34OT Middleman Rant..surprise ending

Codger_64

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Schrade 34OT Middleman Old Timer Stockman
In July 2004, the one hundred year history of Imperial Schrade Corporation came to an end with the forced bankruptcy and October liquidation of assets. During those one hundred years, the name changed several times, as well as company ownership. Several other companies were acquired, sometimes operated in tandem, sometimes absorbed. Begun by George Schrade and his brothers, it evolved over the years into the possession and guidance of Albert and Henry Baer. Albert, ever the business genius, steered the company to expanded markets with new marketing techniques, and new products designed under the watchful eye of Henry, whose signature would appear on an entire line of upscale folding and fixed blade knives for the last forty years of Schrade's existence. Alongside the now famous Uncle Henry Signature knives, the Old Timer line of knives formed the backbone of Schrade's offerings of knives and tools.

One of the most popular Old Timer patterns was the Middleman stockman pattern, the 34OT. The Schrade 34OT Old Timer which began production in 1964 was introduced in the 1964 catalog for $5.95. This knife, with the now-familiar brown sawcut Delrin scales (described in the 1964 catalog as "Bone Meerschaum") was among the first Schrade Old Timer folders, the slightly earlier 8OT preceded by the 58OT which was Ulster tangstamped. In 1970 the handle material name "Genuine Saw Cut Staglon" was first used. The name "Middleman" was given first in 1971, presumably because, at 3 5/16", it was middle in size between the larger 4" 8OT Senior and the smaller 2 3/4" 108OT Junior.. The price was $33.45 in 2004.

In the historic configuration, the knife used the 1095 steel three blade stockman pattern that became popular with users for many years. This blade material became a mainstay of the OT line of knives, both folders and fixed. Knives produced after circa 1997 appeared that were made with stainless blades as Schrade made running changes phasing out the use of their 1095HC steel. Even the Schrade+ steel changed from 440A to 420C sometime around 2000.

In 1989, the Schrade+ stainless 834UH Uncle Henry version of the 34OT appeared in the catalog and listed for $26.95. This version was called the Rancher. It had a pretty good run, being last produced in 2004, a total of more than thirty four years.

The 34OT had a closed length of 3 5/16" with a clip blade of 2 1/2", a 2" spey blade, and a 1 3/4" sheepfoot blade. This combination of blades mounted between brass linings and textured sawcut brown Delrin scales proved to be extremely popular with knife users for more than forty years. It is both pleasant to hold and to look at with the nickle silver bolsters and nickle silver Old Timer shield, carbon steel blades, brass liners and pins, all mounted in a sawn bone appearing handle.

Limited editions and special private editions of the 34OT seem to be pretty popular among collectors. In later years, special limited editions and private editions were produced with special handle material, including a 100th anniversary edition. This edition can be found with either a round coined anniversary shield in addition to the production Old Timer Shield (known as the Dual Shield program A34OTS), or an elongated banner shield with "100th /1904-2004/ OLD TIMER" on it (A34OT). The latter came in a commemorative tin with red flocked insert, and a 100th anniversary hat/lapel pin. Two different lid designs will be seen, one with the anniversary banner logo, and another with the correct (according to Schrade illustrations) picture of the Schrade Walden factory circa 1940's. A substitute pin, one from the Old Timer Classics series, will also be found in some otherwise correct tins.

I have a 34OT which has a NRA logo master blade etch, and also one produced for True Value Hardware’s line with the Master Mechanic stamped shield and MM34 tangstamp. I am sure this pattern was used for many private editions. I have not seen it used in the Scrimshaw sets. The stockman pattern used in that series was usually the larger 8OT Senior with cream delrin covers and stamped as the 505SC.

Being one of the longest continually produced Schrade patterns, the 34OT came in every generation of packaging, the brown woodgrain slip top presentation box, brown woodgrain folding box, tan box, blue stripe box, and blue flag box, as well as the tan, blue stripe, and blue clam packs. Special bonus clampacks were also produced with items like playing cards, a compass, sharpening stone, and knife care kit.

In 1976, Schrade introduced a variant of the 34OT, the 33OT Middleman Jack. It was last produced in 2004, for an twenty-seven year run. Made on the same frame, the main difference between the 33OT and it’s ancestor was that the sheepfoot and spey blades were replaced by a single 1 3/4" pen blade.

In 1990, a short two year production was run of another 34OT variant, the 36OT Saddleman. It had a medium cli blade, sheepfoot, and a hole punch (leather awl). These are uncommon and make a nice addition to a collection.

The 34OT was included along with the 152OT Sharpfinger in the SGS-1 gift set from 1983 through 2000.

There are many reasons why a collector/user might want to date their knife, such as to consider age, rarity, or a certain steel. The most common way used is by the tangstamp, then packaging and paperwork. A post 2001 knife is likely stainless, though not marked as such.

In late 2002 or early 2003, a significant manufacturing process change was begun. Previously, the covers (scales) were molded in the Ellenville factory from tan base material as slabs, then batch dyed with the brown accent color. They were then placed in a die that cut the slabs to exact length and punched the pin holes. When the covers were mounted and glazed (finished) flush with the bolsters on the ends, the tan base material showed abutting the bolsters. With the new process, the covers were molded to length with the holes in place, then dyed. These new covers can be spotted because the ends next to the bolsters are dyed, and a thin brown line is formed at the joint. While all assembly and finish work still took place in Ellenville, the covers themselves were imported ready to assemble, saving molding, cutting and dying steps. Knives with these new style covers include all of the 2004 anniversary issues, both in the Centennial tins, and the dual shield editions, as well as all regular 2003 / 2004 production.

All of the 24OTX was produced using this process with the new molded scales, but of course the black delrin required no dye step.

Other patterns were scheduled for the same process change such as the 108OT, 807UH, and 834UH, so a few of those may be seen with similar characteristics, but there were, as with any major process change, problems encountered which were being worked out on the 34OT while the other patterns were mostly assembled with the older style covers in the traditional manner. It is uncertain how many of these other patterns were produced using the new covers. Probably sample amounts of 200 or less, if any.

Yet another late change was the use of robotics in the glazing process. What had been a hand/eye operation was automated on the 8OT, 34OT, and 108OT in the last year or so of production, though you will not likely see the difference in the finished product. If anything, you will probably see more conformity.

Codger

 

lrv

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The last paragraph is real news to me. Next question(there will be more) is what other OT's were also using the same process?
TTYL
Larry
 
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That's an incredible amount of information for a single post. Thank you very much for taking the time to type that up.

My very first pocketknife ever was an OldTimer 34OT that my grandfather gave me. Soon after, I lost that original, but promptly bought an indentical replacement. That was almost 30 years ago, but I still own that replacement knife and have kept it in NIB condition ever since.

It might also be worth mentioning that the 36OT was also built on the 34OT pattern, but with a hoof pick (?) tool added. The 44OT was also based on the 34OT, with a fourth blade added.

Anyone know if there was a John Primble version of the 34OT, and what the model number would be?

Best Wishes,
Bob
 

Codger_64

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I added the 36OT in. Thanks. I just worked up this paper when I digested the new information, and didn't have time for a lot of research. Like all my rants, this one will be fleshed out a bit over time.

The question about other OT and UH patterns has been answered now (at least partially), but I will certainly share any new information when I find it.

Codger
 

textoothpk

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I put a link to this thread up in the 'sticky'.
Good work, as usual, Mike!
Phil
 
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Since the 34OT is my favorite carry-knife,I sort of laid in a lifetime supply,so I dug out some newer ones.
The knife in the blue clampak doesn't have the brown line,but the knife in the white one has it.
I've got 3 of these "white" clampaks and they all have it.

34ot


You might be able to see it better with the closeups.It's very easy to see when you have it in hand.

34oty2

34otn



Ron
 

Codger_64

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I have not gone through all of my knives yet, but I did pull out an 834UH with the brown lines.

Thanks for the illustrations Ron. Larry provided the one I posted, though I do have the same A34OT and it also has the lines.

Codger
 
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Great post about a great pattern. I've got 6 knives made on this pattern-2 34OT's, 1 with the old style scales and 1 with the new still in the clampac put aside for one of the kids, 1 834UH, 1 33OT, 1 240TX, and the Skoal promotional varient of the 36OT. Thanks for all the info, I had no idea about the changes in the scale manufacture. I carried my new 834UH last week as edc and really like the size and shape as a all around user. Am I the only one that wishes that UH's were made with 1095 blades? The combo of the staglon scales with 1095 would have made a awesome line of knives.
 
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Maybe those brown lines are an indication that someone had been slowly poisoning Schrade...

Or maybe I've been watching CSI too much.

Luis
 

Codger_64

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The 34OT also underwent a change in the blade blanking process in mid to late 2000. They began fine blanking them. I was recently asked what fine blanking was, and here is the best explanation I could find:

"Multi-station progressive fineblanking tooling can create intricate parts with many features including forms, bends, coining, countersinks, counter-bores and more.

Cleanly sheared and straight-cut edges, which enable fineblanked parts to hold very tight dimensional tolerances throughout the thickness of the part.

The straight-cut edges also provide excellent and functional bearing surfaces.
Excellent flatness, as a result of the counter pressure applied throughout the blanking cycle. This often eliminates the need for secondary grinding or in a part that needs to be ground reduces the amount of stock that needs to be removed and therefore reduces the grinding cycle time and cost.

Positional accuracy and repeatability, as a result of the construction of fineblank tooling; true position tolerances can be held very closely.

Small pierced holes relative to material thickness and holes pierced close to edges, which enable fineblanked parts to be more cost effective than fully machined parts and conventionally stamped parts that need secondary machining.

All this boils down to fewer steps in the blade manufacture process, a more repeatable product (less variance requiring adjustment of the kick), and a large cost saving in a high production pattern. A home-grown answer to meeting lower price points without having to source blades overseas. I am trying to get definitive confirmation of the fine blanking process use. Unlike steel and handle molding changes, it is not something easily observable in the finished product. Anyone know where I can find a factory machinery inventory sheet? Was one published for the auction?

Also, in 2004, the blade steel of the 34OT was switched from 1095 carbon to stainless, another cost saving measure. 1095HC stock is significantly higher than 420 (also, I believe I read that the 1095 was not available in coiled stock as the stainless was). I personally believe that given statements by Faust and Chase, you may find stainless used earlier in a running change.

Codger
 

lrv

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Codger reminded me of the need to answer the Primble 34OT ?
As I have his catalog.
Yes there was a John Primble "Old Timer Junior". But its not the 34OT
It came in a hinged woodgrained box with the inside coder stamped Primble in a shield next to "The Old Timer" 1974.
The number is 933S-B Belknap catalog pg 2603
I'll try to scan a pict.
If this aint a Schrade my name is irv
Woops..
The Junior is actually the 108OT. Ill keep looking.
:grumpy:
jp.jpg
 

pjsjr

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Codger_64 said:
In 1976, Schrade introduced a variant of the 34OT, the 33OT Middleman Jack. It was last produced in 2004, for an twenty-seven year run. Made on the same frame, the main difference between the 33OT and it’s ancestor was that the sheepfoot and spey blades were replaced by a single 1 3/4" pen blade.

Codger


Thanks for the info. I picked up a 33OTseveral months ago at a marked down price. After looking at it for sometime I saw that it was thicker that it should be for a two bladed knife. I was going to post a question about it here but you have solved my mystery:). Thank You. Preston
 
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Codger_64 said:
Also, in 2004, the blade steel of the 34OT was switched from 1095 carbon to stainless, another cost saving measure. 1095HC stock is significantly higher than 420 (also, I believe I read that the 1095 was not available in coiled stock as the stainless was). I personally believe that given statements by Faust and Chase, you may find stainless used earlier in a running change.

Codger

The switch to SS was not a cost savings, ss costs more. You are correct about the limited availability of 1095HC. Another reason is that customers, especially Wal-Mart Customers, often returned the knives when they turned black. The educated sales person there accepted the return as a defect. Any return accepted by Wal-Mart had to be accepted by Schrade.
 

Codger_64

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So the switch to stainless was a cost saving measure, but not based on material acquisition costs, but on returns and replacements for blades to people who thought good steel had the appearance of bling-bling, not based on use charicteristics. I might also point out the attrition of carbon steel blades after production but before retail sale added to Schrade's headaches. Carbon blades had to be coated and packed differently than stainless blades to prevent corrosion in storage. Most particularly those patterns that included leather sheaths.

Thanks for the info once again ISC_RIP.

We faced a similar situation of returns from the GM assembly plants. When their forklift ran over a hand made, painted and assembled pre-prototype grill for a Detroit show truck, we had to accept the return and a dun from GM. Same deal when they rejected units for missing components (they lost them or removed them) and scratches they put in the paint. I personally assembled these, documented them with digital pics, and hid serial numbers on them to protect us from their pass-the-buck policy. Too many duns (repremands) from GM and we would loose our vendor status. While a production grille assembly returned for defect might have a value of $65.00, one of these special pre-prototype grilles had value well into the thousands. Thus their incentive to not accept blame.

Codger
 
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Codger_64 said:
Anyone know where I can find a factory machinery inventory sheet? Was one published for the auction?
Codger

Michael,
I know Les De Asis, from Benchmade Knives, bought some machinery from the Schrade factory. He may know if there was a list published and might even have a copy if one was published. If you wish to email him and ask him just send me a email and I will email you his email address. I would not want to post it without his permission.
My email is: [email protected]

Hope this helps,
Dale
 

Codger_64

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After having investigated the process of fineblanking more deeply, and some educated pointers from a friend, I have seen for myself how the fineblanked knives can be discerned from the older blanking process knives. If you compare the blade spines of the last year's production with documented earlier knives under magnification with strong light, you will see transverse striations on the spines of the fineblanked knives (crosswise marks). The finishing process required with the older blanks leaves longitudinal striations (fine lengthwise scratches). Sometimes, depending on the degree of finish on the older ones, you can still see one edge rounded and one edge squared, or even slightly hairlipped. This is an artifact of all of the cutting pressure being applied from one direction, whereas with fineblanking, the pressure is applied from both directions, resulting in two square edges, and less finishing required. Anyone who has an unfinished fixed blade blank can see what I am talking about.

Incidentally, I have a 33OT with both the new scale type and the fineblank marks, as well as the A34OT, and 34OT. These had common components, I believe.

Codger
 
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Thanks for all the effort you've put into gathering this info - I'm hoping that everything that has been gathered and placed on this forum is being retaind somehow, somewhere. It's an invaluable commodity that will probably only be truly appreciated some time down the road.
Del
 

Codger_64

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I've given Larry permission to archive mine on his site, and I have it archived here in the codgeputer. This all is a rough, really, really rough draft to what I hope to some day compile into a book, hopefully both printed and on CD. I'm working too hard here to just let it get wiped out to preserve bandwidth.

Bandwidth which I'll remind members and visitors is being made available to us without benefit of manufacturer sponsorship. My membership upgrade is on the way next week. Anybody else feel like they owe someone for the value of knowledge, fellowship and entertainment received here?

Codger
 
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Codger_64 said:
So the switch to stainless was a cost saving measure, but not based on material acquisition costs, but on returns and replacements for blades to people who thought good steel had the appearance of bling-bling, not based on use charicteristics.
Codger

I prefer to think of it as the tail wagging the dog.
 
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