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A.J. Hamler

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

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Nice work, you can find it's those little things and tweaks that can take the most time but are well worth it in the end :duim:

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I need some advice on a roadblock I just ran into. 

 

I'm all ready to suit up and adjust the torso, and suddenly realize to my dismay that -- aaaack! -- I can't reach the lower snaps on the right side at the bottom of the Ab/Kidney connection.  No matter how I struggled, I just couldn't get my fingers up there to snap it closed.  No problem with the corresponding upper strap at the top of the Ab/Kidney connection, but I cannot close it at the bottom.

 

So, in giving it some thought I've come up with three possible solutions.  Here are views of the inside and outside of the trouble spots.  (The "outside" photo is an old one taken before strapping was added, but it shows it effectively. The green indicates where the straps are behind the armor.)

 

TK%20157%20lo-res.jpg

 

The first solution "A" is to trim the Cod where it meets the Kidney.  This should allow me to get my fingers up there.

 

The "B" solution is a bit more work.  For it, I would cut out the 22x22 Kidney notch, cut off the end of the Butt Plate in line with the Kidney notch, and also trim off the "A" section of the Cod so all the trim lines line up.  (For either the A or B solution, I'd cut the opposite side to match of course.)  I've wanted to avoid cutting out the Kidney notch since it isn't required, as I consider it creating a weak point in the armor.  That can be mitigated somewhat by drilling a hole at the corner first, plus adding reinforcement around the notch but, again, I was hoping to avoid all that extra work.

 

Solution "C" is the easiest fix and involves no cutting at all, but simply adding a new set of snaps and a strap where I've indicated in green.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

Thanks!

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19 minutes ago, A.J. Hamler said:

What are your thoughts?

Simplest would be to do nothing - the lower snap-point isn’t needed as the belt will hold it closed. I know some would say the belt is not meant to be structural and all that but why not use it if it’s there, totally up to you of course:)

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I agree with Daniel. When I first started trooping I would spend up to a minute trying to get that lower strap to snap closed, but after a while I realized that the belt was holding it closed and I haven't bothered with that strap since.

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Geez, I had not even thought about that but you guys are right.  The belt, which I'll probably cinch up pretty tight, goes right over that very area.

 

I'm taking your advice and not worrying about it -- for now.  I can keep moving forward and rely on the belt for closure for the time being.  Maybe down the road when my build is done I might revisit the issue and refine it then with my A, B or C solution.  But for now I'm just not gonna waste time with it.

 

Thanks!

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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.

 

TK%20158%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20159%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20160%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20161%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20162%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20163%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20164%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20165%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20166%20lo-res.jpg

 

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!

Edited by A.J. Hamler
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Spoiler alert!!!!

I don’t think you’ll have a problem with higher levels.

Looks great and I love the detailed explanation. It’s gonna be a huge help for future troopers.


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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.)

 

TK%20167%20lo-res.jpg

 

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...

 

TK%20168%20lo-res_1.jpg

 

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.

Edited by A.J. Hamler
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Looking good A.J. I like the cover strip inside the armor to create a nice flat surface to glue your connecting strap technique :duim:.

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Once you get the shins on for the first time, you will feel the "trooper waddle". 

Are you going to add the kidney snaps for the belt next?

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Looking good. Slight adjustments but I like the way it’s coming out.

Side note...
What’s up with the chicken hanging with the tools? Does he just hang around and help when needed?


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1 hour ago, LTM said:

Once you get the shins on for the first time, you will feel the "trooper waddle". 

Are you going to add the kidney snaps for the belt next?

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.

 

54 minutes ago, Frank75139 said:

What’s up with the chicken hanging with the tools? Does he just hang around and help when needed?

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.

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So exciting, and looking great! I bet the cod-butt strap will help.

Love the rubber chicken rationale - and TELL me you've been to the Stoogeum in Ambler!! If you haven't, give me a heads up and we'll meet there. It's been too long. I'll get off work for, uh, official stormtrooper business.

My thigh straps were a couple inches too long at first, too. And by "were at first" I mean "currently are". Cough. Back to work I go...

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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:

 

billhag%20belt%20discrepancy.jpg

 

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.

 

gallery_12157_11_821920.jpg

 

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?

Edited by A.J. Hamler

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Not sure if it helps but the L3 of the CRL states

Drop boxes must have full inner drop boxes to close the back. Flat covers are not allowed.

Drop boxes are vertically aligned with the end of the ammo belt with minimal gap between belt and box.

The corners of the plastic ammo belt shall be trimmed at a 45 degree angle that that meets the outer edge of the cloth belt.

The top of the ammo belt should sit at or just below the bottom of the central and vertical abdomen button panels.

So I’d keep them aligned with the edge of the belt. Even if you don’t go level
3 you can’t go wrong





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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.

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Ok got it.

Answer is No.

good?

Jk Basically both of them are right

With the diagram on the left the rivet would be directly centered under the square.
With the diagram on the right the river would be off center under the square. I would stick with the left diagram. It’ll keep everything centered and you won’t have to worry about something not fitting under the square.


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Kinda sounds like I was (once again) worrying about nothing.  Thanks!

 

On 1/8/2019 at 9:01 PM, TheLorelei said:

TELL me you've been to the Stoogeum in Ambler!! If you haven't, give me a heads up and we'll meet there. It's been too long. I'll get off work for, uh, official stormtrooper business.

I had no idea that place existed -- and it's only about an hour and a half away!  I must go there immediately.

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On 1/13/2019 at 10:37 AM, A.J. Hamler said:

I had no idea that place existed -- and it's only about an hour and a half away!  I must go there immediately.

 

On 1/13/2019 at 10:40 AM, Frank75139 said:

This is 20 minutes from my house and I’ve never heard of it

It's admittedly pretty obscure but if The Three Stooges is (are?) your thing, it's a must-see! It's run by Larry Fine's grandniece's husband. Delightful chap. Looks like it's closed through March for renovations but I highly recommend a visit after that!

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This is 20 minutes from my house and I’ve never heard of it


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Frank is the forgotten, 4th Stooge.


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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.

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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.

 

TK%20169%20lo-res_1.jpg

 

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?

Edited by A.J. Hamler
Typo

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3 minutes ago, A.J. Hamler said:

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.  One 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 worked.

 

TK%20169%20lo-res_1.jpg

 

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 simultaneous.  (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 top side of the Bell straps, and the connection was 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?

So just a heads up, I had my snap almost completely pull out of the elastic on my first troop. What I did is went back and with a small snap plate, put it between the snap and the elastic to give it something to bite onto. Havent had any issues since. I have also seen others run the elastic over itself to add a second layer.

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