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Rewiring Epee Blades

Re-Wiring Epee Blades

Materials Needed:

  1. 1. Old hacksaw blade, Dremel tool with thin cut-off disc, or knife blade to remove old wire
  2. 2. Triangular needle file
  3. 3. 1.8 mm slotted screwdriver or the equivalent
  4. 4. New epee wire
  5. 5. Epee point setter
  6. 6. Thin cyanoacrylate glue
  7. 7. Bending jig
  8. 8. Epee shims: 0.50 mm and 1.5 mm shims

Clean the Blade

Unscrew the complete point, and pull as much wire out of the groove as possible.  Then clean the blade groove of all bits of old wire and glue by using an old hacksaw blade, a Dremel tool with a cut-off disc, or knife.  Some people soak the blade in acetone to dissolve the old glue.  If the blade is new, all oil and grease also must be chemically removed.

Prepare the Groove

using a triangular file, open the groove at the tip end of the blade so the wires will pass easily into the blade groove without damaging their insulation

Disassemble the Point

be sure not to lose the parts (tip, pressure spring, tip screws).  Using a magnetized screwdriver, disassemble the point over a white towel helps minimize the loss of parts.

Push out the old contact and insulating cap using a heavy straight pin.  With some of the French contacts, there is also a spacing ring which must be removed.

Straighten the Wire

unwrap the new wire and straighten any kinks that it might have.  Be sure to remove any twists.

Insert the Wire into the Barrel

only insert 2" of the wire through the front of the barrel, making sure that the wire lies in the blade groove, before screwing the barrel onto the blade.  If either wire gets caught or cut, you will still be able to use the wire; if you have pulled both wires completely through the barrel before tightening it, and one gets cut, you will have to buy a new wire.  Some people, to minimize future problems with the barrel loosening, use a drop of medium strength thread locker (e.g., medium strength Locktite®) on the barrel threads.

Tighten the Barrel

using appropriate wrenches, tighten the barrel onto the blade, making sure that the wire can slide easily back and forth through the barrel.  Over-tightening the barrel will cause it to split.

Seat the Contact in the Barrel

gently pull the wires through the barrel until the contact sits flush with the front of the barrel.  Then with the point setter, gently push the contact into the barrel while simultaneously pulling gently on the wires to keep them straight.  Keeping the wire straight minimizes the chances of a kink developing which will later cause an unwanted short.  Be sure the contact and its insulating cup are firmly seated at the bottom of the barrel. 

Optional Step

some people reassemble the point at this point if there is a fear of losing the point's parts, but if you are using a cyanoacrylate glue (e.g., Crazy Glue), reassembling the tip is best left until later.

Laying the Wire

lay the wires in the blade groove, keeping them parallel.  Put minimal tension on the wire – just enough to keep the wires straight – and then wrap the excess wire back over itself, using the tang threads to hold the wire in place while gluing.

Tensioning the Wire

using a gluing jig, tension the blade so there is about an 8" bow in it.  This will also keep the wire to the bottom of the blade groove.

Glue the Wire

while holding the tang of the blade upward, place one drop of a thin cyanoacrylate glue ¼" below the blade's forte-tang junction.  You may have to hold the wires against the bottom of the groove with a small screwdriver.  You can watch the cyanoacrylate "wick" its way along the wire.  After the glue has set, reverse the position of the blade so the tip is upward and repeat the process.  To avoid having the cyanoacrylate wick into your point by place the first drop ½" below the barrel.  Continue to glue the wire, one drop at a time, until the entire wire has been covered.  Using a tissue, rapidly wipe the blade groove to remove any excess cyanoacrylate hastening the setting time (usually less than a minute).  Some people, to add additional strength, "top coat" the wires with a coat of cyanoacrylate.

Check the Gluing Job

remove the gluing jig, and "reverse bend the blade," so that the blade groove is on the inside of curve.  Any unglued portions of the wires will reveal themselves by popping out of the blade groove.  If necessary, re-insert the blade into the gluing jig, and re-glue those spots using a minimum of glue.  Remember, the thinner the layer of cyanoacrylate glue used, the better it holds.  Again, rapidly wiping the re-glued area with a tissue to hasten its curing time. 

Install "Spaghetti" Insulation

using a file, knife, or sandpaper remove the insulation from the tang ends of the wires, leaving 2"-3" of the wire's insulation closest to the tang intact.  Remember, many wires (especially the German) have a clear coat of insulation beneath the cloth wrapping, which must be removed to achieve an electrical connection.  Inert the ends of the un-insulated wires through 4" pieces of "spaghetti" tubing and move them to the forte-tang juncture.

Reassemble the Point

it is easiest to calibrate the "travel" of an epee point without the pressure spring in the barrel.  Connect the two wires to a test device (e.g., ohmmeter, light box) – or assemble the epee -- and test the functioning of the epee.  If, when the point is depressed, there is no indication of a completed circuit, the contact spring needs to be lengthened.  If there is a closed circuit, use the 0.50 mm shim to test the travel.  Once you are satisfied that the travel is where you want it, reassemble the tip.  You may want to replace the pressure spring to minimize the number of times you have to open tip.