Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Friday, December 05, 2008

Three strikes... And it's a SCORE!

Deotrich, our barrony's resident armoring guy, happens to be a metal worker and has a fully equipped metal working shop at home. So he regularly hosts armoring sessions, for folks to get together and work on their armor.

For the past few months, they've shifted focus a bit in that the group decided to fabricate some kits, from which introductory armor could be fashioned for purchase by people wanting to try out armored fighting. So they have been inviting people to come and work on the kits rather than their own armor. Sounded to me like a great way to get into the process, get hands on some armor, meet people, etc. So I've been keen to help out.

Unfortunately, the fates haven't really allowed that to happen. Early in November was the first time we'd signed up to go - but I came down with something and did not feel fit to leave the bed, much less be sociable. Dave actually attended without me, but by the time he got there they were pretty much under way. The second time we were going up was an evening after work. What with me getting home from Boulder, and Dave finishing up in the kennel - we called them to see if it would be fruitful for us to come, and they decided by the time we could get there they would be ready to shut down. So last night I was determined to go!

We had our first real snow storm of the year roll in Wednesday night. (Yes -- December is INCREDIBLY late for us to be getting our first measurable snow.) We only got a few inches, but we had heard a lot about the roads being really bad all day. But we drive a Subaru. 'Nuf said.

Except, we forgot that not everyone is so equipped nor so experienced with Colorado winter driving. So we arrived... to find out the session had been cancelled! LOL! I'm doomed, I tell you. Someone really doesn't want me working on armor kits.

But -- turns out that was ideal. Because of course I'd taken my helm and instead of slogging through stuff to go into someone else's armor -- I got Deotrich's full attention as we set about customizing my own. Woot!

First off we discussed how I'd shoved that riding helmet up into the helm. He looked up the requirements for equestrian armor, and determined that using the straps on the riding helmet wouldn't suffice -- because they aren't physically attached to the helm. But the way it conforms the helm to my head really did work very well to prevent either the helm from shifting to hit my face, or twisting to the side blinding me. In fact, he thinks it works well enough that no additional padding is necessary (around the back of the skull) -- which is nice so that I can keep as much air circulation in there as possible. One possible draw back to the riding helmet foam is that of course it is very rigid. Meaning that it won't offer compressible type protection against repeated blows to the head -- as one might be subjected to in sword fighting. Well -- time will tell just how aggressive the others in my group get and whether that's an issue or not. Not to mention whether I'll keep competing if that becomes an issue.

Deotrich did suggest that we could flare out the bottom rim of the back of the helm. I had already noticed that in looking up it tended to dig into my neck. Now, first off he thought we'd probably wear a gorget - a neck piece of armor, so that the helm couldn't bottom out on your body, but by flaring out what was a blunt edge seemed like a good idea. So, set up on one of his anvils Dave and I banged out the bottom rim. Totally -- I didn't expect to be able to do it in a million years, but it really wasn't that hard.

The next step was to add a chin strap. We discussed riveting a strap into the helm, but that really makes the helm custom for one person only. So we opted for cutting slots in the side of the helm to run a buckle-able chin strap through it. This way it will be possible for Dave to get his own padding set up and we can just swap that out to share the helm.

Cutting the slots, now, was an adventure. The slots are to be positioned where your jaw hinges, and that spot happens to be a double layer of steel in this helm. Though we have some metal cutting bits and blades, I was very glad we opted to do these cuts in his shop. It was quite a struggle. I pretty quickly turned over Holding-The-Helm duties to Dave because it was just hard.

We cut leather straps, and fashioned a chin bracket... for lack of me knowing the correct term. And -- we headed home with quite the list of steps yet to take. Many of the factory cuts were pretty rough, and slots we put in are still very rough, so we need to do some de-burring. Then spray the inside with a steel primer, to prevent rust. Sew the buckle on and finish the chin strap.

And then... decide what to do with the outside! Decorate it? Paint it? Painting, he said, typically requires a lot of upkeep as it gets scuffed and dinged. Yet protects against rust. Huum. Not sure yet.



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