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To spring or not to spring?

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:08 am
by Zachos
So having talked to several armourers at the markets I'm left with a choice. Spring steel, or mild. A choice made harder as I'll be jousting in the final harness. spring of course adds price, but reduces weight, whereas mild is the opposite.

Now this is going to take a while whatever I buy, as I'm not made of money, but opinions would help me in working out where that hard earned goes. Of course the armouries that specialize in spring steel were convinced that it was the only way to go for jousting armour, whereas those who work in mild were adamant that one could put enough mild steel in to deflect any lance blow for a fraction of the cost of spring. One possibility is mild for the immovables (breast and back) and spring for the limbs, which would give speed of movement where its really needed, but keep the cost down where possible.

Does anyone have an opinion? I won't be buying yet, but every thought I can nab before I buy would be very valuable to me and my purse.

Cheers.

Zac

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:37 am
by mattb
Well if money were no object, then obviously the answer would be spring. You've really got to weigh up the factors here, as you say yourself you'll be carrying more weight with mild you'll also have to have dents/creases knocked out occasionaly, this of course adds stress to the metal and can, in extreme cases, result in cracks/tears in the steel.
With spring of course you're lighter and, providing your armourer knows what he's doing you won't have to worry about having dents knocked out, your harness should essentialy last longer.
Having only worked with, and worn, mild steel armour myself i hadn't really appreciated the difference until i saw Mark Vickers whack one of his spring gauntlets with a sword which left no scratch(was going to type "left no mark" but had this image of Mark disapearing on hitting the gauntlet).
Many Jousters are having their harness produced in spring steel Jeff Hedgecock has produced several fine harnesses in spring steel, including his own, and most recently one for Arne Koets who now works at the RA. It does certainly seem to be the way forward. Will West of Englyshe plate armourie does particularly fine work in spring, and Mark Vickers has been producing some very nice pieces too (more affordable as well), if you're looking at purchasing abroad Jeff Hedgecock is accepting orders from may if i remember rightly, and in europe Stanislav Proseck is alo doing work in spring now.

Ok i know i come to no real concusion here but it's all food for thought, and in the end it's up to you, and more importantly your budget :lol: .

I'm sure you have the addresses but just in case.

Stanislav Proseck http://www.mac-armour.cz/index_en.htm
Jeff Hedgecockhttp://www.historicenterprises.com/
Mark Vickershttp://www.stgeorgearmouryshop.co.uk
Will Westhttp://www.englyshe-plate-armourie.co.uk

Hope this helps :D

Matt

Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:58 pm
by Andreas
Hi Zachos,

I personally am jousting in mild steel, and am quite happy with it - although thinking heavily about upgrading. The reason why spring comes up more and more is on one hand simple availability - neither Vickers nor West did spring two to three years ago (to my knowledge) - and on the other the fact that many competitive jousters nowadays strive for harder hitting.

My opinion: No matter how much mild steel you pack into a suit, its still going to dent if hit hard with ferule. I have a very interesting picture of the reinforcement plate on my left pauldron to illustrate that point.

Now considering recent factors like longer and solid tilt rails as well as the first attempts at solid lance jousting, mild steel definitely isn't enough anymore. I have seen and heard of several dented spring steel components after recent jousting events.

However, it really depends what you want to do. If you don't intend to joust with Destrier Pro or the Armouries, I think you should be fine with mild steel to be honest.

I am not sure who you are, so may I ask who you intend to joust with?

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:46 am
by Zachos
I intend to joust with the pros. I hope to be able to joust for the tower and the royal armouries.

I'm not part of a jousting group at the moment though. My riding instructor has done some stuntwork in the past, and so I'm training there, hopefully next year though, I'll really be able to make loads of headway and get onto the "scene" a lot more, although to joust properly I'll need a harness, hence this thread.

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:02 am
by Andreas
Well, good luck to you.

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 8:50 am
by Zachos
Thankyou good sir. Who do you joust with, and where? I've seen your coat of arms before, but can't remember where.

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:05 am
by Skevmeister
Zachos,

Mate I would go for spring, this is really the best choice and seeing as your buying for teh long term, then I would spend that extra as Mattb said teh more dints you get knocked out of mild the weaker the armour becomes .

So for me spring all the way, I can't work in spring yet but I hope to learn to.

But I supsect that your going to have to have Mild as Spring is expensive and I would guess that with all the other expenses your going to incur taking up jousting that it will have to be mild as spring would be probably about twice the price you'd pay for mild, just because teh materials are more expensive and the its so much harder to work and to get right.

Alixx

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:34 am
by Thomas Hayman
Spring Spring Spring Spring Spring, there really is no comparing the two. Go spring and you won't have to buy another suit for at least 5 years if it's made right.

I know for a fact that Jeff Hedgecock does some stunning work and now he has Luke Binks will be producing a lot more.

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:41 am
by Jason
My harness is a combination of both. Spring steel plates over mild steel where it matters for the joust. Start with whatever you can afford that will protect, trust the other jousters to cut you some slack when you are beginning, they did with me, thanks Andreas! Then as you develop your skills, you will need to upgrade your equipment because they will start to fear you!

I joust with Destrier Pro, and we are doing Tudor solids this season for the first time, and we're getting upgraded armour. I think the helmets are 4mm mild steel, with some areas of my body protected by up to 6mm of overlapping plates. I believe the expression goes... it will be interesting.

Zachos, see you at the tower.

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:50 am
by robin wood
Hi Folks thanks for an interesting post, as someone just passing by with previously little interest in armor (but a good understanding of steel) could anyone tell me anything about the original armor? Does anyone know if analysis has been done to see if it is wrought iron or steel? and if steel what sort of carbon content and what point it is hardened to?

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:13 am
by Skevmeister
Robin,
Absolutely masses has been done in the Study of Armour metalurgy

In fact there is a very good book on it, "The Knight and The Blast Furnace"

The RA in Leeds has a lot of research in to this field, also there is a Wallace Collection book on the construction and hardness of armours.

Do you want me to give you some references to look at.


Alixx

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:33 pm
by robin wood
Skevmeister wrote:Robin,
Absolutely masses has been done in the Study of Armour metalurgy

In fact there is a very good book on it, "The Knight and The Blast Furnace"

The RA in Leeds has a lot of research in to this field, also there is a Wallace Collection book on the construction and hardness of armours.

Do you want me to give you some references to look at.


Alixx
Well that sounds very interesting but if I am honest I suspect I would not get round to chasing the refs up. My prime interests being wood and the tools to cut it but I always like to hear of folk doing serious research and replica work. I would be interested to know how close modern re-enactor armor compares to original. Was the original steel or wrought iron? I presume original plate predates rolling mills but probably not tilt hammer mills so flat forged plate would be available but expensive. I am not suggesting folk should start bashing out solid lumps of steel to make authentic plate, its expensive enough as it is, just interested to know how similar/different it is to the original stuff.

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:35 pm
by Tuppence
spring, and check with mark griffin

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:15 pm
by Skevmeister
robin wood wrote:
Skevmeister wrote:Robin,
Absolutely masses has been done in the Study of Armour metalurgy

In fact there is a very good book on it, "The Knight and The Blast Furnace"

The RA in Leeds has a lot of research in to this field, also there is a Wallace Collection book on the construction and hardness of armours.

Do you want me to give you some references to look at.


Alixx
Well that sounds very interesting but if I am honest I suspect I would not get round to chasing the refs up. My prime interests being wood and the tools to cut it but I always like to hear of folk doing serious research and replica work. I would be interested to know how close modern re-enactor armor compares to original. Was the original steel or wrought iron? I presume original plate predates rolling mills but probably not tilt hammer mills so flat forged plate would be available but expensive. I am not suggesting folk should start bashing out solid lumps of steel to make authentic plate, its expensive enough as it is, just interested to know how similar/different it is to the original stuff.
It was mainly beaten from billets into the pieces as required. Hence the reason why armour was thicker in teh places it needed and thinner where it wasn't.

Modern Armour unless beaten out of billet has that flat sheet problem, Unless you raise a helmet from a thick disk in which case it spreads and stretches with hammering and heating to make it into the shapes required.

It takes a lot more work to actually takes flat sheet to shape as a lot of teh material has already been worked, and has a certain amount of hardness.

Mild is actually closer to teh base metal armour was made out of, but again, because it comes in sheet form you don't blend into the mix the carbon steel that would have been available but at a higher cost.

In fact robin, Theophilus actually writes about carbon case hardening a file(Thanks to G23B I have found an amazing reference)
Basically take crushed charcoal, and mix it in with pig fat and wrap it in clay and heat it until its cherry red. This transfers the carbon to the steel and makes it harder than the inner core.

So what would happen when they make the smelted bloom the iron in the middle would be wrought and the stuff on the outside would be varying levels of carbon (spring) steel.

Alixx

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:38 pm
by Zachos
Tuppence wrote:spring, and check with mark griffin
I was hoping he would pop by at some point.

My thoughts are currently moving towards spring steel for most things, and mild for the "decoration" such as sabatons, as they shouldn't be getting hit too much.

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:39 pm
by zolacat999
I would say spring all the way

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:07 pm
by Tuppence
I was hoping he would pop by at some point.


might well do at some point, but lord knows what he's up to at the mo.

the boy doesn't half get around!

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:18 pm
by mattb
Andreas wrote:Hi Zachos,

I personally am jousting in mild steel, and am quite happy with it - although thinking heavily about upgrading. The reason why spring comes up more and more is on one hand simple availability - neither Vickers nor West did spring two to three years ago (to my knowledge)
As far as i remember Mark had started to do case hardened pieces that far back, but not actual spring. When he moved away from herefordshire he left some warped fauld lames behind that definitely don't want to be straightened. :lol:

If you go to Will West site he has a page of technical info which is quite informative.

Matt

Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:51 pm
by Mark Griffin
Pop!

It totally depends on what type of jousting you are doing. For balsa jousting against people with good lance control you could happily use normal mild, such as Andreas mentions. However for inaccurate or boisterous runs then you may well want to go up a notch. There are many factors that affect this, mainly the speed of the horses, which increases with a longer tilt rail, such as at The Tower Tournament.

For me its not the hardness now, its the weight and its shock absorbancy ability. Going up to steel coronels and solid lances means a harness that may well be hard and springy may not counter the sheer force of whats hitting it. Its not going to get damaged but it may increase the chance of me being taken out the saddle. My helm is 20lbs in weight and the rest of the harness matches late 15th cent 'Joust Royal' armour from Italy and the low countries. It is not spring or hardened, just chunky!

However, the primary armour for the joust is the targe, pay close attention to this.

Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:59 pm
by Mark Griffin
And as has been mentioned above, the armour is thicker where it needs to be and drawn out thinner where it isn't. Having just handles the prototype breatplate we are running tests with, its a work of genius.

Soon we shall have some rather fun data on lance strikes to add to our knowledge of the forces involved.

But you must, absolutely must, get an arret/lance rest. And practice with it a lot. Read Duarte and take heed...

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:36 am
by Rod Walker
I think the move to spring steel has more to do with maintenence. We forget that for the late 15thC those jousting had the resources to use the harness for an event and then if it was damaged simply to hand it off and have it repaired after every joust.

Modern jousters, of course, want their harness to last longer then one joust. We also joust more in one year then pretty much any of these guys did in a lifetime.

There is a metalurgical report on the Gothic harness in the Wallace Collection and that harness is a mix of some high tech spring steel like bits and some really nasty, soft and slag riddled bits. From memory the backplate is really nasty metal. I would have to drag it out again and confirm.

I fully expect my harness to be damaged and need re-furbishment throughout a season. In fact it is overdue for some work and it will be off at the end of the year to be stripped down, repaired, repolished and have some bling added.

My harness is late 15thC German in mild steel. The cuirass is 2mm and so far has proved to be bullet proof, mainly I think to the fluting and huge triangular folds. The rest is a mix of different gauges depending on where they are, thicker on the left and thinner on the right. The bit that really gets damaged are the faulds from being twisted in the war saddle. I would like them replaced in spring steel but other then that I am happy with the harness in mild.

Some solid lance jousting: More vids on our YouTube site.
http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=hPvtJmuyzn4

and some of the damage resulting from some sloppy targetting. This cuirass was 2.5mm thick.
Image

Oh, and Mark is correct, the targe/ecranche is the target, (though sometimes the head is as well :D ) and an arret is your friend.

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 1:04 am
by mattb
Hi Rod, I remmember seeing the pic of your backplate after you fell from your horse a while back. :lol: ouch.

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 1:12 am
by Rod Walker
mattb wrote:Hi Rod, I remmember seeing the pic of your backplate after you fell from your horse a while back. :lol: ouch.
That's right. I was heart broken. It was brand new at the time and I landed slightly on one side and flattened it out. :cry:

The backplate for my German harness is only 1.6 and 1.2mm thick (multiple plates). Thank God it was able to be fixed.

If it had been spring steel it wouldn't have been damaged, this comes back to the ease of maintenence issue.

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:54 am
by Mark Griffin
interesting pic. I'm assuming that damage is not from bird hits Rod.... :)

What diameter lances and what were they tipped with? Are they still what you use or is this an older style?

Absolutely right re the maintenance, spring is your friend.

My targe is based on A309 in the Wallace however so I'm hoping its so big its a big enough target not to get hit elsewhere....fingers crossed.

Having had a look at a few lance rests I can see cracking and deformation from use which gives you an idea of the work they do. My one, the master H harness in Vienna, a less arret, more a small shelf or mantlepice, very big and chunky, not going anywhere. Or at least thats the plan...

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:44 am
by Rod Walker
That there is USA style jousting from back in 2003. At the time it was an 8 foot long (in front of the hand), 1 1/4" (32mm) dia. pine(I think) dowell with a copper socket with a 1 foot long piece of solid balsa fitted into it and a copper cap on that. Don't ask me why. :wink:

The vamplate was screwed to the lance and acted as a graper as it was pretty big and you jammed it against your breastplate.

I am glad that I did it and at the time it was a hell of a good time, riding into an ice hockey arena that they had trucked dirt into to the sounds of We Will Rock You (think WWF crossed with jousting, heck, think the movie A Knights Tale), but it was very very hard on the body.

We use the same lances as standard in the UK, 3 feet of balsa on the end of a lance.

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:51 am
by Rod Walker
This is the arret I made for my harness, note I said "I" made, so there could be any number of things wrong with it :D

It sits a touch higher now and fits the cuirass better. I have a plate behind it to re-inforce that area as well, as I have seen big hits deform the metal around the arret.

Image
Image
Image

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:03 am
by Mark Griffin
Nice one Rod. Your lance is in the same condition as the two the RA have, supposedly Henry VIII's and Brandon's but thats open to debate.

Thought the previous pic was from one of those earlier indoor crunchfests.

I'm trying out solids as the ferrule method causes quite a bit of damage and a potential for nastiness in some areas. Of course the new ones, tapering down to about 28mm at the tip, will undoubtably have their own interesting set of properties, especially with a steel coronel on them. hence the testing process.

Griff

Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:57 pm
by Andreas
Mark,

Very interesting your remarks on using super-thick mild steel for solid lance jousting - if I understood that correctly.

Any chance of seeing a picture of your 15th century harness you mention? Which helmet are you using? Frogmouth? Who made it?

Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:48 am
by Mark Griffin
Hi Andreas,

In haste, will email you later.

The helmet will be a great bascinet, the whole harness being replicated by Master M is the 'Master H' in Vienna made for Maximilian or Phillip the Fair, 1500ish.

Its a good low countries armour suitable for joust of peace in the 'Joust Royal' fashion that was popular in England, France, Low Countries etc and so gets away from using field harness or anything too germanic. Not that I have anything against germans of course! just want to avoid gestech equipment and other gothic stuff.