Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why the ads?

About a month ago I gave it a try and started adding banner ads to my blog. Why these annoying ads you might ask? Well, let's be honest... I love my hobby and spend a lot of time on this blog, but although I like receiving / replying  mails and adding new pictures /texts to this blog I needed some way to justify the time consumption to my wife. This seemed the perfect way in between... Don't think this is a huge money-making machine. I'm talking about a few Dollars a month, but it gives a certain comfort that you get paid for the time you invest.... Don't feel obligated to click these ads (I get a small fee per click)! Take a look and if you notice something you like, click it... If not, no harm done! I just wanted to let you guys know why you should "tolerate" these small "inconveniences"...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Explorer Damast Limited Edition

Ok, let's start off with... FINALLY!!! It took me about twenty mails to three different countries, two visits to the Flagship store in Dusseldorf, almost an insane trip to Switzerland in two days and oh, two months of waiting.... After a few negative reviews of the early releases I was having second doubts and with prices online, going from 160 Euro to 250 Euro, I had some mixed feelings about this release. On the other hand... This is a milestone in collecting Victorinox knives. I was always impressed by the way that Carl Elsener sr. ran his company and there is no more respectful way of commemorating his legacy as with a knife like this...So.... after some hesitation I went to the Flagship store in Dusseldorf and made a reservation in december for the knife, that hopefully arrived in january. A few days ago I received the mail I was waiting for. Josef Hegemann, the Dusseldorf shop manager mailed me that the knife arrived and two days later I was drooling on the display model in the shop... At the counter, the woman who gave me instructions on making my own Spartan during the last visit, showed me the model they kept aside. I wasn't really impressed, mostly because I already knew the small imperfections, mentioned on the negative reviews and I noticed rough edges on the scales, so I asked if she had some others, just to compare. I could choose from three knives and there was a lot of difference, especially in the wooden scales. One of the small details is that they didn't sand the oak scales smooth. There are some pores in the wood and this gives the knife some rough feel to it. Not something "bad", just something we aren't used to by Victorinox, and some do have this more "expressive" then others. I choose for the more even surface. Other imperfections, the other reviews mentioned, weren't visible on the ones they showed me. The scales were well fitted on the outer liners and the shield fitted perfectly in the wood. This is one impressive knife. It looks good, feels good and the Damast... well... is quite unique. I love it!

Here's some technical details :

The knifes actually a standard Explorer with the addition of a Damast main blade. Damasteel, or the pattern used on the main blade found its origin in ancient India, where sword smiths used a unique way to forge this beautiful steel. Real Damasteel should be almost indestructible and was a source for some of the greatest legends, claiming that a Damasteel blade could split a hair and so on. Victorinox uses a more chemical technique and puts a layer on the blade. I don't know the details of this technique, but I do know that it isn't real Damasteel through and through. This should make the knife far to expensive for the average consumer. Nevertheless the blade looks stunning!!!

It weighs 105 Grams , has Oak scales, a width of 27mm and a length of 91mm. It comes in a beautiful display box with a snap-closed lit and a small lucite window on top. On the front scale, the signature of late Carl Elsener sr. was laser burnt in the Oak. Behind the Corkscrew you'll find the year of production (2013), your unique production number and total produced (7000pcs).

Available Swizerland /Austria : December 2013
Available Germany : January 2014
Available USA : ?March? 2014

Retail PRICE (Germany) : 215 Euro

Conclusion : If you're looking for the tools, buy a standard Explorer, but if you're a collector, or just someone who likes to show off with a unique piece, this is the knife you should buy! With 7000 pieces available worldwide, they probably will be around for some time, but don't wait too long, since the prices will rise over the years! I started off with doubts, but after holding this one in your hands, you just know Victorinox has released another gem...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Interviewed by Wen Jie Long...

Last wednesday I received an E-mail from a high school student in New-York. He discovered my blog while doing research about Swiss Army knives. He was asked to make a writing project, called "Who made that", based on a weekly New York Times magazine collumn. To add some facts and thoughts to the project, he asked me for an interview by E-mail. Some questions he asked were short but powerful and made me think twice ;) . Here's the interview...

1. What got you interested in Swiss Army knives?

Swiss precision has always gained my interest, especially when it comes to machinery and tools. When my father gave me my first Spartan, I was impressed by the little red toolbox, especially when it was all over the television with Richard Dean Anderson (I’m a 80’s kid), but it took me some years to focus on this brand alone. I guess the everyday use of it extends often even my imagination… :)

2. Do you carry one at all times? Were there any situations that you were glad to have it with you?

At first I thought that people exaggerated when they told me „once you cary it for a day, you get hooked”, but after some pocket carry it just feels natural to have it on you… Now I don’t leave the house without one. At work (I’m an electrician) I always cary a Swisstool X and a Soldier model 2008 and after work a Fieldmaster and a Sentinel. I haven’t experienced a life-treathening situation where my pocket knife saved my life, but with small inconveniences in life like a splinter, I’m glad to have one with me.

3. Do you have any advice for anyone who might want to start collecting?

The best advice I could give is to choose a certain type of Swiss Army knife and to focus on that part to collect, and don’t spend a fortune on you first knives! Start collecting the knives you find on flea-markets or garage sales, instead of buying over-priced so-called „vintage” SAKs on Ebay.

4. How many do you have in your collection in total? Do you have a favorite?

Right now I have about 300 „collectable” Swiss Army knives, about 40 custom SAKs and 30 or so waiting to be customized… My favorite must be the Soldier model 2008. This is by far the most toughest, user friendly SAK I own!

5. If you were to add any combination of tools to a knife, what would it be?

My wife would probably say a mirror, but for me… This year, Victorinox is starting a new line of knives, combining certain Victorinox and Wenger tools, so I would say the best of both worlds would be nice...

6. How can you tell the difference between a genuine and a fake?

There are several ways to differentiate a genuine from a fake. (1) The Swiss call it the „click and the clack”. A genuine Swiss Army knife should make a click when opened or closed. Chinese imitations often use weak springs and don’t have that certain sound. (2) The blade stamp should say VICTORINOX - SWISS MADE - STAINLESS instead of INOX (French) / ROSTFREI (German) / made in China. (3) The Swiss shield and cross on the front scale is a symbol of Swiss quality, but sadly often copied so keep an eye out for a shield, metal inlayed with a perfect finish. Many of the copies look like trash and/or are painted on. (4) Once you’ve owned a real one, you instantly notice the lack of quality with the fakes. The corkscrew bends easy with fake ones, NOT with the genuine one and the high grade polish with a genuine one is day and night diference when you look at an imitation...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Polishing Victorinox scales (VIDEO)

When I started this blog I was convinced that cellidor could only be polished by hand. I was afraid that a machine would damage the rather delicate material, but after some trial and error with a small polishing wheel on my Dremel I noticed that the high speed didn't damage the Cellidor scales. I bought an adjustable drill-clamp, a cheap power drill and a polishing cloth with paste. I use this setup almost for a year now and must say that every knife I repaired looks like new! The manual method works too, but this is so much easier and faster! Please keep in mind that the slow-motion I inserted in the movie is for warning purposes! This can and will happen to you too, so be careful!!! I've had tools flying around when I tried to re-polish separate blades and reamers (when I polish smaller objects, I always use safety goggles) !

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Collection overview (VIDEO)

As a proud owner of a GoPro Hero3 I had the opportunity to film my collection... I hope you enjoy it! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Victorinox kitchen knives

I'm not a masterchef, nor an ambitious cook, but I do master a love for good food... that's probably the reason why my weight is a bit too high. :) Ever since I started living together with my wife she gave me the choice to iron and wash the clothes or to cook every single day... Well, I never cooked before, but after a few weeks I noticed that I had some hidden talent... Now, "some" years later, I have a great array of kitchen knives, and after my last visit to Switzerland I started gathering the Victorinox kitchen knives, so I have some form of comparison. It's no secret that I like the Victorinox brand, but even with my eyes closed, I can pick out every knife made by them... These knives not only look good, but add a nice polished finish to make slicing through meat or vegetables easy as can be. Honestly,  to me it doesn't change a lot if my kitchen knife has "made in China" or "made in Switzerland" on it, but if you cook with a certain pride and respect, you use the tools with a certain "value". I've seen knives from 20 Euro up to 100 Euro, and it's up to you what you prefer, or are willing to spend on a knife, but keep in mind that the low end knives (plastic handles) are more than sufficient for the amateur cook. I found a great deal on the knife and meat fork with Palissander handles (late 80's NOS), pictured below and use some knives with plastic handles for quite some time now. I've read some negative comments on the fact that the low end knives have no full tang blade, meaning that the steel stops less than half way the plastic handle. This is quality wise not so appealing, but if you treat the knife with some respect, you won't have any problems with it. Victorinox offers even a high end line for the more professional chefs, it just depends on what you want to do with it . Victorinox, you've gained my trust once again!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Victorinox scales strength test

After I heard someone claim that Cellidor scales aren't the strongest, I had to laugh. Cellidor was to my opinion strong, if not VERY strong! But that same guy verified his statement with a dishwasher experiment. He placed a Victorinox Spartan with Cellidor scales in the dishwasher and placed the picture online. I was a bit disappointed and did some tests myself. I did two main tests on 3 different Victorinox scales. First the scratch test. Everyone knows that wearing a Victorinox knife in your pocket results in scuffed and dented scales. I always wondered if other materials would have the same result so I took a punch tool and scratched a small cross in the three different materials. The first one on the left (A) is a Translucent scale and showed a very visible white scratch. The second one (B), the Cellidor scale did a bit better, but the scratch was still visible. The last one (C), a Nylon Economy scale surprised me. This was the cheapest and the strongest. I had some trouble to make the scratch the same depth as the other ones and afterwards it didn't look as ugly as the other two. This material is made to resist and it shows. Too bad it looks so damn ugly! By the way.... The scales I used are used donor-parts, so they were already scratched, but sanded and polished like new. The second test was how the different materials would react to hot water. This is to proof that these knives are safe to wash in very hot water (hotter than hot tap water, but NOT boiling!) or not! The Nylon one (C) is once again the winner, or better said, the only survivor. Let this be a good lesson... Stay away from HOT water (Not boiling!) Cellidor and Translucent scales have the tendency to bend if heated so be careful! ...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Victorinox evolution : Can opener & Cap lifter

I've made a few mods by now and after my first few knives I started noticing the small evolution that Victorinox made with every tool. Some are the more known ones, like the 90 degree lock on the cap lifter and the pat. marking on the can opener, but I'm here to talk about the small, but ingenious steps we didn't even know they existed. Sometimes it isn't necessary to inform the user about these changes because they're so small, but in use they make a huge difference. Let's start with the Can opener... Victorinox used the 1,5mm gap (A) between cutter and spine for ages and ever since the late nineties (according to my knives) they changed to the 3mm gap (B). Why? Well I can only guess, but the only advantage you would get with this change is a stronger spine and small screwdriver. The other one I wanted to talk about is the base of the Cap lifter. This changed after the 90 degree lock (A - B) was introduced. Victorinox used a plain square base (B) in the first generation Cap lifter, but after a while they removed a small strip on the left side. Again a guess, ... this must've been done to save in material costs and weight but this doesn't affect the overall strength. One other change is the nail notch. They moved this a bit closer to the screwdriver. I've seen many of these changes, even with the Swisstool. They changed the plier head-setup to strengthen the tool when used to loosen locked nuts... Again ingenious... This shows that, even if the overall design didn't change for over a century, the tools change constantly to evolve in an indestructible toolbox...

Victorinox Grand Prix

Don't you love the Victorinox knives with metal inlayed-scales? This gives the knife a certain value that painted scales just don't have. About a week ago I noticed this rather unusual knife with a strange tool combination and beautiful Ford T-model in metal on the front scale.  It was in near mint condition and I was able to buy it for a very good price. The Grand Prix consists of 4 layers filled with the usual (main Spartan tools) ,metal file, scissors,  small flathead screwdriver and the very nice looking phillips head screwdriver with can opener shaft. One more thing I noticed was that it doesn't have the usual key chain ring. My first taught was that this knife must've been made around the early 70's but after some closer inspection I noticed that some tools weren't made before 1975 and after 1980. This is one lovely knife and after a good polishing it looked like new! The Grand Prix was made till 1995, but this specific one with small flathead screwdriver instead of the parcel hook till1980. 

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. This one was produced from 1972 on till today...
* REAMER : This older type reamer without the sewing eye was used from 1961 to 1985.
* Small blade : The small blade has a spear point. These blades are still used from 1973 on.
* Cap lifter : The cap lifter, here used, without the sharpened curve, without the 90 degree lock, was manufactured from 1970 till 1985.
* Philips head screwdriver : The square back-layer screwdriver was used from 1952 till 1980.
* Scissors : The scissors with screw joint were used between 1975 and 1992.

Conclusion :

This knife was made between 1975 and 1980.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Victorinox Buffalo horn 84mm Golfer

This knife was for sale in the Victorinox outlet shop and after some close inspection, I noticed that the tweezers-opening was damaged. Nothing huge, but you could clearly see that someone tried to pull out the tweezers with force. The big disadvantage with natural scales is that these materials expand and shrink in temp-changes. Often, the scale-tools get stuck and some people don't take no for an answer if you know what I mean. If you see that it won't budge, please leave it the way it is... I know someone who tried to pull out the tweezers that got stuck in a nice executive with Mother of Pearl scales. Result.... the corner cracked....  To continue with the Golfer... :) It was a New Old Stock, so it didn't took me long to decide weather I would take it or not. The guy decided to give me some discount since it was damaged and I returned home with a nice discontinued 84mm Vic. This knife contains unique tool combination with scissors, combination tool, large blade, corkscrew and large nail file. This last tool is fairly rare and was discontinued due to the weak design and replaced by the more sturdy nail file you find in the Cadet. The scales are made of Buffalo horn and show nice beige stripes flowing through the jet-black background. I love pure black Buffalo horn scales, but these have a nice combination of both colors. There are some variations on this knife even in 91mm and without the long nail file, so that makes this one "rare", and after some time, Victorinox evolved this knife to the compact (in 91mm) and eventually the Golf-tool to satisfy the needs of the actual golf-enthusiast. This knife was produced from 1986 till 1990, since in 1990 Victorinox added a gliding groove inside the scissors handle and before 1986 the combo-tool didn't exist. This is one rare beauty for a fair price and New In Box! 

Happy New Year