My armour projects

We had pleasant weather for the weekend, to stay that way for another week.  I’m still watching the El Niño indicators with interest — still bouncing around, though the Weather Bureau is convinced we’re up for a dry spring and summer.

Pat and Silvan (our current wwoofers) were away on Sunday, so I took the opportunity to advance a couple of armour projects.

One is a new helmet.  I got the plans from the Net, but had a lot of trouble coming up with a size that looked sensible.  Eventually I discovered in the fine print that I had to expand the graphic by exactly 128%, and then constrain my printer to do what it was told — it wanted to optimise everything for the page.

The helmet is an open-faced bascinet.  I cut it out of heavy sheet steel using a jigsaw, and cleaned up the edges with the grinder.  The steel comes black with mill scale — my friend Blayney has advised me to soak this off with vinegar, but I only had a few hours in cool weather and the results weren’t brilliant.

The top bit is made in two halves, each of which has to be ‘dished’.  This means using a metal former bowl, made from the base of an old oxy tank.  At Alfar’s suggestion, I used some leather inside this to reduce any scratches to the metal surface.  You then belt this with a rawhide leather hammer until it gets the right curve.  Every now and again, you run your fingers over the inside and mark any raised points, which then get bashed a bit harder.  This is essentially panel-beating.

I got one of the halves mostly dished, before I decided that my arm was done for the day.  When you armour regularly, which I did in the late 1980s, you build up massive forearms.  When you’re a computer jockey, you need to pace yourself or you can get an injury.  So I’ll do a bit more from time to time, or maybe Pat and Silvan can help out here.

My other project is some body armour, based on a nifty design by Jason in Melbourne (Everard Sefar).  It’s made from heavy plastic, cut from a pickle barrel.

The really nifty thing about the design is that it folds up to be very compact, very handy if you have to fly anywhere with your armour.  It’s very comfortable and flexible, and you use it covered with a fancy heraldic tabard.

I already had some of the pieces cut out previously by an earlier wwoofer, Markus.  So I cut out the remaining bits and cleaned them up.  The plan is to rivet the overlapping plates to a coat made from canvas. Unfortunately, my fancy punch didn’t work very well in putting the holes through the plastic, so I’ll have to do it with the drill press.  On another day. 

Pat and Silvan have been plugging away, completing a barrel helm that lots of our past wwoofers have done bits of.  They have prettied up another old helm that we were donated, and are repairing some other donor pieces.

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