Tim Ralston's "Crovel" Tool


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ArfinGreebly
February 17, 2012, 12:51 AM
Has anyone seen one of these close up?

If you haven't seen one before, here are a couple of places: GearUpCenter (http://www.gearupcenter.com/exclusive-crovel-shovel/) and CrovelFoldingShovel (http://www.crovelfoldingshovel.com/).

Anyone planning on getting one?

Here's the Tactical Crovel.
159216

Here's the newer Crovel Extreme tool.
159218 -- 159219

Here's the evolution of the tool.
159217


The Tactical version is about $100, and the Extreme version is about $110.

There are a number of iterations of the Extreme version. The latest has a removable cap for the hollow steel handle.

It seems to be a heavy duty tool. Made in USA.

I had never seen one before today, and I found the concept fascinating.

I have a couple of e-tool type shovels, both of which are light and cheap -- as in cheaply made -- and certainly not something I'd stake my life on.

The Crovel, on the other hand, seems to be a much more robust tool. Oh, and it has that most vital of features, the bottle opener.

So . . .

Who's seen one of these? Anyone?

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JShirley
February 17, 2012, 04:49 AM
A hollow crowbar seems like a bad idea.

Hamilton Felix
February 17, 2012, 04:20 PM
That's a chunk of money. They gear it stores can be carried in your pockets. I've sometimes welded a steel pipe handle onto a shovel, so I could have something durable to carry on the truck and occasionally use to pry. But it does not help the general balance and feel.

Think I'll stick with the Glock E-tool, and carry a few other things separately. But it certainly is interesting.

ArfinGreebly
February 18, 2012, 12:22 AM
A hollow crowbar seems like a bad idea.

Indeed.

However . . .

The theme and spirit of this tool seems to be that of a robust (if oversized) Swiss Army Knife for digging and such.

I have a couple of e-tool type shovels. They're basically crap. They didn't cost much, and they don't do much. I have used one to dig one of my tires out of a snow bank. Took 45 minutes. Hurt my back in the process. Ergonomics of a greased steering wheel. Flimsy, hard to hold, no right-angle mode, tiny shovel blade . . . with a little work and thought, I could come up with a poorer design. I think. If I worked at it.

My dad had an old Army shovel from back in the day. The shovel blade was larger, the wooden handle was thicker and sculpted for better ergos, and the locking collar was threaded and heavy. You could literally use it for an expedient stool without fear of hurting it. Had the right-angle setting. Dad used to trench around our tents with it when we camped out. It was a seriously robust implementation of the concept. I haven't seen one of them for sale in tens of years.

This one harks back to that earlier example, except that the handle (being a steel tube) is stronger.

In the spirit of Swiss Army Knives, it has other features that make it a compact substitute for a box full of other tools. The claim is that it does the jobs of some 13 other tools. And I suppose that argument is essentially true, but also in the spirit of the SAK, it won't to any of them particularly well.

It's a shovel. I can buy a better shovel.
It's a hoe. I can buy a better hoe.
It's a crude hatchet and/or machete. I can buy a better axe, a better machete. Already have them.
It's a bottle opener. Seriously? I've always got a couple of those on me anyway.
It's a crude saw. I have a way better folding saw in the truck.
It's a crude crowbar. I've got top of the line crowbars. A whole set of them.

But what I don't have is a three-pound tool that will combine any significant number of those functions.

The most significant aspect of the tool is the improvement of the strength of the shovel itself. This new version will take a serious beating. I haven't see any destruction tests, but I can tell that the quality is certainly better any portable folding shovel I've bought in the last twenty years.

The saw edge isn't exactly a new idea, and the usefulness of that will depend on how well the steel is hardened and how sharp the teeth are. The sharpened shovel "knife" edge is also not a new idea, and the same caveat applies. (You guys may remember the video showing the Chinese tactical "multi-tool shovel" in action. I haven't found it yet. I'll link if I do.) Later . . . It showed up, and I didn't even have to look for it -- see post #27. See here for details (http://www.greenbeetlegear.com/chinese-military-shovel-wjq-308/).

In the simpler (Tactical) model, the "crowbar" is a curved and flattened extension of the handle. Very simple. The Extreme version has a pry end that's had to be modified several times in an attempt to accommodate the hammer head. I've not handled any of the previous versions of the hammer/crowbar thing, but it's clear that's not a perfected idea yet.

John's observation about the "hollow crowbar" is certainly valid. On the other hand, in the spirit of the SAK/shovel idea, having any kind of crowbar feature is a step up from having none. I prefer the mechanically simpler Tactical model for that. It might just be enough to pry open a car door or some such other thing, whereas the crap shovels I have now would simply fail completely at any such attempt.

His "Crovel" (the Tactical one, anyway) is a full pound heavier than my dad's old army shovel, but if the saw really works worth a damn, the "knife/hatchet" cutting edge performs at all, and the crowbar will actually pry what a shovel won't, then I think maybe he's onto something.

What I don't know is whether the steel in the blade is hardened sufficiently to hold an edge on the knife/axe or saw blades. I'm not even sure what kind of heat treat/tempering process would work for that. I don't even know if the steel he chose for this will even take a knife/saw level of hardening.

It irks me that the Tactical version shovel head doesn't have the pivot, and you sacrifice another two pounds to get that feature with the Extreme model. Yes, the "uni-frame" design of the Tactical is going to be more robust, but c'mon, we're gonna give up the right-angle hoe mode and still charge a hundred bucks?

The other thing that irks me is the retail pricing. Yes, I agree that if you're stuck in the middle of nowhere and a tool like that can save yer butt, then it's cheap at twice the price. However, I really do expect the price on the Tactical version to come down some. I'm thinking $55 is the sweet spot for that, maybe $60. Especially given that the head doesn't pivot.

I would love the opportunity to field test one of these things, though.

And I would in any case happily replace the one in my truck with one of those. Provided I had a hundred bucks lying around unused.

JShirley
February 18, 2012, 12:49 AM
Okay, I take your points. :)

John

.338-06
February 18, 2012, 01:02 AM
My dad had an old Army shovel from back in the day. The shovel blade was larger, the wooden handle was thicker and sculpted for better ergos, and the locking collar was threaded and heavy. You could literally use it for an expedient stool without fear of hurting it. Had the right-angle setting. Dad used to trench around our tents with it when we camped out. It was a seriously robust implementation of the concept. I haven't seen one of them for sale in tens of years.


I'm the proud owner of one of these old shovels/entrenching tools, I don't think I own a sturdier piece of equipment. Stamped "Ames Co, 1954". Has a pick opposite the shovel blade.

alaskanativeson
February 18, 2012, 03:27 AM
While a hollow handle on a crossbar may be questionable, the handle on my Glock shovel/saw is seriously sturdy for use in both purposes of the tool. It's made of plastic. A metal one could be designed to be strong enough for light prying, as long as it's properly engineered and manufactured and the user understood the limits. Like ArfinGreebly pointed out, a SAK won't do any of the jobs it's capable of as well as a specifically designed tool, but used within its limitations it does a lot of jobs acceptably well.

Hamilton Felix
February 18, 2012, 02:10 PM
Yep, Ames is a good name. They've been around a while, sold a lot of shovels to the Union Army during the War Between the States. I'll second the approval of the original durable GI entrenching tools, and the disapproval of the flimsy mass market Chinese copies.

The Glock E-tool is pretty light, for all it can do, and the root saw even works.

ArfinGreebly makes some really good points. Weight matters, and there will be a price cutoff point.

glistam
February 18, 2012, 04:06 PM
Reminds me a little of a Halligan bar or a Stanley FUBAR in concept.

VA27
February 19, 2012, 01:05 AM
It has a flaw, not unlike the Cold Steel shovel, maybe even worse.

Where the Cold Steel shovel has the 'step' bent the wrong way (when scooping with the CS, the dirt simply slides back off the handle end of the shovel). It's hard to tell, but from looking at the pix, it seems as though the Crovel doesn't even have a step. That would mean for hard digging you would need heavy boots with a steel shank to give some protection to the bottom of your foot. That, combined with the dirt sliding off the back of the shovel means, despite all the other cool things it does, it fails as a shovel.

Jeff
February 19, 2012, 02:49 AM
This is the guy who blew his thumb off on Doomsday Preppers. He put his thumb in front of the muzzle of his 10/22-- while shooting with his kids, no less-- and tried to attribute it to a misfire or something. :rolleyes:

I wouldn't feel comfortable giving him any of my money. He gives a bad name to both gun owners and preppers.

ArfinGreebly
February 19, 2012, 03:52 AM
Saw the episode.

Dumb gun handling -- which he himself admitted later. I ranted like most gunnies when I heard the "misfire" explanation. Wife had to rewind the DVR because I kept yelling, "You idiot! You don't EVER stick your thumb over the muzzle. What the hell is WRONG with you!?"

But the tool he designed is not contaminated by the gun handling mistake.

What is it with this kind of thinking, anyway?

He did something of which I disapprove, ergo no other product of his imagination can have any validity.

It's a tool, the result of engineering efforts and much trial and error. It's not a personality attribute. It's not a PR stunt.

Evaluate it for what it is, and within the appropriate context for that. Use comparable data.

How does it stack up against the Glock e-tool? The Gerber e-tool? The one made by SOG?

Feature by feature, are they comparable? Do the features perform as advertised?

Yeah, we can condemn it using the point-and-laugh clause of the product evaluation rules, which states that any product is rendered useless and invalid if the inventor has ever done anything dumb.

On the other hand, we could just focus on the product itself and evaluate it for what it is, not who made it.

We need to get someone to do a dispassionate comparative testing of the beast, alongside its competition.

ArfinGreebly
February 19, 2012, 04:01 AM
It has a flaw, not unlike the Cold Steel shovel, maybe even worse.

Where the Cold Steel shovel has the 'step' bent the wrong way (when scooping with the CS, the dirt simply slides back off the handle end of the shovel). It's hard to tell, but from looking at the pix, it seems as though the Crovel doesn't even have a step. That would mean for hard digging you would need heavy boots with a steel shank to give some protection to the bottom of your foot. That, combined with the dirt sliding off the back of the shovel means, despite all the other cool things it does, it fails as a shovel.


Yeah, a closer look at the Tactical version seems to bear that out.

The folding Extreme version seems to have been through some design changes, and the latest design seems to have that step flange, bent into the shovel face rather than away.

Hamilton Felix
February 19, 2012, 01:56 PM
OK, so who here is willing to pop that price just to find out?:rolleyes:

I've used up my "just wondering" quota when I spent nearly $20 (shipping more than merchandise) to get two "better" backup light bulbs for my Corolla to my door (they weren't much better). Life is learning, but there's usually tuition to be paid. ;)

ArfinGreebly
February 19, 2012, 02:23 PM
Life is learning, but there's usually tuition to be paid.

Hey, I'll be stealing that line at some point in the future. Hope you don't mind.

:)

Black Butte
February 19, 2012, 02:23 PM
Isn't this the idiot who made gun owners look like fools by shooting himself in the thumb on national TV?

ArfinGreebly
February 19, 2012, 02:27 PM
Isn't this the idiot who made gun owners look like fools by shooting himself in the thumb on national TV?

Please see post #12 above for clarification on that.

I've never shot myself, but I've never invented an emergency tool, either.

I don't believe one is necessary to do one to do the other, nor that doing one excludes the other.

YMMV.

alaskanativeson
February 19, 2012, 04:16 PM
...What is it with this kind of thinking, anyway?

He did something of which I disapprove, ergo no other product of his imagination can have any validity....
If my money is going to enrich a person, I'm only likely to examine their failings insofar as they reflect the person's integrity and ethics. If I am going to hold it against a person who simply did something stupid, I'd better never have done something stupid in my own life or I'm being hypocritical. I'll bet Gaston Glock has done a dumb thing or two in his lifetime. John Moses Browning lived in Utah, which is a failing in and of itself (relax, that was really meant as a joke - I lived in Utah for 15 years and graduated from BYU.)

If the mistake is something that demonstrates support for a cause for which I'm opposed, I'll avoid that person's business. If Jane Fonda or Hildabeast Clinton opened a store that sold Randalls for half price I wouldn't shop there. If a person's business made regular contributions to Handgun Control Inc. I wouldn't shop there. If a business owner lied about their military background to make themselves look studly to impress potential customers I wouldn't shop there.

But doing something stupid? Nah, we've all been there and done that. maybe not to this extent on the gun range, but probably somewhere in our lives.

Jeff
February 19, 2012, 08:38 PM
Arfin Greebly says: But the tool he designed is not contaminated by the gun handling mistake.

What is it with this kind of thinking, anyway?



Please show me where I said anything negative-- or anything at all, for that matter-- about the quality of the tool? Or how I tried to link the tool to his reckless handling of guns? I did not.

I simply objected to giving him any of my money. Yes, he made a mistake; we all make mistakes. But he made a big mistake and I personally cannot enrich his coffers and feel good about it. People like him set back what little progress gun owners have made in this increasingly nanny-state country of ours.

For all I know the crovel is a great tool. I really don't know much about it or how it would perform for its intended purposes.

RustHunter87
February 19, 2012, 09:14 PM
I got one of these German shovels (https://www.mainemilitary.com/productcart/pc/German-Shovel-with-pick-107p489.htm) its tough as nails

that crovel look like it would be awesome for rock hounding type activity's

hso
February 19, 2012, 09:26 PM
Anyone planning on getting one?

I wouldn't.

I don't think the SAK analogy fits because a SAK has a set of individual tools packaged together and they do a very good job of what they're intended to do. None of them are compromises except for size. The Crovel isn't a SAK full of individual good tools. It is a set of compromised tools in an interesting package. Looking at the independent review (http://greenbeetlegear.me/2012/01/01/crovel-review-video/) makes me think it would provide disappointing performance for a $100 tool that weighs too much to carry except in your trunk. It looks cool, but better execution is in order to make it worth the weight and cost.

VA27
February 19, 2012, 11:25 PM
Yeah, a closer look at the Tactical version seems to bear that out.

The folding Extreme version seems to have been through some design changes, and the latest design seems to have that step flange, bent into the shovel face rather than away.



Thanks. I haven't seen a pic clear enough that I could tell for sure. If it does that takes away one of my objections (the other being $$!).

JShirley
February 20, 2012, 03:50 AM
I'm pretty sure Sam and I could do better. Somebody resurrect this thread in a year, and we'll see.

John

ArfinGreebly
February 20, 2012, 02:16 PM
I'm pretty sure you could.

After some review of the comments above, I'm pretty sure that even *I* could.

Heck, I could improve on the fixed-welded shovel blade with a two-position threaded elbow joint with a retaining pin. (Assumes high grade materials.)

In my (very brief) survey of the tactical shovels out there, one theme that seems to run through them all is the use of a "moderate" steel in the blade, meaning that it really wouldn't harden enough to hold a decent edge. I haven't managed to identify the steel types, so I could be wrong about that.

You'd have to select a steel that would permit a differential treatment (main body of the blade has to be tough) without getting so hard that the edges chip easily, or so hard that special equipment is required to maintain an edge in the field.

And the weight issue has to be addressed.

I would love to see what youse guys could come up with. Somehow I think it would be kinda awesome.

All we have to do is make sure the apocalypse holds off for a year while you're vacationing in sunny Stan Land.

Sam1911
February 20, 2012, 03:18 PM
Shovels and pry bars, in my experience in the tool-swinging trades, seem to me to be the sorts of tools that work really well when they are "just-so" and don't work all that well when they aren't "just-so." And what's "just-so" for a shovel is a long way from what's "just-so" for a crowbar.

Combining the two into something that is a really good example of both (and light, and compact, and maybe folding?) at the same time is going to be a bit 'o work. Not having ever had to do anything "under fire," I've always wondered if it wouldn't make more sense for a platoon to maybe carry just four or six shovels -- REAL shovels -- and share them. They'd probably get three fighting holes dug faster sharing a real shovel than each chipping away with an e-tool. But, when the mortars are actually landing, the bidding might get real high on those few... :D

meef
February 20, 2012, 04:01 PM
Yep, the guy shot himself in the thumb. That pretty much negates me getting one of these things.

There's also the possibility that he may have had premarital sex at some time in his life.

:eek:

Whoa!

That cinches it. I'm definitely not getting one!

RX-178
February 20, 2012, 04:34 PM
As an aside, those Chinese e-tools have hit the US market. To offer another point of comparison between the e-tools.

http://www.greenbeetlegear.com/chinese-military-shovel-wjq-308/

ArfinGreebly
February 20, 2012, 07:49 PM
As an aside, those Chinese e-tools have hit the US market. To offer another point of comparison between the e-tools.

http://www.greenbeetlegear.com/chinese-military-shovel-wjq-308/

Ahhh! That's the Chinese shovel video I mentioned earlier. Direct YouTube link here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b60OZhrTB6o).

Yeah, that's a pretty serious piece of work. I notice that the saw edge gets used not only on wood but also on metal and plastic, as though it's kind of a combo hacksaw toothed deal.

Stout little bugger. Also note that it, too, is five pounds, so not the lightest thing out there.

Somebody at Wenger & Victorinox should take a whack at military shovel design.

I like Glock's special purpose saw blade, made of steel specifically hardened with that application in mind. I like the Crovel's pry bar tail (on the Tactical model). I like the multiple angle settings on the Chinese shovel. (Their "can opener" is kinda lame, but hey, in a pinch . . .) The sharpened knife/hatchet edge on the Chinese piece seems to have been really well sharpened, and I have to wonder if they dressed one especially for that segment of the video.

Their price point is better.

Still . . . I'd love to see the Swiss tackle the problem.

And John & Sam, once John gets back from vacation. :D

hso
February 20, 2012, 09:48 PM
You'd have to select a steel that would permit a differential treatment (main body of the blade has to be tough) without getting so hard that the edges chip easily, or so hard that special equipment is required to maintain an edge in the field.

It can't be done in a practical way. The hardened edge wouldn't last long being used as the side of a shovel digging and hacking at the ground since the hard edge for the saw would be chipped and broken quickly. OTOH, a saw in the handle isn't an awful idea since it wouldn't be subjected to the abuse of the shovel blade.

Somebody at Wenger & Victorinox should take a whack at military shovel design.

They won't.

How long after locking blades were popular did it take them to produce their first locking blade? How many other models with locking blades have they produced since the first?

RX-178
February 21, 2012, 04:24 AM
I'm planning on getting one or both of these tools (Crovel and Chinese WJQ-308). If/when I do I'll put a side-by-side review on my show.

Might not be anytime particularly soon though.

ArfinGreebly
February 21, 2012, 04:32 AM
It's a sad thing to entangle the imagination with practical concerns.

Somebody at Wenger & Victorinox should take a whack at military shovel design.

They won't.

Yeah, the Swiss will probably never do it.

I've never really paid much attention to multi-use shovels. In the last few days I've had a chance to glance at SOG, Gerber, Glock, Marbles, Cold Steel, some others I've forgotten, and that Chinese thing.

The more I look at these combo gizmos, the more I am inclined to look for a stout shovel that's good at being a shovel and maybe a hoe, and find a reasonably lightweight companion tool that does hatchet and/or saw duty.

I'd be okay with the saw-in-the-handle type thing (Glock), but I've watched some demos of guys chopping with the shovel, and I've concluded that shovel chopping is a fallback position from your fallback position. Even a crap machete outperforms them. A modest hatchet definitely outperforms them. After seeing one video where a guy wearing a large Bowie knife demonstrated chopping down a sapling with the shovel, I just wanted to reach through the screen and smack him. Dude! Just use the big knife!

I really want the combo tool idea to work, but the more I see, the less confidence I have in it. I get the concept of "expedient" tools, but I'd really prefer to achieve a quality level better than "half assedness."

I like the fundamental shovel + crowbar idea, even though I understand that those two tools are from disparate domains, and the fusion isn't going to be clean.

My inner geek yearns for the "do it all" tool, and the inner engineer protests that we should "use the right tool for the job."

I don't want to carry 20 lbs of tools. Hell, I don't really want to carry 10 lbs. Every pound of tools is a pound less of other payload.

Under all but the most extraordinary circumstances, I will have a good knife, and probably more than one. So I don't worry about that. I need to find a hatchet that's lighter than the Estwing (maybe the Canadian Trail Blazer or Fiskars X7 for that) or a decent bolo or khukri to stand in for it. (And of course, a decent khukri is gonna weigh a pound and a half or two all by itself.)

Anyway . . . I'm rambling.

It's late, I'm tired. I'll come back in the morning and see if I made any sense.

Dave Markowitz
February 21, 2012, 11:49 AM
I got one of these German shovels (https://www.mainemilitary.com/productcart/pc/German-Shovel-with-pick-107p489.htm) its tough as nails

I keep one of these in my truck. It's built very well. I'll take it any day over the gimmick in the OP.

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