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[Sticky] Harnell and Harrington Rods history

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Harnell - Harrington - Blue Royal - Gary Loomis

From an article written in 1979 - fourteen years prior to John Harrington's death and featured on Harrington Rod's own web pages...
....But despite these troubles, the company continued to prosper, and in 1950 it incorporated. According to John, they would have preferred to retain the partnership, but the insurance on himself was too costly. So in 1950, the firm came to be known as Harnell, Inc., a title that combined both men's last names.
For a time, the business went quite smoothly, until Rennells began to have personal difficulties and finally succeeded in persuading John to move the plant from Venice, California to Safford, Arizona. Looking back on it, John recalls this period as one of the lowest points in the company's history. Due to mismanagement and a host of related problems, they lost 40 percent of their business in one year. In an effort to salvage the company, John bought out his partner and moved the operation back to California into a section of Santa Monica. Unfortunately, he was unable to recoup the staggering financial losses. In 1962 alone, he lost about $22,000 of his own money. With his savings nearly depleted, John grudgingly accepted an offer by the Schultz Tool Company to buy the business. But Harrington never lost his love for the rod industry, and in 1965 he formed another partnership and opened a small plant in Oxnard, California, which has been his home base ever since. Due to legal considerations, he can no longer use the Harnell name, but it didn't take long for aficionados of fine glass rods to associate the Harrington label with a high quality product.

Originally Posted by Handcrafter
Attachment 185676Well I finallly got the time to go and find the Harnell book, here is the opening page that gives some history to the Harnell line from 1945 forward. It also has the specs for the blanks is anyone needs them.....Lynn
Some additional history on this brand that I have not seen in print elsewhere. My father, Ed Weigel and Grandfather Maurice Parker entered into a partnership with John and Jean Harrington in the late 1960's when Harnell was based on Glencoe Avenue in Santa Monica (Venice). Harnell was on it's last legs financially and needed an infusion of cash. My father built out a facility in the Wagon Wheel area of Oxnard, Ca and with the Harrington's moved the Harnell factory to Oxnard (I believe that this was in 1968ish). After a short time as partners the two parties could not get aligned and parted ways on poor terms following a lawsuit that required my father to "buyout" the Harringtons stake in Harnell (this included all the factory equipment, mandrels and materials). The Harrington's were no longer allowed use of the Harnell brand. John and Jean resurfaced in Oxnard as Harrington Rod Company without the Harnell brand name. My father, using the original mandrels, started the Blue Royal Rod Company. The Harnell brand was not used by either company. Following a steady but ultimately unprofitable run, Blue Royal Rods was sold to Gary Loomis in the early 1980's (before Loomis was a known brand). The Harnell brand was left inactive and was picked up and manufactured overseas for a period of time (I am not clear on these details). Following the death of John Harrington, Jean moved the Harrington company to Missouri and continued to make rods from time to time and at somepoint reaquired the inactive Harnell brand/trademark. I beleive that Jean sold this business to a couple in Oregon to resurrect the Company. I would have to dig into my mother's business records to confirm the dates of what I describe above, but think that from memory I am pretty close. I still come across Blue Royal rods from time to time and add them to my collection. I find it interesting that those original mandrels that were spec'd by Mr. Fennel's eventually became Blue Royal Rods and then Gary Loomis rods. Someday, I will take the time to write out the history with more detail. This story was on my mind as I was cleaning out a shed on my father's property (he died in 2006) this weekend and found cases of Guderod thread and aluminum reelseat material whose boxes were addressed to Harnell. Funny how that stuff had survived all these years.

Image by handcrafter


Actually, the rights to the Harnell name were bought by South Bend long ago. They continued production but most feel their quality was way inferior to the originals. The "Har" part of Harnell, John Harrington, moved to Missouri and either took his mandrels, or made new ones based on what he took with him in his head . He continued to make blanks and marketed them under the "Harrington" label---a white fish with "Harrington" instead of Harnell written inside the fish outline. When John Harrington died, his widow, Jean, continued the company, and just a few years ago, they regained the rights to the Harnell name and began selling the blanks under the old label again. Just before the blanks disappeared again (I think Jean died and the company died with her) I found a brand new 540 blank carrying the old Harnell fish label at a shop in Brooklyn

Up until a few years ago, they had a website ( and a catalog. You could order blanks direct if you couldn't find a dealer in your area. They still made most of the classics. I have a 542 "Harrington" in addition to the 540 unfinished blank, and my dad's old 552 is still collecting dust in my mom's rafters. BTW, you don't know what a heavy, pool cue meatstick is until you pick up a 552 and try to cast one


A little more history
My father, Gary Loomis, aquired the equipment and mandrels from Blue Royal Rods, after quitting Lamiglas after a management disagreement with Dick Posey in late 79 or early 80. He moved everything up to a small building in Woodland, Washington, right next to the shut down Lamiglas carbon fiber arrow shaft building. He used the equipment and some of the mandrels to setup Loomis Composites Inc (LCI), with 4 partners / family friends. About a year into it, he was approached by a man from Tiawan to form another blank/rod company in Tiawan. He was in Tiawan do the final touches to Loomis Franklin Chang (LFC), when after another disagreement he quit LFC. By the time he had flown home, the partners had locked himout of LCI. He kicked open the door and took his blank and mandrel prints and went home. About one year later he started G.Loomis inc, also in Woodland.

LCI floundered around for a couple years before being sold and moved out of Woodland. The equipment was reaquired and reassembled into its original building in Woodland, and has been making product under the name of Talon Rods for quite a few years now.

One of the original partners then went off and started Tridon Rods in Longview Washington and soon after, relocated to Oklahoma. That company was then purchased and renamed as Shikari. That same expartner then went to Squim Washington and setup a blank plant for the late Bob Batson called Cascade Composites.

My father sold G.Loomis to Shimano, and has since aquired the equipment and mandrels of Cascade Composites and the mandrels of Shikari, and has started a blank plant called North Fork Composites.

There is alot more of how all of these companies are actualy tied together in one form or another... but that will have to wait for another time... if anyone is even interested. I guess what I really wanted to add to the Harnell thread, is that really... it's still alive and prospering!

Harrington spec sheet

SOUTH FLORIDA SHARK CLUB -President SFSC-Founding Member est 1983 SFSC-Website Administrator BIG HAMMER SHARK TOURNAMENT -Founder Rene Memorial Sharkathon -Founder NMFS Shark Tagger

Topic starter Posted : 11/29/2011 11:27 pm
Prominent Member Guest

Thank you so much for the rest of the history. I'd love to bring back the original Harrington / Harnell glass blanks. I used to visit John & Jean in the 2 Oxnard locations, and I did business with Ed Weigel a time or two, making up a couple Blue Royal rods for bass fishing at Lake Casitas.

Jean taught me how to wrap rods, and to do the graph paper work for designing decorative wraps above the handles & below the stripper guides. She was a patient teacher. Her son, Fred, often gave me deals on blemished blanks. One day I found him unconscious, pale white, and stone cold on one of the tables in the shop. Jean had told me he had diabetes. I took a guess and picked him up, walked him over to her desk where I found some cookies in her top drawer. I put some cookies in his mouth, made him chew with my hands on his jaw, put a little bit of water in his mouth. I kept walking him around for about 10 to 15 more minutes, and added a few more cookies. Fred got a bit of his skin color back when Jean walked in, back from an errand. She was so thankful that I'd guessed correctly about what to do. She was certain that I'd saved his life.

John helped me make a mandrel for a distance casting blank. I had been working at an aircraft company that had some graphite in a freezer, and I wanted to try to set a distance casting record. He told me he had tried graphite, but had not had much luck with it. He did give me some starting points for diameters, wall thicknesses, bending moments, and helped me design a straight taper mandrel.

I'll post more later.

Posted : 02/20/2021 11:55 pm
Prominent Member Guest

Jean isn't dead she's living in Joplin Missouri, She sold the company and it's not owned by south bend...Jean Harrington sold the company quite a few years ago after Uncle John passed away and the company that took them was to keep the Harnell Harrington name and still do today in Beamer Missouri...

Posted : 07/17/2021 12:53 pm