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-   -   Age and 80's graphite/composite frames? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=421112)

Frankc 04-19-2012 12:26 PM

Age and 80's graphite/composite frames?
 
Wondering about the effect of the years passing and the vintage (let's say 80's) graphite/composite frames. Not counting grommets, I have strung 80's frames that strung up well and played well for their owners. And I have strung up a few where the strings (even with good grommets) have sunk into the frame with a few hits. Likewise, I remember a composite frame that just could not take a 50 lb string tension without losing shape. Any thoughts on fiberglass or early graphite in general and loss of integrity? Any engineers out there or those who experience with many frames?
With graphite/composite frames, does age alone change the strength? Then does the frame play differently almost 30 years later?
Thanks - I just love the old frames and I see more and more rec players doing likewise...

OldFedIsOld 04-19-2012 01:53 PM

I have a set of ProKennex silver ace 90's, I think they were made in the 80's and they still play great. No real problems with stringing, it is a fiberglass/graphite composite frame. Graphite frames will start to break down eventually if you continually string it and unstring it, as well as just leaving it exposed to the free elements. From my experience, racquets should last a really long time as long as they are taken care of. Answering your last question, a freshly made racquet vs a racquet with age will play slightly different, the freshly made one being stiffer than the aged one.

A little extra information: Graphite is a structure of carbon atoms bonded to each other, Diamonds are also made of carbon atoms bonded to each other, the differences between the two are in the structure. The Diamond is a dense lattice structure, which is why it is harder than graphite. Those carbon atoms will decay over time(in diamonds it will take most likely thousands of years before they become like graphite). So graphite should live longer than the human lifespan, unless of course you're a cybernetic being or an immortal.

retrowagen 04-19-2012 02:30 PM

I’m an engineer by profession, and an avid tennis player at a decent level (and curious tennis equipment tester with a somewhat photographic memory) for the last 30 years, so I’ll offer a few opinions.

By and large, I would suspect from an engineering standpoint, temperature extremes are the main culprit to long-term damage of graphite composite frames over a longer span of time. Certainly, if a racquet has been structurally abused by throwing/impacts/court wear or material loss, or improper stringing (even storing a frame with a broken string can quickly lead to structural havoc, with tensions pulling unevenly across the periphery of the racquet face), its lifespan is likely to be shortened. Excessive heat (or cold) is the main culprit, breaking down the integrity of the epoxy resins that hold the graphite, fiberglass, Kevlar, Twaron, Boron, Silicon Carbide, or whichever fibers in structrual state.

When graphite composites were introduced in the mid-1970’s, and proceeded into the early 1980’s, most were fairly heavy (at least 12 ounces), and quite expensive. Manufacturers tended to err on the side of caution by making beefier layups with thicker tubes of material, and since the first replaceable bumper guards were introduced beginning around 1983-4, most manufacturers were sure that there was ample material for wear and tear. If graphite frames were too fragile, or durable, but just too heavy, they never would have caught on in the marketplace.

If a replaceable piece of cheap plastic could do the work of some graphite, frames could be made lighter (and cheaper). The quest for lighter frames seems to have been a game of compromise between lighter weight and adequate durability. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, most manufacturers were also experimenting with aerodynamic cross sections and new materials to yield stiffness gains. With the commercial success of the first widebody frames in 1987-1988, this reached a fever pitch.

Of course, these frames are all considered “classics” now…

The only structural failures I have experienced with classics have stemmed from stringing them too tightly (when new) – I played the Kneissl White Star Pro Masters and Masters 10 between 1984-1987 and typically each hollow Graphite-Fiberglass-Kevlar frame would only last three stringings before the frame structure between string holes at the top of the head would start collapsing, but then again, I was having them strung 5 pounds above the manufacturer’s maximum suggested limit, and I was getting them free from Kneissl at the time. I also experienced head warpage on Dunlop Max 200g’s, when new, from stringing them too tightly. Later, I saw that my Head Elite Pros, Elektra Pros, Prestige Classic 600 (and any other “thinbeam” Head Prestige midsize variant) were extremely sensitive to unequal string tensions between mains and crosses and were subject to the head shape deforming if the stringer didn’t take care.

There are also some “classic” graphite racquets that were notorious for having a “glass jaw:” for instance, the midplus Head Prestige Tour / Trisys 300 was prone to shattering on off-center hits made too close to the frame (or on the frame), when new. Just a wee bit under-engineered, I think.

Most “classics,” in my experience (and these days, I only play with 1980’s vintage Head, Kneissl, and Snauwaert models, and early 1990’s vintage Fischer models, but am continuously messing around with other 1980’s models, mostly of European origin) are quite robust if treated with some consideration, and still quite usable today – even very enjoyable.

Fearsome Forehand 04-20-2012 04:22 AM

^ Good answers. I concur that as long as a racket has not been abused (exposed to temperature extremes or strung well over the recommended limit, physically abused, etc.), it should continue to play well for years and years. The exception is the occasional defective frame that is prone to cracking or snapping most of which would have died at a young age.

I occasionally mentally abuse some of my rackets (yell at them, lock them in a closet, etc.) but that does not seem to have an adverse effect on their playing characteristics.

If I wait long enough, my graphite rackets with morph into diamonds? :)
(Actually, Gamma used to have a diamond fiber series a few years back.)

OldFedIsOld 04-20-2012 06:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fearsome Forehand (Post 6475729)
^ Good answers. I concur that as long as a racket has not been abused (exposed to temperature extremes or strung well over the recommended limit, physically abused, etc.), it should continue to play well for years and years. The exception is the occasional defective frame that is prone to cracking or snapping most of which would have died at a young age.

I occasionally mentally abuse some of my rackets (yell at them, lock them in a closet, etc.) but that does not seem to have an adverse effect on their playing characteristics.

If I wait long enough, my graphite rackets with morph into diamonds? :)
(Actually, Gamma used to have a diamond fiber series a few years back.)

Other way around, Diamonds will eventually turn to graphite in a few thousands of years due to decaying of the carbon atom structure.

Fearsome Forehand 04-20-2012 06:42 AM

Does that mean De Beers will be giving us a refund? :)

coachrick 04-20-2012 07:07 AM

As retro mentioned, the integrity of the frame between grommets is one frequent failure point. The early Prince Graphite and Comp had common failures at the top of the hoop and also the first few holes outside of the throat. Others to suffer the same fate were the early Graphite Edge, XRC, F200 and early Sting. Check these areas carefully when purchasing and be particularly careful when restringing. A lower tension, some tubing and a few power pads can do a lot to keep these frames playable.

Have fun with the old sticks!

jimanuel12 04-20-2012 08:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frankc (Post 6474443)
Wondering about the effect of the years passing and the vintage (let's say 80's) graphite/composite frames. Not counting grommets, I have strung 80's frames that strung up well and played well for their owners. And I have strung up a few where the strings (even with good grommets) have sunk into the frame with a few hits. Likewise, I remember a composite frame that just could not take a 50 lb string tension without losing shape. Any thoughts on fiberglass or early graphite in general and loss of integrity? Any engineers out there or those who experience with many frames?
With graphite/composite frames, does age alone change the strength? Then does the frame play differently almost 30 years later?
Thanks - I just love the old frames and I see more and more rec players doing likewise...


just a note - i have collected several "classic" racquets over the last couple of years. they are mostly the ones from the 80's and they play very well. most of the ones i have collected are in very good shape for their age.
as long as they were taken care of - they seem to last almost forever.
i love them - i got most of them for a song - very very reasonable cost.

Frankc 04-21-2012 06:14 PM

All, thanks so much for your replies - great information. Allows me to sleep a little easier as I do really value the craft & playability that goes into vintage frames.

Thread started for me as I met a tall & lean super senior (you know those types - covers the court in a few steps) who played a great game with a couple of Head Graphite Directors. He relied on them and told me that every few years he would just pick up a new (old) one. Well, we compared new (old) Head frames and I admired his compact and exact game - those Directors were put to good use.

Much appreciated...

Steve Huff 04-21-2012 09:03 PM

FF, I do that with my current rackets. If I don't play well, I blame the racket and lock them up for a while. Invariably, they play better next time. I think they learn.

OldFedIsOld 04-22-2012 06:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve Huff (Post 6480050)
FF, I do that with my current rackets. If I don't play well, I blame the racket and lock them up for a while. Invariably, they play better next time. I think they learn.

I should totally do this, but instead have it locked to the chain fence and force it to watch me play with another racquet. :)

Frankc 04-22-2012 09:28 AM

coachrick,
Makes sense - two frames where the strings sunk into the frame were the Graphite Edge 2 and an XRC. The XRC player found this disappointing as he loved those frames with tight gut. He told me that some did, some did not accept the tension...

jaydog23 01-14-2013 06:13 PM

Can anything else be done in addition to ensure that vintage racquets last as long as possible? Specifically, I'm talking about the Head Prestige Classic 600. I have a few, and I don't intend to pay any more "holy grail" prices for racquets, but I don't want to switch racquets if possible. I string them around 56lbs....

Finally (not to shift this thread dramatically) I've been told that the Prince Rebel EXO3 95 is the most similar currently produced racquet to the Prestige Classic; opinions?

jaydog23 01-14-2013 06:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by retrowagen (Post 6474708)
I’m an engineer by profession, and an avid tennis player at a decent level (and curious tennis equipment tester with a somewhat photographic memory) for the last 30 years, so I’ll offer a few opinions.

By and large, I would suspect from an engineering standpoint, temperature extremes are the main culprit to long-term damage of graphite composite frames over a longer span of time. Certainly, if a racquet has been structurally abused by throwing/impacts/court wear or material loss, or improper stringing (even storing a frame with a broken string can quickly lead to structural havoc, with tensions pulling unevenly across the periphery of the racquet face), its lifespan is likely to be shortened. Excessive heat (or cold) is the main culprit, breaking down the integrity of the epoxy resins that hold the graphite, fiberglass, Kevlar, Twaron, Boron, Silicon Carbide, or whichever fibers in structrual state.

When graphite composites were introduced in the mid-1970’s, and proceeded into the early 1980’s, most were fairly heavy (at least 12 ounces), and quite expensive. Manufacturers tended to err on the side of caution by making beefier layups with thicker tubes of material, and since the first replaceable bumper guards were introduced beginning around 1983-4, most manufacturers were sure that there was ample material for wear and tear. If graphite frames were too fragile, or durable, but just too heavy, they never would have caught on in the marketplace.

If a replaceable piece of cheap plastic could do the work of some graphite, frames could be made lighter (and cheaper). The quest for lighter frames seems to have been a game of compromise between lighter weight and adequate durability. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, most manufacturers were also experimenting with aerodynamic cross sections and new materials to yield stiffness gains. With the commercial success of the first widebody frames in 1987-1988, this reached a fever pitch.

Of course, these frames are all considered “classics” now…

The only structural failures I have experienced with classics have stemmed from stringing them too tightly (when new) – I played the Kneissl White Star Pro Masters and Masters 10 between 1984-1987 and typically each hollow Graphite-Fiberglass-Kevlar frame would only last three stringings before the frame structure between string holes at the top of the head would start collapsing, but then again, I was having them strung 5 pounds above the manufacturer’s maximum suggested limit, and I was getting them free from Kneissl at the time. I also experienced head warpage on Dunlop Max 200g’s, when new, from stringing them too tightly. Later, I saw that my Head Elite Pros, Elektra Pros, Prestige Classic 600 (and any other “thinbeam” Head Prestige midsize variant) were extremely sensitive to unequal string tensions between mains and crosses and were subject to the head shape deforming if the stringer didn’t take care.

There are also some “classic” graphite racquets that were notorious for having a “glass jaw:” for instance, the midplus Head Prestige Tour / Trisys 300 was prone to shattering on off-center hits made too close to the frame (or on the frame), when new. Just a wee bit under-engineered, I think.

Most “classics,” in my experience (and these days, I only play with 1980’s vintage Head, Kneissl, and Snauwaert models, and early 1990’s vintage Fischer models, but am continuously messing around with other 1980’s models, mostly of European origin) are quite robust if treated with some consideration, and still quite usable today – even very enjoyable.

Can anything else be done in addition to ensure that vintage racquets last as long as possible? Specifically, I'm talking about the Head Prestige Classic 600. I have a few, and I don't intend to pay any more "holy grail" prices for racquets, but I don't want to switch racquets if possible. I string them around 56lbs....

Finally (not to shift this thread dramatically) I've been told that the Prince Rebel EXO3 95 is the most similar currently produced racquet to the Prestige Classic; opinions?

vsbabolat 01-14-2013 07:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jaydog23 (Post 7120836)
Can anything else be done in addition to ensure that vintage racquets last as long as possible? Specifically, I'm talking about the Head Prestige Classic 600. I have a few, and I don't intend to pay any more "holy grail" prices for racquets, but I don't want to switch racquets if possible. I string them around 56lbs....

Finally (not to shift this thread dramatically) I've been told that the Prince Rebel EXO3 95 is the most similar currently produced racquet to the Prestige Classic; opinions?

On The Prestige Classic 600 make sure the racquets are strung 2 piece and the crosses are strung from head to throat.

The racquet that I have found to play the closest to the Prestige Classic 600 is the HEAD IG Prestige Mid.

vandre 01-14-2013 07:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fearsome Forehand (Post 6476027)
Does that mean De Beers will be giving us a refund? :)

if you still have your original receipt :twisted:

v-verb 01-14-2013 07:35 PM

I've got a few POG mids and OS and 2 Borons - one bumperless and one with a bumper. Got a couple of grommetless POGs for fun and their hoops were definitely deformed but still playable.

I play the bumper POGs and Boron and they are superb racquets. Great power for me, nice spin and very mobile despite the substantial weight. And they don't hurt my wrist one but unlike my Pure Drive GT and Prince Ripstick. Old bumper POGs are definitely playable racquets.

That said I got a set of Donnay X-Platinum 94s and they are very POG like with the exception of being 18 x 20 and even more arm friendly.

boinz 01-14-2013 08:51 PM

on the PC600, I noticed deformation on one of my hybrid string jobs where I got the crosses strung 3lbs lower than the mains. the end result was a visibly more rounded head... I admit I was not around to witness how the stringer did up my frame so I cannot comment on his stringing techniques. H/w I am not going to take my frames back to him for sure.

so question is, with hybrids (tensional differential) being more popular how can I avoid this? Stringing the poly crosses higher than the mains does keep the shape, but that seem veer of the logic doesnt it?
Or is it with the correct stringing methods and techniques (crosses from top to bottom), the frame will keep its shape irregardless tensional difference

PBODY99 01-14-2013 08:54 PM

I have frames from the 1970's 80's & 90's and since I never strung them higher than mid tension, I have not had any troubles. Now I have serviced more than a few frames that were locked in trunks and died both from heat and cold.


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