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Thread: Leon Paul FIE épée flexibility questions

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    Senior Member EldRick's Avatar
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    Leon Paul FIE épée flexibility questions

    I've noticed that the LP web page for their maraging FIE épée blades states that one can specify the flexibility/stiffness of the blade.

    However, they offer no information on how the stiffness is specified, what range of stiffness is available, or how the available range of FIE blades would compare with their standard épée blades. I've been unable to find this information by searching the forum either.

    So I wrote a note to sales@leonpaul.com asking these questions, and got back an annoying non-answer, in which they simply said that I could specify my needs in the comments field when ordering, but included no information at all.

    Can anyone tell me about these blades and the specifics about the stiffness issue, since the Leon Paul sales organization won't?
    Creator of the Sintered Tungsten Pommel - http://leonpaulusa.com/acatalog/Tung...ed_Pommel.html

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    I would bet your best option would be to call LPUSA after SNs. That way you can ask followup questions.

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    Senior Member DangerMouse's Avatar
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    Having used their blades off and on for a long time, including the FIE with stiffness numbers, I can tell you that it doesn't really matter much for feel. What matters is where the blade bends and how it bends through it's length. I had a few LP blades of the same stiffness that had a flatter profile near the tip and were really stiff until near the tip where they were much more flexible, and then I had some that were the reverse where they bent more in the middle of the blade. COMPLETELY different feel.

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    Senior Member EldRick's Avatar
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    I had thought that perhaps I'd get a more technical answer from the factory in England, and they aren't all in Atlanta this week, so I contacted them first.

    I'd think that it would be incredibly useful if the vendors would show a picture of the blades with a standard weight bending them in a standard manner (like the FIE tests) against a grid background. That would allow one to see these variations in the arc of the bend, as well as the overall degree of flexibility. Too much to ask?
    Creator of the Sintered Tungsten Pommel - http://leonpaulusa.com/acatalog/Tung...ed_Pommel.html

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    Senior Member EldRick's Avatar
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    It took a couple of emails, but I did get a response:
    ----------------------
    The 45 is the stiffest allowable, most fencers go for 46 to 52 stiffness.

    We do not always have all stiffnesses available - it depends how the batch turns out after heat-treating.

    Usually the most flexible in a batch is 55 - sometimes 62 or even 65 which is very flexible.

    Our non-FIE blades are across the same range 45 to 65

    Kind Regards

    Sales at Leon Paul
    --------------------------
    It would be nice to know what the numbers refer to, but I guess you can't have everything...
    Creator of the Sintered Tungsten Pommel - http://leonpaulusa.com/acatalog/Tung...ed_Pommel.html

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    Senior Member DangerMouse's Avatar
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    You mean they should take a photo of every blade they have in stock!? The blades vary drastically even within the same batch!

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    Senior Member EldRick's Avatar
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    For the prices they are getting these days, and the cost of digital photography, it does not seem unreasonable. If they take the time to test and assign a number for the FIE blades, this would be about the same amount of time invested, and a lot more informative.

    Even if they just showed a number of such photos superimposed, to give a sense of the "shape" of their typical blades, it would be useful. At the moment, it's just a crap-shoot and hear-say as to what you are going to get when buying a blade.
    Creator of the Sintered Tungsten Pommel - http://leonpaulusa.com/acatalog/Tung...ed_Pommel.html

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    Senior Member CvilleFencer's Avatar
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    Wow. Unreasonable customer does not seem to do this one justice.... "Pardon me massive multinational fencing vendor, would you mind taking a picture of every blade you make, just a few terabytes worth, and put it up online for me? I would like to see how they deflect against a scale?"

    If you want a blade that has 4.5CM deflection on a 750 gram weight you say so in the comments section. If you want a blade that is not too stiff, you say so in the comments section. Instead of making you learn their scale, you can give them as much or as little info as possible to get the blade you want. Seems like the way it should be to me, and is actually how I prefer it.
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    Senior Member EldRick's Avatar
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    Once again, I state "If they take the time to test and assign a number for the FIE blades, this would be about the same amount of time invested, and a lot more informative."

    So let's see, to store a 500K/photo per blade, and perhaps 5,000 premium FIE blades per year, that would be approximately 2.5GB of data storage - worth less than $10 at todays prices. But perhaps allowing the customer to select a specific blade from a web page is too complex an inventory management problem for a "massive international vendor"?

    Even if they simply showed a "typical" profile of the couple of dozen varieties of blades they offer, it would contribute substantially to a fencers ability to pick a blade based on information instead of rumor. The ability to see how a brand or model of blade deflects would take much of the mystery out of buying one, and would allow customers to see what they are getting and why it behaves as it does. I don't think that would be too much to ask for a company such as LP, that prides itself on innovation and on having an informative web site.
    Last edited by EldRick; 07-10-2010 at 12:38 PM.
    Creator of the Sintered Tungsten Pommel - http://leonpaulusa.com/acatalog/Tung...ed_Pommel.html

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    After my first two Leon Paul epees, I asked Bill Murphy about the numbers, and he took time to explain enough that I ordered one in the higher range. My 6.2 is supple and almost soft, but my wrist touches improved after I worked a long time in practice with that particular blade. I ought to rewire it, but I still snake it around with a kind of affection. The next two LP's I requested in the lower and upper 5's. Once I borrowed (OK, almost stole) a friend's Russian-handled vniti, but it was so stiff, compared to what I was used to, that it felt like a javelin. The finesse of that blade in my friend's hand is mind-boggling, so my humble advice is to just keep investing in good weaponry, and find your own way.
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    Senior Member Swordmaster's Avatar
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    EldRick,
    I see from your posts (on many threads) that you are relatively new to the sport. I think you should heed the wisdom and suggestion of Cville. Also, the number pertaining to flexibility of a Leon Paul blade is not on all of their FIE blades, just the epee and Flickmaster foil blades. This numbering system is more for their benefit than for yours, and in my opinion more of a marketing ploy than a scientific determination. As you can see from their website, you only have 3 choices when you order a Flickmasters and none on any other blade. As Danger Mouse said, even with in the same flexibility number range, every blade reacts differently.
    I would suggest that if it is that important to you, that you invest your money and time in buying and photographing blades - building your own data base of flexibility numbers of all blades made during a year of manufacturing. Then you could post them (for a fee of course) on your website with your "OBWone" device....
    Then you could get a life....
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    Senior Member shlepzig's Avatar
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    Another thing to note in regards to the LP Epee blades is that the blades break-in differently as you use them. The flex points may move a bit, and they will get softer in new places. So a blade bought at one flexibility may not be the same after 10-20 hours of practice. They also tend to warm up during the day (at least that is my perception), if performing a lot of flicks in a short amount of time, I have noticed that the action changes a little bit.

    I am a big fan of the LP blades, I like that they are light and don't "wobble" (having excessive spring moment), that they are flexible enough for some nice flick actions. The blades also have a very long life while being relatively affordable. They have their drawbacks, the blade characteristics are inconsistent, and vary during the day. they don't produce particularly strong beats, and can be overpowered in a parry (the blade can yield if not catching the opponents blade properly on your own forte), lastly the great flexibility of the blade may affect point control (different from "wobbling").

    -Shlep'

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    Senior Member EldRick's Avatar
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    I am constantly amazed by the Luddite attitudes of some in the fencing community, such as Swordmaster evokes in the post above.

    There seems to be a feeling by some that the sport should be frozen in the 17th century, with blades that vary wildly within the same batch, grips that were badly designed a hundred years ago, and rules that are not only undefinable, but inconsistently applied.

    Contrast this with tennis, for example, where, forty years ago, all the pros were going on record stating that these new-fangled aluminum racquets and nylon strings would never reproduce the feel of a good honest wood racquet with gut strings. Today, of course, a tennis player can select the weighting, balance, tension, damping, and size of a racquet, and the process of stringing is highly reproducible. The net is that the player can select the combination of speed and control that exactly suits his skill and style.

    In fencing, of course, the blades are still made in 17th-century forges where the quality control is miserable, not just in temper, but where they can’t even control the accuracy of cutting a wire-groove. Selection of blades is by “feel”, and ordering a blade sight-unseen is a crapshoot, since the only single measurement made, (by a single vendor) is total sag with a weight, and ignores the profile of the bend, that significantly affects the feel when fencing. This results in endless debates on fencing.net as to which blade to buy, ignoring the fact that the variation of blades within a brand is nearly as great as the difference between brands.

    Now here in modern reality, there are solutions to such random processes, one of which would be to simply measure and characterize each blade, so the fencer can reproducibly select what they want. With modern data management and inventory control techniques, this would be a trivial effort by the vendor, even though Swordmaster and others don’t seem to get that.

    As to the Orthopedic Balance Weight, at which Swordmaster takes a cheap shot, the published reviews by a couple of fencers willing to accept innovation have resulted in comments like: “As a rehabilitation tool, this is a godsend.”, and “It ENHANCES the foil. If you look at it that way, this thing is a dream find." Enough said.

    I’d like to think that those who resist innovation will be passed by and left in the dust, but apparently such change takes a long time, until those stuck in the past become a part of it.
    Last edited by EldRick; 08-05-2010 at 09:08 PM.
    Creator of the Sintered Tungsten Pommel - http://leonpaulusa.com/acatalog/Tung...ed_Pommel.html

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    Leon Paul FIE épée flexibility questions

    You're making Leon Paul sound like some poorly run old fashioned company, when they are the only company that actually tests their flexibility and rate them on a scale.. Plus I don't find any problem with the way they measure the blades flexibility, I asked for the most flexible blade, they gave me a 62, and it's really flexible. The limitations in the way they test their blades are perhaps the fact that they cannot describe how the blade will break in. I don't think there's a way to find out how a blade breaks in, unless you break it in..

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    EldRick,

    Here is the reality you are looking for:

    No vendor nor manufacturer is going to take the time nor resources to stop production, take a photo of every blade/FIE blade they make, post any type of comments about each blade online at any time. Your buying a fencing blade, not a metorite from a diffrent planet! (not trying to be smat-a$$ just explainging the diffrence)

    Know this, I stress to fencers to pick out their own blades; my perception of stiff/soft is going to be diffrent than yours. Any diagram or weight or photo is not going to change you holding a blade and feeling it for yourself. You asking someone else to do this is a path for being let down. Your not going to be happy!

    I have folks that call me and ask, can I get a BF White that is SUPER light and SUPER flex? There is no such thing in opinion! Yet, when I see this person that called me, they hand me 3 blades and tell me, this is what I wanted and they are all three in my mind Stiff! Hocking up a scall or presure guage device is not going to give you the answer your looking for.

    If this is a deal breaker for you, you may want to look into the sport of tennis.


    Hope this helps,


    Gary Spruill




    Quote Originally Posted by EldRick View Post
    I am constantly amazed by the Luddite attitudes of some in the fencing community, such as Swordmaster evokes in the post above.

    There seems to be a feeling by some that the sport should be frozen in the 17th century, with blades that vary wildly within the same batch, grips that were badly designed a hundred years ago, and rules that are not only undefinable, but inconsistently applied.

    Contrast this with tennis, for example, where, forty years ago, all the pros were going on record stating that these new-fangled aluminum racquets and nylon strings would never reproduce the feel of a good honest wood racquet with gut strings. Today, of course, a tennis player can select the weighting, balance, tension, damping, and size of a racquet, and the process of stringing is highly reproducible. The net is that the player can select the combination of speed and control that exactly suits his skill and style.

    In fencing, of course, the blades are still made in 17th-century forges where the quality control is miserable, not just in temper, but where they can’t even control the accuracy of cutting a wire-groove. Selection of blades is by “feel”, and ordering a blade sight-unseen is a crapshoot, since the only single measurement made, (by a single vendor) is total sag with a weight, and ignores the profile of the bend, that significantly affects the feel when fencing. This results in endless debates on fencing.net as to which blade to buy, ignoring the fact that the variation of blades within a brand is nearly as great as the difference between brands.

    Now here in modern reality, there are solutions to such random processes, one of which would be to simply measure and characterize each blade, so the fencer can reproducibly select what they want. With modern data management and inventory control techniques, this would be a trivial effort by the vendor, even though Swordmaster and others don’t seem to get that.

    As to the Orthopedic Balance Weight, at which Swordmaster takes a cheap shot, the published reviews by a couple of fencers willing to accept innovation have resulted in comments like: “As a rehabilitation tool, this is a godsend.”, and “It ENHANCES the foil. If you look at it that way, this thing is a dream find." Enough said.

    I’d like to think that those who resist innovation will be passed by and left in the dust, but apparently such change takes a long time, until those stuck in the past become a part of it.

  16. #16
    Senior Member EldRick's Avatar
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    This whole discussion is not a big deal for me, as I'm not enough of a fencer yet to be greatly affected by blade flexibility anyway - I originally just wanted some basic information about how LP specifies and rates the flexibility information that they measure.

    And I'm not panning Leon Paul - they are indeed more innovative than others, with the exception of some of their products that should have been updated decades ago: this miserable test box, for example.

    All I'm saying is that since LP already takes the time to test and stamp their FIE blades for flexibility, it would add almost no additional time and cost for them to snap a digital photo of the bent blades at the same time, and display the images online for their higher-priced blades. This would put them miles out in front of their competitors as far as helping a customer select what he wants.

    Even if they were to simply show representative digital images of the bending profiles of the various brands of blades they offer, it would be far more informative than the ten-word verbal descriptions they now provide.

    Gary, your comment about the subjectivity and perception of what's flexible and what's stiff makes my point perfectly. A Prieur épée blade compared to an LP has an entirely different static bending profile, and the difference would be visually obvious in a photograph. Having more information about how a blade bends would allow a fencer to select the type of blade he prefers in a much more reliable fashion, and to get a similar (or different) blade to his preference next time.

    We are in the information age, like it or not. Take a look at the considerable success that www.TireRack.com has had, partially because they provide more information than their competitors. TireRack provides the weight for every wheel, tire, and size that they offer (tens of thousands), while no competitor offers even this minimal level of information. It costs them almost nothing to provide this information, and contributes directly to their bottom line. Even though rotational inertia would be much more useful information, the imperfect information on weight is far better than none.

    So I'm simply suggesting that vendors try to provide more information about blades and bring at least one aspect of fencing into the 21st century and out of the realm of sorcery. For responses, I get snide remarks and cheap shots from Luddites. Oh well...
    Last edited by EldRick; 08-06-2010 at 02:45 PM.
    Creator of the Sintered Tungsten Pommel - http://leonpaulusa.com/acatalog/Tung...ed_Pommel.html

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    Let me say it a diffrent way:

    Information is good! Photos are good! Seeing a photo of a blade bent is Not Good! No way to know what it feels like. No reason to do it! You just see a photo of a bent blade.

    Taking a photo of each blade: not happening! Think about this for just a moment: you are a fencing vendor now, this is how you make your living, you have somewhere between 300 - 800 blades at any given time. how much are you going to pay someone to put each blade in a pressure measuing device of some kind, take photos of each blade, build a web page for each blade, upload each photo(s) for the web page, have a description - weight, flex, characteristics of each blade (right fold, left fold, break point, tip balance) and so on. Now that you have all this info, you now have to find a way to cataloge each blade so that when someone buys a certain blade by description, you know where to and get it. What all this means is: you will have to have a speciif person dedicated to just doing this job day in and day out just to fit your "bring it to the 21st century" comment. OH, just a reminder: now that you have all these blades cataloged, you now have to grab them up and take all of them to a event and sell them. Once you get back, you have to do an inventory of what you sold and remove those from the web site so that someone does not buy it twice.

    Technology is a good thing, too much of it can cost you a ton! My meaning: to do the above, you want to pay $300 for a Vniti foil? I dont think so.


    Gary Spruill

    Quote Originally Posted by EldRick View Post
    This whole discussion is not a big deal for me, as I'm not enough of a fencer yet to be greatly affected by blade flexibility anyway - I originally just wanted some basic information about how LP specifies and rates the flexibility information that they measure.

    And I'm not panning Leon Paul - they are indeed more innovative than others, with the exception of some of their products that should have been updated decades ago: this miserable test box, for example.

    All I'm saying is that since LP already takes the time to test and stamp their FIE blades for flexibility, it would add almost no additional time and cost for them to snap a digital photo of the bent blades at the same time, and display the images online for their higher-priced blades. This would put them miles out in front of their competitors as far as helping a customer select what he wants.

    Even if they were to simply show representative digital images of the bending profiles of the various brands of blades they offer, it would be far more informative than the ten-word verbal descriptions they now provide.

    Gary, your comment about the subjectivity and perception of what's flexible and what's stiff makes my point perfectly. A Prieur épée blade compared to an LP has an entirely different static bending profile, and the difference would be visually obvious in a photograph. Having more information about how a blade bends would allow a fencer to select the type of blade he prefers in a much more reliable fashion, and to get a similar (or different) blade to his preference next time.

    We are in the information age, like it or not. Take a look at the considerable success that www.TireRack.com has had, partially because they provide more information than their competitors. TireRack provides the weight for every wheel, tire, and size that they offer (tens of thousands), while no competitor offers even this minimal level of information. It costs them almost nothing to provide this information, and contributes directly to their bottom line. Even though rotational inertia would be much more useful information, the imperfect information on weight is far better than none.

    So I'm simply suggesting that vendors try to provide more information about blades and bring at least one aspect of fencing into the 21st century and out of the realm of sorcery. For responses, I get snide remarks and cheap shots from Luddites. Oh well...

  18. #18
    Senior Member EldRick's Avatar
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    Even if they were to simply show representative digital images of the bending profiles of the various brands of blades they offer, it would be far more informative than the ten-word verbal descriptions they now provide.
    Why does everyone keep skipping past this, the easy part?
    Creator of the Sintered Tungsten Pommel - http://leonpaulusa.com/acatalog/Tung...ed_Pommel.html

  19. #19
    That Guy Craig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EldRick View Post
    Why does everyone keep skipping past this, the easy part?
    Maybe because of the batch by batch variation. The average bend on a 07-09 batch of BF white epee blades is a little different than an 01-10 batch. Not a hell of a lot, but enough for me to get the "on the web site the epee bends 2.50" with the 750g weight, the one I got bends 3.30. my blade must be defective, I want an exchange and I want you to pay the shipping both ways" call.

    I could very well put up the images, but they would be have some significant disclaimers attached.

    Craig

  20. #20
    Senior Member EldRick's Avatar
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    I think that would be very educational and useful. Just a simple B&W photo of the bent blade against a 1cm grid.

    Perhaps show both the standard weight and a heavier weight (as someone would bend it when checking for flex) so that the profile of the bending is apparent. Or maybe you could overlay images of a range of several of the same brand/blade, to show the range of flex as well.

    The whole original thought was mainly to show how brands of blades differ: LP with its stiffer forte and flexible foible, Prieur with it's relatively constant bend radius, etc.
    Creator of the Sintered Tungsten Pommel - http://leonpaulusa.com/acatalog/Tung...ed_Pommel.html

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