Epee Tips, Redux

Discussion in 'Armory - Q&A' started by jjefferies, Nov 20, 2017.

  1. jjefferies

    jjefferies Podium

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    I'm getting a bit annoyed with my epee tips (again). I rigorously clean them and they're back to being crunchy again almost immediately. My long standing opinion (now being reviewed and revised) is that crucnchy-ness is caused by grime and dirt bits getting into the barrel via the screw slots and then adhering to the walls of the barrel or tip/plunger. At present I clean using Q-tips the barrel with ethyl alcohol and the plunger with acetone. The theory being that ethyl alcohol is less likely to disturb/melt the glue where the wires exit the barrel. Acetone on the other hand is preferable to me for use on the tip/plunger as it is a stronger/(more active) solvent and there are no wires or associated glue.

    But now I'm beginning to think that I've overly downplayed the contribution of the combination of slot deformation and tip screw. Any informative comments from our Armory experts are appreciated. And of course ignoring comments from sabreurs. ;) But is there a consensus of opinion about replacing slot screws any time they are removed? And reuse of barrels and whole tips when the blade they are initially on breaks. I have literally dozens of used (some slightly used and others more abused) complete tips and plungers that I've been recycling. is that attempt at frugality self defeating?

    best regards
     
  2. jkormann

    jkormann Podium

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    I'm not an armory expert, but I found the drying teflon on the insides of the slots to be useful.
    Also found that NEPS are a little too narrow for some slots and cause rotation, which leads to abrasion and drag. There is a benefit to having a tip-scew which fits into the slot "just so."
     
  3. SevenDad

    SevenDad DE Bracket

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    Have you tried the Schermasport tips? I've found that they stay smoother longer than the German tips my daughter used to have in her weapons. They have their quirks (including, at least in our experience, spitting slot screws with more regularity than the German tips). But they never seem to get crunchy like the German ones did. They are not cheap though, and I think have zero compatibility with German/French/English tips in terms of wires and springs and such.
     
  4. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    For standard (not screwless, that is) French/German/LP tips, crunchyness can be either grit and grunge in the tip or torn up slots in the barrel, yes. Cleaning the tip out will fix the grunge. If you have torn up slots, a couple of swipes with a jeweler's file should help a lot. I don't think you need new tips or new screws every time. I do tend to replace barrels more often than I used to.

    Also, what kind of screws are you using? The QC on standard French and German screws, even 'name brand' like FWF, is pretty bad. I only use LP or NEPS, and I'm starting to think that when the slot starts to get torn up LP are a better idea than NEPS. The NEPS can catch on little dings in the slot more than the LP can.

    The best tip short of a screwless point assembly is still IMO the Zip Tip, which is apparently now permanently sold out. Somebody ought to buy the patent from them and make those things. Once they got the bugs worked out and were using the right material they were great tips.

    I think the screwless tips are the best, but I'm not very familiar with them. Does anyone know what proportion of international fencers use them, as opposed to standard two-screw tips like us mere mortals?
     
  5. nasnem

    nasnem Made the Cut

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    Most of the "crunchiness" with German epee tips tend to be barrel issues. Slightly beveling the inside edge of the slots and the main opening helps a lot as well as polishing the inside with a rolled up piece of 800 or finer grit sandpaper. DeOxit is a good cleaner and leaves a very fine lubrication on metal surfaces. Be careful with the screws you use. Without naming any in particular, some tear up the slots more than others.

    I know that Zip Tips are far from dead. I happen to like their design.
     
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  6. DangerMouse

    DangerMouse Podium

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    This. And what KO'N said. I stopped recycling barrels because the hassles associated with them as they get worn far outweigh the cost.
     
  7. jjefferies

    jjefferies Podium

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    I'm beginning to wonder about that as well. First a couple of questions: "NEPS: ?? is not ringing a bell. "LP" of course I recognize and have a bag of their tip screws as their different bevel in the thread is useful when you start losing more standard Uhlmann, and FWF screws. At the moment I have a number of Estoc screwless tips (10-20). But their contact spring threads are just enough off that standard Uhlmann or FWF wires, contact springs don't work without painful modifications. It takes at least an hour to get Estoc's adjusted for the shim test. And while they are superior in not being crunchy and they do stay in adjustment a lot longer than other tips they are a total pain to deal with when they fall out of adjustment. I have a couple of zip tips and they were fine for club work but I wouldn't trust them for tournaments. I agree with K'ON about QC issues. I've found screw blanks without threads in some of the bags of tip screws I've bought. I dislike using lubricants simple because they seem to attract dust and other particles.

    So at the moment I'm just looking at the tradeoff's in philosophy of wiring my own versus buying prewired new blades. And looking at other's experience.
     
  8. Mergs

    Mergs Podium

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    First off, I would caution you on using acetone to clean the tip. There is an insulating part that separates the outer portion of the tip (which has the threaded holes for the tip screws) and the tip itself which carries the contact spring is attached to, and acts as the contact for the ground) that is made of plastic. That said, I normally use a piece of 400 - 800 grit emery cloth to smooth the tip, and then clean it with 91% IPA. I also have a neat little tool given to me by Joe Byrnes that you can wrap a strip of the same cloth around and put inside the barrel to hone the inside of the barrel. This removes any interior roughness.

    If you have some serious dings in the slots of the barrel you can use a jewelers file to remove the burrs followed by a cleaning with the emery cloth.

    You also might want to check your tips and barrel for machining marks - small ridges left behind by the cutting tool. Use a jewelers loop to inspect the tip. To inspect the barrel, use an otoscope - that thing that doctors use to check your ears. There are some out there for home use that work just fine, and are not that expensive. Crunchiness can also be the fact that the surface of either part - barrel or tip - has these marks and are rubbing against each other.

    Bottom line, to me, is that smoothness of travel is more affected by surface smoothness than dirt. That doesn't mean that dirt can't play a part in the problem. One thing you might also look at, if this is a major part of your problem - where is the dirt coming from? How do you store your weapons? Epees are not AK-47's that can be drug through all manner of dirt, water, etc and be expected to function perfectly every time.

    Routine inspection and cleaning, preferably with a high alcohol content IPA (and I don't mean India Pale Ale, either) is always recommended. This is a weapon after all! ;-)
     
  9. dcchew

    dcchew Podium

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    JJ, I feel your pain about epee tips. Maintaining epee tips is just a fact of life. I can make some recommendations.

    LP sells a FIE barrels that have a finer inside finish to them. That helps reduce the amount of hard metal to metal contact friction. Granted, it's a small amount, but everything helps.

    If you want a barrel that's literally won't wear the inside bore, then you need to have barrel made of a harder material than the tip itself. I use the LP titanium barrels and have only had one barrel in 5 or 6 years where I thought it was necessary to replace it due to being worn out. Another good point about titanium barrels is that the slots will never get dented.

    If I work on someone else epee tip, I always checked the condition of their screws. If there's any doubt as to their condition, I get rid of them and install brand new ones. I don't even charge for them. Personally, I prefer the NEPS screws simply because of if I have to adjust a tip during a tournament, I usually have too much adrenaline in my system to calm my hands down enough to keep a regular screw on a magnetized screwdriver.

    If you want to try one of the new FWF screwless epee tips, talk to me at the salle. I need a test subject (aka "guinea pig") to do some evaluation on them. I tried the Allstar/Uhlmann screwless tips and just didn't think the design was as good as the FWF version.
     
  10. monitorlizerd

    monitorlizerd DE Bracket

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    Pretty much what everyone has said...wouldn't us acetone at all- even with only very short exposure of the plastic parts to it, repeated exposures have the potential to do bad things.
    The question about storage was relevant. Do something to protect the point assembly. It will keep the dust/dirt/grung/etc in the bottom of the bag from getting into the tips.
    I use Estoc Screwless points. yes, they can be finicky to start, but shouldn't take an hour. trim two turns off a German contact spring, put it on and adjust to your preferred setting-then put a tiny drop of the weakest Loctite on the shaft the spring is screwed to. I've never had to readjust the spring, even when I rewired the weapons. (As long as you use the same type wire going back, ie French/German/whatever.) The shim settings held for the new wire.
    By the way...I am an armorer. And a saber fencer. I only dabble in epee. :p
     
  11. DangerMouse

    DangerMouse Podium

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    NEPS (https://www.absolutefencinggear.com/shopping/product_info.php/products_id/1299/cPath/35_42) are great, but I've found a few barrels that they are just a touch wide for and can add friction. The newer version of NEPS is better than the old, but I still encounter an occasional barrel that doesn't work well with them. I use them or LP screws for all conventional tips at this point.

    The biggest thing I've found to help with cruchiness is to check the screw slots for burs and file them down. That and cleaning keep most of my tips pretty smooth. The best tips I've found by far are the Schermasport screwless, but they don't seem to make those anymore.
     
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  12. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    Is someone still selling them? They've been out of stock on their website for a couple of years now.
     
  13. nasnem

    nasnem Made the Cut

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    I don't know about their current stock, just that we will see them again.
     
  14. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    As far as I know they haven't made any new tips in years. Do you know them? Are they going to start making tips again?

    It's a great product. I'd be glad to switch over and never use tip screws again. But they have to make the damn things and try to sell them.
     
  15. Mergs

    Mergs Podium

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    They have to get past the FIE saying they are non-compliant in order to access a wide enough market to make them viable.
     
  16. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    Nah. 99% of the US market is completely indifferent to what the FIE thinks. If it's ok for local USFA events and NACs and SN it's fine. The problem with zip tips is that they don't appear to want to make them any more, and when they did make them they didn't appear to want to put much effort in to selling them. The product itself was great, but the marketing and supply chain were rubbish.
     
  17. Mergs

    Mergs Podium

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    By wider market, I meant internationally, hence my comment about getting past the FIE. I am fully aware of the differences between what is accepted here vs the rest of the fencing community.
     
  18. ShortFoot

    ShortFoot DE Bracket

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    Was it? The ones I tried, I had a couple issues with: (1) they broke pretty quickly, at the wings/"screws" and (2) it seemed to me their dimensions caused the travel spring to carry slightly more preload than the prevalent tips, resulting in somewhat more pressure needed to score a touch.

    It's possible one or both of those issues got fixed in a later iteration. By the time I was ready to give them another try, though, I'd missed my chance.
     
  19. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    Yes, I figured you were :)

    My point, which was perhaps unclear, was that the US market is more than big enough to support such a product. They didn't need international customers, they needed to market the things here, and then to make them! They've been out of stock for years. A questionable business model at best.

    The first iteration broke pretty quickly. They changed the injection technique somehow (my understanding was that they guys making it were experts in injection molding), and from the next run on they were quite durable. I have half a dozen or so still on epees from the batch I bought seven or eight years ago. They're being used by teenage beginners. It is not a gentle environment for equipment. I can't remember the last time we broke one.

    This is an excellent example of a technical success paired with a marketing failure. It was predictable that they might have an early technical failure like this, and it was hard to say what that might be until they released the things into the wild. Ok, so they sold some, those broke, they (admirably) fixed the problem. Job done, eh?

    Well no. Because as you say, the idea persists years on that they're fragile. They never marketed the "New and Improved!" aspect. I mean, change the color! Just that would have made a huge impact. "Yes, the old orange ones broke, but the new red ones are great," something like that. This is marketing 101, but they never did it.

    Instead, as with most of what they did, they solved the technical issues fine but never seemed to grasp how to sell things. And then I guess they lost interest.
     
  20. jjefferies

    jjefferies Podium

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    Clue me, who is "they"?

    And, I was just trying to guess how much I have invested in the Estoc tips, still sold by Sword Masters. Guessing it is $500+, for 20 complete tips, 4 spares and maybe 10 broken tips. Anyway I noticed something new. They have special contact springs now. Wonder if those are short enough to eliminate having to trim off the 2 turns from regular german/FWF springs? Anyone know?
     

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