Thursday, May 30, 2013

Victorinox Soldier evolution

This is probably the most known Victorinox knife after the Spartan. Thanks to its old age and wide selection, this is one collectable knife. It starts with an Alox Soldier from 2006 and before you know it, you own one of every major change. The ones from before 1908 and the red Alox from 1961 to 1965 are probably the most hard to find and most expensive, but that doesn't hold back a real collector... I'm still looking for a 1897 model but, it is extremely hard to find. These knives didn't have stainless steel and were therefor very sensitive for rust. The scales were made of wood and after a few years of military use it became clear that wood just wasn't strong enough. After 1908 they changed it to fibre scales and in 1923 the first stainless steel effort was made. I call it an effort because the first stainless steel they used wasn't really rust-proof. It delayed the rust, but after some neglect the surface rust, patina, started... The main model and tools stayed many years the same. Only one major surface change was made in 1908. They changed the main blade from a spear point (before 1908) to a clip point (after 1908) . In 1951 they needed a smaller, lighter knife and the shortened the body, creating a lighter knife from 125 grams to 90 grams. Earlier, in 1908 they already made a small change from 144 gram to 125 gram, but even after these changes, the main design stayed the same. The brown fibre scales, annoying can-opener, extremely cool looking reamer and large flathead screwdriver stayed overall the same, but in 1961 they changed completely... In this year, the most beautiful Soldier knife saw daylight... ALOX... The most popular Victorinox knife on Ebay, at shops and even at flea-markets, and it isn't without a reason. The scales are durable, look stunning and are sleek, easy to handle.... I could go on forever, but the main reason they changed is by my humble opinion that the fairly large and still heavy knife simply was too bulky as a rifle-maintenance tool... The ,back then, new alox knife was revolutionary and they gave it the typical Swiss color, red. After a few years (1961-1965) they saw that this color wasn't holding up in the field and they changed it to the more known silver color. My guess is that the red color was also more expensive and since the color faded away an unnecessary expense. There are some exceptions from late sixties to even seventies with red color, but I don't have more info on that one... The alox knife, with some minor changes stayed till 2008. From 2008 on they changed it completely to the 111mm knife with wood saw and philips head screwdriver on top of the known tools... I bought recently some vintage Soldiers from 1941, 1950 and 1954 and must say that they have a certain charm. Even with the surface scratches, beaten up tools and the patina, it looks like a workhorse that won't give up... A real icon in a proud Swiss history....

Monday, May 27, 2013

Victorinox LUZERN Spartan

This is one beautiful knife! The scales are made of two types of metal. The back contains a small plate which is made for engravings. What makes this knife even nicer is the legend behind the lion of Luzern. 760 Swiss guards died by defending the French royal family during the French Revolution.  The family of Louis the 16th escaped from the Castle of Versailles and went to the Tuilleries Castle in paris. In 1792 the revolutionaries attacked the palace and overwhelmed the outnumbered and outgunned Swiss guards. About 300 guards survived... In 1820, after one of the officers,Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen collected enough money, a Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen designed the Lion monument... The inscription on top "Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti " stands for "To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss"...

Victorinox HUNTER pro Black

This 130mm hunting knife is the first attempt of Victorinox to follow the big boys. It was developed for the American hunting-market, since there was a demand for a larger and especially wider blade. My first impression was a bit disappointing since a lot of people on the blog weren't happy with this knife. They experienced a lot of blade play, had no box and received a smaller pouch (111mm model). My impression when I picked it up at the Factory shop in Ibach was much better... This knife feels strong, durable and sticks to the hand... I love it!!! It seems like the American market was whelmed with early releases or something like it, because I couldn't find any of the mentioned problems. I received a box with small instructions, a larger pouch and a knife with an extremely strong and stable lock. It is a bit heavy with 162,5 gram, but this gives the knife that certain strong feel... Believe me... This is one bad ass knife! No idea if it will last in a hard environment, but I would take the chance...

Swiss flea market - trip (1)

A few weeks ago, I was able to convince my wife to make another insane drive of 1300 km in two days. It wasn't difficult... She loves the scenery and I.... well.... I love their knives... :) I made an entire travel scheme because I wanted to visit four flea markets and two shops in two days. After some online searches, I stumbled upon two markets in our way up, and two on our way back home. They were all on our route, so finding them wouldn't be any problem. On the multitool forum someone told me that I should pay a visit at the Buchs AG flea market. He found some real nice Soldiers and I was curious to see if I could find vintage Vics for an affordable price... The other three markets were a gamble... You never know... Our first one was the Petersplatz flea market in Basel. This flea market is one very interesting place. It starts at 7.30 and not a minute earlier... Everyone is waiting with his stuff at hand till finally at 7.30 the first one puts down his bag and starts displaying his antiques. Once the first one opens up his bag, it becomes one big chaos... People start pushing and it almost looks like everyone thinks to find some treasure. Well... I found one... or better said, multiple treasures. The first stand we went to had a little box on the table. My wife picks it up and there are three soldiers... One from 59,41 and 73... All in mint condition... I ask the price and the guy answers in Swiss off course... After he sees that I have difficulties understanding, he repeats the price, but this time in English... 10 Franken... I'm exited and want to pay 30 CHF for the three, but my wife says that the guy means 10 CHF for the three... Unbelievable... about 8 euros for three vintage Soldiers... That one made my day, but after that lucky begin, the rest of the sellers knew their prices. All the other knives I bought, I payed way to much. You just need some luck if you want some nice Soldiers. Other models are out there but hard to find... The second market we went to was one in Dietikon. Only 10 stands and not one single knife... That one was depressing... :( That afternoon we went to the Ibach factory shop and to the Shop in Brunnen... We had still some daylight left and I decided to go to Luzern which was about 40 km from Ibach. It was a long shot, but I hoped to find the famous Luzern-lion Victorinox. I love that knife, but couldn't find it online... Once arrived, we went to the monument and instead of looking at the beautiful lion, I couldn't take my eyes of the many Victorinox sellers at the small area in front of it... One of the shops sold the beautiful Lion Victorinox and I bought it... The next day we went to the Buchs AG market, and after two hours of drooling I bought for way too much money some alox Soldiers and some vintage red alox pioneers. We skipped the fourth market and went back home at a decent hour.... That last one should've been too much....

Below the flea market in Buchs. This one was pretty big and had a lot of knives, but at a high price!

Below the Victorinox shop and Swiss knife valley visitorcenter in Brunnen. In the basement there's a small museum with a nice interactive display and  the possibility to make your own Spartan.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

1983 Victorinox Champion (Discontinued)

This was the Swisschamp of the 20th century. The knife combined all the popular tools in one, affordable, portable package. This shows that Victorinox does adapt over the years... The Champion was made from the late fifties/early sixties (this date is not 100% sure) to 1985 and later on continued as the Champion plus with the pen integrated in the scales. One major difference between the Champion and the Swisschamp is the large pliers. Since 1985 Victorinox added the pliers to their already large tool selection. I found this one once again in one of the many boxes of knives from Mme Canif and didn't recognize it straight away. Once at home I tried to find the tool combination on Sakwiki and the name Champion popped up. It was in good condition and after some cleaning it looks in very good condition... When I tried to add a small "old type" mini screwdriver ( like with the Swisschamp) in the corkscrew, I was surprised to see that the grooved corkscrew doesn't take the screwdriver. The opening is a bit smaller then the present one. This was the first time I encountered this problem. But this makes the time window on this knife a bit shorter. It seems that this knife should be produced between 1983 and 1985 since the screwdriver was fitted from 1985 on... 

Age - marks :

* Can opener : This type of the can opener is the most recent one and started from 1980 on till now...
* NEW reamer : From 1961 on, they changed the beautiful triangular shaped reamer in the known curved reamer. This knife has the newer curved type, but without the sewing eye. This type was made from 1961 to 1985.
* Shackle / Ring : From 1961 to 1991 they made it possible of attaching  your keys to the knife by attachment ring on a separate layer, just like the one used on this knife.
* Cap lifter : The most recent cap lifter without the 90 degree lock was used from 1980 to 1985.
* Magnifying glass / philips head screwdriver : from 1973 on till the eighties they used the old greyish type of mag-glass. The newer knives use a 5x mag-glass in a clear type of plastic.
* Scissors : This type of scissors with screw joint and double spring was used from 1975 on till 1991.
* Metal saw /Wood saw : These types were used from the seventies on...

Conclusion :

I could go on for a while, thanks to the many tools present in this knife, but I think it's pretty clear when this knife should've been produced. From 1985 on they changed to the Swisschamp and on the other hand this knife contains tools that never could've been produced before 1983... Conclusion... from 1983 to 1985... This is'nt the oldest knife I own, but with it's age of 30 years and the many tools, it contains much interesting information for age dating other knives in my collection. 

TOOL FACT :: Did you know that from 1985 on till now Victorinox dropped the magnetic tip feature on the fish scaler tool? Do a test on a small iron object and within a few seconds you're sure that your knife was produced before or after 1985...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Brown Boveri Vintage Victorinox Tourist

This is one popular knife. It's the second one in a year of searching for those old gems... The Tourist was back then the Spartan of the present day. Companies loved it as a promotional tool because it was a fairly cheap knife and had al the necessary tools for any every day task. This one in particular has the Brown Boveri stamp instead of the Victorinox shield and after some research I found that this was a Swiss company, founded in 1891 in Baden which produced generators and turbines for power plants. The knife looks used, but not abused (as Marios Kardaras would say ;)  ) and after a large cleanup and lube it still shows the wear and tear, but at least everything shines like new... The strange thing is that this one has an unused reamer. this is normally the first thing to loose the tip, certainly on the older knives. 

Age - marks :

* Cellidor scales : These scales were introduced in 1937. Before 1937 the scales were made from fibre, and had no mirror polish. This knife has cellidor scales!
* Can opener : This type can opener is the more recent one and the strange thing is that this one hasn't got the PAT marking on it. Every tool on this knife points direction 50's-60's, but if I look at the can opener it should be made arround the seventies or later.
* REAMER : This older type reamer was used till 1961 and a very distinctive age-mark for any Victorinox.
* Small blade : The small blade has a clip point. These blades were used till 1973.
* Cap lifter : The cap lifter, here used, with sharpened curve, without the 90 degree lock, was manufactured from 1951 till 1980.
* Blade stamp : The main blade stamp says VICTORIA with the crossbow in the middle. On the back it says Victorinox Switzerland Stainless Rostfrei. The back stamp was used from 1952 and the front one from arround 1943. 

Conclusion :

When I look at all the tools, materials and stampings, this knife should be made arround the 50's. From 1951 to 1961 would be the time window, but if I look at the blade stamping, I would say early fifties since VICTORIA was used around 1943.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cherry wood / Hornbeam mods

These two weren't easy. Especially the hornbeam one. This wood is extremely strong and pale. Even with the slightest dirt, the scales look trashed. That's why I had to start over again 3 times with the varnish finish. This time I not only made the scales and constructed the knife, but I also made some experimental tools out of damaged blades. With the Hornbeam one I implemented an improvised gutter blade and a box-openener. This gutter blade is a copy of the blade in the 108mm discontinued safari knife. The box-opener was an idea I had for a long time and is interesting when you have a load of small knife-blades with broken tips. ;) The cherry wood looks stunning, but has the same tendency as the hornbeam when it comes to absorbing dirt. The main knife blade is changed to a clip point and has the metal and wood saw, scissors, cap lifter, can opener, philips head scfrewdriver and old type magnifying glass. Both knives have brass pins trough the scales with peened ends. this type of "construction" seems to hold very wel and looks great...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Victorinox Alox Silver Electrician 1998

This 93mm knife was/is offered by The Good Stuff shop as an obsolete/ old stock item and costed a fraction of what some people ask at Ebay. I was surprised by the fast and professional transaction by this shop. This was my second buy and once again I was surprised to see that the knife arrived after three days. That's extremely fast! The knife's silver scales don't look very appealing but silver Alox is the most durable, since there's no paint that can flake off. The tools are pretty common, except for the electrician's blade which contains a wire stripper and a flat knife. This tool is a great addition for an actual electrician, but thanks to the beautiful alox scales, it will stay in the display cabinet.... It just looks to nice to use... The main blade has Victorinox Stainless Steel Rostfrei on the front and the year 98 on the back. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Teak scaled MOD "WoodMechanic"

A long name for this one, but after a long search at Sakwiki, I couldn't find any existing Victorinox models for this configuration. I started with the Spartan as the base and went from there with the tools I would like on a biking/hiking knife... I added the scissors, wood saw and the pliers. This time I used another method to keep the knife together. I used the brass pins I ordered several months ago and drilled holes trough the scales. Afterwards I peened the pins and the knife was extremely sturdy. With this method, the traditional "snap", won't go away. It feels like this was an original, and that's nice, especially when you started from scratch. The scales are again made from the Thai Teakwood I bought in Bangkok a month ago and I finished with three layers of Yacht varnish... 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Outlet haul : Vic "Deluxe" / Rocknife / Swisstool X

Another trip to the Outlet store in Roermond made me wonder if I could resist to buy more knives... The answer.... Nope... ;) When I saw the price of the Swisstool X, I didn't hesitate. 76 Euros for this multitool is cheap! Last time I went to Roermond, I bought the Andeer granite Rocknife classic for 36 euro and that was cheap, especially for a knife that once costed more then twice this amount. This time the Canadian Bethel white caught my attention and after some hesitation I asked if the price was still the same... The seller told me that nobody wanted the Rocknives anymore. They hadn't sold one of these knives for months and he said that he could lower the price to a whopping 20 euros. When I look at it now, I feel bad that I didn't took the entire collection. They look amazing and it's a natural product, so they're all unique... The Deluxe line is something special... It looks a bit too exclusive but I couldn't resist the red one with the Victorinox shield. It feels heavy, durable and well.... exclusive... 

The Swisstool x was nothing new for me. I already owned the old 1998 model, but I couldn't use it on my job (It was the first Victorinox multitool in my collection). The 98 model would become a shelfqueen and finally, after a few months I could get my hands on the 2010 model, brand new from the Outlet store in Roermond. I love this tool! It feels strong, durable, and you just know that this tool will never let you down. I'm an elektrician and I use it for crimping cable sleeves, stripping and even sawing in drywall... After a few weeks "in the field" use, I'm pretty sure this is a keeper!