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Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions

SteveP · 53 · 1862

us Offline SteveP

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I picked up a pre-1991 Explorer (with gray-frame magnifier, no hook) for next to nothing at an estate sale a week ago. The blades were stiff, but I thought I could clean it. Nope. After removing the scales and soaking the rest in hot water and dish soap, then isopropyl alcohol, then mineral oil for two days, I still can't open the blades without using something to pry them. (Though strangely, the corkscrew works great!)

Any suggestions for a way to save this knife?
SAKs:
58mm: Bijou (3), Classic SD (6), Cavalier, Mini Champ Plus (mod), Alox Classic SD, Rambler (3), Companion
65mm: Wenger Esquire
74mm: Executive
84mm: Bantam
85mm: Evolution S557, Serrated Commander, Traveler, Evolution 18
91mm: Champion "c", Swiss Champ (4), Explorer (3), Deluxe Tinker, Climber, Huntsman, Serrated Spartan/Weekender, Explorer Plus, Deluxe Explorer Plus (mod), Outdoorsman Plus, Spartan, Champion "a", Champion Plus, Timekeeper Alarm, Golfer
93mm: Pioneer Alox


us Offline nate j

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Can you tell what might be binding them up, e.g. sand, adhesive, pocket lint?

Any blade rub?  This would be unusual for a SAK, but maybe if it got slightly bent somehow?

After a soak in hot water and dish soap, I find working the blades open and closed while keeping the knife submerged in the hot soapy water helps work the gunk out.



us Offline SteveP

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Thank you for the tips, Nate.

I think it's rust. My guess is that the previous owner left it in water, face down. The back plate looks nearly new and the corkscrew works great. But the front plate is corroded all around the edges and the cap lifter and cork screw are two of the hardest blades to open.

Any other tips?
SAKs:
58mm: Bijou (3), Classic SD (6), Cavalier, Mini Champ Plus (mod), Alox Classic SD, Rambler (3), Companion
65mm: Wenger Esquire
74mm: Executive
84mm: Bantam
85mm: Evolution S557, Serrated Commander, Traveler, Evolution 18
91mm: Champion "c", Swiss Champ (4), Explorer (3), Deluxe Tinker, Climber, Huntsman, Serrated Spartan/Weekender, Explorer Plus, Deluxe Explorer Plus (mod), Outdoorsman Plus, Spartan, Champion "a", Champion Plus, Timekeeper Alarm, Golfer
93mm: Pioneer Alox


wales Offline GearedForwards

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Opening the blades take a torch and look inside, can you see any visible corrosion?

If there is you could get the straw nozzle of WD-40 in there and blast it a few times, then work the blades back and forth to break the corroded layer up.
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cy Offline dks

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I have on occasion found that the pins may be too tight, that is someone hit the pins hard, pinning the knife too much, so that the tools do not have enough space to move and rotate - too much friction,
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spam Offline comis

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If all else fail(WD40, hot water bath with soap, etc), I would suggest to soak the knife into the white vinegar for couple of hours and see whether it will loosen the rust.  I would try moving the joint every hour or so to see whether that would help the loosening.  And toothbrush and flossing sometimes would help remove gunk too.


ie Offline McStitchy

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Can you tell what might be binding them up, e.g. sand, adhesive, pocket lint?

Any blade rub?  This would be unusual for a SAK, but maybe if it got slightly bent somehow?

After a soak in hot water and dish soap, I find working the blades open and closed while keeping the knife submerged in the hot soapy water helps work the gunk out.

This !
Always got it working for me  :tu:
Formerly known as MTMatt


Offline Helvetica Bold

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There are very effective rust removal liquids now that could help after a good soaking. They only touch the rust and nothing else. You may also have some some oxidisation on the aluminium spacers too which won’t help. If you are confident enough the best way sometimes is just  to take it apart, clean the bits up individually and carefully reassemble with new pins.


za Offline Max Stone

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I had my SwissChamp freeze up on me after an accidental dunk in the sea and not giving it a rinse afterwards. I concluded that the aluminum liners got a little oxidized and effectively closed up whatever clearance there was with the tools, making them all extremely tight.

After lots of penetrating oil, soaking, submerging and working the tools, car polish and toothpaste in the joints, it began to loosen up marginally - but it took a while and I was about to give up.

Eventually I did find a trick that helped. I wiggled the tools quite forcefully at 90 degrees to the pivots to 'stretch' the spacing, and this really made a difference. I expect it helped reset the spacing.

I was at the point of giving up and conceding that I only had myself to blame, and a full tear-down/rebuild was on the cards. But after the extra wiggling and further exercise, the snap is now back and good as new. I even get a nice 'ping' resonance on the snaps.

Anyway, good luck - but try the cross bending - just watch for not setting a bend in any of the tools.  :salute:
Education is a journey that starts when you realize that knowing a little about something opens the door to the universe.


us Offline NutSAK

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Yeah, I'm not sure how effective a rust removal product would be.  Usually this is due to the aluminum liners losing their protective anodized coating and oxidizing.  Aluminum expands considerably when it oxidizes and closes up the gaps.  I have some examples that are just mildly corroded that loosened up enough to make the SAK easily usable, but will never have that factory walk-and-talk.

I think all of the "mechanical" advise here is good--work the joints in all directions and use plenty of oil.  Getting down in there in the joints with dental floss may help as well.
- Terry


us Offline SteveP

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #10 on: May 20, 2021, 05:26:24 AM
It's alive! It's alive! - he exclaimed amid the thunder and lightning.

I can open the blades with my thumbnail!   
:climber:

Thank you all very much for your suggestions. Bonus karma points to Max Stone for his sideways wiggling trick. That appears to have done it. Thank you.

Before I put the scales back on, anything else I should do to my reborn Explorer? Between the two-day soak in food-grade mineral oil, then a lot of WD-40 today, I'm thinking it has enough oil for a while? Though I do have a bottle of the official Victorinox oil due to arrive in a day or two so I'll do some touch-up then.

The blades are really sharp already so no need to sharpen them.

With the scales off, I filed in a groove for a pin.

« Last Edit: May 20, 2021, 06:03:21 AM by SteveP »
SAKs:
58mm: Bijou (3), Classic SD (6), Cavalier, Mini Champ Plus (mod), Alox Classic SD, Rambler (3), Companion
65mm: Wenger Esquire
74mm: Executive
84mm: Bantam
85mm: Evolution S557, Serrated Commander, Traveler, Evolution 18
91mm: Champion "c", Swiss Champ (4), Explorer (3), Deluxe Tinker, Climber, Huntsman, Serrated Spartan/Weekender, Explorer Plus, Deluxe Explorer Plus (mod), Outdoorsman Plus, Spartan, Champion "a", Champion Plus, Timekeeper Alarm, Golfer
93mm: Pioneer Alox


za Offline Max Stone

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #11 on: May 20, 2021, 07:09:36 AM
Great to hear it's well again  :hatsoff:  The Explorer has a great tool load and is very popular - I'm sure it will be a special SAK for you!
Education is a journey that starts when you realize that knowing a little about something opens the door to the universe.


us Offline Aloha

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #12 on: May 20, 2021, 04:02:57 PM
Great advice from all and great save.  Explorer is my favorite SAK by far.   

I don't think theres much else to do other than enjoy. 
Esse Quam Videri


ie Offline McStitchy

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #13 on: May 20, 2021, 05:04:39 PM
Great news  :tu:
Formerly known as MTMatt


us Offline lichan

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #14 on: May 20, 2021, 06:23:14 PM
With the scales off, I filed in a groove for a pin.

A pin or a pen?


us Offline SteveP

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #15 on: May 20, 2021, 08:32:05 PM
A pin or a pen?

A pin. I carry a Space Pen already so didn't need to carve in a slot for the removable Plus pen.

The pin groove was challenging enough. Those old scales are solid, not hollow like current ones.
SAKs:
58mm: Bijou (3), Classic SD (6), Cavalier, Mini Champ Plus (mod), Alox Classic SD, Rambler (3), Companion
65mm: Wenger Esquire
74mm: Executive
84mm: Bantam
85mm: Evolution S557, Serrated Commander, Traveler, Evolution 18
91mm: Champion "c", Swiss Champ (4), Explorer (3), Deluxe Tinker, Climber, Huntsman, Serrated Spartan/Weekender, Explorer Plus, Deluxe Explorer Plus (mod), Outdoorsman Plus, Spartan, Champion "a", Champion Plus, Timekeeper Alarm, Golfer
93mm: Pioneer Alox


us Offline kamakiri

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #16 on: May 22, 2021, 01:55:56 AM
Sounds like you’ve got it loosened enough, but in case anyone wants to ‘fix’ one like this ‘quickly’...you can use an old blade like a wedge/chisel between the tool and liner and spread it in various places until it’s sufficiently loosened. Follow up with lots of oil and opening/closing cycles to the eventually get enough of the aluminum oxide out. I was a bit surprised at how hard the blade could be hit without doing any apparent damage to the knife being fixed.
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us Offline SteveP

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #17 on: May 22, 2021, 04:48:22 AM
Sounds like you’ve got it loosened enough, but in case anyone wants to ‘fix’ one like this ‘quickly’...you can use an old blade like a wedge/chisel between the tool and liner and spread it in various places until it’s sufficiently loosened. Follow up with lots of oil and opening/closing cycles to the eventually get enough of the aluminum oxide out. I was a bit surprised at how hard the blade could be hit without doing any apparent damage to the knife being fixed.

Good tip, kamakiri. Thank you for sharing it.

At this point, I'm satisfied with the progress I've made. The blades don't have the "snap" of a new SAK, but more importantly I can open them without a crowbar and actually use them. So I consider it a win and am happy that this poor neglected SAK can have a useful second life.
SAKs:
58mm: Bijou (3), Classic SD (6), Cavalier, Mini Champ Plus (mod), Alox Classic SD, Rambler (3), Companion
65mm: Wenger Esquire
74mm: Executive
84mm: Bantam
85mm: Evolution S557, Serrated Commander, Traveler, Evolution 18
91mm: Champion "c", Swiss Champ (4), Explorer (3), Deluxe Tinker, Climber, Huntsman, Serrated Spartan/Weekender, Explorer Plus, Deluxe Explorer Plus (mod), Outdoorsman Plus, Spartan, Champion "a", Champion Plus, Timekeeper Alarm, Golfer
93mm: Pioneer Alox


us Offline kamakiri

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #18 on: May 22, 2021, 06:30:02 PM
Good tip, kamakiri. Thank you for sharing it.

At this point, I'm satisfied with the progress I've made. The blades don't have the "snap" of a new SAK, but more importantly I can open them without a crowbar and actually use them. So I consider it a win and am happy that this poor neglected SAK can have a useful second life.

No problem...might help somebody with a similar issue with their knife. It’s always rewarding to save a knife that would otherwise be useless aside from part-out or rebuilding.

The good news is that it should get better over time if oiled and maintained with use. If you want to restore the snap faster, you could get a tiny bit of clay in the stiff joints and do a few opening/closing cycles then wash, clean and re-oil. The clay helps break down and push out the aluminum oxides. And washes out easily with water.
If this post has been helpful in dating your Swiss Army Knife, please consider making a small contribution to help keep SAKWiki going


us Offline Aloha

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #19 on: May 23, 2021, 06:42:02 AM
 :salute: Great advice kamakiri
Esse Quam Videri


us Offline SteveP

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #20 on: May 23, 2021, 07:18:12 AM
Great to hear it's well again  :hatsoff:  The Explorer has a great tool load and is very popular - I'm sure it will be a special SAK for you!

I definitely like the tool selection. A lot of the main used ones from my SwissChamp without the bulk of the SwissChamp.

But I'd be happier with just one more layer - pliers. I haven't found a SAK yet with that combination though.

The Swiss Bianco Yeoman Mechanic comes so close, but I shudder to think what a discontinued collectible like that sells for.
 
SAKs:
58mm: Bijou (3), Classic SD (6), Cavalier, Mini Champ Plus (mod), Alox Classic SD, Rambler (3), Companion
65mm: Wenger Esquire
74mm: Executive
84mm: Bantam
85mm: Evolution S557, Serrated Commander, Traveler, Evolution 18
91mm: Champion "c", Swiss Champ (4), Explorer (3), Deluxe Tinker, Climber, Huntsman, Serrated Spartan/Weekender, Explorer Plus, Deluxe Explorer Plus (mod), Outdoorsman Plus, Spartan, Champion "a", Champion Plus, Timekeeper Alarm, Golfer
93mm: Pioneer Alox


za Offline Max Stone

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #21 on: May 23, 2021, 08:35:19 AM
That would be a good build Steve. Basically the first 4 layers of a SC (openers, Phillips/msg, pliers, scissors), and finishing with the blade layer.

I think the one decision is whether or not to swap around the pliers and Phillips layer, to have the Phillips central in the 5 layers. I think it should work, but will need to try with a test build.
Education is a journey that starts when you realize that knowing a little about something opens the door to the universe.


us Offline SteveP

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #22 on: May 23, 2021, 09:47:59 AM
That would be a good build Steve. Basically the first 4 layers of a SC (openers, Phillips/msg, pliers, scissors), and finishing with the blade layer.

I think the one decision is whether or not to swap around the pliers and Phillips layer, to have the Phillips central in the 5 layers. I think it should work, but will need to try with a test build.

I'm glad you like it, too. Maybe if enough of us like it, Victorinox will build it.   :)

I hadn't thought of the order of the layers.

On the back layer, I'd want to keep some of the SC tools - reamer, hook, corkscrew, maybe the 2.5mm screwdriver. I don't know anything about custom building SAKs so this is where I can dream, but don't know what's possible.

As I'm dreaming though, I'd have the old-style gray-rimmed magnifier and longer Phillips, and I'd also replace the hook with the hook+nail file from the Compact.

With some slightly-modified Plus scales, I'd have my ideal EDC SAK!

Now for a name...SwissExplorer? ExplorerChamp?

« Last Edit: May 23, 2021, 10:00:36 AM by SteveP »
SAKs:
58mm: Bijou (3), Classic SD (6), Cavalier, Mini Champ Plus (mod), Alox Classic SD, Rambler (3), Companion
65mm: Wenger Esquire
74mm: Executive
84mm: Bantam
85mm: Evolution S557, Serrated Commander, Traveler, Evolution 18
91mm: Champion "c", Swiss Champ (4), Explorer (3), Deluxe Tinker, Climber, Huntsman, Serrated Spartan/Weekender, Explorer Plus, Deluxe Explorer Plus (mod), Outdoorsman Plus, Spartan, Champion "a", Champion Plus, Timekeeper Alarm, Golfer
93mm: Pioneer Alox


za Offline Max Stone

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #23 on: May 23, 2021, 11:17:22 AM
The...Detective.

The hook is OK as this pairs with the scissors. But the pliers and Phillips backsprings can't have tools, so no fine screwdriver or chisel (these normally pair with the file and saw. I've got all the parts so I'l have a go at this build.  :salute:
Education is a journey that starts when you realize that knowing a little about something opens the door to the universe.


za Offline Max Stone

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #24 on: May 23, 2021, 12:48:29 PM
Looks like it will work...
Education is a journey that starts when you realize that knowing a little about something opens the door to the universe.


us Offline SteveP

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #25 on: May 23, 2021, 04:52:15 PM
Looks like it will work...

OMG, you sir, are a genius! That's it!  :woohoo:

I really like the Phillips in the middle.

Are those the reamer with a sewing eye, riveted scissors, and pliers with crimper? Do I see a keyring eye at the tip of the reamer?

How much for the Detective?   :)
SAKs:
58mm: Bijou (3), Classic SD (6), Cavalier, Mini Champ Plus (mod), Alox Classic SD, Rambler (3), Companion
65mm: Wenger Esquire
74mm: Executive
84mm: Bantam
85mm: Evolution S557, Serrated Commander, Traveler, Evolution 18
91mm: Champion "c", Swiss Champ (4), Explorer (3), Deluxe Tinker, Climber, Huntsman, Serrated Spartan/Weekender, Explorer Plus, Deluxe Explorer Plus (mod), Outdoorsman Plus, Spartan, Champion "a", Champion Plus, Timekeeper Alarm, Golfer
93mm: Pioneer Alox


za Offline Max Stone

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #26 on: May 23, 2021, 05:56:09 PM
Thank you Steve - final result is here https://forum.multitool.org/index.php/topic,87445.new.html#new

It's a build from spares I had lying around, but it would be possible to build from a SwissChamp donor and reuse the brass pins, so nothing extra needed. I could build another but the older SCs with grey mag are getting difficult to find in my country, and shipping to the US can be expensive as only courier is reliable. Maybe a US-based modder could build you one?
Education is a journey that starts when you realize that knowing a little about something opens the door to the universe.


us Offline SteveP

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #27 on: May 23, 2021, 08:04:03 PM
Thank you Steve - final result is here https://forum.multitool.org/index.php/topic,87445.new.html#new


I took a look at the pictures - it's a thing of beauty.

I would make only two changes - I just prefer black scales (though yours is striking) and I'd add a second pin groove. You do great work. Too bad you're so far away. At least I have the pictures.

SAKs:
58mm: Bijou (3), Classic SD (6), Cavalier, Mini Champ Plus (mod), Alox Classic SD, Rambler (3), Companion
65mm: Wenger Esquire
74mm: Executive
84mm: Bantam
85mm: Evolution S557, Serrated Commander, Traveler, Evolution 18
91mm: Champion "c", Swiss Champ (4), Explorer (3), Deluxe Tinker, Climber, Huntsman, Serrated Spartan/Weekender, Explorer Plus, Deluxe Explorer Plus (mod), Outdoorsman Plus, Spartan, Champion "a", Champion Plus, Timekeeper Alarm, Golfer
93mm: Pioneer Alox


za Offline Max Stone

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #28 on: May 23, 2021, 08:41:24 PM
Thanks Steve  :hatsoff:
Education is a journey that starts when you realize that knowing a little about something opens the door to the universe.


us Offline SteveP

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Re: Very stiff blades on old Explorer - looking for suggestions
Reply #29 on: May 23, 2021, 09:25:50 PM
Thank you Steve - final result is here https://forum.multitool.org/index.php/topic,87445.new.html#new

It's a build from spares I had lying around, but it would be possible to build from a SwissChamp donor and reuse the brass pins, so nothing extra needed. I could build another but the older SCs with grey mag are getting difficult to find in my country, and shipping to the US can be expensive as only courier is reliable. Maybe a US-based modder could build you one?

I like the idea of starting with a SwissChamp donor, but I'd still need to acquire the hook+file as that's not on the SwissChamp. Do you know where I can get one of those?
SAKs:
58mm: Bijou (3), Classic SD (6), Cavalier, Mini Champ Plus (mod), Alox Classic SD, Rambler (3), Companion
65mm: Wenger Esquire
74mm: Executive
84mm: Bantam
85mm: Evolution S557, Serrated Commander, Traveler, Evolution 18
91mm: Champion "c", Swiss Champ (4), Explorer (3), Deluxe Tinker, Climber, Huntsman, Serrated Spartan/Weekender, Explorer Plus, Deluxe Explorer Plus (mod), Outdoorsman Plus, Spartan, Champion "a", Champion Plus, Timekeeper Alarm, Golfer
93mm: Pioneer Alox


 

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