1893 Grand Exhibition. The world's intro to PBR, hot dogs, ice cream cones and the Ferris Wheel.

1893 Grand Exhibition. The world's intro to PBR, hot dogs, ice cream cones and the Ferris Wheel.
A view through the wheel. The black, horizontal line is the axle, the single largest forging to that time.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Let Us Now Praise Famous ...























I'm going to be bouncing all over the map here.
Over to the forum entitled; "We The Armed and So Obsessed About It We Can talk About Little Else" (paraphrased - seriously, maybe I'll start a forum called "We The Ones With Blood-Type O+") the question came up regarding knives, intended to be given as a Christmas presents.
Disclaimer: Even though this forum is partially the work of that walking (barely) paragon of the ridiculous, George Hill, the forum's members are by a large margin intelligent folks who, even though I may not agree with them politically, often have well-considered viewpoints.
The questioner in question had narrowed his choice down to Kabar and SOG. Of the Kabar offerings, he was leaning toward their gratuitous version of the Mark 2 USN/USMC Combat Utility Knife which I will never, never refer to as a "Kabar".
I, of course, leapt into the fray to rail, as is my tiresome wont, on the idiocy of these knives being called by the name of a WW2 supplier whose contribution was so minor.
Anyway, it all progressed with no blood being shed. He bought a Kabar - and a Mk 2 so that is certainly a plus over SOG, the subject for another, later mean-spirited rant.
But, since I found myself much exercised by this brief exchange, I decided to vent in a positive direction by crowing, yet again about my favorite knife of all time, the lowly Tango-Lima-Two-Niner.





















If I can be said to "collect" any sort of knife other than my own (I have a massive collection of rare and un-purchased, Dan Brock knives) it's the TL29.
Other than the one on my belt, I have three. The first is my old compadre, faithful friend from 1974 Antarctica on.
The others, purchased at knife shows consist of a wood-handled version from Utica Cutlery, circa WW2 and one with some birthdays but uncertain provenance made by the Klein Tool Co.
To my knowledge, Klein never made knives for the government so mine is probably a civilian version of what was originally designated the Army Signal Corps Knife (WW1 issue illustrated at top and above.
The Signal Corps knife differed from the later TL-29's in that it was slightly smaller, had no bail and had two semi-circular cuts in the screwdriver blade instead of one.
They were made by Case - as illustrated, Camillus, Miller Bro., Ulster Knife Co. (They made some of the US Smatchets in WW2 if I'm remembering correctly) and a manufacturer you hardly hear about anymore, Keen Kutter. Actually, except for Case, which has gone the Walmart-made-in-China-piece-of-shit route, they've all been put under by these Johnny-come-latelys.
To be fair, Kabar or Union Cutlery Co, has been in business since the 1890's.
It's just that now they're riding on the fame that the M2 has garnered, thanks mostly to the other six or seven manufacturers.
So, how did the name "Kabar" become affixed to the M2?
Luck and marketing.
During the war, Kabar knives were issued only to the Marines. No particular reason other than small service - small supplier. Anyway, all post-war, Marine memoirs feature the knife so designated. All understandable.
Kabar also fiddled around with the details of the design a lot - forty-five variations of wartime production: thin pommel, thick pommel, triple-black spacer, red-black-red spacer, blued blades, parkerized blades, peened-tang, pinned-tang as well as many, many different places where they'd put their trademark.

Collect-ability, whatever that is, personified.
The fact is, was and ever shall be that Kabar hasn't made a single thing for the US Military since WW2 but they act like they invented the damned thing - the M2 - which they only started making again in 1975.
My last bash on Kabar and then I'll go somewhere nice:
Their website copy says the name is from a testimonial written by someone illiterate enough that "killed a bear" was rendered as "kabar".
I respectfully submit... bullshit. I don't think that anyone this challenged in written communication is going to bother with a letter to a manufacturer and, if he did, the rest must have just as incoherent so how did anyone know what he was writing?
But, I don't know. I'm just a crazy, beer-drinking wrestler who farts. Said quote being from one of my top five movies, "Barfly" starring Mickey Rourke as Henry Chinaski as Charles Bukowski.

But, there are still holdovers from America's days of manufacturing greatness.
Logo above: Klein Tools, I have, of course the TL-29 mentioned already as well as two pairs of pliers made by this company. These pliers are so well-known and loved that, in certain circles, lineman's pliers are simply referred to as "Kleins".
The smaller pair I have are ones I remember from when I was a kid. They are probably 1950's or 40's vintage but still solid.
My larger pair I bought new to replace another pair that I gave to my son. Those had been found in a field behind the house of the city-hired electrician of Valier, Montana.
I know, they probably belonged to Gary and I should have returned them but they were rusty as hell and anyone who's that irresponsible with tools has, to my mind, had their ownership of same summarily revoked.
The courtly gent pictured next would be one Mathias Klein, a German immigrant who hung out his shingle as a blacksmith in Chicago, a howling wilderness in the 1850's.
In 1857 a worker in the high-tech industry of the day - telegraph - came with a problem.

He'd broken his pliers. Klein took apart the two pieces, forged a replacement for the broken half (a nice illustration - by the way - of why folks should be hesitant to call themselves "blacksmiths" in the modren day), riveted them together and sent the man on his way.
But, he came back and his pliers had broken again! In the other half.
Matt dutifully forged a replacement which kind of meant that he'd made the entire pair.
So, time marches inexorably onward.
Klein Tools is still family owned. Still made in America.
They do have a plant in Mexico - making tools for the Mexican trade.
No "out-sourcing" or "right-sourcing" as Sharon Angle puts it.
Be American, buy American.
They are pricey but you can pass them on to your grandkids.
So, get on the team and come in for the big win.
Get yourself a TL-29. Carbon steel 'cause the others are for those too lazy to keep their knives from rusting or to vain to not give a shit about when they do.
If you need pliers, you can't do better but, if you buy Chinese... a curse on you and your household.

2 comments:

Andy said...

"We the Armed"? I can't believe the places you find to troll...Thought you were done with old George.
But in joe's defense, when you say Kabar, he'll know what you're talking about, you say M2 and he'll go looking for a box a grid squares.
If you get a chance email me a list of bowieesque knives you have on hand. For your Christmas present I wanna get myself a knife.

Dan brock said...

Georgies's always good for a laugh.
"I'm running for office - except when I'm planning to move to Alaska."
Best of all, check out his latest for the Madogre Xmas tree harvesting technique.
Priceless.

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