Friday, June 14, 2019

Low Cost Armor 2: The Essential, Cheap Repair Kit

I had a great time at Souther Region War Camp last weekend. Between Crown and Pennsic, I mostly fight with my poleax or with spear, but Padraig was there so I did some sword and shield with him and with William McCrimmon. That was fun, but really it was all about the ax. I did try a little bit of a weak side a farm defense, a la Alanon. The best part of that was one-shotting someone with a thrust straight down the middle.  Like I said, it was mostly the Ax.

One thing I get asked a lot is what I carry in my repair kit. Not much is the answer. Because I live in New York City and don't own a car. I travel by subway most of the time. As such, carrying a lot of extra stuff is hard. I do have a few things I use--the absolute essentials. Below I list them, in order of importance, with links as to the items themselves on Amazon.

Everybody knows this one. It's the SCA's oldest joke. (Duct Tape is like the Force, because it has a dark side, and a light side, and it holds the universe together). Duct tape will repair nearly everything not on your helmet. If you break a strap, it will hold your knee cop in place. If your plywood shield starts to splinter, Duct Tape keeps it together. I even knew one guy who duct taped his cup in place because he'd forgotten his jock strap. There's a song about that one. The best variety is gaffer's tape, which has a tough backing and is actually made to hold cables together on a movie set, as opposed to hold ducting together.

A good alternative is the indestructible Gorilla Tape.

Some people tape their swords in athletic tape instead of duct tape. It really doesn't matter. Since you need two contrasting colors to make an SCA legal sword, white athletic tape and black duct tape works great. I keep athletic tape in my kit to tape up my wrist. Only my wrist (see below). That's really not a repair kit thing. Or maybe it's a repair me thing. Not surprisingly, my brand is Cramer. I don't know how we're related, but I'll go with it.

With athletic tape, I use an under wrap.

KT Tape works miracles. It keeps my body parts in place and greatly reduces the risk of injury when I'm fighting. It means a little less pain. I use athletic tape on my wrist, but I use KT tape on my shoulder and my elbow (and my wrist if I've run out of athletic tape). It arms the muscles up and compresses them. I don't like fighting without it.

I use zip ties for everything. They are specially great for holding shield edging in place, but I've even used them to repair gauntlets.

The medieval zip ties. If you've got these, you might not want the zip ties. The nice thing about having both is that zip ties hold things tighter (it's hard to tie a thong as tight as you can ratchet a zip tie). But, also, because the zip ties aren't strong enough to do a certain job that the leather thong is well suited for: replacing a blown rivet on a knee or elbow cop. No, it's true--Duke Frederick used to call thongs "soft rivets." You need some good, sturdy ones, fairly stiff and thick. You tie a big knot in one end of the thong, lace it through the rivet holes, tie another big knot in the other end. Ta-da. It should last the length of a tournament and, if it doesn't, just replace it with another thong. It's the best field repair I know, and has saved my day more than once.

Tape sometimes needs to be cut, zip ties need to be trimmed, and you need the right length of leather lacing. Most people prefer shears for this sort of thing, and so do I. But I keep loosing shears, or lending them out. For some reason, I don't lose box cutters very often.

Strapping Tape. For the basket hilt.

Note what isn't there. Rivets. Hammers. Hacksaws. With my armor, and with most armors, all you really need is some sticky stuff, and some stringing stuff, and you should be able to Jerry-rig almost anything you need. Not a helmet repair. Helmet repairs require special tools and skills. A welder, usually. Yes, you can have a nice big craftsman tool kit with lots of leather punches and dies, rivets, etc., to bring with you. That stuff is heavy. You can even bring along a portable welder. To Pennsic, maybe. But, really, some zip ties, thong, and tape, is really all you need to get you through a tourney or practice.

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