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Stainless Steel Irons- Pedersen, Spalding TF, MacGregor 915s, etc.


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#1 robotgolfer

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 06:54 AM

Anyone know the quality of stainless steel irons like some of the Spalding top flite models from the 1950s or the Pedersen Irons (Underslung models, etc).  Even MacGregor had stainless models (TA 915s and 925s).  In the MacGregor Kaplan book, there seems to be an implication that there was a demand for a stainless steel model of the Tommy Armour irons in the description for the 915s.  Why would there have been such a demand? Because of rust issues with the non-stainless steel iron sets?


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#2 Ironmaster Oddities

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 02:58 PM

I think you are right. My guess would be the durability.  Also note that at the time all irons were forged, not investment cast.  I am not a metalurgist. But isn't Stainless Steel a lot harder than mild steel?  Probably was a bear to make them. In my mind, the better players of the time probably didn't go for the Stainless.

#3 84425

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 03:16 PM

From memory, I think Johnny Miller played a set of TA 925's when he was at the height of his career.

#4 Shallowface

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 04:02 PM

View PostIronmaster Oddities, on 05 April 2011 - 02:58 PM, said:

I think you are right. My guess would be the durability.  Also note that at the time all irons were forged, not investment cast.  I am not a metalurgist. But isn't Stainless Steel a lot harder than mild steel?  Probably was a bear to make them. In my mind, the better players of the time probably didn't go for the Stainless.

I have heard that the reason they stopped making irons from forged stainless is that the forging dies wore out much more quickly than they did with the carbon steel.

I don't know why better players wouldn't have liked the forged stainless. The forged stainless 915s are as buttery soft as anything I've ever hit. Those are the irons Johnny Miller reworked and used when he was at his best.  

A real shame IMO. I've disliked chrome plating ever since the chrome on my first set (which were Northwestern Pro Bilts, but I've seen chrome problems with top line stuff too) peeled like the wrapper off a Hershey bar.

Regarding the durability, all I can say is I see an awful lot of the Spalding forged stainless irons on Ebay and in thrift stores and nearly every one of them is in remarkable condition for its age, even if they've seen a lot of use.  The carbon steel irons of the same vintage are in great shape only if they've been sitting unused for fifty years or if the owner used iron covers.

Of course, maybe that's the real reason they stopped making them. They didn't have to be replaced as often.

#5 astamm8

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 05:25 PM

I'm all for forged stainless. I like the ability to grind it without ruining the chrome. It's a shame more clubs aren't made out of it.

Edited by astamm8, 19 February 2012 - 05:01 PM.


#6 Ironmaster Oddities

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 12:20 PM

View PostShallowface, on 05 April 2011 - 04:02 PM, said:

View PostIronmaster Oddities, on 05 April 2011 - 02:58 PM, said:

I think you are right. My guess would be the durability.  Also note that at the time all irons were forged, not investment cast.  I am not a metalurgist. But isn't Stainless Steel a lot harder than mild steel?  Probably was a bear to make them. In my mind, the better players of the time probably didn't go for the Stainless.

I have heard that the reason they stopped making irons from forged stainless is that the forging dies wore out much more quickly than they did with the carbon steel.

I don't know why better players wouldn't have liked the forged stainless. The forged stainless 915s are as buttery soft as anything I've ever hit. Those are the irons Johnny Miller reworked and used when he was at his best.  

A real shame IMO. I've disliked chrome plating ever since the chrome on my first set (which were Northwestern Pro Bilts, but I've seen chrome problems with top line stuff too) peeled like the wrapper off a Hershey bar.

Regarding the durability, all I can say is I see an awful lot of the Spalding forged stainless irons on Ebay and in thrift stores and nearly every one of them is in remarkable condition for its age, even if they've seen a lot of use.  The carbon steel irons of the same vintage are in great shape only if they've been sitting unused for fifty years or if the owner used iron covers.

Of course, maybe that's the real reason they stopped making them. They didn't have to be replaced as often.
Maybe there was method to their madness.  Stop making clubs that don't wear out. kind of bad for business if players don't change out their "old, worn out clubs" every couple of years.
But I think the issue with the broaching/forging damage is also a part of it.  The old style of manufacturing irons (forging) was and still is, very capital intensive. And downtime is  really expensive. That, combined with material costs and the fact that the clubs lasted so much longer, may have been the killers.  Investment casting is way easier and less expensive.  Notice how many clubmakers there are today?  Minimal initial investment and much smaller facility needed. You can do it in your garage. Plus, changing design is a no-brainer.
I agree that it is much easier to grind stainless and not hassle with re-chroming. In the 50's it seems like Spaulding owned the stainless market.  Maybe they were better equipped for the hard material.  Probably more TOPFLITE stainless irons out there than all the others combined.  You're right they still look great.

Edited by Ironmaster Oddities, 06 April 2011 - 12:25 PM.


#7 teevons

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 01:57 AM

Here a couple of new sets I recieved from the Pro , I have never seen 3852MS Stainless Steel and also is a set of 915T stainless, both sets heads are very nice,but someone replaced the grips on the 915's and re-shafted the 3852's.

View Postrobotgolfer, on 05 April 2011 - 06:54 AM, said:

Anyone know the quality of stainless steel irons like some of the Spalding top flite models from the 1950s or the Pedersen Irons (Underslung models, etc).  Even MacGregor had stainless models (TA 915s and 925s).  In the MacGregor Kaplan book, there seems to be an implication that there was a demand for a stainless steel model of the Tommy Armour irons in the description for the 915s.  Why would there have been such a demand? Because of rust issues with the non-stainless steel iron sets?

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Edited by teevons, 18 February 2012 - 02:02 AM.


#8 Shallowface

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 02:13 PM

Those are gorgeous!

Edited by Shallowface, 18 February 2012 - 02:14 PM.


#9 kaboboom

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 03:03 PM

Might as well get a couple of Spaldings on here. The Dynamiter Sand Wedge also came in Stainless...

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#10 super20dan

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 07:54 PM

dont forget the kennith smith royal signet .pederson made beautifull stainless irons. dont hear much about them

73 hogan apex

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#11 teevons

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:19 AM

And Golfcraft





View Postsuper20dan, on 18 February 2012 - 07:54 PM, said:

dont forget the kennith smith royal signet .pederson made beautifull stainless irons. dont hear much about them




#12 xgolfx

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 02:46 PM

In my opinion

Spaulding never was a dominant player in quality golf clubs. They survived on the ball. The Dot  and then the
top FLITE

All clubs were forged until the  sixties

A forged iron started as a lump of metal. It was then drop forged into a roughly shaped head. A broaching operation followed to put the hozel hole for the shaft into being. Then came the hand grinding . I recollect most players did not like stainless versus carbon because it felt too hard on contact with the ball

CHARLEY PENNA

#13 rex235

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 06:09 PM

Charley-

Did MacGregor make any LH Tommy Armour SS 915s?

#14 xgolfx

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 06:38 PM

View Postrex235, on 19 February 2012 - 06:09 PM, said:

Charley-

Did MacGregor make any LH Tommy Armour SS 915s?


I do not know, but I would guess they did since the forgings were  made for more than one model club at that time.

CHARLEY PENNA

#15 rex235

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:34 PM

Teevons/Charley-

The included photos are of  the RH MacGregor TA SS  Stainless Steel 915T irons I acquired last year from a person who lived near, and caddied for Johnny Miller when he lived in CA.    
100_9958.JPG
100_9960.JPG

These are quite similar to those irons he refers to in his magazine article "10 Rules For Sticking Your Irons...."


#16 okesa

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:23 AM

How about these Rex?Tommy Armour Silver Scot Tourney 945 with original leather grips,numbered M2146 on ferrules,True Temper Tourney shafts that feel quite firm,2 to DS wedge.

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#17 gone_golfing

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:24 PM

Great topic and very interesting insight. i just learned about about a dozen new things about classic clubs. Love this FORUM.

#18 rex235

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:47 PM

Okesa-

Great set of MacGregor irons!
Yes, I already have the LH MacGregor Tommy Armour Silver Scot 945s. Serial number L6511 on the hosels.
These came after the MacGregor TA SS 915Ts in stainless steel.  
Apparently, the "Tommy Armour" stamps would not fit in the same spot on the back pad of the 945s due to size restrictions in the long irons.
The "Tommy Armour" stamp is in the same pad on the LH  985 models.

Will show a photo of the 945 and 985 models  soon.

#19 okesa

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:03 PM

Thanks Rex,but these 945's are stainless aren't they even though it doesn't say so on the back?

I'm going by the fact that one or two have 'nibbles' on the leading edge and if they were plated it would have lifted whereas these look as though a file and small hammer would get them back into shape.

Edited by okesa, 20 February 2012 - 08:07 PM.


#20 Ironmaster Oddities

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:20 PM

View Postokesa, on 20 February 2012 - 08:03 PM, said:

Thanks Rex,but these 945's are stainless aren't they even though it doesn't say so on the back?

I'm going by the fact that one or two have 'nibbles' on the leading edge and if they were plated it would have lifted whereas these look as though a file and small hammer would get them back into shape.

Okesa,
I would guess that those irons are not stainless, even if the dings in the leading edge haven't rusted.  Unless they were special ordered and the buyer did not want "stainless" stamped on the heads, I can't imagine MacGregor not stamping them.  Either wan, they are great irons, especially with the matching wedge.
Bob


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#21 rex235

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:52 PM

Here is a photo of three LH MacGregor irons...

100_9965.JPG

the LH  MacGregor TA SS 945-
the LH  MacGregor TA SS 985T-
and
the LH MacGregor Jack Nicklaus Muirfield ...

#22 nolixul

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 06:16 AM

Powerbilt also comes to mind as regards stainless steel irons. Several Citation models from 1950 to 1970 as well as some other models.

I still have a super set of John Letters master Model irons that are forged from SS, dating from the early 1950s.

#23 okesa

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 06:50 AM

P.B. 'Laddie' Lucas eminent amateur left handed golfer and Walker Cup captain tells am amusing story when practicing at Winged Foot in preparation for the 1949 matches there when he was being watched by a couple of left handed enthusiasts who were interested in his irons.His coach,Fred Robson,sold the two spare sets of irons to the willing 'customers' for "an inordinately large number of dollars",with this loot and "with Toney Penna's special and expert help" was able "to bring home two beautiful sets of Tommy Armour,Macgregor woods and 985T Tourney irons,just possibly the best left handed clubs ever made".

I corresponded with Wingco Lucas but was never fortunate enough to meet him,please check out this link; http://en.wikipedia....iki/Percy_Lucas

Edited by okesa, 21 February 2012 - 07:00 AM.


#24 rex235

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:27 PM

Okesa-

+1 with you on both the Tommy Armour MacGregor woods....... and the 985T irons.......

the MacGregor 985Ts may have led to the design of the Dunlop Bob Charles signature model irons, which are stamped "stainless" steel, and "made in Scotland".

The Bob Charles iron set (2-10) was sold on EBay last year.... they have the DELAFIT PATENT No 776389 stamped around the hosel.

..anyone know where this special iron set wound up?

#25 okesa

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:56 PM

Entirely possible Rex but I have a feeling that I've read somewhere that John Letters actually produced a number of clubs for Dunlop which might explain the head style and the 'Made in Scotland',the design is very similar to Letters classic Master Model which is pictured here.

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#26 rex235

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 10:48 PM

Okesa-

Yes, your John Letters  Irons are nice.

Always had a soft spot for those irons with the single milled cut on the back pad.  

All the RH MacGregor Tourney Custom 985 10 irons have the milled cut.

For some reason, MacGregor didn't make any LH 10 irons (P) like this for their  Tourney Custom 985 iron sets.  

Included are photos of  the Dunlop Bob Charles signature iron.
100_9966.JPG
Note the "Stainless Made in Scotland" on the sole.
100_9967.JPG

Somewhere, somebody has the entire set...2-10.... of Dunlop LH Bob Charles signature stainless irons.

#27 nolixul

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 12:23 PM

Usually 2-3 sets of the Bob Charles irons come up on Ebay UK each year. They don't change hands for many ús

#28 rex235

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 01:51 PM

Nolixul-

Thanks for the info.  

To my knowledge, they should be stamped "Stainless" .





#29 okesa

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 03:11 PM

Not all of them are marked with that Rex,before I graduated to proper irons I did own a set of late production Dunlop Bob Charles which were entirely different to the model posted here,this might have been about 1979-ish,they had a more rounded and lower muscle pad and if I remember correctly were a 'reverse' or mirror image of the Roberto de Vicenzo model that was current at that time but my memory might be wrong (again!).

Not the model I was looking for but I've never seen these before....

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Edited by okesa, 23 February 2012 - 03:28 PM.


#30 rex235

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 01:26 AM

Okesa-

Yes, I played with the American version of these irons from 1973-1975.  They were similar to the '71 Wilson Staff, and '72 H&B Scotch Blade iron. Your FG-51s....

Note these irons have pinned shafts as well, and their back pad profile is mildly similar to the original Hogan Precision.  

Not the Stainless Steel model I'm looking for, but a very hard to find grind in a LH model.

Anyone have a WITB photo of Bob Charles' equipment from this period?


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