Western W49 Bowie

Discussion in 'Camillus Collector's Forum' started by KC Huntin, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. sac troop

    sac troop

    Mar 4, 2009
    I’m really not going to be the best person to address your question. One of the things I’ve learned in collecting somethings.
    More items have had their value permanently diminished by improper cleaning than maintained or improved.
    If you were to look at my own collection of knives, you’d notice that most of them seem to have acquired what I’ll call “a lot of character”. Another way of saying it is they have that “been there done that” look.
    What I do go after is dirt, and active rust ( this includes the green corrosion called verdigris that you see on copper and brass items). I’m not trying to make the item look brand new. I’m trying to preserve it.
    What your talking about is more in the subject of restoration than preservation. Restoration is very controversial and very complex. I really feel I’m very low on the learning curve in regards to restoration. My own priority has been to avoid damaging the original item. This tends to lead me in the direction of leaving alone the things that have accumulated with the item over time. After all it’s part of that items story.

    The above being said I’ll share the following. Please keep in mind that this is nothing more than an opinion. You can find different one’s and they could be much better.
    With a high carbon steel blade that shows discoloration and possible corrosion:
    I use a product named “Kroil”. It’s a very good penetrating oil. If you can’t find it in your area you should be able to find an acceptable substitute at an auto supply store. Your not likely to get Kroil at the auto supply store. I’d do a search for it on the net look for local suppliers or order it direct. I prefer the liquid version and not the aerosol. I believe you get more product for your money. Wipe some of the oil on the steel and let it sit for awhile. A little bit goes a long way and after about ten minutes or so should be as long as you have to wait. If you can let it stand longer that’s not bad either. After about 30 minutes I wouldn’t think your gaining much waiting longer.
    Scrub the steel with a coarse cotton cloth or rag. Be careful here the thing does have an edge on it. You’ll notice the rag is picking up dirt. Also if your getting dirt on the rag that is brown in color your getting rust off the steel. It may not have been readily apparent just looking at the blade. This isn’t going to remove the discoloration from the blade in most cases as it’s really loosening the stuff that has gotten on the surface and make it easier to remove. If you feel that the rag isn’t enough I would recommend not using an item any coarser than #0000 steel wool on the surface of the steel. you can add a little oil to the steel wool and scrub away. Wiping the surface of the steel with a rag or even paper towel will lift the dirt. A side benefit to the oil is that it will provide shielding to the steel from the atmosphere. It may not be the best choose for this but it’s better than nothing. Also when you wipe it off it will leave a little behind.
    Regarding cleaning the brass. I don’t like to remove the brown that develops on brass. To me it’s the natural patina of the brass and I like to keep it as is. Verdigris, the green that can form on brass is a different thing to me. In either case once you remove what you want to get rid of the problem is what to do to keep it from returning. The answer is imperfect and requires that what ever you do you will have to keep an eye on the brass and except that someday your going to have to do it again. The key is to seal the surface of the brass from the atmosphere. My own best results have been to coat the brass with a clear wax. In general I do this with the whole knife. Stay away from waxes from the auto supply store. Most of these have fine abrasives added to them to help in the polishing of the auto finish. IMHO not what you want. One of the most recommended is “Renaissance Wax”. In regards to preservation I’m not sure you can find anything better. The stuff is expensive and hard to find. I’ve had results that I’m happy with, (to this point), with clear waxes that have a good amount of carnauba in them. I often use Johnson’s Paste Wax.

    At the end of the day it’s your knife and you are the only one who can say what it is you want.
    Sorry for the long post. I hope there might be something in it that will be of value.
  2. Zilog


    Jan 2, 2013
    SAC Troop - Thanks again for the great info, but of course I now have another question. (Sorry!)

    Is this knife a collectable or valuable? I know this may sound strange, but my intentions for cleaning it was so I could start using it. I know that messing with the condition of a collectable can significantly decrease the value of it, but I also know that taking care of things that are used on a regular basis helps extend the life of the item.

    So if it's a collectable, I don't want to screw up the value/character of the knife, but if it isn't, then I would like to clean it up to help extend its life.

    Another reason for wanting to clean it has to do with the previous owner, who apparently tested different ways to clean the knife. Now it has splotches of various degrees of "character". For example, there's a section of the blade about the size of a quarter that is as shiny as a mirror. So the look of the blade is uneven and splotchy as far as the natural aging process goes. I figured cleaning it would even things out and then the aging process would be the same across the whole knife.

    I can post pictures once I get home if you want to see what I'm talking about.

    Anyway, let me know your thoughts.

    Thanks again for the info and insight. I do appreciate it.

  3. sac troop

    sac troop

    Mar 4, 2009
    You present good points. As to collect-ability that's always going to be a matter of opinion. It's a knife that was factory produced from 1964 to 2006 with many small changes. I feel safe to say that the knife will never reach the level of something like a Scagel knife. Yes that statement would cross the border of ridiculous but I use it to make the point. There is no absolute definition of a point where an item crosses a line to were it is collectable.
    For now I’ll choose to wait for the pictures. Different angles and the better the detail will help in providing good opinions. I’m hoping that others will also choose to jump in.
  4. edbeau


    Jan 20, 2006
    First a good washing in the sink with dish washing liquid and a scrub brush to remove any easy to get off stuff. You could also try a brillo pad on the blade to remove some of the corrosion. Dry the knife and on the blade use a variety of grits of emery paper. Starting with 200 or so and ending with 800. that should get rid of the corrosion and polish the blade. If the blade is pitted there is nothing you can do about it but when you get done a light oil on the blade should stop it from getting worse. The brass can be cleaned up with Brasso. The handle will need some wood polish.
  5. edbeau


    Jan 20, 2006
    I started collecting Western knives with the intent of getting all the fixed blade "W" series knives. I always liked the Western knife design and the first one I got was the W-49. Yes, I do have the whole series now.
  6. ABF


    Jan 20, 2016
    I recently picked up a Western bowie knife and pretty sure it is pre 77 because it is doesn't have the letter date stamp on fact all it has is Western then under that is Boulder, Colorado USA and that is it. Have done all the research and know where and what to look for but there is nothing else stamped or written. Knife is in good shape has the 3 smaller pins in wood handle( what is wood type?) and I do not have a sheath for it, just curious if anyone has seen one like this??
  7. sac troop

    sac troop

    Mar 4, 2009
    From what your describing I assume, for now, that the stamping appears on the guard of the knife. However if this is stamped on the blade that would be very interesting to me, to say the least. With pictures we can be more help.
  8. sac troop

    sac troop

    Mar 4, 2009
    OH, another dumb question if it's blade marked. If you flip the blade over, does it say BOWIE on the other side?
  9. edbeau


    Jan 20, 2006
    The handle should be laminated Rosewood.
  10. edbeau


    Jan 20, 2006
  11. Senderro


    Feb 14, 2016
    A Blast from the Past - W49 BOWIE

    An authentic Bowie knife that I purchased in 1982, if this Bowie could talk it would be thicker than a book novel! I replaced the original sheath with a home made custom one in 1983, This Bowie has been with me through thick and thin, transiting overland throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, Central America, and the Pacific region…its on its way back through India for another endless journey.





    a breakdown of some of its history...

    : purchased in 1982
    : chopping date branches faster than a hydraulic cutter in Kibbutz, Israel
    : chopping banana crops in Kibbutz, Israel
    : Iranians tried to seize it on border crossing
    : Turkish seized it at a random bus check in eastern Turkey
    : Syrians seized it at a random control post entering Damascus
    : Israeli customs at Allenby bridge Jordanian crossing seized it
    : Russians (under USSR) seized it in Moscow
    : wore it openly in Tanzania in 85 due to street violence
    : offered large cash amount for it in Zanzibar
    : thrown full power at burglar in Sydney, NSW, Australia
    : Peruvian customs at Chile border wanted to buy it
    : Colombian customs at Ecuadorian border wanted to buy it
    : Singaporean officials seized it
    : Tibetans in Lhasa, Tibet wanted to trade it for ivory and coral
    : Pakistani's in Peshawar wanted to trade it for hashish
    : Afghani Pashtuns in tribal land wanted to trade it for an AK47
    : Moroccans wanted to trade it for hashish

    what it was used for:

    : chopping wood when camping
    : open tin cans
    : chopping dates
    : chopping banana crops
    : peeling potatoes and mangos
    : slicing apples, oranges, melon fruit
    : chopping watermelons, onions
    : chopping meat
    : chopping up goats
    : chopping up sheep
    : chopping up cows
    : chopping fish
    : buttering bread, spread vegemite, peanut butter
    : used for camping, hotel and home invasion
    : used as a deterrent for safety
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
    gordyt likes this.
  12. Vit_213


    Feb 4, 2011
    Wow! The fascinating history! :thumbup:
  13. FatCity67


    Sep 22, 2013
    Wow! Indeed, especially after tracing down the watermark.

    A real life Lemuel Gulliver you are Senderro.
  14. sac troop

    sac troop

    Mar 4, 2009
    Great post! I really like the "Western Cutlery" marked snap included on the custom sheath, nice touch.
  15. zzyzzogeton


    Feb 17, 2013
    My question is how much did you have to pay to get it back every time it was seized?


    May 30, 2010
    Hi everyone, I haven't posted to this forum for several years (I've significantly slowed my knife collecting down, it was getting a little out of hand!), but I logged in last night to look for pricing info on a Les Voorhies I'm thinking of selling….That led me to a search for info on some vintage Pumas I've acquired over the last few years….That led me to this thread on the W-49!

    It's obvious that there are some very active Western collectors on here, and I thought you might like to see a couple pictures of my one and only.

    It's a W-49c ('79) that I was in love with as a kid, approx 10 years old. My uncle always said he would give it to me someday, and a few years ago he surprised me with it when coming over for supper. (I'm 39 now) It is in excellent condition except for some scratches on the blade that a friend of his made when he attempted to sharpen it for some reason!! Up until then it was mint as my uncle always had it hanging on the wall. (Bachelor life!!) Upon getting it back from his friend my uncle took it work and had it sharpened, so it has a nice edge on it now. (He works at a meat packing plant)

    Anyways, here it is with the original sheath, box, paperwork and receipt. He paid $63.56 (Canadian) in 1981. I think I might try and source a plaque for it and get it out of the gun safe so I can stare at it like I did as a kid.

    Hope you enjoy.


    Here you can see the scratching a little bit.


    One thing I didn't notice until today is the box can be re-folded into a display case, pretty cool.



    May 30, 2010

    That is AMAZING! Big congrats on being able to hold on to a true companion through thick and thin. I can't imagine.


    May 30, 2010
    Here's a pic showing the other side of the insert and the knife itself.

  19. edbeau


    Jan 20, 2006
    Very nice W49. I should make a plaque for mine also. Having the box and all the other stuff is a real plus.
  20. paul'ie


    Jun 6, 2012
    My Western 49 has Coleman on it and it's not a knock off. I belie the steel is a 0170-6C.

    Sent from my SM-N900T using Tapatalk

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