Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Tiny Piece of History

These are my new 7 gram Unicorn Extralites. New to me that is, as I bought them off ebay and that disappear out of the Unicorn cataloges sometimes in the 60's. In fact in the Unicorn online Hertiage section you can look through a lot of the old catalogs and these are in the earliest four, from 1950 to 1965. After that they disappear. Even the 1950 catalog says they have been in demand for years so I would presume they were made in the 40's and maybe 30's as well.

They are a lot lot tinier than I imagined. When I saw them on ebay it was hard to gauge the size of them properly and I figured they much bigger than they are. The below pic shows a comparison shot of one of the Extralites next to a typical modern brass dart of 21 grams. Despite the small size of them though they seem to throw pretty well so I can see why the early catalogs said they were in great demand. I have hit some good numbers with them already, missing a maximum by a wire, and cleanly hitting lots of doubles as well. Like any light dart they have a tendency to drift in flight just a bit but not so much that it is debilitating. I think these darts will make an appearance at league!

They are definitely showing their age. The flights are in _superb_ condition despite being 50 years old. The points are a bit oxidized which I am sure will be plenty correctible with sand paper, and the front of the brass barrels show some tarnishing. I am tempted to research how to clean or restor brass so I can take care of that. I am not a finger licker so I am not concerned with an lead that may be in the darts. The stem was a bit hesitant to come out so I didn't try to hard. The last thing I wanna do is snap them off inside the barrels. At least not until I get some extras. The stem threading is very very small, at 3BA, which is quite a bit smaller than the standard of the day which is 2BA. When I finally start making my own darts I may aim for such a threading.

One of my favorite things about this dart is the flight. Here is a close up shot of the flight. The design of the old style plastic flights is terrific. A single molded piece of plastic. Nothing to robin hood, the flights do not crumble and separate from the mylar like modern flights, they are durable and always square. Could you ask for more? As you can see from the pic below (and don't forget you can click on the image for a bigger version) the fins are so thin they are nearly translucent and you can see swirls of the red in the plastic. Very cool. In some of the pictures the flights seem to come out pinkish, but they are red in real life. This may be a fault of my camera.

The box was nearly destroying in shipping but I doubt it was in that good a shape to be gin with. Here are some shots of the inside of it. I wish they had dated their old products somehow. When I start to make my own I will definitely date them somehow. So 50 years from now, or 100 years from now, people will say "See this little mark? That means these darts were made in 2007 by the Master Darts Craftsman Zeeple." Hahahaha. Maybe.


ny81him said...

Great Post!

Zeeple said...

Thanks ny81him! Glad you liked it. I am really digging the new darts and I am gonna try to find more like them if I can.

Juergen said...

Hi Zepple,

bought myself a history unicorn dart these days:

Zeeple said...

Wow, Juergen that is a really incredible find! Those little Taverner Darts are really cool and to find a set is very lucky. How do they throw?

Juergen said...

Hi Zeeple,

they throw quite well, little bit unfamiliar first because they are very much front loaded and the barrel is short.
If you're interested in them place an offer. Juergen

Zeeple said...

Well I would but this and the other sets are enough to sate my thirst for now. The bottle sets are nice I am glad you have such a nice piece of history yourself.

Anonymous said...

Hi Zeeple,

Brass can be polished in a "non-lossy" way with a type of acid-based liquid that is like similar materials for silver -- a "dip and shine" type, where it is unnecessary to abraid any of the metal to remove the tarnish -- only the oxide is removed.

As far as the oxidized tips, use a 400 or 600 wet-or-dry emery paper with a few drops of household 3-in-1 oil. And here's a trick -- wrap 5 turns or so of masking tape around the barrels (with shaft/flights removed), insert the barrel in the chuck of a variable speed drill, and , with the oil-applied emergy paper around the tip lightly, run the drill at slow speed to polish those tips right up (be sure to keep the emery paper away from the barrel, though, as it will remove brass much more rapidly than iron oxide).

-- Barn

Zeeple said...

WOW what a great tip Barn thanks! I'll try that and let you know how it goes.