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The_other_jeremy

Scalemail Advice Needed

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Hello, I recently started seriously working on a scalemail vest made with 5/16 butted stainless steel rings and large unhardened steel scales using the 4 in 1 weave at ~400 scales per square foot as described by Danny Ace. This vest was made to be worn for LARPs, but not very stressful ones and I used the weave with an extra ring in hopes that it would hold itself together better than normal scalemail.

I came across a vest I had repaired on from a few years back (butted rings) that had almost disintegrated because of its own weight and I was wondering what the chances of this happening with the tighter weave would be as I would rather not make a vest thats going to die on me. I intend to reinforce the armpits and stress points with titanium, but i'm not sure thats going to be enough with butted rings. I've debated buying a resistance welder and going through to weld up the rings after finishing the vest, but I can't seem to find any for sale and TRL store makes no mentions of them anymore. 

I was wondering if anyone had any general tips for improving the durability of a vest, or even a link to a (hopefully cheap enough) resistance welder.

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As you say, the main stress on a vest used in LARP is its own weight.  With that in mind, do you really want to use steel scales?  They are very heavy (putting stress in the rings... and on your body), and they are likely to rust.  My favorite combination for very durable LARP armor is aluminum scales with stainless steel butted rings (using the standard weave for scales).  The rings are fairly heavy, but the lighter scales mean that vest will be 15 pounds instead of 50 pounds... and it will be much more durable for larping.

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Agree on that point. Unless the LARP organization specifically requires steel, you'd be far better off with anodized aluminum. With butted rings there is inevitably going to be regular maintenance needed, but putting the shirt on a diet would minimize that.

Unfortunately TRL recently mentioned that the welder was out of stock and there would not be more made, so that's out.

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I've had very little maintenance with butted, 4in1 scale shirts overall. Though the extra rings add weight, they do reduce slippage. The most common spots for occasional slipped scales are around the collar where you pull it off of you, and the middle of the trunk where you bend over. Depending on your pattern, seams can also be a pain point. For example, a 45 degree seam is normally held together by one ring attaching a pair of scales. You can strengthen that seam by covering it with scales and adding the extra rings to keep them laying straight. Using stiffer stainless steel rings was smart, you'll have fewer slips than with softer metals, and less trouble maintaining the armor. 

I was also one of those 'weirdos' that wore steel for larping, since I got more points for the armor than aluminum or plastic. (I usually skipped a shield, so the extra points helped.) You will have to take care to build up to all day wear. Also, you might feel fine for a good while, but by the time you realize you need a break, you're already in for a good deal of back pain and stiffness later. So take the time to condition your core, lower back, and upper back between your shoulder blades for the additional weight. Pay attention to your knees as well. Even if well fitted, you still have to generate more force than you may be accustomed to in order to get in motion, to change directions, and to stop. 

Those steel scales are going to require a good bit more maintenance than aluminum or stainless steel scales. Remember to scour and oil them periodically. I also use Windlass Rust Blocker on my old galvanized steel ring and hardened steel scale shirt to extend the time between cleanings. 

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Liriel and Rob, I had at the start of this vest considered using aluminum scales, but I ended up going with steel because I kinda liked the idea of at least somewhat effective armor (even if the rings are butted). I was thinking for weight reduction to make the scales stop short and use aluminum rings to make the last 2 or so inches of mail. I think my next vest will follow your plan of aluminum scales though.

As for the welder, damn, are there any other resistance welders out there of similar quality or will I just have to invest in a spot welder eventually?

Paladin, Glad to hear that you've had good experience with this pattern (and that I haven't wasted my time making half a vest already). I'm thinking of using the 3/4 hard stainless steel for the stress points and reinforce them with titanium to make sure that they will rarely need repair. Also thank you for the heads up on the wearing of the vest, I had not stopped to consider what wearing 50 pounds of steel might do to somebody. As for the scale maintenance, I intend to oil them and store them with silica gel, but i'll be sure to scour them regularly.

Thank you all for the help!

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I haven't seen any other options for pre-made ring welders and I did look for them, when someone else asked the same question. There are some tutorials about making your own that can be found fairly easily, if you're handy with electronics. I did find some Asian made dental welders with cases that looked remarkably like the TRL ring welder, but obviously the welding contacts were much different.

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Man I forgot to check this post. I might end up building my own at some point, but i'm a mostly broke college student so worst come to worst I can try and sell some of my works and hope for $200. I think this vest might end up being both a lesson and practice for a titanium vest later on. 

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Okay, in that price range you only have one realistic option that doesn't require any electronics knowledge.

https://www.harborfreight.com/120-volt-spot-welder-61205.html

One of these things will do alright for 14-18g steel. You'd need to replace the copper arms with some heavy copper cable and bolt the electrodes to a chunk of plywood or something. You want to leave about a 3/16" gap and make sure that they're insulated from each other. You can check out how I did my electrode setup in Fig. 1-1 of this article.

http://www.mailleartisans.org/articles/articledisplay.php?key=594

There's some other useful info in there too but some that doesn't apply to you, it was the manual for the old TRL welders.

There are videos on TRL's youtube showing how the electrodes are set up and how the weld is done.

There are some newer videos as well but all you'll learn from those is how not to weld.

Later on you can upgrade this welder with gas plumbing and a timing circuit for titanium. It'll weld most metals pretty well with a bit of practice.

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