Wearing and Care of Chainmail

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Phoenix Rising
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Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Phoenix Rising » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:36 pm

Hoping someone can help me with this. I've got a chainmail standard (neck / shoulder protection) which I'm wanting to use in character as archer and as a reiver but I'm not sure how to clean / look after it. It does have a layer of oil on it which I understand helps it not to rust whilst in storage, but this gives rise to a problem as oil is extremely difficult to get out of clothing and I don't want to stain the clothing I'll have on beneath it! Is it possible to wash off the oil before an event (most of ours are usually only a day in duration) then clean and oil it again once it has been used?

Had also thought of lining the mail with leather on the inside where it touches clothing, but not sure if this would be period or not?

Any help or suggestions much appreciated,

P.R



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Biro
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Biro » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:47 pm

Sorry, can't help very much..

Being a big-time mail user, I'm just resigned to the fact that anything touching it will get oily and so have a gambeson specifically for use with mail.

I can only suggest the following ideas... maybe some padded gambeson-like garment the same size/shape as the mail to go under it. Or maybe a woolen hood that you only use under the mail?

It's difficult to say what's period for you without knowing what period you're doing!



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Neil of Ormsheim
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:51 pm

I have heard of people dipping their maille in boiling water to take the oil off. The water is so hot, in theory, that the maille will dry before it starts to rust. Alternatively, drag the maille through a field of dry grass or beach full of dry sand to remove the oil. Personally, I am wearing an old tunic under my new maille and washing said tunic at 40 degrees after each use. Once the oil has been removed, just keep wearing the maille regularly and store in a dry place to prevent further rusting.


Lurv 'n' Kizzez

Phoenix Rising
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Phoenix Rising » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Cheers for the replies - very useful info. Biro, could maybe do as you suggest - periods I enact as an archer are the Wars of the Roses / Hundred Years war and the Riever periods are Tudor / Elizabethan. Would a wool or leather lining therfore be appropriate to either of these periods?

Problem for me Neil is that the garment that I have on beneath it is only able to be dry cleaned, according to the instructions with it (it is the 'Robin Hood Gambeson'), so protecting it from oil etc is really a must. Again, if lining the mail is okay to do then this might solve the problem, as for getting the oil out I haven't got any dry grass or beaches near to me!!
Had thought simply of using the hot water idea then once its been used rubbing it with oil again and storing it until its needed again, the repeat the process, Have got a really dry place to put it so that would be no problem.

Best,

PR



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Neil of Ormsheim
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:51 pm

Don't bother re-oiling. My old shirt went for 10 years without oiling or rusting. Just got worn for a few hours every few weekends over the summer and store in our library draped over an IKEA metal tessle table stand. No Problems!


Lurv 'n' Kizzez

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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Phoenix Rising » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:23 pm

Excellent! Sounds cool to me - thanks for that Neil! :D

All best,

PR



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Biro
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Biro » Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:03 am

Phoenix Rising wrote:Cheers for the replies - very useful info. Biro, could maybe do as you suggest - periods I enact as an archer are the Wars of the Roses / Hundred Years war and the Riever periods are Tudor / Elizabethan. Would a wool or leather lining therfore be appropriate to either of these periods?


Ahh, not my periods, so I can't really say to be honest. For earlier (high medieval), there are definately suggestions that hint at mail being lined/backed with something. There are also middle-easten armours that sandwich mail+textiles (Jazerants).

Personally, I wouldn't risk totally de-oiling mail - especially if it's good, rivited stuff. I keep mine in a very strong, dense linen sack and spray it regularly with a water-repellent spray of some kind (using a ptfe-based lube at the minute). The sack picks this up off the mail too - helping to re-treat it while in storage, while helping waterproof the bag too!



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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby ChaseAED » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:59 pm

For de-oiling the mail I reccomend an organic solvent; much easier than trying to clean off a hydrophobic substance using water. In any case, letting water near mail at-all is, for me, a bit courageous. If you use an organic solvent that's particularly volatile it'll evaporate quickly and leave you with dry, clean mail.
For the aventail on my new helmet (offcuts from a rivetted byrnie purchased from India that was covered in thick, sticky oil) I put it in a dry sink, filled a small tray with White Spirit, and repeatedly dipped the mail and scrubbed it with a toothbrush until it was clean, shook off the excess white-spirit, and then let it dry in the sun.
To prevent rusting, I've used a silicone-based lubricant/waterproofer spray available from B&Q. The stuff dries to create a thin, transparent, slippery but dry layer on any surface. I drenched the mail in the spray, and so far so good; the mail doesn't feel oily or wet, isnt "dirty", and so far (after a month) there's no evidence of rusting. A month really isn't long enough for one to be certain about weather an anti-rust treatment has worked, so I can't guarantee the effectiveness of this treatment yet, but if you're looking for a method to keep mail in good condition without it being disgustingly oily, picking up dirt and being a bit of a mess, this might be worth looking into.

If you're wanting to be authentic, your mail is going to have to be coated in oil or fat, or used sufficiently often that it will self polish. In our case, our kit gets handled by the public multiple times a day, when displaying, and then left for weeks or months at a time not being used; this is not an authentic situation for a piece of mail to be in, so we feel comfortable using a non-authentic solution.

Hope this helps.


Aed Thompson, Thegn of Merca

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Phoenix Rising
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Phoenix Rising » Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:39 pm

Cheers to all for your comments and suggestions. The other night I bit the bullet and used the boiling water method, (and believe me, the water was indeed boiling!) Did this several times and got the oil off, then laid out the maille and rapidly dried it using a very hot hair drier - not that there was much in the way of water on it I have to say. Seems to me that the theory about the water boiling off works. In any case once this was done I wrapped it in greaseproof paper and then placed it in a hessian type bag, which is now in my bedroom where it is warm and dry. Early days yet of course but haven't seen any signs of deterioration so far.

The B and Q silicone based spray sounds a very good idea though - Chase AED, what was the name of the product you used and how much does it cost, if you don't mind me asking?

All best,

PR



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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Strickland » Sun Nov 06, 2011 2:09 pm

For my 10 pence worth, I had a mail standard that was slightly oily, though use kept the rust away and proper storage. Anyway, I made up a soft suede leather yoke to go under it which protected anything below and didnt cause me any problems when wearing. As the neck part had a leather collar anyway it wasnt much of an embuggerance to attach and easily replaced if damaged. Being suede it was very 'mobile' so as I said didnt make it uncomfortable to wear or make the mail stiff at any point. It was a practical thing for me at the time, plus I made no apologies for not giving a stuff if it was an authentic practise or not!


Neil


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Brian la Zouche
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Brian la Zouche » Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:41 pm

just wondered was maille ever ' forged balcked' from what i am led to belive forge blacking was an early sort of enamaling, tried it on a grubbing mattock at my local forge and it worked a treat, but no idea if was used in medieval times, or if effective on maille

but hey ho just a thought



ChaseAED
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby ChaseAED » Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:20 pm

Phoenix Rising wrote:The B and Q silicone based spray sounds a very good idea though - Chase AED, what was the name of the product you used and how much does it cost, if you don't mind me asking?
PR


This is the stuff. 3 in 1 Oil Pro Silicone Spray. £5.98 a can. The "quick drying" claim is a bit of a lie; it took mine 6-10 hours to dry, out in the sun. It may be worth applying multiple coats to ensure good coverage, as, when wet, it's quite runny.


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Fian
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Fian » Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:57 pm

I remember seeing something about it's best not to use silicone based oils and that you'd be better off with the natural ones instead, though this was for sword care i'd been looking, I assume the same would carry forward to metals in general.

I can't remember where I read it now or the exact reasons behind it, but it sounded right at the time.


Andy
Early Medieval Re-enactor, and sucker who made his own chainmail.

Phoenix Rising
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Phoenix Rising » Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:31 pm

Cheers folks! just got back from my sea-going duties (offshore assessor) and got your replies in. Will have a look in B +Q for the spray, but I'm pleased to report that nearly two weeks since I bit the bullet and dunked the mail in the tub full of boiling water it still looks as good as it did before - not a trace of any rust! (mind you, after a week in the Southern North Sea can't say the same about my brain cells...! ) :lol:



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Colin Middleton
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Colin Middleton » Mon May 14, 2012 1:02 pm

AFAIK mail standard will have had a leather or quilted fabric 'back band' to help them stand up and stop the sweat from damaging them. Whether they would have a backing on the shoulder cape, is harder to say, especially as most of them are hidden under jacks. It certainly sounds feasable and I doubt that anyone will challenge you over it.

Best wishes


Colin

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Chris T
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Re: Wearing and Care of Chainmail

Postby Chris T » Mon May 14, 2012 2:06 pm

Mail would almost certainly have been 'forge black' as a norm when actually produced, as the wire would have been heat treated a number of times during production, and it is probable that it was then hardened / tempered as a garment or as finished links. To produce and maintain a 'bright' surface by hand is hard work...especially in thousands of small wire links, and although this may have been done for 'flash' purposes it seems counterproductive for normal functional mail to work hard to remove a surface which had a protective effect.

Having said that any surface effect on mail tends to rub of naturally as the links move against each other, and cleaning with abrasive materials will also quickly remove it. On the other hand, a degree of tarnishing is constantly occuring: my feeling is that most mail in service would be dullish metal rather than obviously black or bright.

I have always had my doubts about agressive cleaning of mail (such as squires rolling it around castle courtyards in barrels of sand oil mix.....) as a normal method: mail which is worn and used self cleans: only mail that is actively neglected would need such cleaning IMO.

For practical protection of ferrous surfaces (both in period and now) beeswax is a much undervalued substance. It can be applied warm, or in solution, and leaves a film that seals the metal, does not smell, flake off and to an extent self repairs. My experience of more modern methods is not a happy one: on one occasion somebody who had borrowed my mail applied lashings of WD40....for ages I was enveloped in clouds of fumes when wearing it: even when I thought most of it was gone a hot day could bring it to the fore again!




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