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Zlosk

Chinese Mountain Armor

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If you're not familiar with Chinese Mountain Armor, please refer to the Armor Archive essay "Construction of Chinese mountain pattern armor" by Daniel Slone.

Movak asked about the possibility of TRL making these scales in the discussion about round scales, and so I chimed in with:

I've played quite a bit with variations on those scales made from stiff paper (like postcards), cardboard, and done up as 3D models. I've gotten a curvy variation of a scale shaped like the mountain character to stack decently, but it would be absolutely horrific to make. I've gotten another scale variation to work properly if the vertical lines on either side of the scale are removed. This seems much more likely, as the metal shape could be cut with shears, and would require 1 rivet per scale. However, I have not done the trig to determine the best scale size for a given material thickness. I have some of the scale variations drawn in Solidworks and AutoCAD on my work computer. I'll start up a thread tomorrow (if noone else starts one up sooner) so as not to derail this thread any further.

Here's a few of the scale designs I've come up with.

post-15-126824646766_thumb.gif post-15-12682464627_thumb.jpg post-15-126824646553_thumb.jpg

I do have more, but my lunch hour has been mostly spent getting these images ready, and I still need to eat. Has anyone else attempted to make these type of scales or build anything out of them?

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In the other thread Jon described a way of making an inexpensive forming punch. The scales would not be cut out by hand but formed and punched out of metal strip in the same way as the leaf shaped scales. I too have done some paper models of the design by Mr. Slone. They worked out pretty well. Personally I prefer option A in the first picture as they have the shape of the original item and an interesting interlocking mechanism. All the pics look cool and I look forward to more.

Movak :beer:

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In the other thread Jon described a way of making an inexpensive forming punch. The scales would not be cut out by hand but formed and punched out of metal strip in the same way as the leaf shaped scales. I too have done some paper models of the design by Mr. Slone. They worked out pretty well. Personally I prefer option A in the first picture as they have the shape of the original item and an interesting interlocking mechanism. All the pics look cool and I look forward to more.

Movak :beer:

Of course since there are no known surviving examples of this type of armour, it is all guesstimates anyhow. Still, here's someone who has given Slone's design a try:

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Of course since there are no known surviving examples of this type of armour, it is all guesstimates anyhow. Still, here's someone who has given Slone's design a try:

http://www.flickr.co...57621804247351/

Thanks for posting this link. Going through the construction pics, I'm happy to see that Malek issues and fixes tend to coincide with my own.

1. My first issue was with the hills/valleys pic in Slone's essay. While the valleys are required to bend paper that way, metal can stretch. If the scale was placed on a table, making valleys would cause the outside edge of the valley to be closer to the table, making it more difficult to assemble the scales. Malek's scales do not have that valley.

2. My "horrific" scale has the tips of the lower two legs bent flat, as does another variation that I have yet to post. (Again, it's on the work computer; I should get to it during lunch today.) Malek bent the bottom tips of the lower two legs to make it easier to assemble the scales.

Malek also did me a great favor by posting pics of the scales with tape measure and listing the material thickness, so I can create models of his scales on my computer.

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I have 4 goals in mind for these scales.

1. When assembled , as much area as possible should be two layers thick. Single layers and three or more layers should be avoided.

2. There should be enough of a gap between the scales that the armor is somewhat flexible.

3. They can be assembled with minimal gaps between the scales.

4. They can be fairly easily cut with shears.

Movak, scale A is what I started with. When I tiled them on top of each other, I found that they had 3 layers around the rivet area, which seemed like it would add a lot of unnecessary weight.

post-15-126833521235_thumb.gif

That's when I started playing with other designs, trying to meet criteria 1-3. The "horrific" scale should meet criteria 1-3. Once I realized that it was possible to meet criteria 1-3, I started to see if I could meet criteria 4. Scale F (below) currently meets 2-4, and I believe it can be modified to better meet criteria 1 by adding some tabs to the legs.

post-15-126833203954_thumb.gif post-15-126833204501_thumb.gif

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Now I understand the reason for version C as it removes quite a bit of the triple layering. Criteria 4 is unimportant to me as my idea is to design the scale so that TRL can punch them out the same way they do the leaf scales using their new cheaper process. I think the scales in the example armour are a bit big.

Movak

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Criteria 4 is geared more towards figuring out the most likely case for historical scales. The easier they are to manufacture, the more likely they are to match the original scale used in the past.

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Criteria 4 is geared more towards figuring out the most likely case for historical scales. The easier they are to manufacture, the more likely they are to match the original scale used in the past.

Not necessarily considering that this type of armour was worn by an extremely small percentage of warriors (hence the lack of examples). I would not be surprised if it may take thousands of man hours to create one suit of this type of armour in period. It may have taken a day to make one scale. Not much problem when you can get 50 people working on a suit of armour. People were cheap back then.

Movak

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I like your new designs, especially the "horrible" ones, they have a much more pleasing geometry than the ones attempted so far.

That said, I'm not sure why you're attempting to follow the interlocking pattern. It's really just guesswork in that article. Plausible, maybe even correct, but for a modern reproduction ease of manufacture and assembly are primary concerns. My opinion is ditch that design for something simpler.

Also I assure you that double coverage is unnecessary, an attractive idea I admit, but not at the expense of manufacturing efficiency.

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I like your new designs, especially the "horrible" ones, they have a much more pleasing geometry than the ones attempted so far.

That said, I'm not sure why you're attempting to follow the interlocking pattern. It's really just guesswork in that article. Plausible, maybe even correct, but for a modern reproduction ease of manufacture and assembly are primary concerns. My opinion is ditch that design for something simpler.

Also I assure you that double coverage is unnecessary, an attractive idea I admit, but not at the expense of manufacturing efficiency.

Ease of manufacture and design may be your primary concern but it is not mine. My priorities are: authentic look as seen in the stone reliefs and pictures; and resilience of the sheet in bending and being struck.

"Horrific" has a dome shape and do not look at all like the available documentation. It also is hard to manufacture as it has curved bends in it failing even your test. The double thick areas are not there for protection; they are there so the scales interlock and do not pop apart when the sheet is bent or struck. This is also one of my questions about the flickr pictures; The arm plates are flat but in the pictures they are curved around the arm. If the tabs are too small then curving the sheet will increase the likelihood of a scale popping when struck.

This armour type was so rare in China that no examples have survived. The production technique need not be simple as manpower in that time was very cheap. My modern idea is to create a scale that closely reflects the period piece but use modern manufacturing techniques (press and die) to eliminate the massive manpower cost. This should produce the most authentic looking and performing armour.

Movak

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Right, "horrific" not horrible, my mistake. Sorry Zlosk.

Anyway, I like it, it would make very good armour. Curved bends and domes are standard shaped tooling, not hard to manufacture. It's all those bloody tabs and the overall "mountain character" shape that's the problem. Complicated dies like that cost more money and require bigger presses to run them.

I agree it's nothing like the historical examples, there's probably not as big a market for it. It shouldn't be hard to design a simple version that looks like the statues/paintings but doesn't rely on tabs. There's no real evidence that this armour was historically made in any exact shape, or of metal, or even of individual plates.

I still maintain that double coverage is totally unnecessary. It's impractical to make and dead weight to wear. There are better ways to achieve stability.

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Right, "horrific" not horrible, my mistake. Sorry Zlosk.

Anyway, I like it, it would make very good armour. Curved bends and domes are standard shaped tooling, not hard to manufacture. It's all those bloody tabs and the overall "mountain character" shape that's the problem. Complicated dies like that cost more money and require bigger presses to run them.

I agree it's nothing like the historical examples, there's probably not as big a market for it. It shouldn't be hard to design a simple version that looks like the statues/paintings but doesn't rely on tabs. There's no real evidence that this armour was historically made in any exact shape, or of metal, or even of individual plates.

I still maintain that double coverage is totally unnecessary. It's impractical to make and dead weight to wear. There are better ways to achieve stability.

One of my pet peeves is when someone says "there must be a better way" or "it shouldn't be hard" but does not show examples of the better way. It dismisses the work done by others without contributing anything constructive.

To prevent scales from moving around and popping out of place what is your alternative to tabs (the cause of the double coverage) that retains the desired shape?

Movak

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Alright, well one of my pet peeves is that most people seem to blindly accept an article that is pure speculation with no critical thinking simply because it has been on the internet for a while.

Another of my pet peeves is that when I point it out, they automatically assume that I have an obligation to do the aforesaid critical thinking for them.

I'm not exactly motivated to make this stuff but it's Sunday and I didn't feel like doing any real work. So, after I had slept in 'til noon I went down to Canadian Tire and bought some new tin snips. Then I drove to TRL's and scavenged some scrap metal. Then I ate some cake and cold pizza. Then I made a few protoypes, and now I have a piece of shan wen jia sitting on my kitchen table. It looks accurate, it's flexible, it doesn't use tabs and it WAS really easy to make.

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Alright, well one of my pet peeves is that most people seem to blindly accept an article that is pure speculation with no critical thinking simply because it has been on the internet for a while.

Another of my pet peeves is that when I point it out, they automatically assume that I have an obligation to do the aforesaid critical thinking for them.

I'm not exactly motivated to make this stuff but it's Sunday and I didn't feel like doing any real work. So, after I had slept in 'til noon I went down to Canadian Tire and bought some new tin snips. Then I drove to TRL's and scavenged some scrap metal. Then I ate some cake and cold pizza. Then I made a few protoypes, and now I have a piece of shan wen jia sitting on my kitchen table. It looks accurate, it's flexible, it doesn't use tabs and it WAS really easy to make.

Your comments about "critical thinking" are assumptions. I did try it out to the paper stage and it seemed to work as advertised. I do not have the material, tools or skill to go further. Another person made a, in my opinion, slightly oversized version in metal. Another made a number of different prototype using a computer. I see no lack of critical thinking.

Pointing out an issue is easy; it takes no work and implies that you have a solution and don't want to share it. How does saying there is a better way without at least hinting at what that better way is contribute?

You have done some work and that is great. Please supply pictures so we can apply critical thinking to your approach..

Movak

Edited by movak

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My previous post was written out of annoyance, please excuse the sarcasm. It was inflammatory and not at all helpful and I owe you a better reply than that.

I did point out an issue without offering an immediate solution, at the time I had none. That doesn't make the issue itself any less valid. I've since started working on a couple possible solutions but nothing that I feel is mature enough to post yet.

Let me try and clarify the issue as I see it. Unitized tooling is not going to solve the design problems. It allows limited flexibilty with simple designs made of simple shapes. These shan wen jia designs are not practical to tool for without ~$20K or more. For many of them you might need a new press and feed system. Jon won't make an investment like that unless he has some guarantee of a return. So, if you want these scales then the design must be made basic and compact enough to run on a low tonnage press with a narrow feed and simple tooling.

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Thanks for the information and update. How wide a strip can Jon's press handle?

Movak

Hmm - more importantly - what strip do we stock and what can the feeder handle but I know what you mean :)

The most expensive part of this whole operation is material - if we can make a part from existing material its a really good thing. Most likely choice is 1.1" wide strip limiting part width to 1". We use the 1.1" strip for large scales.

Servo feeder can handle 2" wide strip

Punch - 40 tons at full power but full power means full speed which can get a bit scary sometime (8000 parts per hour)

Unit tooling is going well - there will be a new "scale" soon and some discussion.

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I like your new designs, especially the "horrible" ones, they have a much more pleasing geometry than the ones attempted so far.

That said, I'm not sure why you're attempting to follow the interlocking pattern. It's really just guesswork in that article. Plausible, maybe even correct, but for a modern reproduction ease of manufacture and assembly are primary concerns. My opinion is ditch that design for something simpler.

Also I assure you that double coverage is unnecessary, an attractive idea I admit, but not at the expense of manufacturing efficiency.

I started out trying to match the original scales as drawn up by Daniel Slone. When I noticed variations in the number of layers, I tried to alleviate that. I have some scales that don't force the issue with double-layering, such as scale F. However, some areas will still be double-layered, while others will be single. I think (but am not positive) that better protection/weight would be achieved by double-layering thinner scales, than using thicker scales and have some areas single- and others double-layered.

As for the domed design: In some pictures, a center ridge is drawn. In others, it's not. When drafting, I draw lines for sharp bends and do not for large radius bends, so I looked into the possibility of a domed scale. I believe that the ridges should be a stronger design against blunt impact, though I think it would be worse against armor-piercing daggers, as there is a more distinct "funnel" to help direct the blade to the "hole" where the scales meet.

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Ok, here's my first prototype.

These plates are attached with 19 5/32 stainless rings, you could go as high as 18 5/32 welded for real strength. flexibility is okay, they take a curve well but would be best for use in paneled armour. I will try to improve flexibility with more consistent manufacturing and geometry.

post-12-126888402526_thumb.jpg

post-12-126888404088_thumb.jpg

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This picture shows the steps in construction.

These are cut from the same strip as TRL large scales, they turned out about the right size for historical accuracy.

The tips are pierced and pointed to allow several attachment methods. When linking them with rings the tips can be bent upwards away from the wearer. If you bend them downwards they can be used like staples and folded over after piercing a leather or cloth backing. The plates can also be attached by lacing them either directly or to a backing and by mounting them on a rigid backing with pop rivets.

Tools used:

-sharpie marker

-aviation shears

-hand punch

-hammer

-transfer punch

-pliers

-wood block

post-12-126888497572_thumb.jpg

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I started out trying to match the original scales as drawn up by Daniel Slone. When I noticed variations in the number of layers, I tried to alleviate that. I have some scales that don't force the issue with double-layering, such as scale F. However, some areas will still be double-layered, while others will be single. I think (but am not positive) that better protection/weight would be achieved by double-layering thinner scales, than using thicker scales and have some areas single- and others double-layered.

As for the domed design: In some pictures, a center ridge is drawn. In others, it's not. When drafting, I draw lines for sharp bends and do not for large radius bends, so I looked into the possibility of a domed scale. I believe that the ridges should be a stronger design against blunt impact, though I think it would be worse against armor-piercing daggers, as there is a more distinct "funnel" to help direct the blade to the "hole" where the scales meet.

I think that you may be right about the double layers, however since most people will not be wanting to use this as protection against armour piercing weapons it may be a bit of a moot point.

As you can see I've gone with a domed design, too lazy to make ridges really. The depth of the forming is the biggest problem with running this stuff right now. I'm trying to work on a combination curved ridge design similar to my scales to minimize the depth needed to get these scales to nest properly.

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Hah, great minds think alike!

I had these laser cut out of some 1/16" acrylic. They finally arrived today. As you can see from the pictures, assembled they look quite awesome. Each "scale" has 6 holes, and they are interconnected using small jump rings. Depending on the size of ring used one can dial in how flexible they want the sheet to be. Kinda like J6-1 with plates.

I cant wait for the metal ones to show up now :D For now I'll have to add the flutes in by hand using a press, but for larger quantities it will be done with machines.

(And if you feel OCD, you can paint each one and become a walking optical illusion.)

DSC00792.jpg

DSC00791.jpg

DSC00790.jpg

DSC00793.jpg

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