What is an end cap?
An end cap refers to a small metal cap soldered onto the spider to reduce tension and keep the head from separating and pulling itself apart.
The "spider" refers to the top of the T-bar and the edges of the razor that are normally covered with an end cap. This piece was folded down the middle and riveted in place.
The photo below shows each step in the manufacturing process of a Gillette Aristocrat. The following information is for USA made safety razors.
Why did Gillette add end caps?
Gillette razors didn't always have end caps, they experimented with different manufacturing techniques to keep the spider assembly together. They learned from past mistakes and constantly improved the design. A common issue of riveted razors are twist-to-open issues, binding, and head pulling apart/separating.
The uncovered posts didn't fair much better. It was when Gillette added the added security of the end caps that they solved many of these issues. There is no evidence the addition was aesthetically motivated, and we can assume Gillette would not have added the extra step and associated cost just for looks.
1934-1938 Rivets 1946-80's End Caps
There is some confusion surrounding the '37 and '38 Sheraton models. The model transitioned from a circular rivet seen in the 1934 Aristocrat to the post. The 1936 & 1937 model feature circular rivets and the 1938 model mirrors the Senator. The Sheraton was always gold plated and the Senator was always nickel plated. This confusion is complicated by incorrect identification of the original plating of razors found un-restored and covered in oxidization "in the wild."
For several years 1939-1945 Gillette left this area bare and it can be difficult to tell whether or not the end cap has fallen off or if they never existed. This is a common question with Aristocrats, Regent Techs, Super Speeds, & Ranger Techs and can normally be solved by checking for left over solder and/or consistent plating. It is unlikely that the razor to the left is missing end caps as there is zero solder and the plating is consistent throughout.
Why did the end cap fall off?
- Tension from the spider assembly pulls and pops the end cap off
- Solder becomes weak after years of corrosion
- Razor is dropped
Do I have to reattach the end cap?
If you'd like the razor to be in "factory" condition, yes. Even with tension around the T-Bar, razors can function safely and effectively without their end cap(s). If you decide in favor, we can furnish a new end cap and solder/braze it on for a cost of $25 (each) combined parts and labor. This can be done in addition to the Tune-Up or Revamp Service or alone.