How to fix a lame 5 simple stepsIf you fence foil or sabre long enough you learned that fencing lames fail, and that this can happen in just 1 day.  But before you buy a new lame, let’s step back for a moment to realize that you still can resurrect your broken one.  If you are doing this for your child’s lame then you can actually turn it into a fun project as well as a lesson in basic physics.

Step 1: Find all the dead spots on your lame

Chances are you not armorer and that your father is not a hardware engineer at Intel that can grant you an access to resistance/conductivity testing equipment. So you’ve got to find a different way and rely on your weapon to do that.

Ask for your coach’s permission to spend few extra minutes on the fencing floor testing your lame, then complete the following steps:

  1. Set the scoring machine to the foil mode.
  2. On both sides of the strip connect foils to their reels.
  3. Lay your lame with its back on the floor near one reel and connect the respective body cord’s alligator clip to it.
  4. With the foil on other side of the strip go and test your lame for dead spots.
  5. Once you discover a dead spot, mark it with a marker, including the boundaries of this spot.
  6. Move on to other parts of your lame until you’ve successfully identified all of the dead spots.
  7. Turn the lame onto its other side, and repeat the same process.

Step 2: Finding lame patch that works

Here comes a really fun part – finding an old lame to patch these dead spots. Here are some ideas about where you might find one:

  1. Nostalgia: Go look through those memory boxes for your first lame that was broken ages ago and that you kept as memorabilia, with a secret plan to sell it on eBay after you become an Olympic champion (if Michael Jordan’s old sneakers can have a go on eBay, why not your lame – right?).
    1. My perspective: If your first lame is so near and dear to your heart that you want to keep it as a family relic, then I have absolutely no say in that. If however you do plan to become an Olympic champion and want to make a fortune later down the line by selling it on eBay, I would argue that the money you save on fixing your current lame probably will beat the money you will be able to charge later on. But who knows?
  2. Fellow Fencer: You look around and realize that you don’t have an old broken lame because you disposed of it before you read this incredibly valuable blog post. You do, however, know of someone that still keeps hers!  If your friend does agree to part with that old lame, be fair and compensate her with the knowledge of what she can do with her own lame once it is broken. That’s a fair trade, isn’t it?
  3. Considerate Coach: Neither you nor your friends have an old lame – either you all live minimalist lives and immediately throw away every scrap or you are so unlucky as to be one of the first in your club to notice dead spots on your lame. Now for an astounding revelation in human psychology: all fencing coaches keep some old broken lames in their back closet!
    1. They’re there to find. Trust me, if your coach happened to come from ex-Soviet Union they remember the times when fencing equipment was given to coaches and fencers only on very special occasions. They still remember how to create a perfect electric foil from a piece of iron water pipe! Those old habits die hard and you can count on them keeping a few dead lames somewhere in a box (FYI I don’t even want to go on what else you will find in this box).
    2. Practice in your persuasion skills. We already wrote before on the numerous advantages of fencing, but here’s a bonus one: you will learn the art of persuasion. You need to get your coach to a) admit that they have a broken lame somewhere; b) voluntarily give it to you; c) to not ask any favor in return, like fixing all of the body cords in the armory.
    3. This persuasion skill is developed only by fencers of right-of-way, while epee fencers continue to be brutally blunt.

Step 3: Patching your lame

If you survived until this step (first reading this post and then actually going through all of the suggestions), congratulations! You can even pat yourself on the back for deciding to spend all this effort during the weekend and saving some money for a college fund.

OK, now armed with an old lame go back to step 1 and mark all the dead zones on it. You will need to avoid these areas when making your patches. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Back now?

For each dead spot on the lame you want to fix, draw the shape on that found lame that covers them entirely.  My recommendation is to make the patch rectangular in shape, leaving an additional ½ inch at least from each side of the rectangle and cutting accordingly.

(Side note: I personally love simple rectangular shapes for my patches. However, here you can give an expression to your art nature. Want to have a patch that looks like a star? Go for it! Feel even more creative and want to have it in a shape of a unicorn? Nothing can stop you!)

Before you sew the patch to your lame, fold those half inch edges that you left around the patch piece towards the inside such that the connection of the metal wires in the patch will create uninterrupted conductivity. Now see how you can use your knowledge of electricity?

When you’re done you might notice that the patchy lame looks a bit well, eccentric. But don’t worry! The fencing community is known to be very accepting of this kind of weirdness, so never fear, you will feel right home.

Good luck with this project! And please, you can send me pictures of your creations!