Boy Scout Kits the 888 ETC. Q&A

Discussion in 'Stove Forum' started by OMC, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2013
    Messages:
    2,669
    Location:
    ILLINOIS, USA
    I've researched on-topic quite a bit but may be missing some things and there are details (ie when & why) not yet confirmed.
    This type mess kit is commonly referred to as Boy Scout Mess Kit. This type kit dates to near the beginning of the Boy Scouts... London 1908 (BSA soon followed).
    I'm currently unaware of any such kit older than a *WEAR-EVER No.888 (*the brand began in 1904). 888 shown here
    IMG_2829.JPG
    The When?... at the mo I confirm only that the 1st No.888 was offered pre-1915.
    c1910 is certainly a possibility.
    For sake of discussion put ourselves back in 1910 UK or US.
    Powell founded the Boy Scouts with the idea a youth scouting program will result in more soldiers entering the army somewhat familiar with outdoor challenges they will soon face. It was/could be considered preparation for war and indeed 1914 WW1 began.

    The Why?
    Potentially war related. 1910 - 1917 we know ALCOA's TUSACo United States Aluminum Co. was perfecting a new US Army mess kit.
    It seems plausible ALCOA's WEAR-EVER may have presented 888 as another design for army issue consideration?

    A side note. Look at the 888 above, as shown the 888 clamps down tight, hooked onto a belt or pack... by design, like the M1910 meat can, the 888 runs silent. I do like the 888.
    I've always found the stealth quality and Pat. granted 1915 more than just a little interesting, myself, thinking maybe this is no coincidence?
    There is at least one claim that 888 was army issue... I do not find any support, at all, for that (false) claim.. The impressive 888 did not become an army issue item as far as I know.
    I also do not see any support that it was marketed to WW1 service men as an accessory (ie like the, clanky / not silent, Theroz kit). or like various WW1 officer kits.

    The why, imo, the design / prototype could have been potentially for army use but in the end the use for the 888:
    >civilian with an excellent fit and many quickly purchased for the Boy Scouts and the design is still being made today.

    Tidbit more on the when (&where):
    The complete 888 kit was made in the U.S. WEAR-EVER plant (and maybe Canada) pre 1915.
    I do not yet know when the first kit was made nor exactly what the first complete kit consisted of.
    The 888 fry pan we know. The sm. pot, the bowl (or pan w/o handle), the cup, the pouch... for me, all these parts are unconfirmed (but i'll keep looking). The No 234: small pot w/bail handle & lid, came with early kits (made in US & Canada btw), not sure it came w/the earliest kits. . FYI John's 888 US frypan has PAT. pending handle, with Canada No.234 pot and a noteworthy pouch.

    The earliest frypans do have No 888 and the WEAR-EVER logo on the bottom. To-date I've seen only US, that may change? The early dating I'm aware of at the mo is 3 versions of text, so far, on 888 fry pan handles (steel):
    > "PATENT APPLIED FOR"

    > "No 888
    MADE IN USA"

    > "No 888
    PAT. DEC. 7. 1915
    MADE IN USA"

    all for now, thx omc
     
  2. DAVE GIBSON

    Offline
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2004
    Messages:
    4,164
    as a old scout from the 50's I love this stuff.
     
  3. ArchMc

    ArchMc Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Messages:
    2,368
    Location:
    Mojave Desert, California
    Yeah, it looks just like the one I carried in the '60s. I always thought the pot was impractibly small -- if you put enough water in it to make tea or soup, a rolling boil would slosh a lot of it out. Also it was hard to keep it level over a fire. Usually, one of us would carry a larger pot for the entire patrol. Very solid and well constructed piece of kit, though. @OMC is right; they don't rattle.

    ....Arch
     
  4. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2013
    Messages:
    2,669
    Location:
    ILLINOIS, USA
    Thank you.
    I can only guess we will eventually see 888 fry pans made in Canada? If we do… then we might also expect that compete kits were made in the US & Canada. When was that... for sake of discussion let's say c1915 or later (the very earliest examples an unknown for now). Here are some details based on slightly later examples but still EARLY:

    The Fry Pan No 888:
    888USLcnPnCtch.jpg

    All the 888 fry pans I've seen, the pan itself, is exact same. Note there is no rolled-over edge btw. I've seen only US so far. Above John's US frypan has "PATENT APPLIED FOR" text on the handle.
    I have also seen US frypans with "PAT. … 1915" text on the exact same handle as above.

    It's minor but I mention the above because I've also seen "PAT. … 1915" text on slightly different handle/catch.
    888US_catchB.JPG
    -----------

    The Plate No 168: some unmarked. (mess kit plate, deep dish plate)
    168n_LUSnCA.jpg
    So, US & CA note1: again, referring to c1915 or later examples.

    During entire length of production it's plausible many/most of these plates do not have the 168 & logo. We'll see what emerges on-average. 7 1/8" dia., 2 1/2 c to brim (180mm. 0.6L) .
    -------

    Small Pot No 234 with lid:
    234nUSnCA_L.JPG

    US & CA note 1 applies. 5 3/8 x2 3/4", 3 3/4 c to brim (136 x 70mm. 0.9L)
    ----------

    The Cup:, the measuring cup, no logo
    Optimized2-TheCup.JPG
    US & CA note 1 applies. Aluminum cup w/tin handle. It's a snug/tight fit when stowed in the pot btw.
    4 x 2 1/4", 1 1/2 c (12 oz.) to brim (100 x 57mm. 0.35L)

    The pouch: to be determined
    I expect distinct differences old vs new will emerge re: fabric, shape & design.

    all for now, thx omc
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  5. Ed Winskill United States

    Offline
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2004
    Messages:
    8,139
    Location:
    Tacoma, Washinghton, USA
    I too remember those kits as a Boy Scout.
     
  6. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2013
    Messages:
    2,669
    Location:
    ILLINOIS, USA
    Like above examples, the following details i think relate to C1915 or later (maybe much later in some cases?).
    So how long did they use the "PAT. … 1915" handles 30s. 50s?
    Kits w/that handle... re cups, there were also regular cups (no measure)… "No 893" and logo.
    s-l1600.jpg
    Looks like it still may have a tin handle. Oh there's more on logos.

    We've learned a very complete and official BSA kit was offered, again PAT. .. 1915 handle.
    Every piece co-stamped w/BSA logo.
    frypan 888 & plate 168
    log888n168US.jpg

    sm. pot 234 & cup 893
    log234n893.jpg

    there's more on pouches, but here is one appropriate "BSA" pouch.
    The pouch is blank, there are older and newer BSA pouches also blank. BSA/emblem only on the snap. This is a more detailed snap: it has a BSA emblem surrounded by text:
    "Boy Scouts of America - Headquarters NY city"
    pouchBSA_NYCbutton.jpg

    There are many varied wear-ever 888 pouches some maybe have BSA snap(s) ~ maybe not. Plenty older and newer designs it seems. Compared to above of the next 2 maybe 1 is earlier and 1 later? ... just a guess:
    POUCHABC.JPG

    this has basic BSA emblem on snap
    pouchLatr.jpg
    thx omc
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  7. MartyJ

    MartyJ Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    143
    I have a Boy Scout handbook dated 1916. It had this add in the back. Hopefully that helps. Just to mention a side note I have two all steel Boy Scout mess kits, the same as the aluminum ones just all parts are tinned steel. Heavy kits.

    Scouts_1.jpg

    Scouts_2.jpg
     
  8. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2013
    Messages:
    2,669
    Location:
    ILLINOIS, USA
    That's really great. Thank you MartyJ,
    To your credit we now have an early pouch of distinct design seen > in images above and > in John's 888 post now also > shown in a 1916 illustration.

    I have fewer canteens than I do mess kits & parts. With that glimpse of c1916 canteen filler neck and pouch i'll keep an eye out for an early wear-ever canteen as well.

    re "two all steel Boy Scout mess kits"
    ah yes, I was sure that would become part of the discussion :thumbup:.

    I don't have one, i'm less familiar and my thoughts have evolved. I would be interested to hear what your thoughts are about them or approx. age?
    You said 2 kits, I hope we are both talking about kits identical to wear-ever 888s but made of steel/tin. Your thoughts?
    thx omc
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019 at 1:34 AM
  9. MartyJ

    MartyJ Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    143
    I have been told the steel kits were made during WWII when all aluminum went to the war effort. Makes sense but I don’t have documentation to that effect. I do not have a manual for the 1940’s but have two manuals from the 1930’s and believe they show aluminum kits. I guess we can check on line sources for Boy’s Life magazine from that era. I haven’t tried that yet. One of my two kits is marked with the Boy Scout logo on the handle, the other has no markings so may very well be for the civilian market. I will dig out the marked one and send a photo when I get the chance but I do not remember a manufacturers mark. But both are identical to the aluminum mess kits.
     
  10. SveaSizzler

    SveaSizzler United States Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2016
    Messages:
    522
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    I have a BSA mess kit that I inherited from my older Brother. [He's 8 years older] He was in Scouts Mid-Fifties, I was a Scout in the Early Sixties. My contemporary Troop buddies had basically the same kit but with a plastic cup. Not the rounded aluminum cup [non-graduated]. Bottom of fry pan is stamped ''Regal''. Aside from a fleur-de-lis on the handle, no other markings.
    In defense of the smaller pot, I always called it the Bean Pot, as it's the perfect size to heat a 15 Oz can of pork'n'beans or canned chili. In fact, to test out a new 3-sided titanium Trangia-style burner stand, I tried a can of Stagg's Laredo Chili out in it. Worked perfectly.
    At Philmont in 1964, we were encouraged to go ''lightweight'' and spiit one mess kit between 2 boys. I carried the frypan and cup, my tent buddy carried the dish and bean pot. Then we got saddled with unit expeditionary gear [in rotation] like a full aluminum 6 qt Dutch oven and a 10 man nesting pot set.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019 at 12:40 AM
  11. ArchMc

    ArchMc Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Messages:
    2,368
    Location:
    Mojave Desert, California
    Yeah, at Philmont ('67 for me) they strongly encouraged us to bring minimal personal kit. I think I took the bowl, plastic cup, and a spoon. Of course, in those days sleeping bags were wool and canvas, tents were heavy canvas tarps, etc. And they did load us down with unit gear -- a dutch oven, axe (and I don't mean hatchet), a saw, and large pots for unit cooking. So I was glad I wasn't carrying the entire mess kit. That was my introduction to backpacking -- sink or swim. I floundered for the first 2 days, and then loved it and never looked back.

    ....Arch
     
  12. SveaSizzler

    SveaSizzler United States Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2016
    Messages:
    522
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    Yeah, we burned a lot of wood at Philmont. Mostly red Juniper, as I recall. Very sweet smelling aromatic wood. And easy to light. We were there in the Monsoon Season -- rained a lot.
    I did not ''discover'' the Svea 123 until 1970, when I moved to the West Coast and started hanging out with climbers.
    Personal kit at the Scout Ranch was a USGI WWII wool ''mummy bag'' [just an OD blanket cut into a mummy shape with a 3 foot zipper and a set of 2 tie straps on the bottom]. BSA True Temper hand axe. A 10' x 10' treated canvas tarp. I had a 1 Qt GI steel canteen, but no butt cup. BSA Toilette kit. Instamatic 126 camera. I had a GI type rucksack with internal frame, but they talked me into a WWII surplus bent plywood packframe, and showed us how to lash all our stuff inside the tarp and to secure it on the frame with parachute cord lashings with the "Diamond Hitch.'' No air mattress, and ensolite pads were still in the Future -- I slept on the packframe's suspended back canvas and dug a hole for my hips. I was cold and hungry for two whole weeks, and loved it.
     
  13. MartyJ

    MartyJ Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    143
    That brings back memories. When I was a kid in the Boy Scouts my dad was in the service so we had all WWII GI Surplus gear. Mess kits, muzzette bags and those blanket sleeping bags. No pads or understanding of cushions and my poor skinny butt froze in that blanket bag.
     
  14. SveaSizzler

    SveaSizzler United States Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2016
    Messages:
    522
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    Good times. It was considered ''character-building'' stuff. If a Scouter did that today, he'd get sued by the parents for child endangerment.
     
  15. ArchMc

    ArchMc Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Messages:
    2,368
    Location:
    Mojave Desert, California
    It must have been. We all turned into characters.

    ....Arch
     
  16. ArchMc

    ArchMc Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Messages:
    2,368
    Location:
    Mojave Desert, California
    Good topic @OMC! Thanks.

    I'm enjoying the drift on this one.

    ....Arch
     
  17. Ed Winskill United States

    Offline
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2004
    Messages:
    8,139
    Location:
    Tacoma, Washinghton, USA
    I think this photo, which I posted in the recent Bleuet thread, shows one of these Scout pans down by the stove:

    [​IMG]

    This is Summer of 1963 on the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier.
     
  18. SveaSizzler

    SveaSizzler United States Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2016
    Messages:
    522
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    When I got my Svea 123 in 1970, I found the BSA mess kit was perfectly sized for it. I fried Spam in the fry pan, and boiled water in the bean pot. The Svea cup, folding BSA utensils and a GI canteen cup completed my camp kitchen. Compared to the old aluminum Dutch oven, it seemed so lightweight.
     
  19. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2013
    Messages:
    2,669
    Location:
    ILLINOIS, USA
    Thanks to all,

    Martyj, Currently I too am thinking the steel kits are cWW2.

    SveaSizzler, Ed, more later re mid 50s and kit in '63.
    -----------
    Updates and/or point out where i was wrong above:
    > update re "...I'm currently unaware of any such kit older than a *WEAR-EVER No.888".
    There is such a kit that predates W-E version and actually several BSA "outfits"/kits pre-date this one :oops: .

    > wrong so far re BSA: it was "...offered pre-1915 ...c1910 is certainly a possibility." I see no support for pre-1915 nor c1910.
    George H. Mason offered such a kit to BSA (Boston area) in ads: Oct & Dec 1914 (w/no sign of the W-E kit). Mason's kit:

    1914cDecp36.JPG

    Who copied who, I dunno. Just going by the Boys Life ads:
    W-E inspired-by / followed Mason and soon after,
    W-E began offering their kits Jun 1915 nationwide and
    W-E was granted patent Dec. 7, 1915.

    > update re "...when [was] the first kit made … what the first kit consisted of"
    It would make sense the 1st WEAR-EVER kit consisted of what is 1st offered in Boy's Life Mag. Jun.1915 ad:
    19156JunP45.JPG
    -------
    It may be the use of the measure cup predates the No.893 cup.
    FWIW my hands-on observation re: "rattle":
    Measure cup does stow snug in the pot, no rattle.
    > update Cup No.893 (w/o measure), tad shorter, in pot... > it rattles.
    Maybe measure cup was prone to damage? 893 is a tad sturdier but a tad shorter.

    Re "Branding and Positioning" It seems Wear-Ever became involved w/BSA c1915 and positioned their "branded" Aluminum Cook Set as the "official" boy scout kit.
    In the 50s FWIW by '52 (or earlier) Regal Ware Cook Kit became the "official" kit.
    By then Wear-Ever had brand recognition among scouts/campers and not relying on being "official" BSA kit.

    Ed, the pan in your image does look like *a match to OP.
    50s Regal Ware had 2 rivets. Your type frypan (no rolled edge, 3 rivets) is popular and not sure how long it was made late 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s.

    thx omc
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019 at 10:54 PM
  20. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2013
    Messages:
    2,669
    Location:
    ILLINOIS, USA
    all, MartyJ,
    Above you offer an example of 1916 official handbook :thumbup:.
    Although Handbooks are well covered on the web, "my" initial research was less than conclusive, for now.
    I will add info here of what i find from web sources incl. Boys Life ads RE: 4 early / earliest BSA Handbooks. Corrections welcome.

    > 1910 was a handbook referred to as "original" edition, the intent when printed was that it was temporary (borrowed from British Scouts).
    > 1911 The "Boy Scouts of America, Handbook for Boys" makes it clear it is BSA's "First Edition". It has 1911 copyright. An ebook btw.
    > 1914 Nov. BSA offers ""New" edition published Oct 15" "32 more pages". This has 1911, 1914 copyright, iirc.
    > 1916 Sep. is BSA's next handbook ad: "...new, revised (14th) edition..." also "...512 pgs (old one had 464 pgs)"

    FWIW a site re History of Official Handbook has: 1st & 2nd Editions as 1911 - 1927 (vs repeated Boys Life ad 1916: new Handbook is 14th edition)… ?

    Notes A. IF anyone has an early BSA Handbook in-hand, knowing an accurate year (or range) that, that book, was printed is most helpful.
    B. Congrats MartyJ for acquiring your 1916. That is an American Boy Scout, he has an open-fire (box) cook kit on his belt. During 1916 the cover changed (per web source), the same image gets reversed, interesting. If so, yours is from before the image was reversed btw. I wonder if yours shows copyright 1911, 1914, 1916 (or any ref. to 14th edition? or?).
    thx omc
    tag @MartyJ
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019 at 6:34 PM