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Blue Salamander

Lamellar Armor

For the technical stuff, see the A&S write up here...or not, since it's not ready yet. Meanwhile, you can keep reading for the synopsis:

Once upon a time (actually August of 2005), Joel decided he might like to try combat archery in the SCA. If that last sentance didn't make a bit of sense to you, here it is in breif: in this particular historical reinactment group, many people dress up in armor and proceed to hit each other with sticks. OK, so it's a little more complex than that, but when you get down to it, all those 'swords' and 'spears' are really just sticks. And they really do hit each other with them. And it's not real popular, but some of them go out there with real bows and shoot the guys swinging sticks with blunted arrows. Sounds like fun, huh? Well, if you're going to be out there with the guys swinging sticks, you'd better have the proper protective equipment!

While most people feel fine enough wearing armor that might (or might not be) historically accurate (there's a lot of plastic out there!), I figure: 'Hey, if I'm going to go through the effort of making armor, it may as well be as historically accurate as I can make it; let's see what sort of obscure research I can find!' As I write this, it's about 3 1/2 years later and I'm still working on it, but I'm finally getting close!

And this is what I've been working towards:
The images are 6th and 8th-10th century respectively. Both obviously lamellar, it's odd how they both have those distinctive "B" shaped plates, isn't it?
Now check out these sketches of lamellar plates found at Birka: Note the distinctive lobed edges and bosses of those upper left plates!
So, off I went...

After making a full-size mockup made of paper, I determined that I'd need just short of 1000 plates. I picked 1075 spring steel as a good compromise between cost, strength and appearance. After some material trials, I wasn't disappointed! The stuff seems practically indestructable, yet has the same nice historic look as mild steel. Originally, I had hoped to find a company which could stamp the plates for me, but had no luck there. Then I had hoped to get some tooling so I could stamp them out myself; and soon learned that the tooling would cost more than a new car. Well... all that was left was to get some snips, a metal punch and load up the DVD player with many, many hours of distraction from menial tasks.

After more than a year and a half of punching holes, I've finally finished punching all of the 1600-or-so plates (I made sure I had extra in case some of them didn't turn out). That's about 22,000 holes. Wow. Well, it's done now! Next is to send them through the tumbler and get them all deburred and polished. No way I'm going to manually deburr 1600 plates by hand if I can help it!

Being not nearly wealthy enough to buy a tumbler, nor knowing of one I could borrow, I decided to make my own. What else am I going to do with this spare washer motor and truck tire? Unfortunately, my plans have gone a bit awry and I have to rework the motor and reduction gears before I can resume work on the armor. Hey, what's a couple extra weeks at this point?


Copyright Joel & Angela Cropley 2009
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