10-12-2016, 04:58 AM
#1
  • tof
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I’ve been seeing some unique looking Gillette Tech razors that have been polished to remove the plating or chemically stripped to show the base metal.  This is a concern when trying to purchase a quality vintage razor.  I don’t want to be throwing my money on some pot metal razor.


After several incomplete searches, I have yet to find a trusted source of what materials the Gillette Tech series razors were made from.  Some findings discuss that the travel razors had Zamak heads and some had aluminum handles while others revealed the full size razors had a copper head and a combination of brass and copper on the handles.  Some photos show what appears to be a brass head under the old plating but others look like copper.  Who knows?


Does anyone have information that would indicate what material was used in the production of each style of Tech razor?  I’m talking about the head, base and handles and this may include specific years, models and origin (i.e., Fat Handle, Heavy Handle, Ball Handle, etc.).
Please point me in the right direction.


Craig

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 10-12-2016, 05:32 AM
#2
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Supposedly the copper-looking caps are brass, just brass with a higher copper content.

There also seems to be some debate as to the composition of some versions of the post-War etched caps. I believe that Chris at Razorplate.com has said that the nickel-plated ones are actually plated Zamac while the gold-plated ones are plated Brass.

Razors from the era of the Korean war should be interesting to check in that there were a Brass shortage for the war effort and Gillette was using alternative materials such as steel on the black-tip SuperSpeed.

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 10-12-2016, 05:43 AM
#3
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Boy, that's an interesting question! The pre-war Techs were all brass, the parts that look like copper are red brass. After that there were some with steel baseplates, aluminum caps, Bakelite parts, all aluminum Techs, and of course you can't always tell from a picture. The later Techs with beveled ends on the cap and an embossed "Gillette" logo, have a Zamak cap, and either an aluminum or brass handle. And you need to watch for swapped parts too!

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 10-12-2016, 06:02 AM
#4
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Triangle slot Techs are all brass, square ended caps on any Tech are brass except for the very uncommon aluminum ones, this style handle, either the thick or thin one, is brass.


[Image: Vintage-Gillette-Pre-War-Fat-Handle-Tech-Triangle.jpg]





This style cap is Zamak.



[Image: dba7bb6af6e3a49562f56dcb0b6c597a.jpg]



Some of these handles are aluminum.


[Image: gt2.jpg]


As far as I know, all of this style handle are aluminum.


[Image: 9083835993_2437d99161.jpg]

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 10-12-2016, 06:19 AM
#5
  • tof
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My head is spinning already but keep the info coming!

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 10-12-2016, 07:04 AM
#6
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Depending on year..brass, aluminum, bakelite, Zamac, plastic. The copper you see on the older ones is a copper plate over brass to make the subsequent gold plating adhere

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 10-12-2016, 10:36 AM
#7
  • tof
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Did "Made in Canada" signify a certain type of material or is it by date?

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 10-12-2016, 11:25 AM
#8
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Nop. Same array of options.

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 10-12-2016, 12:42 PM
#9
  • Gabe
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Every Gillette I have come across has been made of brass. With the exception of the British Tech where the handle was made of aluminum. 

I have had a number of New Long Combs where the plating was wearing off. The gold plating was very very thin on those models. I used rag and some polish to remove the remaining plating. It came off easily just polishing by hand. I noticed that one head is golden and the other seemed more copper color. After digging around, I was told this is common. They were both brass (copper and zinc) ,but one had more copper in the mixture giving it the copper color. It depended on the factory where is was made. Both were Made in USA. I have not had a Canadian one to compare too. 

The polishing gave it a beautiful shine. After about 2 weeks it would start to dull. A quick polish and it was gleaming again. 

Here are some old pics from a clean up I did. I no longer have these two New LC's. 

[Image: jhVRnw1.jpg]
[Image: axai1Gf.jpg]
[Image: 12IaAOF.jpg]
[Image: XWKFvOK.jpg]

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 10-12-2016, 01:04 PM
#10
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This is an odd coincidence, I was just wondering about this very subject. I just picked up a fat handled tech with no plating. It has a few spots on it and I was wondering if that would hurt the replating process. I am thinking that because it has triangular holes it is a prewar. Is this correct? Also, what "normally" goes bad, the cap threads or the handle threads? One more question, what is Zamak?[Image: i1oOaDG.jpg]
[Image: dmLsff2.jpg]

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 10-12-2016, 01:29 PM
#11
  • tof
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Zamak (formerly trademarked as ZAMAK and also known as Zamac) is a family of alloys with a base metal of zinc and alloying elements of aluminium, magnesium, and copper. Zamak alloys are part of the zinc aluminium alloy family; they are distinguished from the other ZA alloys because of their constant 4% aluminium composition.   Used in low end products.

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 10-12-2016, 02:29 PM
#12
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(10-12-2016, 01:29 PM)tof Wrote: Zamak (formerly trademarked as ZAMAK and also known as Zamac) is a family of alloys with a base metal of zinc and alloying elements of aluminium, magnesium, and copper. Zamak alloys are part of the zinc aluminium alloy family; they are distinguished from the other ZA alloys because of their constant 4% aluminium composition.   Used in low end products.

Thanks for the info. I think my Gillette travel head must be made of that.

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 10-12-2016, 02:40 PM
#13
  • tof
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Many Travel set heads are.  Plenty of the handles are aluminum.

You may want to try polishing your brass Tech like Gabe did.  Looks pretty neat.

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 10-12-2016, 04:24 PM
#14
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Based upon my observation of quite a few:

All of the pre-war versions that I have seen were all plated, solid brass.

During the war, a complete mixed bag. The ball ends came in brass and painted steel.  The heavy handles (which have always weighed the same as the ball end version), were painted brass.  The fluted ball end versions were painted or plated Zamak.  Many of the painted heads of all types were steel or brass, or mixed between top and bottom cap.  I have also seen the bakelite versions with steel or plated brass heads, and bakelite heads.  I seems to me that the all bakelite versions were the most common in the service issue sets.  

For the first few years up to 1950, some of this mixed bag persisted.  

Thereafter, until the lighter versions with solid aluminum handles and cutout heads sometime in the mid-60s, they appeared to resume brass with gold or nickel plating.  

If you can polish the base metal, it's very likely to be brass.  If not, Zamak.  Haven't tried to polish the steel versions.  I don't know what enamel they used, but it is almost fused with the surface of the metal.  Difficult to replicate.  

I suspect the variance during the war was a combination of lack of raw materials (hence steel pennies of the era), the need for increased production (lots of guys forced to shave in military service who otherwise would not have), a lot of subcontracts for production that weren't tied to Gillette's normal brass construction methods, and Gillette's penchant for using components up in such a way as to subvert complete commonality.

It seems silly, but what I really like is the little camouflage green blade tucks with the issue sets.  You know, because that could be the one thing the keeps you obscured from enemy observation.

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 10-12-2016, 06:12 PM
#15
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(10-12-2016, 04:24 PM)Streambrewer Wrote: Based upon my observation of quite a few:

All of the pre-war versions that I have seen were all plated, solid brass.

During the war, a complete mixed bag. The ball ends came in brass and painted steel.  The heavy handles (which have always weighed the same as the ball end version), were painted brass.  The fluted ball end versions were painted or plated Zamak.  Many of the painted heads of all types were steel or brass, or mixed between top and bottom cap.  I have also seen the bakelite versions with steel or plated brass heads, and bakelite heads.  I seems to me that the all bakelite versions were the most common in the service issue sets.  

For the first few years up to 1950, some of this mixed bag persisted.  

Thereafter, until the lighter versions with solid aluminum handles and cutout heads sometime in the mid-60s, they appeared to resume brass with gold or nickel plating.  

If you can polish the base metal, it's very likely to be brass.  If not, Zamak.  Haven't tried to polish the steel versions.  I don't know what enamel they used, but it is almost fused with the surface of the metal.  Difficult to replicate.  

I suspect the variance during the war was a combination of lack of raw materials (hence steel pennies of the era), the need for increased production (lots of guys forced to shave in military service who otherwise would not have), a lot of subcontracts for production that weren't tied to Gillette's normal brass construction methods, and Gillette's penchant for using components up in such a way as to subvert complete commonality.

It seems silly, but what I really like is the little camouflage green blade tucks with the issue sets.  You know, because that could be the one thing the keeps you obscured from enemy observation.

Agree with all the above, but I've never seen a steel top cap, just the baseplate and handle.

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 10-12-2016, 06:19 PM
#16
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And there were these; I don't know what metals were used.

[Image: 1958%20(D4)%20Psycho%20England.JPG]




And the all aluminum ones.


[Image: 1940s%20Featheweight%20Tech.jpg]

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 10-12-2016, 06:22 PM
#17
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(10-12-2016, 06:12 PM)TobyC Wrote: Agree with all the above, but I've never seen a steel top cap, just the baseplate and handle.

It's been more difficult for me to find the bakelite top cap, but here are two apparently steel versions, with and without the enamel, and with two of different handles and cases.

[Image: 2b90b269a85f57b00dd578e964311054.jpg]

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 10-12-2016, 06:26 PM
#18
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Gotta throw this in here too.


[Image: attachment.php?attachmentid=616443&d=1447914920]

[Image: attachment.php?attachmentid=616444&d=1447914938]

[Image: attachment.php?attachmentid=616445&d=1447914957]

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 10-12-2016, 06:38 PM
#19
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(10-12-2016, 06:22 PM)Streambrewer Wrote:
(10-12-2016, 06:12 PM)TobyC Wrote: Agree with all the above, but I've never seen a steel top cap, just the baseplate and handle.

It's been more difficult for me to find the bakelite top cap, but here are two apparently steel versions, with and without the enamel, and with two of different handles and cases.  

[Image: 2b90b269a85f57b00dd578e964311054.jpg]

I'm not arguing with you, I really don't know, but I've seen some like the one on the left that were advertised as having an aluminum cap. How sure are you that those are steel?

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 10-12-2016, 06:52 PM
#20
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(10-12-2016, 06:38 PM)TobyC Wrote:
(10-12-2016, 06:22 PM)Streambrewer Wrote:
(10-12-2016, 06:12 PM)TobyC Wrote: Agree with all the above, but I've never seen a steel top cap, just the baseplate and handle.

It's been more difficult for me to find the bakelite top cap, but here are two apparently steel versions, with and without the enamel, and with two of different handles and cases.  

[Image: 2b90b269a85f57b00dd578e964311054.jpg]

I'm not arguing with you, I really don't know, but I've seen some like the one on the left that were advertised as having an aluminum cap. How sure are you that those are steel?

Ha, no, not taking it that way at all.  It's hard to say what the alloy is truly with my limited knowledge in metallurgy.  It feels heavier than aluminum, and seems to have only a week magnetic connection.  Odd really, but they appear solid, but I have had a number that appeared solid and weren't.  So--somewhat sure that there is some steel in there but not much more.

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