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Nathan Bell





Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 329

PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2004 5:30 pm    Post subject: Albion blade damage--fact and fiction         Reply with quote

On September 25 at a cutting party at my home, an Albion blade was damaged. I have been hearing lots of rumors lately coming to me through the rumor mill about "Albion blade failures." Ordinarily, I would not jump in and intiate a post about this.

However, the rumors are stemming from an incident that occurred at my house, with my sword, during an event I hosted, with the sword's maker present. Since no one has contacted me or the swords maker directly about it, I felt the need to set the record straight.

the rumor:
The rumor going around is that a standard Albion blade and/or NextGen broke in half while cutting a pool noodle, or sustained damage on that level.

the truth:
A modifed Albion sword with an "experimental" blade had an edge chip when it cut into an old length of PVC pipe that was supporting a pool noodle.

the sword
The sword in question was "Problem Child". This sword was a custom hilted La Tene sword that Shane Allee made for me, with a significantly re-ground Albion La Tene blade. As it turns out, this blade was on eof the first blade blanks Albion ran using the new 1075 steel, and using a new heat treating rig. It was one of a batch of "experimental" blades b/c they were still experimenting with the heat treat. This particular blade was quite hard at the edges, very different from the average Albion La Tene blade.

The blank was then reground significantly in profile taper, as can be seen below. Not only that, but the edge geometry was re-ground as well---It had very sharp, thin edge geometry, a veritable razor of a sword. This is historical and appropriate for the sword type we were reproducing. BUT, this did not work well with the "experimental" heat-treat.

The result was that when the blade encountered the old PVC, it resulted in a chip. The chipped blade can be seen below.


resolution:
Albion is not shipping out swords with the "experimental" blades, nor did they ever intend to. In addition, they are supplying Shane with a blank that has the standard heat treat.


my comments
I have cut extensively, on light targets with Albion swords of both First Gen and Next Gen. I cut at Chad's gathering in July, and at my own Round Table in September.

Most of the swords that we cut with cut into the top of the PVC that holds the pool noodles. It simply happens accidentally when many, many cuts are made by unskilled cutters (like me). None of the other swords including a "standard" La Tene, have ever shown this sort of damage from cutting into PVC, pool noodles, bottles, whatever.

I also recently got to see a Jarl take an accidental backswing into a butted maille aventail up at Albion. I did not see any discernable edge damage from that either. Actually, I have enquired to buy that very sword, if that tells you something about my personal confidence level in the integrity of the blades.

From my own cutting experiences I am sure that this sort of damage is not typical, despite what you might hear. Mark Weldon could also tell you how an Albion blade holds up after cutting PVC, since I accidentally took a large section of PVC off the top with his Migration D. (sorry Mark Worried )

I also knew Albion would make good on the fluke that occurred, which is why I didn't feel the need to make a big hoopla.

That is, until I heard the mis-information going around. Hope this clears things up.


Thanks for listening,

Nate B.



 Attachment: 55.89 KB
finishedlatene1.jpg
This is Problem Child, note the significantly re-ground blade

 Attachment: 25.25 KB
chipped1.jpg
chipped blade--chip is on the side toward the bottom or downward edge, right at the COP

 Attachment: 28.96 KB
chipped2.jpg
chipped blade


Last edited by Nathan Bell on Tue 23 Nov, 2004 8:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2004 5:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm glad you posted this, Nate. I'm one of those people that received a bunch of email about this whole thing. There were some that asked, "Did you hear about the Albion NextGen sword that broke in half while cutting a pool noodle?" while others were messging me gloating about the failure. When I found out the facts behind the story, I was a bit taken back that the grapevine got so out of control on this one. Frankly, I don't think it was blown out of proportion: I think it was vastly and purposely exaggerated. Annoying things our community sees.

So:

1) No blade broke in half. It chipped
2) It chipped while hitting an old PVC pipe, not just on a foam noodle
3) It wasn't an Albion Next-Gen sword, it wasn't even a First-Gen sword
4) It was a modified blade of the First-Gen style, heat-treated too hard, and put out as a blank blade never intended for general sale

That's a pretty far cry from what people were discussing.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2004 5:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Nate, that "Problem Child" sword hilt looks great. What material is that? Horn or highly polished wood?
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2004 6:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Hey Nate, that "Problem Child" sword hilt looks great. What material is that? Horn or highly polished wood?


Now that I see the photo of the assembled sword I recall seeing other photos of it. That was a very nice looking sword Nate. Thanks for giving us eyewitness facts instead of rumor and innuendo.

Quote:
I was a bit taken back that the grapevine got so out of control on this one. Frankly, I don't think it was blown out of proportion: I think it was vastly and purposely exaggerated. Annoying things our community sees


Unfortunately these kinds of things are all too common when personal agendas and neurosis take priority of the facts. I'm glad Nate volunteered this information (not to mention providing actual physical evidence). Hopefully this will put this issue to rest.

Quote:
I also recently got to see a Jarl take an accidental backswing into a butted maille aventail up at Albion


I was also present. It raise a few eyebrows in the crowd when it happened, but there was no discernable damage to the blade.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Shane Allee
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Location: South Bend, IN
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2004 7:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not much I can add at this point. This was the very first sword I finished up, took me long enough too. So it has been very frustrating for me since I haven't had the best of luck with projects this year. Then I start hearing from Nate and Albion about all of these rumors that are floating around about it. The rumors...yeah that makes me mad. What really makes it even worse for me is the fact that I put so much into it. I based this on an original hilt, there was twenty five individual hilt pieces, hundreds of design modifications to get it as close to the original as I could. I know there isn't that many people interested in the La Tene period, but still...it didn't mean jack to anyone outside of a few until they could turn it into a wild rumor about an Albion blade breaking. Wow, that certainly made me feel great.

At this point though I really don't care. My drive isn't to make swords for other people, it is to learn how to do it.

End of my rant.

The hilt is buffalo horn and the fittings are wrought iron. Here is a close up of the hilt.

Shane

P.S.
This isn't the end for it though. I saved the guards and wrought fitings, getting a couple more Albion blades, and I'll take another shot at it. Then a La tene for me.



 Attachment: 106.91 KB
finishedlatene2.jpg

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2004 8:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't let it get to you Shane. It's a sad state of affairs, but unfortunately there are those who would rather tear down and divide instead of building up and bringing together. But fortunately there are even more of us that would like to share the passion and build a community of like minds. Too bad the bad apples get all the press Worried

It looks to me like you did a great job on that sword. As soon as Nate posted the pic of the assembled sword I immediately remembered it since it had stuck in my head. Any problems in this case can only be put under the "Sh!* happens" heading.

I need a sword of this type for my own collection and I wouldn't mind at all if it came from you. That's a nice piece.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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James Aldrich




Location: Green Bay WI
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2004 9:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as the chip, if it were my sword I would do whatever is historically correct to ameliorate it and call it verisimilitude. It's not a flaw or blemish; it's character. Personality.

JSA
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2004 10:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shane;

Too bad about the bad luck with the blade as the sword looks very good. It might be interesting to find out exactly how hard that edge is: If it's in the low to high 60 R.C. range, file hard, it is not too surprising that it might chip.

Don't know how "fixable" it could be. Would a controled heating of the edges bring the hardness back down to a more reasonnable but still good edge of a mid 50 R.C.

Or a complete re-heatreating after forge welding in a small piece of steel where the chip is now? (Carefully regrinding back to the original lines.)
I wonder if this was done historically to fix a prised sword. (Assuming the highest quality sword, the heatreating would have to be done by the same smith or an equally skilled one!)

Although it might be easier to just start fresh with a new blade!

Too bad about the stupid rumours as experimental stuff that breaks is the only way to push the limits of a design.

Just goes to show that some people will repeat third hand information as truth and the further away they are from the source the more wiling they are to believe a rumour or misrepresentation.

Hope you continue working on this or other projects as you show a good deal of talent, if not luck at the moment for it.

Best wishes and good luck.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Nathan Bell





Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 329

PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 5:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shane Allee wrote:
I based this on an original hilt, there was twenty five individual hilt pieces, hundreds of design modifications to get it as close to the original as I could. I know there isn't that many people interested in the La Tene period,
This isn't the end for it though. I saved the guards and wrought fitings, getting a couple more Albion blades, and I'll take another shot at it. Then a La tene for me.


It will live again!

Shane is going to give this another go, and Albion is already goong to supply a blade blank with regular heat treat for the project.

The big shame of this is like Shane said---bad press detracted from a marvelous sword. Not only did this cast a bad light on Albion generally, but on Shane's work of art.

The completed sword had absolutely beautiful balance, and it was light, light, light. The Albion version is already sub 2 lbs, and this one, whether through weight or balance, felt like a willow switch in the hand.

It had a wonderful, graceful profile taper that so typifies many of the "solid middle" La Tene II's. This is something of the profile shape I have talking about a lot lately, that is not represented at all in the replica market, and I believe Shane (with some help from Rick) really nailed the type-shape.

In cutting, it was a dream on light targets (the light targets were appropriate given the experimental heat treat, as Problem Child had absolutely no trouble dicing pool noodles into onion rings, only PVC gave it trouble)

I know it's over-used but this thing went through pool noodles with no feeling of resistance, and the balance and weight of this piece were such that one could make quick and immediate return cuts, one after the other, in very rapid succession. One really could make go "snicker-snack" with a blade like this (yes, even I was able to do that with this sword)

So I am happy that Shane is willing to put aside his frustration and make another, and that Albion is willing to contribute to the next, successful project.


edited for typos.

Oh yeah, the pics and design of Problem Child are copyright Shane Allee and Rick Barrett, and all rights are reserved.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 6:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was there when the incident occured and I, too, had to field questions from people who had heard the these rumors. It really surprised me that the truth would get so twisted and that the unfounded story would spread so quickly. I can't imagine that any of the party attendees would have purposefully spread lies, it was a good group of people. This just shows how easy it is for facts to be forgotten in the rush of the rumor mill.
Happy

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Mathias B.




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 6:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
As soon as Nate posted the pic of the assembled sword I immediately remembered it since it had stuck in my head.

I hope this isn't to be taken literally Big Grin Cry

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Russ Mitchell




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was kind of freaked at the "accidental backswing into aventail" part myself...

BUT, kudos for the regrinding! Most of the blades from my (similarly neglected) area of study are also razorlike blades, in contrast to how I can get most folks to make them. When I tell people that magyar hand-and-a-half sabres have a cross-section like a straight-razor, they have a hard time realizing how little hyperbole there is in that.

Good luck. It's a heck of a cool project.

10,000 lemmings can't be wrong.
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David Kite




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 9:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Man, I had no idea about the rumors! Where were those circulated at? Just private circles? I never saw anything on any forums anywhere (that I recall).

I feel bad enough being the guy wielding it when it chipped. When a sword like that breaks, it should be done by its owner.

Wonderful blade though. Wrist-cuts sent slivers of pool noodles flying.

David Kite
ARMA in IN

ps-- "broke in half" (guffaw!)
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James Sharpe





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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 10:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shane Allee wrote:
Not much I can add at this point. This was the very first sword I finished up, took me long enough too. So it has been very frustrating for me since I haven't had the best of luck with projects this year. Then I start hearing from Nate and Albion about all of these rumors that are floating around about it. The rumors...yeah that makes me mad. What really makes it even worse for me is the fact that I put so much into it. I based this on an original hilt, there was twenty five individual hilt pieces, hundreds of design modifications to get it as close to the original as I could. I know there isn't that many people interested in the La Tene period, but still...it didn't mean jack to anyone outside of a few until they could turn it into a wild rumor about an Albion blade breaking. Wow, that certainly made me feel great.

At this point though I really don't care. My drive isn't to make swords for other people, it is to learn how to do it.

End of my rant.

The hilt is buffalo horn and the fittings are wrought iron. Here is a close up of the hilt.

Shane

P.S.
This isn't the end for it though. I saved the guards and wrought fitings, getting a couple more Albion blades, and I'll take another shot at it. Then a La tene for me.



Shane,
I just wanted to compliment you on a very nice sword. I hope to get a sword from this period at some point.
James
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Thomas Jason




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 10:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm beginning to think some of Albion's competition is behind these rumors.

The post over on SFI was shut down by a moderator who has a clear conflict of interest.

Nothing at all controversial or political in the thread either.
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas Jason wrote:
I'm beginning to think some of Albion's competition is behind these rumors.

The post over on SFI was shut down by a moderator who has a clear conflict of interest.

Nothing at all controversial or political in the thread either.


A statement like this is very ill-advised, and fuel for another destructive, tiresome, and ultimately pointless conflict in the sword communtity. Please, folks, let's back off, at least until you've got more definite information.

FWIW here is a thread on the other forum - http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=40890 - where the moderator in question defended Albion from a mistaken accusation of bad craftsmanship. See the post at the end of the thread.
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Gary Grzybek




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
Thomas Jason wrote:
I'm beginning to think some of Albion's competition is behind these rumors.

The post over on SFI was shut down by a moderator who has a clear conflict of interest.

Nothing at all controversial or political in the thread either.


A statement like this is very ill-advised, and fuel for another destructive, tiresome, and ultimately pointless conflict in the sword communtity. Please, folks, let's back off, at least until you've got more definite information.

FWIW here is a thread on the other forum - http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=40890 - where the moderator in question defended Albion from a mistaken accusation of bad craftsmanship. See the post at the end of the thread.



It looks to me as thought the situation was handled well enough. My impression is that the scenario involving the sword damage has been clearly explained. Anyone who feels the need to create further conflict from this must have personal issues. We've all see it before where people will jump on any chance to make a mountain out of a mole hill. I sure hope it stops here.

Gary Grzybek
ARMA Northern N.J.
www.armastudy.org
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Lloyd Clark




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 11:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that it gives the blade character Cool
Cheers,

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Eric Myers




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding the chipped blade, why can't you just sharpen around that area? Would that weaken the blade too much? As a comparison, nicked and chipped scythe blades are just repeatedly peened and sharpened until - over time - they can have quite a wavy edge. A scythe is a slicing tool that is unlikely to encounter the torques and stresses of a sword blade, but it still seems there is enough steel left in the sword to hold up to most use......
Eric Myers
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2004 2:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was there when it happened too.

Interestingly this is the first I've heard on the subject since I left the roundtable that night, although I have been a little less active of late which may explain why I'm the last to hear. I think all of us felt pretty sick about it at the time. Especially given the obvious amount of effort, sweat, and blood (literally if memory serves) Shane put into its creation.

To bad the weapon apparently continues to live up to its name.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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