We have all had transaction that turned out to be less than stellar. Maybe that used bike had a weak chain that busted off on the first use, or that amazing deal that you got on a computer turned out to be for the CPU only, or that cased Schick Injector that you bought off of eBay was pure junk…in the end, whenever we buy anything we should all keep in mind that Latin wisdom: caveat emptor, or let the buyer beware.
I consider myself a pretty good buyer. I worked in sales for years, I have dealt with shady situations, and I am fairly good at recognizing when something is not all that it appears to be. Unfortunately, even I end up on the wrong end of a bum deal every once in a while. Sometimes I’m too impulsive or I make a purchase contrary to what my research and instincts are telling me and I end up with the shaft. It happens and I can either deal with it and learn from the mistake or I can whine and go on the offensive in attempt to force the seller to rectify the situation. More often than not the latter course of action ends up costing more in the long run, so I usually try to just suck it up and move on…after all, I should have known better.
Recently I was looking for a cased injector. I found several on the B/S/T sections of various forums, but none of them really grabbed me. A quick eBay search netted me several results, but only a few were priced reasonably well. One such auction caught my eye. The razor was being sold by a professional eBay seller who quite obviously had no real knowledge of vintage razors, there were only a couple of mediocre pictures, the case looked beat up on the outside, and the razor was described as having a crack in the handle. Every instinct told me to walk away, but I kept thinking, “Eh, I can clean that up and a little epoxy should fix the handle well enough.” So, in spite of my better judgement, I bought it.
At his point I can already imagine some of you folks shaking your heads. I know, it was a poor choice and I regretted it almost instantly, but the story does have a somewhat happy ending, so stick with me.
The razor arrived rather quickly and was well packed, both of which struck me as good signs. When I opened it up the case turned out to be in worse condition than I thought, but still looked salvageable. The razor had some gunk and a small crack on the handle, but appeared to be in otherwise excellent condition. All in all, I was fairly happy. Then I began to clean.
The case’s fake leather lining came loose instantly, revealing a ton of corrosion and gunk. I scrubbed everything with soap and water, sanded off the corrosion on the metal, let it all dry, treated the fake leather and the metal with some oil, and glued it back together. It was more work than I expected, but it came out serviceable, even if it was still somewhat ugly. The razor was another story.
I sprayed some scrubbing bubbles on the razor and then went at it with a cotton swab, but as soon as I applied a little pressure to the razor’s head the handle literally crumbled into pieces. I blinked a few times before gathering up all of the pieces and sitting down at the computer to figure out a solution. I considered returning the damn thing, but it only cost me about $9 and returning it would have been a huge headache. I looked up custom injector handles, but apparently that is a mostly untapped market (although apparently a few people have done this). My first instinct was to glue the handle back together, coat it all in epoxy, wrap tape around it, and then put a clear coat on top…but the thing was in about fifty tiny pieces and would have been way too labor intensive to be worth the effort. That’s when I remembered a custom dip pen handle that I had.
About a year ago my wife bought me a nice, hand turned cocobolo dip pen handle as a present and while I Iiked the way it looked, it just didn’t perform well, so it sat in my desk mostly unused. As I sat at my desk, staring at my dip pen and trying to come up with a solution, it occurred to me that the shaft of the razor head might fit nicely into the dip pen handle’s nib hole. So, I pulled the last of the bakelite handle off of my useless Schick, and wedged the razor head into my dip pen handle…and it actually fit pretty well. With a plan in mind I finished cleaning up the razor head, cut off about an inch from the end of the dip pen handle, rounded off the end, and epoxied the head into the handle. I would’ve used cement or something a little more secure, but two part epoxy was all that I had on hand and it’s pretty good stuff, so it’s what I used. The razor ended up looking pretty decent and, after setting properly, the epoxy seems to have created a pretty secure bond between the metal and wood nib hole and the metal razor head. Now all I had to do was shave with it…which I did this morning, but that is a story for the SOTD.
In the end, I managed to find a solution for a bad situation and came out from it alright, but it could have gone in an entirely different direction if I had not had just the right tools and parts to create a solution. I have no one to blame for making a poor purchase but myself. It’s my own fault for forgetting: caveat emptor.