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History of SwingGuard

 A wishful statement by a boat captain, complaining that he needed a rate-of-turn (or swing) indicator but couldn’t afford the large expensive units made by RCA and other major companies, was the catalyst for developing a portable unit. Paul Shannon, of Killen, Alabama, worked on maintaining and repairing radio and radar equipment on towboats on the Tennessee River.  After hearing the complaint he couldn’t let go of the idea that a smaller, more efficient, and less expensive unit could be possible.

 Shannon’s first attempt utilized surplus World War II gyros from a B29 bomber. While this did work, these gyros eventually became scarce as people were buying them for hobbies.

  He came up with the idea of making a smaller unit that he could produce himself.   As with many of his ideas, he was faced with developing a device just to build what he had in mind. So he manufactured a jig to build his flexible hub gyros. His first flexible hub gyros had an aluminum front, with 14 individual magnets, which worked well, but had its problems. Occasionally one of the magnets would fly out while turning at several thousand RPMs.  The dents in the ceiling of the workshop told him this could be dangerous!  Back to the drawing board!

 The next unit was a one-piece unit, with the gyro and indicator in the same housing meaning less maintenance and a smaller housing. The decreased weight and size made them more easily distributed. Each indicator weighs less than nine pounds and can be shipped by UPS or FedEx.

 After securing a patent for his invention, Paul Shannon began production on SwingGuard in 1964. It was truly a mom and pop operation, with his wife Dalphine pouring the plastic for the housing and handling the bookkeeping, and their son, Phillip working in sales and maintenance. Two other long-term employees joined the effort--Robbie Killen in 1978, and Danny Robertson in 1988, and continue in the business today. 

 The swing indicators are leased, not sold, mostly to barge companies. Leasing has an advantage for the barge company. If a unit becomes defective or is damaged, the company replaces it at no charge.  Owners of large yachts and excursion vessels have showed recent interest. And even one railroad company used the indicator to tell them when their locomotive entered a curve so that they could lubricate the track at just the right time.

 Due to that one boat captain’s wishful statement more than half a century ago, SwingGuard continues to provide this easily affordable option for a rate of turn indicator.