The "what is" and " how to" thread for the Rolls Razor

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by gregindallas, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    DSCN1454.jpg DSCN1456.jpg DSCN1457.jpg DSCN1460.jpg PIF question

    I've been working ahead on my Rolls. I've got a gig in Clifton, NJ coming up any day now so I'm trying to not get cought in the middle of something. Anyway, mine is finished, (pictures attached) so what would consitiute a good PIF requirement?:D (Black thing is my shave buddy, Zig)

    Attached Files:

    Cap7597 likes this.
  2. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    The end result looks great Great.

    Not to sound ungrateful, but the ending of this thread is for me a bit...anticlimactic?

    I envisioned you going into handle restoration, blade restoration, the first shave, pitfalls etc...

    As for a PIF idea - how about the first person that posts a picture of themselves holding a sign with their screen name printed on it, driving or riding in a Rolls Royce, or just standing next to one?
    Cap7597 likes this.
  3. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    Not to worry. Do to the gig, I need to get the physical stuff and pictures out of the way so that I can work on the road if required. The hard part for me is the "words in a row" stuff. :D As it happens, this caused the razor to finish way before the thread.

    Rolls Royce??!! I was thinking of something like first Purple Heart recipient.....standing next to a Rolls Royce.:D
    Cap7597 likes this.
  4. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    Cap7597 likes this.
  5. Kyhunter

    Kyhunter Active Member

    I have your cats evil twin. As far a PIF im not sure what would have to be done to get a great shaver.
    Cap7597 likes this.
  6. MikekiM

    MikekiM Well-Known Member

    If you get the time to post followup to this, I would be interested in how to adjust the bar that puts pressure on the blade and how to clean and lube the sprocketed rails. Mine are greased and seem to work okay, but it takes a fair amount of effort to drive the handle back and forth. And, most important for me.. the stropping. My strop paste arrived but I don't know how to use and don't want to destroy the strop I just rejuvenated.
    Cap7597 likes this.
  7. Mario

    Mario New Member

    Wow, thank you Greg, sir! I have one more question, what do you think about using a genuine Rolls Razor dressing for the strop?
    Cap7597 likes this.
  8. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    pic (2).jpg
    Rolls strop paste is sometimes available on E-bay. I've never tried it myself but have read reviews of the stuff. It came in a small red container (picture 1). My resistance to the stuff is primarily do to availability and age. The youngest stuff you can by is 55 yrs old! That's a lot of time for separation, evaporation, oxidation of the leather conditioning oils and God knows what else :D. Functionally, I've read that it rates somewhere around jewelers polish (won’t even scratch glass) so my personal paste selection, Dovo Red, is a little courser than the original. Devo Red does have a small honing capability to it with particle sizes of 2-4 microns. Not a lot, but I'll take what i can get. Plus, it's a pretty good match for the original color and a little fresher.:D
    Cap7597 and Smoothy like this.
  9. MikekiM

    MikekiM Well-Known Member

    I tried to get the Dovo strop paste, but it was on inter-gallactic back order. I ended up with a generic fine paste.

    But I am waiting/hoping for an installment here on stropping before I put anything on my newly conditioned strop!!
  10. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    It's on the list but first comes cleaning the frame (easy but kind of a production), lubracating the rails and cleaning/adjusting the friction pad assembly (harder but I got tricks).
    Cap7597 likes this.
  11. MikekiM

    MikekiM Well-Known Member

    Awesome.. I am looking forward to those as well!! I am waiting to shave with mine until everything is done.. You know, hack saw blade and all... :ashamed001
  12. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    DSCN1462.jpg DSCN1463.jpg DSCN1464.jpg DSCN1465 (2).jpg DSCN1467.jpg The Clean-up: Phase 2 – The Rolls frame and FPS (friction pad assembly) (step 1)

    The Frame:

    Materials Required (picture 1):

    1. Hand Dish soap
    2. Toothbrush
    3. Q-Tips
    4. Tissue
    5. A Sink (Kitchen, Not pictured)
    6. Hair Dryer
    7. Lighter Fluid

    First off, back in the day, grease was not the end of the road for a Rolls razor. Most were greased up pretty good as the strop/hone cycle isn’t easy and that’s what guys did back then (grease the gears). Grease, over time, separates into lighter and heaver components. The lighter components tend to evaporate readily and the grease just keeps getting harder and thicker. They got away with it because of their time frames (days & weeks) and the fact that regular shaving aired out the cases. Today, as an owner of a Rolls, your time frame is 50+ yrs. That is to say, your Rolls has been sitting, pretty much sealed up for 50+ yrs before you got it. The grease has been separating, evaporating and condensing (it’s a continuous cycle) all over the inside of the Rolls case for a really long time and now, we’re going to stop it. And that’s why we cleaned the strop and hone as part of the process. Grease is no good for either nor is it good for the FPA which we’ll get to in the next section.

    Rolls Disassembly: Take off the doors, blade and handle and set them aside (picture 2). Next remove the FPA from the spindle. My technique is to push out on the edges of the friction sleeve with my thumb nails from the underside (picture 3). Push on the opposite and diagonal ends. It’s not easy but it will push it off (hopefully before you thumb nails give out). When it finally pushes off, set the FPA aside and you should have what’s in picture 4.

    The next steps. With paper towels, tissue and Q-tips wipe out as much grease in the frame and gear tracks as you can. Fill you sink or bucket with hot water, add a normal dish washing amount of dish soap and drop in the frame. Swish it around to get out any air bubbles and let it soak. Pull it out occasionally, check the progress and hit any stubborn areas with the tooth brush or Q-tips. Keep periodically swishing and scrubbing till it’s clean. There are 2 split spacers on the ends of the spindle. Grease tend to build up under these so, during the wash, I squirt some lighter fluid thru the split to break up the grease and let the dish soap carry the whole mess away. You may need to do this a few times. Picture 5 is a clean enough frame.

    After the wash, rinse the frame thoroughly and pour out all the water left in the frame. You will need to keep rotating, turning and shaking the frame to get all the water to leave. Next, start drying the inside of the frame with the tissue, paper towels and hairdryer. I use the dryer to heat up the frame to a nice toasty temperature to aid evaporation. It doesn’t hurt to keep shaking it during this process as water keeps falling out of the end assemblies. Just keep at it till it dry.
    tagir.dn, targa88 and Smoothy like this.
  13. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    DSCN1473 (2).jpg DSCN1468.jpg DSCN1469.jpg DSCN1470.jpg DSCN1471.jpg DSCN1472.jpg The Clean-up: Phase 2 – The Rolls frame and FPS (friction pad assembly) (step 2)

    Materials Required (picture 1):

    1. Q-tips
    2. Tissue
    3. #2 Pencils
    4. Dish Soap

    More Rolls razor restorations have bit the dust do to ignorance of the Friction Pad Assembly than for busted hones and crappie blades combined. It’s easy after you’ve pried the thing off its spindle (picture 2).

    Before we start, there were 3 types (or colors) of friction pads. Originally, (series 1) the pads were white. The series 2 were red up until the end when they were changed again to black. All 3 work well enough although it harder to tune the black ones.

    Disassembly: Rotate the blade holder (pointy thing) 90 degrees (picture 3) while holding the FPA. Push the blade holder down and angle to the side to clear one of its wings (picture 4). Wiggle it a bit and the whole thing should come apart. Remove the saddle spring if you’ve got one. Using the pointed end of the blade holder, push out the friction pad from the side (picture 4). Now put the pad back in its sleeve. The pad itself is fairly delicate and unless must (and we probably will “must”), leave it in its sleeve.

    Now that you’ve got the FPA apart, inspect the pad. It probably looks to some degree like the one in picture 5. The shiny stuff coating the inside of the pad is a bearing surface made up of grease, particles from the blade, strop and hone. That’s why your blade never gets an edge, you’ve got a bearing surface where a friction surface should be. This causes the blade pressure on the strop and hone to be way off. The blade can’t get sharp and your shave sucks.

    Restoring the FPA

    Step 1: Clean (degrease) the metal parts of the FPA. Remember to remove the friction pad. Dry the parts and bring back the friction pad sleeve.

    Step 2: Reinstall the pad into its sleeve and try to get as much of the gunk off the friction pad as possible using tissue and Q-tips. If you’re lucky, this will be enough and your pad will look something like picture 6. If it still pretty gunked up, you’ve got 2 choices and the next part is risky. What you’ve done so far may be enough, the only way to tell for sure is to reassemble the FPA, snap it back on the spindle and gauge how hard it is to rotate the sleeve assembly around the spindle. It need to be pretty hard to turn (no leverage).

    If you’ve decided to “go big” or after testing decided you don’t have a choice, then here we go. Remove the pad from the sleeve. It’s delicate but will spread just enough to allow a pencil eraser to be inserted through the long slit. CAREFULLY erase the gunk on the inside of the pad. Check the eraser often as it loads up quick. Clean it on you pant leg (just like school) and hit it again. You’re going to have to decide for yourself how long to keep this up. The sleeve is easy to break. If it breaks, you need other Rolls. Picture 6 is about as far as I dare go.

    A word about the light rust you may easily have on the metal parts of the FPA. If you went to boot camp, you know what’s coming, just use the pencil and erase it! Heaver rust can be buffed out.

    Step 3: Re-assembly is the opposite of disassembly. Check the spindle to make sure it is free of grease and snap the FPA back together.
  14. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    DSCN1399.jpg DSCN1467.jpg DSCN1452.jpg DSCN1418 (2).jpg Putting It All Back Together.

    The Rolls Razor has now been stripped and cleaned. You’ve seen parts of the razor you never knew existed and cleaned them. Now, after so much effort to remove the grease, we need to grease the clean razor.


    1. Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline)
    2. Toothpicks

    The frame: (picture 1) :D (probably picture 2, but you never know) with a toothpick, smear a BB sized glop of petro jelly on the gear teeth of each gear rail. Run the handle back and forth a few times and check for any overflow. Wipe off any jelly not on the teeth.

    The Handle: (picture 2) With a 2 piece handle, disassemble and coat the shaft and threads with a thin layer of petro jelly. Screw the handle back together and wipe off any excess. This will keep the shaft inside the handle from rusting. With a 1 piece collapsible handle, hope it's in working order, there's nothing you can do for it.

    The Blade: (picture 3) With a toothpick smear a very small amount (less than a BB) of petro jelly inside the hole in the back of the spine of the blade. The area inside the hole rusts quite a bit (left side of picture) The jelly stops it (right side).

    That’s it. Now re-assemble. You’re almost there.
    tagir.dn, targa88 and Smoothy like this.
  15. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    DSCN1477 (2).jpg The Strop and Strop Paste.

    Rolls razor stropping serves 3 basic purposes. Stropping after a honing session polishes the edge left ruff or jagged at the micro level. The daily stropping before the shave “conditions” the blade because shaving actually bends the fine edge of your blade. The stropping process realigns the blade cutting edge so you can keep using it over and over again. The daily post shave stropping dries the edge to prevent rusting of the edge as it’s stored for the next shave.

    Strictly speaking, strop paste isn’t required at all. The strop will do it’s intended job well enough without it. The conditioning elements of the paste are required to ensure a long and useful life for the strop but this conditioning can come from products such as Lubriderm as easily as strop paste.

    The original Rolls strop paste was (I say “was” because it’s been out of production for about 55 years) a leather conditioner with an ultra fine polishing grit added. It also added a reddish tint to the strop. If you’re looking for a paste, those characteristics are probably the starting place (minus the red part). I use a product called Dovo Red which has a slightly larger grit (2-4 microns) than the original. The reason for this is partially because I tend to “freak out” a little over the fact I’m stropping over a whole 2 square inches of leather and partially because it’s the right color. Dovo Red has a honing component to it and it’s as course a grit as I’d recommend for the Rolls strop.

    Straight razor strops tend to look like ol’ fat guys belts to me by comparison :D which says a lot about the efficient blade positioning of the Rolls frame. Hand stropping must be wildly inefficient as they drag their blades over a couple of miles of leather.

    As for the “how to” and how much” part of applying strop paste, other than recommending that you pull the strop out of the door prior to the application, I’d say follow the instructions supplied with your paste. If you’re going the Lubriderm route, rub in about a nickel to quarter sized smear, remove the excess and let dry for about 30 mins. And you’re ready to go. If you don’t have instructions with you paste then follow the Lubriderm process as a place to start.

    As for how often to re-apply the paste, I recommend a monthly cycle or, in my case, when I re-hone the Rolls blade (about monthly).
    tagir.dn, targa88 and Smoothy like this.
  16. MikekiM

    MikekiM Well-Known Member

    Did I miss something.. I don't see anything mentioned about a " Lubriderm route" until the last paragraph.. what is that?

    My strop paste arrived. It was supposed to be the Red version but what arrived was a yellow label.. looks like your little white tube but a yellow band instead. I have to assume it is a different grit.

    I don't have instructions with it.. do you simply smear it on the strop? Rub it in? ?? Does the paste eventually build up on the strop to the point that the strop needs to be cleaned??
    Cap7597 likes this.
  17. lradke

    lradke and doggone it, people like me

    This thread is great! I always passed buy (fairly) good looking sets in the antique stores because I thought they "looked strange" (the same way I passed by a nice 1907 lather catcher before I knew what it was....:ashamed001) Now I am thinking of getting a Rolls because they don't seem too odd anymore, and I have a growing collection of SE razors (well more ungaurded blade to face action) because the shave they offer seems somehow unique.

    Thanks again for the info!
    Cap7597 likes this.
  18. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    I believe Greg meant that you could use Lubriderm instead of the Dovo Red. I am pretty sure he uses the Dovo Red to get a small amout of abrasion, but mostly for the red color. Dab a bit on the strop, maybe a nickel or quarter sized dab, and work it in with your fingers all over.

    Although if you got the yellow instead of the red and you had ordered red, I would be contacting the seller. The Dovo yellow is basically leather conditioner with no abrasive particles, similar to mink oil maybe, so it is not going to hurt the strop, you just won't be getting the benefit of the abrasive.
    Cap7597 likes this.
  19. Billr

    Billr Mix Master Mighty White!

    This is a great thread! I hope I will be able to find it when I get my Rolls!

    Thanks for all the hard work you have put into this. I would like to nominate you for the PIF that the Queen is running. I do believe this qualifies as a thread that is helpful to other members.
  20. Marcall

    Marcall New Member

    Wow, very impressive thread. I wish I saw this before I made a purchase. Anyway I bought this one
    and while it says a 1927 It seems to be a 1940's from what I gather using my limited understanding by way of the Robert Waits Book. I have no Idea whether it'll be a usable one or not and I'm sure I paid too much but anyway what would your assessment be of this particular one. Does it seem to have any potential as a usable one? To my eye the Blade looks to be fairly good but I'm a total newb here.

    BTW I'm new to DE and "wet" shaving in general but after seeing these things I had to have one.
    Cap7597 likes this.

Share This Page