At one point it looked like the Eclipse was going to become Saw Set Flavour of the Month, like the Stanley 42x and the Taintor before it, but alas, no, the Stanley remains the Chosen One. Which is silly from where I'm sitting, 'cos here in Merrie Olde Englande you can throw stones all over the place but not hit a Stanley, whereas you can actually go to pick up a stone and come away with an Eclipse 77 in your hand instead. Hey you can even get the modern Somax version of the Eclipse more easily.
So I thought I'd better try and decide if I wanted to keep my user 77, or change to one of the others - and was struck by the subtle differences between the three. So I thought I'd share, because it can prove handy to know that not all 77s are created equal.
Of course it's the business end that matters - and if you've looked into these sets at all, you'll have discovered that the hammer/plunger/call it what you will can vary in width. Consensus is that it all depends on the age of manufacture, and certainly I can't recall ever seeing anything that suggested that the 77 was marketed with any emphasis on availability of different hammer widths. The anvil varies too - the different style of markings the most obvious indicator.
Honestly, I'm torn on which of the two on the left is the older. My first thought was the red painted one (my current user) on the far left, but then you turn it over and... the U-shaped top is much narrower on the middle one, and my user one looks more like the wider-hammered on on the right. And I'm pretty darn convinced the wider hammer and those extra ribs in the casting are found on later models. So who knows? Well maybe you do, in which case, the comments box is open. I'll provide tea and biscuits.
And after all that, what to do? Well while researching a bit for this blog post, I re-remembered that careful, considering saw setters argue that you should (ideally) have a saw set tuned up for each size and set of tooth - or at the least, to cover groups of teeth. Anvils should be ground differently for less set angle, probably a wider hammer is desirable for larger teeth, and all that kind of thing. In fact much discussion on the matter over here, including more on the Eclipse. And yes, most of that goes over my head at about 50,000 ft and honestly, if the saw cuts, I'm inclined to think "Hooray!" and leave it at that, but fwiw.
On the other hand, if I wasn't a terminally slap-dash saw setter, and looked at a certain way, it turns out I don't actually have enough Eclipse 77s. Who knew?