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Helmet Repairs, Custom Helmets, Inspections
as of 08/08/14
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as of 08/08/14
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Photos of equipment
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our repair projects
DESCO Historical Item Collection
Old diver and/or equipment photos
DESCO does quite a few repair and refurbishing jobs. We have been privileged to work on some very old, and some vary rare helmets. We also repair and overhaul DESCO air hats for commercial customers. Another job type is customizing or converting helmets. Below are a few before & after photos of some of our projects.
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First Generation DESCO Shallow Water Diving Helmets #7 & #10.
In late January we received two of the original DESCO Shallow Water Helmets from Gary Burdick at Seahawk Trading Co. Number seven has had a rough life. Somebody decided it would be a good idea to bob the breastplate so the helmet could stand upright on its own. We found evidence that the helmet may have been converted into a fish tank as there is a solder joint in the neck opening where a blanking plate would have been, and a water line bisecting the telephone cup.
Documentation for the early SW helmet is virtually non-existent. What we have are a few photos and the catalog pages from that time. The photo of the gen 1 helmet is dated 8-44 so we know that is the approximate time of development. The photo of the gen 2 helmet with a curved window is dated 9-46.
Fortunately Gary Burdick has two helmets and number 10 is intact. It did serve well as an example to follow in repairing number seven. We made new Copper panels to replace the missing breastplate sections. The repair is far from perfect but it maintains all of the historical integrity of the helmet. The repair itself becomes another chapter in that history. We also made up and installed new weight studs.
The window in seven was in three pieces which were poorly made. A new window was made up and the outer frame was resoldered as it was split at the facet turns. After a laborious effort to make the new acrylic window we can see why they abandoned this design.
There was a large hole in the back where we guess a communications fitting would have been. We installed a communications fitting from the old DESCO Mask comms which would have been a possible installation. The fitting fit perfectly in the hole. We then blanked it with a cap.
Number ten just received some minor cosmetic dent removal. It is in very good condition for its age.
They are on their way home and we hope Gary will be happy with them.
Courtesy Gary Burdick Seahawk Trading Co.
Air Hat #870 Allied Technical Services
On February 9th we received a sad looking air hat for repair. It had spent a month marinating in a sewage treatment facility and the scent from the box was all the proof we needed. We'll let Bob Hendricks of Allied give the background.
We had a job come up to inspect a gate in a head box in a large southern city. The head box was an area that has multiple collection points for raw sewage. Three very large pumps are in this head box. We tagged out the pumps and this allowed only two hours time to complete inspection. We suited up diver in appropriate suit and hated him in DESCO pot # 870. Inspection went well and about one hour into the inspection the diver noticed that his umbilical was fouled. He tried to clear in to no avail we determined that the umbilical was sucked into an orifice not shown on the old drawings. Rather than risk the diver approaching the orifice we optioned to have him return to the ladder and ascend. He made it out of the water but did not have enough umbilical to reach the landing just 3 feet further up. Time to put the station back in service was running out. All of a sudden the umbilical became tight and the diver ditched the hat popped his snap shackle and came out. Attempts were made to pull the hat out to no end. , the station was put back on line. It was decided that any future work in this area should be done in the dry. Two months later we installed a bypass and a diver installed a bulkhead and we dewatered.
We recovered DESCO pot # 870 and returned to DESCO for evaluation and a determination of serviceability. My divers were shocked to find it. They stated if this had been a fiberglass hat nothing would have been left in an area that had that much tumbling, suction and violent activity. This helmet had been purchased used in the year 1993 from a company that had gone out of business. We figured
That this was it end and had served us well over the years.
Diving Division Manager, Allied Underwater Services
Allied had made their best efforts to send a clean and sanitary helmet to us but we still weren't taking any chances. As the parts were stripped off all the hard parts went into the utility sink to soak in detergent and bleach.
The soft parts were not even worth an attempt to salvage to they went to the round file. After cleanup each part was inspected for damage from tumbling around in the containment. The shell was media blasted to remove all the paint. it was found that the front loop was ground down, the tail had a corner flattened, and the shell had dents and scrapes. The loop is Silver soldered on so the old one was desoldered and a new one installed. The tail was still serviceable so the damaged area was deburred and otherwise left. The dents were pounded out but the scuffs were fairly deep so they could not be buffed out without significant material being removed.
This helmet was originally painted Yellow. Allied opted for tinning the helmet. After reassembly she proudly displayed her battle scars and was ready to return to work.
Ric felt one final step was necessary before we could return 870 to Allied.
Our thanks to Bob Hendricks and Allied Technical Services for sharing AH 870's story and allowing us to pass it on.
DESCO Mark V #358 dated 6/6/43
We were recently requested to refurbish a cherished family heirloom recently. One of our early Mark V helmets came home for a little TLC. Our customer told us this helmet was used by his grandfather who was a diver.
The helmet itself was in amazing condition with some scratches and only two dents in the bonnet. The top and breastplate were media blasted, then buffed and polished. The other parts got a good cleaning and polishing too.
The top had the original massive transceiver in it. The US Navy inspectors mark was stamped into the front of the lower neck ring, next to the
The helmet cleaned up very well. In its condition you could replace all the seals and dive it tomorrow and she would perform as designed.
Only a few small parts needed replacing from age and wear. We hope the customer's family will enjoy this helmet, and the stories about their Grandfather for generations to come.
DESCO Abalone 1029 Before & After
DESCO Air Hat Before & After
DESCO Mark V dated 6-6-44
A 1916 Morse Mark V top that was crushed in.
Morse 3 Light Commercial Morse Fisheries (window replacement)
Before After Before After
Morse 4 Light Commercial
Schrader Mark V 1918 Schrader Mark V
Before After Before After
Schrader 4 Bolt
Miller Demand Hat
Miller Dunn 3 Shallow Water
Siebe Gorman Three Light TOA 3 Light
Korean 3 Light
Russian 3 Bolt Helmet
We also do repairs and refurbishing on other diving equipment like the Widoff Mask below.