Advice from the Armory

Discussion in 'Armory - Q&A' started by brtech, May 30, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. brtech

    brtech Podium

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,429
    Likes Received:
    202
    Please spread this around, especially to newbies:

    At Summer Nationals, like every national event, there is an armory. Most of you come into contact with the armory and the staff because your personal equipment has to be checked, and marked, before you fence. Please keep the following in mind:

    We'll test any equipment any time we're not busy. If we are busy, we may:
    a) test equipment for those fencing soon in preference to those fencing later
    b) limit how much we will test (the favorite is only two of anything including body cords).

    So, bring your stuff in on any afternoon before you fence, when we usually don't have a line.

    Oh, and we're there until the last bout, and we'll test pretty much right up to the beginning of the last bout, when we usually start closing up the armory for the night; that's a really good time to come in and get your stuff tested.

    Fencers can help move the line along faster if they:
    1. Have everything out -- mask, cords, lame, sabre glove/manchette. Leave your bag somewhere else. Nothing slows us down like a fencer dragging up an overstuffed bag and then searching through before we can start testing. We've actually talked about having a rule that limits how close a bag can come to the armory.

    2. Unwind your cords. They don't have to be completely unwound, but have around a foot of free cord on all 2 (or 3) ends. With the equipment and experience level at this event, it DOES take longer to unwind cords than to test them.

    3. Take off ALL old inspection marks on your cords.

    4. We don't test blades (or jackets or knickers or plastrons or chest protectors). There is nothing on a weapon we can test that you can't fix between the armory and the strip. They test weapons on the strip. We have a self test station where you can test your own weapons if you want to. If you don't know how to do that, ask, we'll be happy to show you how.

    5. Please pay attention when you are at or near the head of the line. We'd appreciate it if you really did hear us the first time we yell "next". Talking to your friends (especially on a cell phone) while you are at the head of the line and missing the third time we call "next in line" is sure to get the arnorer a bit peeved, and that's never a good thing. There will be around 8 armorers on staff at any one time, and the next one free might be at the far end of the table or not so loud.

    6. There is a designated line. Sometimes, it just looks like there are people standing around. It will probably be marked on the floor with tape, Stand behind it, and an armorer will serve you.

    7. Bring at least two cords (body cords for every weapon, head cords for sabre) for testing. You get a yellow card if you don't have a tested and marked spare and your primary breaks.

    8. Priorities for armorers are: 1) Strip calls and tournament equipment repairs, 2) Equipment Checks, 3) Advise, adjustments and training. We are actually happy to try to help you with your equipment, but that is last on our priority list. Similarly, we KNOW when there is a long line, but keeping all the strips running is the first priority, so when an armorer has to step away from the table to go work on a strip, please understand.

    8. Generally, we don't do repairs, because there are vendors for that, but we're very happy to show you how to fix many kinds of problems if we're not busy, and of course if we're showing you how to fix it, then sometimes, it's actually fixed when the lesson is over. Pease don't abuse the generosity.

    9. If your mask fails the punch test, we mark it very prominently, and may confiscate it for the tournament. If it's bad, you really, truly don't want to use it ever again under any circumstances. A lot of what we test is for fairness; making sure your opponent gets the point if he deserves it. Some of it is to make sure the bouting moves along smoothly. Mask tests are for your safety. Don't ever even think of using a questionable mask.

    And of course, there is number 10
    10. Test your stuff before you come. If you lame didn't work the last time, it hasn't gotten better stuffed in your bag. If you had at least one bad cord in the tangle, find it (and fix it) BEFORE you get to the head of the line.
     
  2. Mergs

    Mergs Podium

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2000
    Messages:
    3,610
    Likes Received:
    255
    Great run down!

    I would also suggest to fencers/parents that if your equipment fails, it fails. And yes, equipment purchased moments before from a vendor can also fail (last time I checked, none of them offer a guarantee that their stuff will pass, but most will replace it immediately if it does fail, and you have the receipt!). If you wish to discuss the issue, please do so when there is not a long line of folks waiting to get their stuff checked.

    Also, remember that the folks in the Armory are the experts, but they may ask for a second opinion from either their collegues or the Head Armorer to be doubly sure of their finding. That doesn't mean they don't know what they are doing, it's just that they want to give you, the fencer, the benefit of any doubt before pronouncing judgement. Once the 'verdict' is rendered, it is done. Yelling and screaming and acting the a** may result in a red or black card. Yes, they are authorized to do that!

    And don't forget the Tip Jar. Beer works, too. :cool:
     
  3. HDG

    HDG Podium

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Messages:
    2,662
    Likes Received:
    191
    This is a good candidate for a sticky.
     
  4. Craig

    Craig Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 1999
    Messages:
    6,426
    Likes Received:
    461
    Agreed.

    I'd add one more bit of advice:
    Learn to test and repair your stuff before coming to nationals! At least the simple stuff in foil and epee - cleaning points and adjusting for weight and shims.


    Craig
     
  5. fencerbill

    fencerbill Podium

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    3,811
    Likes Received:
    181
    For those with Leon Paul body cords.

    For every screw, loosen about a quarter turn and retighten. Just trying to tighten further doesn't always move metal against metal and overcome dissimilar metal corrosion.
     
  6. fatfencer

    fatfencer Podium

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    1,992
    Likes Received:
    106
    Body cords/Head Cords

    Make sure the alligator clip has a soldered connection.

    Make sure you arrive at Nationals at least a day or so in advance and test your tips' springs using Nationals test equipment if possible. Sometimes the ride on the plane can be hazardous to epee tips.

    I clean my tips the day BEFORE the event religiously. In 3 years I've NEVER had a weapon fail on the strip.(Foil....hate fencing epee). I always put fresh tape on the blades. I stretch the springs, not in the middle but the part towards the tip. With the new debounce times.. I have a weight that digitally measures at 502 grams. I add about 10 paper clips to get to 512. I test with that weight, taping the paperclips on. I test like 5 times per weapon and I have 10.

    Test your body cords/headcords. I use bayonet so I do untighten and then tighten them per Dan D.'s instructions. Again... never had one fail yet.

    Make sure your tip tape is a bit shy of a dollar bill length.

    Buy new masks every season or other season if you fence 4-5 days a week. I try to buy a mask every season.

    Clean with alcohol your bayonet sockets and tighten your handles.

    Thats about it for what I do...

    Fatfencer
     
  7. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Messages:
    37,164
    Likes Received:
    1,423
    Usually, but not always. :)

    At the Reno NAC, one of the armourers failed my Infinity lamé. Then he told me to take it over to Joe Byrnes and have him test it. It passed.

    Of course, it failed again in Sacramento. :(
     
  8. brtech

    brtech Podium

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,429
    Likes Received:
    202
    So, there are rules, and then there is the applications of the rules. One of my favorite armorers stories was a case where a group of armorers was having a meal at the HQ hotel during a NAC and the waitress asked them if they were "referees". One of the armorers replied "No ma'am, we're armorers, we have meters and we know for certain"

    So, we knew, and Joe knew, what the worst spot on your lame was within an ohm. We know what the rule says. We apply some judgement, and that can vary a bit between one armorer and another. Sometimes the head tech will give advice on this subject ("don't be too picky" or "we need to be careful to treat the rules more closely at this one"). In a NAC, or at summer nationals, you are highly unlikely to have a lame with 6-8 ohms in some spots fail. If you give it to me, and the head tech hasn't told me how he wants rules enforced, I'll probably let you go up to, but not over 15 ohms. I don't think I was the one who failed your lame in Reno, the one who did may have read 12 ohms, decided more than 10 was no-go, and Joe was feeling a little more generous.

    Now, bring me a large pile of cords all twisted up, and express some attitude, and maybe your 12 ohm lame fails. If it's under 5, you can be obnoxious as you want and it still passes. We're human, just like most directors.
     
    twisterfencing likes this.
  9. twisterfencing

    twisterfencing Podium

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Messages:
    2,072
    Likes Received:
    245
    :) Amen!

    Gary Spruill
     
  10. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Messages:
    37,164
    Likes Received:
    1,423
    No, it definitely wasn't just that Joe gave me more latitude. I watched the meters in both cases.

    On the first test, everything failed pretty abysmally except the rear arm.
    ( The gentleman used a square of lamé material with an alligator clipped to it and his probe was a water bottle with a metal end added. Maybe you can tell who the armourer was by the setup. ) He told me to take it to Joe specifically because he had a different apparatus: a metal ( copper? ) plate with the wire soldered to it, and...I forget what sort of probe. He said that sometimes a different rig makes for a different result. Anyway, Joe laid the lamé on the plate and leaned on it with his off hand while running the probe around. The lamé passed with flying colors...


    I told this story to the armourer at Sacramento and he said it wasn't possible. However, if it happens it must be possible. :)

    Anyway, now I have a nice, light, airy practice sabre lamé which never fails to register a touch, yet can't be used at NACs. ( But I'm going to keep taking it along in case I get Joe at weapons check again. ;) )
     
  11. fencerbill

    fencerbill Podium

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    3,811
    Likes Received:
    181
    It must have been me. The water bottle Lame tester was devised by me (it has been used at 5 World Championships under SEMI supervision). As best I recall, the Lame was a little high in resistance but did not have any dead spots. I would have passed it to Joe because he is well known to have a benign attitude towards Lame testing. I would have rejected it decisively if I thought there would have been any disadvantage to opposing fencers.

    Testing of Infinity Lames, and of some other non-metallic Lames, is different than, for example, stainless Lames.

    If you place a tester on a stainless Lame you get a reading and it doesn't change. For an infinity Lame, you get an initial value that then drifts to a lower value. So if you are unfamiliar with them or are impatient, you may reject a Lame that should have been passed. It also depends on the predisposition of the armorer. You can also get different test values for Infinities if you initially press down hard and then release to just the pressure of the test weight. So with Infinity Lames, it is even more important how you make the reference connection to the Lame as well as how you move the test contact around.

    I consider myself to be a rigorous Lame tester. I am very good at finding that one dead spot in a stainless Lame, for which it should be failed. I am also a long time user of several Infinity Lames and am quite familiar with how they change with time and use. They may fade but they do not develop dead spots as stainless and other metallic Lames do. When you include the requirement that scoring machines must be shown to work effectively with resistances as high as 250 ohms in the circuit outside of the scoring machine, the requirement that Lames be less than 5 ohms is almost overspecifying.

    My basic principles in armoring are would I let my grandchildren use it and is it fair to the opponent. If I didn't fail your Lame outright, it is because it would have been fair to your opponent.
     
  12. KD5MDK

    KD5MDK Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Messages:
    13,286
    Likes Received:
    638
    Interesting. I've seen copies of several times.
     
  13. fencerbill

    fencerbill Podium

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    3,811
    Likes Received:
    181
    I have sold several at extremely reasonable prices. Probably about half of what a metal one costs or about a third of what an Uhlmann, etc. costs. But then you can't use it as a Foil test weight. But it only weighs about 25 grams between uses.
     
  14. JMcC

    JMcC Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    14
    Gee, what a great idea! Will you be sending us all funds to cover those extra nights at the hotels and the days meals? ;)
     
  15. yeoldearmourer

    yeoldearmourer Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    887
    Likes Received:
    44
    One word of advice to the armorers working fresh batteries in your test equipment. And if it seems your are failing a large amount of equipment have a another armourer double check some of the fail items. At one NAC I started to get a large amount of BCords failure all comeing from one armourer all had
    the same problems turn out his test box had a loose connect and everytime he move the cord the connect failed.
     
  16. fencerbill

    fencerbill Podium

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    3,811
    Likes Received:
    181
    We armorers strive for perfection. But some days we don't get as close as we would like.
     
  17. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2001
    Messages:
    16,595
    Likes Received:
    627
    Yet another reason for fencers to never borrow an armorer's gear...our stuff never works...we're too busy fixing everyone else's!
     
  18. timstang

    timstang Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2003
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    5
    Great post guys!

    I wish I had thought to post a check list for our Nationals this year. Then again I tossed out the amount I was originally testing when I realized we had 1/4 the staff I expected.

    I've saved the check list for next year...might Canadianize it with a few ehs for good measure.

    Tim
     
  19. bigdawg2121

    bigdawg2121 is a Verified Fencing Expertbigdawg2121 Podium

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Messages:
    3,991
    Likes Received:
    297
    As far as things the comment that if it fails it fails, sometimes it's more than fair to ask for a second test with another armorer's equipment. Not everyone's test meter has been tested/adjusted properly for internal resistance etc. If you've tested your stuff on a good box and are legitimately certain that it should pass then ask for another opinion.

    I have a question though. As far as masks that fail punch test, why can't you give them back and allow them to get fixed in situations where it's warranted? I had a saber mask failed for the entire week of nationals once becuase there a piece of mesh that was a little far apart on the edge over the tongue....why not give it back and let me move that little piece into place and fence instead of making me spend a couple hundred bucks to buy a new one?
     
  20. DHCJr

    DHCJr Armorer

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    Messages:
    5,481
    Likes Received:
    220
    If a bodycord is not working, it can be fixed. If an eye is put out, it can't be fixed. If it did not fail the punch, pushing out a dent or moving back the wires are not a problem. If the mesh is weak enough that the wire can be pushed aside then that is a problem. The wires are held together by a hot tin dip, which is basically soldered over the whole of the mask. The solder will have some elasticity which is why if the punch does not go through pushing it back is not a problem. If the punch goes through the 'soldering at that point is broken.

    The mask could be fixed. All you have to do is take it down to it bare components and then do a hot tin dip on the mesh and then put it all back together. That is not going to happen.

    It is always amazing to me that a person would any amount of money is worth being blinded or loosing your live.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page