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Stanley Hauser





Joined: 17 Sep 2013

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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 8:46 am    Post subject: 16 gauge vs. 18 gauge mail         Reply with quote

Hi guys,

I was wondering what everyone's thoughts were as far as wire thickness used to make mail...not so much to do with historical accuracy so much as effectiveness.

I've tended to work with 16 gauge wire, and when I handled 18 gauge for the first time, I'll admit that I wondered how it could protect from anything at all. I feel like I could floss with that stuff.

True, you would use more rings and they would all have a smaller inner diameter, but would that be more effective than simply using thicker wire?
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Bartek Strojek




Location: Poland
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, generally, the thinner the wire, the smaller the diameter. Combinations are pretty much endless though. Depending on how heavy etc. one wanted his mail, we can guess.

Such thing '18 gauge' rings were used as well, probably mostly to make small rings.

http://members.ozemail.com.au/~chrisandpeter/mail/birka_mail.htm
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 12:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Smaller ring size might be helpful at stopping penetrating attacks while thicker rings might be more resistant to cuts, but thickness of wire is not the sole or primary indicator of effectiveness. Alan Williams tests show some mail as low as 55 VPH (Vickers scale) which is below 0 on the Rockwell C scale (which is around 160 VPH). Other mail tests at 550 VPH / 52 Rc, which is comparable to some knife edges. There is some evidence that heavier mail might have been more effective against arrows, though.

This passage describing the expedition of Hernando de Soto from Garcilaso's El Florida del Inca can be found on pp.156-7, Chapter 18: http://www.scribd.com/doc/14659502/Inca-Garci...a-Del-Inca
Quote:
Fue así que, en una de las primeras refriegas que los españoles tuvieron con los indios de Apalache, sacó el maese de campo Luis de Moscoso un flechazo en el costado derecho que le pasó una cuera de ante y otra de malla que llevaba debajo, que, por ser tan pulida,había costado en España ciento y cincuenta ducados, y de éstas habían llevado muchas los hombres ricos por muy estimadas. También le pasó la flecha un jubón estofado y lo hirió de manera que, por ser a soslayo, no lo mató. Los españoles, admirados de un golpe de flecha tan extraño, quisieron ver para cuánto eran sus cotas, las muy pulidas en quien tanta confianza tenían. Llegados que, si de la otra parte topara un hombre, también lo pasara.

Los españoles, viendo la poca o ninguna defensa que una cota hacía contra una flecha, quisieronver lo que hacían dos cotas, y así mandaron vestir otra muy preciada sobre lambre para pasarlas ambas.El indio, volviendo a sacudir los brazos como que les pedía nuevas fuerzas, pues le doblaban las defensas contrarias, desembrazó la flecha y dio en las cotassalió de las cotas como la primera."afrenta de sus cotas, y de allí adelante quedaron bien desengañados de lo poco defensiva; y las cotas deadelante en los lugares donde acaecieron que cierto son para admirar.Mas al fin, considerando que estos indios son engendrados y nacidos sobre arcosy flechas, criados y alimentados de lo que con ellas matan y tan ejercitados enellas, no hay por qué maravillarnos tanto.


While in the territory of the Apalache (modern day Florida panhandle), the Maestro de Campo, Luis de Moscoso receives an arrow wound to the side which penetrates a suede leather coat (una cuera de ante) and another of mail (otra de malla) beneath. The mail is finely burnished and expensive, costing 150 ducats, and is the type worn by many gentlemen. The arrow also penetrates a jupon (un jubón) and wounds him, though not fatally. The Spanish are surprised that a shot could penetrate such a high quality coat of mail, which was held in high esteem. (Garcilaso had previously dismissed the rank and file's "poor and rusty shirts of mail".) They repeat the test with two coats, and the arrow penetrates but doesn't exit through the 4 layers which angers the Indian.
Quote:
Los españoles no quisieron conceder la petición del indio por no ver mayor afrenta de sus cotas, y de allí adelante quedaron bien desengañados de lo pocoque las muy estimadas les podían defender de las flechas. Y así, haciendo burlade ellas sus propios dueños, las llamaban holandas de Flandes, y, en lugar deellas, hicieron sayos estofados de tres y cuatro dedos en grueso, con faldamentoslargos que cubriesen los pechos y ancas del caballo, y estos sayos, hechos demantas, resistían mejor las flechas que otra alguna arma defensiva; y las cotas demalla gruesa y bastas que no eran tenidas en precio, con cualquier otra defensaque les pusiesen debajo, defendían las flechas mejor que las muy galanas y pulidas, por lo cual vinieron a ser estimadas las que habían sido menospreciadasy desechadas las muy tenidas.


The padded armor made of Holland cloth or Flanders, padded three or four fingers thick, was to cover the horses. The rough and coarse mail (las cotas de malla gruesa) which had previously been denigrated because it was cheap was found to be better protection.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Contrary to most assumptions, the weakest part of a mail link is rarely the riveted join. When mail is stressed, the rings usually fail elsewhere around the link - along the wire. A reasonable conclusion might be that there is no difference between the protective capacity of a solid link, a riveted link, and a welded link. The mechancal properties of the metal itself and the gauge of the wire is far more important in determining how likely it is to fail under the blows of a weapon. This seems to support the Spanish experience - small, finely woven mail is not as effective as larger links made from thicker wire. But if the links are too large, then small points could slip through the gaps in the mesh. It would be an interesting exercise to try and optimise the link size and thickness to maximise weapon resistance.
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Jonathon Hanson




Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Joined: 11 Mar 2010

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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 4:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That seems like a very interesting conclusion, Dan. Do you have any references or articles to support that claim? I always thought the rivet joint is weakest, but it would be fascinating to be proven otherwise. Maybe the fact that today's riveted mail is not authentically punched could skew the results.

As for de la Vega' s account, it really doesn't give us much information to work with. No mention is made of the difference in weight of the mail armors (other than being implied), nor is any mention made of the thicknesses of the weaves or rings. All that is stated is that one is finely polished and popular with gentlemen, not that it is made of finer rings than the cheaper coats. This mail, which may not have been intended to defeat heavy weapons in battle, was also going up against perhaps the strongest longbows outside of England. It seems to me that it's a case of armor being used that's not heavy enough to counter the threat presented. Maybe the rusty shirts were intended to be worn more as battle armor as opposed to being fashionable. Without more information, it doesn't seem like we can make any conclusions as to the differences between the mail coats because they aren't spelled out well enough. If we can't tell for sure that one coat was made of finer denser rings and one was made of rougher thicker ones, then we can't apply the account to the question being asked.

From personal experience having assembled two haubergeon from icefalcon 18g rings and gdfb 16g ones, I can definitely say the extra thickness gives me an added sense of security for hypothetical battles ( but at the cost of being heavier, what benefit is this when the armor will never see a real battle?)


Last edited by Jonathon Hanson on Thu 26 Sep, 2013 6:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 6:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathon Hanson wrote:
That seems like a very interesting conclusion, Dan. Do you have any references or articles to support that claim?

Only ten years of experimentation and confirmation from experts like Erik.

Quote:
I always thought the rivet joint is weakest, but it would be fascinating to be proven otherwise. Maybe the fact that today's riveted mail is not authentically punched could skew the results.

I've already given a list of reasons why modern riveted mail is not suitable for weapons tests. Inferior riveting is but one of them.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=19189
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Jonathon Hanson




Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Joined: 11 Mar 2010

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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 6:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Jonathon Hanson wrote:
That seems like a very interesting conclusion, Dan. Do you have any references or articles to support that claim?

Only ten years of experimentation and confirmation from experts like Erik.

Quote:
I always thought the rivet joint is weakest, but it would be fascinating to be proven otherwise. Maybe the fact that today's riveted mail is not authentically punched could skew the results.

I've already given a list of reasons why modern riveted mail is not suitable for weapons tests. Inferior riveting is but one of them.


Okay then, may I suggest then that you include that point then in your Unchained article? If it's a common misconception about mail that can be disproved by evidence, then perhaps it warrants mentioning in the document many of the forum users go to for information on mail armour. I know that I was unaware of it until I read this.
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,276

PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 8:24 pm    Post subject: Re: 16 gauge vs. 18 gauge mail         Reply with quote

Stanley Hauser wrote:
I was wondering what everyone's thoughts were as far as wire thickness used to make mail...not so much to do with historical accuracy so much as effectiveness.


Wouldn't it follow that mail which was used historically was deemed to be effective by those men whose lives were at risk when using it?

Although I don't think there has ever been a mathematical analysis across time, I think we primarily see a peak of mail with external diameters of 8mm to 10mm (Sigma Range, about 68%)), with a range of 6mm to 12mm being common (Double Sigma, about 95% of examples). Of course there's smaller and larger examples, <4mm to >20mm (Triple Sigma, 99.7% of the curve).


Roman mail seems to have a peak around 7mm external diameter from what I've read, and Beatson shows Dark Age mail's peak to be larger, in the 9-10mm range. It would be interesting to add in Indo-Persian, Iron-Age, Medieval, and Renaissance examples to see where the median truly falls.

I suspect wire thickness generally follows the peak of ring diameter, though the advent of flattened rings might disrupt the calculation.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 9:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Keep in mind that all of the reports and mail statistics you read are referring to OUTSIDE diameter. All of the mail resellers will only tell you what the INSIDE diameter is. So if a manufacturer tells you that his mail is 6mm then it is really 8-9mm. If their mail is listed as 8mm then it is really 10-12mm.
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