Friday, January 9, 2009

Dan Pike's Armour

Dan wants an armour for SCA fighting in Estrella War in Arizona. On a recommendation, he found me, and found this blog, where he saw the effort I put into making armour that looks good. I think I do that, and the price stays down because I stick to my knitting...basic good armour. My armour is pretty basic armour, and seems to not take a huge amount of time to get reasonably good results. The armour below is completely sixteen gauge steel front and back, the buckles are industrial roll buckles and belts from the harware store (they are usually used to hold tool belts onto construction workers) Not period, I know, but cheap and easily changed if Dan decides to go for my handmade buckles in the future.
The first picture below is the breastplate in the morning sun. As I write this, a lot more work has been done. But it is all in the leathering...grin!
Below is a fine picture of the backplate. Dan decided to try out the three piece suit. I call it the three piece because it is three pieces in the chest, three pieces in the back, and three pieces in the faulds. The result is really nice. I installed buckles made by my apprentice Andrea, and a fine job she did too! Those big square centre bar buckles are solid brass. And please note that those buckles are included in the price...harumph.

Below you can see the "reveal", that is to say, the shadow line formed by the armour. If you look closely, you can see the leather which I install on the steel to prevent it from scratching the piece below it. This leather has a name..."picadills". Normally it is made so that you can't see them, like in this example, (though you can "just" when you click on the picture and look closely) but sometimes when you want them to show, they can provide a nice contrasting line of colour. The picadills are made to wear out instead of the armour wearing out. Sometimes in museums of real battle armour, you can see slots and gaps worn into the underlying armour by the constant wearing and scratching of the top armour, particularly on the back plates which tend to be thinner anyway. The picadills are normally mounted with copper nails so that they will be easier to replace when the time comes. As has been done here.

Above you can see a real side angle shot of the armour. The strap has been mounted to fit underneath the metal (giving Dan's shoulders a much appreciated cushion) and as you can see, it is pretty stiff. Needs some neatsfoot oil me-thinks. Oh well, leather maintenance is one of the fun jobs, along with sanding. Speaking of which, please note that there has not been any sanding of the steel after it was shaped...that shiny look is entirly from the wheel. If he wants to sand the armour, there will be plenty of time to do that in the next few years as it WILL rust a bit, from his sweat if nothing else.
I especially like this view since it shows the space I made for his shoulder blades really nicely.
Tomorrow, I'll put up the pics of the breastplate. Leava a comment somebody!!!!

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Anonymous said...

The 3 piece armor looks very very nice for the back, I await the pictures for the breast plate.

STAG said...

Hi Mike, good to see your picture here...

Yeah...that three piece back plate really does look good. Hope it looks as good on Dan! The biggest downfall would be if he cinched the shoulder belts too tight, causing the top part of the backplate to gap and stick out too far. The answer of course would be to loosten them off, and let the backplate fall down an inch or two.

Daniel Pike said...

It looks great, Bill. I can't wait to see more.

I have a couple of questions about strapping, actually. A friend of mine and I did the strapping for the rest of my suit this weekend, but we didn't finish the legs because we weren't sure if there would be a way to strap the top rivets to the breastplate/faulds or not. In the past, I've had to strap the top of the legs to a kidney belt and let them hang that way, but it seems like overkill to wear a kidney belt with your three-piece cuirass. What would you suggest? The cuisses have two holes for rivets at either side of the top plate covering the thigh; both rivet holes would require either a strap or a strap with a buckle. I'd prefer not to run the strapping too long, as the inner rivet hole is close to inseam.

In addition, a couple of my friends are clear-coating their armor to keep it from rusting. I wanted to hear your opinion on this, as you mentioned another way to protect the armor when we spoke earlier. The pieces I got from Ashcraft/Baker seem made to rust, so I'll have to do something about them soon; on the other hand, I want the suit's finish to be as consistent as possible.

Please let me know what you think. I'm a novice here at best. o.O

Daniel Pike said...

On a side note, I'm having issues accessing the South Tower website. My browser keeps trying to download a file rather than navigating to your page. This has been going on since Friday. You might want to have someone look into this, as I've tried it from three different computers on two separate networks. If I can't access the page, that probably means others are having trouble as well.

R. S. said...


I wanted to order a shield from you, but your website is doing something strange, and won't open in Firefox. Do you have an alternative way I can contact you?

STAG said...

Hi guys,

Yeah...I am having some serious issues with my web site....thanks for coming here. I have tickets in with the help desk. All I can do is wait.

If I have to wait too long, then I'll have to find somebody else to host my web site.
Interestingly enough, my email still seems to be active....

So R.S., you can get in touch with me there and reasonably expect an answer.

Dan, your breast plate is finished. I'll be putting pictures up today, however, did you want me to add a strap to the inside of the cuirass? Normally legs would hang from a fairly sturdy waist belt.

STAG said...

Oh, and the coating on the armour is high gloss lacquer. Of all the clear coats, lacquer is the easiest to fix. After all, ANY clear coat will scratch, but only lacquer dries in 5 minutes, and can be totally "fixed" just as quickly with a paper towel soaked in lacquer thinner.
When I use my armour in a battle, or even just to show it off, I wipe it down with lacquer thinner, then bring it into the house. If I figure that the lacquer is getting too thin, a quick spray with high gloss lac will restore the protective finish. For photo shoots, I wipe the lacquer off as much as possible to prevent ugly scratches from showing up on film, but after the shoot, I wipe it down once again to remove fingerprints, and spray it with a protective coating of clear high gloss spray lacquer.
The idea is that maintenance takes so little time that it is easy to keep it up.
When I was exhibiting my armour outside Toronto where it was exposed to the damp air for weeks at a time, I occassionally had to clean the lac off the armour, and go over it with fine sandpaper or steel wool. I found that the moisture eventually finds its way through the gloss lacquer finish, and so I was cleaning it off in the middle of the week as well as after every weekend show day. I went through a lot of lacquer...grin! But, its cheap and keeps everything looking good.

When the armour was being exhibited in the rain, I was wiping it down with WD40 every hour or so. The letters in the name mean "Water Displacement", and it works just fine. For an hour or so. Then you have to wipe the rain drops away, re-spray, and hope you can find something to bake the moisture out of the armour before you put it away for the evening. If you fight in the rain, then dry it out asap, and break out the sandpaper because you are going to get rust!

I met a fella at Pensic who kept a couple of oily rags in a pouch. In the pouch was a quantity of sand as well, which would stick to the surface of the rags and help to clean up the armour. He seemed to do okay. But again, no doubt at the end of the day, he placed it on a stand beside the fire to warm the metal before putting it away for the night. On its stand. In its own tent. grin!

R. S. said...

Actually, it seems that your email isn't working... it just got bounced back to me with a "mailbox full" error. I'll try and reach you by mail again tomorrow.