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A.J. Hamler

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

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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... 

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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.

 

TK%20169a%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

Edited by A.J. Hamler
Typo
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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.

 

TK%20170%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.  

 

TK%20171%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20172%20lo-res.jpg

TK%20173%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20174%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20175%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20176%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20177%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20178%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20179%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20180%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.)

 

TK%20180a%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

Billhag%20belt%20snap%20locations.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20181%20lo-res.jpg

 

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. 

 

TK%20182%20lo-res.jpg

 

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. 

 

TK%20183%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20184%20lo-res.jpg

 

Yeah.  Yeah, that's it.  The last step to finish up the Belt itself is to add the rivet covers.

 

TK%20185%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.  

 

TK%20186%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20187%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20188%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20189%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20190%20lo-res.jpg

 

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.

 

TK%20191%20lo-res.jpg

 

Now, a tight shot of the front.

 

TK%20192%20lo-res.jpg

 

And finally, let's throw the completed Belt Assembly on the floor and take a look.

 

TK%20193%20lo-res.jpg

 

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?

Edited by A.J. Hamler
typo; swap out incorrect image
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Nice work, almost there

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Looking great! I *think* the three buttons on one piece is for the Sandtrooper version, but you made it work!

image.png.de5aa28f7297ddfe84c81f0f06ba9e9a.png

 

 

Edited by LTM
double image
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Odds 'n' Ends -- Part II

 

Working on the Shoulder Bridges and waiting for glue to dry between photos, so I thought I'd tackle a few more odds 'n' ends that needed doing.  First up was to attach the Button Plates to the front of the Ab.

 

TK%20194%20lo-res.jpg

 

I'd put those off as long as possible so I wouldn't get them scratched up wrangling the Ab around doing strapping and whatnot.  But I expect to be taking submission photos this week, so the time had come.  I used sparing dabs of E6000 around the edges to attach both Button Plates just in case I ever wanted to go Sandy.  The next item on my to-do list was to install the Frown Mesh.

 

TK%20195%20lo-res.jpg

 

No idea why I waited so long for this task, other than it was yet another little detail that didn't fit neatly into any other particular section of work.  To adhere the Mesh, I used a dab of E6000 between each of the tooth openings, and held the Mesh in place with some tiny magnets till the glue set. 

 

After that, I cut and fit the S-Trim into place on the bottom of the Helmet (flat-ish side out, rounded side in).

 

TK%20196%20lo-res.jpg

 

In this shot and the previous one, it's obvious I've decided not to coat the inside of the bucket with black Plasti Dip.  I don't really like the stuff.  However, I do want to troop a bit with the Helmet without it and see how it goes.  I may eventually change my mind and do the dip on the inside, but I'll save that for another day.  I'll also need to do a bit more Helmet work -- those screws could use another coat of white paint, which I'll do before I do photos, plus my Ukswrath cooling fan system.  Also, you can see some preliminary padding up in there that's just taped into place, so I'll need to do the final padding.  I have the pads, but installing them is just another one of those little things I haven't done yet.

 

And finally for this post, I added a nice little tweak to my Hyperfirm E-11 by inserting a reticle into the gunsight. 

 

TK%20197%20lo-res.jpg

 

I did this just for fun.  I'm thinking that down the road I may replace the Hyperfirm rubber sight with something nicer in resin, or I might even invest in one of Field Marshall's metal E-11 sight kits, but for now adding the crosshairs seemed like a nice little touch to add.

 

OK, that's it for the latest round of odds 'n' ends.  Back to the Shoulder Bridges to check on how that glue is drying.

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Looking good A.J. If shooting for Centurion may I recommend you scale down the vertical Ab button plate. Technically it should be smaller than the raised area it's attached to. Here's a reference photo. 

gallery_12157_16_7278-crop6.jpg

 

As for the scope decal, looks nice. I've also see people take a thin layer of Plexiglas and place it just over the decal giving the illusion of actual glass ;)

 

Keep up the great work :jc_doublethumbup:

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Odds 'n' Ends -- Part III

 

Before getting back to work on those Shoulder Bridges, I took care of another little odds 'n' ends task I've been wanting to get around to.  

 

I don't like sharp edges, especially when they come into contact with me.  They're coarse and rough and irritating.  Kinda like sand on Tatooine.  Yeah, same thing.  The split rivets joining the left side of the Ab/Kidney connection are a perfect example.  I mentioned this a while back in the build, and opined that I'd probably cover them with some E6000, but I came up with a better idea.  And, once again, I'm making use of something from my woodworking shop.  First, take a look at what they do, then I'll explain what they are.

 

TK%20198%20lo-res.jpg

 

Those are called "screw caps," and they're used on ready-to-assemble furniture and cabinetry anytime there would be visible screws.  They come in a matched set of two pieces -- a washer with a flanged edge and a cap.  The idea is you drive the screw through the washer, snug it down tight, and then snap a cap on top so it clicks into place on the washer flange.  This effectively hides the bare screw, and yet allows it to be accessible if you ever needed to disassemble the furniture.  These things come in a couple sizes, and about a hundred different colors.

 

As it happens, I designed and built a bookcase using these things just a few weeks ago for a project article.  For that bookcase, I bought a bag of a hundred caps.  Way more than I needed, but it was the smallest quantity I could get.

 

TK%20199%20lo-res.jpg

 

But as I'm snapping those caps in place on the bookcase, it occurred to me I could put them to good use in service to the Empire.  First, I dabbed a bit of E6000 onto the splayed tips of the split rivets, followed by another dollop inside each cap.  Then it was just a simple matter to press them in place over each rivet and let the glue cure.  Bingo, no sharp edges to snag my undersuit, and it gives a nice clean appearance should anyone ever be poking around inside my armor.  And since it's E6000, should I ever need to get at those rivets I can pry the caps right off.

Edited by A.J. Hamler
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The Long and Winding Road

 

Well, here we go with the last major step I need to get done on what has been an extremely long journey.  Way back when my BBB arrived on my doorstep in February 2017, I never dreamed it would take this long to get to this point.  But a LOT happened in that time -- moving from one state to another, changes in job status, a serious family illness, several enormous work assignments, unexpected travel (being 400 miles closer to our daughter has been a huge incentive to hop in the car and go see her whenever we want), and a whole list of miscellaneous miscellany.  But slow and steady wins the race they say.  (They say that, right?)  So, let's wrap up this last step of adding the Shoulder Bridges.

 

The Shoulder Bridges are perhaps the most fragile part of TK armor, so it's always a good idea to reinforce them in some way.  Also, since the underside of the Bridges is basically hollow there's nothing there to glue to.  Most builds I've looked at fill in all those hollow spaces with slivers of ABS glued in to add both strength and gluing surface.  I decided to try something different.  My plan was to cover the entire underside of the Bridges with a strip of thin ABS cut from a For Sale sign I picked up for $1.99.

 

First, though, I needed to trim the Bridges down a bit to remove excess edge.  AM armor is nicely trimmed, but there is a bit extra left on, so trimming these was my first step.

 

TK%20200%20lo-res.jpg

 

The AM Shoulder Bridges are already curved (almost perfectly, for that matter), so using the score-and-snap method wasn't an option and I relied on my trusty Lexan scissors.  And while we're on the subject, a small rant -- why in the hell can't you get these things with bigger handles?  Do cutting for any length of time and those tiny thumb/finger holes tear your hands to pieces.  The blades are fine (the small size of those is perfect for careful cutting) but in the name of all that's holy I wish someone would make them with bigger handles.  OK, rant over.

 

Notice here that I'm not cutting all the way to my line.  That's because I'll be gluing ABS to the entire underside and I want more surface to work with.  I'll trim them to their final size after the gluing is all done.  I had already cut out the ABS -- again slightly oversized -- so gluing started by attaching the ABS to the Bridges at the middle.  The reason for this is that all the critical gluing of the ABS is mostly around the edges, and I wanted a solid center all the way down the middle for strength and rigidity, and to support the thin ABS.

 

TK%20201%20lo-res.jpg

 

To do this, it only takes a dollop of glue on the center of each "rib" where it'll make contact to the ABS sheet.  I'll use something different gluing the edges, but I'm using E6000 here for the longer working time and adjustability.  With the glue dolloped on, I pressed the ABS into place and added a series of small clamps down the center and set the Bridges aside to dry.  A couple things to keep in mind if you decide to do this ---

 

1)  First, shape the Bridges as closely as possible to the shape you want them before starting this.  Yes, you can still bend them afterward but it's not quite as easy, so bend them to shape now.

 

2) When you clamp on the ABS, ensure that you keep the curve intact the way you want it while the glue is still wet.  This is pretty easy to adjust, even with the clamps on.  But once the glue is dry it will hold the curve, so you want the curve to be right where you put it.

 

3) I've talked a couple times about how you can work with things glued with E6000 after only a few hours without waiting for a full cure.  That doesn't apply here.  You want the glue down the center to fully cure before proceeding.  Why?  Well, E6000 is strictly evaporative and needs air to cure.  The inside of the Bridges won't have air circulation once the edges are glued.  So let that glue cure at least the full recommended 24 hours.

 

OK, lecture over.  To glue around the edges I'll use Plastic Weld, which does exactly what it says.  This glue is very thin, cures very quickly, and makes a permanent, nearly invisible joint.  It's also easy to use since capillary action does most of the work for you.  

 

TK%20202%20lo-res.jpg

 

Work in small sections at a time -- about three or four ribs length -- from one end to the other.  I alternated sides.  Dip the brush into the bottle, apply liberally to the edge (the slightly oversized ABS forms a little "shelf" that acts as a guide) and capillary action instantly sucks the glue right into the joint.  Brush on a bit more in the same spot, and again it'll be drawn right in.  Keep doing this till no more gets sucked in; at that point the joint is fully filled and you can apply your smallest clamps.  You only need minimal pressure, and you only have to leave the clamps in place for a couple minutes.  The glue works that fast.

 

Important note: Be extremely careful with this stuff!  It will instantly start fusing any plastic it touches, including your armor, so get it and anything else out of the way.  Keep a cloth or paper towel handy for drips and spills  -- it will also start fusing the plastic laminate on my table, for example -- and wipe up any spills immediately.  Note how I keep the glue bottle in my Tray Of Isolation, plus I have it nestled into a hole in a piece of wood that prevents the bottle from tipping. 

 

Then I just kept working down around the edge, alternating sides, until I'd gone entirely around the Bridge.  Done?  Nope.  When this kind of glue cures, it shrinks ever so slightly, and if you look at the glue joint you might see tiny gaps that look like bubbles.  Go all the way around once more with your brush applicator, adding a second line of glue.  You'll see it suck right into those little gaps.  Once you see no more tiny gaps, then you're done.  Set it aside for an hour or two.  Yeah, the glue is dry, but you want it to fully cure.  An hour or two is more than enough, but best to be sure.

 

Now, I trimmed that oversized ABS right up to the edge of the Bridge plastic with a sharp knife, and sanded the edges smooth.

 

TK%20203%20lo-res.jpg

 

This is a straight edge, so either use a sanding block, or better yet a full sheet of paper held flat to your work surface.  I did a quick rough sanding with 150-grit just to level the edges and bring them to the final size, then followed with 220-grit, then 320-grit for a really smooth edge.  And here's the magic: Because this is a welded plastic joint, there is no appreciable glue line.  Seriously, take a look:

 

TK%20204%20lo-res.jpg 

 

There you go.  The Bridges are strengthened from one end to the other, and you have a smooth, flat gluing surface ready to go on the underside for attachment to the armor.  Which, by the way, we'll do after making an adjustment to the armor.

 

Although the shoulder extensions at the top of the Chest and Back Plates are trimmed to length and shaped to my shoulders, the ends of those extensions weren't quite in the same plane.  Let's go over to Barky the mannequin and I'll show you what I mean.

 

TK%20205%20lo-res.jpg

 

The armor feels good on and fits just right, but no way those Bridges are going to lay correctly on that.  Leaving the armor on Barky, I reshaped those extensions by heating them with a hair dryer.  (I'm terrified of using a heat gun, but a hair dryer works great on small, thin areas like this and it's far safer.)  Essentially, I just heated up the ends of those extensions and twisted them until they lay in the same plane with one another.

 

TK%20206%20lo-res.jpg

 

Once I had the left shoulder nice and planar, I did the same thing with the right shoulder.  When finished, the bridges will lay perfectly over the top.  Now, it was just a matter of lining up the Bridges to center them over the shoulder extensions and making a few registration marks, then removing the armor and gluing the Bridges to the Chest Plate over on my workbench.  This is another critical glue joint, by the way, so once again I allowed the full curing time for the E6000.  

 

TK%20207%20lo-res.jpg

 

All right, let's take off the clamps, reattach the shoulder strapping and put this back on Barky and see what we got.

 

TK%20208%20lo-res.jpg

 

Nice.  Now, just a little cleanup for some E6000 squeeze-out, and these are ready for the thin elastic loops on the back.

 

At this point I have about a dozen little things to do -- put a few more pads into the Helmet, shorten the length of the Cod strap, add those aforementioned elastic loops to the backs of the Shoulder Bridges, that kind of thing -- plus some things like install the fans and sound system and such, but none of that is critical for submissions and as far as my armor goes... that's it.

 

Can't believe I'm saying this, but my armor is done!  And I couldn't have done it without all of you here on White Armor.   I can't thank everyone enough.

 

And I saved the best for last:  I'm ready to take my submission photos.

Edited by A.J. Hamler
insert new photo, typos
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Wait! What? Submission pics? Did I hear that right Bud Spaklur? Did he say he was submitting pics? I think that’s what he said. But I’m not sure, maybe he needs to repeat it again.

Any who, great build thread, very informative unlike some of the others I’ve read recently that are filled with gibberish and crooked knee plates. I’m not gonna go calling anyone out but you did a great job. Good luck with submission.


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Wait! What? Submission pics? Did I hear that right Bud Spaklur? Did he say he was submitting pics? I think that’s what he said. But I’m not sure, maybe he needs to repeat it again.

Any who, great build thread, very informative unlike some of the others I’ve read recently that are filled with gibberish and crooked knee plates. I’m not gonna go calling anyone out but you did a great job. Good luck with submission.


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It’s $5 for whomever finishes first and I include Roddy’s approval in that “being finished first” definition.

Congrats AJ. Feels great to finally have it all over with, right? Some guys on here say they miss building which is why they keep making more costumes. Me? I say thank GOD I’m done. Would I ever do it again? . ......... HELL NO!

Looking forward to seeing you receive your TK number. Cheers!


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Awesome job A.J. You've done a fantastic job on your build. Hope to see you at the higher ranks as well :salute:

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Nice work, good luck with approval

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12 hours ago, A.J. Hamler said:

I'm ready to take my submission photos.

Awesome!:duim:

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"All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup..." *

 

OK, gang.  It's photo time.  I still need to get dressed and really get started on all the photos, and I'll post them later today, but here's my first test shot.

 

TK%20209%20lo-res.jpg

 

I still want to play around with the lighting and maybe adjust it a bit, but I think I have everything else pretty much set.

 

Man, I'm am one excited Old Fart!

 

A.J.

 

* "Sunset Boulevard" 1950

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Ummm you know you’ve got to actually wear the armor right????

Jk looking good. My pics were in my bedroom taken by my wife so your good


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Looking forward to seeing some fully kitted up photos

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This is maddening.  Maddening, I tell you.

 

My armor is done and ready to submit, but the clock and calendar are moving too darned slow!  [Checking calendar again... Damn!  It's only the 6th!]  

 

So, to kill time waiting for this interminable election to conclude, I've been doing some tweakification of my armor.  The first order of business was to address some things JustJoseph suggested in my pre-approval thread.  To that end I raised the Biceps a bit, and they look a lot better.  I also raised the Belt at the front so it's slightly overlapping the bottom of the Button Plates.  Again, it looks better, too

 

One of the things I noticed when doing the shoot for my submission photos was that I could barely walk.  Getting around on a perfectly level floor was definitely a case of the Trooper Waddles, and an attempt to go up the basement steps was met with little success.   I was able to get up two or three steps, but it was a struggle of kinda crab-walking sideways.  Ditto coming down the same two or three steps.  So with time on my hands before I can submit, I thought I'd trim the leg edges behind my knees to facilitate movement.

 

I started by penciling in approximately where I wanted to make my cuts, and did rough cuts well clear of the line with a Dremel rotary tool with a cutter wheel.

 

TK%20233%20lo-res.jpg

 

Not particularly pretty, but this was just to quickly and efficiently remove most of the waste ABS.  Did this to the bottoms of both Thighs, as well as the tops of both Shins.  Then I moved to my drill press, still outfitted with that Microplane shaping drum you saw back on page two of my build.  I worked steadily and slowly with the drum and completed the cuts up to my penciled lines, and then refined the overall shape of the cutouts.  After that, a bit of sanding smoothed everything out.  Let's take a look.

 

TK%20234%20lo-res.jpg

 

Tried on my legs and holy yikemoly, what a difference this makes.  I'm not going to be bounding up stairs anytime soon wearing these, but I think I can at least manage stairs now without either looking like a total buffoon or falling flat on my face, which would be even buffoonier. 

 

I had mentioned earlier that I thought I needed to raise my Thighs, but to be honest after making these cuts behind the knees I'm not so sure now that I do.  I think I'm going to leave everything the way it is for now until I get my first troop under my belt, and then decide if the Thighs need raised.  Of course, that'll be at least a couple weeks yet because of that election thing.  Speaking of which, where's that calendar?

 

Damn!  How can it still be only the 6th!

Edited by A.J. Hamler
replaced incorrect photo

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Hey A.J., start thinking about reinforcing some areas before they crack, front chest piece can be an issue.

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Hang on tight, the days will pass soon enough, besides there's always reading to keep you busy, EIB and Centurion threads and if you finish with those have a read through the Trooper Survival Guide ;) 

 

 

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5 hours ago, LTM said:

Hey A.J., start thinking about reinforcing some areas before they crack, front chest piece can be an issue.

That's an excellent idea, Lou.  Not sure how prone the AM armor is to cracking in those areas, as it's really thick ABS.  But beefing up potential trouble spots would be a Good Thing.

 

3 hours ago, gmrhodes13 said:

Hang on tight, the days will pass soon enough, besides there's always reading to keep you busy, EIB and Centurion threads and if you finish with those have a read through the Trooper Survival Guide ;) 

I've been following the EIB and Centurion threads religiously, Q.  (Sometimes I think I look at them more than the builds!)  I've been building for EIB and Centurion from day one.  In fact, I've already shot all my EIB submission photos and they're literally ready to go.  And I've also shot almost all of my Centurion pix, too.  Just two or three that I have left to shoot.  

 

The Trooper Survival Guide is awesome.  I've downloaded the PDF and have studied it thoroughly.  Good stuff.

 

But waiting for when submissions start again is worse than waiting for Christmas as a little kid!

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FYI I left the return edges on my AM and it cracked on the return edge into the chest. I think it’s strictly from messing around and closing my arms while dancing and what not. It’s not bad but it’s worth reinforcing with some ABS. I went above and beyond with mine.


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My cracking on the AM armor is on the chest plate from how I am gearing up, so like Sean I have reinforced the chest and other areas to add support. Shins are another high stress area for me (taking off and on). Look at page three, I had the same issue after a few troops, better to work it now before you get cracks. 

 

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