How To Maintain Your Gear

Never use bleach or strong detergent on fencing gear as this may destroy the material.

 

Mask

Storage - Hang up when not in use. It is suggested that you wipe the inside of the mask to remove any moisture. For sabré and the new foil masks, wipe down the lamé bibs.

Cleaning -The insides of masks can be wiped down with a damp cloth. A mild detergent can be used. Epée bibs and old foil bibs (with no lamé material) can be wiped down with a damp cloth; again a mild detergent can be used.

Whites

Storage - Whites should be hung up on cloths hangers to air after use.

Cleaning - Whites can be hand washed with a mild detergent. Ensure your whites are completely dry before use.  Do not dry jackets and plastrons in the sunshine as this can cause the material to breakdown.

Lames

Storage - When traveling, especially after fencing, wrap/roll the lamé in a towel to soak up any moisture. Wiping them down after use can be of benefit. When storing lamés, hang them up inside out on coat hangers. Both foil and sabré lamés must be rust free. This means no brown or green marks. To check a lamé we use a multi-meter (under five ohms) or a lamé tester. The two most common issues with lamés are holes and dead spots. Dead spots can sometimes be fixed with washing but can require patching.

Cleaning - Some lamés can be hand washed with a mild detergent but this is not recommended - check with the manufacturer.  Some rust spots can be fixed with lemon or lime juice.

 


How to correctly maintain your Foil

 

No weapon should be rusty, have loose wires or loose handles.

Tip, Spring and Barrel

To clean the tip or barrel and to replace or stretch springs, the tip needs to be removed. To do this we remove any tape from the barrel so we can access the grub screws. We carefully remove the grub screws as we hold the tip (if you do not hold the tip it will ping out). Once the tip and spring are removed, we can:

* Clean the barrel with either sandpaper or a circular metal file.
* Clean the tip with sand paper.
* Replace the spring or stretch the spring.

Once we have finished, we place the spring back in the barrel, slide the tip back in and do the grub screws up. Keep in mind that the grub screws are suppose to be screwed against the metal collar on the tip. It can pay to push the tip down repeatedly whilst screwing in the grub screws (this makes it easier to catch the collar with the grub screw).

Now you can re-tape the barrel.

Barrel and Isolating the Tip

Check if the barrel is loose, if it is, use a spanner or pliers to tighten it. Do not turn it more then a quarter turn. One this is complete, the tip needs to be isolated. The FIE rules state that there needs to be insulating tape from the top of the barrel for 150mm down the barrel and blade. To do this, we cut a piece of tape at least 145mm long. One end of the tape should be stuck to the bottom third of the barrel.

Try to line up the edge of the tape along one side of the blade, stick the tape down on this side of the blade. Rotate the blade around to the next side, rolling your thumb at the base of the barrel to stick the tape on. Slide your thumb down the blade to stick the tape to this side of the blade. Turn the blade to the next side, rolling your thumb around at the base of the barrel then sliding it down the edge of the blade. Repeat until the all of the tape is stuck down. Once this is done, grab the tape and line up the side of it to the top edge of the barrel. Rap the tape around the barrel two times and cut the tape free. Roll the barrel between your forefinger and thumb to check the tape is sitting properly.

This is my preferred technique as it makes it easier to access the grub screws (only the piece of tape used on the barrel needs to be removed).

The reason we tape our blades is to prevent the target light from coming up as the barrel brushes across your opponents lamé.

Handle/Grip

If, when you shake your weapon, it feels lose, you will need to tighten it. To do this, you will need to hold the weapon in one hand by cupping the guard in your hand. Lift up the padding and check the wire is sitting properly and is not going to be pinched by the handle. Hold the handle in place with the thumb of the hand you are holding the weapon with. Grab your 6mm allen key and tighten the nut that holds your weapon together (or pliers to tighten the pommel for French grips). 

Blade Wire

There are two main issues that arise with wires in foils, a break in the wire or the wire is coming out of the blade. 

Wire not sitting properly

The wire in a foil blade should always be glued into the groove on the top of the blade. If the wire has come out, you will need to glue it back in. First we check the wire and blade for any unwanted material (dust, fluff etc.) by running a dry cloth over the area we intend to glue. Next we run a bead of glue down the groove of the blade. Once this is completed we bend and hold the blade in place ensuring the wire is sitting in the groove. The blade will need to be held in place until the glue has set.

Broken wire

I suggest getting the blade rewired. Blade rewiring is not something a fencer needs to know.

Socket

Sometime the wire can break at the body wire socket. To fix this we strip a little of the wire and put it back in. For bayonet we unscrew the screw to the right of the socket, place the wire underneath the screw and tighten it to hold the wire in place. For two-pin, we loosen the little socket by using the flat head screw driver and a pare of pliers to hold the nut in place. We place the wire between the washer and the plastic socket. This should help hold the wire in place. Tighten the socket in place, make sure the bare wire is not sticking out.

 


How to correctly maintain your Epee

Make sure your weapon is rust free and there are no lose wires.

Tip, Spring and Barrel

To clean the tip or barrel and to replace or stretch springs, the tip needs to be removed. We carefully remove the grub screws as we hold the tip (if you do not hold the tip it will ping out). Once the tip and spring are removed, we can:

* Clean the barrel with either sandpaper or a circular metal file.
* Clean the tip with sand paper. 
* Replace the spring or stretch the spring.
* Screw or unscrew the spring at the bottom of the tip (we do not stretch it as this makes it harder to fix the next time around).

Once we have finished, we place the spring back in the barrel, slide the tip back in and do the grub screws up. Keep in mind that the grub screws are suppose to be screwed through the barrel and into the tip.

Tip and Barrel

Check if the barrel is loose, if it is, use a spanner or pliers to tighten it. Do not turn it more then a quarter turn. One this is complete, the tip needs to be isolated.

Gauges

Gauges are used to check the clearance of the tip from the barrel (at least 1.5mm) and the maximum distance between the tip and barrel for a hit to register (less then 0.5mm).

If an epée fails the 1.5mm gage, there is most likely something preventing the tip from sitting properly. This could be dirt inside the barrel or on the shaft of the tip. This requires the tip to be removed and the barrel and tip cleaned with sand paper or a metal file.

If an epée fails the 0.5mm gage, the tip will need to be removed and the spring on the bottom of the tip screwed into the tip. Remember to keep some out so it will still register a hit.

Handle/Grip

If, when you shake your weapon, it feels lose, you will need to tighten it. To do this, you will need to hold the weapon in one hand by cupping the guard in your hand. Lift up the padding and check that the wires are sitting properly and are not going to be pinched by the handle. Hold the handle in place with the thumb of the hand you are holding the weapon with. Grab your 6mm allen key and tighten the nut that holds your weapon together (or pliers to tighten the pommel for French grips).

Blade Wires

There are two main issues that arise with wires in Epées. The first is a break in one or both of the wires, the second is one or both of the wires coming out of the blade. 

Wire not sitting properly

The wires in an epée blade should always be glued into the groove on the top of the blade. If the wires have come out, you will need to glue them back in. First we check the wires and blade for any unwanted material (dust, fluff etc.) by running a dry cloth over the area we intend to glue. Next we run a bead of glue down the groove of the blade. Once this is completed we bend and hold the blade in place ensuring the wires are sitting in the groove. The blade will need to be held in place until the glue has set.

Broken wires

I suggest getting the blade rewired. Blade rewiring is not something a fencer needs to know and is not the easiest thing to do.

Socket

Sometime the wire can break at the body wire socket. To fix this we strip a little of the wire and put it back in. The wires will be connected to the middle socket and the socket 15mm away from the middle one. To wire a socket we strip the wires and place one of them under the socket and screw the socket in place. Repeat for the other wire. As the epée runs with a open circuit that closes when the tip is pushed in, it does not matter what wire is connected to the two pins 15mm apart.

 


How to correctly maintain your Sabre

Make sure your weapon is rust free.


Handle

If, when you shake your weapon, it feels lose, you will need to tighten it. Grab your 6mm allen key and tighten the pommel that holds your weapon together, this can also be achieved by using pliers.

Guard and pommel


The inside of the guard and the pommel of a sabré need to be insulated. When you buy a complete sabré, the guard will be painted on the inside and the pommel will have a plastic cover.

There are no blade wires in a Sabre.

 


How to correctly maintain your bodywires and headwires

The two main issues with body wires are broken wires or the wires pulling out of the pins. The easiest way to identify what wire is the problem is to use a muti-meter or a body wire tester.

Two-pin Body wires

The small (narrow) pin of the two-pin body wire is connected to the pin 20mm away from the middle pin of the three pin plug. The fat pin of the two pin body wire is connected to the middle pin of the three pin plug and the crocodile clip is connected to the pin 15mm away from the middle pin of the three pin plug.

Bayonet Body wires

The tip of the bayonet body wire is connected to the middle pin and the cross bar is connected to the pin 20mm away from the middle pin. The last pin, 15mm away from the middle pin, is connected to the crocodile clip.

Three-pin Body wires

Three-pin body wires (or epée body wires) are straight connections. The pin 20mm away from the middle pin in the three-pin plug at one end, is connected to the pin 20mm away from the middle pin in the three-pin plug at the other end. The middle pin is connected to the middle pin and the pin 15mm away from the middle pin is connected to the pin 15mm away from the middle pin.

 

Once the wire creating the issue has been identified, pull the ends apart (carefully so you do not mix the wires up) and check that the wire is clamped into the pin (at each end). If the wire is not clamped into the pin, unscrew the clamping screw that is in the pin, push the wire back in and screw the clamping screw back in. If the wire is in both pins, then there is a break somewhere in the wire. Have a close look along the length of the wire for any breaks. If there is anything obvious, cut the wire back to just past the break. Split the wires so they will sit in the plug nicely and strip about 5 mm of the plastic. Once the wires are bared, push the pins back on, tighten the clamping screws and do the plug back up.

If the wire is the lamé wire, the one with the crocodile clip, and the issue is with the crocodile clip, follow the instructions for head wires.  If there is no obvious break, cut back the wire about 50mm from the end (first one end, test, if it still does not work, try the other end) and split the wires so they will sit in the plug nicely and strip about 5 mm of the plastic. Once the wires are bared, push the pins back on, tighten the clamping screws and do the plug back up.

Test the body wire again, if it does not work, follow the above steps again.

If you cannot identify the problem with the wire, either ask an armourer for help or get a new wire.

Headwires

Head wires are a piece of copper wire with a crocodile clip at each end. When a head wire is broken, it will always be a break in the wire. This means the wire will need to be cut back from the break, 5mm of the wire stripped and then soldered back on to the crocodile clip.  The crocodile clip will need the old wire removed first. This requires the clamp that holds the wire in place to be opened with a pair of pliers, the solder melted with a soldering iron.

The new piece of wire is soldered on to the crocodile clip and clamped in place

 

 

 

 

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