HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Another Photo From Helmet Hut -- Another Step Completed!


Everytime my computer lets me know with THAT sound that I have new mail, I respond like Pavlov's dog, hoping it is from the guys -- wait a minute -- that's sexist -- the professionals at Helmet Hut in Warsaw, Indiana.

I was just sitting down to my keyboard pondering what I would write about today when the jpg you see on today's blog arrived along with this e mail:

Larry,

Today we are sending you a picture of the internal paint and fine red glaze in the pin holes around the out side for a perfect paint job.

John Riddell painted all of his early "clear shell" RT helmets (no mask) from the inside. He protected this paint from sweat and dirt with a gray sizing coat. Riddell was so conscious of customer relationship and product continuity that even when the helmets were painted on the outside he still painted the inside of the helmets gray. This was very frustrating for the factory and in 1969 that process ended.

Thanks and talk soon.

Stop by: http://www.helmethut.com/


HOW COOL IS THIS?? NOT ONLY ARE THEY DOING THIS WONDERFUL PROJECT FOR ME, BUT THEY ARE THOWING IN HISTORY LESSONS FOR FREE!!

Well, at least I think they're free -- I don't have the final tally yet.

Guess I better google Mr. Riddell. He sounds like a pretty unique dude!
From an article by Cassaundra Flores:

Back in 1929, John Tate Riddell started his company armed with a vision of providing better sporting equipment to athletes. And such idea has proven to be very beneficial, not only for J.T. Riddell but for the players as well, for from this concept of his came forth the country's foremost manufacturer of football headgear.

Removable cleat--- the history of Riddell football helmets all began with a removable cleat. Said design was prepared by Riddell back when he was still the Athletic Director and at the same time head of the football coaching staff for a certain high school located in Evanston, Illinois. The year was 1922 when head coach saw the need for developing the current leather-fitted footwear for his team. With the arrival of the rainy season, such condition dictates the necessity of changing cleats and installing a longer mud cleat to adapt with said variable. This process is time consuming, not to mention that the cobbler in-charged of doing such task was also hired by a university ergo not being able to finish all footgear by game time. The invention of removable cleats was openly welcomed and such flamed a string of innovations that led to the groundwork for the history of Riddell football helmets.

Ten years after the formation of the company, Riddell pioneered the fist plastic suspension headgear. This breakthrough caught the attention of the government for it will certainly be to the advantage of the brave men in WW II. This is one of the finest points in the history of Riddell football helmets.

With protection as the main goal, it is hard to believe that helmets, rather than pads, were the last to be accepted in pro football. The former is not even mandatory in football---that is until 1939 when NFL ordered that players wear such protective headgear. Before the dawn of plastic helmets, there was leather. The players may be protected against concussions but not the heat---air can barely circulate inside.

Evolution is inevitable; same applies in the history of Riddell football helmets. RT-2 was the first helmet engineered by the company and sold to the public. Said helmet model was manufactured in 1946, a year after J.T. Riddell's death. RT-2 was a three-pieced shell using Tenite II with cotton web suspension for the head and neck. Said suspension presents a pocket of air in between the head and the shell of the helmet. Though Riddell wasn't able to actually see the evolution and expansion of his company, he'll always live in every noggin he has protected, whether it's attached to an amateur or professional football player.

Following RT-2 was RK-4. The latter resembles the shape of RT-2, though it's shell material differs. RK-4 was manufactured utilizing a chemical called Acrilonitrile Butadiene Styrene concocted by US Rubber. The cotton webbing that was present in the RT-2 was substituted by a combo of cotton and nylon. Both models showcased the 3-loop and 6-point regular suspension.

The history of Riddell football helmets includes the models TK-5 and PAC-44. The two shared the same shell composition as that of the RK-4. The difference rests on the interior cushion. TK-5 was originally cushioned with cotton. However, it was altered to that of the interior of RK-4, which was made of cotton and nylon. As for the PAC-44, same was tagged and aimed for the youth. It featured an interior air cushion crafted out of vinyl.

From these forerunners, the company has progressed along with the game. With its 'firsts' like the web suspension, air cushion interior and self-contained inflation head gear to name a few, it's really hard to picture the sports equipment scene without Riddell.

This is the history of Riddell football helmets...so far. With ingenious minds continuously formulating new ideas, it is easy to say that another touchdown is within reach.

After further research, I found the black and white photo at the top of the page of General George S. Patton, wearing an early Riddell "tanker"s helmet.

From the article that accompanied:

"General George S. Patton Jr., the already legendary tank commander, was also stationed there. Patton had himself been involved in the acquisition of helmets for his brand of warfare, armored combat. Patton, a football player in his younger days, understood the value of head protection and took a keen interest in finding better headgear to protect his forces from the dense steel and sharp edges found inside tanks and armored personnel carriers. In the mid-1930's, Patton and several other high-ranking Army officers apparently corresponded with John T. Riddell and other headgear companies. They requested samples of various helmets for testing to see if the helmets could provide needed protection for tank crews. It appears clear that Riddell responded to Patton's request for helmet samples and apparently Patton liked what he saw. In 1939 or 1940, Patton actually designed a tank uniform. The uniform sported a dark green jacket and pants with gold buttons topped off by a gold football helmet...almost undoubtedly provided by Riddell, whose company was the only manufacturer of plastic helmets at the time. Patton used Riddell's helmet not only for his uniform design, but also during combat exercises and training in Louisiana. Several photographs of the day document Patton wearing Riddell's hard plastic helmets. Prior to and at the start of WWII, football helmets, including Riddell's, were given serious consideration as tank helmets but were in the end rejected, due to an inability to incorporate required military communications gear."

(My, my! How far we've come! Now the QB's helmets are full of communication gear!)

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Oops! I was just about to sign off for the day when I got another e mail from Helmet Hut:

"Well thank you for the kind words Larry. The next step is a final sanding on the out side and here comes the greenbay gold paint. We will most likely put 2-3 coats on and if it turns out great then we will wet sand and buff. If it doesn't we will apply another 2-3 coats and then we will have enough material to wet sand and buff out any issues with no chances of breaking through the paint. But still it is a 50 year old helmet, perfection will never happen but we know you will be pleased. This will take a few days so you shouldn't expect anything else until next week. Paint takes 2 days to cure."

See what I mean about these folks being stand-up guys - er - professionals.

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