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A.J. Hamler

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

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Wooden dowel is awesome, great for event no up return edges and reforming curves, can get a nice straight sand, or dig in and round it out. By far was best tool on my build too.

 

 

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 Nice job! Good Luck on your move.

Edited by 68Brick

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Hi folks...

 

Been ages since I've checked in, but I wanted to let you know what's going on in my TK life.  

 

My wife and I are just now completing the months-long process of selling our home, buying a new home and moving from W.Va. to Pennsylvania.  Needless to say, my build has ground to a halt, and will remain that way till we're settled in.  (Heck, at the moment I don't even know which box my TK stuff is even packed in -- or, more accurately, which multiple boxes it's in.) 

 

Hopefully, I'll have a workspace set up soon and can get back to work on my build.

 

A.J.

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Hi guys...

 

Not much to update other than chiming in to let you all know that, yes, I'm still alive and well in spite of the fact that I've been silent for weeks.  (Silence, although golden, is not generally one of the words people use to describe me.)

 

We've completed our move from W.Va. to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area of Pennsylvania and are settling in nicely.  I still don't have a workshop -- not really even a work area yet -- and my build hasn't progressed an inch.  Imperial measurement, of course.

 

However, I have done a number of things not directly part of the build, such as acquiring a Hyperfirm E-11 that is awesome in its awesomeness.  Also purchased other gear like my undersuit, Ukswrath's helmet cooling system, helmet padding and the like.  Took a boot stretcher to my TK Boots, and they're way more comfortable now and ready for trooping.  So, it's not like I haven't been doing anything related to my build.

 

Eager to get back to my build, which I hope to do in the next couple weeks.

 

Meanwhile, I have my first troop -- as a Squire -- with Garrison Carida today! 

 

A.J.

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On ‎2‎/‎28‎/‎2017 at 3:03 PM, A.J. Hamler said:

Helmet, Part I -- Smile!

 

Didn't get anything done on my armor yesterday and very little today, but I did start on my bucket.

 

The AM 4.0 helmet is really nice. Very thick and heavy, and very nicely trimmed. The eyes are nice, the overall shape is smooth and unblemished ... heck the whole thing looks good. Won't know till I have it fully assembled, of course, but I'm thinking that the only real trimming I'll need to do on this is the opening where the S-trim goes.

 

Since I got such a late start today, I figured I'd only tackle cutting out the teeth. Tools for this will be my Dremel rotary tool with a coarse-grit sanding drum bit, sharp knife, some needle files and maybe a bit of fine sandpaper.

 

In some of the builds here I've seen folks do a lot of drilling into those teeth openings, followed by lots and lots of cutting. Looked like way too much work for this Old Fart, plus any opportunity to avoid cutting myself when I'm cutting by doing as little cutting as possible is a Good Thing. I took a tip from Eric Dyck's AM 4.0 build video on YouTube, and elected to simply sand the openings to eliminate most of the waste. To do this, I worked from the back of the helmet face.

 

TK%209%20lo-res.jpg

 

On the inside of the helmet, those teeth openings really bulge out, and the ABS here is a lot thicker than you might think. To open up those teeth, all you need to do is start leveling those bulges. It's as easy as that. With my rotary tool set low enough that I had plenty of control of the grinding process -- and yet still fast enough to produce the lovely aroma of hot plastic -- I started with the smallest tooth opening at one end of that beautiful smile and worked my way to the other. (Yeah, yeah -- it's a frown. I know that. But at this point it's easiest to work with the face upside down to allow the best access for my rotary tool, and from this angle it looks like a smile to me. And why the hell not? This guy knows he's on his way to Stormtrooper glory. He just can't wait for me to finish...)

 

I didn't want to grind too deeply, so as a way to guide my progress I set a shop work light on the other side and got to work. As you get to the point where plenty of light starts coming through the thinning plastic and outlines the rough, rounded rectangular shapes of the openings, just move on to the next one in turn. By not going all the way through there's no danger of going too far and deforming the openings, and it leaves a paper-thin membrane that's easy to cut through in the next step.

 

When leveled to my satisfaction, I shook out the ABS sanding dust and flipped the face over to the outside, resting it solidly on my workbench. Taking my utility knife and snapping the blade to reveal a sharp edge, it was a simple matter to just trace around the teeth openings with the tip of the knife and clear out the rest of the waste.

 

TK%2010%20lo-res.jpg

 

There's still a lot of plastic flange at this point and the shapes of teeth openings are still rough, but just keep working the openings till almost all the flange is gone. And for the moment, he's still smiling at me. Now, I moved over to my needle files, and worked those openings to refine the shapes.

 

TK%2011%20lo-res.jpg

 

I just keep working those files and continued the refining, occasionally flipping the face over and working from the opposite side -- that allowed me to work those teeth from behind at another angle. Also, I jumped around with my needle files, too. The flat one with the square edges worked best on the long, flat sides of the openings, while the triangular one really let me square those corners. The tapered file also helped get those corners nice and sharp.

 

When I considered the teeth as perfect as I was going to get them, I folded a small piece of fine sandpaper and stuck it through each opening just to smooth those edges a bit. Not much, just enough to remove any sharpness or remaining flange or cutting pieces.

 

I'm pleased with how the teeth came out. And while he's frowning now, I'm smiling.

 

OK, that's it for today. Next up will be Part II of the helmet construction. Before actually assembling the bucket, though, I think I'll figure out how I want to mount the lens while everything on the inside of the face is still easy to access.

I'm glad my tip helped you out

 

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Did he eat to much of ABS hashbrowns or the loss of the shop shirt has left him listless and unable to build? Inquiring minds want to know

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Actually, the shop shirt wasn't a loss.  With the cut, it's no longer a wearing-in-public shirt -- Mrs. Stormtrooper's rule, not mine -- but the shirt still functions perfectly in the shop.

 

The truth is that 2017 was just a hectic year -- an interstate move and a family member illness (with a lot of related out-of-state travel) topping the list -- plus getting the house and workshop in order all added up to accomplishing zero on the build.  Then, of course, there was that danged work stuff that always gets in the way of the fun stuff.  In fact, about a month ago I was wrapping up a major book edit assignment, after which I'd planned to block out a solid three weeks devoted entirely to my TK build, but I almost immediately got another much-unexpected book assignment, so my TK plans went down the tubes.

 

In the meantime, I've squired for a couple local events and had a blast, and am getting to know the folks in Garrison Carida.  A really great group of people.

 

And, I have managed to accomplish one other thing in the interim, and here it is:

 

PA%20license%20plate%20lo-res.jpg

 

By the way, the ABS hashbrowns were delish.

 

A.J.

Edited by A.J. Hamler
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On ‎2‎/‎26‎/‎2017 at 11:47 AM, A.J. Hamler said:

Ok, I'm officially starting "A.J.'s O.F. AM 2.0 Build."

 

So, why "O.F.?"  You’re probably thinking I'm dyslexic and meant First Order.  Nope.  That stands for "Old Fart."  Or, in keeping with ANH canon, I guess maybe that should be "Old Fossil."  Either way, I'm probably one of the older noob armor builders and 501st aspirants you're likely to trip over.  In viewing all my armor spread out in my shop, my wife noted how pleased she was that I'm enjoying my second childhood.  That's nonsense, since I’m nowhere near finished with my first one yet so the joke's on her.  In any event I'm certainly older than most of you -- likely old enough to say, "Luke, I am your father" to a lot of you and have it be accurate.  Well, except for all the genetics, of course.

 

I've been reading the build threads (and pretty much everything else around here) for several weeks now, and while my abject terror at making the first trim cut is no less than it was when I first started researching, I'm fairly confident that I'm as prepared as I can possibly be.  To that end, as soon as I post this I'm heading down to my shop to get started.

 

Before that, however, a word about TrooperGear and the AM armor.  First, I'm beyond impressed with this stuff.  In going through the many, many builds I'm stunned at how nice AM armor is.  The preliminary trimming work is top-notch, the ABS is thick and shiny, and the look of everything is simply beautiful.  I'd also like to compliment TG (does that guy have a name?) directly.  His correspondence with me before purchasing was complete and packed with information.  His responses to my incessant questions were speedy.  When I ordered, he was more than willing to ship my BBB around my busy travel schedule so I'd be sure to be home when my UPS guy dropkicked the box from the street to my porch.  (All UPS drivers deliver this way, right?)  Further, when I discovered a crack in the helmet components -- probably thanks to Mr. UPS -- he quickly and without questions shipped replacements.  In fact, when I emailed to verify that he'd gotten the photos I’d sent of the parts, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he'd already shipped them.

 

Also, I couldn't get started without saying just how awesome all of you are here on White Armor.  Your willingness to help is nothing short of amazing, and there are no words for the value of the copious amounts of info to be found here.  In gathering stuff for my build I’ve even bought stuff from a few of you -- Ukswrath, Pencap, Darman -- and your gear is not only great, but your communications back-and-forth before buying are just as rapid as your shipping.  Outstanding!

 

A little about me -- I'm a full-time freelance writer/editor living in Williamstown, W.Va., and have been in the publishing industry in one manner or another full-time since the mid-'90s .  Before that, I was a radio broadcaster for a few decades.  (The two careers actually overlapped.)  I've been a Civil War re-enactor for 20 years, and have written two books on the subject of making authentic reproductions of wooden items from the 19th century.  In that regard, I guess I'm not a complete noob when it comes to making exact copies of things from a long, long time ago.  If you're not already bored, check out some of the things I've made and written on my website, www.ajhamler.com.  Haven't updated the site in a while, though.  Gotta do that Real Soon Now.  Let's see, what else?  My passions include my 4-year-old grandson Jed (who, naturally, I call "My Young Jedi"), gourmet cooking, hiking and a really good IPA.

 

Oh, and I'm also an Old Fart.

 

So anyway, if you’re still with me after all of that, welcome to my build!  Next post will be the first item on my build list: the Thermal Detonator.

 

A.J. 

Sorry,

 

but you made me cringe so hard...Havent finished reading through your post but I will, that first bit was funny. But "Luke, I am your Father" was never EVER said in the Star Wars Movies...Thank you. Cant wait to read the rest of this feed though. sorry that had to be said!

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Let's see now.  Where the hell was I?  Oh, yeah...

 

TK%2043%20lo-res.jpg

 

It's been a long time ago (see what I did there?) that I started this build thread, ain't it?  Excited as all get out when I got the BBB, and almost immediately dove in to building my TK.  Started with the Thermal Detonator, and wrapped that up in short order.  Then I decided to do something major and tackled the helmet, which came out great.  And then...  And then...

 

And then we picked up and moved from one state to another.  And then Mrs. Stormtrooper retired.  And then there was a prolonged family illness (that did not end well, sadly).  And then there was getting my shop set up and in working order so I could make money, which the newly retired Mrs. Stormtrooper insisted is kinda important.  And then, just when everything was settling down and I was ready to bask in the aroma of freshly cut ABS once again, a got an enormous editing assignment that took a couple months.  And then, within just a few weeks of wrapping up that assignment, and even bigger one came along that took another couple months.  And then...

 

Well, and then it's now.  Big assignments are all done.  My workshop is done except for some minor stuff.  The household is all settled.  And lo and behold I'm starting up my build again.  Now, although I've been letting my BBB gather dust, I've continued to read build threads here.  And I have to say, by the way, that you folks amaze me and are an inspiration.  But as part of reading so, so much about so many builds, a couple questions have come up for me that seem to have too many answers.  With that in mind, I'd like to restart my build thread with a couple of questions.

 

First, have I got these shins correct?

 

TK%2044%20lo-res.jpg

 

Maybe I have armor dyslexia, or maybe my old-fart eyes just can't see it, but I have one hell of a hard time telling one side of a shin from the one that's supposed to have the S-shape.  So, have I got these right?  I think so, but really want to get confirmation before I start hacking away at plastic.

 

If I may, I'll just run down my other questions as a quick list.

 

1) Cover strip ends -- Angled corners or rounded corners, or just leave them squared off?  I'm seeing all three things done in the various builds (and all seem to be acceptable), so does it really matter?  Personally, I rather liked them slightly rounded.

 

2) Terminology -- Are "poppers" the same thing as "snaps?"

 

3) Snap plates -- Webbing or ABS squares?  Personal preference aside, is one any better than another? 

 

4) Webbing snap plates -- And if you do use webbing for the snap plates, why does everyone use black and not white? Seems that white would be more logical.

 

5) Hovi Mic Tips -- The outside is black and the inside is white, but what about the thin forward edge, the "rim" of the opening -- black or white?

 

6) Kidney -- Are the 22x22 notches still required at any level?  I've seen contradictory info.

 

OK, I think that's it for now.  I plan to start trimming in the next couple days, and I'll probably start with either the forearms or the shins.  I've seen that most folks like starting with the forearms, but the thought of working from the ground up kind of appeals to me.

 

Thanks, as always.

 

A.J.

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Hey A.J. My condolences on the family illness. Glad to see you're back at it.

 

To my eyes, your shins look correct. I assume they are overlapping by different amounts in your picture, as they look vastly different in size.

 

As for your questions ..

1) Cover strip ends - angled or slightly rounded are the ways to go. I personally like your personal feeling on the rounded corners. It look s best.

2) Popper - yes, those are snaps :)

3) Snap plates - Both ABS and webbing work great. Both are reliable. Only abs plates are repairable if for some reason your snap is pulled out. A webbing plate would have to be replaced. Webbing is faster to fabricate. Webbing also has a slightly thinner profile as you don;t have the thickness of the abs to contend with. It's personal preference.

4) Webbing color - I don;t know why we use black (dark side?), but yes, white makes sense. If anything, we are wearing black undersuits, so it's all hidden anyways.

5) Hovi Mic Tips - the ends are a black/white combo - mostly white from wear and tear

6) Kidney - the kidney notches are optional. If ever in doubt, consult the CRL.

 

Nice work & keep going! :duim:

Edited by 68Brick
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Agreed with everything Brad said! The mic tip rims are typically white from sanding off the black paint to simulate the wear. Oh and the kidney notches are optional in that some armour has it moulded in, some does not. If it does not, no need to bother, but if it does, then I'm fairly sure you should cut them out (I believe this is what's alluded to in "if present"). Perhaps Tony or Joseph can provide a clarification on this? @ukswrath@justjoseph63

Edited by lucnak
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7 hours ago, lucnak said:

Agreed with everything Brad said! The mic tip rims are typically white from sanding off the black paint to simulate the wear. Oh and the kidney notches are optional in that some armour has it moulded in, some does not. If it does not, no need to bother, but if it does, then I'm fairly sure you should cut them out (I believe this is what's alluded to in "if present"). Perhaps Tony or Joseph can provide a clarification on this? @ukswrath@justjoseph63

I actually wouldn't worry about the kidney notches, as they are no longer a requirement for level 3.  If you do decide to add them, I highly recommend the following:

 

1.  Measure out the 22mm square in the appropriate place.

2.  Drill a hole in the corner of the square, (1/8 inch drill bit).

3.  Cut from the hole outward along the lines.

 

The reason for this is that if you have any sort of sharp angle, this will create a weak point and your armor can (and will) develop a split/crack there.  Cutting the hole rounds this out.

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17 hours ago, justjoseph63 said:

I actually wouldn't worry about the kidney notches, as they are no longer a requirement for level 3.  If you do decide to add them, I highly recommend the following:

 

1.  Measure out the 22mm square in the appropriate place.

2.  Drill a hole in the corner of the square, (1/8 inch drill bit).

3.  Cut from the hole outward along the lines.

 

The reason for this is that if you have any sort of sharp angle, this will create a weak point and your armor can (and will) develop a split/crack there.  Cutting the hole rounds this out.

For clarity, you're saying that even if the armour has the notch moulded in, it is not required to cut it out?

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Well, I suppose if the notch is already molded in it'd look funny if you didn't cut it out (or level it with ABS paste).  As I understand it, the notch is simply not required anymore at any level, but if you want to add them you can, per Joseph's specs and instructions.  

 

My A.M. armor doesn't have them molded in, so I'm not going to include them -- I've always thought they looked kinda funny anyway, plus they potentially introduce a weak point to the armor.

 

And, since I'm already terrified of cutting my armor, that's one less thing to cut. <g>

 

A.J.

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On 7/4/2018 at 9:00 PM, 68Brick said:

To my eyes, your shins look correct. I assume they are overlapping by different amounts in your picture, as they look vastly different in size.

Yeah, they are overlapped a LOT.  In fact, in the photo they're just taped together to determine the matching pieces, not for sizing -- they're huge right now.  Seriously, look at them in relation to the BBB behind them. 

 

As other builders of A.M. armor already know -- and I'm just now learning -- they include plenty, and I mean plenty of extra plastic.  In fact, when sizing it's almost impossible to overlap and mark for cutting without first getting rid of some of the extra plastic, or there's too much overlap to adequately size the parts.  I was playing around with the forearms last night and there is so much overlap that I couldn't really make them small enough in diameter for a good fit.  I'll need to trim a bit, and then overlap and then mark the actual cut lines.  Still, this is a Good Thing.  Always better to have too much than not enough. 

 

I got the A.M. because I'm a pretty big guy at just under 6 feet and just over 200 lbs, but A.M. armor can fit someone far larger than I.  Honestly, I won't ned to do any shimming for fitment purposes.

 

A.J.

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Save all that cut off. I used some of those wide long strips as interior cover strips to strengthen. When I was done I tossed all the cuts and kept a few longer pieces for cover strips and what not. Turns out I’ve got a crack in my chest and I want to make some ABS paste to fill it after backing it. Wish I had all those cuts to match the color up.


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2 hours ago, lucnak said:

For clarity, you're saying that even if the armour has the notch moulded in, it is not required to cut it out?

The CRL states it is "optional" however, for those that have it already or it's molded into their armor but not cut out, this is a canon element, why not have it. Especially for those building their armor to accuracy specs. 

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Going back to all of your questions, Yes Brad is correct. As far and the ABS or Webbing for the snap plates, just be careful of the webbing snaps the E6000 and the metal snaps can sometimes have a reaction with ABS and may make a little deformity where they all meet which is your armor (doesn't happen all of the times but may). As far as the black webbing connecting everything, yes its for looks with the black under suit, they blend together.

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To arms!  To arms! Part I

 

I couldn't decide between forearms and shins, so I flipped a coin -- arms won.

 

The A.M. kit includes a healthy return edge on everything, which can make fitting difficult, plus there's not supposed to be any return edge on the wrists anyway.  With all that in mind I decided to remove the return edges to pretty close to where I'll finally have them -- nothing on the wrist, and about 1/8"=3/16" on the elbow ends.  Lots of ways to remove it (and I've seen all of them here on White Armor), but being a woodworker I opted for one of my woodworking tools.  It's very much like a sanding drum you'd use in a drill, or a very small sanding drum like the ones for a Dremel rotary tool.  These don't actually have sandpaper, though, but tiny chisel-like cutters.  They use Microplane cutting surfaces (made my Grace Manufacturing for those taking notes, in case there's a quiz later), and were first made for the woodworking trade, but they've also migrated into kitchen tools as well.  They make fast work of removing waste.  They're called "rotary shapers," by the way if you go looking for them on Amazon.

 

TK%2045%20lo-res.jpg

 

Above, I've chucked a 2" Microplane drum in my drill press (so I can use both hands, although you can also use them in a regular drill/driver).  The drill press is set at 380 RPM; you don't really want to go much faster.  350-400 RPM is a good range.  At this speed it still removes waste quickly, but almost no heat is generated.  That, added to the cutter design, means that you don't get any of the melting you usually do with sandpaper-based drums.  As a bonus, these things make mounds of finely shredded ABS you can use later to make paste.

 

TK%2046%20lo-res.jpg

 

In the photo below you can see the trimmed returns on forearms.  Almost nothing on the wrist end (I'll finish that later after assembly is complete), and about 3/16" on the elbow end.  Note here just how smooth and even the curve is -- at 2", the diameter of drum creates a much larger arc than small Dremel sanding drums, allowing for smoother curves.  Also here are the two other drums that came in the set I got (1" and 1-1/2").  I should mention that these are the older version of these things; the company has since redesigned them a bit.  Haven't tried the new ones yet, but they look very nice.

 

TK%2047%20lo-res.jpg

 

When I work in the shop I like to have as many of my components ready to go as possible before starting a building process, and while the forearms are now ready for fitting, taping and trimming to size I wanted to have the cover strips ready to go first.  I laid out a sheet of ABS, marked it to 15mm segments and clamped a metal straightedge along the cut line before scoring it several times with a knife.

 

TK%2048%20lo-res.jpg

 

After scoring a strip, I moved the straightedge to the next set of marks, clamped it down and scored another, then rinse and repeat till all the strips were scored.  Then, after unclamping the sheet it's a simple matter to snap the strips off one at a time.

 

TK%2049%20lo-res.jpg

 

With the strips all cut, I gave the edges of each a light sanding with fine sandpaper to remove any burrs or ridges, and lightly scuff-sanded the back sides for better glue adhesion.  I even got lucky -- I used two sheets of the A.M. supplied stock for cover strips -- cutting four cover strips each --  and after cutting four strips what was left was a strip that was exactly the size of what I'd need later for the backs of the legs. 

 

OK, that's it for this segment.  Time for a late lunch, and then back to working on the forearms.  Up next, fitting and marking.

 

A.J.

 

Edited by A.J. Hamler
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