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justjoseph63

Return Edges 101 (OTTK)

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                                                                            WARNING:  The following content may be controversial! ;)

 

                                                           DISCLAIMER:  These are my opinions from years of experience, pure and simple

 

Over the years I have noticed many future Troopers doing an OT (Original Trilogy) TK ask about return edges before, during (and after) their build...

If this is a subject that you are curious about, grab a cup of coffee or a tall glass of frosty blue milk (this is a long post, lol) and read on....

 

QUESTION:

"What are they, what do they do, and should I leave them, trim them down some or remove them"?

 

ANSWER:

Return edges are part of the molding process and provide strength in certain areas on the edges of your armor.  They also provide a heftier look to some pieces.  To help you decide whether or not to keep them is why I started this thread.

 

Here I will attempt to go into a few details about them.  Know in advance that as mentioned I personally am NOT a fan of them in many areas for several reasons (listed below).  Some people love them and some may disagree with my opinions... many of you may trooped for years with no problems which is AWESOME, but many folks have had issues and questions.

 

1 In most areas they are not screen accurate-  In looking at the screen caps and film used armor photos below you will notice their scarcity.

 

2 They can (and in many cases will) get very uncomfortable-  Many folks like the "thicker" look it gives their armor, but they can cut into you, especially in the area where your arm bends ("armor bite")  and the groin area (chafing).  As Troopers we do a lot of walking and arm bending carrying a weapon, so keep this in mind. 

 

3 If aiming for higher levels they can cause fitting issuesExamples

A.  If you leave them on your forearm openings and glue on the cover strips, they will need to be completely removed at the wrists for Centurion level, making the opening too wide.  This can lead to you having to remove the cover strips, reduce the sides of the forearms and re-attach the strips.  Quite a pain in the posterior plate to say the least. *** See EXAMPLE 1 below.

B.  If they are overly thick on the bottoms of your shoulder bells, they can prevent them from lying snug against the biceps.

 

4They can cause splits/cracks-  Especially on some armor areas.  ABS is designed to flex, and in some cases a small amount of return edge is fine, but too much can cause stress on those areas. *** See EXAMPLE 2 below  Over time that stress will take it's toll somewhere, and that is usually the return edge.  Anovos armor is especially prone to this on the sides of the chest/back plates and neck openings.  I suggest shimming these on the rear with ABS strips and E-6000 to prevent it. 

 

                                                                                         Let's start with the chest plate:

 

                                        Note how the ones below (including the back plate) have either no or minimal edges with no cracks or splits.

             IqJNHDo.jpg?2            ENc8ot0.jpg?1

 

                                                     Now here is a screen used one with a pretty prominent edge,  Notice the stress crack.

                                                   y7pZ2cH.jpg

 

                                                                                      Now, onto the ab/kidney/back plate:

 

To keep them in line and prevent them from overlapping, it is suggested that you LEAVE a fair amount of the edges on the top/bottoms of the kidney and bottom of the back plate, especially if using the "classic" strapping method.  Yes, these can split/crack as well but not normally.

              pGpYqLi.jpg?1    ChdS8fG.jpg?1

 

                                                                                                       Shoulder Bells

 

Trimming off the entire edge on the bottoms is not only screen accurate (first two photos), it allows them to rest close to the bicep (bottom photo).

 

                                   Third photo shows "suggested" trim lines (red) of an untrimmed bicep.  My recommendation is the blue line.

 

           ROnuICG.jpg?1  Sl4imQF.jpg?2  fkGV8dS.jpg?1

 

                                                       gVPxpOj.jpg

 

                                                                                                     Biceps/forearms

 

For sheer comfort and a sleeker look, I recommend removing ALL of the top and bottom edges before fitting/gluing them.  First, no one sees the tops (covered by the shoulder bell) and the bottoms can cut into your arms (armor bite).  Suggested cut lines in red.  Again, if you do get armor bite you will have to take them both completely apart, remove the edge and re-fit.  Better to think ahead. ;)

            vgfNAEg.jpg?1   2J7JWUj.jpg?1

 

Some (myself included) like to leave a bit of the return edge on the outside of the top of the forearm for a thicker look.  However, I highly suggest removing all from the inside part (the "scoop") where your arm bends.  Again, an armor bite issue.  This should also be done BEFORE final fitting.

 

                                                                                          6eXuxQX.jpg?1     

 

                                                                                         Here are some screen used examples:

            7gruOHg.jpg?1 6LlTuXg.jpg?1  dfNF1kW.jpg?1

 

              For level 3 (Centurion) all of the return edge on the wrist opening must be removed, including the area inside the "hump" as seen below:

 

                                                                                  heVWsKL.jpg?1

 

 

                                                                                                 Posterior (butt) plate:

 

Again, it is suggested that you leave some of the return edge on the top (and bottom in most cases) to keep it from riding under/over the kidney.

 

                                                                  Ue9ATnR.jpg?2

 

Now, the BOTTOM of the posterior plate is where we often find splitting issues.  Should you leave some return edge?  Sure!  BUT(T), when trimming the corners, (see below) be SURE not to give it a sharp angle... this is where the trouble usually starts.  Instead, give it a slightly rounded angle (as shown in green).

 

                                                            wbt1GTb.jpg

 

                                                                                                            Thigh tops

 

The tops of the thighs are where we see a lot of questions.  I recommend removing all the return edges from the entire upper parts, and here is why:

 

As mentioned above, you will be doing a lot of walking.  If you have the edges (or at least a large portion of them) intact, the friction and inside facing angles can really chafe the heck out of you, especially on the inside of the groin area.  (Ouch).  If there are sharp edges/points on the tops (below) these will poke into you.

When trimming these, just follow the existing line.

 

                                                            VpcTP4X.jpg?1

 

Also, if you do your final fitting, glue everything together and find this out afterward, you will have to take the entire thing apart, remove the return edges, trim down the sides and then re-build/glue them back together.  The reason is that afterward the opening will be entirely too large and you will have a giant gap all the way around.  Not a good look.  Easier to do it beforehand, trust me.

 

                                                        As seen below, there were no return edges (or at least minimal ones) used in the films.

 

                                                SLsR5V8.jpg?1     ry8V6AH.jpg?1

 

                                                                                                          Sniper knee plate

 

The bottom of this piece is an area often not trimmed enough.  To allow it to sit flat (or very close to flat) against the top of the calf enough for the glue to adhere properly I suggest removing most if not all of the bottom edge.

 

                                                                       7JYFI6a.jpg

 

 

                                                     Note how in the first and third photos how the sniper knee is parallel to the front of the calf.

                          s62ZnTi.jpg?1  z7RSa5H.jpg?2  IQkzkTi.jpg?1

 

           Last up, a photo that best illustrates my point about return edges and how they were not really present in many places on ANH armor.

 

                                                   lzcsReh.jpg

 

                                     *** Example 1. of what happens when you have to reduce the return edge(s) after attaching cover strips.

 

NOTE:  For the example below I am using an ATA bicep (first 3 photos).  Be aware that ATA makes the "suggested" cut line on their return edges pretty slim (a GREAT thing in my opinion).  As seen on the armor in the 4th photo, if followed, the "suggested" cut line makes the return edges much wider (red line).

 

                                                      Top view                                                                                        Bottom view

             UHRbtto.jpg?1    p55GDqA.jpg?2

 

                                C8bxo1C.jpg     fkGV8dS.jpg?1

 

For the purposes of this tutorial, we will assume that the ATA has those wider suggested return edges.

 

Okay, let's say you really like the thicker look the return edges give your armor, so you left them pretty wide during fitting and then glued on the cover strips.  Enough to get your arm through with a little extra room.  Should be good to go, correct?

 

                                      SkrEZKG.jpg?1    aV6a00b.jpg?1

 

 BUT, you find that after having your arm bent for a while they cut into you (armor bite), so you find you have to reduce or remove most or all of it.  No biggie, right?  Just break out the Lexan scissors or Dremel and cut away, leaving the cover strips attached.  Easy!

 

So you remove it and then you run into the fact that the opening is now enormous.  This is not a good look, and can result in the piece(s) jangling around and not being approvable at higher levels (or even Basic depending on your GML).

 

                                              FhyhtDp.jpg?1  kudpg6r.jpg?1

 

What I am getting at with the above info. is that if you decide to remove them, it's better to do it before final fitting/gluing.

 

Side note:  Many biceps have an unusual shape at the tops (in red, below) normally located on the inside.  This can be completely removed.  Doing this will not affect approval at any level, and is screen accurate.  It sits under the shoulder bell so no one sees it anyway!  :)

 

                                                                                                                                                                             Screen used bicep

                                        ZhIF9UI.jpg   hPArXvJ.jpg

 

USELESS TRIVIA:

Many have asked about the "thumbprint" that many armorers have on the left bicep (screen used example below).  Some think it is so you can tell them apart, but I was speaking with Brian Muir a few years ago (he sculpted the original armor used in ANH) and asked him about it:  "To be honest, I have no idea... it was not in my original sculpt, and must have been a mistake in casting".  There you have it.

 

HaZk9Ih.jpg

 

*** EXAMPLE 2:  What causes cracks/splits:

 

ABS bends pretty well, just as it's designed to.  BUT, when there are return edges involved that changes the game.  For the below example I used a 2 inch wide strip of ABS with a 1/2 inch "return edge".  Looks pretty solid, right?  That's because the edge provides stability.

 

                                                                 lp3oyO9.jpg?1

 

Now I am bending it up/in to simulate use over time.  (More than it normally gets bent in many cases, but only to prove a point).  That stress has got to go somewhere, and it's the return edge that takes it all and gives way, again causing cracks/splits.  

 

The red arrow shows a weak area where the stress in concentrated and cracks can form.  

Even if trimmed off afterward that area will be prone to splitting, so a small shim behind it is suggested.

                                                                 dM1bozh.jpg?1

 

To sum it up, return edges are not meant to bend a lot.  I suggest inspecting your armor occasionally to spot any existing/potential cracks/splits so that you can catch them before they get worse.

 

 

I hope this helps answer any basic questions you may have, and always feel free to ask more detailed ones here or offer differing opinions. 

 

 

 

 

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Bravo!

 

(Pls add to Attache links collection, and make this sticky!)

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Great work Joseph, I'll be adding this to my "check this thread out" list ;) 

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Adding this to our reference links, and may be the Attache Tip for next month. Joseph, thank you for continuing to be an incredible source for so many trooper hopefuls. 

 

edit; I see that it has been done already! Nice! :salute:

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Very helpful thread that I wish I had encountered during construction. I have removed many of my return edges specifically to prevent cracking since I have Anovos armor. That being said, Joseph hit the nail on the head when he said the Anovos armor is prone to cracks in the neck and sides of the back/chest plates. My largest crack is in the neck area as of very recently.

 

I have reinforced it with E6000 on the outside/exterior part of the armor since it is covered from view by the bottom of my helmet and on the interior side with E6000 and a cut bathroom cloth. That being said, would you recommend that I simply remove the return edge altogether to prevent the crack from leaving the return edge and venturing onto the anterior portion of the chest itself (i.e. where it would be much more visible) or do you all think it will hold as is with the abundance of E6000 on both sides? Like I said, I wish I had this thread at my disposal during the build; excellent resource as usual, Joseph!

Edited by Erice3339
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55 minutes ago, Erice3339 said:

I have reinforced it with E6000 on the outside/exterior part of the armor since it is covered from view by the bottom of my helmet and on the interior side with E6000 and a cut bathroom cloth.

Thanks, Eric!  If you have any pics of the reinforcements please feel free to post em' up here!  :duim:

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First I would like to thank you for this thread,  as my armor is new I am still concerned with every scratch and mark like a new car or pair of shoes.  Removing the return edges seems to be good preventative measures to reduce future issues.

 

Is there any exceptions or considerations for reaching higher levels when removing return edges?

 

Without return edges I wonder if some parts will lose their shape,  like the one image of a shoulder bell above that seems a bit warped?

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6 hours ago, justjoseph63 said:

 

Thanks, Eric!  If you have any pics of the reinforcements please feel free to post em' up here!  :duim:

Exterior with Crack and E6000

m6WN9T9.jpg

 

The yellow identifies the largest crack with some surrounding stress marks. The green signifies where the E6000 covering it stops on the outside roughly where the return edge ends. The black line is because I have clumsy fingers...

 

Interior w/ Cloth 

 

GmkPv7G.jpg

 

The gray you see “leaking” out is actually epoxy putty I applied as initial reinforcement to the area prior to any cracks. Obviously, it was insufficient but thought I’d try it on a whim. 

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2 hours ago, husky68 said:

Is there any exceptions or considerations for reaching higher levels when removing return edges?

 

Without return edges I wonder if some parts will lose their shape,  like the one image of a shoulder bell above that seems a bit warped?

If I recall correctly, there is nowhere on the CRL that specifically requires a return edge. In fact, the only mention(s) of return edges are requiring their removal (e.g. distal end of the forearms). 

 

Then again, I know the CRL’s were just updated— specifically the higher levels— so I’d recommend looking it over to be sure.

 

As for the deformation of the shoulder bells, you have to remember that the pictures I think you are referring to are of screen-used bells. Thus, the malformation likely has more to do with the simple fact that the stunt costumes took a beating during filming and less to do with the removal of the return edges. I have never heard of a case wherein removing return edges compromised structural integrity but perhaps Joseph can add better insight on that. 

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7 hours ago, husky68 said:

First I would like to thank you for this thread,  as my armor is new I am still concerned with every scratch and mark like a new car or pair of shoes.  Removing the return edges seems to be good preventative measures to reduce future issues.

 

Is there any exceptions or considerations for reaching higher levels when removing return edges?

 

Without return edges I wonder if some parts will lose their shape,  like the one image of a shoulder bell above that seems a bit warped?

After a few troops, you will get scratches.  This can come from bumping into things and your armor pieces rubbing together when they are in your bin.  For my Stunt and Hero armor I made cloth pouches for each piece to prevent this.  You can/should also line the inside of your armor bin with 1 inch thick foam to help it from being banged around during transport.  For light scuffs, I keep a "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser" pad handy, and for scratches I use the Novus scratch removal polishes.  The two ounce 3 step kit is available online for about 12 bucks.

 

As mentioned above, being a little lot OCD I like to stay as screen accurate (and comfortable) as I can.  When doing a review for higher levels we take into consideration not just the CRL, but screen references (photos) as well, and occasionally we ask that excessive return edges be reduced.

 

As Eric mentioned, those shoulder bells are 40 years old, lol and got banged around a lot.  I personally have never heard of anyone's armor becoming warped, but I suppose it could happen if your bin is stored in a hot place.

 

If you have any questions or concerns (no matter how small) always feel free to ask here on the boards.  When in doubt, ask before cutting, and photos help a LOT.  You are also more than welcome to PM me if you you need advice on your  EI or Centurion application (or anything for that matter).  Hope this helps!

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Thread updated as promised with examples at bottom.

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Awesome post Joseph!! I also would've loved having this during my build, but you answered most of my return edges and trimming questions anyway, so all great advice from the same source. Thank you for being such a great resource of knowledge and help!!

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New content/photos added (***EXAMPLE 2).

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Great work Joseph.

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