Thursday, December 10, 2009

Measured drawings

The importance of getting your hands on real armour cannot be stressed enough. On my recent visit to Malta, Mr. Cassar, the curator of the Palce armoury was kind enough to find me a shoulder armour that I could study and measure. The first step is to make a duplicate. Then I can worry about resizing if required. Tools needed for this inch tape, a couple of pencils, a darned good eraser, a compass, a graph paper booklet, and a good 3 to 4 hours.
The inside of the armour is revealing. The rough cuts on the inside, the hammer marks and the rough cut washers indicate that this armour was very much a "General Issue" armour.

There were four rows of rivet holes in this armour going down the lames. The back row, the row down the triceps, are sliding rivets. The slots are only about a quarter of an inch long, but they add up to a full inch of movement when flexed. The front "bicep" row are simply pivots. The visible row of rivet holes down the centre is actually a late period addition, possibly to allow a steel strap to be mounted inside as part of a display. Almost all the armours in the armoury have these 19th century disfiguring holes...even the most famous and well preserved of them.
There is a row of smaller holes inside under the lames where you can't see them from the front which were used to hold the leather strip which went from one of the "decorative" rivets on the cop. No trace of this ancient leather remains of course, and sometimes it is even difficult to make out the holes where it was attached. The reason for this leather? Well, the sliding rivets on the back create an inherent weakness in the articulation. Any elongation of the holes or wear of the rivets, and you get the dreaded "gap-osis". A centre leather strap fixes that quite neatly.

The shoulder is buckled onto the gorget at the top with a three quarter inch strap attached to the gorget. The buckle is mounted firmly in place with a steel buckle mount.

The lower cannon is actually quite interesting....a raised ridge has been created in the bottom lame, and the lame was riveted into place. The lower cannon was flared across the top, and fitted into the lame, then it was riveted into place. The flare fits neatly inside the ridge, and rotates a full 360 degrees. It seems remarkably solid and is capable of withstanding a lot of impact. Can't wait to get home to make one!

Thank you to Mr Robert Cassar of Heritage Malta, curator of the Palace Armoury for this opportunity to make measured drawings of a very representative piece of armour. Future armours coming out of the South Tower Armouring Guild will be the better for it.

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