[Ansteorra-archery] Tool Dipped heads

William Arwemakere arwemakere at gmail.com
Tue Mar 31 10:05:41 PDT 2009


To answer some questions and observations regarding the use of Tool Dip on
uhmw heads...

Before I begin, a little about me. Some of y'all already know me, either in
person or through the various lists. I am from northern An Tir, mundanely
Vancouver BC. I've been a very active archer and CA for 10 years. Twice
Kingdom Protector of An Tir (like your Royal Huntsman, but combat archery) I
have been referred to as one of the most picky, particular, obsessive people
when it comes to rules, and the construction of my arrows, to the point of
measuring out the tape that goes onto each head. I have constantly trying to
find improvements that I can work into my arrows that are safe, and reduce
the amount of maintenance required. Yes, there are quicker ways of building
a CA arrow, but the proof is in how long they last, and the ease of
reworking them when required.

I did a test batch of 30+ arrows last year, before the side wraps were
required. Those arrows were in use at Gulf, and saw use in 6 more wars last
season. No damage was noticed to the coating. Upon dis assembly (for
reworking heads for the sidewraps) the tape under the coating was in perfect

I am using PlastiDip. I have not decided to go the expense of the UV
stabilised formulation, but I still expect to get 4+ years out of the heads
as they are. I am dipping indoors, with stable temperatures. I tried it
outside on a sunny day, but the clouds came, temps dropped, and the rubber
just clumped and sloughed off the head. The last batch I did (200+ arrows) I
thinned the dip a bit, so the strapping tape down the backside of the blunt
would be "visible". Not thin enough to see the tape, but you can tell that
there is tape there.

I am running 1" of _good quality_ closed cell foam for padding, not blue
camp mats. This is twice the minimum required in An Tir. The foam is taped
down with 3M strapping tape, and the side wrap added after. I do pay more
for the good foam and tape, but what good is saving a few cents per arrow if
you have to re-pad or tape your arrows every 2 years?

For my sidewraps, I am using an EPDM / Neoprene blended gasket material,
backed in pressure sensitive adhesive. 1/8" thick is more than required on a
Lu Shan supplied blunt. The PlastiDip does compress the sidewrap on curing,
so the extra thickness is nice come inspection time; you can still feel that
it's there. The solvents in the dip appear to attack the adhesive on the
sidewrap, so I throw a wrap of electrical tape around it to protect the

I dip my heads and the first 1/2" of the shaft in the PlastiDip, and hang by
the apd to cure. The ambient temperature is important, as if you're too
cold, the rubber will just clump and slough off the head. To thin or too
warm, and you only get a thin coating on the sides, and thicker on the face.
Cure-to-packing time is about 4 hours, but I like overnight to ensure I
don't get one big mass of arrows (trust me on that one!)

One concern I had when starting this project was how hard the heads would
come out. It has been pointed out that the durometer of the PlastiDip is
higher than the Santoprene in a Baldar. That may be true, but this is a
coating perhaps 1mm (0.04") thick on top of 1/2" - 1" of foam. I can
compress my heads under thumb pressure by more than 1/2", can't do that with
a Baldar!

True, the dip does not stick to UHMW, and may not stick to some tapes. That
is acceptable, as it is not used as an assembly component; it is purely
cosmetic and serves to protect the foam and tape underneath from damage. I
had to remove theh coating from last year's samples, and it was tricky at
first. I could not simply peel it off, I had to slice it along it's length,
then peel it off like a banana. The tape and foam underneath were unaffected
by the coating.

In my early testing, I tried to damage the coating by whipping the head
against the unprotected edge of my helm. No damage occurred. Same results
using concrete walls, trees, opposing fighters...

I brought 200 of them to Gulf Wars. It appeared that all the marshallate was
happy with them, Sigfried (DSMCA) gave me his approval for them (not sure if
that's an official approval, or just "I'm okay with it" )

Yes, it adds cost. Yes, it adds time. Will the heads last longer than duct /
electrical tape, most certainly. Do they look good? Yes.

Time to get back to work...

William Arwemakere
 - Arrowslayer
 - Widowmaker
 - Baconeater
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