Dear Dr. Del Rye,
The question I have is BK or Bill Kelley football helmets. For instance in the early 80’s a lot of Southwest Conference teams were using the Kelley helmets. My question is the school emblem like the horn emblem off the Texas helmet or the ATM off the aggie helmet. Was this emblem ever a decal like today’s helmets or was the emblem always built into the shell? My experience with Kelley helmets is the emblem was always in the shell. Let me know about the emblem on the 80 through 83 Longhorn helmet made by Kelley. Thanks for your help.
Thank you for your question. For those not familiar with the Bill Kelley helmets, his were known for their distinctive clear shell. MacGregor had introduced a clear shell helmet but terminated the manufacturing of their football helmet line after 1974. Mr. Kelley purchased this end of the business from MacGregor in 1977 and introduced his own clear shell helmets that were used by many of the Southwestern Conference teams. Because of the exposure that the BK helmets received from the high powered programs like Texas and Texas A&M, many helmet fans forget that there were other manufacturers of clear shell helmets during the 1970’s.
Marietta had presented their clear shell helmet in the early 1970’s in an attempt to compete with MacGregor and did a very good job of it. Marietta used a Lexan polycarbonate polymer produced by General Electric for their helmet shells and this was quite a bit thicker than that of the MacGregor shell. It was thus deemed safer by many equipment managers relative to the MacGregor product leading coaches, trainers, and equipment purchasers to seek it out for their squads. The Nokona Company, better known for making exceptional baseball gloves also produced football helmets and provided a clear shell design. When Marietta declared bankruptcy, they were purchased by Max Pro in 1978 and Max Pro also eventually bought out Bill Kelley in the early 1980’s. The usual procedure was to apply any appropriate striping and team decal on the inside of the clear shell helmet if a logo or decal was used, and then apply paint, also to the inside of the shell. This method of helmet preparation insured protection of the paint, striping, and decals from damage due to contact and reduced maintenance costs of the helmets. The emphasis in the above statement is “usual procedure” because at times the procedure was not always followed. As examples, the manufacturer would supply the team an inventory of painted-on-the- inside shells that included the completed helmet with the team striping and decals in place.
Gabe Rivera of Texas Tech
There perhaps would be additional helmets that were to be used for practice and/or as replacements in those cases where damage to a game helmet necessitated the in-game substitution of another helmet. In these cases, the team decal and a player’s identifying numeral would have been applied to the outside of the helmet shell as it obviously would be impossible to place it onto the inside. However, for the BK and other clear shell helmets, it could be stated that spares and perhaps practice helmets had decals and/or numbers applied to the outside of the shell but under the usual circumstances, game helmets would not have been ordered this way. Programs such as Baylor who used clear shell Max Pro helmets applied their award stickers, as did others who utilized these, onto the outside of the helmet shell.
Dear Dr. Del Rye;
I like all of the Helmet Hut features, especially the college helmets. I know that some of the college teams from my part of the country wore a triple bar mask in the old days. Can you tell me about those please? Thank you very much, keep up the good work.
It seems we have two consecutive questions from the area of the former Southwest Conference which is sorely missed by many. As was true of other conferences and other individual teams, every specific period of time demonstrates the use of different facemasks on any particular squad.
Reference No. MA230
Texas quarterback James Street
While a head coach or equipment manager may have had a preference for a specific facemask, much leeway was granted to provide individual players with masks they preferred, or were best off wearing dependent upon previous or current injury. In some cases the staff would primarily use the masks that were provided by the helmet manufacturer or distributor they chose as their supplier for that season. Thus observation of film or photos from the late 1960’s for example would indicate the use of rubber coated metal, the Dungard coated aluminum, and perhaps a variety of plastic masks used by any one team. Many of the SWC teams did in fact use a Marietta three bar, white molded plastic facemask, one that was relatively lightweight for its size.
Steve Judy of TCU
The University of Texas, SMU, and Texas Christian University were three of many in the south and southwest especially, that utilized this distinctive facemask. As it has been for most helmet related components, keep in mind please that others offered similar products, and some at an earlier date. This would include the 66-407 three bar plastic mask offered by Spalding in the mid-1960’s.
I am fairly new to Helmet Hut but enjoy the different features, new helmets, and looking at the contents of the helmet store. Some of those older college helmet designs are fantastic. Being new to this type of thing and not having had any helmets in my hands since my own high school football days, I am still aware of the changes in helmets through the years. I have seen a lot of old helmets for sale on Ebay for instance. You have what I will call real helmets and most of the ones for online sale even though they may be a Forty Niners helmet for example, or a Cowboys helmet, just don’t look right. Also, some of the Ebay helmets are in the $100’s and some are around $15-20. I don’t really understand that and an explanation would be appreciated. Thanks a lot and keep up all of the great features.
I'm pleased that you have found a new interest and if you become like most of us who make Helmet Hut a daily stop, you will find even more to enjoy. Your observation regarding the sale of many helmets is accurate. If one travels to one of the online auction type of sites, you will see what I shall term "legitimate" or authentic old helmets for sale. These could be true gems or junk. Although very rare and expensive items are usually sold through established auctions houses, it is possible to find the occasional sterling piece of memorabilia on a place like Ebay. Recently a restored 1960 Rawlings Cy-Co-Lite helmet was offered on Ebay.