Joining the Trac II Club

Discussion in 'General Shaving Talk' started by Michael_W, Mar 17, 2021.

  1. Michael_W

    Michael_W Well-Known Member

    So yeah, I just sent away for a Gillette Deluxe Trac II razor, this baby right here.

    Price was pretty reasonable. I've never really owned a genuine Trac II. It comes with some cartridges and I plan on using them. All in all, decent buy. For those of you who own one, what are your thoughts? I'm pretty much devoted to safeties since I made the switch and have given up cartridge shaving tools, but the opportunity for a vintage Trac II—especially one that looks as fancy as this for the price—was too tempting to pass up, and I didn't want to just write off ALL cartridge razors just because.
  2. ischiapp

    ischiapp Well-Known Member

    I'm a huge fan of single-edge razors.
    For me, Gillette Trac2 is a double SE.
    But I prefer a bit more weight on the handle.
    So I took this.

    Aceshaving Trac2
    Aluminium, 52g, 15x134mm

  3. Leo K.

    Leo K. Well-Known Member


    I love shaving with the Trac II and you’ll enjoy the original cartridges.

    Here is my current collection of Trac II handles from various years in the 1970’s. The design is so innovative and beautiful and I much prefer using original handles because of the Nostalgia factor.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
  4. Leo K.

    Leo K. Well-Known Member

    A little history on the Trac II that was acquired by another poster which I use with his permission:

    The development of Gillette's first twin-blade razor began in early 1964 in the company's Reading laboratories in England when a new employee Norman C. Welsh experimented with tandem blades and discovered what he called the "hysteresis effect"; a blade pulling the whisker out of the hair follicle before cutting it, and enabling a second blade cut the whisker even shorter before it retracted back into the follicle. For six years afterwards, Welsh and his colleagues worked on a means of utilizing the hysterisis effect, almost exclusively concentrating on what would later be known as the Atra twin-blade system. The Atra razor featured two blades set in a plastic cartridge with edges that faced each other. Using the razor required the user to move it in an up-and-down scrubbing motion, and whiskers were cut on both the up and down strokes. Another twin-blade system with blades set in tandem, codenamed "Rex", also existed, but it had too many technical problems and was behind Atra in development.

    In consumer tests in Australia, the Atra (Australia Test Razor) razor had outperformed existing razor systems, but Gillette's marketing executives feared the razor would meet resistance among shavers due to the unfamiliar scrubbing motion required to use it. Even though the Atra project was so far along in mid-1970 that packaging and production machinery was nearly ready for a full market introduction, Gillette decided to start a development drive to finish Rex instead as it didn't require learning a new way to shave. The project succeeded, Atra was abandoned, and Gillette announced the first twin-blade razor – now renamed to Trac II – in fall of 1971. The Trac II captured the premium shaving market and came out in time to counter Wilkinson Sword's Bonded Blade system that utilized single-blade cartridges

    Trac II and Atra

    - Launched 1st gen during 1971 World Series, Oct 9 – 17 (AdAge Sept 15, 2003)
    - Earliest print ad I have seen is Dec 10, 1971, LIFE Magazine
    - Gen 1 (flat spine), 4Q ’71 – no date code
    - Gen 1 Trac II, S1
    - 2nd Gen Trac II (raised spine) by 4Q72?
    - 1st Gen Deluxe, at least by 1Q72, S1
    - 2nd Gen Deluxe by 3Q73 – 4Q75
    - 2 gens/configurations, 2 colors (brown and black - brown was supposed to be the original color)
    - Lady Trac II, 1974, was green.
    - During the '70s Demonstrators in black, green and white were distributed
    - Proceedings of the 1983 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference suggested brown was the original color for the Trac II (p.409)
    - 3rd gen was Plus, 1984? (Noticeably different handle)
    - Trac II Plus was an identical model but adds a lubricating strip at the top of the blade cartridge. The blades and handles were interchangeable.
    - The European versions of the Trac II and Trac II Plus were known as the GII and GII Plus respectively.
    - Atra (known as the Contour, Slalom, Vector in some markets) was introduced in 1977 and was the first razor to feature a pivoting head, which Gillette claimed made it easier for men to shave their necks.
    - Atra Plus featured a lubricating strip, dubbed Lubra-Soft.
  5. Tedolph

    Tedolph Well-Known Member

    If I may ask, does the Trac II still use the "lift and cut" system?
    Michael_W likes this.
  6. Leo K.

    Leo K. Well-Known Member

    Yes I believe it does :happy088:
    Michael_W likes this.
  7. Tedolph

    Tedolph Well-Known Member

    I hated that thing. It gave me ingrown hairs for 20 years until I switched to an electric and then a single edge razor.
    Michael_W likes this.
  8. ischiapp

    ischiapp Well-Known Member

    Me too.
    Then I learned how to shave.
    Now I love It.
  9. Tedolph

    Tedolph Well-Known Member

    Ok, I will take the bait: How do you shave with a lift-n-cut system and avoid in grown hairs?
    Michael_W likes this.
  10. ischiapp

    ischiapp Well-Known Member

    What do you mean bout "Lift & Cut" system?

    The Trac2 has a cartridge.
    But works as a double SE razor.
    Similar to Twin Injector, but smoother IMHO.

    So I just use my normal technique.
    Three passes, following my facial mapping.
    Easier to do than to explain.
    Ijustmissedthe50s likes this.
  11. Tedolph

    Tedolph Well-Known Member

    The Lift and Cut system was introduced with the first Gillette Trac II razors many years ago. In that system, two adjacent blades are spaced so closely together that the first blade bends and lifts the hair out of the follicle, and before it is fully cut through the second blade shears off the hair at the surface. The hair now snaps back into the follicle below the surface of the skin. This system provided a very close single pass shave. However, it left a forest of hairs under the skin with offset points on the side and end of the shaft. If the hair in the follicle was curly (e.g. neck hairs) or did not grow out of the follicle perfectly straight, the point of the shaft could burrow into the side of the bore under the surface of the skin=ingrown hair. Black Men in particular suffered from Trac II "razor bumps" all over their faces and many post shave products were offered to them to sooth this result. Caucasian Men usually just got them on the neck and jaw line. In contrast, a multi-pass single edge shave produces a hair cut off near the skin level, not substantially below and a "point" on the hair tip which is centered and closer to rounded rather than an angled oval with a sharp point on one side. Thus, men who use a single edge blade usually never get ingrown hairs. If your beard hairs are very straight, e.g. Asian men, the Trac II will not cause any problems.

    Gillette abandoned the Lift and Cut system when they went to their 3, 4 and 5 blade systems (e.g. Fusion). So, I wondered if they kept it on modern Trac II's.

    The expensive Norelco's also adopted the Lift and Cut system (but not the cheap ones) and while they do give a closer shave than an electric foil razor they also gave me ingrown hairs.

    Also, the closely set blades on the Trac II tended to clog constantly.

    I hope that explains it.
    Ijustmissedthe50s likes this.
  12. ischiapp

    ischiapp Well-Known Member

    Trac2 has blades spaced as other Gillette.
    Close, but not too much.
    Tedolph and Ijustmissedthe50s like this.
  13. Jayaruh

    Jayaruh The Cackalacky House Pet

    Supporting Vendor
    It's been a long time since I have shaved with my Trac II. It was a good razor. I also am a fan of the Atra.
  14. Shaver X

    Shaver X Well-Known Member

    I have had a Trac II for about forty years. It gives good shaves, but the cartridges cost about four times as much as double edge blades. The Trac II is still best for air travel, as DE blades are banned in carry on luggage. Other than for travel, I have not used anything besides a safety razor for the last 13 years.
    Leo K. and Tedolph like this.
  15. Tedolph

    Tedolph Well-Known Member

    I also have one in my travel bag.
    Shaver X likes this.
  16. Michael_W

    Michael_W Well-Known Member

    Got it in the mail on Monday and did a side-by-side comparison shave with it and my PAA DOC nickel-plated razor. Soap was Mitchell's Wool Fat, aftershave was Pinaud Clubman Brandy Spice followed up with Nivea post shave balm.

    The difference was negligible from what I could tell, so today I used the Trac II exclusively. My pre-shave treatment was the PPA Cube 2.0 massaged into my skin, with Oleo Very Cherry shave soap. Aftershave was Clubman Brandy Spice and my Oleo Very Cherry post shave balm.

    WOW, did I notice a huge difference! Typically my neck requires one or two touch-up passes because the whiskers grow in weird directions. I needed none today. I don't think I've had a shave this close in a while! I wil be using this baby as my travel razor, although I will need to take special care not to lose it or let it get stolen. This baby came with its original case, cartridge bank, and instruction sheet, so I definitely don't want to have to replace it. It is safely in my dopp kit.
    gorgo2 and Leo K. like this.
  17. Daywalker

    Daywalker Member

    Actually Leo K. explained the "lift&cut"-system already - just saying. Gillette coined the the term for this process Hysteresis.

    I don't think that's true. While it wasn't marketed explicitly anymore, it was still the base (marketing) principle for "a closer shave" of all multi-blade cartridges made by Gillette (and their knock offs) - including up to the Fusion (see link above).

    That's why all of them gave me ingrown hairs occasionally.

    I started with the Atra and shortly after the Sensor came out.
    Third parties here in Germany also sold single blade cartridges that fitted either the Trac/GII or Atra/Contour handle. I loved them because they were way cheaper and gave me no ingrown hairs. When they were discontinued I used Trac only because they were still the cheapest blades but caught up fast. The Fusion gave me smooth shaves but were way to expensive.

    But each new model added its own USPs (why else upgrade) to charge more $$$.

    Trac II/GII: 2 Blades. Hysteresis = closer.

    Atra/Contour Plus: Pivoting head. Plus = lubra strip - first we made it closer, than we made it $moother It's the best a man can get. It can't get any better, or can it?
    Personally I think this was the best cartridge razor Gillette ever made.

    Sensor (Excel): Spring loaded blades for an even $moother shave.
    Excel = "Microfins" lift the hair - designed more like a Mach3 cartridge but fits the Sensor handle.

    Venus - I think Wiki is wrong here. The First Venus razor used Sensor cartridges, not Mach3 cartridges. I think the short handled Venus really was an innovation for shaving your legs though - and they finally could use their own razor. Let's also change the color - because women love color - and charge some extra $$$ for the same cartridges.

    Mach3: Well, how can we still charge more $hit? Let's just add another blade and make a new cartridge format. It's a $moother shave and waaay faster of course - because fewer strokes - 1 instead of 3, dummy.

    I skipped the Mach3. For some reason the Atra and Sensor gave me smoother shaves and were cheaper anyway.

    Sensor Excel 3: It came out after the Mach3 if I'm not mistaken? Why did they even make it? Prototype of Mach3?

    Fusion: We're out of ideas - let's just repeat all the $hit we did before and add even more blades (because 3 blades simply don't cut it) and charge way more $$$ - now the distance of the blades makes all the difference, stupid.

    Sensor, Mach3 (Venus) and Fusion all had their different variants that added new cool $tuff.
    Turbo= less friction, Power=vibration/battery - well, batteries are cool, aren't they? Powerball = even more pivoting, etc..

    And then they rode the woke train - epic fail. :eatdrink013:
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2021
    Michael_W and Leo K. like this.
  18. ischiapp

    ischiapp Well-Known Member

    It was the same for me.
    Then I tried the SkinGuard.
    Effective almost as Fusion line, but smoother.
    Specially with Power & FlexBall handle, after removing lubrastrips.

    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
  19. Leo K.

    Leo K. Well-Known Member

    I'm really happy to hear it shaved well! Aces! The original cartridges are really the best.
    Michael_W likes this.
  20. Leo K.

    Leo K. Well-Known Member

    Yeah I love the new Skinguard - and I actually like the lubrastrips too to add to the smoothness. Maybe the best two blade razor out there for me. Nice handle there! Yeah, I really like the powerhandle for Fusion and Mach 3.
    gorgo2, Michael_W and ischiapp like this.

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