Ask Tom - Spring 2010

Ask Tom - Spring 2010

Originally published in the Spring 2010 issue of National Fitness Trade Journal


Dear Tom:
I read your most recent article. I’ve enclosed a picture of a barbell that I had an accident with. The weight shifted to the left from the sleeve loosening up and sliding off the bar. I lost balance, my left leg folded under itself, and I ruptured my quad. Can you tell me anything about this bar?
- Name withheld by request.

I’m sorry to hear about your injuries. From what I can see, the sleeve is held in with a flat head allen bolt, not a shoulder bolt. I use to see a lot of the older bars (sold for cheap) with a pressed in plug at the end of the sleeve to hold the bolt. It’s not a safe design. If you’re going to make a bar this way, in addition to pressing in the plug, you have to used two hardened pins to secure the plug into the sleeve. And this is the reason your bar failed. A clearer picture could possibly determine the manufacturer of the bar.  - Thanks, Tom.

Dear Tom:

I read your articles on Olympic bars. It looks like my bar has the inside collar attached by a pin through the bar. But you don’t do this Why?
-EC via e-mail

If the bar has a hole on the inside collar, that’s the way the old York Barbell used to make them. If you think your bar is made in China and it has the pin going all the way the center of the collar or bar, check on-line for the U.S. consumer protection recall notice. This is a classic example of how the Chinese have screwed themselves out of a lot of business by using inferior manufacturing techniques.

The good news is that all of newer Yorks bars are made in Canada of US steel, and apparently they’ve solved the problem that was discussed in a previous article here.

hello ivanko people!
any truth to the web blog rumor that ivanko might re-introduce the OB-84 bar, as originally produced - with the shoulder bolt design, aggressive knurling, etc.?

I have had one since 1986 and, quite frankly, since getting one of these nothing else works for me - including any of your current offerings. I especially don’t like the new, softer knurling, or the multi- interrupted knurling pattern, the new snap ring sleeve design. I routinely (annually) disassemble my OB-84 to clean and re-grease the bushings, and I put on some new lock-tite on the threads, etc. before re-assembling it.

This ob-84 bar was perfect ... no wonder it was discontinued! (it seems that nobody wants to leave anything alone. I guess no one gets any points unless they change something.)

IMHO ... the new knurling really stinks. I want to finish my bench press set with the same 36” grip I start the set with, without using any messy chalk. I don’t understand this change to this softer, finer knurling pattern for powerlifting applications. also, the center knurling, IMHO, serves no real purpose except to tear up the back of my neck in behind-the-neck presses and it really is not necessary for powerlifting or especially weightlifting (why even Eleiko weightlifting bars have this center knurling I’ll never know). I’m glad you’re still making some bars without the center knurling.

please bring back the original OB-84. I’ll buy several this time.

thanks for letting me rant (what choice did you have?)

- RL via e-mail.




Dear RL:
Thanks for the e-mail. The OB-84 was the first production bar I ever made, and it remains one of my favorites. As you know, the sleeves were held in with shoulder bolts. Unlike other bars with sleeves fastened the same way, we did it right. And I still like the design. If a manufacturer respects tolerances (and you can’t do that on the cheap), the sleeves rotate about as well as the now much touted “snap ring” design.

We’ll make you an OB-84 (or two or three), just for old time’s sake, but currently we’re working on a shorter version of the OB-84. Probably a six foot (so it still fits on a wide bench press) shorty bar with smaller sleeves, still allows you to put enough weight on for your presses.

As to the knurling, I’m with you on the sharper knurling. There were enough people who wanted a less sharp knurl that I changed the design. Now that I’ve changed it, I get complaints that’s it’s not sharp enough. There are those of us still around who would rather bleed than miss a lift. In some ways knurling’s a personal thing, but I want to talk about it more in a future article.


Dear Tom:
A lot of bar makers these days are claiming that they “use the same steel as Ivanko.” Is this true?

-Glenn via e-mail.


Dear Glenn:
I never made it a secret of where I’ve been buying our steel for past 30 years or so. In fact, I discussed it in depth in a previous article in this magazine. Some people thought it wasn’t a smart thing to give away my sources, but I think it just raised the bar for everyone.

But even if they are buying their steel from the same source as we are, it doesn’t mean they’re buying the same steel, or “Ivanko steel.” For example, a well known company called me the other day and said “I read your article and I got the same steel you’re using, and I told them I want the same strength and hardness as Ivanko bar steel. They tried to talk me out of it, but I didn’t listen. And can you tell me one thing, please. How in the hell do knurl this steel? My machinist says its chewing up our knurling dies.” My answer: “Look I don’t mind telling you where I get my steel or the tensile strength it has to be where you are not going to have any bending problems. However, it took me years to learn the technique to knurl previously hardened steel, and I can’t give away that information. In fact, you’re not the only person who has learned this the hard way.”

That’s why almost every bar rarely goes over 150,000 PSI. That’s the real reason none of our competitors go over 150,000 PSI. And Ivanko is over 200,000 PSI. And you have to remember this is a geometric progression: so 200,000+ PSI is a lot stronger and very much harder to machine and knurl than 150,000 PSI. Ivanko Introduces a heavy-duty American-made high quality 4-1/2 foot EZ Curl Bar. For gyms and clubs who want Ivanko quality in an EZ-Curl bar. Forty years of experience in both using and design equipment had led us to make what we believe is the finest EZ Curl bar ever offered. A perfect complement to those who appreciate the quality and integrity of design and manufacture in the Ivanko OB-20KG Olympic bar. Our EZ-Curl bar bar deep bends, which allow the user to relieve stress on his wrists. You will notice the difference between this bar and all others, at once.”




Ivanko Barbell Company was founded by Tom Lincir in 1967 as is the leading provider of professional and commercial grade barbell and dumbbell products worldwide. Your comments or questions are welcome. Contact Tom at or write to P.O. Box 1470, San Pedro, CA 90733 U.S.A. For product information and pricing, see our website; or call (310) 514-1155. 

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