Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Too many rivets

Started off by riveting the shoulder lames that I rounded yesterday.

Also used baby oil to clean some old tape goop off the breastplate sections of this shoulder.  This works wonderfully although you have to be careful about scratching the metal.  The scrubber pad pictured here wasn't too bad, but on the next plate I tried soaking it for longer and just using my fingernail.  I guess there was some grit in there (or else my fingernail is harder than I thought) since even that approach left some scratches.  Anyways, the goop is gone.

Anyways, I was getting a bit tired of rounding corners so instead of working on the next shoulder section I spent some time riveting hinges.

Now, you can buy dome-headed copper rivets in a store (assuming you can find them, I certainly couldn't the last time I looked), but I think that's sort of cheating since it makes all your rivets look unnaturally perfect. What I'm about to show you certainly isn't a great method (you're better off making a plate and riveting tool) but it will get the job done when you can't find (or be bothered to find) the other stuff.

We'll need a pair of those ubiquitous made-in-every-chinese-factory wire strippers, some cutters, a ball pein hammer, a flat surface, a nail, and some 10 or 12 gauge copper wire.

It just so happens that these end nippers have the perfect jaw depth for making the rivet length that I need, so I'm saved the hassle of measuring.

Stick a piece of copper in the smallest set of pass-throughs that it will fit into and set it on the anvil.  (Yes I know that's not what that part of the tool is for)

Peen the protruding end as best you can.  This piece will go inside, so don't worry about looks.  The rivet shank will also bend a bit since the hole isn't the right size, but that doesn't matter too much.

Now flip the tool over and use that nail to pop out your new rivet.

Doesn't look like much at this point, does it?

But once you actually put them in place and peen them they look fine.

Just to put the amount of work in perspective, there are six hinges in this armour, each with 12 of these hand-made copper rivets.  There are also 5 girdle bands with 2 slotted plates requiring 4 rivets each (one set of girdle bands used folded flaps instead of rivets).

That's a total of 112 of the handmade wire rivets that I just described.  Good grief, no wonder so many people cheat with store-bought ones!

Shoulder section is mostly riveted together.  I still need to rivet the hinges on the breast and mid-collar plates, peen the hinge pins, and maybe add some decorative panels to the holes where the girdle bands hook in.  Until all that's done I won't rivet the shoulder onto the breastplate as it would be obnoxious to work with otherwise.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

More rounded corners

Riveted the other girdle section together (sans top band).  Look at all those clothing and finger-safe round corners!

Next I spent a bit of time puzzling over the leathering attachments for a shoulder section as there were several corrections to make and straps to adjust.  Then it was time to take it all apart, being careful to mark which holes were to be used during reassembly.  This was followed by a few more hours with the hammer and dremel, straightening out wobbly edges and smoothing sharp bits and corners.

Mission accomplished for now.

Tomorrow's task will be riveting the lesser shoulder lames together, and then disassembling and rounding the corners on the other shoulder section.  That will be a bit trickier since portions of it are already riveted together (from back in 2011).

Before I can finish riveting the shoulder sections together, I will need to finish riveting the hinges and (if I have time) making and attaching a brass decorative plate for the holes where the girdle band hangs.

A picture of a carlisle hinge, for no particular reason:

Monday, 24 October 2016

Leathering - the rush is on!

Hey folks - not much time these days to spend on writing up careful updates.  The Halloween deadline is fast approaching.

Today I dismantled both girdle sections and rounded all the sharp corners (52 of those) and ground, hammered, and/or filed all the rough edges (lots of those from tin snips).  I also smoothed out a few rough edges on the brass tabs and slots.

Corners were snipped off, then a dremel or file was used to clean up the fine corners and the aforementioned rough edges.  Steel wool was used to rub along the finished edges to take off any remaining wire edges / coarseness.

I also started riveting the slotted side of the girdle plates.  I am cheating a bit on these rivets since they mostly don't show.  Inside of making each rivet by hand from copper wire (as I have done for the decorative brass plates and hinges), I am using galvanised roofing nails.  These have the advantage of being less work and including their own washer - the nail head.  Once cut off and peened, their origin is only visible from the inside of the armour, which is not a concern for me.

I have not attached the topmost girdle band since I want to fine-tune the hooks and rivet those on first.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

First Complete Test Assembly

Lots of bolts to be replaced with rivets.  Lot of soot and goop to be removed.  Lots of edges to file and corners to round.  A few decorative elements to add, and maybe even a set of shoulder section hinges to make.

But in spite of all that... it's still awfully exciting to see it all put together for the first time.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Girdle Test Fitting

After finishing both bottom girdle bands, I got everything leathered up so I could do a proper test fitting!  A bit snugger than expected, but still very wearable.  It's possible I've suffered some horizontal expansion in the past five years.

Bending forwards, backwards, sideways - they all work!

Haven't trimmed the leathers yet, so they are hanging out the bottom.  I made the fasteners out of plain copper wire, probably 14 gauge.

Here's a quick look at how much give there is, particularly in the bottom two plates, which do not fasten together.

It's feeling a lot closer to completion!  Sadly, there are lots of sharp edges which need to be dealt with before this can be a worn as a costume.  When I disassemble everything to put in the final rivets, I'll have to take each lame and apply finishing to the edges and corners.  This is not difficult, but it's a lot of metal filings and time.

The next batch of work will require a propane torch so I can anneal brass again - to finish bending the hooks on which the girdle hangs.

I'll also have to finish adjusting the shoulder leathers, do some edge finishing, and finish riveting the hinges.

See you next time, reader.

Bottom Girdle Bands - More Hammerwork!

As mentioned on Satuday, I decided that a seventh set of girdle bands was required.  Since I'm rather taller than the average roman, this wasn't too surprising.  Fortunately I still had some of the original material carefully packed away, so measuring and cutting two additional bands wasn't a big deal.

What promised to be slightly more arduous, however, was the task of finishing their bottom edge. I wanted to have something that would be gentle on my fabric (and flesh), so I determined that I should invest the time in adding a folded and flared edge similar to the 'better half' of my neck plates.  I was a bit worried about remembering how to do this until I recalled that I documented it all. For reference -  my previous posts here and here, and helpful resource linked from those posts (here).

First, I marked a line and started the bend.  We only want to do a little bit on each pass.

A bit more progress on the second pass...

Pass #3:

Here in the fourth pass or so we're finally starting to curl past 90 degrees.

Now we're starting to close the fold...

Add in the flare as we close some more...

And go for the kill with last few passes... almost there!


Suffice it to say that I also did the second (matching) girdle band.  I'm going to take a break from this image editing etc. and continue in the next post.  See you later, folks!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Girdle Bands - Adding leathers

Not that long ago, I mentioned a lack of illustrative mistakes.  Today I will bring you at least two.

As you may recall, there are a number of made-up girdle bands waiting to be assembled.  Well, today's first mistake relates to those - I didn't put the rivets holes for leathering into the bands.  Now I'll have to add those (and put holes into the leather itself) with them already shaped, which is much less convenient.

First things first - I had to look at the pathetically mismatched eclectic selection of bands and determine front/back and what order I would hang them in.  Everything got labelled, probably past the point of common sense, but it's better to mark too much than to mark too little (and make a mistake because of it).

This brings me to an important armouring tool which (quite frankly) I had forgotten all about - soapstone.  Yes, those lovely "B"s are made with soapstone - not chalk!  Soapstone marks much better, is less fragile, and hits a nice sweet spot between being difficult to smudge but easy to remove.

Since I made the mistake of leaving this task until the bands were already bent, marking the points for rivets required a measuring string which I could lay across the inside of the lames.  I suppose I could have eyeballed it, but this seemed more foolproof.

As described in previous posts, a center punch is used to mark a nice divot in the metal where the hole should go.  The metal punch has a small tooth which is used to 'find' the divot and make sure you're putting the hole exactly where you want it.

Leathering is then the process of slowly adding each lame to the leather strip.  You can see here I am using nuts and bolts as my temporary "rivets" while testing the fit.  These will be replaced with actual rivets during the final assembly.

Note the black tape.  This is added to provide a visual guide of how much overlap is being added with each piece.

Also note that I'm still using second-hand belts for my leathers rather than buying the real stuff.

Our friend the leather punch makes an appearance again.

Here's another shot - note the how the black tape helps line things up consistently.

Finally, this brings us the to second mistake of this post.  After taking all these pictures and completing the first leather, it finally occurred to me that I need three leathers per girdle half...  I should have done all three at the same time!  Instead I had to take these girdle bands apart and start all over again from the markings to the holes.

Last picture from Saturday is the other half of the girdle bands all laid out and marked.

The more observant among your may have already noted that 5 simply isn't enough girdle bands... and you're right!  I actually have six for each side, but after a test fitting on Saturday evening I confirmed that even that would be a bit short.

Sunday's post covers the reaction to this discovery.