Mask check question

Discussion in 'Armory - Q&A' started by Purple Fencer, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. fencerX

    fencerX Rookie

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    Absolutely? Bzzzt. Nope.

    That hasn't been proven or known for a fact.

    While both the division that tests before each event and the division that tests once a year have had no catastrophic mask failures to date, it's unknown which of the two is more likely to ever have a catastrophic mask failure.

    It may turn out to be that the frequent testing division is more likely to have such a failure. Or not. But there are lots of examples of fields where testing (or maintenance) in fact induced more reliability issues than would have occurred if the testing weren't done ...

    For awhile NASA stopped full testing the Space Shuttle's external tank before missions because they realized the existing testing process was actually adding to the risk, not reducing it.

    Or there's the research exploring whether apnea testing for the determination of clinical brain death may actually induce rather than just diagnose death. (Oops).

    There lots of similar examples in the electronics industry where some types of testing have eventually been found to do more harm than good.

    As Peter pointed out earlier, the side effects of correct and incorrect mask testing are not clearly understood.

    So the correct answer to "Question 1: are events in this other division less likely to have a catastrophic mask failure?" is "We don't know"
     
  2. oiuyt

    oiuyt Podium

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    Or, for Telk's post, perhaps "We don't know, but I'm willing to stipulate that it is true because it doesn't affect the final conclusion."

    -B
     
  3. DHCJr

    DHCJr Armorer

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    Your right, but Peter also pointed out we don't know how the mask has been treated by the fencer also.

    Your examples mean nothing to fencing. Both the shuttle and the electronics are in house you know what has happened to that piece of equipment.

    A better example would have been a car on the road. How often do you change the oil?

    There is no one answer. The answer is both time or mileage!

    The problem is we don't know the 'mileage' on the mask. In fact we don't even know the time.

    If done correctly, the mask is 'hit' maybe 3 times. I am sure during the course of the tournament the mask is hit a few more times than that and not in a nice way.

    Even done correctly there is 'some' damage. But, at a tournament I see a lot more damage done to the masks, than I did to them.

    If as Peter said there was a test that could be done that was less damaging I would be for it. But until then, we need some sort of test because we don't know how these masks have been treated.

    Also, in the U.S. we have to worry about the 'National Pasttime'!
     
  4. Superscribe

    Superscribe Rookie

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    Wait, am I hearing that some tournaments in the New England Division don't punch test masks for USFA sanctioned events? Furthermore, am I also hearing that there is debate on whether or not they should be punch tested at all?

    What are we arguing here? Whether the current method of punch testing is good?

    I'm very interested because there seems to be threats of statistical analysis, but no actual statistics yet.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  5. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

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    Now, why would breath moisture be worse behind something which blocks it than, say, above the edge of the padding? :confused:
     
  6. fencerbill

    fencerbill Podium

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    There is a rather sharp cutoff in rust from mouth moisture where the padding is close to the mesh, there is less rust behind the padding. It is much easier to clean and touch up the paint when the padding is folded back.
     
  7. telkanuru

    telkanuru Podium

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    Aside from the PdT, no NE division tournaments punch test.

    Purple thinks that he's up there with firemen and marines who jump on grenades, and I think he's full of himself.

    That's about it.
     
  8. mfp

    mfp Podium

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    It's also possible to compete in some NACs and PCS circuit events without getting your mask punch tested.

    If I take my current mask to a certain armourer working those events, the mask gets a visual inspection and then an inspection stamp. However it does *not* get punch tested.
     
  9. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    If it's an FIE mask the visual/tactile inspection IS sufficient....however, armorers DO have the right to test any mask they suspect.

    My personal policy is to punch every mask.

    In the case of a multiple-armorer team like a NAC or PCS, the head armorer makes the policy call...but if it's a non-FIE it should be punched regardless.

    At the recent Jr Pentathlon event in Palm Desert, I was the head armorer (actually I was the onlyreal armorer...the otehr person was an assistant I trained to test cords while I did the masks). None of the competitors complained about their masks getting punched...not even the Panamanian, Canadian, or the 2 Brits...and most of them had FIEs.
     
  10. Superscribe

    Superscribe Rookie

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    Okay, I see what the problem here is.

    Someone mentioned something about NASA no longer testing certain equipment because those tests just cause more harm than good. Let me provide some insight to that, because i think It will answer some questions.

    The failure we're talking about is failure from fatigue. Repeated loading over and over again. Whether it's a vessel filled with pressure over and over or a mask getting hit over and over, the cyclic loading eventually causes some sort of mechanical failure (leak in vessel, hole in mask mesh). Crack propogation and cyclic loading has some predictability to it, and you can mimic a load of 10 Newtons for 1000 cycles by using a load of 1000N in 10 cycles (numbers are made up).

    That is the benefit of safety testing. It has been accepted that if something can take the load of 10000N once without developing certain visible stress concentrations, it'll maintain integrity for the next 1000 cycles at repeated loads of 100N. (again the proportions of the numbers is more important than their actual values)

    For high pressure tanks, sometimes they'll take the thing, put it under water and pressurize it 10 times above the specified max limit. If it successfully passes certain criteria, you certify it for X number of uses or it's good for X number of years as long as the specified max limit is not exceeded. That is the same principle you should be applying mask testing if you are really concerned about safety. Obviously there are SO many variances in the material/construction of the mask, and the uses of the mask, you have to make some concessions.

    Let's assume worst case scenario: epee. To make it easy to conceptualize, lets say you get really popped in the mask about 15 times during a tournament. What you did was, using the above analogy with hp tanks, you loaded the tank to take pressure of about 0.75 times the specified max limit in a direction it wouldn't even necassarily be loaded in, then certified it safe for the next 15 uses. I personally wouldn't want my name on that certification.


    I THINK:
    punch testing is better than nothing.
    punch testing is not that great.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2009
  11. foibles

    foibles Podium

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    Basically the punch test is a go/ no-go gage that attempts to verify the minimum strength of a mask through non-destructive testing. But... even when done correctly the punch test is at least a little bit destructive... and a test given with a poorly maintained gage, or incorrectly administered can be very destructive to the mask being tested. It's also important to note, I think, that the punch test is not/ cannot be the only criteria for a mask check.

    I'm curious to know how the lower tolerance numbers for cen1 and fie were chosen. Why are those numbers considered to be "safe" rather than other numbers? (I vaguely remember hearing about tests where fencers were fleching/ lunging into a gage of some kind to determine what forces can be expected in a worse-case broken blade scenario... true?)

    I'm also curious to know if the existence of an elastic strap is now a required part of a cen1 or fie mask.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2009
  12. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    That's why I made the video on my website that shows HOW to do the test.

    Correct...the visual check looks for missing, misplaced, or broken wires, bad rust, holes in the bib or a missing rivet that might catch the point, making sure ALL the screws are present and the shieldhasn't expired for visor masks. Physically feeling the masks finds those nice dents that come from parrying with your face and might catch the point.
    One of the more long term guys might be able to answer that one....Donald??

    Yep....M.25, section 7 of the 08 rulebook. Since the rules are written for FIE tourneys, that means they are requires for FIE (CEN2) masks...CEN1 masks must conform to the same rules in the US, with the exception of the bib strength.

    Note that M.27 section 7 ALSO specifies that, if in doubt, the punch probe may be applied.
     
  13. BenTheEMOP

    BenTheEMOP Rookie

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    Testing At Tournaments

    This has been a long and contentious thread, but with everything said, I think one thing has been left out (apologies if it has been mentioned earlier).

    It seems like testing at tournaments is the one way to ensure that the largest number of fencers have the best chance of having their mask checked on a fairly regular basis. If done right, it seems like it is a good dragnet for those who use their masks a lot and may have some wear and tear issues and for those who are new or irregular fencers who might otherwise never have their masks checked.

    The mask check at every tournament may offer more benefit from an administrative point of view than a technical one, if you take my meaning.
     
  14. SJCFU#2

    SJCFU#2 Podium

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    My experience has been that the visual inspection is what catches most of the problems. The punch test often just serves to confirms those suspicions.
     
  15. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    The visual/tactile catched dents, broken/missing wires, missing rivets, etc....but it takes the probe to find the kind of failure that really puts someone at risk.
     
  16. fencerbill

    fencerbill Podium

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    I would say that the probe confirms that a suspicious area does not pass the standard.

    The New England Division doesn't do punch tests as often as it used to because it is benefitting from literally decades of performing punch tests and education of fencers, club owners, armorers, referees and coaches. The relatively low incidence of test failures is also partially due to the relatively lower cost and higher quality, compared to 20-30 years ago, of budget fencing gear.

    Where you have lower average quality of fencing gear, then having punch testing, even if done by less qualified individuals, does give a higher assurance of safety. New England has many financially stable clubs operated by fencers with considerable experience in fencing who understand the importance of safety and the means to maintain their equipment in good condition. It also has a high proportion of fencers who own good equipment and know enough to keep it safe.

    In my opinion, more punch testing may be needed where a lot of fencers are using borrowed club equipment where club operators have to, or choose to, use equipment that should have been retired.
     
    SJCFU#2 likes this.
  17. brtech

    brtech Podium

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    A qualified armorer punch tests all masks at all local tournaments in our division. We do it because I, and the rest of the armorers have hung around too many lawyers and don't want to EVER be asked:

    "So, there is a test that takes 10 seconds. It requires a tool which you had in your possession. You are trained to use the tool and perform the test. You have performed thousands of such tests. The test is a SAFETY test. You were aware that this particular failure can be fatal, and the test is considered a reasonably good way to detect this kind of failure. And you chose to not perform the test, and now my client is dead/blind/....."?
     
  18. Mergs

    Mergs Podium

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    Ah, and now we have come full circle.
     
  19. foibles

    foibles Podium

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    Musings/ ramblings

    You cant test as predictive maintenance (PDM) as the life cycle cannot be known for each mask. How many hits at how hard has any one mask seen? Cant know (unless the answer is zero).

    Some have mentioned a kind of arbitrary preventive maintenance (PM)... getting a new mask every two years or so. Not a bad plan.

    I suppose one could adopt an arbitrary testing schedule for those masks not regularly tested at tournaments.

    In USA sport skydiving, the reserve parachute is very carefully inspected and repacked ever 180 days by a certified FAA rigger whether the canopy had been deployed or not. A log is kept for verification.

    I suppose you could train your students to do a quick visual every time they get a mask from the closet would be a good idea. Punch- test club masks at reasonable intervals (every... what... 6 months? Quarterly?) prolly wouldn't hurt.

    On a side note:
    It will be interesting to see how the foil lame bib will effect the overall quality of low budget foil masks. I've owned some cheap sabre masks that were clearly built to be 1 season disposables. I see no current equivalent in non-lame foil/ epee masks... I hope the 1 season throw-away foil mask is not in the mfg prototype pipeline... If it is, we may need to punch test far more frequently than we currently prefer.
     
  20. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    I think we're only seeing the lame bib on FIE masks right now....USFA is not requiring them at any domestic event...wiating and seeing how they work out. So I don't think the issue you mention will be one.

    Which mask did you have that was a 1 season job??? That's awful if true!
     

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