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Sila-Flex - Orange, CA?
Post 01 Jan 2019, 17:47 • #1 
New Member
Joined: 12/30/18
Posts: 6
Location: US-WI
Hi All-
Been reading this board off and on for a couple years, but have recently gone a bit deeper into glass, so finally signed up. Fish mostly Driftless area in Wisconsin, but also hit some warm water and freestoners in NE Wisconsin/UP.

Anyway, one of the rods I recently acquired (maybe from one of you?) is an old Silaflex (7’8”) with the only marking as shown below showing “Pacific Laminates - Silaflex - Orange, Calif”.

Curious if anyone could put an age on this one or offer insights on model? I read in the Wiki about Costa Mesa, but not Orange and with no other markings, am curious if any of you guys can shed some light on this rod. I have not cast it yet (due to the “wonderful” Wisconsin weather), but am planning on exercising some of the Driftless Brookies and Browns this spring...

Thanks for any input and for this really exceptional resource!

Image
Image

OK - now need to figure out how to post pics. More homework...


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Post 01 Jan 2019, 18:25 • #2 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17326
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
any other photos, guides, grip? Silaflex rods were introduced in the late 40s, but J&J reports the parent company, Pacific Laminates was always in Costa Mesa, and started building rods by hiring away Conolon employees.
Orange and Costa Mesa are 2 miles apart, so there may be a difference in plant and business office.
The length matches F-75, c. 1955

and here's a book that will have a lot more information:
https://www.amazon.com/Documentary-Hist ... 1936702630


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Post 01 Jan 2019, 23:34 • #3 
New Member
Joined: 12/30/18
Posts: 6
Location: US-WI
I will get one of the grip - it is clearly sanded (butt end in one of the pics). Ferrule, guide and reel seat below.
Image
Image
Image
Thanks!


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Post 01 Jan 2019, 23:45 • #4 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17326
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
thanks for the photos - beauty rod. I think it fits 1955-60.


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Post 02 Jan 2019, 13:00 • #5 
New Member
Joined: 12/30/18
Posts: 6
Location: US-WI
Here is a picture of the grip. Interesting that there is no seahorse at all on the rod. Anyway, thanks for the info and link - looking forward to getting this one out there.
Image

Next thing to do is to resize pics...


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Post 03 Jan 2019, 21:00 • #6 
Sport
Joined: 07/16/18
Posts: 91
Location: USA
According to Todd Larson in the book (linked above by bulldog1935), SilaFlex 1948-1963, Herb Jenks et al. left Narmco to start Pacific Laminates in a discarded pump house in the middle of an Orange Grove in Orange, CA. In 1948, they moved to Costa Mesa, CA.

The Orange, CA location must have been very short. August,1947 Herb Jenks was still giving talks for Narmco (I have a short blurb copy from the August 28, 1947 Van Nuys News stating he gave a talk to the Jaycees the previous night). From the catalog excerpts/images (provided by Warren Jenks, Herb's brother) in the Larson book it doesn't look like the seahorse came along until 1952. I don't see an Orange, CA decal anywhere in the book. I own 14 1950s Sila-flex rods (including 5 fly rods), none with such a decal.

Jungwiar, you may have a very early Sila-flex rod.

John


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Post 03 Jan 2019, 23:17 • #7 
Sport
Joined: 07/16/18
Posts: 91
Location: USA
For trademark nerds:
Image

Address: Orange, CA.
Date of first use in commerce: March 31, 1948.
Date of application: August 20,1948.

Other documents I encountered, all later, were with Costa Mesa address. I couldn't find anything on the seahorse yet.


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Post 03 Jan 2019, 23:50 • #8 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 09/18/09
Posts: 5050
Location: Washington DC Region
Fishkat, Thank you for sharing your research.

Jungwiar, that is a great looking rod. Congratulations on the find. The orange spiral wraps (in thick thread) are neat.
Other than the cork separating between the rings, the rod looks great.


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Post 04 Jan 2019, 07:51 • #9 
Master Guide
Joined: 02/16/14
Posts: 618
Location: Roanoke, VA
Those wraps. Those ferrrules. Those foulproof guides. That seat. That glass. Wow!
What a great early, early find.


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Post 04 Jan 2019, 12:06 • #10 
Guide
Joined: 04/09/14
Posts: 173
Location: US-MN Driftless region, western Lake Superior
jeeesuz.....what a find!


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Post 04 Jan 2019, 22:45 • #11 
New Member
Joined: 12/30/18
Posts: 6
Location: US-WI
Hey — thanks for the replies and info! I was’t sure what I had so is the reason I finally joined here vs. laying in the weeds... I had missed out on a Brownging Silaflex (xxx975), so jumped on this when I saw it. Started looking around and haven’t seen any pics of the label, etc. Anyway, I will be fishing it, so will report back here. Appreciate it.


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Post 04 Jan 2019, 23:01 • #12 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 11/06/17
Posts: 1943
Location: South of Joplin
I'm not sure I could fish that more than once, and that would be with all cautions. Might be one of a kind.


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Post 11 Jan 2019, 15:03 • #13 
Sport
Joined: 07/16/18
Posts: 91
Location: USA
I found an obscure reference of possible interest to history nerds.

The address in the trademark document shown above, 2140 E. Chapman Avenue, Orange, CA, appears to be the home address of one of the Pacific Laminates partners, Mortier F. Barrus.

Barrus graduated Colorado School of Mines, class of 1943. A publication of the Alumni Association, The Mines Magazine, volume 38 (1948), in its Personal Notes section writes:

M.F. Barrus, '43, is partner in the firm of Pacific-Laminates Company and receives mail at his home, 2140 East Chapman Avenue, Orange, California.

Google Books snippet

So, the Sila-flex Orange, CA address was likely not that of the abandoned pump house in an orange grove used for production, but rather a partner’s home address.


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Post 11 Jan 2019, 15:58 • #14 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 11/06/17
Posts: 1943
Location: South of Joplin
That makes too much sense. The pump house gives more romanticism to the story.


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Post 11 Jan 2019, 16:47 • #15 
Sport
Joined: 07/16/18
Posts: 91
Location: USA
Well Trev, just to be clear, I accept the pump house story. A guy handling a start-up's mail in his home is kind of romantic, too.

In any case, these guys went on to make $$$. I'll see if I can dig up a 1950s article (I read a while ago) saying so.

Warm regards,
John


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Post 11 Jan 2019, 17:43 • #16 
Global Moderator
Joined: 04/20/07
Posts: 8172
Location: US-ME
Love the detail. The more facts we have, the more romantic.


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Post 11 Jan 2019, 19:14 • #17 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 11/06/17
Posts: 1943
Location: South of Joplin
I have known a few guys that got the Company mail at home, I'd have to see that pump house before I'd put much stock in it, the ones I've seen wouldn't convert very well to any thing. Any way keep digging I love the detailed history that can be put together with a snippet here and note there and a receipt somewhere.
As I understand it three major rod companies all started from Conair's war work? It would be fun to know how those guy's interacted at work during the war and how the research and the patents were divided up. How did they get along as competitors in a fledgling industry.


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Post 11 Jan 2019, 22:10 • #18 
New Member
Joined: 12/30/18
Posts: 6
Location: US-WI
Man. You guys are incredible! Just for kicks I looked up that address on Google maps and, although it is now a very busy looking intersection, it does appear to be on the banks of a long, now drained creek - Santiago Creek. So maybe there was a pump house there... Now to look at Historic Aerials in the late 1940’s...


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Post 11 Jan 2019, 22:18 • #19 
New Member
Joined: 12/30/18
Posts: 6
Location: US-WI
Ok - definitely looks like some sort of plantation. As there are no orange trees for many miles from where I now sit, I can’t for certain tell if they are orange trees in 1950, but looks like a building at that address... I’d post a screen capture, but the Copyrighted signs all over the capture would probably get me in some sort of trouble - even bigger than trying to fish this rod!!!


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Post 12 Jan 2019, 12:41 • #20 
Master Guide
Joined: 09/02/12
Posts: 826
Location: Upstate NY
That rod is just so cool the old Silaflex rods are phenomenal !


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Post 16 Jan 2019, 13:06 • #21 
Guide
Joined: 06/08/16
Posts: 318
Location: US-MI
What a great find!
The Aetna guides were a product of the 1950’s though, with patent application in August 1949 and approved in October 1951. Based on that, I would be inclined to think that the Pacific Laminate rods marked Costa Mesa came first, and those that were marked Orange came later. Herb Jenks and four others left Narmco at Costa Mesa in 1947.
I think the spiral wraps also place it in the 1950’s.


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Post 16 Jan 2019, 22:13 • #22 
Sport
Joined: 07/16/18
Posts: 91
Location: USA
Hey The Purist,

Great to hear from you on this topic - I had been wondering what your thoughts were.

Some things for consideration:

1) "spiral wraps place it in the 1950's" - that's a tough claim to solidify. Sila-flex did not sell finished/completed rods until the 1952 catalog. First they sold only blanks (1949 Catalog), then kits (ferruled) were added (1950 Catalog). Observe also the trademark registration (from Orange, CA, not Costa Mesa - did you miss that part?) is for blanks, not rods. I think this rod was custom wrapped and one shouldn't make too much of the wrapper's choices - other than recognizing a custom wrap.

2) Aetna guides (some new info for me - thank you) "with patent application in August, 1949." Okay, but there are many examples of an item being used/sold prior to patent application submission.

3) Costa Mesa to Orange back to Costa Mesa is not parsimonious (not the simplest explanation). What's the reason for such a flip-flop? The earliest address for Sila-Flex is Orange, CA and the evidence for that is excellent.

So, I respectfully disagree with your analysis.

Warm regards,
John


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Post 16 Jan 2019, 22:32 • #23 
Guide
Joined: 06/08/16
Posts: 318
Location: US-MI
Hey there Fishkat! Happy New Year to you. I also wondered if you were seeing this and hoped you would weigh in.
Ah, but the Orange address is the home address of Mr. Barrus, not the address of the factory.
They must have been more than just blanks, because every example of Pacific Laminates Sila-Flex Rods I’ve seen have the exact same red ferrules and red/gold reel seat. This rod, and mine and others also have the same wrap color scheme. It looks too nice to be an amateur job.
I’ve also never, in bamboo or glass, seen spiral wraps that dated into the 1940’s. Not Paul Young, not Shakespeare. I’ve looked hard. If someone can show me one that is documented in a catalog I’d really like to know about it.
Maybe the pump house didn’t work out like they hoped, or maybe they quickly outgrew it. We are only talking about a few miles and only minutes away.
I’d like to see more detailed pics of the rod tube.


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Post 16 Jan 2019, 22:42 • #24 
Guide
Joined: 06/08/16
Posts: 318
Location: US-MI
A nice little biography of Herb Jenks:
Herb Jenks (1915-1977) Herb Jenks was an engineer who gained considerable experience fabricating fiberglass airplane parts during World War II. Following the war, Jenks became a pioneer of hollow fiberglass fishing rods, eventually becoming a principal in the Pacific Laminates company which opened a state-of-the-art fiberglass production facility in Costa Mesa and launched the Sila-Flex line of fishing rods in 1949. The company made a number of advanced fiberglass and composite products including vaulting poles, and Jenks is considered pioneer of the fiberglass vaulting pole. Pacific Laminates was sold to Browning Arms in 1962, and soon after Jenks help develop the Sky-Pole brand (Sky-Pole still operates a manufacturing facility in Costa Mesa). In 1968 Jenks left Browning and relocated to Carson City, Nevada, where he continued to develop the “Catapole” and (with AMF Voit) the “PACER III” vaulting poles. Jenks was still working on vaulting poles when he passed away in 1977.

Note: Sila-Flex was first sold to Ecko, and then to Browning a few years later.


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Post 16 Jan 2019, 22:53 • #25 
Sport
Joined: 07/16/18
Posts: 91
Location: USA
Hey The Purist,

Let me get to my storage unit to check whether all my Sila-flex rods have the red-anodized aluminum ferrules that were standard certainly mid50s on (this could take me 1-2 weeks because of everything else going on). From what I see in my spreadsheet notes, that may not be the case, at least for fly rods. Also, I'll have a look at wraps.

Keep in mind that the Sila-flex kits were ferruled, which may have been with the red ferrules.

Custom wrapping does not imply an amateur; the sense I get is that there were a few tackle shops that did this for customers. My examples are very nice.

John


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