Sunday, November 17, 2013

Chalupy makes Chain Mail

Now you all know what chain mail is. You have seen hundreds of movies and TV stuff, assuming you watch TV,  of various mideval or even renaissance shows, all featuring chain mail. But until very recently I had not really given it any thought.  It is all Fluffy's fault. She became enamored of Thor. We all know that Thor is a Nordic godlike figure, currently on his way to becoming a cult. . Coincidentally I had been reading, for the fifth time at least, S. M. Stirling's "Change" novels. Here evil aliens or possibly super-powers destroy the world. Electricity and gunpowder do not work. Hey, fantasy. But the survivors (they are few) have to learn how to make chain mail -- we are back to the middle ages or worse. So how do you make chain mail, anyway? I got curious. I was hooked.

There is an enormous amount of stuff on YouTube and the internet  in general on the subject. It is an active subject to say the least. For this reason I will not bore you with details. But it is a skill like any other; takes some time to acquire. Now chain mail is all about rings, right? So my first try involved making some rings. Now the YouTube and other stuff suggests that you make your stuff out of 13mm (1/2 " RGU)  wide links. So I happened to have a such an animal in my scrap repertoire. I also had a  bunch of salvaged copper wire. So I followed the YouTube directions. I did not use the jigs they recommend, nor will I.
 Instead I chucked my 13 mm rod in the lathe. I disconnected the belt, because I am afraid of taking an eye out by powering it. I wound a bunch of 12 gauge wire (salvaged, of course) onto it. The rod is called a mandrel, by the way.

Next, the thing is cut into rings , for which you really need bolt cutters. Available at any Home Depot or Lowe's. Next thing to do is to assemble the rings intto mail  I am using a four-on-one pattern. You will find very clear directions on the 'net. The only thing I will add to that is that it is a lot like weaving. One mistake in a weave and you ruin the whole thing! It took me a couple of weeks to get the hang of it  But at the end I had quite a creditable section of chain mail. In copper (salvaged) wire, of course. This is Thor's armband, and it will eventually be a circle, because Thor, of course, has scale mail. As the Romans called it, she wears a Lorica squamata. (Tunic of scale mail). But the ends of her Lorica can be chain mail.

The tooling is really minimal. You need a couple of pliers for the stuff shown here. That's it. And, of course, bolt cutters and a mandrel of course. The YouTube videos show people making mail out of 14 Gauge fence wire. But I can already tell you this: if you make a complete hauberk out of steel wire you are entitled to charge $1000 (in today's devalued dollar) for it. It is reallly grunt work.

To say more would give my whole Christmas gig away. Sorry. You are all geting chain mail stuff, but not  Fluffy. I just exhibited your mail. You get something else.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The End of fall

A few weeks ago, we had torrential rain. We were flooded. We had to pump out the basement.
Fluffy is standing in on Basargin road, wearing my Extra-Tuff boots (tm), also known as Sitka Slippers. Marvellous things, highly recommended. Especially if you live in the Panhandle (Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, ... ). But I did not think you needed Willow Waders! Surprise. It's Alaska. The weather is, well, highly variable.
Our driveway was a little better. But not much. Actually this is "Basargin Loop" which is not a loop. Maybe it was a loop on the plans of the Village. My driveway goes off it. But since I have to get out of this loop, it might as well be my driveway. Technically it's a "private road". The Beneficient State of Alaska does not plow here. The weather allowed enough time for the tout ensemble to freeze up. Fortunately. And at long last.

On Sunday, actually Saturday night, it started to snow. Or maybe rain. Or both. One of those borderline situations. So my daughter was out here and John and Fluffy in Anchorage, and my daughter had to go to work on Monday. Hmm. By noon there was 10 cm snow. Not enough to block getting out, but enough to worry about. So we piled into her car -- Princess, a super Volvo --and drove to Anchorage. Princess is superb. I wish I had a Volvo. But not a Princess. What I want is a Valp. But due to our over-regulated existence, I can not get one legally in the USA. A pox on all governments. When we passed Big Lake it was raining and not snowing. That night it snowed and snowed. Next morning John and Fluffy went out and decided that Anchorage was impassable. I think the Glenn Highway must have been disasterville. So we stayed over.

Tuesday we started back. The roads were passable. We drove John's car Brutus, a Ford Explorer 4WD. It has really good ground clearance. I might not have made it in Vicky the Vitara. When we got here we had quite a sight.

As far as I can tell we are still 10 cm on the snowpole. This shot is south of the house. I took it today, so my ski tracks show. I can ski again! Oh joy. But the house was literally freezing (0C). so the first thing I did was to light off the heat. My oil stove dates from the flood -- brought over by the pilgrims. I love it. No moving parts. No electricity needed. No thermostat, either. If you are too cold, turn it up. Or build a fire in the stove. So by evening it was 11C in the house; much better than 0C.

Today John and Fluffy blew out the driveway.
The snow splitter is doing its job. It provides, as a bonus, a lovely place to put your skis on. It was wonderful to ski again. I love to ski. My hands froze, of course. I did not go far but I propose to take things easy at first. I would much rather ski than walk. But you can't overdo it. Not at my age, anyway.

 It is supposed to precipitate today. But this is Alaska. What the weather will do is out of human control. We will see what happens tonight.