Most of us epeeists have dealt with the aggravation that it is to screw in the first tip screw into an epee tip – one thumb holds the tip in at the right distance and rotated so that the female threading at the tip screw slot in the barrel, while at the same time one uses the other hand to first line up a tiny screw so that it is colinear with the female threading, and then turn it so that the male and female threadings catch without either one of them getting displaced.
It is possible, but irritating when it does not work the first time. I happened to come across some small screws which gave me an idea on how to same a bit on the fiddling. It works like this:
- Disassemble the tip as usual, and perform necessary repairs.
- The barrel is screwed on the blade, and the contact cup is seated in it. The tip screws, the tip with its contact spring, and the weight spring are at hand. One now has a tip assembly that looks like picture 1.
- Instead of screwing in the first tip screw with a small slot screwdriver as usual, one takes a much longer screw that has the same diameter and thread profile – and screws it in by holding it between the thumb and fingers of the dominant hand. The non-dominant hand is used to hold down the tip and thereby compress the weight spring, as usual. Since this screw is much longer than a tip screw and is hand-held, one bypasses the problem of the tip screw and screwdriver getting out of alignment. See picture 2.
- The long screw is screwed in to the female threading of the tip. It now holds the tip and the weight spring in correct position relative to the barrel, so that the female threading on the other side of the tip is in correct position just inside the tip screw slot.
- Screw in a tip screw through the slot opposite to the one with the holder screw. See picture 3.
- The tip is secured to the barrel in two places, which is one more than barely necessary to hold the tip assembly together. One does not need to keep the tip depressed any more.
- Unscrew the holding screw with your dominant hand.
- Screw in the second tip screw through the slot that just recently held the holder screw. See picture 4.
- The tip assembly is now completed, and the fiddly step of screwing in the first tip screw has been bypassed.
Finding a holder screw is the most difficult part here, but it is not that difficult, and it is a task that one only needs to once. The holder screw must have the same threading as a tip screw – Metric 2 mm – and it should be long enough so that it can be easily handled, mine are 20 mm. The head type is immaterial, since one holds, screws in, and screws out, the holder screw with one´s fingers. Screws that fit this specification can be found at specialized screw dealers, model airplane shops, among others. They are commonly sold by the bag, but you can always buy in bulk and share with your clubmates. The first link I came across sells a package of 4 screws for 29 Swedish Krona, or about 80 US. cents per screw.