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An ATA for Tampa Bay


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Thanks, Joseph.  You caught me!  I forgot to mention the several coats of Scotchguard I put on the canvas belt, even before I really started to handle it with my bare hands.  Even when protected, I've been scared that I will pick it up with dirty or greasy fingers.  So far so good.


That sounds like another good reason to make the ammo belt removable. I haven't studied the HWT requirements, yet, but I like really do like your suit!

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I also realized that I did not mention where to install the two smaller Line 20 Snaps to the armor Ab Plate to secure the canvas belt in place. This Bill Hag tutorial diagram was very helpful locating the snaps. 

Use this as a guide, The top of the belt should be right at the bottom of the Ab Button Plate, or slightly over it.

Edited by wingnut65
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Glad it could help, Adam.  I've seen some use Velcro and others use snaps.  I think it was Vern that pointed out that those two snaps on the original costumes, were actually the smaller Line 20 snaps, which are 7/16" (11 mm) diameter, instead of the larger Line 24 snaps, which are 9/16" (14 mm) diameter.  In reality, since they are on the inside and will never be seen by the public, you can use what you have in stock.

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When a Drop Box is not just a Drop Box…
I can’t help but think that the emptiness inside the two drop boxes could be used for some storage.  These look like perfectly normal drop boxes, And…

...What a coincidence that the innner drop box is just the right size for our Trooper Cards.  I’m sure I am not the first to have done this, but I still wanted to try it. BUT, I have not tried to use these while wearing gloves, so this may be a total waste of my time, but an engineer has to engineer things!
Inside the innner drop box, I used E6000 to add a nylon strap for a hinge to the bottom edge. However, I think elastic may give a little more flexibility when opening the cover.
To keep the boxes closed, I’m using four 1/4’ x 1/16” rare earth magnets.  I used some scrap ABS to space the ones in the innner box so that the magnets are 1/16 from the edge of the lip.

TIP: I used blue tape as a tab to be able to open the boxes when the magnets were installed. It was removed when the elastic was added.
I used pieces of a plastic bag under the magnets for the cover, just to keep from glue locking the box shut. I put E6000 on the top of each magnet…
… and over the nylon hinge strap…
… and then just close the box and let it sit overnight for the glue to set.
I trimmed pieces of thin aluminum to the width of the innner box and 2” (50 mm) tall. After spray painting them white, I used super glue to glue them to the inside drop box.  The aluminum is 0.025” / 0.6 mm thick.
I followed another handy Bill Hag tutorial diagram for locating the elastic and rivet
I wanted my boxes to be a little tighter to the ammo belt and so my nylon loop is 125 mm long, (doubled over = 250 mm).  Since the boxes will be opened, I heavily glued the elastic to the box and then installed a small rivet.
I did not use a washer since I don’t want anything to scratch the trading cards. The rivet basically enlarged inside the hole I drilled. I filed off the extra aluminum, until it was almost flush with the inside of the box.  I left the mandrel (ball) in the rivet to hold it in place.  NOTE: IF I had not also glued the elastic, I would have used a longer rivet and a washer.
Now, I just hope while trooping, that I can actually get to the drop boxes, open them up and pull out a single trading card…


Next up, It’s Thermal Detonator Time!

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What a marvelous piece of work... i got a couple of ATA helmet kits a while back, and me being a first timer with no patience screwed up the first 2... Practice makes perfect right?...no..okay. So jealous of your work. I'd probably get another few helmet kits soon and possibly an armor... Keep up the good work :D

Edited by .:StormyTheBadAim:.
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What a marvelous piece of work... i got a couple of ATA helmet kits a while back, and me being a first timer with no patience screwed up the first 2... Practice makes perfect right?...no..okay. So jealous of your work. I'd probably get another few helmet kits soon and possibly an armor... Keep up the good work :D

 Thanks for the support, Gerard! Welcome to FISD!  I'm honored you chose teh ATA for Tampa Bay for your first post! :duim:


Sorry to hear that your first experiences with bucket building didn't turn out well.  Before I got started on my helmet build, I watched the TrooperBay tutorial videos, multiple times.  That gave me the confidence that I needed.


The helmets are just plastic, which can be patched and repaired. I've seen some that ended up needing puddy and sanding to smooth out and covered with a coat of paint.  I haven't seen any buckets that are not salvageable.  Try getting together with your local 501st garrison or squad and talk with other stormtroopers.  They would be more than willing to offer some guidance and assistance in your project. 


Anothe rpossibility would be to start a new thread sna post a few pix to get some advice from othes who have been there before.


Good luck with your path through the World of White Armor!

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It’s Thermal Detonator Time…


Researching the dimensions for the thermal detonator, I found several different variations of dimensions, but all look to be visually acceptable.  I used dimensions I took from the screen used TD to cut my plastic.  Only later did I find Sly11’s helpful tutorial diagram, which is slightly different, but pretty close to the other.
 Y2q4AH5.jpg A screen used Thermal Detonator


Since the TD caps and cover were the first pieces of plastic that I cut, I wasn’t too sure what I was doing and I didn’t take any pictures. So, please forgive me.  I cut my pipe so my TD will be 7-1/4” (184 mm) overall.  End caps are 3/4" (19 mm) wide and the TD cover plate is 4-1/2” (114 mm) wide, which is what the screen used TD measures.  While I was anxious to see what my first cuts would look like, I put some soap on the ends of the pipe and squeezed on the end caps.  But, only one cap would go on until I drilled a hole in the pipe to release the air inside.  I used E6000 to glue the cover plate on the pipe.  End caps were not glued.
TIP FOR REMOVING TD CAPS - Put the thermal detonator in a plastic grocery bag and use a nozzle to blow some air from an air compressor set on very low pressure, into the hole in the pipe.  At least one cap will blow off and be safe in the bag.  The first time I needed to remove the caps, I didn't use a plastic bag or the low air pressure setting and both my caps blew off and bounced around the garage.  I learned!

On With The Build…
I got a piece of 2” gray pipe from an electrician friend of mine from church. I asked if I could buy a small piece, and he said, No, but I can have one!  The 2’ long piece I received was from his scrap pile and with the looks of it, it would have been a great buried pipe, not a movie prop costume piece.  This picture doesn’t show the grooves and ridges that were actually all the way around the pipe.  However, I made it work!  I used a radial arm saw and cut the pipe to about 7-1/8” long to account for the curved ends of the plastic caps.  Then I sanded the pipe down, starting with 150 grit sandpaper and then with 400 grit.  Then I pulled out my Micro-Mesh sanding/polishing kit that goes from 1500 grit down to 12000 grit in nine steps and worked its magic to obtain a shine.  I promise, I will post an update discussing more on this polishing system. 


The ‘Black’ Screws…

The slotted screws that hold the aluminum belt clips to the thermal detonator need to be black.  The easy way would be to paint them, but looking at some pictures of the screen used TD’s, I think they may have used screws that were dark metal, not painted.  I have encountered a similar dark metal finish while metal working in my garage when soaking hardware and metal pieces to get rust off.  It is when I soak things in Ospho Surface Prep and Rust Treatment. 

WARNING – This is a strong chemical and caution is needed when using it.


I poured a few drops of Ospho in a medicine cup and put five #6 sheet metal screws in to soak the just heads.  I added one extra screw, just in case.  NOTE: By choosing to use sheet metal screws, I won’t have to remove the caps to get into the TD to install washers and nuts to the back of machine screws.  Either way would be acceptable.


On To The Belt Clips…
While the screws were soaking, I started the belt clips.  I bought a piece of 1” x 1/16” x36” aluminum bar for the clips at Lowes to make the clips.    I read over several times and printed out Vern’s tutorial ‘How to make Thermal Detonator’ to guide me in this critical process.  (Thanks, Vern. It helped!) Here, I measured two 8-1/2” (216 mm) strap lengths and marked the screw holes at 1/2" (12 mm) and 2” (50 mm) from the end of the bar.
NOTE:  The holes in the aluminum are oversized, to allow the screw to go through easily and tighten down to the pipe itself.

I cut the aluminum bar to have two 8-1/2” (216 mm) lengths using a jigsaw.  I should have moved the cut line closer to the workbench so it didn’t bend when it completed the cut. It was easy to straighten out, but an unnecessary extra step.

I put tape on the aluminum to protect it as I clamped it tightly to a smaller, 1-1/2” (40 mm) pipe, using a large C-Clamp.  This is to be able to over-bend the bar to accommodate the spring back effect. With my hands, I curved the bar around the smaller pipe to create the ‘J’ shape.

I used an adjustable wrench to curve the very tip of the bar to obtain the same radius where it was clamped at.

Fitting it to the correct pipe looks like I achieved a successful curve!

After letting the screws soak about 30 minutes (3 km) and letting them dry off, they have a dark finish that cannot be achieved easily with paint.  I set these aside to let the finish fully harden, cure, or whatever it needs to do.

To continue, I used some temporary #6 sheet metal screws to install the J-shaped belt clips to the TD.  I installed the clips about 1/16” (1.5 mm) away from the end caps and tight to the bottom of the TD cover plate. I also drilled another air vent hole under one of the clips since I glued the cover over the first one.

TIP:  Install Black Screws Now - Before making the next bends, I should have considered replacing the temporary screws with the correct black screws.  Read ahead to see why.  I would have put a piece of tape over them to protect the finish while finishing the rest of the project.


As Vern suggested, I used some scrap steel bars (his were aluminum) to clamp the belt clips so they can be bent downward.

I used my hands to bend them as far as I could, and then used a pair of pliers with rubber jaw covers to crimp the aluminum tightly over the steel bar. 

The steel bar was 1/8” (3 mm) thick, which is perfect thickness to go over a belt.

I measured 3-1/4” (83 mm) from the folded end for the next bends. Since the steel bar clamps worked well for the first bend, I clamped them to pinch just the ends of the belt clips. 

I did not have any leverage to bend by hand the clips directly where I wanted, I used the rubber jaw pliers to persuade them to bend correctly.

Not bad for a first try at making TD belt clips!
I removed the temporary screws and installed the correct, dark colored slotted screws. But…  Since the belt clip is now fully bent, it was a little difficult to remove the two back ones because they were so long.  So, before installing the black screws, I trimmed off some of the extra length of the two back ones.  Since the holes were already threaded in the pipe by the temporary screws, it was easy to reinstall them.  This also shows the 1/16” offset the clips have from the end caps.

Front view of the TD. Unless you are following me and then this is the back view…

On my first 501st Handling Deployment, I helped DeathMOS30 get suited up in her Magma Trooper armor. I was impressed with her TD that she had felt on the belt clips.  She found out about it from another Trooper to prevent scratching the back of their armor.  Awesome idea!  That felt square probably the best 35₵ I’ve spent on this costume! I used E6000 to glue the felt strips to the aluminum.

I think the most time consuming part of this was, well besides the procrastination thinking that I would bend the belt clips wrong, was the sanding, sanding, more sanding and then polishing the plastic pipe.  Big difference, Right?
My TD is now finished and ready to wear!  Getting closer to the finish line…

Next up, Sniper Plate and Other Small Details!

Edited by wingnut65
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  • 2 weeks later...

You'll want to wrap the Velcro around the bottom of the clips so it doesn't come in contact with your kidney plate. Because you'll have many people (any free hands) attaching it...it's just best to cover the bottom edge just in case. 

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You'll want to wrap the Velcro around the bottom of the clips so it doesn't come in contact with your kidney plate. Because you'll have many people (any free hands) attaching it...it's just best to cover the bottom edge just in case. 

Great idea, Ken. :duim:   I can see how the exposed edge could still cause some scratching as it is installed. 


Very clean build Jeff  :jc_doublethumbup:

Thanks, Tony!  I need to get this thread update on my progress so I can go out and play on the big day next week!

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Sniper Plate and Other Small Details!
The sniper knee plate was giving me some fits as to how much I needed to trim off to make it sit nicely on the calf.  I trimmed to leave 1/8” (3 mm) and ended up with cracks in the return edge at the corner.  This shows where I tied to add spacers and goop to fix the crack and fill in the void at the return to give a surface for glue. TIP: You don’t need to do this…

I then posted the question about trimming the return and ukswrath confirmed that the return could be removed. So, I removed the goop and spacers and marked the inside edge for trimming.

Then do the TK dance - Score, Snap and Sand…

Add some glue and clamp it overnight and it is ready to Troop!

Thanks for the help, Tony!  I hope this will pass inspection!

Shoulder Straps…
While test fitting my upper armor, I had an assistant help line up my plastic shoulder traps, but they just weren’t falling in place.  No matter how they were aligned, they still were aiming straight back to the guy behind me. So, they took a trip to the boiling water bath for a few.  I only heated and bent the back half of the strap to force it to sit on the back plate.  Here is the Before and After curves.

For my first full fitting of my armor, I taped my straps on with white duct tape, so they could be adjusted by someone who knows.  Thanks PiettLives, for the guidance.  (I have three ribs on the chest plate.) When the alignment was good, I used blue tape to mark the location around all sides before the temporary strap mounts.

TIP:  Wear Your Armor To Align Shoulder Straps - Don’t just align the straps with the direction of the chest plate shoulders.  There is a good chance they will come out bow-legged, curving around your neck, instead of straight over your shoulders!


To give me a level place to glue these down, I added some spacers inside the straps. I curved this larger spacer.  The blue tape will be the edge of the chest plate.  You can see by the angle that they are not straight on the chest plate.

TIP: Add Full Length Reinforcing – After reading how several Troopers have had their plastic shoulder straps break, often while in transit in their bin, I would like to take these back off and add a curved spacer to run the whole length of the shoulder strap for reinforcing. Two layers of plastic and a ton of E6000 should help strengthen the straps!


Then add lots of E6000…


… and clamp in place and let cure overnight.

Wonky Left Bicep…
My left bicep was painfully tight.  It was hard to get it up all the way on my arm.  So, since the water was already boiling, I worked on reshaping it.

I soaked it probably a good 30-45 seconds and then squeezed it with hot pads until it cooled enough to hold its new shape. It took a couple times in the water to make a difference, although it looks like it still could use a little more rounding work, it feels much better!

Calf Clips…
I’ve heard of other Troopers mention that elastic on calves occasionally have a way of working loose, so, I decided to go with hooks to close mine, at least to start my Trooping. I cut 1” (25 mm) white elastic to 3-1/2” (90 mm) EDIT: 4" (100 mm) long and used a sewing machine to fold over and sew 1/2" (12 mm) reinforcing tab.  I hand sewed bra hooks to the elastic so the hook was lined up with the end of the elastic. These were glued with E600 to the inside of the outer calf edge at 1” from top and bottom and then centered between each.  I used needle nosed pliers to bend the hooks open more.


Holding the calf in the closed position, I marked where the hook met the other side of the calf. I drilled a slightly oversized hole and used a countersink to clean off the burrs.  Repeat for other calf.


Technically, this looks pretty good. Now I just have to see how they handle during a test drive, I mean Troop!


Next up, Let’s Start Painting!

Edited by wingnut65
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Thanks, Guys.  Countdown is on to get this TK finished...


Let’s Start Painting…
I’ve been a model builder for close to 40 years and it was only natural that I would try hand painted details.  After all, isn’t it like riding a bike? Except for the need for reading glasses…


Painting Buttons
I started with the buttons to see if I still knew how to use a paintbrush before I tried painting my bucket. Using the Bill Hag Paint Color Template, I purchased from a local Hobby Towne, Testors No. 1597 Black and Testors No. 1138 Gray, but they were out of French Blue. So, when I bought my canvas belt from TrooperBay, I also ordered a can of Humbrol No 14 ‘French Blue’ from him.
I used another Bill Hag tutorial diagram for trimming the button plates.  These measurements worked well for me.


My gray button paint test samples turned out fine, so let’s take some pictures of the process.  I found it very easy to paint the button plates separately, before mounting them to the Ab Plate. 

Asking around and surfing, I found an acceptable button diameter is 7/16” (11 mm), but not going past the top of the buttton.  Using a circle template, I used one size larger circle (29/64”) to account for the pencil thickness and offset from the template.  On a couple buttons, I did not get the circle centered on the button on the first try. I just wiped the pencil off with my fingers or a cloth and tried again.
TIP: Mark All Buttons First – Don’t mark one, paint it and then smear it all over as you mark another one. No, I did not do this, but I could see someone anxious to see how well they can hand paint. I marked them all and then painted them all.

Once the circle is marked and acceptable… 

… I went ahead and painted it. The paint is thick enough that one good coat was all that was needed for complete coverage. Maybe it is just me, but the Humbrol paint was easier to work with than the faster drying Testors paint.  I don’t remember it drying so quickly on past modeling projects.

Once the paint dried, it was glued to the Ab Plate.  Now with a level of comfort, I moved on to the bucket.

Traps and Cheeks
Following the lead of pandatrooper in his ATA Helmet Build Thread, I started painting the traps and cheeks by creating the black field with a crisp outer edge

After painting each area black, the first was dry for me to cut in the gray, leaving a thin black line, about 1/32” (0.8 mm) wide.   This is the same process used on the ear rank bars.

I marked the vent lines with a pencil and then hand painted with a 000 paint brush.

More Details
I painted the vocoder to the edge of the ribs.  I drilled holes in the dimples in the recess for the mic tips. I put a washer behind them set in a bed of E6000 to help reinforce the thin plastic in those areas.

Using a wire stripper, I threaded the screw in far enough and cut off the extra length.

Using a wire stripper, I threaded the screw in far enough and cut off the extra length.


And Now… Painting the Dreaded Tube Stripes!

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And Finally, Painting The Tube Stripes
I decided my first attempt at painting the tube stripes would be completely by hand before I ordered any masking templates.  I found several templates that I could use, but decided on the Dave M style because for me, it looks like the front stripes are curved a little more as they turn towards the front.  I scaled the stripes to be 13/16” (20.6 mm) wide and printed them out on cardstock paper.

I used a metal straight edge and cut the ends of all the stripes to the same length. Then I used a sharp blade to cut each curved stripe! 

I also cut a straight edge 1/4” (6 mm) from the edge of the stripes for aligning against the face of the helmet where I taped them down on one side.  I was able to get 13 stripes per side!
Using a pencil, I traced the outline of each tube stripe
I taped the ends of the stripes to be exactly 13/16” (20.6 mm) apart.  I pressed the tape down as tightly as I could with my fingernail.

I then started painting each stripe with a thin 000 paintbrush, making sure the stripes against the tape were straight.
Done!  However, it looks like the first stripe could be a little bit wider.
Removing the tape revealed a few spots where the paint bled, but not really all that bad for a first attempt!
I cut the end of a craft stick (Popsicle stick) to form a straight edge.  Dipping it in mineral spirits, I rubbed off the paint that bled.
I think the first attempt at hand painting might just be good enough!

A little gray on the teeth and some mesh on the inside and the bucket is DONE!
And Now Presenting, The New Wingnut!




Still To Come – Fitting, Trimming and Wrapping Up An ATA TK!

Edited by wingnut65
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Thanks, Joseph and Tony.  I don't think it is too much more work to set your sights on Centurion from the very beginning of the build and then Stay On Target!  Stay tuned for a submission...


This is an amazing write up Jeff! I'll definitely learn from what you've put together here when I begin my TK building adventure!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Thanks for checking in, Mike.  Being an architect, I am naturally a very detailed and graphic person. So, if I can make this thread easy to read so that I can understand it, then hopefully it will be able to assist others with their builds. Let me know if I can lend a hand when your BBB arrives!


BTW, you can borrow my paints for the buttons, if it could help!


I need to get this project wrapped up so I can go troop in it this weekend. I hear there is a new movie coming out...

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Wrapping Up The Details…

Frown Screen - The screen I used behind the teeth of the frown was some that I had left over from my Tusken mask build. I used paper to make a template of the teeth opening area and then cut the screen into two pieces to fit each side.

A little E6000 and some blue tape to hold it in place overnight and the bucket is ready to wear!


Latex Hand Guards and Rubber Gloves - Thanks, Karin

I must give a shout-out and huge thanks to Sonnenschein (Karin), The Queen of Hand Guards.  Since my goal is Centurion, I will need to have the latex hand guards and rubber chemical gloves. Several vendors on FISD supply the handguards as possible sources.  However, our family vacation this summer was a European vacation that included spending several days in Vienna, Austria, where the Empire has Karin is deployed. I contacted her to see if our hotel was anywhere near her and it happened to be right in her neighborhood.  I quickly made a purchase and she graciously delivered a set of her awesome stunt version hand guards and black rubber gloves to my hotel. Thanks again, Karin for living the motto ‘Troopers Helping Troopers’!  No, I did not have a chance to shake her hand or give a hug, that will have to be on a return trip!


Gluing the hand guards to the rubber gloves was easy and straight forward using the glue that Karin recommends - Loctite® Plastics Bonding System. I wore the glove and put enough glue on the hand guard to tack it in place. I then removed the glove and finished gluing the rest of the guard

Almost Done!

From opening the big brown box and washing all the pieces to this point has been about 2-1/2 months (750 km).

With all the pieces ready to go, it was a good time to have a trial fitting.  PiettLives is my local FISD Attaché and invited me over to make sure everything was in order.  This is the first time to figure out how all these puzzle pieces go together, and in what order…

First Fitting
The photo is a little blurry, but it is the only one that really shows the height difference between the right and left thighs.  That was issue #1.  Issue #2 - My boots kept coming out of my calves. As they slid up, they hit me in the back of the leg and I couldn’t bend my leg.  Also, Issue #3, as they slid up, the sniper knee plate went inside my left thigh. Issue 4 – my thighs still have all the return edges on the top and bottom. Ken recommended removing them to allow for a better fit at the top as well as eliminate the chance of having the returns bite me as I walk.  Issue #5, I’m not satisfied with my shoulder bells and how much black is visible.

Sides were acceptable.

I didn’t have any padding in my bucket, but looking back at these pictures, I don’t think I even put my bucket on, that evening!

For this fitting, I had just installed my calf elastic and hooks, but, I forgot to drill the attachment holes. That may have contributed to the calves rising too much.  Also, this is when my shoulder bridge straps were just taped on with double sided tape and not re-formed to fit the shoulder correctly. Also, I did not have my TD done, yet.

And that dangling cod snap...


Ken mentioned the correct order to start putting on the costume so I can still bend and reach everything – 1) Thighs, 2) Shoes, 3) Calves, 4) Neck Seal, 5) The rest of it…  I’ve found that if I put on my neck seal before my long sleeved shirt, the flap will stay concealed for a lot longer.  And, get everything out of your bin and move to a level where you can reach them when you can’t bend over!


Thanks, PiettLives / Ken, for the guidance and advice.  :duim:


Removing Thigh Returns
To remove the returns, it was the same old ABS Routine – Score, Snap, Sand…

Much better!  Right thigh is done. Now, on to the left…

TIP: Take All Returns Off! – I ended up with a scratch on my knee while wearing the suite and have gone back and also removed the returns on the bottom of the thighs!


I never noticed the difference in length of the thighs when assembling them. Yep, Ken was correct!  My right thigh is definitely taller than my left.

Just to make sure, I measured both – 15” (380 mm) for the left and 16” (405 mm) for the right!

I marked with a pencil the extra length that needed to come off the right thigh to look more like the left one.

Then score the line…

…Trim relief cuts…

…And snap the plastic.

I scored a line across the cover strip and inside reinforcing strip. I used a putty knife to get under it to separate the glue.

Then a little trim off the top with the aviation snips. Cutting one layer of plastic at a time really made it easy.  Then sand all the cut edges smooth and round the corners on the cover strip.

Bucket Padding                  
My company volunteered me to wear my TK for a lip sync/dance video contest for our annual end of the year wrap up meeting. I had almost everything done, except the padding in my bucket.  Using the Bill Hag Foam Liner Template, I cut 1/2” (12 mm) foam into the shape of the flower and tucked it inside my bucket.  Wrrooonngg!  I got my head in, but it was sitting up so high that I couldn’t see out the eyes!

In a rush to get it done that night, I cut up the scrap pieces of foam and glued them in my bucket with rubber cement.  Not pretty, but for a temporary solution, this works!

BTW, just found out that our office won the video contest.  I’ll see if I can upload a video clip…


Next Up, Fixing The Calves…

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I took my approval photos last night and I also have to rethink my helmet padding. Currently using the hard hat liner but my pauldron pushes my helmet in an awkward position. My face was mashed up against the front of the helmet and I could hardly see. I need to have my kids dance on my pauldron to break the leather in and do what you did and improvise some padding. Your armor is looking fantastic! 

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