Friday, January 2, 2009

Charles A's Breastplate, revisited

This is the part of the job I call the "leathering". The finicky part after which, when everything is fitted properly, I can add the internal leather to keep it that way. This is the "tailoring" part, and it normally takes four to five hours. This is no exception. The two piece armours take longer to leather than the three piece armours. The single piece armours just take longer to bash out. Ya can't win!
If the leather is not done right, the armour will sag, bind and generally be a pain to wear. So the skill set is less of a metalworker, and more that of a tailor. Except instead of sewing buttons on, I am drilling holes for strap mounts. These five pics show different considerations, some contradictory, which go into making an armour like this. Right now, not counting writing on this blog, we are sitting at five hours.....that includes eyeletting the fauld line, and sanding the steel. Starting to look like an armour!
A big two piece breastplate....always a lot of work. In this case, however, I know that Charles has a flat stomach, large chest, and long trunk. This means I have to heavily shape the breastplate, leave the placquart fairly flat (but still fair it up onto the breastplate) and in general, make it "work". Damn, he is high on the side! I hope he made the measurement right...I would not want to have to cut out a scoop under his arm. Oh well, its period to be tight and high like that.
Above, you can see how I have set the measurements he provided for me, drilled an index hole, and snapped in a pop rivet to hold it in place. A couple of clamps holds it at the side. Right now, we are looking (in the above picture) at the maximum extension...properly called the maximum reveal. If Charles sits down, the bottom plate, the plaquart, will slide up over the breastplate. How far it will slide will depend upon the length of the slot I have to finish cutting. I have also drilled the mounting holes for the front straps, the ones which go over the shoulders. Because the breastplate shown is a full sixteen gauge in thickness, there is no need to insert extra plates to strengthen the attachment point.
Below, you can see how I laid in a couple of big thick horizontal straps that server dual purposes. The strap on the bottom protects Charles' shoulders from the corner of the armour, as well as providing mounting eyelets for the big South Tower Shoulders he bought last month. I used the same strap to provide eyelets to mount his arms (when he gets them), so there are four eyelets in all. The process he would normally follow would be...put on the breast-back plate, hang the arms with laces through the outside eyelets, fold the leather strap over from the inside, and tie the shoulders onto those. No need to use a tab on the gorget or holes in the shoulder straps.
I like to use big thick belts for the safety tongue. The lighter top strap (the red coloured strap) is only there to hold the "keeper" in place. By hanging the shoulder spaulders this way, he protects the shoulder straps from the edges of his spaulders.

Below is a closeup which shows how the slot is made. No great mystery here....just find a perfect centre line, then drill a series of holes, and file them into a slot. This fairly simple job will take about a half hour, and possibly another half hour of cursing, sanding, and complaining. But the end result will be worth it.
The longer the slot is, the more mobility the client will have, but the weaker the placquart will become. If you make it too long, it might flex, and bind the sliding rivet. And inch and a half is about the most you should push it, maybe two inches in sixteen gauge. Although jousters love the look, they never like what the lances do to the sliders, and so their sliding rivets tend to be no more than a half inch or so, and their waists are by necessity raised up as much as three inches. Thats why jousters armour doesn't "look right" when they are walking around. This armour is made for a foot soldier.

A side view of the armour. The breastplate is not in its final position...when Charles wears it, there will be a straight line along the side. I hope. If the slot is long enough. If the plaquart is straightened up a bit. This is the stage where I would prefer that he was right here in my shop so that I could make adjustments.

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