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Colonial General: Measurements, Photo Analysis, Review

Summary

  • The Colonial General (original version) was photographed and measured. General measurements (mass, length, center of mass, etc.) were made and safety razor parameters (blade exposure, guard span, blade angle, etc.) were analyzed.
  • The sample blade exposure of 0.31 mm is considered by the author to be very aggressive. The author has found that he prefers a more neutral blade exposure, and these new measurements and shave results add to that correspondence. Quantitative measurements can be correlated with individual preferences to help each shaver understand what works best for him.

Introduction


The Colonial General is a three-piece Artist Club (AC) safety razor that is CNC machined out of 316L stainless steel. Originally, the Colonial General was machined in China, but the razor is currently machined in the USA. The current version is claimed as "an engineering and aesthetic improvement of the original design (circa 2016-2018)" (URL). The original version is analyzed here.

Special Thanks to Chan Eil Whiskers


Back in August 2018, @Chan Eil Whiskers (Jim) lent me his Colonial General and two other single-edge (SE) razors. I was supposed to analyze those razors in a reasonable amount of time, but I let the project slip by, and eventually, the years passed. Jim was incredibly patient and understandably asked for his razors back around the end of 2021. Thankfully, he agreed to give me extra time to do what I should have done years ago. I can only hope that this analysis helps make up for my extreme tardiness.

Overall Photos


The Colonial General is nicely machined and finished. The pieces fit together precisely and the blade automatically aligns itself with even blade exposure.

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Measurements Without a Blade


Below is the general table of measurements for the razor without a blade. Mass was measured with a calibrated scale having a 0.01 g resolution and distances were measured with a calibrated digital caliper having a 0.01 mm resolution. The center of mass was found by carefully balancing the razor on a relatively thin edge and then calculating the location from the top of the razor. Regarding the cap and baseplate, width dimensions are perpendicular to the guard and length dimensions run parallel to the guard, as observed from the top of the razor. Dimensions are averages of a few or several measurements, possibly derived by calculations with two or more parameters.

Colonial General AC Safety Razor: Measurements Without a Blade
Mass121.27 g
Length93.26 mm
Center of Mass from Top32.58 mm
Head Mass55.49 g
Head Height8.40 mm
Thread Size x PitchM5 x 0.8 mm
Thread Length into Handle4.81 mm
Handle Threaded Hole Length12.86 mm
Handle Mass65.78 g
Handle Length84.92 mm
Handle Diameter12.24 mm
Cap Mass22.42 g
Cap Width19.12 mm
Cap Length50.18 mm
Cap Height without Pins5.23 mm
Cap Pin Height1.43 mm
Cap Pin Diameter2.16 mm
Cap Pin Center-to-Center Distance35.56 mm
Cap Pin Center to Cap Edge Distance3.65 mm
Cap Edge to Baseplate Back Distance19.44 mm
Baseplate Mass33.07 g
Baseplate Width22.53 mm
Baseplate Length50.17 mm
Baseplate Height4.63 mm
Baseplate Guard Width2.26 mm
Baseplate Slot Width1.62 mm
Baseplate Slot Length42.13 mm

Analysis around Blade Cutting Edge


The methodology that was followed for determining parameter values around the blade cutting edge (URL) of a Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) (URL) was applied here, but slightly adjusted for the single-edge geometry of the Colonial General. The following overall procedure was employed:
  1. Measurements were taken of the cap and baseplate, as tabulated above, with care taken to make measurements that would help with analyzing parameters around the blade cutting edge
  2. The razor was loaded with a sample blade having a width of 8.07 mm, a distance of 1.74 mm from the back edge to the slots, and a thickness of 0.262 mm. Using my accurate set of micrometer-measured feeler gauge blade combinations (URL), blade gap was accurately measured to a precision of 0.01 mm by finding the thickest feeler gauge stack that fit at most places between the guard and the blade cutting edge with room to spare.
  3. The razor was loaded with a modified AC blade that had an unevenly sanded cutting edge and a variable blade width. A flat plastic piece was then moved across the cap and baseplate to find where the plastic contacted the blade. That point of zero/neutral blade exposure was identified.
  4. A small scale was balanced across the cap and guard. The scale was positioned very close to the point where the modified blade's edge would meet the neutral shave plane and touch the scale. My phone's camera was then used to capture a picture for analysis of the neutral cap and guard spans.
  5. The razor was loaded with a modified AC blade having a cutting edge that was evenly sanded off. A blue acrylic piece was taped onto the razor head so that the acrylic securely spanned the neutral shave plane and was approximately centered across it. After the first photo was taken, a second photo was taken with the razor having been turned around 180 degrees inside the vertical wooden stand. I did my best to keep all other geometry the same so that averaging angles from the first and second photos would approximately average out physical mounting biases, particularly whatever bias might have been present from the razor not being perfectly vertical.
  6. The razor was loaded with the sample AC blade and side view photos were taken of the blade cutting edge
  7. Steep and shallow shave plane side view photos were taken using a similar procedure to the neutral shave plane photos
  8. Mean (average) dimensions around the blade cutting edges were found using physical and digital measurements

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Colonial General AC Safety Razor: Neutral Values* Associated with Zero Blade Exposure
Neutral Blade Width from Back of Pins5.72 mm
Neutral Blade Angle30.97 deg
Neutral Handle Angle46.19 deg
Neutral Guard Span1.59 mm
Neutral Cap Span2.54 mm
Neutral Free-End Distance0.99 mm
Neutral Clamp Distance1.80 mm
*See this ShaveWiki page for definitions

Colonial General AC Safety Razor: Parameter Values* Associated with Sample Blade Having Width of 8.07 mm
Steep Blade Angle39.85 deg (w/ 37.32 deg Handle Angle)
Neutral Blade Angle30.97 deg (w/ 46.19 deg Handle Angle)
Shallow Blade Angle26.67 deg (w/ 50.50 deg Handle Angle)
Blade Angle Range13.18 deg
Blade Exposure0.31 mm
Guard Span1.07 mm
Cap Span3.06 mm
Blade Gap0.57 mm
Free-End Distance1.60 mm
Clamp Distance2.41 mm
*See this ShaveWiki page for definitions

Too Aggressive For Me


I tried the Colonial General back in November 2021 and found that it was way too aggressive for me. Jim recommended using a steep angle and lighter pressure, and that seemed to help me a little with his AC razors, but I could only do some WTG or XTG shaving. An ATG pass was too treacherous. To me, this was more evidence that I like more neutral blade exposure. Blade rigidity, as solid as it was, could not compensate.

What's Next?


The ATT Atlas SE1, also loaned by @Chan Eil Whiskers (Jim), is up next. It shouldn't take years to get to those measurements. :)
 

FarmerTan

"Self appointed king of Arkoland"
Ha ha! "Shouldn't take years!"

We both have weird sense's of humor AND dislike aggressive razors!

Well done my friend. You've been missed!

(Well I can't speak for everyone. But I KNOW that two of us have: myself and my friend @Chan Eil Whiskers ! Word on the street was there was a price on yer head!)
 
The handle with the current version is completely different. Do you think that the head geometry is different?
Mine did not come with a handle and one wasn't available anymore at the time. The head geometry might be the only thing the same with the V2! The head on mine weighs 33grams and the post has a notch to get the blade as far back as possible. The baseplate width is 16mm. It is a completely different head with some lessons learned from this one obviously, but it is basically a neutral razor. I sometimes use it with a Pro Super!

I should add, thank you for doing this.
 
Mine did not come with a handle and one wasn't available anymore at the time. The head geometry might be the only thing the same with the V2! The head on mine weighs 33grams and the post has a notch to get the blade as far back as possible. The baseplate width is 16mm. It is a completely different head with some lessons learned from this one obviously, but it is basically a neutral razor. I sometimes use it with a Pro Super!

I should add, thank you for doing this.
You're welcome. It sounds like they slimmed down the head and made it more neutral. That's interesting.
 
It really is interesting, I am not sure if they might have extended the safety bar to achieve that. I can, and just did again, put my metal ruler across the span and it won't catch the edge. If I use something like a credit card, going slightly steep will get it to grab just barely. It shaves so nice.
 
I tried the Colonial General back in November 2021 and found that it was way too aggressive for me. Jim recommended using a steep angle and lighter pressure, and that seemed to help me a little with his AC razors, but I could only do some WTG or XTG shaving. An ATG pass was too treacherous. To me, this was more evidence that I like more neutral blade exposure. Blade rigidity, as solid as it was, could not compensate.

Is the SS different to my brass General? I find it very smooth and non-threatening. Mild even. To get any aggression I need a Pro Super blade and it’s not overly aggressive but more efficient.

Hoping to try the v2 in the future.
 

Chan Eil Whiskers

Fumbling about.
Thanks, Grant. Well done.

It's been a few minutes since I used the General, but I recall it being easy to use, efficient, and pretty smooth.

I say that knowing that I generally, at least in DE razors, like razors some call mild. (One of my favorites is the ATT CM1.)


1643808252565.png


Back in 2017 I used the General for a Fixed Four, so it's not like haven't used it a few times. For the record, the razor came with a matte finish. I did some minor hand polishing. Here's a link to one of my Fixed Four posts. I have not recently reviewed all those posts. It was early days for me in my B&B connection.

I can deal with some blade feel (not all blade feel being the same) but certainly don't relish it. I prefer no blade feel or very little. Neutral or negative blade exposure also works for me sometimes probably most of the time.

(The exception is the Feather; I don't always get along with it, and don't find the AS-D2 very useful for me.

All that said, I will have to use the General again to compare it with my current mild razors and to compare my impressions.


SE1,SE2baseplate.650.7-18.JPG


Of course the AC platform and the DE platform have both commonalities and inherent differences or so I'd think.

I'll be interested in your work with the ATT AC razors. The open comb is for me a bit too much (more than a bit). They are very different, those two, in my memory of their shaves.

Happy shaves,

Jim
 
Is the SS different to my brass General? I find it very smooth and non-threatening. Mild even. To get any aggression I need a Pro Super blade and it’s not overly aggressive but more efficient.

Hoping to try the v2 in the future.
Yet it is. The Brass was made to the same dimensions as the original Aluminum version of the razor...
Are these in production and available?
No they are not... You might get lucky in placing a WTB in the BST here and on other forums...

@ShavingByTheNumbers
It would be important to note this razor is actually the 2nd version of the General, but it was the 1st in SS for Colonial. Originally the General was mfg'd out of Aluminum and then Brass in the original specs. Those specs were changed when they released the SS V1 you measured. If memory serves me the V2 SS specs were changed to make the head as small as they could get it without changing the shave properties... There are side x side pics in a post in this forum somewhere.
 
Thanks, Grant. Well done. . . .

I'll be interested in your work with the ATT AC razors. The open comb is for me a bit too much (more than a bit). They are very different, those two, in my memory of their shaves.

Happy shaves,

Jim
You're welcome, buddy. Thanks again for loaning me your razor and for your patience. I'll start measuring the ATT Atlas SE1 soon.

@ShavingByTheNumbers
It would be important to note this razor is actually the 2nd version of the General, but it was the 1st in SS for Colonial. Originally the General was mfg'd out of Aluminum and then Brass in the original specs. Those specs were changed when they released the SS V1 you measured. If memory serves me the V2 SS specs were changed to make the head as small as they could get it without changing the shave properties... There are side x side pics in a post in this forum somewhere.
Thanks for those excellent details, @muzichead! I will update the OP.
 
Having a ATT SE1 with Kronos handle I find it far more aggressive than my Aluminum V1 Colonial General. The SE1 is also a heavy razor to me. That could just be me. I now have a General V2 and find it ranking as one of my favorite razors. I don't notice a big difference between the V1 and V2 except for the head size. I will state that until I get used to an AC razor I use a guarded blade then venture into regular blades. YMMV.
 
I had the aluminum original version and it didn't feel aggressive or blade-forward at all. I briefly owned the brass version, but didn't like all the extra weight, so I moved it along. I actually ended up moving both of them. As much as I enjoyed shaving with the aluminum version, once I moved to open-blade shaving it seldom came up in the rotation. But it was a nice, smooth, easy shaver for me.
 
@muzichead @Chan Eil Whiskers It doesn't look like I can edit the OP. For the record, this would have been my updated introduction:

The Colonial General is a three-piece Artist Club (AC) safety razor that is CNC machined out of 316L stainless steel. Originally, the Colonial General was manufactured out of aluminum and then brass, and when it started being machined out of stainless steel, it was machined in China, but the razor is currently machined in the USA. The current stainless steel version is claimed as "an engineering and aesthetic improvement of the original design (circa 2016-2018)" with a lighter head that may or may not have changed the geometry around the blade cutting edge. The first stainless steel version is analyzed here. It is noted that the top of the cap and guard were very lightly polished by the owner, who removed the original matte finish from those surfaces.
 
Having a ATT SE1 with Kronos handle I find it far more aggressive than my Aluminum V1 Colonial General. The SE1 is also a heavy razor to me. That could just be me. I now have a General V2 and find it ranking as one of my favorite razors. I don't notice a big difference between the V1 and V2 except for the head size. I will state that until I get used to an AC razor I use a guarded blade then venture into regular blades. YMMV.

Interesting, the SE1 Atlas is a little more aggressive to me compared to the brass General but not alot. If you want something milder try the X1. I have the SE1, SE2, X1 (and the G1 for good measure). I'm going to have to try the SS General at some point.
 
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