1057 N Pinellas Ave, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689-3351 | (727) 938-8868
The diving helmets created by Nicholas Toth are made using the traditional techniques that have been employed by helmet makers for over 150 years. This style of helmet making has its roots in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece; most notably Kalymnos, Halki and Simi.
Currently, Nicholas Toth is the only craftsman in the world that continues to individually hand craft diving helmets using the same techniques, tools, cast iron mandrels and lathes that his grandfather used. Each copper and brass diving helmet is fully functional, and "real", taking approximately 320 hours to complete.
Nicholas uses the highest grade of red brass for the components of his diving helmets and for the brass elements that are found in his other works of art. Red brass is chosen over the more common yellow brass because of its rich under tones and vibrancy. Many of the techniques that Nicholas has mastered in creating his diving helmets are utilized when designing and creating his original art pieces.
The Diving Helmet:
To create the breast (shoulder) plate, shears are used to cut an oval from a sheet of thin copper. This copper oval is placed into a cast iron mandrel that Nick's grandfather designed in the earlier 1900s. The copper is pounded smooth with a wooden mallet and peg. Once the shape of the breast plate is complete, the studs must be machined and then soldered in place.
The helmet, or bonnet, as it is sometimes called, is also made of copper and is spun on a lathe, forcing it around a wooden pattern, based on his grandfather's original design. The openings for the four portholes are cut, center, top and both sides. To shape the larger center port hole, Nick has developed a technique that flares out the edges, using a small hammer and free-handed method, without a guide or pattern, he creates a perfect circle.
The interior of the helmet is "tinned", a process that covers the entire interior of the helmet with solder, which prohibits oxidation from taking place. Without this process, the diver's eyes and nose would be irritated by the green dust that would build up inside the helmet. The air vents are then shaped from flat sections of copper and soldered in place. The intake valve is soldered into place in the back of the helmet and will connect to the diver's air hose. The incoming air will stream into the helmet directly aimed at the port holes, keeping them clear of fog.
On the right side of the helmet is the exhaust valve. The diver taps this valve with a tilt of his head, allowing excess air to escape, controlling the stability of the diver while on the sea floor and the buoyancy during the dive. The port holes are fitted with quarter inch plate glass. Once all the fittings are carefully soldered into place, the neck ring and port holes are fitted with leather seals, making them watertight.
When the brass name tag is fitted on the breast plate, "A. Lerios Marine, Est. 1913, Nicholas Toth, Helmet Maker, Tarpon Springs, FL. U.S.A. (1913-2013)", the work is complete and the legacy of this master craftsman is fulfilled.
"The Anniversary Edition"
To honor the 100 year anniversary of his family's business, A. Lerios Marine, Nicholas decided to take his traditional copper and brass diving helmet to a new level of perfection and beauty. Every surface of each copper and brass helmet component is brought to a mirror finish, including the wing nuts, valves, port holes, brails, bonnet, and breast plate. These spectacular helmets are captivating and mesmerizing and unmatched by any other design.
The helmet has been treated with a nitro-cellulose lacquer finish. It will maintain its beautiful luster and will never need polishing.
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