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R. Kolick





Joined: 04 Feb 2012

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PostPosted: Tue 14 Jul, 2015 7:14 pm    Post subject: how often and how was armor repaired         Reply with quote

Iíve been looking over several of the armor vs weapon threads and it always shows the ideal conditions, Which is how a good test should be done to maintain any re-creatable and credible results but I keep wondering how much does this represent historical conditions; where armor has been damaged and repaired since it was first used.

- For mail do we have any idea how often the links were replaced? Was it when they appeared damaged or bent or did the owner wait till a link was broken to get it repaired?
- For plate how were dents and punctures repaired, and how did the repair effect the shapes ability to deflect attacks and effect the overall durability of the armor? (did the repair leave a weak spot)
- How was cloth armor repaired? And did the repair leave a weak point or repair it good as new?
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Jul, 2015 10:38 pm    Post subject: Re: how often and how was armor repaired         Reply with quote

R. Kolick wrote:
- For mail do we have any idea how often the links were replaced? Was it when they appeared damaged or bent or did the owner wait till a link was broken to get it repaired?



It's not unusual when examining mail to find a missing rivet or two. Sometimes you find a ring which has sprung open but retains the rivet. I've seen distorted rings, rings with V-notched grooves cut into them, etc. My general feeling is they didn't bother repairing it until it was a hole in the structure of the fabric, i.e. the ring had fallen out -- maybe not even until there were enough "moth holes" to make it noticeable or cost effective to take it to someone.

The repairs are usually easy to spot as the ring size and form doesn't match at all. They were less concerned with a uniform appearance and more concerned with functionality.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Jul, 2015 7:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The simple answer to your question is 'as needed'. Armour was expensive, and so were the repairs. If it didn't need fixing, they wouldn't bother. If a hole got put into it, then first, does it affect its defensive value? A small hole in mail isn't a big deal unless it's in a stress area such as the shoulders; several small holes, on the other hand, could create the potential for a larger tear. A small hole in, say, a vambrace (forearm armour in a suit) isn't a big deal, although I'm sure the person wearing it at the time minded. A hole in the breastplate, on the other hand, would affect structural strength.

There was something that did occur on occasion (though I can't think of any current examples off the top of my head)-- a suit of armour would sometimes be modified to be more in line with period styles. Usually this was merely by adding a new piece-- replacing a helmet, for example, or incorporating an older back-and-breast with newer arms and legs, or whatever.

A suitable comparison would be to an automobile-- you can get a few dents and dings here and there, but you don't usually worry about it too much unless the fender is falling off or the axle is broken. Then it definitely needs fixing.
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Ralph Grinly





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PostPosted: Sat 18 Jul, 2015 6:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was fairly common for plate harness to have their internal leather supports to be replaced, they were an inherent weakness in constant need of careful attention.
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Vasilly T





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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jul, 2015 3:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's a good question. When you read about the logistics of the time, you can notice that blacksmiths were brought along with their instruments, hearths and anvils with almost any army. So I guess fixing armour and weapons was an essential part of war and logistics.

But what I'm interested in is how you fix heat-treated armour. Let's say I got a good hole in my breastplate, it saved my life, but I want this hole gone. Considering that the breastplate was heat-treated, I guess there would be additional troubles because of that?
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John Hardy




Location: Saskatoon SK Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jul, 2015 3:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have owned a couple old 17th century helmets that had repairs -- a pikeman's pot and a burgonet with a barred visor.

The pot had had a cracked dent or hole repaired by having the dent pounded out from inside and then a metal patch brazed or welded over the spot on the inside of the helmet to reinforce it while leaving the outside surface smooth and free of areas that might provide a "catch" for a blow. It would also have hidden most obvious signs of a repaired weak spot from an enemy. The technique looked much like that used by a mender to fix a tear or hole in a pair of pants -- put a reinforcing patch of the same coloured cloth over the hole on the inside of the pants and then stitch it to the tear so the outside is left free of visible mends.

The burgonet had had a couple bars on the visor broken at some point, possibly by a cut. The bars were repaired by having the ends rejoined with metal reinforcing strips riveted across the breaks on the inside of the bars and a bit of extra metal then hammerwelded over the joins on the outside. Not what I would call elegant, but definitely a sturdy repair and again the most obvious signs of it were on the inside where an enemy couldn't see them.


Vasilly T wrote:
That's a good question. When you read about the logistics of the time, you can notice that blacksmiths were brought along with their instruments, hearths and anvils with almost any army. So I guess fixing armour and weapons was an essential part of war and logistics.

But what I'm interested in is how you fix heat-treated armour. Let's say I got a good hole in my breastplate, it saved my life, but I want this hole gone. Considering that the breastplate was heat-treated, I guess there would be additional troubles because of that?
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Vasilly T





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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jul, 2015 7:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I understand these nuances, but if you haven't noticed I was asking about heat-treated armour, because all of the procedures described by you, would totally ruin the tempering of the metal.
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John Hardy




Location: Saskatoon SK Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jul, 2015 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vasilly T wrote:
I understand these nuances, but if you haven't noticed I was asking about heat-treated armour, because all of the procedures described by you, would totally ruin the tempering of the metal.


Well, I'm certainly no expert on metalworking, but I donít really see any way a heat treated piece of armour plating could be repaired without redoing the heat treatment. I expect it would have to be annealed to make the steel workable again, then hammered out or welded, and then re-treated.

Of course the first problem would be that a heat treated plate that was hit hard enough to break through the hardened surface to cause damage might well tend to shatter beyond ready repair anyway...
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jul, 2015 7:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vasilly T wrote:
I understand these nuances, but if you haven't noticed I was asking about heat-treated armour, because all of the procedures described by you, would totally ruin the tempering of the metal.


If it's just a dent they might hammer it out but a hole would pose a problem. Perhaps they could anneal it first, repair it and then heat treat it again. I am not sure how expensive this would be so I do not know if this is an economic solution. Perhaps they repaired it as described above and just put a new "patch" of steel on the inside and accepted it would be a weakspot.

I suppose it also depends a lot on who and when the armor get's damaged. The further you go back in time the less people would walk around in heat treated armor, the ones who did wear it could have the means to buy a new one as soon as possible.
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Vasilly T





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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jul, 2015 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
the ones who did wear it could have the means to buy a new one as soon as possible.

That reminds me that I saw quite a few infantry armours listed(mostly of almain rivet type) in "The Knight and The Blast Furnace" that were made out medium carbon steel that was quenched and tempered. I was surprised by that fact, to be honest.

Williams also gives some data on prices of Almain rivet armour in 1546, the "best sort" cost was 7s 6d, the "second sort" was 6s 8d, I assume first one is the quenched and tempered one, though I can't be sure.
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jul, 2015 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Francesco Datini was known to buy up armor after wars had concluded, and some of it likely needed repair. Earlier in the 14th century, we have evidence that such repairs were not always ethically performed, or needed repairs were sometimes hidden beneath a layer of fabric, leather, or paint. These guys would make fine realtors.

Quote:
Regulations made by the Armourers of London.
15 Edward 11. A.D. 1322. Letter-Book E. fol. cxxxiii. (Norman French.)

Also, seeing that as well lord as man have found theirs to be old bacinets, battered and vamped-up, but recently covered by persons who know nothing of the trade; such bacinets being then put away in some secret place, and carried into the country, away from the City, to sell; and that in the City of such men no cognizance can be taken, whether the same be good or bad; a thing from which great peril might ensue to the King and to his people, and disgraceful scandal to the armourers aforesaid, and to all the City; it is ordained and assented to, that no smith, or other man who makes the irons for bacinets, shall from henceforth himself cause any bacinet to be covered for sale; but he is to sell the same out of his hands entirely, and not fitted up, in manner as used to be done heretofore; and the bacinets so sold are to remain so uncompleted, until they have been viewed by the four persons who shall have been sworn thereto, or by two of them, as to whether they are proper to be fitted up or not.

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?...y=armourer

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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John Hardy




Location: Saskatoon SK Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jul, 2015 5:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No no, not realtors -- used car salesmen. Selling bascinets that were only worn by a little old gentleman on Sundays...

Mart Shearer wrote:
Francesco Datini was known to buy up armor after wars had concluded, and some of it likely needed repair. Earlier in the 14th century, we have evidence that such repairs were not always ethically performed, or needed repairs were sometimes hidden beneath a layer of fabric, leather, or paint. These guys would make fine realtors.

Quote:
Regulations made by the Armourers of London.
15 Edward 11. A.D. 1322. Letter-Book E. fol. cxxxiii. (Norman French.)

Also, seeing that as well lord as man have found theirs to be old bacinets, battered and vamped-up, but recently covered by persons who know nothing of the trade; such bacinets being then put away in some secret place, and carried into the country, away from the City, to sell; and that in the City of such men no cognizance can be taken, whether the same be good or bad; a thing from which great peril might ensue to the King and to his people, and disgraceful scandal to the armourers aforesaid, and to all the City; it is ordained and assented to, that no smith, or other man who makes the irons for bacinets, shall from henceforth himself cause any bacinet to be covered for sale; but he is to sell the same out of his hands entirely, and not fitted up, in manner as used to be done heretofore; and the bacinets so sold are to remain so uncompleted, until they have been viewed by the four persons who shall have been sworn thereto, or by two of them, as to whether they are proper to be fitted up or not.

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?...y=armourer
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jul, 2015 1:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A personal anecdote

I had the armorer who made my breastplate, robert of stokewood, do some fine tuning after using the harness a few times and it took him about 5 minutes to get every nick and dent out of the piece with a planishing hammer and ball stake. simple, non puncture repairs were probably very easy to repair.
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jul, 2015 9:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I occasionally come across copper brazed repairs. Yes, they do mess up the heat treat in that area, and yes, you either have to redo the heat treat or live with the weak spot. There are also modern repairs to old stuff that was damaged, never repaired, yet never thrown out, which are not relevant to this discussion. Oh, and sometimes the metal was cracked during forging and had to be patched, which shows up a lot in Brunswick armour. I don't know what their problem was. Worried
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Chris Gilman




Location: California
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Jul, 2015 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Hardy wrote:

Well, I'm certainly no expert on metalworking, but I donít really see any way a heat treated piece of armour plating could be repaired without redoing the heat treatment. I expect it would have to be annealed to make the steel workable again, then hammered out or welded, and then re-treated.

Of course the first problem would be that a heat treated plate that was hit hard enough to break through the hardened surface to cause damage might well tend to shatter beyond ready repair anyway...


John,
I have a mid 16th century Italian Morian with 2 repairs to the comb, both areas have riveted in plates. One of these can barely be detected from the outside, while the other is completely nvisible. The one that can be seen is visible because of a crack in the original metal of the comb. This may indicate the worked area became brittle from hammering.
Either these were put in cold, or the helmet was reheat treated. I think it is possible to blend rivets and a patch plate cold,because the helmet is not so hard as to make it brittle. But I know with heat you can make this type of repair invisible. Then re heat treat the area.

A few years ago I refurbished Ingrid Bergman's (aluminum) Armour from Joan of Arc for Debbie Fisher. In addition to many other problems, there were many extra holes that had been drilled for rivets because whoever ( in its past life) replaced straps, didn't know or have the skills to remove the solid rivets and they just drilled new holes and used speed rivets for the replacement straps. To fill these holes, i put a small countersink in the outside of each hole, then used aluminum rivets (left over NASA surplus rivets) to fill the holes. With a file I flushed the rivets to the surface, then using a power wire brush, blended the surface texture with the original finish. When done, nearly all the riveted areas were invisible. I have done this same thing with steel.

Chris
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Jul, 2015 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One of the most interesting things to come out of Dr. Alan Williams' research (The Knight and the Blast Furnace) was that the Italians abandoned martensite forming heat treating not long into the 16th century. Some of us believe this is because a medium carbon steel that has the right pearlitic microstructure is, when it comes to ballistic resistance, more reliable than a fully heat treated product, which can have hard spots (seen 'em). It also makes manufacture a lot easier and cheaper, needless to say.

Oh, and I've seen munition armour that has a sort of soft look, its lines a bit 'blurred', by what appears to be dents in the same area being repeatedly beaten out.

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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Tue 21 Jul, 2015 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Arlen Gillaspie wrote:
One of the most interesting things to come out of Dr. Alan Williams' research (The Knight and the Blast Furnace) was that the Italians abandoned martensite forming heat treating not long into the 16th century. Some of us believe this is because a medium carbon steel that has the right pearlitic microstructure is, when it comes to ballistic resistance, more reliable than a fully heat treated product, which can have hard spots (seen 'em). It also makes manufacture a lot easier and cheaper, needless to say.

Oh, and I've seen munition armour that has a sort of soft look, its lines a bit 'blurred', by what appears to be dents in the same area being repeatedly beaten out.


From what time was the munition armor, where did the beaten dents appear and how thick do you reckon the metal was?
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Jul, 2015 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IIRC, mail recovered from Mary Rose included some "links" that are just twisted bits of wire--like bread bag ties, but thicker. It's hard to believe those were professional repairs, but it does suggest that somebody found this an acceptable way to keep mail in service. It's not as if Mary Rose had been on some long journey away from port. She could, in theory, have sailed into the Solent in perfect condition in all her arms if commanders had desired it.
-Sean

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Gary Gibson




Location: San Diego, CA, USA
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jul, 2015 3:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In Hastings MS. [f.122b] "How a man schall be armyd at his ese when he schal fighte on foote" http://www.eduref.net/kct/armour/armyd1/, the list of "What an Appellant shall bring to the field" includes

"Also a smale nayles a dosen" which translates to "Also a dozen arming nails (rivets)" as well as "Also a hammer and pincers and a bichorn".

While the manuscript suggests a judicial duel, the list probably also applies to foot tournaments, it appears to indicate a need for a means to repair armor. I wonder how often late-medieval rivets needed replacing ?
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Kirk B.





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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jul, 2015 6:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have this 16th century breast plate with what I believe to be a working live repair to the pierced lower center point...

At least the rivets heads on the inside have the same level of pitting as the rest of the plate.

-Kirk



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