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Football reconditioners or repair places?

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Since Team Wendy is not retrofitting chest protectors anymore, I find it hard to believe that there is not another company in the USA who can't make a low profile pad for a chest protector. Are there any football equipment reconditioners or local sports equipment repair places willing to do it? 

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Surely there are, @mbkcoach, but they don't advertise it. Insurance underwriters and lawyers circle like buzzards above their heads, because while you will likely not sue if the reconditioned / rebuilt gear "fails" you, all it takes is the parent of an injured amateur athlete and they're finished.

Two such outfits I know for certain are in the Great Lakes region – one in Chicago (northern Illinois), the other in Milwaukee. I worked a summer "kid" job at the Milwaukee place one summer in high school. One benefit was that I got the hook-up on all the latest football facemasks for our Varsity football team. All the "bada$$" facemasks major universities and NFL teams had, we had. Also, I picked out my shoulder pads and my QB's shoulder pads specifically for our positions (I was a WR, PR, KR) rather than taking whatever was there on the rack in our high school equipment cage. Years later, this came in handy when my youngest brother was gunning to be an All-state QB, and not only needed shoulder pads that allowed him to throw unencumbered, but also fit a rib-protecting flak jacket. Turns out that the shop called north to Green Bay and had one of the "spares" sitting around for Brett Favre sent down and fitted out for my brother.

This place handled all the gear maintenance – repair, reconditioning, cleaning, refitting – for all of the professional teams and universities and colleges in Milwaukee. When the Bucks acquired a new player, you could expect to see their jerseys being configured that night on one of the work tables in that shop.

So here's what I would recommend – you could approach one of these two places (I can supply their names in a PM) directly and discreetly, or casually inquire with one of your regional high schools or colleges (especially if they have a football, hockey, or baseball team) as to who does their equipment reconditioning. Then, approach that shop personally, explaining up front who you are, what you are (an umpire), and for what purposes you are requesting their work. Go in with a plan, even just sketched up on some basic notepad paper (I am willing to work with you on this), because while some of these folks are pretty engineering and imaginative, they don't have free time, or time to give you to innovate or trial solutions.

I would also heavily recommend going in there with the necessary materials already, or otherwise indicated. Granted, they might have a wicking material available in their shop for just this purpose, in bulk, so it's kind of silly to try and get 2 yards of it from Jo-Ann fabric (you might have to, but that's beside the point). But I would point out they will not have the foam you want. If you were to say, "Make me a new foam vest for this CP", you'll end up with sofa cushion foam, right back where you started. Instead, go in with a plan, not only for the design, but for how/where to get the materials you want. If the shop reconditions and repairs Schutt shoulderpads, ask about how they would get replacement D3O foam (D3O is the TPU-EVA foam Schutt uses in their helmets and shoulderpads, and is in the XV CP).

What this shop will have is craftsmanship and sewing machines, fasteners, and tools to produce a top-notch piece of gear. What they won't have is time, and while civil, they won't have patience. They are operating on the tightest of budgets in a very unglamorous industry, for clients (athletic programs) who don't like to hear of, or pay for, delays or unsolvable problems.

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1 hour ago, MadMax said:

Surely there are, @mbkcoach, but they don't advertise it. Insurance underwriters and lawyers circle like buzzards above their heads, because while you will likely not sue if the reconditioned / rebuilt gear "fails" you, all it takes is the parent of an injured amateur athlete and they're finished.

Two such outfits I know for certain are in the Great Lakes region – one in Chicago (northern Illinois), the other in Milwaukee. I worked a summer "kid" job at the Milwaukee place one summer in high school. One benefit was that I got the hook-up on all the latest football facemasks for our Varsity football team. All the "bada$$" facemasks major universities and NFL teams had, we had. Also, I picked out my shoulder pads and my QB's shoulder pads specifically for our positions (I was a WR, PR, KR) rather than taking whatever was there on the rack in our high school equipment cage. Years later, this came in handy when my youngest brother was gunning to be an All-state QB, and not only needed shoulder pads that allowed him to throw unencumbered, but also fit a rib-protecting flak jacket. Turns out that the shop called north to Green Bay and had one of the "spares" sitting around for Brett Favre sent down and fitted out for my brother.

This place handled all the gear maintenance – repair, reconditioning, cleaning, refitting – for all of the professional teams and universities and colleges in Milwaukee. When the Bucks acquired a new player, you could expect to see their jerseys being configured that night on one of the work tables in that shop.

So here's what I would recommend – you could approach one of these two places (I can supply their names in a PM) directly and discreetly, or casually inquire with one of your regional high schools or colleges (especially if they have a football, hockey, or baseball team) as to who does their equipment reconditioning. Then, approach that shop personally, explaining up front who you are, what you are (an umpire), and for what purposes you are requesting their work. Go in with a plan, even just sketched up on some basic notepad paper (I am willing to work with you on this), because while some of these folks are pretty engineering and imaginative, they don't have free time, or time to give you to innovate or trial solutions.

I would also heavily recommend going in there with the necessary materials already, or otherwise indicated. Granted, they might have a wicking material available in their shop for just this purpose, in bulk, so it's kind of silly to try and get 2 yards of it from Jo-Ann fabric (you might have to, but that's beside the point). But I would point out they will not have the foam you want. If you were to say, "Make me a new foam vest for this CP", you'll end up with sofa cushion foam, right back where you started. Instead, go in with a plan, not only for the design, but for how/where to get the materials you want. If the shop reconditions and repairs Schutt shoulderpads, ask about how they would get replacement D3O foam (D3O is the TPU-EVA foam Schutt uses in their helmets and shoulderpads, and is in the XV CP).

What this shop will have is craftsmanship and sewing machines, fasteners, and tools to produce a top-notch piece of gear. What they won't have is time, and while civil, they won't have patience. They are operating on the tightest of budgets in a very unglamorous industry, for clients (athletic programs) who don't like to hear of, or pay for, delays or unsolvable problems.

Hey Max, where would be a good place to get a quality piece of foam if one were to have one made? Also, What types do you recommend that is readily available for purchase, being that we can't hop on Amazon and order a sheet of zorbium?

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I have actually been talking to a foam manufacturer about a laminate foam that I  am very excited about. I hope to hear back from them this coming week and hopefully receiving a large enough sample to make a replacement padding test piece from. 

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One of the reasons I like, and trust Team Wendy gear is the science and testing that went along with the Zorbium®  padding.

Not sure if going down the local fabric store, or auto upholstery supplier is going to give anyone the same level of trust. I do understand the wanting to do this, but do think this through (along with any liability issues that may arise down the road if you wish to market safety gear).

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This particular company has a  unique foam that is already being used as  impact protective padding in other sports & activities. They  have partner companies that use their products and some of these companies we would recognize, My hope is to push this thru them to one of their partner companies. They have been intrigued enough to want a second conversation.

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I'm intrigued to hear what transpires from your work, @midtnump, and admire what you're undertaking.

Another opportunity struck me as an idea the other day. Perhaps we could license and source Zorbium from or thru Team Wendys. We'd need an arrangement and contract negotiated by a lawyer, such as @lawump, that likely details we would need X quantity, with Y liability, and that we would not re-market, resell, or resupply it to anyone else. Also, that we would not produce any products that are in competition to products that TW currently produces or has interest in producing. We might be able to persuade them, over time, to take the mask pads production off their hands.

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@MadMax, I have a scheduled time to speak to them on Wednesday. I would love to get a sample and fit it to one of my cp's and go stand in front of the pitching machine and get a real world test. They already do impact engineering and for their products. Again they are already making protective padding for other sports and activities. Snow skiing protective body armor is one example. If it will protect you in a  50+ mph wipeout, then I think it may work for us. They are evidently big in the shoe insole and protective shoe line and have an impressive partner list, of which New Balance is one. My goal is simply to convince them that there is a market that isn't being fully served and see if they are willing to recognize the opportunity and pursue it themselves or discuss with one of their partner companies that is already setup to manufacture sports equipment. Companies usually don't listen to the little guy, but they will listen to their suppliers. 

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9 minutes ago, midtnump said:

@MadMax, I have a scheduled time to speak to them on Wednesday. I would love to get a sample and fit it to one of my cp's and go stand in front of the pitching machine and get a real world test. They already do impact engineering and for their products. Again they are already making protective padding for other sports and activities. Snow skiing protective body armor is one example. If it will protect you in a  50+ mph wipeout, then I think it may work for us. They are evidently big in the shoe insole and protective shoe line and have an impressive partner list, of which New Balance is one. My goal is simply to convince them that there is a market that isn't being fully served and see if they are willing to recognize the opportunity and pursue it themselves or discuss with one of their partner companies that is already setup to manufacture sports equipment. Companies usually don't listen to the little guy, but they will listen to their suppliers. 

Impressive what you are doing. Awesome!

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1 hour ago, midtnump said:

@MadMax, I have a scheduled time to speak to them on Wednesday. I would love to get a sample and fit it to one of my cp's and go stand in front of the pitching machine and get a real world test. They already do impact engineering and for their products. Again they are already making protective padding for other sports and activities. Snow skiing protective body armor is one example. If it will protect you in a  50+ mph wipeout, then I think it may work for us. They are evidently big in the shoe insole and protective shoe line and have an impressive partner list, of which New Balance is one. My goal is simply to convince them that there is a market that isn't being fully served and see if they are willing to recognize the opportunity and pursue it themselves or discuss with one of their partner companies that is already setup to manufacture sports equipment. Companies usually don't listen to the little guy, but they will listen to their suppliers. 

Don't suck! :lol:

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Remember, @midtnump, working to our advantage is that we have (or should have) hardshell carapace plates that take most of the abuse. The foam(s) is/are there for energy absorption. What we also require is ventilation, so be receptive to ideas on laminates of different foams and moisture-transportation fabrics.

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Update,  I just had a receptive conversation with this company sales engineer.  I am now awaiting shipment of two sample pieces that I can retrofit to my cp and do some live fire testing. That is all for now.... 

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44 minutes ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

Was this rep receptive in the possibility of expanding this service?  Please keep us posted.

They are the  foam manufacturer. There are several companies already buying their foam and making protective products for other sports, snow skiing is one of them. They seem to be confident in their product and are sending me two different samples at their expense. I learned today that there is a glove manuf. that is using their product for added hand impact protection in their gloves. I am patiently waiting for the delivery and then cut the material to fit my cp and get in front of a pitching machine. IF the results are good than see if those folks are willing to expand their service. The hardest thing to know at this point, is how many units they could expect to build in a 6 month or 12 month period. Any manufacturer will ask this question.

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8 hours ago, midtnump said:

Just received a shipping number, sample material due to arrive 8/7.

 

Aren't we all!

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11 hours ago, midtnump said:

:lol::lol: LMAO!

Oddly enough... I was actually able to use the same video clip on two different threads in a 15 minute period. I was quite pleased with myself. 

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I received the sample material yesterday. Made a template of my existing cp padding and will be cutting out the material soon. 

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20 minutes ago, midtnump said:

I received the sample material yesterday. Made a template of my existing cp padding and will be cutting out the material soon. 

Just curious how you are going to encase it in whatever fabric you are going to use? Looking at the pads on my Wilsons, it seems like the nylon is bonded to the foam. I was thinking that maybe a spray adhesive would be best to bond the fabric to it?

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5 hours ago, blue32 said:

Just curious how you are going to encase it in whatever fabric you are going to use? Looking at the pads on my Wilsons, it seems like the nylon is bonded to the foam. I was thinking that maybe a spray adhesive would be best to bond the fabric to it?

I am seeking out the fabric now. I am also emailing the tech folks to see if the foam can have glue applied to it and what type. I will try to use a ribbon, edging sewen around the perimeter to hold the fabric. For the sample piece, I am wanting to velcro the padding to the plates instead of trying to sew the velcro straps on the foam  to place thru the slots in the plates. 

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@midtnump, you'll want to consult a hobby store or upholstery shop. A knowledgeable staffer at a hobby store (craft supply) will get you onto a sprayable adhesive that will create a bond without reacting with or affecting the foam and/or technical fabric. There may even be sheets of it as a film... you lay the foam down flat, peel the backing off the adhesive sheet, then lay it down, roll it to press it (with a laminate roller), then pull the other backing off, ready to bond the technical fabric. A sheet will be more consistent and less mess, but it will create a vapor barrier between the fabric and the foam.

I recommend getting two fabrics. On the body contact side, this is where you'll want to concentrate your efforts on finding a technical, wicking fabric that will get heat and moisture off your body, but yet won't chafe (like nylon does). On the outboard side, get an open-lattice (looks like netting) structural mesh. Strong enough to encase the foam, but open enough to provide excellent ventilation.

As far as including the anchor straps (those velcro tabs that insert and fasten the foam vest to the carapace plates), here's where you lean on that lattice mesh. This takes some measuring and mapping. For further advice / ideas, contact me... it's kinda tough to explain in a typed posting.

I have a chunk of D3O arrayed in a layered system, as a cross section, to show you... but I have to find it in my boxes. I'll post it soon.

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8 hours ago, MadMax said:

A sheet will be more consistent and less mess, but it will create a vapor barrier between the fabric and the foam.

Would it be possible/practical to cut ventilation holes in the sheet prior to applying? Might cost some in the adhesion department, but also might serve to reduce the vapor barrier effect?

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3 minutes ago, Maineac said:

Would it be possible/practical to cut ventilation holes in the sheet prior to applying? Might cost some in the adhesion department, but also might serve to reduce the vapor barrier effect?

I've often wondered about this even with an old Platinum pad.  Would it hurt anything to drill (hot awl) some ventilation into the padding?  I mean, Schutt has them in the padding and even the plates are like swiss cheese :) for aeration!

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