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Question re "Government" steel

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escher7

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Post Fri May 23, 2014 5:41 am

Question re "Government" steel

I am working on a review of commercial picks, particularly regarding the steel and production methods. Of course we have all heard of Petersen Government Steel, which has been described as the best steel available etc. Unfortunately I don't know of any such steel and suspect it is just mil spec 301 stainless steel hardened to a maximum yield strength. This is, of course, what Sparrow, Southord Max and others use. Further, while max yield 301 is excellent, it is not the best steel available. From the Sparrow site:
”We are often asked if this is the very best steel available on the market. The answer is no, the steel market is full of different materials for aerospace, automotive and commercial applications and we do have the equipment to punch it out but it really is not worth it. To increase the strength of the steel even marginally you will almost double the final product cost and for this application it would impossible to notice the difference.”

My question is whether anyone out there knows the composition of Petersen's Government Steel? I will contact Petersen if necessary, although I doubt whether they would give me the specifics since it probably is either a trade secret or just a marketing gimmick.
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elbowmacaroni

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Post Fri May 23, 2014 5:49 am

Re: Question re "Government" steel

Heh... yeah, I hear ya there... just from working on and with both of them, I would have to say that the peterson govt steel is rather comparable to Starrett's 666 tool steel (I've made loads of picks with the Starrett and I've ummm "adjusted" govt steel picks.) Now, I am not saying they are identical, I don't believe they are, just rather similar. Your best bet though is going to be to call them up and have a chat with Ken. He likes talking with people anyway and he's a bit if a character at times, so unless he is considering that to be some kind of deep mystery dark steel voodoo, he'll likely be forthcoming. He's a good guy all in all, and given that is your best shot aside from paying a lab to analyse the steel compositions from a bunch of different picks and gauge stock, I say go for it and give em a call. The worst thing he can do is say no.
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escher7

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Post Fri May 23, 2014 9:05 am

Re: Question re "Government" steel

Thanks Elbow. I will wait until next week and contact him. Meanwhile I was going to order a few picks from Peterson, but the postage and handling on $21 was another $32. Crazy when I just ordered a few things from Handcuffwarehouse (much heavier) and they only charged $12.95 for special delivery.
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ARF-GEF

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Post Fri May 23, 2014 12:14 pm

Re: Question re "Government" steel

Yeah I too would defo encourage you to have a chat with Ken. I met him in person and if you are friendly and courteous he is a really nice guy. True, he has a temper, but he is just as much nice when you are nice to him.
I would definitely say I liked him :)
If he thinks he can tell you, he will tell you; if he thinks he can',t he won't, but as I know him he won't bullshit around, so I would say you can believe him.

Best of luck to your project, it sure sounds very interesting and educational!
Do you plan on measuring hardness and such things as well? I think I've seen a Rockwell hardness measurer apparatus on ebay. Let me check :)
As for the picks don't forget the handles. Steel here or there I think the hard plastic peterson handles are hands down the best mass produced ones.

UPDATE: I can't find that deal any longer. Really sorry :(
Part of the problem is that it had some stupid non-related name, (and I wasn't really paying attention, jsut though"hey cool!":) ) but if one showed up for a decent price I hope you can find one again.
If I come across it by chance (sometimes ebay shows stuff it thinks you are itnerested in) I'll be sure to PM you the link.
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escher7

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Post Fri May 23, 2014 4:06 pm

Re: Question re "Government" steel

Rockwell hardness (the degree to which a material resists penetration) is not really relevant to pick strength. When we speak of hardness in this context we are really talking about the yield strength:
"The ability of a metal to tolerate gradual progressive force without permanent deformation".

While there may be some correlation between the two, the curve is different for every steel.
Additionally we are interested in compressibility or "springyness" which assumes that the material returns to its original shape. Apply a force to a material and it shrinks or stretches. The ratio of the force applied to the change in size is the elastic modulus, or the spring of the steel.
The amount of force you can apply before permanent deformation is the measure of the strength of the material. Southord Max picks, for example have a yield strength of 270,000 psi, the minimum force required to permanently deform the metal. However the regular Max line is fairly stiff, while the thinner MaxB line is very flexible so thickness is also a factor.
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nsquidc

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Post Sat May 24, 2014 3:34 am

Re: Question re "Government" steel

Yes and no. While hardness really doesn't say anything about durability, it does effect feedback. I think that's why it's brought up in steel comparisons.

Cheers,

NSC
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escher7

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Post Sat May 24, 2014 5:25 am

Re: Question re "Government" steel

nsquidc wrote:Yes and no. While hardness really doesn't say anything about durability, it does effect feedback. I think that's why it's brought up in steel comparisons.

Cheers,

NSC


We are talking about a steel pick on soft brass pins, so I am not sure that the variation of hardness from pick to pick would be noticeable from steel to steel, but of course we all have our own preferences. To me a desirable pick is one that a.) will not bend and stay deformed, and b.) lasts over time without failing. Where feedback varies is in the handle material. Peterson received many complaints that their rubber handles absorbed too much "feel" whereas their plastic handles did not. The best feedback comes from a steel handle but unfortunately steel is hard on the hands when fighting a stubborn lock, hence the addition of ergonomic materials.
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nsquidc

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Post Sat May 24, 2014 2:12 pm

Re: Question re "Government" steel

escher7 wrote: Where feedback varies is in the handle material. Peterson received many complaints that their rubber handles absorbed too much "feel" whereas their plastic handles did not. The best feedback comes from a steel handle but unfortunately steel is hard on the hands when fighting a stubborn lock, hence the addition of ergonomic materials.


I've tried the Peterson rubber vs plastic handles in GS and also their plastic GS vs carbon steel. While the plastic handles do make a difference, there is also a big difference between the plastic GS and plastic carbon. And rubber Peterson GS is still >> S.S. black diamond steel handles.

My long-winded way of saying that the steel still makes a big difference for feedback :)
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escher7

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Post Sat May 24, 2014 3:48 pm

Re: Question re "Government" steel

Nsquidc:
What you are feeling is a difference in flexibility, not hardness. So called government steel (most likely 301 ss max yield, rated at 270,000 psi) is quite stiff, again depending on thickness. Thus any vibration at the tip would transfer to the handle and increase feedback.
As I stated in my original post , there is a correlation between hardness and flexibility, which it is different for every steel, so we are really arguing two sides of the same coin. But I cannot believe that anyone can feel the different between two steels of equal flexibility pressing on brass pins just because they have a difference in reading on a Rockwell C scale. In fact the Rockwell machine uses a diamond to dent the steel. If they used brass they would not get a reading at all.
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nsquidc

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Post Sat May 24, 2014 4:58 pm

Re: Question re "Government" steel

BTW, did you ever get a chance to try out those special Southords you had? We're still eager for the report :)
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escher7

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Post Sat May 24, 2014 7:49 pm

Re: Question re "Government" steel

Southord report plus comparison of steels coming soon.
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foxytits

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Post Sat Oct 11, 2014 6:37 pm

Re: Question re "Government" steel

escher7, any findings on the government steel?
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JamesOzment1

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Post Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:01 am

Re: Question re "Government" steel

I do believe the inherent hardness of different metals does effect vibratory feel.my southord picks had the same feel wether no handle or the southord rubber handles or a piece of tubing.however the stainless metal handle picks from southord had far far less feel.the handles are softer stainless and the temper of the handle portion likely had been annealed from the spot welds holding the handles together.I think hardness and tensile strength are both important.
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JamesOzment1

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Post Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:10 am

Re: Question re "Government" steel

sorry for double post.my fingers are faster than my brain.I found this link to help.301 can be soft or (standard southord picks)full hard or max yield (southord max) im pretty sure gvmnt steel is just maximum hard 301 cold max steel.
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Papa Gleb

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Post Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:35 pm

Re: Question re "Government" steel

Great thread. If anyone already has a typed up list of all commercially available picks, please post.
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