Field Ops — RECON, Day 3 of 4: Meet Your Makers. COURG Origin Story

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COURGcrew —

TL;DR

  • Another rare glimpse: Meet the monster machines behind TiGr5
  • TiGr2 shipping slated to start end of the week / early next.
  • W&W x RDX Horween straps, done.
  • Operator’s Manuals, almost complete.
  • Crates, done.
  • Mission folios, first wave in.
  • Unfair advantage

Titanium Grade 5 Monster Machines

And now, on to one of the highlights of my time in the field in this deployment. Here’s another rare glimpse inside a factory that most visitors won’t get access to. This team takes thick bars of titanium grade 5 and gives our metal its first shapes.

As I mentioned in a previous dispatch, they call these case parts “embryos.” These workers forged 40-some of your TiGr5 COURG cases out of this bar:

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Can you imagine what kind of hardware it takes to cut a bar of titanium like this?
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Well, you don’t have to imagine. This monster is the largest and the only one in this facility, which runs dozens of “smaller” machines. It’s so large and requires so much power that it actually has its own building. This behemoth exerts 300 tons of force. Here the worker adjusts the mold for the next run. They wouldn’t let me in any closer.

300 tons

Later stages in the build require this cute little machine that exerts 150 tons. All of that energy gets focused on that little cylinder in the center.
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Man & machine for size reference. And yes, as you can see the machine consumes a lot of oil for the bearings to keep chugging away.

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This machine looks almost dainty next to its big brothers.

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For the later stages of the titanium case, the workers team up. One heats the “embryo” to roughly 180°C (~356°F).

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And then the other worker inserts the red hot case into the jaws of the machine, which then …
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Chomps the case into a more refined shape.
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The results of all this force and heat are remarkable. Here’s a case back blank:

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Here’s a rough progression, left to right.

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These cases are roughly one third of the way and then two thirds of the way to the final COURG form. Top side view:

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Underneath.

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Status Update

  • TiGr2 shipping slated to start end of the week / early next.
  • W&W x RDX Horween straps, done.
  • Operator’s Manuals, almost complete.
  • Crates, done.
  • Mission folios, first wave in.

When I’ve thought about our journey and how far we’ve come I’ve often thought about a question:

“What is your unfair advantage?”

This is the question that Marc Ecko posed in his book, Unlabel, which is a fascinating look inside how Ecko built his brand and learned about himself along the way. The point of this question is to identify what x-factor makes our brand different and gain an edge in a noisy marketplace.

Is it design? I like to believe we offer a unique voice. Though I’ve heard critics call the COURG ugly and unfocused. Is it technology? There are no patents here. Is it price? Certainly, getting titanium grade 2, and then grade 5 at this price is unheard of. But some have questioned my sanity on this point.

In the end I think I’ve distilled our unfair advantage down to:

Friends.

This whole adventure is built through friendships — old and new. We wouldn’t be where we are today without friends who believed in our story and what we wanted to make. First, the journalists, writers, and watch nerds who jumped on board to spread the word. Then the backers who blew up the campaign, all the way to the pre-order backers who continue to join the ranks.

People who were otherwise strangers dropped words of encouragement, or shared design expertise, offered photography help, and even asked to buy us a pint! It’s our friends over at W&W that believed in us to ink a collaboration. And a thoughtful connection my dad made to some family members with deep manufacturing ties, which led to our field operatives on the ground, who became fast friends.

So I wanted to say: Thank you, friends. Go forth, tackle your missions, and Godspeed. elbert, over and out.

 

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