Titanium Crowbar
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Why would anyone want a titanium crowbar? In my case because we have a projector screen with a handle that's hard to reach. It's located near the periodic table, and the only logical place to put something to hook the handle with is on my element shelf, but I don't allow anything on my element shelf that isn't an element sample. I didn't see any alternative really.

Why anyone else would want a titanium crowbar is less clear. It is very light, which I suppose might be nice, but then again, often you really want some weight behind your crowbar, when you're jamming it in or under something. I suppose it's nice that it will never rust, but I haven't really had that problem with my half dozen other crowbars.

My big problem with a titanium crowbar is that I'd be afraid to use it for fear of scratching the silky smooth finish. I wonder how they can be made so cheaply, considering how expensive other things made of titanium are. My understanding is that the price of titanium has dropped dramatically over the last few years because of the opening up of supplies from the former Soviet union, and the development of a new, cheaper process for refining it.

The bar is genuine: Analysis by x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy at the Center for Microanalysis of Materials, University of Illinois (partially supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under grant DEFG02-91-ER45439) indicates that it is at least 98% titanium (possibly more, I wasn't being careful with the analysis).

Not only that, after seeing the above, reader Michael Schultz wrote to inform me that there is a good use for titanium crowbars. Read on:
I read through your page covering Titanium. You'd mentioned that you were unsure why anyone would want a titanium crowbar, however there actually is a market for such an item, although the market is a bit obscure. Titanium crowbars are often used by SCUBA divers for wreck diving or salvage. The reason a crowbar would be needed is obvious, and like you said, a titanium crowbar won't rust. However, more important than its resistance to rust, is its density.

Short story:
Divers that need a crowbar underwater would be safer and more comfortable with a titanium crowbar.

Long story:
The weight of a regular crowbar would cause the diver to either be overweight while diving, or require that the diver wear less weight in their weightbelt to maintain proper buoyancy. Part of diving is the eternal struggle for buoyancy. Because of this, divers have to have a measured amount of lead weights attached to them to assist them in staying submerged. These weights assist at first, but eventually become unnecessary due to the increasing amount of water directly above the diver. To balance the weights at lower depths, the diver must use a BC (Buoyancy Compensator), which is a vest that they can inflate or deflate to modify their displacement, and therefore allow them to "hover" in the water. If the diver chooses to be overweight, they would descend more rapidly, and find it necessary to keep their BC inflated significantly more. If the diver accidentally dropped the crowbar, they would ascend and find it necessary to deflate their BC rapidly to keep from ascending too fast. The more underweight the diver, the faster they would ascend.

A regular crowbar would not only serve as more weight attached to the diver, but it's also off center when it's used. This means that a diver who starts using a regular crowbar would most likely become inverted as it moved away from the body, requiring deflation of the BC to compensate, or inflation as you bring it closer to your body. This would make it very difficult to use effectively.

Therefore wreck and salvage divers prefer a lighter, less dense crowbar, with equal or greater strength of a regular crowbar, for the reasons of safety and convenience. Oh yeah, and it doesn't rust!
I stand corrected. And now, double-corrected. Reader Bob Shipp wrote in to add this additional application for a light crowbar:
When rock climbers lay out new routes up cliffs there will often be rocks and handholds (sometimes relatively large, i.e. perhaps a hundred pounds or so) which are not securely attached. These rocks pose a real danger for climbers. If you find yourself hanging from one of these guys and it suddenly shifts or lets go, not only is the climber in danger - a moving rock may damage a rope easily - but especially those on the ground may be hurt. The more vertical the surface is the more danger these rocks may pose, and if you are climbing a roof, i.e. a severely overhanging climb, these rocks may peel off at any time. Just hope that you are not anchored in to it when it goes!

What you need is a very light crowbar; light enough to climb with it clipped onto your harness, and strong enough that you can give a really good crank to any suspicious rocks in order to drop those that are not secure. Of course this is only done during the initial route set up. Once the route has been cleaned, it should be safe for future climbers and spectators, but for the early ascents, a titanium crowbar is so much nicer than a steel one.
Any more applications out there? Why yes, just a few weeks later, reader Jeff Jennings sent in this:

I work for a defense contractor, and last year had a project that involved temporarily installing some equipment on a Navy vessel. For various technical, administrative, and warfighting reasons, we attached the various equipment elements to the overhead and bulkheads with extremely strong neodymium magnets (strong enough to crush the fingers of inattentive persons, and requiring heavy shielding to transport).

A titanium crowbar with a specially ground and polished edge was the tool that at allowed us to have an installation that was virtually permanent, yet could be repositioned or removed at will. When a device needed to be moved, one engineer would use the crowbar to lever the magnet loose from the ship, while another (wearing heavy leather gloves) would grab the equipment and pull against the magnetic force. Without the titanium crowbar, those magnets would be stuck in place forever.

Respectfully submitted,
-Jeff Jennings.
I wonder if their magnets were anything like the supermagnets for sale here. Those three-inchers look pretty scary!

Source: Dutchguard
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 22 February, 2003
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: $40
Size: 22"
Purity: >98%