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POWER HEAD--For good ole Chris Shaw


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Posted by SDM on April 27, 2011 at 16:33:59:

In Reply to: Darn good article! posted by Walt on April 27, 2011 at 16:26:47:

Chris Shaw Is this OK?

In Reply to: Re: You are elected posted by SDM on April 25, 2011 at 21:09:47:


Power heads:

The power head was a point-impact spear point which contained a propellant, generally a .22 caliber or .38 caliber shell, which when fired, drove a spear point called a "dart" into and hopefully through the fish. There were two separate lines on the gun: one a shooting line, the other attached to the dart. The dart line was in turn attached to probably 200 feet of W.W.II of surplus parachute line which terminated in an inflatable device generally a surplus W.W.II Mae West. This component was contained in a "line pack," which was some how attached, generally via bands, to the barrel of the gun.

The "power head" which is distinctly unique to Southern California, was developed in San Diego in the 1940s by the grand old man Jack Prodanovich. Jack's model was small and compact. It was powered by a .22 caliber rife shell and was unique in that it was cocked by the inertia of firing. A very desirable feature since it eliminated the need to cock it or carry it armed. Those that know Jack well realize that in addition to having hearing problems like all divers of the Viagra generation, he is blind in one eye. This was caused by the power head being rebounded back to him when he was test firing it in a swimming pool. Jacks account of this accident can be found in a 1950's issue of Skin Diver Magazine.

Herb Sampson, of Costa Mesa, was second to developed a power head. Herb's was big and massive and propelled by a .38 caliber pistol shell. Like his spear gun it had unique threads on the shaft - 1/4-24 (as I recall,) so it could only be attached to his gun if adapters were used. The gun, with its twin line releases, his special line pack, and the power head were "the gun" for a number of years, and at one time held more world records than any other spear gun. (Which is how the Sampson got the name "World Record Gun" - ed.)

I would be remiss with out mentioning my dear friend Ron Merker who was unbelievable with this gun. Ron established three world records including the blue fin tuna which he held for 20 plus years. I often think about things of long ago, and I just recalled the prices of the Sampson, the gun $37.50,(after I got to know Herb well he sold them to me for $23.10 (don't ask about the 10 cents that was just Herb)) the line pack $7.50 and the power head $37.50

Bill Barada, of Los Angeles, was all over diving in the pioneering days and contributed to much; About a dozen books including 2 hard backs on spear fishing, the original dry suit, developed the Hammer head muzzle for the Arbalete, established the Neptunes, etc., the list goes on and on. He also developed the .38 caliber "Thunder Head" power head. It was his biggest failure. Both the Prodanovich and the Sampson power heads had triggering mechanisms that extended about a foot in front of the unit and acted as a trigger when it came in contact with a fish. The Thunder Head relied on the point making contact with the fish exactly like the bang stick. As taught in freshman physics every action has an equal and opposite reaction so the arrow being free flight would often, by the laws of physics, be propelled back at the diver if the object that was struck was hard or impenetrable. Even though it was a dismal failure and was on the market for a short time, there is a picture of this unit in the 1950's book "Dive" by the Carriers. I can't recall a good picture of the Prodanovich or the Sampson in any book.

The Bang Stick---later




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