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  #1  
Old 05-20-2014, 09:45 PM
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Delrin Handles, Randall knife

This line is spun off from the "coolie cap" discussion, but is dedicated to Delrin as a RMK handle material.

On page two are four posts with the most definitive information about Delrin as a knife handle material of any on the internet. These posts cover the following:

1. Pictures of a circa 1960-'61 RMK model 3 with Delrin handle, possbily first Delrin handled knife, ever;

2. Pictorial and discussion of chronology of RMK model 3s from late '50s to early '60s;

3. Pictorial and discussion of chronology of Delrin handled RMKs from 1960 - early '70s;

4. Discusion of history of Delrin as a product

First, some posts that lay the groundwork including pictorials and presentation of some Delrin or "Ivorite" handled RMKs.

Last edited by Jacknola; 10-16-2016 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:47 PM
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These first pictures and the comments were originally by "Sparky," in the coolie cap line. This knife does not have a coolie cap but it does have a Delrin handle. It started an interesting discussion. I hope others with Delrin handles will post their pictures in this line.

"I don't know much about the 12s. I'm learning a lot here. Thank's to all.
Seen this Saturday at the "Central Ky. Knife Club" spring show.
A couple of quick photos.
Where does this one fit in the progression?
13" Raymond Thorp
Delrin handle (I think)
Coolie Cap"








Spark, that is actually a "flanged butt cap," not a "coolie cap." As we have noted, the first such cap reportedly (by Gaddis) adorned the famous King Faisal set shipped in early 1956.

I would guess your knife is probably between 1963 and early 1966. It is post-1963 because of the baby dot snaps on the sheath, and pre-1966 because of the type 1 blade stamp. However there is a kicker ... the presumably "Delrin", a nylon-like material, handle (if that is what is on this knife). I'm not sure that material was used prior to about later '60s or so and I don't have one. So you could have some contradictions ... a sheath that could be pretty early-mid '60s, a blade that could be middle 60s, a handle material that could be later '60s.

EDIT: checking this site, I found a bunch of Delrin handled knifes including a "SS" and a "Low S" knife.. which would seem to move the use of Delrin on Randall knives back in time to 64-65... so ... back to your knife, 64-66 seems likely pending a look at the butt of the knife.

Note about Bowies: Gaddis related a story about prowling in the shop and finding an early Bowie blade. Turns out it was one that had never been finished and was just laying around. He said he had the shop handle and complete the knife for him 15-20 years after the blade had been made.

It would be interesting to see a picture of the nut on the butt cap of the knife you posted. It is most likely a hex nut, but I'll never miss another chance to look at brass pommels in hopes of finding additional recessed tang connections, or other interesting anomalies

Last edited by Jacknola; 07-24-2017 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:51 PM
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Just to connect Delrin with coolie caps, here are a couple of cool RMKs with those features. It looks like they may have the round nut, separate S, type 3 stamp with a brass plate on the handles, quite an impressive two-some, post 1966. I Received PM from Tom DeHart about his great Delrin handled pair. He communicates that they do indeed have round nuts ... which is what we would suspect on a late '60s coolie cap.





It seems that the time period for Delrin handles is described by people who are in the know as being about "1967 to 1971" or more generally "late 1960s". But I wonder if those often repeated dates could be just circular scholarship? Where did those dates come from? Here is a post by Rhett Stidham on 4/30/2006 on another site, line linked below. The pictures are long gone, but his description remains in a line dedicated to Delrin ... and that description is for a "low S" and a "double S' RMKs with Delrin handles.

Here is a photo of a Model 7-5" "Double S" delrin handle.



Rhett also referenced a low S, 7-spacer model 8 with Delrin handle in that discussion on this board back in 2005 or so. He later posted that knife was "no later than 1965."

I know of no "SS" or "Low S" blades from "1967-1971" though I suppose they could have been forged and forgotten and handled later. Somehow, to me that seems unlikely during that busy time period. What seems more likely is that Delrin handles were being used on RMKs in late '64-'65. That time period fits with the generally availability of the material in 1963 following completion of the commercial plant in the US.

By the way, I read that Delrin cleans up nicely with mineral oil, removing "filming" discoloring, etc., without harming the handle material, which actually is a good tough alternative to micarta.

Last edited by Jacknola; 07-24-2017 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:53 PM
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Here are two other Delrin handled knives, probably '65-'66 by blade stamps ... both have the type 1 stamps.

The first knife is strange, don't have any idea what model this is or might have been. It is probably a re-worked, cut down model 10 with special handle/guard/hardware something or other... I presume it is a real RMK. It does have what seems to be a nice nickel-silver coolie cap (with rounded tang nut) and flanged collar and separate S. I think the knife has a separate S ... because the blade has the type 1 "Randall made" stamp next to the "S". The "integral S" stamp incorporated a type 3 "Randall made" stamp. (In my opinion it's nice to have that blade stamp differential to split up the dating of the Viet era. I use it all the time).



The next is a model 1, owned by Mitchell Harrison, photos borrowed from his web page. It has the type 1 blade stamp (pre 1966) and is paired with an early Johnson baby-dot sheath without model numbers. This package if original could be as early as 1963, but the knife is conservatively dated at 1964-5. (Note: when using another's work, it is proper to credit them instead of leaving the impression it is your work - isn't that right Mitchell?).





Based on the above information, I think Delrin was apparently used in 1965, maybe earlier... but let's say 1965 to be conservative. And for general information, Delrin was used on an incredible number of folding knives including Swiss army, etc., and is still used as a common handle material on those knives today.

Last edited by Jacknola; 07-24-2017 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 05-26-2014, 10:40 AM
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Here's a mid-70's model 7 4.5" verified by Pete Hamilton.

 photo LRG_001_zps4d01335e.jpg

Enjoy!


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Old 06-29-2014, 02:37 PM
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Delrin has probably been used for more knife handles than any material in history. Swiss Army Knife uses Delrin for their knives including the little key chain knives, and have for 45 years. I visited Tom ... three more pictures of the 1-8 and 2-8, which are now on display in my home.






Last edited by Jacknola; 07-30-2017 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:28 PM
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More Randall Delrin

For the "historical record," thought I’d add these that I borrowed from Steve Zimmerman’s site (see below).

http://www.sharpinvestments.net/servlet/StoreFront

First is an early 1970s carving set. Steve believes it possibly late ‘60s… but though it seems to have a separate “S”, the items only have 5 spacers. I don’t know enough about carving sets to opine. (note: Found old posts that indicate that model 6 were like Bowies and often only had 5-spacers).




Last edited by Jacknola; 07-30-2017 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:48 PM
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Did General Westmoreland's famous model 1 have a Delrin handle?

General Westmoreland was famous for carrying his Randall knife whenever in the field in Vietnam. But... lots is assumed about that knife, and even more is not general public knowledge. It is often assumed that the knife was a 1-7, ivory handle, nickel-silver hilt. But was it? Here are some questions.

(1) When did General Westy acquire this knife? General Westmoreland arrived to take command in Vietnam in mid-late 1964. However, he was a veteran of WWII and Korea. He could have acquired this knife much earlier than in the run up to Vietnam. (However, the close-ups seem to show a baby-dot Johnson sheath.)

(2) Where is the knife today? No one has identified where that knife is, at least on line, though speculation is that it is at The Citadel. However, Gen. Westmoreland was only there for one year then went to West Point where he was the honor graduate. No one on line has actually described where the knife is or related the details of the knife from visual inspection. There is a Westmoreland collection at The Citadel, but I was unable to visit it because it is only open at odd hours.

(3) What was the size of the knife? There are contradictory accounts... some say 1-7, some say 1-6. Without an eyewitness account preferably with photos, no has authenticated this, at least that I can find on-line.

(4) What was the handle material? We know that Delrin became a product in about 1963 and was used on at least one Randall knife with "SS" markings, usually taken to indicate 1963-4 vintage. If Gen. Westmoreland acquired his knife in that time span, it COULD have had a Delrin, not ivory, handle.

I'm open to any and all information, especially if someone has some direct knowledge about this knife, better pictures, etc. Here are some close ups of the best photos I could find.


Last edited by Jacknola; 07-30-2017 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:43 PM
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I bought this 7-inch ivory/stainless Model 1 in the early 1960's. I don't remember any catalog option for either delrin or 'ivorite' offered in the Randall catalog, but I wanted a white handle, so spent the extra $10 or $12 for ivory. (I just referred back to the 1960/61, 62/63, and 63/64 Randall catalogs, and can find only stag, brown micarta, ivory, ebony/woods, and leather offered as optional handle materials--no delrin or ivorite. (Green tenite on the attack knives.) Anyway, I like to believe that the general had an ivory Randall, and I like to think mine is exactly like it! I had it with me in Vietnam 1964-1966.



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Old 07-06-2014, 08:36 PM
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Cut, what a fantastic knife and with a history too ... and yes it does appear identical to the Westmoreland knife complete with nickel silver hardware. Interesting... etched "Randall Made" trademark, and stamped "SS"... a possibly unusual combination. I LOVE the pictures of the handle. I have no ivory... but might have to think about a model 1, Westmoreland copy. I had a lot of respect for him. Thanks for posting.

I still have this desire to actually see a picture of the Westmoreland knife and know where it is. I have not been successful locating it yet. Sent message to The Citadel. We'll see. Regards.

Last edited by Jacknola; 07-06-2014 at 08:40 PM.
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Old 07-07-2014, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacknola View Post
...etched "Randall Made" trademark, and stamped "SS"...
I believe they had to do it this way--in the first picture, notice the arrow pointing to the blurry "F" in the logo. In the second picture, a close-up shows that the original logo was stamped, but very unevenly. (It is one of the logo's scimitars obscuring the "F". Therefore, they had to etch.





(By the way, Jack, I enjoyed that nice Randall article of yours in the Southern California Sentinel.)
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:15 PM
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Cut, what a unique knife, interesting features and stamp, and with a sterling history. That makes it so unique... what a knife.

Quick update... I can find no reference to the location of General Westmoreland's knife.. or for that matter memorabilia. His papers are at the University of South Carolina, South Caroliniana (odd that spelling) Library but they have not responded yet to my E-mail about his estate.

General Westmoreland's son and wife may have the estate pieces including knife. I may try to contact them... I have a history that would make it less intrusive. I'll let everyone know if I am successful in finding his artifacts.

I thought I'd post another couple of pictures of brand new Randalls that seem to have Delrin-like handles. Actually the catalog referes to this material as "ivorite" which was what Delrin was called back in the day. But these are not Delrin….

(Edit correction: The "ivorite" offered in current catalogs, beginning about 2010?, is an option for most knives...HOWEVER, this "ivorite" is appparently not Delrin but is described by some dealers as being a white "macarta." It is also described elsewhere as being a high quality phenolic resin material such as used for billiard balls - source of information was attributed to Gary Randall. One commercial example of a common phenolic resain material is bakalite. While phenolic resins are constructed similar to micarta, they differ in some important ways. Oh well....) The above is just to illustrate that you cannot always rely on popular descriptions of products.



On another matter, I'm thankful for this forum which fortunately is not dominated by semi -commercial so called "topics" that seem primarily intended to sell knives.

Last edited by Jacknola; 07-18-2017 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 07-14-2014, 11:53 PM
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Jack....I want to thank you for all the hour's spent on all you RMK post's....I've personally learned alot...especially the RMK blade stamping's..and the Heiser -Johnson sheath finding's.
You are appreciated here on the forum's...and thank's again for your hard work...well done.


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Old 07-15-2014, 09:26 AM
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Hi Rex!

I want to thank you for thanking Jack.

Cheers!

David


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Old 09-15-2014, 08:18 PM
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I thought I might as well post all the Delrin handles I could find on line in one place for posterity. There is a mystery though about Delrin. There are at least two knives with Delrin handles that are 1963-65. .. an "SS" and a "low S." But apparently Delrin was not offered in the catalog until 1968-69. This disconnect is not that unusual with Randall, but Delrin is a specialty handle, not mentioned in earlier catalogs so how the customers knew of its existence prior to the catalog listing is unknown. And Delrin when it was listed was not cheap. It was almost as expensive as ivory... in 1969 a Delrin handle on a APFK was priced at $11.00. A couple of years earlier ivory on the same knife was $12.00..

Here is a unique group of 7 spacer (?) Delrin handles that was published years ago on another site.



The next knife is the only one I’ve found thus far that has finger grips. There could be a reason however. By the way, this is likely to be the same m19 shown in the group photo above, just a much better picture. (Very recently it was posted elsewhere that this knife belongs to Michael Mason...)



Here is another knife most likely the same one pictured in that old group photo above. This is a m2-7 picture taken from Joe Dorsky's site. I don't know if he owns this knife or posted it from general reference.



I received an E-mail from Tom Dehart. He sent me a copy of a page from Pete Hamilton’s book, the Randall Chronicles. Here is what Mr. Hamilton had to say about Delrin:

Q. What is Delrin and when is it used?

A. This material was the first attempt at a replacement for ivory. Delrin came in white and off white. Both were tried. The material was fairly soft and easy to grind. Sanding and polishing was very touchy. The uses of this material went from the late 1960s to early 1970s.


This is good and interesting information and could explain the lack of finger grips. Given Mr. Hamilton’s comments, Delrin may have been difficult to work into final polish which would be especially touchy on fine details such as finger grips.

Below is Gary Clinton's Delrin-handled RMK brass-back Confederate or Thorpe Bowie he showed at his lecture at Blade Show this year (2014) from a picture I took.



I think this might be formal picture-portrait of Gary's Confederate/Thorpe Bowie shown above because the black marks on the sheaths in both pictures align... but I'm not 100% sure. Anyway, though it is a good study I'm going to consider it to be the same knife as Gary's. It sold on E-bay last year for about $1,950. Nice





(Note: Gary referred to this knife as a "Thorpe" in a post on another site. Though it appears to be a "Confederate," it will be cataloged as a "Thorpe" hereafter.)

Here (next page) is another brass back 12-11 Smithsonian bowie supposedly dated 1969. It was advertised as having an "ivorite" handle. Well, it should be Delrin if it is 1969 ivorite. The white and linen Macarta had not yet been marketed... to my knowledge. This knife also may have nickel silver collar and coolie cap which would be unusual ( there was a picture here, but I decided that it was the same knife bought by "dax" and shown on the next page).

Last edited by Jacknola; 07-18-2017 at 09:59 AM.
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