View Full Version : Pure Hell

10-04-2004, 01:02 AM
I got a couple of Head Graphite Edge frames the other day. They appear to be fairly new - rarely - if ever - used. The problem is the grommet strip. I've read a few posts about grommet strips becoming brittle in their old age, but I'd never seen any like that. Until now.

Man, these things are so brittle and dry that they literally and repeatedly shattered as I was removing them from the racquet.

It all began when a couple of grommets broke off the strip as I was hitting with it for the first time. Having had previous experience with this problem, I knew I must cut the strings out right away and repair the damage.

Obviously, the brittle grommet strips were history. The only option, then, available to me was the Fittex individual grommets. Now, I have used the individual grommets before - to replace a broken grommet here and there. But I'd never before put individual grommets in every damned hole. That's what I had to do, however - and it was pure hell.

One problem is that the individual grommets are loose in the frame. Every time I would touch the racquet, a grommet would fall out and onto the floor. I suppose when I do the next racquet, I'll simply place the grommets one at a time as I need them for the string (looking back, I should have figured this out). Further, the grommets have flanges on them. These must be properly aligned before pulling tension. As tension is pulled, the grommets sometimes move and turn, and the flanges end up in the wrong place. As well, there was a problem with the grommets at the base of the throat (6 o'clock position). Those original grommets were also too brittle to re-use, so I had to put the individual grommets there - and they were not designed for that part of the racquet. So I had to improvise there. I also put a bunch of power pads (in the low corners, and several at the top, as I always do now after string cut through a bumper/grommet strip last year, and subsequently cut into the frame).

Anyway, all this to say that it really isn't a lot of fun to string a racquet with only individual grommets. The fact that on this frame there are a bunch of shared holes certainly didn't help. Neither did the fact that I was doing an all polyester job. I think the old individual grommets would be easier - the ones that have a slight flange that is completely round. I don't think these Fittex individual grommets were designed to be used on the entire racquet - it seems they were designed simply as replacement grommets here and there.

10-04-2004, 04:01 PM
I don't remember; were these the white grommets? I always referred to the color of those as "brittle white".

Your heroic stringing efforts reminded me of last year. I have an older customer who plays with Wilson Pro Staff Mid (85) ... one of the early ones with grommet strips which sit in the groove without a bumper.

The grommets were in poor shape, so I dug through my old supply. Unsuccessful at that, I checked with a distributor, who thought they had them. What arrived was a set which didn't fit. I told the customer that grommets were needed since there were too many holed to correct with FitTex grommets, but I was unable to find replacement grommets.

A few days later, he showed up with the frame with grommets "installed". He had gotten a hold of some grommets, the same sort of set I had returned. Since they didn't fit, he had cut up the strips in to 2 - 3 hole strips which fit. Well, the fit all right, but they kept falling out as you turned the racquet in the stringing machine, until they were tied down with string. It was such a pleasant task.

I told you he was old. It took a year but he recently returned for re-stringing. It took that long for his 18 gauge string to break. At least this time the grommets were seated fairly well.

10-04-2004, 08:59 PM
Well, it's good to see I'm not alone, at least...

No, the grommet strip for the Graphite Edge is - WAS - all black.

I neglected to mention that through this whole process, I strung the racquet incorrectly. Not being accustomed to the thinking which should accompany shared holes, I tied off the mains on a hole that was to be shared. The result is that I had to skip the second to last cross at the bottom.

Did I mention that it was an all polyester job? Such fun.

Oh, well... live and learn. I now know how to better handle the other Graphite Edge - I'm so much looking forward to it...

These beauties are well worth the effort, though...

10-04-2004, 11:01 PM
Yow, Deuce, a nightmare, indeed ... being a Luddite has its disadvantages ... imagine trying to repair a 1955 RCA TV, or a transistor radio from, say, 1962 ... I admire your resolve, but you are moving toward, yet falling short of, classic craftsman like Steve Huff who appear to be committed to keeping old sticks alive. It's as if you are caught between the hot rod, nay, the muscle car era of the 60s-70s and today. Plenty of folks have revived GTOs, Vettes and even Chargers and Barracudas from that era, but how many guys out there have lovingly restored, say, a 1983 Pulsar or a 1985 Fiero? Good luck, Los Dos ...

10-04-2004, 11:42 PM
Come on - the Graphite Edge is worthy of more than Pulsar or Fiero status...

Maybe a '71 Mustang Mach 1...

By the way, does anyone know exactly why some grommets become so brittle over time? Has it to do with being stored in a location with not enough humidity? I have other 20 year old racquets that don't have this problem.

10-05-2004, 04:50 AM
< why some grommets become so brittle over time?

Deuce, I think it has something to do with oxidation over time. Grommets in a frame with the sun beating on them (and being black and absorbing) get drier or more brittle. Stored in a "cool", dry place awaiting installation, they do somewhat better.

10-05-2004, 02:22 PM

A few years back I was able to pick up (very cheaply, I might add) two brand-new vintage Heads: a TXD Graphite Director, and a Composite Pro (white, 89.9si). I took the TXD to a local pro shop to have it strung, and because the lower grommets broke they had to use tubing to complete the job. The racquet played very well for the few times that I used it, but I ended up selling it because it would have been a pain to restring. I still have the Composite Pro; unstrung, plastic on the handle, but I will probably never attempt to string it. It has the white grommets which you can tell (they are hard to the touch) will disintegrate during any attempt to string the racquet. It's a mint example of a classic, though, which is why I'll probably hold on to it. Paid $20 for it :)

Steve Huff
10-05-2004, 09:08 PM
I just strung a Graphite Edge about 2 months ago. A lady brought it and a Dunlop Black Max for me to string. Said she just kept them incase any of her kids' friends needed a racket to hit with if they wanted to go play.

My latest project on a racket is trying to fix a really bad vibration. I got a ProKennex Asymmetric on ****, and it had the graphite on graphite vibration (actually, it sounded as if 2 pieces of graphite were banging together when you hit the stringbed on the palm of your hand). I took the butt cap, drill a hole in the wood plug at the bottom. Still made the noise. The handle did have an obvious crack along the length of the the grip. Then, I got my Dremmell with a small grinding wheel and put a groove all the way through the graphite from the top of the handle to the bottom on both sides. It looks a little like a Prince Air handle now. It still made the noise. So I drill a hole through the frame near the top of the handle. Some sawdust has come out, but the noise is still there. Next, I'm getting a large drill bit and I'm going to drill through the plug in the butt, and try to completely hollow out the handle Hopefully, this will get rid of the noise. Then, I'll coat the inside walls of the handle with rubber cement to deaden any other vibrations that might be present. The racket isn't worth all this effort, but it's something I just have to do.

10-07-2004, 08:32 PM
Try finding a transistor radio from 1962 would be the tough part. Transistors didn't become truly popular until the early 1970's, and tubes didn't die until nearly the end of that decade.

As for Deuce's query into why polymers become so brittle:


It's obviously because you've gotten a hold of some crazed racquet!

Add oxidation, stress, heat, work fracturing, etc. and plastics will eventually wear out. It's truly amazing how long they last, though; especially with the work load they have.

Curious how resistant your plastic is to chemcicals and gases? Take a look:



10-07-2004, 09:12 PM
But these racquets - and therefore grommets - were unused. They were strung, however. As far as I can tell, they were strung 20 years ago, never played with, and have remained strung for 20 years. So they're not brittle due to wear, or sun... unless they were stored in the sun... I doubt that these racquets were ever submerged in anything, let alone in "a surface active re-agent (for PE Igepol) at 50 deg. C".

Perhaps being strung for 20 years equals 'stress'?

I have other 20 year old racquets which were never strung (before I got them), and the grommets strips are fine. I have 16 year old Prince Magnesiums which have been strung many times - the grommets are fine.

Methinks it has to do with the environment in which they are stored for a lengthy period.

Thanks to all of you who've responded.

10-08-2004, 04:24 AM
Most materials, like the game itself, simply aren't immutable. It's not surprising at all that grommets, like graphite composites, change over time - even absent physical stress.

10-08-2004, 09:32 PM
So why, then are some 20 year old grommets brittle to the point of shattering, while other 20 year old grommets remain in perfect condition?

Obviously, different things are occurring to the brittle grommets and to the perfect ones - because other significant factors (namely age and material) are identical in both cases. My question is: What is - or is not - occurring to make 20 year old grommets so brittle? OR What is - or is not - occurring to allow other 20 year old grommets to remain in perfect condition?