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The transition from AB BAHCO to AB Optimus/Primus Trading AB c. 1964:

Discussion in 'Stove Forum' started by abbahco1, Apr 20, 2017 at 1:40 AM.

  1. abbahco1

    abbahco1 United States Subscriber

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    Since we had some research take place today concerning the precise cut-off point when AB BAHCO ceased manufacturing and AB Optimus (as Primus Trading AB) took over (seems to be definitively 1964, as the last 6-digit code we found on a no. 1 BAHCO stove is 151064), here are detail photos of the first Optimus-manufactured No. 5 Primus stove, but still using reserve parts acquired by Optimus from BAHCO. The result is an amalgam of Optimus and AB BAHCO, as the photos will make clear. In this very early period box labels still bore the AB BAHCO name, while the tank also carried an AB BAHCO inscription, even though Optimus made the tank. For easy identification, the Optimus/Primus stove is nickel-plated, while the AB BAHCO stove(s) included for comparison are brass. To summarize: this stove features (from AB BAHCO):

    1. Burner no. 4138 (standard silent with Primus metal outer cap).
    burner no. 4138.jpg

    2. BAHCO filler cap (though not the 1963 design, but the earlier one used in 1956 - 8) and airscrew, marked "Primus" on both sides.
    filler cap and airscrew detail 2.jpg airscrew.jpg

    3. AB BAHCO top trivet (stamped "Primus").
    AB BAHCO trivet.jpg

    4. The box label is the AB BAHCO) one, used from 1956 - 1963
    1964_box label.jpg

    Optimus contributed:

    5. Optimus spirit cup (not the broader, shallower AB BAHCO cup, inscribed "Primus").
    spirit cup 2.jpg

    6. Optimus manufactured tank, legs and filler (with the air-screw angled towards the right, not at 90 degrees to the tank, as on all previous Primus products from 1882 on).
    filler cap and airscrew detail 2.jpg

    7. No front stamps or numbering code anywhere
    BAHCO & OPTIMUS 2.jpg

    8. No "Made in Sweden" stamp under the tank.

    Compare this model carefully with the AB BAHCO 1963 and 1964 stoves also included here and the differences are obvious.

    9. The Arabic inscription from the second front panel on AB BAHCO products (left from the front panel) is moved to the top of the tank.
    AB BAHCO 201063_arabic.jpg Optimus - primus stamp.jpg tank detail.jpg

    10. The AB BAHCO stamp in multiple languages (on the front vertical panel, underneath the airscrew) is absent
    Capture.JPG

    11. The legs are of the familiar Optimus profile (not the "stepped" BAHCO leg, with acute angled top)
    AB BAHCO 201063_leg profile.jpg Optimus leg profile 2.jpg Optimus leg profile1.jpg

    12. The tank is, nevertheless inscribed (at the top) AB BAHCO, though only on the tank top edge in small script
    AB BAHCO inscription.jpg


    13. The stamps around the top of the tank are not located in the same place as in later Primus Trading AB stoves, but reversed in location. On later Primus AB models the Arabic "Made in Sweden" stamp is right of the filler assembly, while the Primus logo with stove image is to the left of the filler assembly.
    tank detail 2.jpg tank detail 4.jpg tank view 1.jpg top view 2.jpg

    Given that the last genuine AB BAHCO model we have found has a 6-digit number ending in 1964, it would seem that 1964 is the real year of transition, but in stages.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017 at 2:13 PM
  2. Spiritburner

    Spiritburner United Kingdom Admin Subscriber

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    There is no dispute around the 1962 date re Optimus starting the Primus Trading Co & the deal between Primus & Optimus as it's documented. As is often the case what happens on the ground may not immediately reflect the reality to the outside world. Change of ownership of brands can happen immediately but the transition of production & assets can take longer. I don't find it surprising that some models appear to be unchanged & likely made in the same factory as before sometime after the deal was done. Are they Primus or Optimus/Primus Trading? Probably the latter technically or a sliding scale between the two even if they were made in the same factory, on the same plant by the same workers to the same design as 61/62.

    I have a copy of a contract detailing a similar acquisition from the same period involving 2 major Swedish brands. I can't publish it but it's interesting reading & shows how a simple change of ownership can have a lot of phased transition behind it.
     
  3. abbahco1

    abbahco1 United States Subscriber

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    Actually, Ross, I'm amazed that the transition was so swift, indicating that there was still a high turnover of, and therefore great demand for, these products. One change I think we can now safely make as aresult of yesterday's research: 1964 could be added as the last year of the Primus date code (it currently stops at 1963, but the photos I posted are definitive proof, I think). Thanks! Peter
     
  4. kaw550red

    kaw550red United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hi Peter

    Bahco definitely ceased production of Primus liquid fuelled products in 1962. They had been developing their propane powered products since the mid 50s and kept the Primus Brand name for those and sold them instead of the liquid fuelled products

    However as well as the brand name Optimus also acquired all of the liquid fuelled parts and stoves. Some of those were marked as having been made by Bahco. Optimus solved that problem by assembling some stoves with date codes as if they had been made by Bahco.

    They also used Bahco parts on Optimus stoves and Optimus parts on Bahco made tanks or stoves. The workers were paid on piece work and the more stoves or parts that they made the more they got paid so the parts markings did not bother them

    However on the production side Optimus were producing burner parts marked "OPTIMUS PRIMUS" by 1964 because I bought one in that year.

    In the 1962 I also bought a Primus gas stove and a Primus gas light when they were first introduced into the UK. At that time I was informed that Primus were no longer making liquid fuelled appliances

    Regards Bryan
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017 at 7:55 PM
  5. shagratork

    shagratork United Kingdom Moderator Subscriber

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    Interesting, very interesting! :-k
     
  6. abbahco1

    abbahco1 United States Subscriber

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    Hi Bryan,

    That acquisition could also include tanks - as there is a completely different "mould" between BAHCO models and the Optimus ones, including the very profile of the tanks (the BAHCO ones being constructed around a more sophisticated form: the lower tank rim, for example, is angled, not flat as on the later Optimus tanks). So, I don't think that any of your observations necessarily contradict what we see: the latest stamped number on a BAHCO-style tank is 1964 (I put pictures of it up). Perhaps it took two years for Optimus to use up all the reserve parts, including tanks. When you think of it: within two years for all the remaining stocks to be used seems a fairly rapid timetable, and indicates that these stoves still had a market. I wish a good manufacturer today (Swedish or otherwise) would copy the detail of these designs - they had a level of quality, handsomeness and balance that has not been equalled by any of the imitators since.

    Nice to see you!

    Peter
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017 at 9:37 PM
  7. kaw550red

    kaw550red United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hi Trevor

    You have one of those Optimus assembled Bahco stoves. I can remember you showing it to me although you later misplaced it.I am pretty certain it was date coded for 64

    I cannot remember whether it was a No 1 or a No 5

    The acquesisition seemed to include all of Bahco stock of liquid fuelled parts. Whilst the parts were fitted to any stove the tanks posed the problem that Bahco was very prominent on them hence you get the oddity where Optimus assembled What appeared to be Bahco made stoves. It is probable that Optimus also got the tops of Bahco made tanks and finished them off by inserting the bottoms in them.

    I am not certain but I think the tank bottoms were marked "OPTIMUS PRIMUS" from 1962. I am certain that the tank bottoms are marked something like "MADE IN SWEDEN" from 1969 because the same tank bottom was then used for Primus, Optimus and Svea stoves from that date

    Regards Bryan
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017 at 9:39 PM
  8. abbahco1

    abbahco1 United States Subscriber

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    Hi Bryan, The photos I posted will enable people to compare the two distinctly different designs. The Optimus-designed No. 5 (nickel) does have "AB BAHCO" inscribed on the top edge, but not prominently, and the other stamps are NOT the ones used by AB BAHCO. Interesting indeed if you see any Optimus-made tanks with a date code. I have never seen one: indeed, I was surprised to find the BAHCO-design with that code on it - the others I've seen are all up to 63.

    Cheers,

    Peter
     
  9. kaw550red

    kaw550red United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hi Peter

    I am not certain but I think that Bahco made tanks had Bahco marked on the bottom of the tank between 1955 and 1962 however that is solely from memory so may not be correct. It may be that Optimus got the tank top and fitted the unmarked bottom to it.

    I was trying to explain what was happening at the change of ownership of the Primus brand for liquid fuelled appliances. It was a strange period as two different firms were using the same brand name for different products. In 1964 I bought a replacement burner and thought the salesman was nuts when he told me that Optimus made Primus brand liquid fuelled products. The same shop sold the Primus propane products which further confused me.

    I am not certain how clear the commercial situation will be but I will try and summarise what was happening during the Primus Trading Co time. Please excuse any mistake in dates or names as I am writing from memory.

    In 1962 Optimus bought the Primus brand name for liquid fuelled products and stock and set up the Primus Trading Co. (PTC). Optimus made the stoves and parts, rebranded them as Primus and sold them through the PTC

    In 1963? Optimus bought the Radius Brand name together with stock. They never used the brand but fitted the parts to the stoves that they made and probably issued some parts as spare parts

    In 1969 Optimus bought the Svea brand name with stock and set up the Svea or Sievert Trading Co which sold the products rebranded as Svea

    Around 1976 Optimus dropped the Primus and Svea brands and reverted to solely making Optimus products

    Superficially Optimus appeared to be buying spare parts cheaply. Actually they had made what were commercially very clever moves.

    During the 1950s Gaz and Calor were making inroads into the liquid fuelled stoves in the UK. Also Package holidays were becoming cheaper which made family camping holidays less popular.

    You had the situation where the sales were dropping but the liquid fuelled stove factories still had the capacity to produce sufficient products to fill the original demand.

    Optimus were not only buying brand names they were buying those brand name's customer bases. Shops tended to stock only a single brand name as the parts were interchangeable. In buying the brand name they got access to that brand name's stockists which increased their customer base and made their factory more cost effective.

    By 1976 the retail shops were used to dealing with Optimus in its several guises so they could drop the rebranded products

    You have got a very interesting stove. It is a bit of a puzzle as to why Optimus collected all of the genuine Bahco parts together to make it


    Regards Bryan
     

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