Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Drooping Marlo: The Inverted Jenny of Park Tools


wikimedia commons image source here

When I was a stamp collecting kid, the Inverted Jenny was my dream stamp. Not only because it was worth a king's ransom, but because it was rare, difficult to obtain, and distinctive. Only 100 instances are known to exist, all produced due to an error on one fateful day, May 10, 1918. Because of countless stamp collecting and precious object hoarding kids like myself who grew up, a single example is apparently worth north of $800,000. What made it rare was that it was an unusual and distinctive manufacturing defect which sneaked through quality control and made it all the way through the point of sale into the hands of someone who had a feeling he had something special. I never did obtain an Inverted Jenny, but I have just purchased something similar, which I'm hoping may turn out to be worth a few hundred thou itself.

I present to you: the Drooping Marlo! The only one known to exist!

The Drooping Marlo has three distinctive defects: the very clear droop along its length

The Drooping Marlo is a Park Tool MT-1 Rescue tool, new out of the package, which was recognizably askew. With Park's excellent warranty I could probably return it, but no way*! I'm holding on to the Drooping Marlo (named after its MT designation, basically) until its value appreciates and I can trade it for an Inverted Jenny. That's my plan, any way.

A less obvious but still notable droop sideways, too

And some roughness and what look like pinch marks along the top edge

In retrospect, the Drooping Marlo probably would be worth a lot more if I had left it inside its original package. But, I wasn't sure what I had until I took it out and looked at it more closely. It's still in Excellent, uncancelled condition. A mold defect? Or an unmolding mistake? 

I wonder how something like this, so visibly obvious, slips through QC. Or, alternatively, maybe it passed quality check, maybe these deviations are not considered quality issues if they don't affect functionality**. For that matter, do they affection functionality? Should I use this thing? Or would it be better to encase it in a glassine envelope after rubbing it lovingly with a few drops of Phil's Tenacious oil for safekeeping, set aside for that future day when a bicycle tool collector, pockets bulging with cash and/or rare lightweight handmade randonneuring frames, comes calling? The Drooping Marlo will appreciate in value rapidly, growing to become a fair 1-for-1 trade for any number of bikes currently parked at the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel. I have a feeling it's something special.



*seriously, not going to return it. 

**which would surprise me, since I would expect a toolmaker to require that tools sent out for sale are straight, true, and free of noticeable droop

11 comments:

  1. Thinking that maybe I'm as lucky as you and the quality control guy called in sick when mine was made, I grabbed it along with a straight edge. Alas, my own copy seems to be nearly perfect. Damn my luck! However, that roughness in your last photograph is present on mine, too. It must be where the molten metal is poured into the mold and then filed smooth later.

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    1. Luck such as this comes along perhaps once in a lifetime, Scott. Perhaps through usage yours will gain an attractive beausage with accompanied increase in "patina" value.

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  2. Congratulations on your collectable acquisition!

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    1. Thanks Velouria, it's a collectible that works!

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  3. A few weeks ago my girlfriend pointed out that my beautiful Tucson CL garage find ($90) 1987 Miyata Trail Runner lacks the yellow "Miyata" decal on the seat tube. Both sides. I checked the online Miyata catalog for that year and there should be "Miyata" decals there. I took a closer look at the bike in daylight, ran my thumb and index finger up and down and sure enough--they didn't even try. All the other decals are on the bike.

    So, did they run out of "Miyata" seat tube decals that shift, or was there rambunctious wink-wink, nod-nod between paint shop, finishing shop, QC that shift? Or, "just get it out there!"

    I'll never know and in a way it doesn't matter. The bike has become a flawed yet perfect grocery getter. Who woulda thought, back then?

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    1. Don, we've seen this before with bikes, haven't we: some of the designs specific to a model year or brand seem to include constrained parts that run out before the frames do, and are not included on all models, or change. Fancy stem caps, proprietary add-ons (Trek's quirky seat accessory attachments for example), and even decals. Shops that leave off their shop stickers when you want 'em (Harris, Slippery Pig) or stick them on with super glue when you don't. Original frame decals, though, that's a new one: you'd think they might order a few extra spares.

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    2. I think maybe they ran out of that decal for whatever 1987 reason and things just kinda went from there, production-linewise, and to here, now, to me. I like it, the clean look!

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  4. I've fallen in love with this tool since I saw it on Lovely Bicycle's blog. Sometimes it's the nicks and failings that make an item special. I have some of my grandfather's tools and they are marked with blue paint blotches. It was his way of identifying American sizing as opposed to metric. I cherish each one.

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    1. I saw it also on Lovely Bicycle!, and although it was not my first encounter with the MT-1, it did remind me to give it a try. I think she's having a positive influence on me, although I still am struggling with explaining to the family why I NEED NEED NEED a Pashley path racer like the one I saw over at the British Bicycle Company....

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  5. Treasure that tool and I'll be watching for you on "Pawn Stars!"

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    1. Steve you'll probably see me on Hoarders first.

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