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Theo Mc





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PostPosted: Wed 05 May, 2010 5:22 pm    Post subject: Medieval crossbow bolt fletching         Reply with quote

I have a medieval crossbow that I purchased from a friend along with several bolts that he made himself. Some of the bolts have two fletches, which work great. But some have three fletches and they don't work at all, since they don't lie flat against the crossbow, and so can't fire smoothly.

I'm getting ready to strip the fletches off the three-fers and redo them with two, but before I do I wanted to know if I'm missing something ("Three fletches work great, you just have to load them upside-down", or something). Any advice (even, "Yes, strip them, three fletches don't work.")?

Thank you. I can post more details, but don't know all the terms, so didn't want flood this with talk of "brace-thingy" and "pointy -part".
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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Wed 05 May, 2010 9:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I don't know how common they are, but I know I have seen some supposedly historical examples with two fletches, so off-hand I would say go for two. There are people on this forum that are interested in the crossbows and medieval archery who can give a more concrete answer though.
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Thu 06 May, 2010 12:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theo Mc wrote
Quote:
I have a medieval crossbow that I purchased from a friend along with several bolts that he made himself. Some of the bolts have two fletches, which work great. But some have three fletches and they don't work at all, since they don't lie flat against the crossbow, and so can't fire smoothly.


Medieval bolts always had 2 fletches (as far as I know) and some time in the 17thC bolts with 3 fletches and even some with none that had grooves instead, started to be used for target shooting.

With a two fletch bolt the fletches are opposite each other so they are set at 180 degrees from each other. A three fletch bolts has two set at 180 degrees and 1 half way between, so at 90 degrees from the other two fletchings leaving half the bolt without fletchings. This side of the bolt lies in the groove. They are not like an arrow for a bow where the fletches are set at 120 degrees from each other.

Usually medieval bolts had thin wooden fletchings or possibly parchment, but very rarely feather, though they do indeed work better.

Sounds like you need to strip the 3 and replace either with 3 correctly or just 2.

Good luck

Tod

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Tom King




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PostPosted: Thu 06 May, 2010 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wood or parchment? I've always heard that leather fletching was most common, but yeah 2 fletches. This is a tangent, but some solid steel bolts are always interesting...
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Thu 06 May, 2010 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most bolts in museums have wood fletches. Parchment is quite stiff so works OK, but does have a tendancy to curl.

All steel bolts are unknown for hand held bows as far as I know and would be a pig to balance and unless you have a very heavy bow you will not have the power to move them far.

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Theo Mc





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PostPosted: Thu 06 May, 2010 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:
With a two fletch bolt the fletches are opposite each other so they are set at 180 degrees from each other. A three fletch bolts has two set at 180 degrees and 1 half way between, so at 90 degrees from the other two fletchings leaving half the bolt without fletchings. This side of the bolt lies in the groove. They are not like an arrow for a bow where the fletches are set at 120 degrees from each other.


Ah, that makes three fletchings make a lot more sense (having them at 0, 90 and 180 degrees, vs. 0,120 and 240 degrees). I get the feeling the bolts were home made (quite possibly from old broken arrows) and the three fletchers may have been experiments.

The bolts are modern (dowel rod-type) shafts with target points and artificial "feather" fletchings. The two-fletched ones shoot great, and I'll redo the three-fletch ones.

Thanks for the help everyone.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 09 May, 2010 3:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theo Mc wrote:
The bolts are modern (dowel rod-type) shafts with target points and artificial "feather" fletchings. The two-fletched ones shoot great, and I'll redo the three-fletch ones.


Are these really artificial feathers? Brightly-dyed real turkey feathers can look pretty "fake," you know. However, if these are real (as in "really artificial"), I'd be interested in finding the supplier whom the maker got them from, since the info would be very handy for a certain archer friend of mine who also happens to be a vegan and thus not very comfortable with the real feathers he's been forced to use on his arrows for the lack of any authentic-looking alternative.
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Theo Mc





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PostPosted: Sun 16 May, 2010 6:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Theo Mc wrote:
The bolts are modern (dowel rod-type) shafts with target points and artificial "feather" fletchings. The two-fletched ones shoot great, and I'll redo the three-fletch ones.


Are these really artificial feathers? Brightly-dyed real turkey feathers can look pretty "fake," you know. However, if these are real (as in "really artificial"), I'd be interested in finding the supplier whom the maker got them from, since the info would be very handy for a certain archer friend of mine who also happens to be a vegan and thus not very comfortable with the real feathers he's been forced to use on his arrows for the lack of any authentic-looking alternative.


I may have spoken out of ignorance unfortunately. They're common target arrow fletchings that you can get in any archery shop. I thought those were artificial, but after a close look (and talking to some friends) I guess they're standard turkey/bird feathers, just dyed in bright colors. Sorry.
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Theo Mc





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PostPosted: Mon 17 May, 2010 6:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I shot the crossbow some this weekend at a standard archery target at 35 yards. Once I got my sight adjusted (a metalsmith friend made a sight that can be screwed/unscrewed up/down to adjust for height), it shot really well. I was hitting mostly red (gold-red-blue-etc. target) with several golds and the occasional blues. Only shot the two-feather bolts, but the guy that made them put a slight twist on the fletching, which makes them seem to be pretty accurate.

Next I'm going to try to re-fletch the three-feather bolts. Thanks for all the help.
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Mon 17 May, 2010 8:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theo,

Congratulations on a successful shoot! Do you plan on taking before and after photos of the bolts being modified?

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Theo Mc





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PostPosted: Wed 19 May, 2010 8:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Hrouda wrote:
Theo,

Congratulations on a successful shoot! Do you plan on taking before and after photos of the bolts being modified?


Initial bolt:


First mistake, I trimmed off all the fletchings (could have left one on):


Two fletchings glued on with crazy glue (I know there's better stuff out there to use...) and tied down with some string:


Added a third, smaller fletching as an experiment (and trimmed down all fletching):


Questions:
1. What's a good glue to use for this?
2. What's the best way to press the fletching on the shaft while the glue dries? String didn't work great because it got glued to shaft as well...
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Thu 20 May, 2010 4:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looking good.

The standard modern glue in the UK for fletching is called HMG and maybe it is sold over there. It is a basic solvent glue and is used for modelmaking plastic models, glueing balsa wood, plastic plumbing joints and so on. A general multipurpose glue that is branded and sold for all sorts of puposes, but is bascally the same stuff.

Usually you would use a fleching jig that holds them in place, but if you are careful and slow about your work you will be able to glue the fletch and place it and the leave for 20 mins and it will be dry enough to do the next.

Tod

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 23 May, 2010 8:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theo Mc wrote:
Questions:
1. What's a good glue to use for this?


If you don't have to do it the traditional way, Fletch-tite? It's a glue specially designed for fletching, so it should work better than most. But you'll have to decide whether the advantage is worth the higher price, though.

Quote:
2. What's the best way to press the fletching on the shaft while the glue dries? String didn't work great because it got glued to shaft as well...


And why should this be a problem? String wrapped spirally around the shaft to hold the fletching down is a time-honored method, and often combined with glue for extra strength. You just have to make sure that the thread is thin enough and that the spiral is neat enough.
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