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menschie

My tips for those just starting!

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There are people on here with a LOT more expertise than I have! However, I did get there and I want to just give a tip synopsis of things that are valuable to me.

 

These are tips for those just starting. Much of it can be found on here, but here’s what I wish I knew at the start, with my own personal spin on it, from experience or from a lot of digging in the forums. Of course, some things you’ll still have to figure out for yourself…I wouldn’t take that from you! ;)

 

A million thanks to the FISD community. I owe realizing the dream of proper TK armour to you all!

 

Helmet: 

Don’t rush it. Everyone’s been looking at this helmet for 40 years, and when it’s not perfect it doesn’t look completely right to people, even though they can't peg quite why. The look and consistency of the original costumes was really quite amazing, overall. Things to hyper focus on … the eye holes and the teeth. Eye holes…I often see people not taking enough out, or crooked lines. Slightly crooked can be cannon I guess, in some examples, as some of those eye holes were a bit messier than others. Sand and look. Sand and look. Teeth…people often make them too long and too square. I initially used a dremel, and then refined with hobby files. Compare them constantly to the movie worn helmets. If you make your teeth right, your helmet will likely stand out as an amazing example!

 

Return Edges:

People seem to have a desire to keep return edges. This can create fit, shape, and wearability issues…plus it just doesn’t look “cannon.” Again, look for the screen references. The return edges are often much much smaller than we’d all first think, and often there aren’t any at all. For instance, people often want to have too much return edge on the top of the butt plate, or any at all on the other edges of it. This will give you “trooper dumpy butt” I call it. Again, screen reference and look at the best Centurion submissions.

 

Bending ABS:

I know some people use a heat gun. This is outside of my comfort zone. Too many horror stories. I did a lot of bending to get things where I wanted them to be. FYI, I was able to accomplish this by pouring boiling water from a kettle on the parts I needed to bend, and applying a plastic clamp for the weight to apply the bend force. When it was where it needed to be, or just past actually (it goes back slightly), I'd immediately put it under cold running tap water. Sometimes I had to repeat this process. This worked perfectly, on 1.5mm ABS.

 

My Favourite Build Resource:

Centurion submissions! The build threads were cool, of course. For me, the single biggest help were the Centurion Submissions. So much detail, and real life scrutiny of what you eventually want to have. Specifically, and this is really important, find submissions of your armour make (RS, ATA, etc.) with someone who is approximately your height and weight. That’s a huge help.

 

Glue:

I read a lot about E6000. I was unsure about it, as I heard about how bad it smelled and how long it took to cure. The smell does go away quickly. I couldn’t recommend it more. When you wear your armour, it will flex, and there will be times where it may be called up to really flex. CA glue does not allow for any flex at some points on your armour that have a LOT of tension. E6000 is a way safer route to go. Plus, if you make a mistake you’re not hooped. I can’t imagine using anything else. Also, people talk of 12 hour cure times. On anything that has a bit of tension in it you'll need to go 24 hours. Even then, I put it over a forced air heat register (in cold months). If you push short cure times you'll eventually get some separation. Not fun to go backwards!

 

Cover Strips:

I did not use interior strips. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. It’s all about preference and comfort level. In my experience, if you do your outside cover strips properly, your armour will absolutely be strong enough, and you’ve just saved yourself an incalculable amount of work and curing time, in what is already a long and arduous process.

 

When using E6000, it is VERY important that you glue right to the very edge of the cover strip where it touches your armour. You want some bleeding out. Most of the force is at the edges. When you clean the glue that has pressed out, if you happen to peel even a fraction of a mm from underneath the cover strip, you can expect your cover strip to come away at the edge at some point. For some people that’s not an issue...lots of people with cover strips that aren't consistently flush and in full contact. For me, I need to have my cover strip in complete flush contact. Better to leave a tiny bead of E6000 at the side edges of the strip, than to completely remove it and have separation.

 

Strapping:

Tandy snaps are the best. Reading other's horror stories, I'd go as far as to say essential. To keep gaps very minimal, keep the snaps very close to the edge of each piece of armour, and make the strapping tight. It will stretch and it’ll always seem like you’re making the strap to short at first. In fact, even then you’ll likely eventually make them shorter. I tried elastic strapping and I hated it. It flexed better, but the gaps were a mess. So, for back to kidney plate to butt, I changed to nylon/no stretch strapping. Nice and tight with almost no gap! I just used flexible straps from the chest to ab. Even those, make them shorter then you think you need them, or you’ll have issues with your chest plat ending up under your ab plate on troops.

 

They’re expensive, but buy lots of extra snaps. Don’t be afraid to scrap and start again on strapping for bits that aren’t cutting it. Likely will be shortening at some point. 

 

Don’t use velcro for anything that has a lot of force, torsion, or will do any pulling away. The only place I have velcro is for my wide white elastic at the shoulder, from my bicep to forearm connection and for my shins. They work great in those applications only. Even then, use the industrial strength velcro and E6000 it to the ABS or to the strap. Don’t rely on the adhesive that’s already on there, especially on the strapping.

 

Armour ABS Thickness:

I have 1.5mm ABS. It’s extremely durable. I don’t worry about it cracking or breaking. I’ve felt others' 1mm ABS armour, and I'd be very nervous with it.

 

Cutting your ABS:

Score and snap is your friend! Again, it’s comfort level with how close your willing to go to the final line. Take your time (can’t stress this enough). A dremel to clean up a line and shape a little I think is very necessary. Then, I use a 180 grit sand paper to smooth, and finish up with an 800 grit to make the edge shiny and smooth.

 

Boots:

You can research and research, and the conclusion that you’ll come to is that Imperial Boots is pretty much it if you want proper high quality boots at the time I’m writing this. The good news is that they are really really good guys and they do an amazing job, and they’re worth the money and wait. On the wait … plan on getting your boots early. You could end up waiting almost a month for an ordering wave, and then another month for processing and shipping. Don’t be sidelined like I was for 2 months because I wasn’t proactive with this. On fitment ... I did the prescribed, order a size bigger. Out of the box they were a tiny bit loose. However, I put in gel insoles, still leaving the original insoles in, and they're absolutely perfect! Wouldn't have them any other way at all.

 

Check out your local fabric store:

You’ll be surprised how much of what you’ll need you’ll find there, and for cheap!!

 

Neck Seal:

Do not buy one that has rigid metal wire running through it. They’re a nightmare and you won’t even be able to look down while putting your armour on without breaking your neck. Buy a completely soft ribbed one only. Learn from my pain. Literally. On another note, does anyone want to buy a wire ribbed neck seal? Special price!

 

Helmet Cooling:

For helmet, like others, I highly recommend dual 5 volt blowers and a usb battery. You can get all of this super cheap on eBay from China. Will last hours on one battery. When the battery is new, charge and discharge it a couple times to make sure it’s not defective. You don’t want a lithium-ion battery lighting on fire when it’s next to your head! Seriously.

 

Audio:

Whatever audio solution you choose, it’s imperative that you have sound dampening in your helmet. All plastic surfaces should be covered. I used sticky back 1/4 inch thick x 3/4 inch wide  foam. This should almost completely eliminate most feedback for most setups. If you still have issues, put a bit of foam inside your chest plate at the top, to prevent sound from coming up into your helmet (thank you BDWC for this tip!).

Lastly, whatever audio solution your pick, it needs to have the static burst after you talk, at a bare minimum. FYI, I use an Aker amp and mic, and the TrooperTalk iPhone app.

 

Blaster:

You’ve spent all this time, effort and money on your armour. Amazing! Now don’t fall short on your blaster! The idea of doing your blaster right can be a bit scary, but you can do it. Actually, if you do it right it can be the most fun part of your custume to make! I did DoopyDoos. It’s an amazing resin casting, it’s cheap, the shipping is fast. They have horrible communication but they get it done. The FISD E-11 Blaster Reference thread is amazing and the build threads by Cable Guy and T-Jay were very important to me too. If you do your blaster right, then you really do feel like you’re back on the movie set in ’77…you’ve gone that last mile on your costume!

 

Thermal Detonator Screws:

What a freaking pain! Did you know that the planet earth pretty much stopped making slotted screws? And for good reason! If you do find a slotted pan-head screw, it’ll likely be a threaded screw—which means the only way to make it hold in the PVC is to glue it. So, after much much searching, I found a slotted wood/metal screw, but it had a domed head—not CRL Lvl 3 kosher. Again, dremel is your friend! I just dremel’d off the dome and made it into a pan-head. You can do this, or you can order 4 screws from somewhere in the UK and wait a month. ;)

 

Start to build with Centurion as the end goal! If you have Lvl 3 on your mind right from the start, you’ll easily get there. I notice that people who don’t start their builds this way, have a harder journey and seem to be a lot less likely to get there. Furthermore, their armour at the basic approval level can tend to be a little bit of a mess, because they've been lone ranger-ing it, and haven't been using Centurion submission photos as their go to. I'm guessing that those who start this way, most often have far better looking armour right from the start...even if they never progress to EIB or Centurion.

 

Hope that something in here helps someone on their journey!

Edited by menschie
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3 hours ago, Twosolitudes said:

Hillman makes pan-headed slotted screws, and I bought mine at Canadian Tire.

Thanks, but they didn’t have them at mine. 

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Excellent write-up, Colin. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. :-)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I must say that this is an excellent summary, and these are many things "I wish I would have known" myself before starting this journey.
As so many of us know, so much is learned during the process of your armor build, and thank you for taking the time to write down your 'lessons learned' to share with the community.

Your tips will be pure gold for any of our new recruits to the white armor ranks!

This is truly what the motto *Troopers helping troopers*, it all about!!

 

(also, thanks for the shout out, and thanks for the collaborative help in the search for the best Trooper Talk app settings :duim:)

Edited by BDWC
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Thanks so much for the very kind words!

 

Jim, I think we've gotten there with TrooperTalk!

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Excellent Insight! I hope some new recruits stumble upon this and find some benefit for it. Well done. 

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7 hours ago, Pretzel said:

Excellent Insight! I hope some new recruits stumble upon this and find some benefit for it. Well done. 

Why not put this in the "getting started-section"?:)

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1 hour ago, TheSwede said:

Why not put this in the "getting started-section"?:)

So many great Ideas. But so many Pinned topics in the getting started section. Can we possibly fit another one!? :laugh1:

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5 hours ago, Pretzel said:

So many great Ideas. But so many Pinned topics in the getting started section. Can we possibly fit another one!? :laugh1:

I guess you`re right:smiley-sw013:

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Very informative!  Spot on, as well.   So much of our builds are what's your comfort zone, and what level outside of that are you willing to push yourself, because you will have to push yourself at some point during your build.  

 

My biggest advise would be to ask questions.  Ask your local TKs, your local GML, ask here- someone has likely run into the same problem you have, and we all started at square one at some point.  

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