All material in this article was contributed
and is copyrighted © by our Yankee friend
Ed Fogderud


Ed was born, raised, and still resides in Southern California. He spent three years in service to his country in the U.S. Army, after which he returned to school, on the GI bill, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of San Francisco. Ed's lifelong fascination with Underwater Diving Helmets started early, when at the age of ten he was unsuccessful in convincing his father to buy him a Mark 5 that he'd found in a war surplus store. His helmet collection is the end result of his passion. Ed says, "I've never met a diving helmet I didn't like". Ed not only collects helmets, He also designs and builds his own helmets, some of which are as follows:

Ed (left) and his buddy Jack Janzen on a trip to Mexico

The first helmet

Ed tells us:

"I've been considering designing and building my own helmets for years now,  and am happy with this, the results of my first attempt. I've had a mold  made for the domes, and have cast up several in aluminum, red & yellow  brass, and iron. My first hat, in aluminum, is pictured here. It's made of  ľ" aluminum plate with a cast top and slotted aluminum pipe fitted up around the  bottom edge. I rolled the cylinder, and the faceplate is an old salvaged  porthole. The same foundry, that I used for the domes, cast the top and  front handles. The seams are welded, inside and out, and an old air control  valve was added to the right side of the faceplate's frame. The position of  the inlet directs the airflow to the inside of the faceplate, which prevents it from fogging up. When I did the cut out for the shoulders, I wanted an exact fit. I didn't  allow space for the slotted pipe around the bottom edge of the hat. After the piping was welded up, and when I tried the hat on, it had a 1" gap between  the top of my shoulders and the helmet, Duh... The only thing I could do, at that point, was to notch out the back on the hat, pull the bottom out a  little and re-weld it. I'll add weights, and maybe side-ports, in the future, but haven't made up my mind on the designs yet."

The second helmet

Ed continues:

"My 2nd helmet is pictured here, and is made out of heavy gage stainless steel. As you can see, it' s a work in progress and not yet completed. I still have to cast up and finish the SS handles and side-ports, and decide where to position the air inlet. The cylinder, dome and face port frame are of the same heavy gage SS. It was just too expensive to cast the dome out of SS, so I decided to make it out of the same plate as the cylinder. The face port is, again, an old salvaged SS porthole."

The third helmet

"My 3rd helmet is another aluminum one, made of ľ inch plate, with a cast dome. The shoulder cutouts are a little wider here and as such, I didn' t have to stretch out the back of the hat, like I did on my first one. I bent and welded solid aluminum rod around the outside edge of the bottom of the hat, as this was much easier than using hollow pipe, or tube."

The fourth helmet

A true inventor never stops! He continues:

"My 4th helmet is just beginning here. I'm using 3/8-inch iron boilerplate with a cast-iron dome. I haven't had much of a chance, to think about the rest of the hats design, but I do know already, that I won't need to add much extra weight.  I'll l send you more on the progress of these, and the future red and yellow brass hats, as they develop. Keep up the good work. Your Yankee friend, Ed."

The fifth helmet

Edís fifth helmet pictured below is constructed from an early 1930s heavy duty industrial hot water tank. The copper sheet is in fact 1/16 inch thick (1.5mm).
The top of the helmet was the riveted section of the tank. The unusual crown is made from yellow brass and cast from a wooden pattern turned on a lathe.
The crown acts as a dome protector being much stronger and harder than the copper plate below.

Other parts such as the handle, front and side ports and were cast from steel patterns turned up on a lathe. On careful examination of the rear side views we see the side ports are made so they angle out more at the back by 9/16 of an inch. This is to improve the diverís vision. The lenses are made from ľ inch Lexan polycarbonate sheet. All the castings are riveted and soldered on to the main structure of the helmet. The air control valve, located in a convenient position on the diverís right hand side can be operated by the diverís left hand. The valve is an antique1/4 inch high pressure steam valve. There were many hours spent hammering out and forming the tank, also bending , folding splitting and soldering Ĺ inch copper tubing around the bottom edge. The final job for Ed is to cast the front and back weights from wooden patterns which will be heart shaped and made from lead to counteract the positive buoyancy.

This helmet represents a piece of craftsmanship and design akin to the early designs of the helmet makers in the 1920s and 1930s.

Many thanks to Ed Fogderud, without his fantastic help this article would not have been possible