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

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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 c

Meanwhile...   Yeah, I know it's not part of my TK build, but while I'm waiting to submit we finished my wife Sally's Imperial Line Officer and I just had to share.     A

Snaps 'n' Straps -- Part II   OK, back to work.  All the snap plates are done, so let's start gluing them into the armor.  For reversibility I'm going with E6000 all the way here.  Yeah, it'

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Thanks, Paul!  I appreciate it, and am glad to hear you're finding it useful.


In may ways documenting the build has sometimes been even more fun than the actual building.  (Especially the frustrating parts. :))



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Ditto on Paul's remarks. I find your thread pictures and well articulated processes, your attention to detail and the quality of your work to rate up there with my top five build thread references. I know it takes a significant amount of time and effort to maintain a decent build thread.
Thank you A.J.!

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Hi, Dave, and thanks for the kind words.  Documenting my TK build so thoroughly was not only a pleasure, but it forced me to work in a strict one-step-at-a-time manner that really helped to minimize mistakes.  


Note that I said "minimize" and not "eliminate" -- I made plenty of mistakes!  



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  • 2 weeks later...

Approved!  Got the approval notice on my TK armor from my GML this morning. 


Actually, my wife and I got our approvals near-simultaneously.  The GML noted that this might be a Garrison first for a husband-and-wife team to be approved at the same time, so that's pretty cool.


I registered both of us with the 501st shortly after getting the good news.  Now, back to the waiting game... <g>



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Talk about fast.  I just registered both of us on the 501st site a few hours ago, and we've both been approved and our member profile pages are already set up.  I'm now TK-51351! 


Think I'll just mosey on up and ask for detachment access.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, look who's back.  Yep, like the proverbial bad penny you just can't get rid of me.


One of the first things I read on the forum way, way back when I started my build was that you never really finish your build.  After doing my first Troop this past weekend, I can attest to the veracity of that statement.  Those of you who have already "finished" know this to be true, while those of you still working on your builds will learn soon enough. 


At the risk of creating a TL;DR post, allow me to expand on that.


One of the things I've seen here, though, is that most TKs end their build threads once they hit the field.  I've always wondered how they tweaked and upgraded their kits after that, and decided some time ago that I wasn't going leave people hanging.  So, with that in mind (and with apologies to Emerson, Lake and Palmer), "Welcome back, my friends, to the build that never ends."


As many of you know, I got my Garrison and 501st approvals on the same day not quite two weeks ago, and achieved EIB status just a week after that.  Along with my EIB approval, TheSwede noted that I needed to address two things before submitting for Centurion: Gotta bring those Shoulder Bells in a bit farther, and I have to fix those overlapping side corners on my Back Plate.  Naturally, those were number one and two (with a bullet, for those of you old enough to get the reference) on my ongoing build.  That is, they were number one and two until I did my first Troop this weekend.  So, to restart my build thread, a brief Troop report...


Garrison Carida returned this weekend to the annual "Joshua's Bingo for a Cure" in Allentown, Pa., to benefit research into FOP, and Sally and I were honored to take part as our first Troop.  The event went well, and we had a fantastic time.  Trooping was everything I thought it would be, and then some!




However, wearing armor around the house during a build, no matter how many times you do it, just isn't the same as wearing armor Out There In Real Life.  In the controlled conditions of your house or even walking around the yard you just don't experience the same things as you do at a real Troop.  Now, I had all kinds of fears about the things that could go wrong (many of which I've read about happening to others), and I'm pleased to say that I escaped most of them.  Here, then, a quick rundown of what didn't happen:


• I didn't step on any small people... but could have.  At one point, when Sally was right next to me I was wondering who she was talking to.  She finally had to tell me that the little kid that I had no idea was right in front of me wanted to give me a high-five.  I bent over and sure enough, there he was.  Yes, you really can't see anything low -- all those warnings about little people are true, and I'm glad I learned it in the first hour of my first Troop.


• I didn't suffocate.  I had a bit of nervousness about the helmet.  During the build it felt confining as hell whenever I put it on, and breathing was oddly compromised.  My fears of passing out for lack of oxygen or tearing off my helmet in a claustrophobic fit, never happened.  I found that after a half hour I got perfectly used to the confines of the bucket and am now fine with it.


• I didn't trip on my own feet and do a faceplant in front of 500+ bingo players, which I had a deathly fear would surely transpire.


• And finally, I didn't accidentally clock anyone with my E-11, I didn't sneeze inside my bucket, and nothing fell off to go clattering across the concrete floor in a bursting shower of white plastic shards.


That's what didn't happen.  Here's what did: 


Armor bites.  Oh, Great Caesar's Ghost, the armor bites.  I'd read about them and I was expecting them.  And, sure enough, there were some minor ones here and there depending on how I moved.  However, although unpleasant those were infrequent and random.  But then, there was The Armor Bite.  I hesitate to say where it was since there are ladies present, but you saw that picture up earlier?  Nice picture, huh?  Me and the missus lookin' great.  But let's zoom in a bit, shall we...




Ohhhhhh, yeah.  One of our handlers took that photo right after suiting up before we hit the floor, and I had no idea what was coming.  We hadn't been out there for more than five minutes when I knew I had a serious issue.  Nearly every step I took I got bitten at that spot, over and over and over again.  After the first half hour I almost bailed out of the event to go call 911 in our dressing area, but wanted to do my best to tough it out (figuring that blood from the gaping wound I was surely creating would be hard to see on a black undersuit anyway), and gradually learned how to walk such that I could minimize the biting somewhat.  Every other step, maybe, and sometimes only every third or fourth step.  I spent the next 2-1/2 hours guarding the entrance or the snack area, anything to cut down on the walking.  Still, by the end of the event I was a hurtin' puppy, and have a for-reals injury there that may take a few days and many medicinal beers to heal.  Therefore, the new number one (with a bullet, natch) on my fix-it list as I continue my ongoing build is to trim both the left side of the Cod and the upper right edge of the Thigh to eliminate that.  Other, less painful, things I also learned I need to fix include:


• My left Bicep.  I had an issue when I did my submission photos with it coming unsnapped.  (You may have seen that in my pre-approval thread.)  I thought I had it taken care of, but it happened continuously.  After the first half dozen times Sally or a handler resnapped it I gave up, and just kept my left arm crooked to keep everything up.  No idea why that snap is an issue -- not having it with any other snap on my kit -- but I need to replace it.


• My helmet gradually kept tilting back.  The balance isn't quite right and/or the padding needs adjusting.  I had to occasionally step out of sight and pull the helmet forward so I could see.  I think that redoing the pads will take care of most of that.  Speaking of the helmet, I found that although I can easily turn my head all the way to the right, I can't turn it all the way to the left.  Not sure why so I may need to do it in front of a mirror to see what's up.  I think maybe my helmet is just a hair too low, and may need to increase the padding on the very top.


• Clicking Sniper Plate.  Before Trooping, I added padding to the top/front of my left Shin and to the lower/back of the left Thigh to help prevent the Plate from getting caught.  While that seemed to work, the Sniper Plate kept grazing the Thigh with every step with a loud *click* sound.  (That was also the second-most-common source of occasional armor bites, on my knee.)  That's a fix I have to make.


And finally, there are those two original things I already knew I needed to fix after my EIB review: the Back Plate corner overlaps, and the Shoulder Bells.  For the first, I think some judicious trimming of remaining return edges will do the trick.  For the second, tightening up those straps will help, and I'm thinking I may actually replace the Bells.  Back when I originally trimmed them for fit, I hadn't yet seen the recommendations about trimming the sides of the Bells in a curve.  (I think that may be a more recent accuracy recommendation.)  In any event, I'll do the straps first but will consider replacing the Bells and trimming them more correctly.


And, of course, you'll see it all here.



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Awesome! :jc_doublethumbup: Gad to here you're still with us after your first troop. As much as you prepare yourself and your armor for that first event you just don't know until it's said and done. 


Nice job A.J. 

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Great report! On the sniper plate, did you trim any of the width from the top of the plate? This was mine before I adjusted the angle and trimmed the top. 


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Most of us find we need a few tweaks after our first couple of troops, a few adjustment, a little or trimming in places to stop those armor bites but once you're done it's a please to have made those and get out there and troop some more :salute:

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Still tweeting mine.


I’d sand down the thighs keeping the natural curve, I did it to mine.


I also sanded the indie top return edge on the sniper knee which helped with the clanging as will shortening the thigh.


Lastly I’d say invest in a hard hat liner for the helmet. It’s a huge difference. I’ve found it keeps the helmet a bit more steady on your head



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Great report! On the sniper plate, did you trim any of the width from the top of the plate? This was mine before I adjusted the angle and trimmed the top. 
Put foam behind the front to push it out. Shouldn't really be an issue. You may also want to pull your thighs up

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On 11/27/2018 at 2:01 PM, A.J. Hamler said:

Snaps 'n' straps, part I


Hi gang; I'm back, but only briefly.


Since last time, another work assignment popped up, so no armor building for me for while.  Plus that Thanksgiving thing with a house full of family most of the week.  Plus a trip of my own.  Plus some household repairs.  All that's past, and for a day or two I have some "me" time before the next round of time-demands rolls in tomorrow (and for a full week after that).  So I'm picking up where I left off.


As Lou suggested in one of the last posts regarding my shin issue, I'm gonna let the shin reshaping go until the armor is complete.  I'm sure there will be lots of tweaks I'll want to do once I can wear this stuff, so I'll tackle it all at once.  So, the key to getting the armor actually on my body is the get it to hold together.  That means it's time to do snaps and straps.  After thinking about it for months during the rest of my build, I decided on webbing snap plates over ABS squares.


Being a woodworker, I love jigs for making things.  So, to ensure that my snap plates are uniform in overall size and hole placement, I whipped up a simple jig out of scrap wood.  You'll see the whole jig shortly, but the first part of the jig I used was a piece cut to the dimensions of the snap plates I wanted.  Using that, I cut out all the webbing plates that would get double snaps.




This was just a simple matter of holding the wooden template up to the webbing and using it as a guide for my scissors.  After cutting each piece, I then heat-sealed the raw edges with a grill lighter.  If you haven't done this yet, a tip: Seal those edges immediately after cutting.  Webbing unravels almost instantly upon cutting, and will certainly start coming apart if the fresh-cut webbing plates are handled, so seal the edges right away.




Then it was just keep going till I had all the webbing plates I needed for the double snaps -- two dozen.  Actually, that's a couple more than I really needed, but I wanted some extras.  (I also plan to use some single snaps here and there, mostly on the Forearms and Shoulder Bells, but I'll do those later.)


The eagle-eyed among you have probably already noticed that my cutting template has a pair of holes in it.  Those are measured and drilled exactly centered, so no matter which way I flip that little piece of wood, the holes will be in the same place.  The key reason for the hole guide -- which I'll also use for the straps -- is so snap locations are the same on each plate.  Then, using the same template for the ends of the straps, the male and female parts of the snap pairs will mate perfectly.  To make the holes, I placed each webbing plate in the corner of the jig, put the hole guide template on top, and then poked the business end of a cordless soldering iron down into the guide holes and through the webbing.




The soldering iron creates and heat-seals the holes in a single action, and it took only a couple minutes to do all two dozen webbing pieces.  Let's take a look at that jig.




It's just a length of oak scrap (any hardwood will do), with some thinner pieces of oak glued on the edges of one corner to act as fences for aligning the webbing plate in the jig.  Those thin strips are just glued in place to form a nesting corner.  Once the glue dried I snugged the hole guide into the corner, and poked the soldering iron through the holes to mark the jig, and then drilled a couple larger holes in the base of the jig for the tip of the soldering iron to go down into.  Worked like a charm.


After all the holes were done, it was just working my way through setting snaps.




Finally, all my double snap plates are done and ready for gluing.




At this point, I'll adjust the jig to make that handful of single snaps I need.  


Up next is gluing the plates into the armor, after which I'll do the straps to fit all the snap plates.  That'll have to wait for a week, though.  Got more company coming later this week, followed by another trip of my own (Grandson birthday!).  After that, however, I have absolutely nothing on my to-do list until Christmas.  Unless I get a surprise work assignment, I think I may enjoy a White Christmas -- that is, I'm thinking I will finally have my armor done in time to welcome Santa. 


Hiya AJ, 

quick question if you please,


I really like the jig idea for the strap/snaps and I'm about to start my strapping so, I'm going to steal it! :shok:

Would you be so kind as to measure your "webbing plate" for me? While I may go just a hair wider on mine, it appears from the picture it is about 2 inches high by 3 inches wide? Or is it more like 2 x 4 inches?


Thanks in advance,


Edited by Linus
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Hi, Dave..


I *think* I made those plates 1-1/8" x 2", but I'll check for sure when I go downstairs later this morning.  I know they're 2" long, because I cut them crosswise from 2" webbing, but I'll check the width to be sure.


[A slight pause occurs here.  Well, "slight" if you consider two hours to be "slight"...]


OK, I checked and my webbing plates are indeed 1-1/8" x 2".


Hope this helps.



Edited by A.J. Hamler
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