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Thread: amunation box

  1. #41

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    Hallo!

    Kind of a side discussion I suppose...

    The holding power of cut nails lies a bit with their being flat or squarish. First generation "French nails" about the turn of the 19th century typically did not have heads, or the heads were bent over "L" shaped. Heads often being squarish or pyramid shaped.

    IIRC, wire nails are more a product of the post CW "Bessemer" age of the 1870's/1880's such Bethlehem Steel's Gautier wire mill in Johnstown PA where my great-grandfather worked mailing steel "wire" for barbed wire fencing and nails. Wire nails being round shafted lose some of the gripping power over time as the wood fibers move.

    IMHO, if historically duplicating a period packing box, one should duplicate or attempt to replicate what was used in its construction based on the box one is looking at.

    I would be surprised to find wire nails in CW boxes as largely too late, and hand-forged wrought nails as largely too early and relics of a 1800ish pre nail machine world. But, if a documented CW period box had either, then they should be used in the historical reproduction if "authenticity" is involved or matters.

    Others' mileage will vary....

    Curt
    Who's wife's grandparents' 1880ish farmhouse burned to the ground last week, leaving a foundation, ashes, and many cut nails. Although I have a wrought nails from their spring and smoke house built in 1832.
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt-Heinrich Schmidt View Post
    Hallo!
    The holding power of cut nails lies a bit with their being flat or squarish.
    Wrought nails also have squarish tapered shanks, but also have the additional feature of a head.

    Quote Originally Posted by Curt-Heinrich Schmidt View Post
    Hallo!
    I would be surprised to find wire nails in CW boxes as largely too late, and hand-forged wrought nails as largely too early and relics of a 1800ish pre nail machine world.
    Quoting page 255 of the 1863 ordnance manual,
    "Packing-boxes.--The boxes are made of white pine boards, dovetailed and nailed together, and are furnished with wooden brackets or handles nailed to the ends with wrought nails, clenched on the inside...."

    So according to the 1863 Ordnance Manual, they were still using wrought/forged nails for ammo boxes in that time period.

    I give up, you all can have it your way. I refuse to participate in this thread further.
    David Einhorn, Author of the book titled, "Civil War Blacksmithing" available from Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Civil-War-Blac...+blacksmithing

  3. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Einhorn View Post
    The head on a nail serves a purpose of securing what is being held together.
    I've nailed thousands of cut nails. They have heads. They hold normal things, from boxes to fence boards, just fine. There's even a kind, with a thinner than normal shaft, called "box nails." Photo here.

    "Packing-boxes.--The boxes are made of white pine boards, dovetailed and nailed together, and are furnished with wooden brackets or handles nailed to the ends with wrought nails, clenched on the inside...."
    Okay, that makes sense. I'd argue that they specified wrought nails for the handles because those needed clinched, and it was understood that the rest, where the kind of nail wasn't specified, would use cheaper cut nails.

    "For sheathing and drawing, cut nails are full as good as wrought nails; only in one respect are the best wrought nails a little superior to cut nails, and that is where it is necessary they should be clenched." Source

    Hank Trent
    hanktrent@gmail.com

  4. #44

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    Hallo!

    Dang, I think I have been huffed and snitted.

    So, what does a study of surviving artifactual packing boxes tell us about the nature of CW era packing boxes? How much data do we have from how many survivng packing boxes to carry academic historical discussion and inference forward?

    I will go first.

    One surviving box is an undated Frankford Arsenal box for .577 elongated ball. However, Frankford produced 454,000 .577 ammo in 1861 with the bulk of 1,098,018 being in 1862, and only 147,00 early in 1863 before changing over to .574 calibre ammunition.

    White pine wood, planed smooth, outside dimensions, are 15.75 long, 7.8125 inches high, and 12.25 inches wide. That makes the interior dimension smaller than "regulation." Sides and bottom boards are .875 inches thick, 6.1875 long. Sides are dove-tailed. Side boards are 15.75 long with four dove-tail sockets. End boards measure 10.5 inches long. The bottom is held on with cut nails,

    The handles are nailed on with cut nails, their ends being bent over where they come through on the inside of the box.

    Surviving "relic' boxes typically sjhow variations from the precise specs. This is believed to be that war time demand made having precise spec'd boxes that were going to be made, shipped, and used up and discarded or burned more important than ones made for longer term shelf storage. Probably, as a result, surviving boxes have considerable variations such as having no handles or no paint or wrong colors of paint, variant markings from what was called for, or missing dovetail joints replaced by nailing (several of the boxes on display at the old NPS Gettysburg Visitors Center were nailed.)

    The roughly half of the lid is missing its six flat head wood screws, and is now held on by one No. 12 modern flat head wood screws hamered bent over and flush with the wood.

    The box is painted on the outside in "olive green" but age, fading, and wear make it hard to determine whether it was a form of Federal "Olive."

    This Frankford box lacks the senciled data of arasenal and date under the lid, and has an odd. Its info is on two paper disks that were recessed into the bottom of the box with a central "US" with an arching "FRANKFORD" above, and an arching "ARSENAL" below surrounded by a wavy circular border. I find it odd, a quick stencil would have been... faster.

    The "1863 ordnance manual," is the Confederate Ordnance Manual of 1863, which by and large was a pirated copy of the 1861 Federal one publisehd in 1862.

    One could play on that.. being "wrought nails" refers to wrought iron hand forged nails, or to cut nails "slit" cut out of wrought iron sheets made out of wrought iron bars. Or whether the author was thinking of, or referring to true wrought iron as hand forged iron nails or cut nails from wrought iron sheet. Which we moderns further complicate referring to cast mild steel fencing still as wrought iron fencing.




    Just a-funnin', just a-funnin'.

    Keep it going. Next original box please?

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Williamstown, W.Va.
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    Haven't dropped by for a while so I'm a bit late on some of these, but I wanted to comment on some of the things that have come up.

    Wood planing. There was no standard such that outsides were planed/insides were not, or vice-versa. How the wood was planed by each manufactory was proprietary and varied through pretty much all imaginable extremes. That is, some did it one way, others did it another. Plus, few were consistent even within their own manufactories. Wood might be planed one way one time, then a different way another. Also, just about all the original boxes I’ve examined are quite smooth on the inside, which seems logical -- you wouldn’t want rough wood tearing open the paper cartridge packs stored inside. Yes, the boxes should have been lined with more paper, per the regs, which would help to protect the cartridge packs, but logic would support having the interior surface smoother rather than rough.

    “Dock Piling” paint. Any Pittsburgh Paints store should be able to mix it up for you. Although they no longer carry it, the formula is in their computer -- formula #7631. At least, the last time I had some made (about two years ago) my local PP store had no trouble making it. At the time you’re having it made you can specify whether you want it to be latex or oil-based, as well as what level of sheen you want.

    Nails. Depending on the machinery used to cut them and the exact forming process, cut nails could indeed have round heads. Most were generally rectangular in shape, but that rectangular head was often slightly rounded. Once pounded into the wood, after some time the wood tends to reform around the nail head with expansion caused by moisture absorption, further giving the appearance of rounding in photographs. Hinge nails and rosehead nails -- also made with the cut-nail process -- had almost perfectly rounded heads. In any event, cut nails did have heads. Here’s a sampling of several kinds of cut nails:



    Tremont Nail company in Massachusetts makes reproduction cut nails using some original 19th-century machinery (they built it to last back then) as well as on newer machines. I’ve spoken at length with them, and the process they use for nearly all the nails they carry is the same as during the 19th century. The exception is for their headless brads, which they have made under contract with another company.

    I tend to agree with Hank regarding the strength of cut nails in that they hold superior to just about any other kind of nail. Their square-cut design severs wood fibers on the way in, creating -- almost literally -- a square hole. This affords holding power on all four sides of the nail and the maximum amount of surface area of contact between metal and wood. Round nails (with the exception of those engineered for holding power, such as ring-shank and other types) don’t hold nearly as well for two reasons: First, less surface area of contact. Second is that unlike cut nails, round nails don’t sever wood fibers, but rather part them -- the wood fibers remain intact, and just spread apart to let the nail pass. Not only does this tend to have less wood-to-metal contact along the line of the fibers parting, but it also leads to splitting of the wood. Kind of a moot point, though, because as Herr Curt points out, round nails (wire nails) were in their infancy during the war. They existed, but would not yet be in common use till the 1870s.

    I’ve examined eight original ammo boxes, and it was very obvious that all used cut nails. It wasn’t possible to determine the exact nature of the nails used in the handles – could’ve been true wrought nails, I suppose, but I suspect they were also cut nails. One of the boxes I studied had the handles attached with screws and not nails. As to the wood, it was likewise all over the place but most was a bit less than 1”, but one of the boxes I saw used wood measuring 1-1/6” thick. Another used 1” wood on the ends and 5/8”(!) wood on the sides (the sides fit into rabbets cut into the box ends); top and bottom were closer to 3/4". There just wasn’t anything standard, and the arsenals really looked at the regs as “suggestions” rather than mandates. I’d have no problem at all using off-the-shelf 3/4" stock from Home Depot (as long as modern milling marks are removed first), as there was so much variation in stock thickness during the war itself. If you want thicker wood, I wouldn’t mess with face-gluing thinner pieces to make thicker ones, as you’ll never get the end grain to match -- there will always be a glue line and mismatched grain. Instead, buy standard 2-by construction lumber (2x10, 2x12, etc) and plane it down to the desired thickness.

    Tongue-and-groove. Using single pieces of wood was always preferred (and mentioned in the regs). Of course, wider wood was far easier to come by then than it is today. However, when two narrower pieces were used to make a wide piece, such as for the top or bottom of an ammo box, it was nearly always joined one of two ways -- either with the more common tongue-and-groove joint (mentioned in the regs) or, less commonly, with lap joints. In either case, these joints were typically NOT glued together.

    Hope this helps.

    A.J.

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Thanks for observations and thanks especially for source for nails!!

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Williamstown, W.Va.
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    Oops. In my most recent post, in the next-to-last paragraph where I state "...one of the boxes I saw used wood measuring 1-1/6” thick..." that should have been 1-1/16", not 1-1/6". I thought we could edit our posts, but couldn't figure out how. Anyway, the correct dimension is 1-1/16".

  8. #48

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    Hallo!

    IIRC, we have the ability to edit only for an hour, then the window closes.

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

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