Classic METAL Racquets Thread - ALUMINIUM to TENSILIUM

Discussion in 'Classic Racquet Talk' started by jimbo333, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. rodracquet

    rodracquet Rookie

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    The metal racquets are really good to look at, so I am glad they were made and finally ovetaken by materials which didn't ruin your elbow. I think that tennis elbow must be lower than ever before thanks to the new materials, but that is another thread.

    Thought I would share with you this proto-type that arrived ex France and found on hard rubbish tip. It arrived in an ALLO (french aluminium auto company that also made wood racquets from early 1900's) It isn't branded, arrived without a grip and is loosely strung. I polished it up and my stringer had a extra long grip which worked.

    Like the Pro-AM this is solid cast but the detail in the casting is truly amazing down to the curved string holes and indented frame to protect the strings.

    Never seen another which would be circa 1945.

    [​IMG]

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  2. rodracquet

    rodracquet Rookie

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    Also, re the BIRMAL ALUMINIUM Grips. Can anyone please point me in the direction of where to find a cord grip that would look authentic. I have photos of an example and I note they came with leather grips also, but just trying to explore the cricket, golf restoration worlds where cord was used quite often. Happy for any advice.
     
  3. rodracquet

    rodracquet Rookie

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    Here some other racquets that have a metal component.

    The Dunlop Mono shaft seen earlier in the thread as new is great, the Slazenger twin shaft (same factory) and the MacGregor Tourney.

    [​IMG]


    Then we have the Samuel Fox wood stainless steel racquet with dodgy patent numbers. Used to be an umbrella maker, so guess this is a very early Stainless Steel version as opposed to the Carbon Steel variety.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. dataseviltwin

    dataseviltwin Rookie

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    I remember those...

    Wery kewl. B-)
     
  5. TMR

    TMR Rookie

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    Cortland Metal Racquets with loop stringing system

    How about the Cortland Metal Racquets with a smooth exterior and loop on the inside:

    http://imgur.com/a/VETIa
     
  6. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Here it is:)

    There is just something about metal rackets I really like!
     
  7. Hannah19

    Hannah19 Professional

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    Looks wise I'd say yes, some have the X factor such as the Prince and Wimbledon Magnesium, Garcia Titanium and even the ProKennex CU 31.
    Not to mention the ancient Dayton's and T2000's.
    But play wise I cannot be as enthousiastic ....:)
     
  8. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    A better method than the t2000 loops which make stringing very difficult. I would surely use some plastic tubes since those tubes tend to oxidize which is abrasive to the looped string.
     
  9. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    I concur.
    I should have included a dayton in my showing.
    Maybe worth another shoot since I have about a dozen different dayton steel models ?
     
  10. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Thought I should add these photos to this thread.

    Here are some photos of my John Mott metal racquets. They were hand made in Farnham, Surrey in the UK.
    These 2 are the Silver Shadow and the Camargue, named after a couple of 1980's Rolls Royce cars. Amazing looking metal tennis racquets!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. rodracquet

    rodracquet Rookie

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  12. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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  13. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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  14. Sanglier

    Sanglier Rookie

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    I think this thread could benefit from some acknowledgement of the actual people who made those Head, PDP, Prince, Adidas, Le Coq Sportif aluminum frames through the better part of the '70s.

    The similarities between the butt-cap stickers of these racquets are impossible to miss. They all list the same three patent numbers.

    The inventers responsible for these patents are George Vaughn and Richard Hargrave of Maark Corporation, located just outside the city of Princeton. The racquet illustrated in the patent drawings looks very much like the PDP Open/Adidas 660 (which differ from one another in a couple of minor but non-trivial details). Vaughn and Hargrave also held a design patent for the throat piece on the original Prince "Classic" (as a result, the only patent out of the five listed on the Prince butt-cap that didn't come from these two men was the infamous 3,999,756 from Howard Head).

    I've read here and elsewhere that early Head and Prince aluminum racquets were made in Colorado, but I wasn't able to find any reference of a Maark manufacturing facility outside of New Jersey. In fact, Maark Corp was so low-key that there was precious little written about it anywhere. The only solid piece of information I found was this short article in the Princeton alumni newsletter (Vaughn and Hargrave were classmates). The article focuses on another alumnus who was in charge of Prince Manufacturing at the time, but the section I highlighted is the most interesting part, I think.

    [​IMG]


    As one can see, Maark Corporation was the 'Kunnan Industry' of Princeton for a number of years, until Head bought them. Subsequent to the acquisition, Vaughn became the chairman of AMF Head Racquet Sports. By then, graphite technology was already nipping at the heels of the aluminum juggernaut, and 'Made in USA' tennis racquets were rushing inexorably towards the endangered species list...

    In retirement, George Vaughn continues to sit on the board of trustees at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, a school co-founded by his namesake father, also a Princeton alumnus, who was an ace fighter pilot during WW I (I wonder what he thought of his son's inventions :) )

    As for PDP, the only short-lived brand out of the foursome above, I had a hunch that it was to Maark Corp what Pro Kennex was to Kunnan Industries, purely on the count of the close resemblance between the Open and the line drawings in Vaughn and Hargrave's patent applications. However, available evidence does not support this hypothesis, as PDP was apparently acquired by Le Coq Sportif in late 1980.

    So Maark Corp probably never bothered to build a house brand (until they were absorbed by Head). They were perfectly happy to toil away in complete obscurity, allowing their OEM clients to bask unfettered in the glow of their technological success. There are many advantages to this business model, but the most obvious downside is that you don't get proper credit for what you've been able to accomplish.

    Those Princetonians must not have suffered from insecurity issues much. :)
     
  15. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    ^^^Brilliant post thanks Sanglier:)

    I've noticed that some of my PDP, Le Coq Sportif and Adidas metal rackets were bascially exactly the same racket. But I didn't think to check the patent numbers!

    This is great research, and very interesting to read, thanks again!
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2013
  16. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    Agree !

    Sanglier posts would combine for an outstanding book on the transitional history of the modern tennis racket. Thanks for all you post.
     
  17. Sanglier

    Sanglier Rookie

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    No book can ever hope to match the combined wisdom of this board! I have learned so much from all of you that it's fun to be able to give a little back every once a while.

    I left out a speculation in the post above, because I don't have any hard evidence to back it up, but I think I'll toss it out there anyway:

    I have a hunch that it was not by pure coincidence that Head bought Maark Corp in 1977, the year after Prince received the oversized head patent and launched the original 'Classic', OEMed by Maark. It's conceivable that AMF Head executives were alarmed by Prince's IP jackpot, and figured that if they had to pay Prince for every oversized racquet they sold, they would be in a much better negotiating position if they owned all those Maark. patents.This strategy might have worked out for them if the graphite revolution wasn't about to catch on!
     
  18. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    Very true about the combined knowledge of these boards.
    Rumors, hunches, and speculation really help drive these threads. I think your right on regarding Head purchasing Maark Corp and the graphite revolution and transitions is the history.
     
  19. Luis Babboni

    Luis Babboni New User

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    Is this the one that whistle while you move it acroos air?
     
  20. PrinceMoron

    PrinceMoron Hall of Fame

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  21. CaptainCool309

    CaptainCool309 Rookie

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    My Dad and Aunt really loved the Wilson Metal T-Series Racquets. He gave me his T5000 and Tx6000 to play with when I was a little boy and I learned how to play the game with those racquets. Even today with all the modern racquets around...I still love hitting with those Beautiful metal racquets :)

    A friend of mine asked if the T5000 was a Badminton racquet, because he didn't understand how you could hit a tennis ball consistently with that small of a head frame lol.
    [​IMG]

    I don't see many Tx6000's around? Does anyone else have one?
    [​IMG]
     
  22. vintagefan

    vintagefan Rookie

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    Are metal frames arm friendly or not?
     
  23. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    Not. They have flex but do not dampen vibration. When they were hitting the market, many of the pros switched for the power and then switched back after developing arm problems. Rod Laver is a classic example of that story.
     
  24. Sanglier

    Sanglier Rookie

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    I thought I'd add a few more chromies to this thread. Nothing spectacular, but interesting nonetheless.

    [​IMG]


    The one on the left is a Revere product, with not one, not two, but three whole names to itself: Sheffield - Ringer - Clark Graebner Model. Revere was incorporated in 1968 to make metal racquets sold under several different brands (including "Bobby Riggs"). I strongly suspect that Garcia's metal frames of the period were also made by Revere. Not only were these two New Jersey companies close neighbors (less than 15 minutes apart by car), but Garcia's flagship "X-15" model was a clone of an earlier Revere frame, which carried the exact same model designation! The trinominal creation above never appeared in any of the Revere magazine ads, of which there were many, but it appears to be nothing more than the original Graebner-endorsed Sheffield model updated with a tiny leaf spring welded to the throat. For my taste, it is probably one of the homeliest of the chromies.

    In contrast, the Slazenger Plus in the middle is nothing short of drop dead gorgeous. If there had been a contest for the most attractive metal frame ever made, I would have nominated this beauty. Kuebler suggests that the Plus was released in 1974, but it had in fact shown up in magazine ads by as early as 1972.

    The one on the right is the earliest house-branded Kunnan frame I was able to find that wasn't made out of wood. Kunnan is said to have begun making metal racquets in 1973, while California records show that his associate Harvey Chung had formed the Kennex Sports Corporation in October 1974, presumably to market Kunnan's house-brand in the US. If these dates are accurate, then the "Kennedy" chromie above could only have been made during that one year period between '73 and '74. As aluminum was rapidly closing the door on the chrome era by then, and the composite revolution was right around the corner, it's actually a little surprising that Kunnan would have chosen to attack the US market using such an obsolescent design. It closely resembles the more common Regent Budge, but has a smaller head and is slightly longer overall.

    ----
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2014
  25. BGod

    BGod Professional

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    I was hitting with the T-4000 a few months ago at drop in.

    Went 5-0......

    My elbow hurt like hell though so I decided was not for me. I have no idea how Connors used one his career.
     
  26. Autodidactic player

    Autodidactic player Semi-Pro

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    I just picked up a Birmal which is different from yours. Apparently they made different models. I'm guessing mine is a bit earlier than yours and that the throat reinforcements were added later to make the racket more stable.

    [​IMG]
     
  27. Sanglier

    Sanglier Rookie

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    Saw this Revere/Tensor style chromie at a GW and became instantly intrigued: What is this thing doing with a 110+ head?!

    [​IMG]


    This type of metal frame construction was already two or more generations out of date by the time Howard Head received his infamous 3999756 patent in 1976; could this nameless rusty beast be a prior-art that somehow escaped the patent examiner's notice?

    A closer look at the frame reveals that it is fitted with a plastic grommet strip, which, if I am not mistaken, was developed by George Vaughn and Richard Hargrave in 1969 or so for the second generation aluminum frames (e.g., the Head "Master", released in 1972). So there was a small time window of 3-4 years in which this frame could have been made before the release of the Prince, hence qualifying it as a prior-art.

    However, odds are this racquet was cheaply made after the release of the Prince, perhaps in a last ditch effort to squeeze a few more bucks out of some obsolescent manufacturing equipment. Still, it is an interesting artifact from the tail end of the steel era - an evolutionary anachronism that may have co-existed with the early graphites, the same way that Neandethals co-existed with Cro-Magnons...

    Does anyone know who the maker might be? I am leaning towards Kunnan Lo, as there are some strong similarities in the construction details between this example and my "Kennedy" frame above.
     
  28. chrischris

    chrischris Hall of Fame

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    Francoise Durr as well
     
  29. chrischris

    chrischris Hall of Fame

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    The PDP Open was the first racket my uncle used... he liked it a lot coming from using a wooden Davis TAD.
    Tanner would serve bombs with it as is well known.
    i tried it a few years ago, has a loud sound to it but nice power.
     
  30. Hargraver

    Hargraver New User

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    Wow this is too cool. Thank you Sanglier for giving us that history lesson.

    Richard Hargrave is my grandfather and I really enjoyed reading what you wrote. I knew that he produced metal rackets and eventually was absorbed by head but I had no idea that his design was applied to so many different products. Fascinating. I also didn't know that Archie V's father was a WWI fighter ace! Very cool.
     
  31. Sanglier

    Sanglier Rookie

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    Wow indeed! How did you find us? Did you google your grandfather's name and this thread popped up? I am certainly glad that you find this information interesting. It's amazing how people like your grandfather were able to keep such a low profile back then. The material I found was in the public domain, but I had to spend time digging for it. If someone did a tiny fraction of what your grandfather had done today, it would be all over the Internet tomorrow!

    Despite the leading role Maark Corp played during the climax of the metal racquet era, it never produced a metal frame bearing its own brand. Ironically, the only two racquets that carried the Maark name that I am aware of are 100% graphite, produced in the early 80s in Taiwan, and were marketed as "AMF ProMaark". It's as if George Vaughn, who was the president of Head Racquet Sports division in the early 80s, and who became the chairman of AMF Racquet Sports in 1984, finally decided to leave a mark (no pun intended) of his own on some sticks, even though Maark Corp was no longer making racquets by then.

    [​IMG]


    Curiously, both of the ProMaark frames (the oversized version is shown above, the midsize companion product looks exactly the same, just shrunken down a bit) were cosmetically modified by the application of transparent tapes to the frame and cover, almost as an afterthought, to emphasize their "Head" lineage. I suspect the original plan was to launch the "ProMaark" as a separate AMF brand, but the idea was dropped for some reason after these sticks were already produced, hence the post-production 'Head'ification...

    These ProMaark sticks show up on evil-bay semi-regularly, but are totally ignored by collectors. There might have been more demand for them if more people had been aware of the unique and interesting backstory behind them, and how well they actually played!

    If you have some stories to share about your grandfather, please post them here! We occasionally have people like you coming here and revealing interesting anecdotes about their relatives or acquaintances. I always enjoy reading those threads.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  32. Steve Huff

    Steve Huff Legend

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    My favorite metal frame (that I actually played with) was the PDP Open.
     
  33. Tennis Doc

    Tennis Doc New User

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    I still have mine!!!
     
  34. Tennis Doc

    Tennis Doc New User

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    That was funny!
     

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