Discussion in 'Classic Racquet Talk' started by VGP, Jan 20, 2009.
Will pull one of my PS85's out and give it a try. Haven't compared it to the KPS88 in years!
Hey all, first post, don't haze me!
Interesting things afoot! Last week I was shopping for $20 used graphite frames (I organize a weekly tennis hit-around after work at my job and we got more interest than racquets), well long story short this pretty thing is waiting for me in the office on Monday (this exact one):
Prior to this moment I'd never really considered getting a PS85, but I was a Sampras fan and I knew a bit about the stick, and this one was CHEAP. I did some research on this site and found this was an early Chinese model, identified by the italic Pro Staff lettering. I've heard conflicting things about whether this frame is any good. But I got a good deal on it, and the early China seems pretty rare, or at least nobody's selling one that looks like this, that I've seen. Whether that's cuz they're too good to sell or are too crap to sell, I don't know!
BUT IT GETS BETTER!
In the process of researching THIS racquet, I learned all about the fabled St. Vincent. Then, a new listing went up on the auction site we can't name. Claimed to be selling a SV for a fraction of what the other ones were listed at. Pics showed the butt cap saying "Made in St. Vincent", one other blurry photo that didn't disqualify the racquet as an SV, and nothing else.
So I bought it and then immediately realized I'd probably been scammed with a Taiwan and the butt cap from a Jack Kramer or something. Then the thing comes and the cover says Jack Kramer Staff... And then I unzip the cover and...
Okay, looking good...
Nice, red paint and bumper guard...
I know that's a good decal to have!
That looks original!
We have a winner!
So the interesting, public service-y aspect of this is that I'll be able to provide data on that anecdote about the late St. Vincent frames being a millimeter thicker due to the molds not closing all the way. I'll compare the China that's sitting at my office to the late model SV that I stumbled upon and post some photos as soon as I can. I'll also compare the two racquets qualitatively (thinking of getting them re-strung identically and do a real play test).
I hit with the SV yesterday. I really don't understand why so many people say the PS85 is such a beastly challenge to play with. At first I was launching balls four feet behind the baseline with my usual "polite hit around" swing. Maybe the thing was strung loose. Once I tuned myself to the racquet a bit it felt great and the ball went where I expected it to.
And lest you think I'm some Neanderthal, my stats are male, 32 yrs old, 143 lbs, 5-11" in shoes. Last time I was in a gym was probably 6-7 years ago. Sit at a desk for work. Need I go on lol? Anyway I had no problems swinging the SV. The thing WANTS to swing. I mean sure it's heavier than my Babolat Aero something-or-other. But I used to have a tiny Wilson Sting that I liked a lot, and I still like to hit serves with a wooden Head Vilas I got at a thrift store as a way to practice. So maybe that helped develop a foundation for the PS85.
All in all I can't recall the last time I got so lucky.
Great stuff thanks for the report and those great pics! Looking forward to your updates and congrats on your finds!
thx v-verb! I'm actually more excited about the early China frame as it's the hardest to find any info about. I really scoured the internet and what little information I found was totally contradictory. One thread, someone said they had quality control problems in manufacturing, whereas another said he preferred his early Chinas with the italics on them to his SV's. I guess both could be true.
Anyone have any info to add along these lines?
Also, stringing advice? The grommets on the SV look... okay, I guess? I mean I've seen worse on racquets that played fine, but I'm no pro... here's a pic of what I'd consider the worst ones. Look to the left and center-right especially:
I'm really not interested in paying more for a set of grommets than I did for the frames right now... could I get away with re-stringing without changing these out?
Also, string recommendations. I don't need big power. I like to spin the forehand pretty heavy, and hit flat backhands down the line. I like a softer feel (love the Head Vilas woody I hit with mmmm smooth) but I tend to go for middle or higher tensions. I'd like to put a quality string into these so I can get the most out of them. What are some recs?
See if you can get some tubing and tube the split grommets. You don't want the string directly on the frame. I'm partial to Volkl Cyclone 19 mains aand Ashaway MonoGut ZX 17 crosses on my sticks. Lots of spin, opens up the stringbed and the ZX provides slippery yet comfortable crosses. 18 kg main/16kg crosses work well
Good luck and enjoy!
Thanks again v-verb Sorry for asking so many questions!! If you don't mind I'll ask a few more--
1. so to clarify I should NOT re-string with the grommets looking like that?What about hitting? Could I damage the frame hitting with the grommets cracked like that?
2. 18/16 kg tension seems really low. well below recommended... is that due to the string recs? I usually just go with normal Prince 16 synthetic gut like you'd get for $25 at *****, which I get strung at 55 lbs (25 kg) or so, give or take to account for the racquet's recommended range. Wouldn't a racquet strung that low cause my balls to fly long a lot?
hi AlexR, no worries! The posted tensions are good for Syngut or Gut as poly wasn't around when the PS was made. I think poly and ZX at the tensions I mentioned are excellent with no loss of control for me. Poly is a dead string hence no need to string high
If you use syngut I would use the suggested tensions as balls would fly at low tensions.
And no in my opinion I would get the grommets tubed before I played with it again. Those frames are of course no longer made so protect them if you can
My preferred setup for my PS85 is 17g poly mains at around 52-54 lbs and synthgut crosses at the same tension.
thx onehandbh and v-verb! I'll find a pro shop who can tube the grommets before I use it again. I hope I didn't already do any damage hitting with it. I cracked a few serves that were prob high 90s, low 100s with the thing :/.
So low twist weight helps with kick serves? Sorry for OT. Just curious.
While I'm not the OP of that sentiment, I'd imagine that the smaller racquet surface area = less wind resistance = more ability to subtly maneuver the racquet while in the swing. Combine that with a very head-light balance which means you can maneuver the racquet more easily, and the overall heavy mass of the racquet which means the kinetic energy is greater than a lighter racquet swung at the same speed. And combine that with Pete Sampras who had the best second serve of all time (which may be the most important factor, really). Pete could probably hit second serve aces with a phone book.
Being able to accelerate the head through the air and also having the center of the stringbed further away from your hand helps with kick serves. This is the case with smaller-headed, thin-beamed, headlight racquets. I don't know if twistweight has anything to do with it. However, the PS 6.0 85 is about the most rock-solid, stable racquet there is.
I think the thin beam and headlight balance help the most. I served better with the Volkl SG 10 mid 320 than I ever did with the Babolat Pure Aero Tour.
The smaller head and having the sweetspot further from my hand has helped most with hitting flat serves, which are normally difficult for me since I'm short. For whatever reason, I can bomb flat serves consistently with mids, but not with larger headsizes.
Ok so some of you may recall that without really meaning to, I just got a late SV and an early China PS85. Couldn't pass up either. Well, I have them both now and I have taken some measurements comparing these two beauties (read to bottom for info on the "wider beam" theory of St. Vincent. Found some interesting info):
Well, the first thing that stood out to me is that my SV is about a quarter inch shorter than the China:
It's definitely the SV that's too short as the China measures the full correct 27".
Now, my first instinct was that it was chopped at some point. I know some people like to shorten their racquets for whatever odd reason (a quarter inch? really? get over yourself).
But, an alternate theory is that I have a racquet that was defective from the factory. My reason is that there's no Wilson Quality hologram and absolutely no indiciation that there ever was one. No residue or anything:
The late model SV's are supposed to have all gotten stickers according to what I've read elsewhere.
Either way, I'm perversely glad that it's not a perfect example because now I can use it without worrying too much And I still don't think I overpaid (is it rude to talk about what we paid for stuff?)
A few more pics to confirm it's a late SV and Early China, and just because:
Different grommet channel termination:
Recommended tensions in throat:
Grip size stickers:
I took out my caliper and measured the beam in several different places. Both racquets are, if you had to ROUND to the nearest millimeter, 17 mm.
When I calipered the SV at the throat, the caliper slipped easily over the corresponding part of the China. It felt like the throat of the ST was JUST A BIT thicker than the China.
And it gets even more interesting.
Measured at the PWS part of the head, the reverse was true. The caliper measurement of the SV was a TIGHTER fit over the China's PWS. Same at the top of the hoop. So it seems like at least my late-run SV model tapers slightly while the China is a more constant beam.
You're geekin out dude. I have friends that make fun of me when I do this, so good to see there's others out there. Keep it up.
Thanks, I guess!?
lol, yeah when I randomly found the first of these for sale and picked it up, I started reading a lot of information that's out there about these, and it seems like there's a lot of mythology/rumors/controversies, like moreso than you'd see with another racquet. So I thought I'd contribute some knowledge since I had an opportunity to do so.
It could be that the SV was deformed a bit when strung. Happened to me a few times. See if heads are as wide..many tighten the racket too tight on the machine. Or cut the strings and see.
I measured across the face and top to bottom and the hoops are identically sized. All the way down to the upper part of the grip (including the neck) the racquets are identically sized as far as I can tell with limited instruments. So I'm thinking either chopped or an issue at the time of manufacture. Why anyone would shorten a 27 inch racquet by a quarter of an inch, I don't know. So my pet theory is defective from the factory. Thing hits sweet though, so if it was a defect it didn't affect anything but the length, seems like.
So, I'm trying to figure out why my one PS85 is 1/8th of an inch shorter than my other two. It's a SV. The butt cap bulges out concavely a bit. Either it was shortened, or wasn't put together right at the factory.
I don't know why you'd shorten a racquet 1/8th of an inch.
Regardless, I wanted some input on taking off the original grip. The grip looks original and is in good condition. Should I just not take it off? If I unwrap it, is it challenging to get it back on correctly? Removing the grip and the butt cap seem the only way to settle the issue of original or modified. Also, not selling the racquet but what are your views on how much all this should affect the fair value of it?
Could be a result of deformation from stringing.
I considered that, but the hoops of all my racquets are identically sized in all dimensions. Everything lines up great when you lay them on top of each other, except for the one is just a little shorter through the grip.
Out of my five St Vincent PS85, the longest measures out to 689mm, the shortest one is 685mm. That's a difference of 4mm, 25% more than the 1/8" you see between yours. They used a jig to ensure uniformity when trimming the frames after they came out of the mold, but the actual cutting part was still done by a human, so some small variation is unavoidable.
If you still decide to unwrap the grip and see that it is affixed to the butt cap using a factory staple (thick and short, not thin and long like a paper staple), and there are no extra holes in the leather, then you really don't need to go any further, because you will not find any evidence of tempering past that point. Those factory staples can be pried out, but they are virtually impossible to put back in exactly the same way. It would take a special kind of masochist to shorten the frame by 1/8" (with sand paper?), and to make it look like a factory job.
I would just leave it and enjoy it as is. Sweet sweet frames!!!
Thanks, that's very informative. I now have three and the difference between Shorty and my longest is 8 mm. Kind of a lot! But the butt cap really doesn't look tampered with, without removing the grip. I took some pics of the grip:
With the caveat that I know basically nothing about it, that looks all original to me. You can see the faded Fairway branding in photo 3. I'm just kind of amazed at how short it is! It might actually be more than 1/8th in. under 27".
Probably good for me anyway, easier on the arm. In a sense, it's even more special
They certainly are. They really play like a modern racquet, a lot more than I expected them to. I don't even get the sense that the sweet spot is *that* small. And if you miss, it's got that nice flat beam that's not too elevated from the string beg to give even your frame jobs a chance at landing in (which has already happened to me more than once).
BTW, just popped my grommet removal cherry. Has anyone ever shaved off flared grommets with a utility razor? Worked like a charm and it's not even that challenging to miss the paint. I don't think I nicked it once.
Got the grommets out of my two frames that need new ones, and took some pics cuz these things look sleek with no grommets. Let's face it, it's a damn good looking racquet! Thought this place might appreciate some PS85 pr0n
^^^And one showing how short my Shorty is compared to, uh... Long Tall Sally I guess.?
Finally took off the Fairway anyway? Anything you found out about your shorty?
And how or with what will you replace the grommets?
"Why should I be unpleasant when I can just as well be nice?"
Is it not maybe that the St Vincent is the "correct" length and the Chinese version too long? Reason I say this is that the St V was supposed to be the cream of the crop quality wise (if you look at the history , there's valid reasons for it ; i.e new machinery after the move from Chicago, newly trained labor so no short cuts or work mans discretionary actions etc.) . I didn't pick up in the thread but isn't there a 3 letter code on the butt cap? Anyyhing featuring a "Q" is St V. I think the one I have is AZQ or sthing similar.
Oh no, that is a different racquet where the grip was literally falling off. I was thinking of getting a donor racquet like a Jack Kramer Staff of the era to replace the grip with the period correct type.
As for the grommets, I ordered from TW these:
I've heard conflicting things about whether they fit. If you'll notice the part # wrz7156 is in the URL, which is the same part # as you see written on the images of the auction site listings for $100 "new original" SV grommets. If they don't fit I'll send them back and sell a kidney to get (what are claimed to be) NOS originals.
Yeah it has a Q code, at work now so I can't check the exact code. Everything on the stick looks perfect and I'm certain it's an SV, even has the sticker on the butt cap, red primer, etc. It's just short! Feels like a champ hitting tho so I'm not going to
obsess over whether it was modified or came from the factory that way.
ETA, the other racquet pictured wirh it in my above comparison pics is also an SV, which is a couple milimeters longer than my China, which I guess i'll call Goldilocks.
So to update, these grommets: http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/Wil...rommet_Equivalent/descpageWILSON-WRZ7156.html
Can be modified to fit the St. Vincent w/ bumper PS 85. It takes a while but I wouldn't call it "challenging". It can be done.
On the side grommet strips, you want to sand around the 3rd and 5th grommet tubes from the bottom so as to decrease their circumference as these are too big to fit through the drill holes.
You also need to do the 7th grommets in from either side of the headguard.
You also need to razor the throat grommets into 3 pieces and trim some flashing off of them.
I mean, yeah, it takes hours. You need to take off a lot of plastic for it to work (haven't strung it yet but I'll update when I do.)
I figured out I could save time checking the fit by fitting them the wrong way through the hole and at thr same time orienting the strip 90 deg from how it would go on the racquet. That way you can try the fit on just the one grommet youre working on because you don't have the grommet channel and other grommets in your way.
It's work but for me it's better than paying $100 for new/old stock grommets.
I used a combination of 100 grit sandpaper ripped into 1 inch squares, emory board, and utility razor when I found I was taking more off the top than the bottom.
I'm going to bite the bullet and sand down the grip on my PS85 from 4 5/8 to 4 1/4. I have no doubt about sanding the yellow resin part, but I'm wondering about the black angled part at the top of the grip which is made of plastic. I'm worried that it's hollow.
Anyone have experience with this?
There is also a Jack Kramer PS in 85 inch and 110 inch, what's the difference compaired with the other PS 85 ??
As far as I know the Jack Kramer and the PS 85 are the same mold, but different construction. The PS 85 is graphite and kevlar, and the Jack Kramer is graphite and fiberglass.
So I think the Jack Kramer version would play softer than the PS 85 because of the fiberglass instead the Kevlar? Someone who tried out the Jack Kramer PS ?
I tried it many years ago. Felt way to flexible to me, but overall, I'm not a fan of flexible graphite racquets. Flexible wood is okay to me.
That early China model PS85 is the one I swear by. It seems like the entire stringbed is the sweetspot and has incredible feel, awesome control. It is solid as granite. I found it more manuevarable than the St.V so I find it easier to create spin with so that's why I favour it.
Yeah it's the first racquet out of my bag when I play now. The grip is a tad too big for me and it's heavier than I'm used to in a racquet (I've played with frames that were around 11 oz. typically) but I can't put it down. Even though I can't serve at 100% power due to the weight and grip size (afraid of throwing it), at 95% power I still hit first serves that hit the fence a foot up on one bounce, and 2nd serves that pop up to shoulder height are no problem. There is absolutely no lack of power on this thing, and I'm slight by male player standards, at a bit over 140 lbs and 5'11".
for goodness sake don't do this...
It's done! Worked out great!
Sure does sound like you love the PS85 even more than I do.
Hit with my St Vincent 85's today, side by side with my RF97. There is no sweeting feeling racquet than the PS85. The PS85 is way more maneuverable compared to my RF97 (no surprise there), but my opponent said there wasn't a huge difference in power either. You can just whip the 85 and crush the ball. I'm starting to wonder if BreakPoint is right, that the PS85 in the right hand could compete today. LOL. If Fed could use his 90 today (and I believe that he could), he could use his 85 as well.
The PS85 is such a truly unique frame. Small head, thin beam, and pops just as big a wallop as these huge modern frames.
Since when have I ever been wrong? LOL
Yes, with the 85, more weight concentrated in a smaller area closer to the point of impact gives you a feeling that you're just hammering the ball (and with control). And with the smaller head and thinner beam, you get the feeling that you can take massive swings without feeling like the racquet is hindering/obstructing you in any way.
BTW, I agree with you that Federer could use either the 90 or the 85 if he really wanted to, but if he used the 85 he would most likely have to serve and volley a lot more than he does with the 97.
Played this frame with Pro's Pro Topspin and liked it. Surprising spin from a syn gut. Will be getting some NGW gut soon and will hybrid with poly in the crosses. Fun fram to play with.
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