Several recent posts discuss lubricating tips and I would like to
contribute my thoughts to this matter.
Three individuals whom I consider vastly more knowledgeable about fencing
equipment than I (Dan DeChaine -- US armourer/techinician extraordinaire,
armourer to countless US Olympic and World Championship teams, member of
the S.E.M.I. Commission; Herbert Vogelmann -- armourer to the 1994 German
World Championship team; and Frank Messemer -- of AllStar/Uhlmann) all
recommend *against* lubricating the tip.
1. Certain substances (e.g., oil) will act as insulators and, in epee,
prevent the proper contact of the pins in the point with the contact
2. Other substances (e.g., graphite) will act as conductors and, in foil,
never allow the proper opening of the circuit when the point is depressed.
3. The lubricant may, with time, merge with the dust and other particles
that normally accumulate in the barrel, and this will create a kind of
that may prove very difficult to clean.
Thus keeping the point clean of any extraneous matter is the preferred
As for a smoothly working tip, here are a few things to check:
a. Is the barrel deformed?
b. Is the point deformed?
(The above problems can be fixed, but for most the easiest course of
is to replace the parts.)
c. Is the interior of the barrel rough?
AllStar/Uhlmann sells reamers, which are like drill bits, that precisely
fit the interiors
of the German foil or epee barrels. Use these to shave any unwanted metal
from the barrel. Then use sandpaper to smooth the inside of the barrel:
roll a short
piece of sandpaper and buff the barrel using *in-and-out* strokes (because
how the point will travel in the barrel). I use sandpaper grades 320
(fine), then 400
(extra fine), then 600 (ultrafine) to get the best effect. I don't think
France-Lames sell the above-mentioned reamers for French barrels, but
one can find a drill bit that will fit.
d. For epeeists: check the integrity of the screws and the***slots in
Sometimes the screws and/or the slots they travel in get bashed and this
the point from sliding freely within the barrel. If necessary, replace
the screws or use
a small file or some sandpaper to repair the slots.
I have also read on rsf a recommendation to heat springs in order to
temper them properly, i.e., so they're not too strong. While someone who
has had a lot of practice at this can do a consistent job, others can
overheat springs and thus make them too weak to use. A far more reliable
method is to clip the spring, 1/8 or 1/4 turn at a time until the proper
strength is reached. Don't forget to give yourself some leeway: For foil
the weight tolerance is +or- 2 grams and for epee it is +or- 3 grams. So,
if you set your epee for 750g exactly and present at the strip where the
official weight is 753g exactly you get a card, yellow or even red.