Great bascinet project
I've taken a few swings at making a King Renee style great bascinet, because they look cool, and appear to give a great balance of protection, vision, and authenticity, yet you hardly ever see reenactors using them. I think there are a few reasons for that.
1. They're pretty difficult to make.
2. People are easily pleased with less accurate, easier to build helmets that don't really look all that much like these.
3. There's some concern about head mobility and being able to feel shots. I really don't know if either of those concerns is warranted, but fighting in this might tell me.
I collected my research pictures over on Pinterest here.
I've thrown out the sad evidence of my first attempt. I decided to raise the whole thing and managed to punch a hole though it because I really didn't know what the hell I was doing.
The second attempt is still lurking in my shop, but may never see the light of day because it was both colossally large, and a colossal failure. I tried measuring all kinds of things, but they didn't get me in the right size ball park. This one too, was a raising attempt, and I had a better feel for raising by the time I embarked on it, but because it was so big, by the time I got it to be vaguely helmet shaped, the edges were something like 10 gauge, and emphatically refused to move any more.
So behold, take three, which is a raised/dished/welded combo, done in 410. I started with a slightly oval disk in 13 gauge, which I dished and raised into the main bowl of the skull. The process pics start in the bottom right and progress to the top left for some reason. The pic in the bottom left is a template I used to gauge the depth.
It took a long time, a ton of gas, and a lot of sweat. I trust my TIG welding skills more now, so my next rendition of this will probably use a two or four piece bowl. I welded on the tail and formed the bevor here:
Because I'm doing this in 410, which hardens after any hot work, I had to anneal this a couple times to get it to this state. Some of the planishing is just too difficult to do well hot, and if it's not annealed, the steel is too hard to do it cold. Some really impressive armourers, like Eric Dube really don't work in spring steel at all, or like Wade Allen, work in 1050 and don't always even heat treat their work. I'm considering spending some time working in mild steel like Eric, or going back to 4130 like John Gruber prefers for a while to improve my skills and make some neat pieces.
In the illustrations it's not obvious how the bevor and the visor come together exactly. There's a hinge that seems a little unnecessary, but it's in all but a couple of the extant great bascinets, and the visors of the side mounted regular bascinet visors. Why not just rivet the visor straight to the helmet? This approach does allow you to swap in different face plates, but it's a lot harder to get everything to come together just right. The other thing you'll notice is that the forehead part of the face plate and the chin part don't all attach together in one pivot point in the extant examples, so I screwed that detail up.
I don't like the hinge. Next one needs at least one more knuckle, probably two, which would be easier if I start using real cut off wheels instead of just grabbing another grinding wheel from the crate my dad gave me back in the 1990s. I think it would be easier to place the hole in the helmet after the visor is shaped, rather than while I'm figuring it all out. Because I punched those pivots early, I ended up welding some awkward extensions into the top of the visor, and the knuckles of the hinge are a mass of little welds. They ground down OK, but it could have been far easier and more elegant.
I decided to weld the vertical bars on, hoping it would be a cleaner look. The illustration lacks detail on how the artist thinks the originals were done, though honestly they were probably all riveted. To get a roughly equal spacing between the bars as they arc out, each bar has to have some bend to it, so the flat patterns for the outer bars are all C shaped. I don't find that as aesthetically pleasing, so I tried to keep that as subtle as I could.