How to Maintain Your Fencing Gear: The Foil

You can’t find anything wrong with your body cord: There aren’t any breaks in the cable, no overly-compressed pins rattling in the socket receivers, and no cold solder joint on the A clip. Yet you still get that irritating off-target light on blade contact. That means something is loose in the weapon between the tip and the guard, possibly in multiple places.

Whenever your foil has a technical problem, the off-target light fires on blade contact because the circuit in the foil is broken for more than 15 milliseconds. The boxes neither know nor care where or why the break occurs — could be a properly depressed tip on a hit, could be something loose — it sees the break and the off-target light fires.

Without further delay, let’s dive into some of the intricacies of foil repair with plenty of how-to videos!

Fixing Your Foil

Whenever you hand your weapon to an armorer, the very first thing they do is check for something loose. They hold the grip, wiggle the guard, and check the point, socket, or anything that might come loose that can be easily spotted. Sometimes it’s easy: You can feel the parts rattling around like a bean in a maraca. Other times it feels tight, but is actually too loose to function properly.

The pommel nut and the barrel often come loose, but the receiving ports on the sockets also fall victim to this problem. If you suspect that the pommel nut or barrel is loose, don’t wiggle them around more than necessary to confirm your suspicion! If you wiggle them around excessively, you might catch the wire and break it, making a full rewire necessary.

You can learn more about those problems and how to fix them by watching the video below.

A problem that’s harder to diagnose is when the tip comes apart. An experienced armorer can tell it’s coming apart by the feel of the tip as it spins in the barrel, but a newbie might not. Since this is a more challenging problem, make sure you watch the video below to get the information you need.

All of these problems can be fixed with the appropriate wrench. An outside hex or 6mm Allen key for the pommel, a 5mm wrench for the barrel, and an 8mm wrench and flat bladed screwdriver for the sockets.

The main thing to remember when tightening anything is to make sure the wire’s not caught (except on the socket because that’s where it’s supposed to go). The notches in the guard, socket bracket, and nose of the grip are there for a reason, after all.

What’s Next?

Now that we’ve covered the most common foil problems, we’ll turn to epee and saber in the next article.

Does your gear have a problem and you can’t seem to diagnose or fix it? Get in touch with Sam Signorelli at H.O.M. Fencing Supply, headquartered in the Swordplay LA fencing club.

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