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Joined: 05/16/09
Posts: 9
Howdy friends! I have been researching NARMCO for a number of years and have had the fortune to discuss the early years of the company with former employees and their families. The following is a timeline that I would like to share with you all:


NARMCO - National Research and Manufacturing Company


Dr. G. G. Havens and his associates produce a new laminate material known as "Conolon" in early 1943. When impregnated with highly developed resin Conolon enables the production of strong light weight products that withstand extreme temperature and humidity changes


National Research and Manufacturing Company (NARMCO) founded in 1944 by Dr. G. G. Havens was established initially to develop a series of structural adhesives under the trademark "Metlbond" and a reinforced laminate under the name "Conolon"


Incorporated as "NARMCO, Inc." in 1946, development of the tubular fiberglass fishing rod concluded at Corona del Mar, California in 1946. Pilot production of the tubular fiberglass fishing rod began at Corona del Mar, California in 1946.


NARMCO began full production of the tubular fiberglass fishing rod at Costa Mesa, California in February 1947. Eugene H. von Ehrenberg joined NARMCO in March 1947.


Renames itself NARMCO Industries, Inc., in April 1952 and splits into five divisions: NARMCO Research and Development Division, performs both private and government research;

NARMCO Manufacturing Company, manufacturer of military and aviation products; NARMCO Resins and Coating Company, produces impregnated cloth, adhesives, resins and coatings;

NARMCO Sporting Goods Company, manufacturer of fishing rods and blanks;

And National Rod Company, distributor of NARMCO Sporting Goods Division products

1956 - 1960

Eric von Ehrenberg believes that NARMCO Sporting Goods Company

Manufactured fishing rods for the Garcia Corporation under the name "Garcia-Conolon"


NARMCO industries was sold to "Telecomputing Corporation" in February 1960 (later re-named Whitaker Corporation listed on the NYSE) We believe that during this time period the "Telecomputing Corporation" spins off the National Rod Company and NARMCO Sporting Goods company to the "Garcia Corporation", which re-names the two "The Conolon Corporation" a Division of the Garcia Corporation


NARMCO never referred to its fiberglass fishing rods as "hollow"

NARMCO always referred to themselves as "originator of the tubular fiberglass fishing rod"


This timeline would not have come together without the help of Eric von Ehrenburg whose father Eugene was at one time President of NARMCO Sporting Goods. I am still engaged in research but hope to have more of the NARMCO/Conolon story available in the near future.

If you have information you are willing to share (catalogs, newspaper clippings, advertisements, etc.) please feel free to reply to this article.

If you feel I have screwed up and any of the information contained in this timeline is incorrect, please let me know and if possible point me to a reference source I can use to get the correct skinny.

You can contact me by clicking on the "Interact" link to the left and select "Message Me"

Tim Barton

Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 1130
Tim, welcome to Mitchell Mates
A wonderful article mate, very well done.Image

There is much information there that I didn't have a clue about, thanks for sharing your hard work with us.
Kind regards Roy
Joined: 04/11/09
Posts: 1966
Hi Tim,

This NARMCO time line is great, thank you for sharing it with us.

Can't wait on your next article Image

Joined: 05/16/09
Posts: 9
I apologize for not posting additional info on NARMCO and will try posting a short article I wrote on the history of the company this week. If I can figure out how to do so I would like to share some pictures of my favorite NARMCO rods. If anyone has old NARMCO catalogs they would like to share or sell, please let me know.

I have a few pictures of NARMCO rods posted on my website at www.TheReelWorld.net . There is also a link there where you can contact me via email.

Regards, Tim
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 1130
Hi Tim
Good luck with posting the article, I look forward to seeing it.

Thanks for the link, there are many rods there that I knew nothing about at all.

Kind regards Roy
Joined: 05/16/09
Posts: 9

I would like to thank Frank Riel, former employee of NARMCO and Eric von Ehrenberg son of E. H. von Ehrenberg, Vice President and Secretary Treasurer of NARMCO, for making this article possible through their donation of time and information.

The National Research and Manufacturing Company were incorporated in 1946. Its founder and original owner was Dr. Glen G. Havens, prominent physicist, researcher, and inventor. Shortly after it started the name was changed to NARMCO. The company is known in sporting circles for its development of the tubular fiberglass fishing rods. However, Dr. Haven's interests went well beyond the development of fishing rods, and he is also well known in the aerospace industry for his development of structural adhesives and laminating systems as well as their application to many aerospace and industrial products.

A graduate of the University of Idaho, Dr. Havens received his PhD degree in physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1932. During his graduate thesis work he studied the strength properties of single glass fibers. As a result of his research he became convinced that someday some combination of a high performance fiber and resin would become a new high performance light weight structural material which would have a major impact on the materials and structures industry. This interest and conclusion guided much of his thinking in directing the objectives of his Company. After graduation Dr. Havens was awarded a fellowship at the University of Wisconsin and he became involved in early atomic research. From 1934 to 1942 he worked for the U.S. Rubber Company in Detroit Michigan where he won a number of patents for his developments in the tire field. Dr. Havens later moved to San Diego, California, and became a staff engineer with Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, later known as Convair. It was there that he developed some of the first structural adhesives and laminating resins for light weight high strength aerospace components. At that point in his career he resigned from Convair and started Narmco, with Convair as a major user of his new products.

Dr. Havens' original facility was located in National City, a suburb of San Diego. Soon the company outgrew National City and expanded in San Diego and Costa Mesa, California. There the company developed manufacturing facilities for the production of structural adhesives under the trademark "Metlbond" and glass fiber reinforced laminating resins under the trademark "Conolon." In addition, Narmco Manufacturing Company was created to market adhesive bonded metallic structures and fiber reinforced plastic components.

During the early years the company developed and marketed many products, including Conolon molded and other reinforced plastic parts and paneling, Conolon "Live Fiber" fishing rods, and Multiwave, a formable core material for sandwich panel bonding. In addition to Metlbond adhesives in both tape and liquid form; Conolon laminating material, and a variety of associated products were sold to many aerospace companies. Narmco also formed a research company, Narmco R&D, with the business objective of seeking government research contracts in the high performance structural materials and structures field.

Those of us in the fishing world identify Conolon and "Live Fiber" with the early tubular fiberglass rods manufactured by NARMCO and later by the Garcia Corporation. Keep in mind that Conolon was originally the name of the laminating material used to manufacture the rods and which was also used for other purposes including the manufacture of aerospace components.

Frank Riel, a former Narmco R&D employee had this to say about Conolon:

Conolon was used in many production applications besides fishing rods. As Conolon 506 (the designation we always called it) it was qualified to a high temperature low pressure (processing) mil spec. I do not know if a different resin was used in the fishing rod material, but I very much doubt it. It was not a complicated system, but simply a resole type phenol-formaldehyde, readily available in liquid form from a number of resin suppliers. If there was anything special about the Narmco product it was the way the system was preheated to advance the curing process, increase viscosity, and reduce volatile by-products. This was accomplished during the coating process.[/i]

Prior to the 1940s, all fishing rods were made of either bamboo, metal, wood, or solid fiberglass. Dr. Havens was possibly the first to come out with a tubular glass design. The January 1955 issue of Sports Afield[/i] magazine ran an article on NARMCO which dates the development of Conolon to 1943. Pilot production of the tubular rod began at Corona Del Mar, CA in 1946 and in February 1947, full production was moved to the NARMCO facility in Costa Mesa. Frank Riel, describes the process used to make the first tubular fiberglass rods:

The original procedure for making fishing rods, as developed by Dr. Havens, consisted of wrapping a precut sheet of Conolon prepreg around a tapered steel mandrel. A small hand held hot iron was used to compact and heat tack in position the material. The assembly then was laid down on a sheet of cellophane film, which was folded over the lay-up. Using a special device designed by Dr. Havens, (somewhat like an elongated nut cracker) the sheet of cellophane was clamped tightly around the lay-up. The assembly then was placed in an oven for the cure, the cellophane shrinkage providing the necessary pressure. This procedure worked well, but had one problem. The clamping device did not uniformly pressurize the lay-up, and a small resin rich area always remained along the line where the clamp was closed. This altered the "feel" of the rod, and it was necessary to properly orient the various attachments in order to have a consistent product. The resin-rich area was called the spine. After some years, various people convinced Dr. Havens to drop the clamping device in favor of a cellophane tape spiral wrap. This gave a more uniform product, and the only real problem was removing the cellophane after cure. The lay-up had to be soaked in water and the cellophane removed by a water or air jet blast.[/i]


A third process option was based on the idea that a liquid shrink film that could be dip coated might be a more efficient process. I was assigned to evaluate this idea at the R&D lab. Shrink film technology was not very advanced back then, and we evaluated only cellulose nitrate and polyvinyl alcohol. Both worked, but the quality of the product was not equal to that made with the cellophane wrap, and the idea was dropped.[/i]


In April 1952 NARMCO Inc. split its interests according to productive functions. The Costa Mesa Division contained the Sporting Goods Company that was primarily involved in the manufacture of fishing rods, using Conolon material manufactured by the Resins & Coatings Division. NARMCO Sporting Goods manufactured the rods and blanks and the National Rod Company became the distributing arm of the Corporation.

In addition to fiberglass rods and blanks, in 1952 NARMCO Sporting Goods was also making arrow shafts and fiberglass bows for archers. The company worked with consultant Howard Hill, a nationally known archer and movie maker and at some point manufactured bows for Fred Bear. At this time the company was selling its sporting products in every state of the Union as well as the countries of Switzerland, Germany, France, Australia, and South Africa.

Dr. Havens was an avid and skillful tennis player, and he became interested in developing fiber reinforced tennis rackets. This type of structure was a real challenge, and progress was slow. As time went by various companies addressed this problem, and eventually many composite tennis type products entered the market.

In their very interesting book Fiberglass Fly Rods,[/i] written by Victor R. Johnson and his son Vic Junior there is mention of the controversy regarding who invented the tubular fiberglass rod. The authors mention that many on the east coast believe Dr. Howald of Shakespeare invented the first tubular fiberglass rod while many on the west coast think it is Dr. Havens. A number of west coast newspaper articles written in the 1950s credit Dr. Havens as the inventor. Eric von Ehrenberg son of E. H. von Ehrenberg, Vice President and Secretary Treasurer of NARMCO, stated that NARMCO always referred to itself as originator of the tubular fiberglass fishing rod. It is possible that development work was occurring simultaneously on both ends of the country and that both gentlemen came out with the new rod technology at roughly the same time.

By 1960 NARMCO had became a part of Telecomputing Corporation and had sold off the rod manufacturing operation to the Garcia Corporation. Later on the company became a part of the Whittaker Corporation. As time went by reorganizations, name changes, mergers, and sales caused Narmco to largely disappear.

© Copyright by Tim Barton 2008, All right are reserved

Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 1130
Hi Tim
A really good article mate, very interesting and extremely informative, thanks for taking the time to do it.

Kind regards Roy
Joined: 04/11/09
Posts: 1966
Hi Tim,

Thank you for doing this, I know how busy you are. Below is the article you sent me to post. I did under our history discussions but thought it would be better placed here.



This is a NARMCO article focusing on Johnny Dieckman. Films of Johnny giving casting instructions and making Conolon Rods can be seen by Clicking Here.

Best Regards,
Joined: 05/16/09
Posts: 9
Thank you gentlmen for the kind words. I will dig up some reference material I have that might be of interest to others and post it soon. I am currently out of town on business but should have something ready by next week.
Best regards, Tim
Joined: 06/23/13
Posts: 1

I live in San Diego. I recently acquired a vintage wooden drafting table. Written on the bottom of the table are the words "Narmco R+D" and "Scheck". I assume that Scheck is the name of the engineer that used the table. I'd like to learn more about the history of the table, Narmco and Mr/Ms Scheck. I believe the table was acquired by the previous owner (now deceased) in the mid to late 1970's. THANK YOU!
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