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Robert Fenwick Elliott 2005-2007















CAD image of shaft during design

The Shaft

Our standard shaft is fabricated from epoxy carbon composite (sometimes referred to as graphite) in matched metal tooling.

To obtain the best combination of strength, stiffness, resistance to torque and speed of restitution we use a carbon-braided sleeving with a glass under-layer. The braid is designed to have a higher braid angle in the neck of the shaft that becomes lower as it nears the top of the handle, this gives the shaft a different flex along its length, so as to give the perfect combination of stability and comfort. The epoxy resin is inducted through a hybrid RTM pressure bag technique that gives excellent surfaces and keeps the amount of resin used to a minimum; this is a desirable to keep the overall weight of the shaft as low as possible. The shaft is a fraction of the weight of a traditional shaft. The shaft is finished in two-pack PU for durability.

Unlike other shafts available, the shaft is profiled all the way down to the head: this means that the shaft can be comfortably and informatively gripped for any shot from stop shot through to pass roll. The shaft can be cut to more or less any sensible length.

Alignment splineThe shaft is removable from the head with an Allen key (supplied).  In order to assist in making sure that the shaft goes back at the same angle as before, there is a pair of alignment splines at the top of the shank that engage in small notches in the head.

Our alternative Soft Shaft

From early 2010, we have also offered a softer alternative, made with glass fibres instead of carbon fibres, and with a lay break, as used in baseball bats, to reduce the transmission of shock waves from ball impact to hand.

These shafts are recommended for the relatively few people who suffer from tennis elbow, or from particularly sensitive wrists. See news page for 30th January 2010.

Length

mallet

The shafts can be cut to any length from about 30" to about 42".  When you order a shaft, you will be asked what length you want, and it will arrive ready cut.  Specify whatever length you like using any other mallet, taking the length (traditionally in inches, but we can cope with metric if you prefer) from the bottom of the head to the top of the shaft.  If you later decide that you want to reduce the length of your shaft, here is the procedure:

  • Remove the grip, starting at the bottom.

  • Cut off the unwanted part off the top of the shaft.  The shaft is hollow, and more or less any fine hand saw will do.  I use a Japanese wood saw; a hacksaw is also fine, but produces a slightly less accurate cut.

  • Get the top piece out of the stub that you have just cut off. If need be, use 2 pairs of pliers to crack the shaft open from the freshly cut end.

  • Glue the top piece you have just recovered back into the shaft as shortened. Curiously, hard glues like Araldite, Superglue etc do not work very well; you are better off using a softer all-purpose household glue, or even a silicone sealant.

  • Wrap a new grip around the shaft.  Start at the top of the shaft, with the end to the left and the full length to the right.  New grips have a glossy backing tape which you remove, bit by bit, as you wrap. It is best to apply some tension whilst wrapping.  New grips usually come with a small length of sticky tape to finish the wrap at the bottom; electrical tape works as well or better.  You can use the old grip, but this is less than perfect, because it likely to have lost much of its sticky inside coating. You can order a new grip from FEM, or buy a hockey grip from your local sports store.

Weight

These shafts are extremely light for their strength. The exact weight of the shaft will vary according to length, and to which grip is used.  Allow about 7 ounces for the shaft, plus a couple of ounces for the grip.

Grips

The top of the shaft is covered with a grip. We used to offer a choice of grip, but now, the overwhelming number of users opt for our black synthetic grip, and so that is what we provide as standard.

Special Order Leather grip

Leather grip coloursWe also offer by special order the leather grips which are supplied by George Wood.  They are not padded, and provide a more direct feel than the synthetic grips.  The way that they are dyed means that the "helter skelter" pattern is more pronounced than with the synthetic grips.

The colors of the grips in the above picture are as follows:

  • 1.  Cobalt Blue
  • 2.  Tan
  • 3.  Navy Blue
  • 4.  Dark Brown
  • 5.   Red

  • 6.  Natural

Because they have no padding, the leather grips may well be less suitable for players who are sensitive to hand smack or other impact-related discomfort.

Where is the roll grip?

Some players will have been used to playing with a roll grip.   Because the lower part of a FEM shaft is much fatter than a typical composite shaft, and is profiled, there is no need for a roll grip.  No one who has been using an FEM shaft without a roll grip has yet reported any lower hand slippage, even in the rain.  (OK, Mrs Trellis, bring it on). Stop press: See news.

Getting used to the shaft

These shafts are unique in the croquet world. They might take about 5 minutes to get used to. After that, picking up your old shaft might seem a bit like going back to a wooden tennis racket after you have got used to an oversize graphite job.

Hand Smack

Some players feel discomfort in their hands, wrists or arms as a result of the shock wave that travels up the shaft following impact.  The effect seems to be much more to do with the shaft than the head (it would certainly be possible to design a padded head, but it would certainly be hopeless to play with.  We experimented with floating rubber joins between head and shaft, but these were not satisfactory). How does a regular FEM shaft compare with other shafts?

The answer seems to be "reasonably well".  For reasons of feel, the shaft is fairly rigid, but because it is so light, only a relatively small amount of energy is capable of being carried up by the shock wave.  As from early 2010, we have introduced a new alternative soft shaft, which does not have the same direct feel as our regular shaft, but which does cut down greatly on the vibration.

It is suggested that the status of various shaft constructions is as follows:


Most hand smack

Aluminium whole length, or aluminium lower with wooden upper

Traditional wooden construction

Rigid composite cylindrical lower shaft fixed to wooden upper shaft

FEM regular shaft with leather grip

FEM regular shaft with synthetic grip

Least hand smack

Flexible composite cylindrical shaft with foam grip

FEM soft shaft


Colour

Can you have any colour of shaft?

Yes, as long as it is our standard grey.

Which way round?

Which way should the shaft be fitted onto the head?

With the writing on the shaft fore and aft, not side to side. If you have a shaft without writing, look for the alignment splines; these should be fore and aft.