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My first restoration project: 1981 Titleist Tour Model blade irons


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Hi spies. I just completed my first attempt at restoring a set of clubs and I'm really proud of it 😀 Just wanted to share and show how it went. It wasn't easy and I feel like I can get much much better at this with practice, but I'm still really happy with the final product and had a lot of fun with the process. Enjoy!

Last week I came across a set of 1981 Titleist Tour Model irons (3-PW) that someone was selling for $40 on craigslist. I thought they looked super cool and I had been reading about club restoration before so it felt like a good opportunity to finally take the plunge and have a go at it. I met the guy selling them and he told me he had been playing them as his gamers for decades but finally upgraded to more forgiving / modern clubs since he was older and needed a bit of help with his game. I could tell when I saw the clubs that they were pretty banged up (lots of nicks and dings, dirty, dull, grips were very worn through, etc.) but the shape and bones of these old blades was still so sexy so I happily handed him $40 and took them off his hands. 

Here they are before I did anything to them. 

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The first thing I did was give them a really thorough cleaning by washing them in hot, soapy water and scrubbing them with steel wool and Barkeeper's Friend. That alone worked wonders to bring back some of the shine and make them look better. 

Here they are after the deep cleaning (already a big improvement IMO, although they look shinier and better in this pic due to the sunlight than they really were).

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The next step was to grind out all the nicks and dings, then buff and polish them. Based on youtube videos I had watched, I knew I was going to need some sort of bench grinder or multitool to do this (neither of which I had), so I went to Home Depot and purchased the cheapest bench grinder I could find ($49). I also purchased a fine grit deburring wheel for it, a buffing wheel, a polishing wheel, and a small buffing compound kit (all of those were probably another $25-30). I went to work grinding the clubs with the deburring wheel to remove the nicks and dings, then worked through the polishing compounds with the buffing and polishing wheels. This phase of the process was really where the magic happened. 

Here are some side by side comparisons of a few clubs before these steps, and after:

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The deburring was the part that took the most skill and I think I could improve upon the most with more practice. I was able to get some of the nicks and dings out, but not completely and I think to do better, I would need a more coarse wheel, but then I would have to be careful to not grind away too much metal. It seems like a fine line to walk so that you can improve the look of the club but also not change the structure or weight at all. Overall, I'm very happy with how it turned out though. 

The next step was to remove all the old paint with acetone, and then do a fresh paint fill. This was pretty easy. I found that the old paint came right off with a little acetone and a gentle scrubbing with an old toothbrush. Then the paintfilling was super easy. I used black enamel paint, applied a couple coats, and let it dry for a day. 

Here they are after the fresh paint fill!

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The last step was to replace the grips. I could have bought old stock grips to restore their original look, but I am not planning on selling these or treating them as "collectibles", rather I want to actually play them occasionally, so I put on my preferred grips (Winn Dri-Tac). Grip replacement is pretty easy/standard if you've done it before, so I didn't take before/after grip pics, but...

Here is the final product! I love em!

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That's that! Can't wait to hit them and see how much worse I am with 40 year old blades in hand! Hope you all enjoyed. Let me know if I should post any updates or more club restorations in the future - I enjoyed this and could see myself getting into it, especially as a fun covid hobby. 

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They look awesome! Had you done any grinding before? That’s the part that would scare me the most, but since you only had $40 into the clubs, it’s not a huge risk! Would definitely like to see more of your work. Out of curiosity, what bench grinder did you buy?


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:wilson_staff_small:  Cortex w/MGS Motore X F1 7X tipped 1"

:wilson_staff_small: F5 17 degree hybrid w/Rogue Black 85X

:wilson_staff_small:C300 Forged 3-5 w/C-Taper 130X

:wilson_staff_small: FG Tour V6 5-6 w/C-Taper 130X

:wilson_staff_small: Staff Model Blade 7-PW w/C-Taper 130X

:cleveland-small: RTX4 52, 56, 60 w/S400 Tour Issue

:EVNROLL: ER7

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Great job 👍

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Cobra King F6+ Matrix Black Tie 65S 

Titleist 913F 3-wood 15° Diamana 72 S+

TM Burner Rescue 3 19° RE AX 60 S

Mizuno MP-32 4-PW Dynamic Gold S300

Cleveland CG12 52° Gap

Cleveland CG15 56° Sand

Cleveland CG15 60° Lob

DStar #1 Putter

Titleist AVX Balls

"Hey mister, your clubs are the wrong way round"..

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23 hours ago, Rtracymog said:

They look awesome! Had you done any grinding before? That’s the part that would scare me the most, but since you only had $40 into the clubs, it’s not a huge risk! Would definitely like to see more of your work. Out of curiosity, what bench grinder did you buy?

I had never done any grinding! Tbh, it's the part I was most intimidated by. In fact, I watched a lot of youtube videos about club restoration and as soon as I saw them use a grinder or multitool, I would just move on since I figured 'I'm never going to do that'. Eventually, I started to realize it's somewhat necessary to really do a good job and figured I might as well learn. Glad I did now. It definitely took some practice (and it's still the part of the process I feel like I can improve upon the most), but I got way more comfortable with it as I went and it's not that hard to do a decent job. As far as the bench grinder I used, I'll link to it (and the other things you'd need) below:

Bench grinder ($50 at Lowes). There are slightly cheaper ones out there too though, like this one at Home Depot which looks like it would also work. 

Soft deburring wheel ($38 on Amazon). The bench grinder came with two grinding wheels but they were too coarse to use without risking damage to the clubs. You'll need a soft/fine grit wheel so if your bench grinder doesn't come with one, you'll have to buy it separately.

Buffing/Polishing wheels ($10-20 depending on size of set). The one I purchased was like the one I linked to but it was only $9 and had two wheels instead of three - just the buffing and polishing wheels. 

Polishing Compound Kit ($5-10). There's a lot of these and you can buy them from any hardware store or amazon. 

And I do recognize that once I bought all this stuff, I had sunk over $100 into restoring a $40 set of clubs haha. Personally, I was ok with that (and rationalized it) because I viewed these as one time setup costs and I should be able to use all these components for quite awhile as I do other restoration projects. But I included the costs so you can decide for yourself if it's an investment you want to make if you're unsure whether or not you want to get into this. If just trying to restore a set of clubs as a one time thing, it may end up ultimately being cheaper and worthwhile to pay someone else to do it. Hope that helps!

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15 hours ago, sirchunksalot said:

You did an amazing job, they look gorgeous! Restoring old clubs is a fun and satisfying hobby and can become addictive. I look forward to hearing how they perform for you on the course. 

Thank you! I took them to the range today. Wow, do I ever appreciate the advancements in golf club technology now! They are much harder to hit consistently and compared to my P790s, the distances (even on pure strikes) were about 2 full clubs shorter. Still very fun to hit and the sound/feel on pure strikes is pretty amazing. I'll try to get some video and launch monitor data another day if that's of any interest. 

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