Published on June 1st, 2013 | by Trick1
Review: The Vape O’Clock Rook
Summary: The Rook is far from perfect, but it performs well and sports a very unique look.
Few recent mods have had group buyers salivating like the new Rook from Vape O’Clock. The pre-production pictures of the Pinoy mod showed a beautiful, two-toned mechanical with a castle motif, copper terminals and an engraved serial number — a very unique mod, and it wasn’t long before groups were formed and people were anxiously waiting for the Rook to roll off the line.
While there were some delays in production, we’ve seen worse for a new mod. Things don’t always go as planned, and once you’ve been through a few group buys you learn to shrug off an extra few weeks here and there. Still, when we got word that the shipment of Rooks for our Facebook-based group buy was on the way, we got a little more excited about it than we did for, say, the Sigelei Telescope #61 that arrived the same day.
The Vape O’Clock Rook: The Unboxing
Shipping was not kind to Vape O’Clock Rook #US11. It had wiggled free of its bubble wrap in transit, and was looking a little rough by the time it got to us. There was also a fair amount of surface corrosion that made for a somewhat less-than-perfect first impression. This was not the textured, hammered-like finish of the Rook’s marketing material — it looked more like our Rook had been left out in the rain for a few days, and kicked a couple of times in the process. While our initial reaction at the state of our Rook was a bit of shock, on closer inspection we realized there wasn’t much to get worked up over. The scuffs and oxidation were all on the surface, and a minute or two with our trusty bottle of Mr. Metal and #11 was looking like the brand new mod it is.
We immediately noticed a few small differences between our Rook and the pictures we’d seen. For instance, while the pre-production pictures show the “Rook” name and serial number engraved on a ring at the bottom of the body, on ours a castle logo and the serial number were engraved on the bottom-mounted button, and the “Rook” name was nowhere to be seen. Also, while the edges of the crenelations (we rarely get an excuse to use that word in a sentence — thanks, Vape O’Clock) look somewhat rounded in the pictures, the corners are actually quite sharp. While we wouldn’t go as far as to say we expect the edges to cut our hands, they definitely feel like they could, and it can make the Rook a bit uncomfortable to hold.
The Rook’s Looks
The silver-toned parts of the Vape O’Clock Rook appear to be aluminum, and the brass has a somewhat brushed finish, most likely due to the lathing process used to construct the tubes. We’ll have to give ours some time to know for sure, but it seems unlikely that the finish will ever take on a look like the one in the original pictures. That’s not to say that the Rook doesn’t look great — it’s still a beautiful mod, just different from what you might expect if all you’d seen was the marketing.
When we showed or Rook to others after first cleaning it up, a common point of contention was the battery vent in the center tube, through which you can see the battery. While this is visible in the original photos as well, it becomes really obvious when you throw something like a red AW into the mod. Reactions were mixed on the look — some liked it, and some hated it. We don’t mind it at all, particularly with something like a gray Panasonic battery, with which the vent is hardly noticeable. The center tube can also be reversed so that the vent hole is inside the mod, though that hole is the only clear path for the batter to vent in case of a problem, and reversing the tube will seal it. We’re a little more concerned with safety than we are with people getting a look at our batteries, so we left the vent open.
The terminals of the Vape O’Clock Rook are solid copper, and the bottom pin is adjustable, allowing the throw distance of the switch to be varied. The top pin, however, is not adjustable in any way we’ve been able to figure out, and we have experienced problems getting some atomizers to fire because of the depth of the center pin on the Rook. In every case so far, the atomizer has had an adjustable pin, and we’ve been able to get it to work be tweaking things on that end, but an adjustable positive pin would have made that easier, and would also have eliminated potential problems with getting atomizers to mount flush with the top cap of the Rook.
The Rook’s switch is equipped with a locking mechanism, but there’s really not much need to use it. The switch is set flush with the mod’s bottom, and doesn’t really move when the mod is stood on end. Extending the locking ring results in it being set in deeper, and does prevent the button from firing, but given the flush mounting of the button face and the strong spring in the Rook, it seems unlikely you’d ever fire it accidentally even without the locking ring. Still, it never hurts to be sure.
The Rook easily telescopes to accommodate batteries from an 18490 up to an 18650. Some seemed disappointed to find that it would not accept an 18350. However, in this case, the battery types supported by the mod had been clearly and accurately described in advance.
It should probably be mentioned that the cut-outs in the brass tubes can make threading them onto the other tubes more difficult than it would be otherwise. It can be hard to properly line the tubes up before twisting them together, and we fear that we’ll need to be very careful to avoid cross-threading, particularly with the soft aluminum extension tube.
The performance of the Vape O’Clock Rook in our tests was very good. Under load, it delivered approximately 95.5% of the batteries voltage to the atomizer, or a roughly .2 volt drop from a battery charged to 4.2 volts. The copper contacts are, no doubt, a factor here, and considering the amount of surface corrosion we found on the mod when it arrived, it seems likely there may have been some oxidation on those contacts as well, though our tests were run on the mod as it was received.
While the Rook is certainly a good-looking mod, in person it doesn’t quite live up to the gorgeous mod shown in the pre-production marketing. It’s also got a few things we really don’t like, such as some sharp edges, and a 510 connector that’s just a bit too deep not to have an adjustable pin.
However, while the Rook is far form perfect, it performs very well (assuming your atomizer can reach the deeply-recessed center pin), and it still retains a unique look that was much of the reason we were attracted to it in the first place, and were willing to fork out the $125 or so it cost to get one. The Rook certainly has its own personality, and that’s a rare enough thing that it makes up for a lot of the mod’s many imperfections.
Update: June 2, 2013
Vape O’Clock has acknowledged the issues with the Rook’s non-adjustable pin, and is now offering a replacement floating pin for the Rook. While we have placed an order for one, we have not yet had a chance to try it out, to see if it resolves the issues with the 510 well being too deep for some atomizers.
Update: June 8, 2013
A Facebook group buy had formed for replacement pins and spare top caps for the Rook. Today, we learned that Vape O’Clock has offered to send a free replacement pin and top cap to each of the members of that group. The new floating pin should resolve the problem with atomizers not firing, and a spare top cap certainly makes potential threading problems less of a concern. We will certainly update this review once those have been received.
Update: July 11, 2013
The new caps and firing pins have arrived in the States. However, they were found to have severe threading issues that rendered them unusable. Vape O’Clock has proposed paying for shipping to fix issues with problem Rooks they’ve previously shipped. We’ve also received reports that later shipments of the Rook contain several differences from the one we reviewed.