use the side lights  a top port, so I thought by tilting to the side a top window might serve for a glimpse to the side, particularly handy on ascent.  That also answered the requirement for an auxiliary light.  While lexan polycarbonate is used in many working hats it never looked clean.  I knew that would be a strike against the helmet by my fastidious decorator friends.  The best practical alternative was 1/4 inch thick auto safety plate with the shatter proof layer in the middle.  That had worked well on a number of jobs, using clear "G E" silicon sealer to bed the glass in the casting.  The glass in clamped in place with brass guards screwed down in four places."

Although the Griswold Helmet was completely designed, created and cast in Seattle, Chuck chose to have the location Boston on the helmet because "all diving helmets come from Boston."  The helmet was cast originally in iron by the Olympic Foundry in Seattle and 12 units made of iron were made and sold before 1974.  Decorator pressure for a more classic helmet resulted in Zandt Brass Foundry casting 2 bronze helmets in 1974.  The next four helmets cast by Ballard Brass were not made until 1989, after Chuck had "retired" from active water work.  In 1994, he determined to cast and market more helmets in response to inquiries resulting from its inclusion in Best Publishing Company's book  A Pictorial History of Diving.    

 

 

MORSE SHALLOW WATER HELMET

 

 Morse designed a No. 15 or shallow water dive helmet in the 1930's. The helmet is made of spun copper. In the front of the helmet is a large unobstructed window made of shatterproof glass, curved to conform to the helmet.

Lead weights, neatly shaped, fit snugly to the lower portion of the helmet, one at the front and one at the back. Each weight is held in place by two anchored brass bolts with wing nuts.

A suitable channel built into the head  of the helmet distributes the incoming air about the diver's face.

The helmet weight is approximately 60 pounds total, and sold for $120.00 new in 1937.

 

 

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