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as of 12/11/14









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as of 12/08/14




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sold by DESCO



Composite Beat Engel

Demand Helmet






Update 11-22-12 



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General Diving & Equipment




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Real or Replica?



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helmet models






How DESCO started



Those who built DESCO



General product history. Catalogs, significant orders, etc.



Discontinued DESCO Products



DESCO A, B, C Rebreathers Recirculating Helmets 



SCUBA Lungs, Water Skis, and Miscellaneous Water Sports Products








Magazine or News

articles related to diving.

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DESCO company photos

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Commercial Diving Photos supplied by customers



Classic equipment &

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Photos of helmets from

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Photos of equipment

 in museums



Photos from some of

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DESCO Historical Item Collection



Miscellaneous Photos,

Old diver and/or equipment photos






General News    Product & Company News    Stolen Helmets       


General News


04/16/14: On April 3rd the long awaited episode of How It's Made aired on the Science Channel. The segment filmed at DESCO was the last one in the episode. It ran about eight minutes and gave a brief overview of constructing a Mark V Helmet. for the segment opening shot the show uses models of the products they are presenting. In our case we didn't have a scale model to lend them so they improvised. While not a perfect solution a small replica helmet (three bolt) served the purpose. The episode will be

rerun throughout the year. 


02/05/14: We received word that friend and local commercial diver Peter Scotland has passed away. Peter was a genuine character. He spent some of his free time working with the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society. Peter did some volunteer work for us testing the Air hat in the hyperbaric chamber at St. Luke's Hospital.


On the Gallery 3 page there are photos of a dive Peter arranged down at South Shore. A friend of his had a very old shallow water helmet he made from a water heater tank. Peter had us do some TLC to it then he got it wet.


11/01/13:(1) We got word from Steve Taylor that the classic equipment group in his neck of the world has changed their name. Historical Diving Society South East Asia Pacific will now be known as HDS Australia Pacific. With the new name comes a new logo:





11/01/13:We have been informed by Willy Rownan he has retired and shut down RCH in France.



Product, & Company News


12/11/14: To kick off the centennial anniversary of the modern era of US Navy diving DESCO will be offering a limited run of the Stillson Concept Helmet. In 1915 Gunner George D. Stillson submitted a report which fundamentally changed the way the military approached diving operations. His study had far reaching effects well beyond the Navy as other military, government, and civilian divers adopted the system. The helmets we are making (10) will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Stillson Report.


The DESCO Stillson Concept Helmet was made according to the helmet drawing that was part of the report. During a slow period in production Ric wanted to see if we could glean enough information from the report to build a helmet using stock parts. we had to make a few assumptions but the prototype came out the way we had hoped.  A good customer saw photos and insisted we build him one. The proto had some heavily modified parts which we could not put on a production helmet. Some patterns were made for the elbows and we were able to fill his order with a fully diveable helmet.



The Anniversary Stillson Helmet will come with a Oak helmet stand plus the magnesium tag pattern and the silicone mold used to make each tag.





The special tag will replace the round  hand stamped Copper tag. As of 12/11/14 helmets 1,2, and 10 have been ordered. All helmets will be built and delivered in 2015, 100 years after the Stillson Report.



11/17/14:  As customer needs and supply concerns arise or change DESCO has to evaluate and respond to the issues. The policy in regards to the Air Hat has always been evolutionary instead of revolutionary. Being able to adapt or retrofit a Air Hat to current requirements is one of its greatest virtues. In this vein over the last few months we have made some changes to the Air Hat.


1.    The Brass Dust Cap (cat. no. 60240) on the Bail-Out Non-Return Valve has been discontinued as a standard installation. We receive many Air Hats in for service and more often than not the dust cap is damaged or missing. When the customer is asked about replacing it they don't see a value in it. As with

many items the cost of this piece has gone up.


Some of the fittings we purchase come with a plastic cap to protect the male threads during shipment. We took that idea and now we are installing these same type caps on both non-return valves for shipping. The caps can provide the same function, they are easy to remove, and can be thrown into a tool box for reuse when the helmet is stored to keep out dirt and spiders.




Brass Dust Cap 60240                                                                                                            Plastic Dust Cap 60240P



2.    We have made a change to the headpiece assembly. The top headpiece retaining screw on the Air Hat has been discontinued. Over the years we have looked into producing a helmet liner hood (snoopy) similar to the ones in other low volume helmets. We have a new liner prototype out for field testing and are close to offering these in new helmets. Our goal is to be able to offer the snoopy or the Air Hat headpiece at the customers preference. 


The headpiece on new Air Hats is held in by hook and loop tape on the crown where the top screw used to be, and on either side of the top pad. The top screw would interfere with the snoopy so it had to go. We are using Velcro eXtreme Heavy Duty Tape for the installation.


There is still a little work to finish before we can make the snoopy available.


3.    We have made a change to the neck ring insert O-ring. Instead of us cutting and gluing the o-rings in house from a roll of material we are having our subcontractor seal and vulcanize the seam. This method will give a much stronger joint. The old way worked fine for 45 years but this method renders an even better part while freeing man hours in our shop for other work.



08/27/14: Ric has decided to discontinue the 61053 Shim we had available for the Air Hat. When Mr. Fifield developed the Air Hat he wanted to keep maintenance and upkeep simple and inexpensive. At the time when the neck dam or suit neck yoke became compressed it was easy to insert a shim to take up the slack and extend the working life of the seals. About ten years ago we could no longer get the standard elastic bands we purchased for the shim. Ric contracted to have new shims manufactured from sheet rubber. These were more expensive and they were harder to install. The other major issue with the new shim was it had a joint. this made the shim uneven in one spot and also introduced a potential fail point. A customer recently told us they were buying large rubber bands to use as a shim. We purchased some and tried them on a insert ring to see if they would suffice. We found it was nearly impossible to get the band even around the circumference of the insert ring. The width of the band was also smaller than the insert ring groove. It was a unsatisfactory replacement for the DESCO shim.


With most of the diving the Air Hat sees being in contaminated water we decided that DESCO's new policy would be that if a neck seal component becomes worn it should be replaced immediately to ensure a safe dive.



08/08/14: Product News We are discontinuing installing Brass Dust Caps on the Bailout Non-Return valves of new DESCO Air Hats. When we introduced the double air inlet elbow with two Non-Return Valves the practice of using a bailout bottle was still being adopted. Ric felt providing a protective cap for the valve threads was important for those times it was not being used. Now when we see a Air Hat in for inspection it is either gone or just the chain is hanging. We asked some customers about the dust cap and they didn't care if the hat didn't come with one, as they don't use it. The dust cap was never meant to be a air tight seal, just a barrier to dirt and damage. The plastic cap will perform the same function. If a customer does want a Brass Dust Cap we will stock some.




02/13/14: Company News After a couple of weeks of typing in data by Christian the DESCO e-commerce website now has Viking Drysuits listed so they can be ordered online. There are a few tweaks yet to be made but it is live and you can shop at your convenience. Visit: http://www.divedesco.com/C/38/DrySuits

As of March 4th the e-mail addresses diveq@execpc.com, cir@execpc.com, crink@divedsco.com, and billp@execpc.com will be closed down. All e-mail should be sent to sales@divedesco.com.



01/14/14: Pricelist Update We have posted the 2014 Commercial and Specialty price lists on the RETAIL PRICE LISTS page. Since there was not going to be a general pricing revision to start 2014 the only changes are the addition of a new classic helmet model, the Lightweight Commercial Helmet to the Commercial Price List, and a few new items to the Specialty Price List.



12/05/13: (1) Pricelist Update A updated Specialty Pricelist has been posted to the RETAIL PRICE LISTS page. The new apparel items have been added.


12/05/13: (2) Product News We have added a new item to our apparel line.


Under the 7 Seas Logo Tee Shirt.

Cat. No. 60322 *$19.00 + S&H    NOTE* Additional charge for Tee shirts 2XL and above $3.00.


The latest addition to our tee shirt collection. A Gray Tee that features catalog artwork from the late 40's on the back. A slightly different version of this artwork was used on the 1949 Commercial Catalog.


The logo is a diver between two globes. On the left globe is the DESCO Chevron logo, and on right globe appear the words "Under the 7 Seas".






12/05/13: (3) Product News We have added the Leather Tri-fold Wallet to the e-commerce website and the specialty pricelist.


Leather Tri-fold Wallet

Cat. No. 60278  $55.00 + S&H


Beautiful hand tooled leather wallet. These wallets are made one at a time by our leather craftsman Butch. They are hand/machine sewn and have the Mark V and scallop designs stamped into the leather. These tri fold wallets are an absolute work of art. Wallets come in either light or dark brown, please specify at the time of order.









12/04/13: Product News We have added a new item to our apparel line.


"Bail Out Bottle" Pouch Hoodie

Cat. No. 60301 *$54.00 + S&H


Hooded sweatshirt with pouch on the front for you favorite beverage. Please specify color (Gray, Pink, Blue or Green) and size (Large X-Large) or (*XX-Large add $4.00) when you order this item. For the diver who says "they have everything" trust us they don't have one of these. Makes a great Christmas gift.




11/22/13: Pricelist Update The DESCO Specialty Pricelist has been updated with some corrections. We have corrected an error on the Neck Tie listing. The catalog numbers are Red 60313R or Blue 60313B. The correct price is $18.00. They will be placed on the E-commerce site in the apparel section on Monday 11/25.


The DESCO Logo Sweatshirt 60300 was listed twice with two different prices. The correct price is $40.00.


11/01/13: Product News In September we built a variant helmet for Steve Taylor. Steve wanted a helmet that would fit the Chinese dresses that are used with the TF-12 helmets. What he was looking for was a commercial style helmet on a lightweight helmet body. We took the parts from our four light commercial helmet and installed them on the lightweight (Sponge) top and breastplate. Steve also wanted the 1/2" Navy breastplate studs and wingnuts instead of the 7/16" Sponge ones.





Ric decided to serial number these helmets as commercial models. Our commercial helmet serial numbers are in the 1000's and our lightweight helmet serial numbers are in the 400's. The model number for this variant is 29134AM (A being a four light, M being modified).


Another HDS member heard about this helmet and we are in the process of making a second one.


10/16/13: Pricelist Update Due to price increases for component parts we have had to raise the price of the Divers Telephone to $890.00.  The DESCO Commercial Equipment Price List has been updated. The latest issue of the price list is dated 10/16/13.


09/12/13: Pricelist Update The DESCO Specialty Pricelist has been updated. We have added Neck Ties with the Descending Diver Logo screened on them. They come in Red or Blue and the logo is in Silver. They will be placed on the E-commerce site in the apparel section.


08/27/13: Company News The new e-commerce website is now operational. There is still some work to be done on it (debugging text etc.) but we can take orders through it. There will be a change in e-mail addresses to the divedesco.com domain. The execpc.com addresses will be phased out. we have had those since we started using computers in the late 1990's when Exec PC was our dialup provider. We get attached to things. DESCO has had the same phone number for a half century.


Ric hopes to get some feedback on the general impressions of the new site. You can e-mail him at sales@divedesco.com or ric@divedesco.com.


The DESCO Water Ski website is discontinued. Going to www.descowaterskis.com will redirect you to the new e-commerce website. Any questions on DESCO water skis can be sent to sales@divedesco.com or christian@divedesco.com.




07/23/13: Product News We received a request to come out with a new Mark V charm to fit the Pandora bracelet. The Sterling Silver charm is a 3D rendition of the iconic US Navy Mark V Diving Helmet. The charm is 5/8" high.


60212P    Mark V Helmet Pandora Bracelet Charm    $45.00





07/23/13: Company News As stated on the home page we are in the process of building a new e-commerce website to replace the generic one we now have. We hired a local company to build the site and advise us on making it more effective and useful that the current one. Their first piece of advise was to consolidate our multiple websites into one. Since they are the experts and we are paying a silly amount  of money for this project we have to defer to their wisdom. The descocorp.com and descowaterskis.com websites will be discontinued when the new website goes live. Most of the content will migrate over to divedesco.com. Product information will be consolidated and historical info regrouped.


From the sample site we have seen the storefront will be much much better than what we have now. The appearance is nicer and the product photos will be larger and clearer. There will be more room for descriptions and the text will be easier to read. As with the old storefront the site will be secure so your credit card and personal information is safe.


They have a plan for the galleries but we don't know what exactly that is yet. There are over 1500 images on the descocorp.com site. They told us they had never seen a website with that many images before. We will try and give some warning when the change will occur. We are in week 18 of a 20 week estimated time frame so it should happen in the next couple of weeks. Once the new divedesco.com is active the other domains will direct visitors to divedesco.com for a period of time, then be shut down. Thank you to everyone who has visited descocorp.com and descowaterskis.com. A special thank you to those who have contributed stories and photos.



06/06/13: Company News Last week we were invaded by a film crew for the television show "How  It's Made". Over two days they filmed us building a Mark V helmet. The film crew doesn't know when a segment will air so we don't either. The raw footage needs editing and a rough cut will be sent to us to help weed out any inaccuracies. Once the editing is done they will schedule a airing and give us a heads up.







05/07/13: Company News The e-commerce website is being redesigned to a more professional site. It will have expanded parts listings and be more user friendly. We are about six weeks away from it being up.



03/05/13: Product News DESCO has added the US Navy Diver's Dressing Stool to our diver accessories lineup. Cat. No. 27070 $245.00 Made in accordance with BuShips drawing BU. No 610414 dated Jan 25, 1943 this dressing stool is an exact production model of the stool US Navy Divers would use to dress in. This drawing was pulled from our archives. DESCO did not make these during the war but as a prime supplier we would have received the drawing for bidding purposes.




 The stool is made of Yellow Pine cut to the proper size (no standard dimensional lumber used). All main components are solid wood, one inch thick. The stool comes unfinished as no finish was specified on the drawing. Overall dimensions of the stool are 18w x 14d x 19h. The compartment under the seat is 14w x 10d x 9 h. Weight is 20 pounds.

12/26/12: Pricing Change The 2013 Retail Commercial Price List and the 2013 Retail Specialty Item Price list have been placed on the RETAIL PRICE LISTS page. They become effective January 1st.  Prices have changed on the Air Hat, Mark V, and Navy Helium helmets, and the divers knife. The gold and silver jewelry prices have changed.


10/02/12: Product News Ansell Protective Products has issued a new 2012-2013 Viking Price Book. Notable changes are the new addition of the Viking HAZTECH drysuit, and the HDS 1500 drysuit being dropped. Download the HAZTECH Drysuit flyer.


09/06/12: New Product DESCO is introducing its own Neoprene Kevlar Divers Gloves.




The new Desco Diving Gloves are economical while being durable. These gloves are made from 3 mil Neoprene, with the palms, inside fingers and finger tips covered with Kevlar. The wrists have straps with Velcro. Used as over gloves they will add a layer of protection for the Latex gloves worn in contaminated diving. The gloves are soft and supple so they won't impede dexterity.

Christian Koellner is a avid duck hunter. Each year he would buy a new pair of hunting gloves which would barely make it through the season.  Working at DESCO he was familiar with the Kevlar reinforced diving gloves. Christian thought they would work great for setting duck decoys but were too expensive for hunting. He decided to have a divers type Kevlar glove made with a camo pattern which would appeal to any hunters who will deal with cold and or wet conditions. What Christian came up with is a economically priced pair of divers gloves that would also be excellent gloves for sportsmen too. 

A must have item if you hunt ducks while diving.


Sizes from XL to XXXL. The price is $29.00 per pair.

Catalog No. 30030 Extra Large
Catalog No. 30031 XX-Large
Catalog No. 30032 XXX-Large

For more information contact Ric or Christian at 414-272-2371 or sales@divedesco.com



07/23/12: DESCO History A company member finally made it to the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison to see the Wisconsin Innovations exhibit. Mr. Fifield was included in the exhibit for his development of the Air Hat. He is in some heady company with the likes of Ole Evinrude, A.O. Smith, David Koss, Les Paul, Christopher Sholes, William Harley & Arthur Davidson, and William & James Horlick. There are photos of the display in the Thomas Fifield section of the DESCO PEOPLE page.


04/10/12: DESCO History The Winter 2012 issue of The Journal of Diving History is out. In this issue Leslie Leaney offers an article on the life of Max Nohl. This is the second installment in a series which will run on DESCO and its people during our 75th anniversary year.


03/14/12: FYI Ric's computer is the primary one in our office and most of our online communications funnel through it. Yesterday we received an e-mail supposedly from FedEx saying they had a failed delivery to us. If we wanted the package we had to open an attached invoice. The attachment is actually a very nasty virus which rendered Ric's computer nothing more than a big paperweight. The computer is in the repair shop right now and will cost about $250.00 to fix. We have transferred over to Christian's computer but he does not have as complete an address book as Ric does. If you have something pending we may be tardy in responding. Our e-mail accounts are POP mail and not web mail so we can't retrieve those that are stuck on Ric's machine. If you happen to get an e-mail from a shipping company like this with an attachment DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are UPS and DHL versions of this virus scam. Contact the shipping company directly if you have suspicions about an e-mail. FedEx has information on its website at http://www.fedex.com/ag/fraud/virusalert.html



02/17/12: DESCO History Last month we were contacted by a man who found an original oval mask B Lung at a garage liquidation. It was sitting in a original DESCO shipping crate (not actually for this unit but for a diving outfit). He brought them in and Ric purchased them for our collection. I just threw together a stand to get it on display. It has joined our other (later) B-lung in the display room.



More old DESCO products seem to be surfacing. We just completed repairs to DESCO Shallow Water Helmet Number Seven for Seahawk Trading Co. They also sent along number ten for us to pound out a few dents and to use as reference in repairing number seven. Photos can be found on the GALLERY 6 page.



02/10/12: DESCO History The feature article in the current edition HDS Journal of Diving

 History is about DESCO's 75th anniversary this year. DESCO was founded in the summer/fall

 of 1937 but was not incorporated until May of 1938. Our 75th shares the year with the 100th

 anniversary of the Titanic sinking and the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.




12/21/11: Shipping Issue Today we received a Air Hat we shipped to a West Coast dealer last month. The helmet had arrived to them damaged. The UPS driver made a note of the box damage when he delivered it. When opened the handle on the air control valve was marred and the valve stem was bent.  We also got back the owners manual from the helmet. All fifteen pages have been ripped through. The dealer sent photos of the box which they still have. It is a mess. One side appears to be patched with a piece of cardboard and clear tape. There are two holes in another side (where the manual and air control valve are located.


UPS was notified and a adjuster from their insurance company came out to inspect. We were notified by the insurance company that our packing of the helmet was insufficient so the claim was denied. The Air Hats have been packed the same way for over thirty years. There is a double bottom placed in each box to support the helmet. Sections of saved mailing tube are cut and placed over the air control valve and exhaust valve. They serve as shield for the valves and also prevent the helmet from moving inside the box. Spacers are also placed at the front loop and tail so the helmet can't move forward or backwards. The box is then packed (firmly) with Styrofoam peanuts. This system has worked well. Any packing method will not stand against excessively poor handling by the shipping company. UPS suggests we wrap the helmets in bubble wrap instead of using packing peanuts. Since whatever hit this box (or this box hit) penetrated the cardboard wall and a fifteen page manual, and bent a 1/4" thick Stainless Steel valve stem it's likely bubble wrap would not have faired better, and probably worse. Below are photos, judge for yourself.










Below are photos of the helmet being repacked after repair. This is a standard packing job no different than a thousand times previous.







This helmet order is going half way around the world. Packed the same as the helmet above. We expect it to arrive intact just like the previous thirty did.




If you receive a package from us which has apparent damage make sure the delivery driver notes it before leaving. Contact DESCO and the shipping company immediately so the package can be inspected and a claim filed. Since you have the package in your possession it must be inspected at your location. Further transport of the package before inspection will null a damage claim.



12/16/11: Pricing Change The 2012 Retail Commercial  Price List and the 2012 Retail Specialty Item Price list have been placed on the DOWNLOADS page. They become effective January 1st. 


09/21/11: DESCO History On September 17th a new exhibit opened at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison. The new exhibit is called "Wisconsin Innovations: From the Iconic to the Unexpected" The exhibit covers the many inventions, innovations, and creations that came from Wisconsin. Some highlights are works by Frank Lloyd Wright, and Les Paul. The diverse and eclectic nature of Wisconsin invention is explored from the typewriter to the super computer. Other inventions like the snowmobile, and the modern surfboard are featured. DESCO loaned the Wisconsin Historical Society Air Hat prototype #1 and Air Hat #2000 for a display on Mr. Fifield's contribution to modern commercial diving. The exhibit is scheduled to run one year. For more information see: http://www.wisconsinhistory.org 


09/09/11: Diving History In the latest issue of the Wisconsin Underwater Archaeological Society's newsletter, Wisconsin's Underwater Heritage, there is a very interesting article on Wisconsin diving history. On item of particular interest was a mention of a Helium dive being conducted on the wreck of the carferry Lakeland near Sturgeon Bay in 1925. Our belief was that the first operational use of Helium/Oxygen diving was on the USS Squalus in 1939. We have scanned the article and created a pdf file. Click here to view it.


These folks do some great underwater archaeology and historical preservation. You can visit the WUAA website at http://www.wuaa.org.



Stolen Helmets:


Sept. 2006

A polished DESCO Mark V Helmet #366, Date of Mfg. 08/25/06 was stolen in mid-September from a residence in California.




In the mid 1990's a truck was stolen from a motel parking lot containing equipment en route to the ADC Underwater convention in Houston. In that truck among other equipment was a DESCO Abalone helmet. This helmet was on loan from DESCO (from Mr. Fifield's office) to one of our dealers. It is unique in that the tag on the breastplate is from the Air Hat, like this one. If you know the whereabouts of this helmet please contact us.





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