Contact Us
Distributors, Sales Reps & Manufacturers
Company History
Wil Spindler
Bart Mann
History of the Companies

More than 100 years ago in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, The Darling Pump Company was manufacturing high pressure, piston-style, reciprocating pumps (with leather cups) for the oil industry.

In 1900, Darling developed a revolutionary (parallel seat, revolving disc) gate valve, for use in the oilfield and in the waterworks field, and Darling sales skyrocketed.

In 1904, after several years of testing new materials to replace leather, Darling presented the first composition valve cup to the oilfields.

DARling COmposition VAlve cup was named the “DARCOVA” cup.

Throughout the 1900s, Darling expanded rapidly. Automobiles were being mass-produced. Oil was discovered in California and Texas.

By 1915, Darling Pump had grown from a limited partnership into a large corporation, which was renamed, The Darling Valve and Manufacturing Company. “Darling Waterworks” became a separate division from the original oilfield service company. Darling named its oilfield service division after its famous valve cup, “Darcova.”

More than a 100 years ago in Marietta, Ohio Hugo Turner and William Pease were producing oil. They needed a ready supply of pumping equipment and products. They couldn’t afford to pay for down time while waiting for supplies. So…

In 1912, they bought the Marietta Valve Company and named it “The Dragon Manufacturing Company”... because they liked the name. “The Dragon” continued to manufacture leather valve and seating cups while Hugo and William field-tested new material and design prototypes in their own wells. The composition material concept, introduced with the Darcova cup was brilliant. But Darling’s original composition cup was designed for horizontal piston pump applications. The Dragon’s customers, including Hugo and William, were more interested in vertical lift. They needed a better downhole cup on their sucker rod pumps. So…
Darling Valve & Manufacturing Co., plant and office — Williamsport, PA
In 1915, The Dragon started production of a better downhole, composition valve cup. Darcova followed suit. Their composition cup design set an industry standard for today’s reinforced rubber valve and seating cups.

The Dragon was a small, family-owned company that catered to — and was trusted by — independent producers in Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Darcova was a large scale, nationwide manufacturer that controlled the market. Because it was the biggest name in valve cups, “Darcova” became a generic term. Until the early 1940s, when oilfield hands throughout the country wanted valve cups, they would ask supply store operators for a box of “Darcovas.”

Soon, however, competitors (largely Darling trained), began to emerge.
In 1921, LubriKup opened its own, very large doors (darn near next door), in Williamsport, PA, and the chase was on for Darcova’s majority market share of the oilfield sealing component manufacturing industry.

By 1938, competitive encroachment and the Great Depression had reduced Darcova’s sales by almost 40%. Though Darcova was still the largest valve cup manufacturer in the U.S., LubriKup was running a close second. The Dragon was one of only a handful of small oilfield manufacturing companies that survived the Depression. The company survived because they kept coming up with innovative products that withstood the test of time.

All of the companies made a similar composition cup but the big companies had their own marketing departments. LubriKup had started packaging their cups in pretty red, green and blue boxes which were wrapped in cellophane. The Dragon couldn’t afford such frills so they came up with a little marketing strategy of their own.
In 1939, The Dragon introduced the cup whose name says it all – no B.S. (which became nobs after a few decades of political correctness). Still today, it’s the most popular shallow well valve cup in the industry.

In 1950, The Dragon premiered a deep-well composition valve cup, “The Tulsa Special,” at the 1950 Tulsa Oil Expo.
In 1931, The Dragon Manufacturing Company became a founding member of the American Petroleum Institute’s (API’s) “Valve Cup Manufacturers’ Committee.” Hugo Turner provided direct input into the development of the API standard 11AX for valve and seating cups.
A photostat of a document signed and dated April 25, 1931 by the chairman of the Valve Cup Manufacturers’ Committee, G.E. Wendle.
In the 1970s, Crane Packing bought both companies and moved Darcova into The Dragon’s Marietta, Ohio plant. This attempted “merger” was not well received by either Darcova or The Dragon’s loyal-to-the-core customers.

In the 1980s, John Martin Manufacturer bought the companies and introduced injected thermoplastic cups. As the decade ended, sales declined hand-in-hand with oil prices. John Martin started looking for a buyer.

In 1991, John Martin sold Darcova and The Dragon to three guys from the Rocky Mountain oilfields, named Mike, Fred & Dave. Finally, the company ownership had come full circle, returning to the hands of producers.

In 1992, the guys had a new design idea, combining the seating cup and spacer into a single component. Mike molded the prototypes out of a heat-stabilized, super-tough Nylon® resin with a low coefficient of friction. Fred and Dave and Dieter Hein field-tested the gizmos in their own wells. (Thanks, Dieter) The results exceeded even Dieter’s expectations. Darcova introduced the Hot Shot®.

Their next priority was to improve Darcova’s all-plastic, Nylon® Pressure Actuated ring. The guys experimented with several, high-tech plastic resins and a better groove design to maximize the well’s own hydrostatic head. They discovered that the XT® formula, a Teflon®-based thermoplastic, withstood even their toughest downhole conditions. Darcova introduced the XT® PA ring.
By 1995, the commute to Ohio was too much. So three upstarts, who grew up in the Rocky Mountain oilfields, decided to move two distinguished 90-year-old manufacturing companies from the east to their own backyard. They packed up all the employees who were willing to relocate, loaded all the machinery, molds, patterns and drawings and moved to Billings, MT. Montana had a population advantage -— it had a better elk population.
In 1997, the guys wanted PA ring technology applied to the Martin split-ring plunger. They molded (wider) rings from the same Nylon®- and Teflon®-based thermoplastic resins used in Darcova’s PA rings. Fred and Dave’s wells saw an increase in ring run time and a significant decrease in barrel wear. Cleaning up frac’d wells became less of a problem. Darcova introduced the Yellowjacket®.

By 1999, Darcova’s Teflon®-based XT® PA rings and Yellowjackets® began out-selling composition rings, and the guys started working over their rubber product line.

In 2005, after years of field testing new materials and designs in stuffing box rubbers, the guys were finally satisfied. The Teflon® core was the key. Darcova introduced Tef-Core XT® Cone Packing.

…Darcova and The Dragon are owned and operated by Mike, Fred and Dave in Billings, Montana. Between the three of them, they’ve lived and produced oil (for themselves or for someone else) in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Ohio, West Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana – just about every oil producing basin in the U.S.A.

When Fred and Dave and other independent producers, pumpers and pump shop operators have a problem, they sit down with Mike and start figuring out how to fix it.

These guys are proud of the new products they’ve developed, because making a better mousetrap takes a lot of hard work, ingenuity, collaboration and the patience to keep going back to the drawing board. And they’re prouder still to be a part of the history of these two fascinating, distinguished oilfield manufacturing companies.

Darcova and The Dragon have been around for more than 100 years because they have continued to meet the industry’s demands for improvement in the material construction and design of sealing components - and because both companies still manufacture every type and size cup they ever manufactured.

Seating Cups
Pressure Actuated
Yellowjackets &
Composition Rings
TefCore & Veetex
Stuffing Box Components
Valve Cups
Pump Components
& Gaskets

DARCOVA & The Dragon • (800) 327-2682 • (800) 372-4661 • Phone (406) 254-9399 • FAX (406) 254-9446
514 Foote Street • Billings, MT 59101
© 2017 Darcova Inc.