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A.J. Hamler

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About A.J. Hamler

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    Drums, Penn.

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    A.J.
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    Garrison Carida

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  1. A.J. Hamler

    Lorelei's 5'4" ATA ANH-S Centurion-Hopeful Build

    Geez, you guys, get a room.
  2. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    Inside the Beltway It's hard to believe I have only two major tasks to complete to finish my build: the Belt assembly and the Shoulder Bridges. I'm saving the Bridges for last because I want to do a FULL suit-up first, and may possibly want to adjust the shoulders in some manner. That could, in turn, shift things around a bit up there, and I want everything just right and aligned before I glue those things on. With that in mind, it's time for the Belt. The Belt Assembly, unlike other parts of the armor, which are either single pieces or paired pieces that have to be glued together, is a collection of several disparate parts. You have the ABS Belt itself, the canvas Belt (Kittell's), two Drop Boxes (each a pair of parts), straps for the Drop Boxes, and the leather Holster (Darman's). To complete the assembly, you'll also be using glue, rivets, Chicago screws and -- ugh! -- a couple more damn snaps. Because there are so many wholly different components here, I elected to prepare all the parts first before actually beginning assembly. As other AM armor owners know, the maker is very generous in including everything you could possibly need no matter what version of the armor you're building -- you'll find both TK and Sandy shoulder Bridges and Sniper Plates, and Hand Plates from all three movies, for example. To that end, you'll find a lot of extras in the Belt department. The kit includes two full plastic Belts, one with Rivet Cover indents and one without. From recommendations here on the forum, I used the Belt without indents. There are also three different kinds of Rivet Covers included: Some tall ones that nestle into those indents on the other belt, plus some not-quite-as-tall ones that also go into the indents, plus some basically flat ones. Again, recommendations here say to go with the flat ones for ANH Stunt builds. These Rivet Covers come in a strip from which you have to cut out the individual Covers. (This is one of the few components of the AM kit not already cut out and trimmed for you; almost everything else is. I love this AM armor!) Cutting these out is pretty simple. Just mark an approximate 1"x1" square around each dome-like button, score and snap. I cleaned up the edges with a little sanding to smooth the scored edge and remove sharp edges, then set the Covers aside to prep the Drop Boxes. In test fitting these parts I found that the inner box was slightly too large to fit the outer box, at least to my satisfaction. I could tell that although they'd fit I'd really have to jam them in there, and I was afraid of splitting something by forcing them together. So, I sanded down the edges of the inner boxes. This was just sand, test-fit, sand some more, test-fit, sand, etc. until I had a smooth fit that was snug but didn't excessively bind. Satisfied with the fit, I beveled the outside edges of the inner boxes a bit. The bottoms of the outer boxes aren't perfectly square due to the forming process, and I wanted a flush fit. The prep for the Drop Boxes finished, I set them aside and proceeded to the ABS main Belt. As I noted, the AM kit comes very nicely trimmed with 99% of the work done for you, but you still need to fine-tune some parts. The AM Belt out-of-the box had long edges of about 7 or 8mm, while the recommended edge for the Belt is 3mm-5mm for accuracy. To hit that mark I'd only have to remove a little, but such a small area to cut meant I couldn't easily clamp a straightedge to it for scoring and snapping. Instead, I marked my cut line on each edge of the Belt, clamped it to my workbench and then used that little hand plane you saw way earlier in the build to simply shave off the excess plastic. Each pass removed a bit less than half a mm, so it only took a few passes to bring it down to size. When recommendations give a range I like to split the difference, so with 3mm-5mm as my guide I shaved the edges down to 4mm each. Once sized, I left the Belt clamped in place and cleaned up the edge to smooth and slightly bevel the edges. As I've recommended several times during the build, any time you want to sand a straight edge and keep it level, always use a sanding block. Next, I trimmed the overall Belt length so each end was, per the Billhag diagrams, about 1-1/2" from the last raised rectangular box on the belt. Now to cut the 45-degree corner notches on each end. There are a few different recommendations for the size of these notches -- confusingly, there are two Billhag diagrams on the forum that, although they have identical drawings of the Belt ends, have different measurements. However, the CRLs state for L3 that... "The corners of the plastic ammo belt shall be trimmed to a 45 degree angle that that [sic] meets the outer edge of the cloth belt." And, yes, that double that-that really tweaks the editor in me. (As an aside, the CRLs are chock full of misspellings and grammatical errors. I've hesitated to mention these because nobody likes a grammar Nazi, plus I'm not an approved member yet and never felt it was my place to say anything. But, now that I'm almost there would TPTB here at the forum like a professional editor to look over and flag all of these? I'd be more than happy to do this.) Anyway, while these notched corners aren't an issue for Basic, I'm shooting for higher levels from the beginning so the CRLs simplify things, especially since no two kits are the same. Or fabric belts from other makers, for that matter. So, like me, if you're going for EI or Centurion, use your belt to determine the size of the notches. First, going forward you're going to need to know where the top center of the canvas belt is located. If your canvas belt is fully flexible, simply fold it in half and mark. Can't do that with the Kittell belt; there's an inner plastic strengthening strip that might snap if you do. If you have the Kittell or other such belt, measure and mark the center instead. (While you're centering things, mark the top center of the plastic Belt, too.) Now, put the plastic Belt on top of the canvas one and mark where the canvas edges meet the ends of the plastic Belt. That is the inside corner of your notch, and it determines the overall size of the notch. Measure this mark and transfer it to the outer edges of the Belt, and pencil a line between the two marks. Bingo, 45-degree angles made automatically. Now just score and snap off these corners and you're good to go. OK, now one more measurement -- see how much the plastic Belt overhangs the canvas one. For me, the overhang was not quite 1/2"; depending on the makers of your armor and canvas belt, this will vary. You'll need this measurement in a moment. Put the plastic Belt aside for now. Mark the vertical center of the Ab armor below the large center button panel. (I'll explain that horizontal line in a moment.) I found it easier to work from the top of the Ab because it kept all my rights and lefts straight -- I recommend you do the same. Plus, it keeps the cod from poking you in the belly. I hate that. Anyway, that's why the photo appears upside down. While you're marking the Ab, mark the locations of the two snaps for the canvas belt. You've probably seen the Billhag diagram for this, but if not here it is. This worked well, but the one side seems off. The 28mm offset on the left of the image (which is the right side of the Ab) worked perfectly to place a snap right under the last raised box on my plastic Belt, but the 59mm offset on the right side of the photo didn't. It put the snap way off to the side where it would have conflicted with a rivet placement later. Instead, I found that 28mm worked perfectly on both sides for my belt. If you also have AM armor you're golden; if not, YMMV. The 15mm vertical offset from the cod ridge worked perfectly on both sides for me to place the snap at the upper part of the canvas belt. Next, I installed male snaps at those two locations on the Ab. You've seen this enough, so I didn't bother with a photo. Now lay the canvas belt over the Ab, aligning the center mark on the canvas with the one on the Ab. The height of the belt isn't critical for Basic, but it is for L3 so let's refer to the CRLs again. "The top of the ammo belt should sit at or just below the bottom of the central and vertical abdomen button panels." Offset the top of the canvas belt below the center button panel by the amount of the overhang you measured for the plastic belt, and pencil a line at this level. (That's the horizontal line in the earlier photo.) OK, this is where your canvas belt is going to rest; the overhang will bring the top of the plastic belt up to the correct spot under the center button panel. Hold the canvas belt firmly at the center to keep it from moving (some masking tape will help), adjust the canvas so it's perfectly level across the front of the Ab, and press sharply on the canvas atop one of the snaps; doesn't matter which one. If you pressed firmly enough, you put a slight impression of the snap on the underside of the canvas -- that's your snap location. Didn't work? Rub pencil on the top of the snap and try again; pressing should leave a pencil ring at the point of contact. Remove the belt and install a male snap there. Adding the second snap is easy, and having installed the first one helps you pull the belt tight. Snap the canvas belt on one side, level it up with your horizontal mark in the center, level the opposite end and pull the canvas nice and taut. Repeat the process of pressing on the canvas to mark the underside of the canvas on that opposite end, and add that male snap. That, hopefully, is the last snap I'll ever do. I've decided I hate doing snaps. You can quote me. Next, I marked and drilled the plastic Belt for the rivet locations. The AM armor comes will little dimples for the drilling spots, but there's a Billhag diagram for that, too. Line up the center marks of your canvas and plastic belts, and center the plastic Belt vertically over the canvas one and mark the rivet hole locations onto the canvas. Punch or burn holes on your marks, and then rivet the plastic and canvas belts together. If you prefer, you can use Chicago screws instead of rivets to secure the plastic Belt. All right, let's snap everything up to the Ab and see how it looks. Yeah. Yeah, that's it. The last step to finish up the Belt itself is to add the rivet covers. Note the pencil marks to help for centering and placement. For this I used a small amount of E6000, just enough at key spots around the corners to hold these securely and not so much that I'd have a hard time taking them off later for repairs if needed. You like my little setting jig? This is just a narrow piece of wood scrap with tape wrapped sticky-side-out over one end. Stick it to the outside of the rivet cover, and use it as a hold when adding glue to the underside, and then stick it in place. No muss, no fuss, and no E6000 on your fingers from gluing such a small part. With the main Belt done, let's move on to the Holster by marking the rivet locations. Yepper, there's a Billhag diagram for this, too. I marked and punched/melted/burned the holes in the canvas, then slipped the Holster straps underneath and marked it through the holes. The tape, by the way, is just there to keep from marking up the white canvas; I marked the locations on the tape instead. Punch the holes in the Holster straps on your marks, and then mount the Holster by your preferred means. I used easy-to-remove Chicago screws for ease of taking off the Holster. On to the Drop Boxes. These things are light as a feather, and to give them a bit of weight to help them hang straight and not go flapping in the breeze, I cut a couple thin blocks of plywood scrap to fit inside each. A bit of E6000 on the back of the blocks secures them nicely inside the inner boxes. And, yes, you're probably wondering how I'm going to rivet the straps on with wood blocks glued inside. Easy answer: I'm not. The CRLs don't require it, so I'm skipping that and using E6000. I'm also not making the elastic loops as those also aren't CRL mandates. One of the things I noticed in almost every build as well in the photos of screen-used Belts in the gallery is that the Drop Box elastic loops nearly always interfere with snaps or rivets, requiring that you cut or notch them for clearance. Plus, to keep the boxes in place it's recommended to glue the straps to the back to keep them from moving anyway. I decided just to skip the loops and rivets, and go with shorter straps that are simply glued in place on each end. To start, I undid those aforementioned easy-to-remove Chicago screws and moved the Holster out of the way. Then, I cut a length of 1" elastic and doubled it over -- visibly, what you see from the outside will look exactly like the ends of a loop -- and applied a dab of glue on the folded spot to hold it flat on the end. Then I glued the two free ends together and glued those ends, in turn, to the back side of the inner boxes and clamped them up till dry. Followed by aligning the outer box edges to the ends of the plastic Belt and gluing the upper part of the straps to the back of the canvas belt. Couldn't clamp it here but a few magnets held it in place till the E6000 set. And that wraps up the Belt assembly. Let's remount the Holster and see what everything looks like. First, a closeup of the back of the Belt. Now, a tight shot of the front. And finally, let's throw the completed Belt Assembly on the floor and take a look. That's it for the Belt Assembly, and that means there's just one thing to do and this build is complete. Next time, it's the Shoulder Bridges, and then on to submission photos. I can't believe I just said that. Did I just say that?
  3. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    Thanks again, Jordan, for pointing this out -- I'd completely forgotten to include the fact that I did this when I set the snaps for the arms to attach to the shoulder elastic. As Jordan noted, the snaps on the shoulder elastic take a beating. Not only are these probably the most snapped-and-unsnapped snaps on the armor, but they're not "secure" snap locations in that one side or the other isn't solid ABS like it is so many other places on the armor. This is just elastic-to-elastic, and any kind of tugging can tear a snap loose. To help alleviate this, after burning the snap hole through the shoulder elastic -- but before mounting the snap -- I attached a 1"x1" regular webbing strengthening patch right where the snap goes. As I have before when gluing straps together, I used Duco Cement which dries nice and stiff. Once dry, I added a hole through my strengthening patch, and mounted the snap. I've done and undone that snap several times now, and the extra thickness there helps a lot. And, while you can't see it, I added some other strengthening to the shoulder elastics, too. You can see that the ends are folded over, but on the end that attaches to the Chest Plate (the right side of the strap in the photo), I've also slipped in a thin piece of ABS. Because I'll put on my armor clamshell-style like most of you, only the front snaps that go to the Chest are constantly snapped and unsnapped. This has already made a big difference.
  4. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    Way ahead of you, Jordan -- I did exactly that. I added a stiffener to the shoulder elastic where the snap goes. That was just a 1" x 1" square of regular webbing, glued directly to the shoulder elastic. Not only does it strengthen where the snap is, using the regular webbing as a stiffener helps keep the elastic at the shoulder from pulling out to the side under the weight of the arms. In retrospect, I should have included a photo of that. In fact, I think I will. Hold that thought...
  5. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    Final Assembly and Fitting -- Part II After a pleasant Stooge break, it's back to work. This is a quickie, with just one thing to do to wrap up what should have been the last step for Part I earlier in the thread. You may recall that the last thing I did was a mostly full suit-up so Sally could help mark for the arms for locations for the final snaps to attach everything together. Once marked, I did this first at the Forearm/Bicep connections, followed by the Bicep/Bell connections and the arms came out nice. The last step for this final part of the strapping connections was to attach the arms to the shoulder elastic between Back and Chest plates. For this, I called on the help of Barky, my Bon-Ton bargain mannequin, who wore the upper part of the armor while I worked. What I did here was slip the Bell straps underneath the shoulder elastic to hang both arms, pulled them up so the Bells touched the shoulder elastic, and just taped the straps to Barky's neck to hold the arms securely. I adjusted everything for good front/back orientation and then used my soldering iron to melt/punch the snap holes right through the shoulder elastic and Bell strap simultaneously. (And, yeah, right into Barky's shoulder, but I never heard a peep out of him.) Then it was simply add male snaps to the underside of the shoulder elastic and female naps on the top side of the Bell straps, and all my armor connections are done. And, hopefully, no more snaps to do because I'm sick of doing snaps. Up shortly, the Belt assembly. Oh, wait... that means more snaps, doesn't it?
  6. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    Soitenly not. Shemp is the forgotten 4th Stooge. Frank is the really, really forgotten 5th Stooge. Or 7th or 8th, if you include all the various "Joe" Stooges.
  7. Huzzah! A new Cricket build!
  8. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    Kinda sounds like I was (once again) worrying about nothing. Thanks! I had no idea that place existed -- and it's only about an hour and a half away! I must go there immediately.
  9. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    Agreed. That one wasn't the one that's bugging the most, though. It's the rivet placement discrepancy that puts the rivet button cover right at the edge of the ABS belt.
  10. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    OK, I've hit a bit of a roadblock working on my belt. The issue is measurements and placements of some key parts. Throughout my build I've relied on the wonderful Billhag diagrams; they've been a fantastic help. However, for the belt I've hit conflicting information in the form of two different versions of the belt diagram and I'm not sure which one is accurate. Here are the relevant portions of the two: The one on the left shows the width of the belt end at 1-1/2" from the last box, 45-degree corner notches as 1/2" x 1/2", and the rivet placement at 3/4" from the belt end . For the belt that came with my AM kit, this would work fine. The one on the right shows the width of the belt end at 38mm from the last box, which is the same as 1-1/2" in the left diagram, so no problem there -- it's the same. However, the diagram on the right shows the corner notch at 10mm x 13mm which will not make a 45-degree angle on the corner, so one of those two numbers has to be wrong -- the sides of an equilateral triangle have to be the same length. For this particular cut, most of the recommendations here on the forum are to cut those corners at 45 degrees, but make the size of the cuts such that the notch comes right to the sides of the canvas belt. With that method, the length of the cuts can vary depend on the size of the ABS belt in your kit and the size of the canvas belt. So, I'm not too worried about this particular issue, but the conflict is troubling. The final measurement for the rivet placement is the one that's really giving me a headache. Going with the 3/4" of the left-hand diagram works perfectly for my AM kit. But using the 13mm measurement from the right-hand diagram would put the plastic rivet cover right at the edge or even just a hair hanging over the end of the ABS belt. I've spent the last hour going through the galleries and screen captures, and none of the belts show that rivet cover right at the edge. The image below is pretty representative of what I've found in the galleries. In that pic, and in pretty much all the images where I can clearly see the rivet covers, there's a bit of a gap from the edge of the cover to the end of the belt. In the above pic it looks to be around 3/16" to maybe 1/4". I'd love to just go ahead and follow the left-hand diagram as it works perfectly for my kit (adjusting the corner notch to match my canvas belt, of course), but I'm concerned I'd be using the "wrong" one to the detriment of achieving higher levels. Any thoughts?
  11. A.J. Hamler

    Lorelei's 5'4" ATA ANH-S Centurion-Hopeful Build

    As long as Garrison Carida is weighing in, I'll add my (Cadet-level) approval.
  12. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    Oh, I've already had the Shins on and OMG, I know all about the "Trooper waddle." When we were doing this suit-up my wife couldn't quit laughing. At the moment, my particular waddle is caused mostly by the Thighs. I need to get them up another inch or so, plus do the cutouts on the backs of the Shins and Thighs. I'm letting the cutouts go till I have the armor 100% done and have been able to do a greater amount of walking around in it before doing those cuts. When you say "kidney snaps for the belt," I'm guessing you mean the attachment snaps on the front of the Ab? If so, then yes; assembling and attaching the belt is among the last few things I need to do. Short answer: Yes. Long answer: I've had a rubber chicken hanging in my shop (no matter where that shop is) since I created my first shop a couple decades ago. The cheap Chinese rubber they make them with tends to dry-rot quickly so I have to replace them every few years. This particular chicken has lasted the longest, about five years so far. Why a rubber chicken? Best answer is that I'm a Three Stooges kind of guy, which pretty much extends into my tastes for decorating. Which, actually, explains a lot about everything.
  13. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    Final Assembly and Fitting -- Part I Bet you didn't expect me back so soon. Mrs. Stormtrooper got home early, so she helped me attach and mark the arms for final sizing to determine the location of the snaps at the Bicep/Bell connections... and, for that matter, just help me get the damn thing on. I swear, I envy you guys who can put this stuff on by yourself. Then again, this is the first time I've put it all on, and I suppose it gets easier with time. Plus, the arms weren't attached when I did this. I'm rationalizing, of course, but hopefully it will get easier. We started by just getting on the thighs and torso assembly. Didn't bother putting on the shins as those are good to go, although I regret now not doing it. Would've been good to have a photo of them on with the rest of the outfit. (For that matter, I should have slipped my helmet on, too... Oh, well.) Remember now, this is a first full suit-up, so I know some things are off fitment-wise. Namely, the Thighs need to come up, and the Butt needs to come down. Meanwhile, the Back Plate slipped slightly over the top of the Kidney. However, I don't have the strap at the Cod/Butt connection yet (that will be the last strap I do the final measurement on), so nothing is being held together down there. I'm thinking that when I get that strap connection there that it'll pull everything downward and help to stretch out the rear portion of the assembly -- pulling the Butt and Kidney Plates down and allowing the Back Plate to ride up simultaneously. I may also need to raise the Back Plate a bit more by shortening the shoulder extensions, but I want to get that Cod snap in place first to see what that does -- with luck, I may not need to make any other adjustments on the rear. Otherwise, it all feels like it fits pretty well. Feels weird as hell wearing it, but it feels like it fits fine. I'm a bit dismayed here that the paint on the side rivets is already scraping off. I'll have to redo that paint before submitting. OK, let's get those arms on... We tucked the Shoulder Bell straps up underneath the shoulder elastic and snugged the tips of the Bells right up to where the Shoulder Bridges will be, then secured them in place with some small clamps. She then marked the Bell elastic and shoulder elastic where I'll need to put the snaps for those connections. Then, she slipped the Biceps up under the Bells, and Han-Hooked them in place on the retaining loops at the bottom of the Bells. *snap* That's the sound of me taking the above photo. (Note the camera remote control in my right hand.) We fiddled with the placement of each arm a bit to get everything where it should be and she marked the Biceps where they should go. I'll use the marks tomorrow to install a snap plate in the Bells, and a snap onto the end of the Bicep strap and the arms are finished. By the way, you know that this is AM armor, sized bigger than most. Boy am I glad I got it. I have very long arms -- note how low the Biceps are to maintain a minimal gap at the elbows -- and a small set of armor would have had huge gaps all over. I wish I could have had the Biceps up a bit higher into the Bells, but my arms are what they are. I'm really pleased with the fit for this first full suit-up. Yeah, I realize there are fitting issues: Both Thighs are twisted outward something awful so I'll need to adjust those garter straps, plus I know they need to come up some. Not only will that look better, but it'll remove the effective splint the create over both knees -- I cannot bend my legs at all at the moment. Tomorrow, I'll do those snap connections at the Bicep/Bell junctions, work on getting those Thighs up, install the snaps at the shoulder elastic, and maybe add the ABS Shoulder Bridges. I'll also create that strap for the Cod/Butt connection so I can get a true estimation of the fit on the rear of the suit. After that, it's making the Belt and gluing on the Ab buttons, and I'm ready to hunt Rebel Scum.
  14. A.J. Hamler

    A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build

    To arms! To arms! -- Part V And you're thinking, Part V? Yeah, parts one through four were way back on Page 3 of the build. At that point all the arm components were done, cover strips and all. However, without the torso done and some shoulders to attach them to, I put them aside. Well, the torso is now done and fully strapped up. I'm about ready to suit up, and the last thing to do before then is to strap up and fit the arms. I did a lot of thought on how I wanted to strap the arms. Some of you do snaps on all the components, I've seen some do all glued-in straps, and a few have even gone with Velcro. Well, I decided I wanted permanent strength but still retain the ability to make adjustments, so I decided on a combination of glue and snaps. For the Biceps and Shoulder Bells, I'm gluing in the top strap of each of piece, while putting a snap at the other end. The glued straps of the Biceps would connect to snaps at the bottoms of the Bell, while the glued-in top straps of the Bells would connect to the shoulder elastic with snaps. I'm using 1" elastic for these straps, and didn't like the way I had to shove it down into the less-than-1"-wide hollow channels on the inside of the Biceps and Bells. No sense stressing the glue joints there, so I first shimmed up the gluing locations with pieces of ABS glued into the hollow channels. I just put a single thickness of ABS at each spot. That doesn't completely fill the channels, but raises the level enough to give a flatter gluing surface. In the above photo I have one strap already glued into the top of a Bell, and you can see the other ABS shims where the remaining straps will go. By the way, I left these straps a bit on the long side, since I didn't yet know where the snaps they'll go to need to be located. I'll find that out when I suit up and see where the arms need to fall. At this point I turned to the retaining loops at the bottoms of the Bells. While all armor is different and all body sizes are different, I learned from research here that these loops should be about 130mm -- approximately 5-1/4" -- from one side to the other. YMMV depending on your armor and body sizes, but the suggested length seemed about right for me. To do the glueup without worrying about having an exact 5-1/4" side-to-side, I first decided on the amount of elastic I wanted to glue inside each side of the Bell and settled on 1-1/2". I measured out 5-1/4" of elastic, then added another 3" to account for the glued-in ends for a total of 8-1/4" for each of the loop straps. Then, I marked out where I'd glue them in with my marks extending 1-1/2" into the Bells. This way, all I had to do was glue the strap ends to my lines, and that would leave exactly 5-1/4" side-to-side. The photo angle skews things a bit in the above picture, but both of those penciled areas are 1" wide by 1-1/2" deep. I wanted to glue things up all at once, so with the Bell loops cut and the plastic marked, I repeated the process for the Forearms, below. You can see above that I'm using 2" elastic for the Forearms. (Note that the gluing locations for these are taken from the Billhag drawings.) With all straps cut and plastic marked, I glued everything up. From left-to-right, we have 2" elastic glued and clamped into the tops of the Forearms, 1" elastic at the tops of the Biceps, 1" at the tops of the Bells, plus 1" elastic forming the bottom retaining loop on the Bells. Noted here that I stretched some masking tape across the Bells so there would be no tension on the loops while the glue was curing. And, yes, I did everything here with E6000. While I've learned that E6000 sets up pretty well in only an hour or two allowing you to work on freshly glued-up components (to a point), these are all high-stress connections so I let everything cure for a full 24 hours before proceeding. Everything turned out great except a bit of squeeze-out on one strap on a Forearm. In the scheme of things this is a tiny error -- I even figured I'd better add arrows so you could see what I'm talking about -- but things like this really eat at me. Shouldn't, though, as no one will ever notice such a small thing (except me, natch). But you can avoid this simply by not putting any glue on the last 1/8" or so of where you're gluing the straps in. That tiny gap won't make a difference in strength, but it'll help keep glue away from the edge when clamping things up. (Meanwhile, while the Dr. Jekyll side of me is fine with the way that arm came out, my Mr. Hyde side is extremely OCD. Expect him to be picking at that excess E6000 with tweezers till it's all gone.) So far, all the arm components are still separate. I won't connect the Bells to the shoulder elastic until I suit up, so I'm not worrying about that for now. Likewise, I won't know the necessary spot for attaching the snap at the bottom of the Bells for the Biceps to snap into until I hold the arms up and determine what overall length I need. However, the elbow connection can be done now because that distance was set back in 1977. For screen accuracy, the gap at the back of elbow should be at a bare minimum as it was in the films, so I wanted to shoot for minimal gap even though it's not a requirement for higher levels. (Spoiler alert: not yet, anyway.) I can make any needed length adjustments later at the Bicep/Bell connection. So the bottom line, then, is that I won't be adjusting the arms at the Forearm/Biceps connection, and for that reason I'm skipping snaps here all together and gluing both ends of the 2" straps at this connection (which is also screen-accurate, for that matter). This is most easily accomplished by laying the Forearms and Biceps on their "backs" with the ridged channels touching, and gluing in the straps between the two sections in this orientation. When done, they came out like this. The connected arm at the top of this image is the right arm and, yes, there's a gap on the front at the arched cutout as there should be -- you wouldn't be able to bend your arm otherwise. The backs, however, as shown on the left arm at the bottom of the photo, actually touch where the two ridged channels meet. With the exception of connecting the Forearm/Bicep assembly together, I'm considering the arms done. (As I noted, I'll determine the location of the snap at the Bicep/Bell connection a bit later.) At this point, I set the Forearms, Biceps and Bells aside and kept moving down the arm to the Hand Plates. Lots of ways to attach these -- glued directly to the gloves (required for higher-level rubber gloves), Velcro, straps running down from inside the Forearm wrist opening, etc. I wanted the flexibility to swap the Hand Plates depending on what gloves I'm wearing -- Gorilla Grip gloves in warm weather, Nomex in cold -- so I opted for the two-loop method that many others have used. For each Hand Plate, I started by measuring two lengths of 1" elastic sized to the circumference of my wrist and palm, and then gluing and clamping up the loops. I used Duco Cement here for its quick cure time. In less than an hour I had two loops glued and ready to install for each Plate. You can see here that I started with the palm loop; once that was dry I repeated the process to attach the wrist loops. Below, you can see what the finished Hand Plate looks like with the loops installed, plus what it looks like worn over my Gorilla Grips. These feel pretty good, but I think I may redo the wrist loops someday down the road. They're fine for now, but I think that if I glue in the ends of the wrist loop separately, instead of gluing up a solid loop, and attaching the ends at an angle that it might improve the fit a bit. Still, these fit fine. And, in all honesty, after I've worn them for a while I'll probably not bother redoing them. (Unless the Mr. Hyde OCD side has anything to say about it.) OK, that's it for the arms. I'll do that final snap to connect Bicep-to-Bell, and then attach the full arm assembly to the Shoulder Bridge elastic in the next step. Speaking of which, the next step is -- and I can't believe I'm typing these words -- Final Assembly and Fitting. Seriously, all I have left is to do a full suit-up at which time I'll add the last couple snaps to hang the arms. After that all I have left to do is make and attach the Belt, and attach the Shoulder Bridges and Ab Buttons. Color me psyched!
  15. A.J. Hamler

    Mayo's ANH Stunt (AP) build

    You'll find them generally three ways -- left straight as you have them in that above photo, slightly rounded corner, and corners cut at slight 45-degree angles. The 45-degree cut seems to be the most common, but I personally like slightly rounded. I posted a question to this effect some time ago, as to whether any particular method was preferred over another and the answer was that it was generally considered personal preference and that all were acceptable. A.J.
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