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Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman..... 6366

Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« on: February 09, 2007, 02:29:29 AM »
My apologies for putting this in the REVIEW forum, but it seemed like the best place until we get the ARTICLE section going on the main site. This is a copy of an article I posted some time ago on another forum. It seems that there is some new interest in the subject, so I am posting it again here for convenience.
~Bob


We’ve looked at quite a few different old multi tools that came and went in the decades before the Leatherman Personal Survival Tool was introduced. So what do you think? Was Tim Leatherman’s invention a truly new idea, or was it simply a copy and natural progression of tools from a previous generation? We may never know for sure, but one thing is certain; Tim Leatherman’s early plans and ideas were a lot more ambitious than the PST design which eventually reached the marketplace in 1983!

According to the HISTORY page at the Leatherman Tool Group website, Tim was awarded the first of his many patents in the year 1980. That patent was first applied for in 1978, and eventually became United States Patent number 4,238,862. Note that this tool only bears a passing resemblance to the PST which we are all familiar with:



If you are anything like me, the first thing that comes to mind when seeing the sketch above is something along the lines of, “What in the heck is that contraption?!”
Good question. After considerable study, I think I’ve got it figured out.

Take a look at the picture below, which I “cleaned up” a bit. One has no trouble comprehending the assembly near the bottom of the sketch. The fanned-out bouquet of knives, scissors, files, screwdriver blades, etc looks just like every other multi tool on the market. But what are those extra flappy appendages near the top, up by the plier jaws?



In a nutshell, detail #36 is one of a pair of needlenose jaws, that slip over and are engaged by the #23 regular jaws when needed. When they are NOT needed, these retractable needlenose jaws fold back and out of the way into the #15 handles. Too cool!

What about that #50 thingy hanging off the left side? That, my friends, is a plier-locking mechanism, which turns this early Leatherman into a tool similar to a pair of Vise-Grip pliers. No kidding! It too nests into the handles when not needed. But when you want to lock the jaws (either set of jaws) onto something, you simply swing it over to the right-hand side, engaging the #56 pawl into the #55 serrations along the edge of the handle. The plier jaws are now locked like vise-grips. Shazam!

Here are some more sketches from the patent:



FIGURE 1 shows the tool all folded up, with an x-ray view of how the jaws would nest together inside the handles.

FIGURE 2 is the same as the one up above, but more cluttered with all the detail numbers.

FIGURES 3 and 4 show the edge of the handles, with the tool in the folded-up position. Note how the handle on the left is thicker than the one on the right. This is because it needs to house the #50 locking-bar device. Also note the “bulge” #65 which is needed to accommodate the #56 pawl we talked about earlier.

FIGURE 6 shows the blade locking method. This is quite ironic, given that the original PST never had locking blades! Not until the Leatherman Super Tool came along ELEVEN YEARS LATER in 1994 was this blade locking feature offered!



FIGURES 7 and 8 show x-ray views of how the #36 needlenose jaws are engaged by the #23 regular blunt jaws. Apparently the user would flip the needlenose jaws down onto the blunt jaws while the latter pair were partially open. Then, as the plier was closed, the blunt jaws would engage into hollow recesses within the needlenose jaws. Hmmmm, interesting.

FIGURE 9 shows the needlenose jaws clamped down onto a small piece of material #51. The tool is in Vise-Grip mode, with the #50 locking bar swung over and the #56 pawl engaged in serrations along the handle. (Actually, this FIGURE 9 is kind of crowded and confusing. The locking method is easier to see and understand on the next page, FIGURE 17.)

FIGURE 14 shows the locking bar pawl #56.

FIGURE 12 shows an edge-view of the locking bar pawl #56 engaged in the serrations.

FIGURE 13 simply shows how to put the handles together end-to-end in order to have a 7” ruler.



FIGURES 15 and 16 are more x-ray views of how the needlenose and blunt nose jaw mechanism works. Evidently there are little pins #45 that keep the two sets of jaws oriented to one another. (They look somewhat fragile to me.)

FIGURE 17 shows the tool in Vise-Grip mode again, this time with the blunt jaws clamped onto a nut. I’m guessing a person is supposed to grip the two plier handles together tightly, achieving some degree of “over-flex” in the handles. Then the locking bar #50 is pressed in until the pawl #56 ratchets up to some place along the serrations #55. When the user then relaxes his grip on the handles, the locking bar and pawl take up the load, keeping the plier jaws clamped onto whatever is between them.

Patent number 4,238,862 then goes rambling on with another five more pages of text. The combination of legal and engineering jargon attempts to explain how the entire mechanism is supposed to work. It is mind-numbing. I cannot force my brain to understand what is trying to be said, and so did not include those pages in this report.

My conclusion? Tim Leatherman certainly had some very ambitious ideas back in 1978! Now 28 years and several million multi tools later, the mega-Leatherman Tool Group still has not employed a couple of his very first ideas. Maybe those retractable needlenose jaws and locking side bar are not practical? Or, you say, maybe they are not even POSSIBLE?

Hmmmm, go back to those pictures on the Leatherman HISTORY page. Click on the (1979) or (1980) date icon and look very closely at the pictures. Do you see what I see?



Where can I get one of those tools!

~Bob

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,452 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2007, 02:45:01 AM »
I always wondered why the plier head in that old picture looked so weird!

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2007, 04:03:57 AM »
I always wondered why the plier head in that old picture looked so weird!

Def

And that strange bulge on the side.....it finally makes sense.
22.4 kB | 225x284

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Full Member Posts: 234
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2007, 09:29:29 AM »
Wow.  This is some really interesting stuff.  I'm so glad I found this forum.  :)
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,452 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2007, 12:46:33 PM »
Yeah, me too....

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
Sr. Member Posts: 323
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2007, 05:31:43 AM »
Yeah, me too....

Def

Uh, Def, He said found, not FOUNDED  O0   But I agree with the both of you!
« Last Edit: February 21, 2007, 09:45:55 PM by CacherX4 »
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,452 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2007, 11:44:49 AM »
hehehe

You are right.  One of these days I gots to lern tuh reed....

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
No Life Club Posts: 1,603
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2007, 11:20:06 AM »
this is all pretty amazing! That tool needs to be aquired by someone here and thoroughly pictured and reviewed.

Def, can't you tell leatherman you have an eager forum full of members wanting to buy the original tool and promote it? Maybe send you one to be able to review, generate some more interest in leatherman?

Those pliers and locking mechanism seem amazing, I wonder how well they would hold up in real use.
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,452 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2007, 01:26:40 PM »
I can tell Leatherman lots of things, but I doubt they'd fire up some machinery on my say so! :D

However, some folks who may or may not be highly placed in certain organizations may at times visit particular sites with the intent of maybe seeing what kinds of ideas the masses might warm up to, so it's a distinct possibility that if enough of said masses were perhaps to consider making their likes and dislikes known on particular forums, that the message may in fact make it's way to the ears of someone who could be in a position to try somethig different....

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
No Life Club Posts: 1,603
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2007, 04:04:08 PM »
Hmm i wonder why leatherman have not 'reproduced' this tool, refining it in every way they can, changing tools to match what they have found customers to want, and in doing so, producing the only(?) multitool with both needlenose and normal plier heads with a locking mechanism, where everything folds away. While a lot of he diagrams seem to show the tool as being quite 'fragile' i'm sure it could be slightly redesigned now to be quite robust.
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,452 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2007, 05:13:47 PM »
My guess is why make a tool that supports both kinds of heads when you can get folks to buy two tools, one with each kind?

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
Full Member Posts: 234
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2007, 10:32:20 AM »
I do believe that leatherman tries to give good value in what they sell but they recognize that the market does/will not support a lot of different innovations .
Are we willing to pay more ?

Heh, I know there are at least a few of us who would gladly pay more for something different.  But are there more than just a few of us?  Over time, probably with the help of sites like this stoking the flames of fanaticism, there probably will be.  Or at least I hope so.  Then we can all go out and purchase the Victorinox Swisstool with ratcheting screwdriver and that incredible original Leatherman patented tool.
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2007, 07:13:19 AM »
What an EDC combo those two would be!

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Chapter 5) Before there was Leatherman.....
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2007, 08:06:04 AM »
Why I know an individual who when presented an opportunity once to buy one for $50.00 and he turned his back on it . ( This individual will remain nameless , a real machine geek ! ) I believe he since mended his ways and finally aquired one though not for $50.00

 :(  I wish I were double-jointed, so I could kick myself easier.....

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools

 

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