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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:50 pm 
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Sergeant

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:18 am
Posts: 162
My originals are in the hands of my casting/molding person and samples should be ready to go soon. I'm hoping for backmarks but since she works primarily with one-piece molds instead of two-piece injection molds I don't think they will have them. However, they should have embedded brass wire eyes, the proper eagle design, and dimensions/height.

I will post pictures once I get the samples.

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Brian White
Wambaugh, White, & Company
http://www.wwandcompany.com
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Randolph Mess, U.S. Sharpshooters


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:55 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:51 pm
Posts: 11
Location: Visalia, CA
Brian,

I thought I'd bump this thread to see if there was any progress in the quest for the magic black buttons.

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Tim Pedersen
1st USSS, Co. C.
Way out in Californy, somewhere north of Fort Tejon


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:31 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:18 am
Posts: 162
Tim,

Yes, actually! Today I ordered a black resin to cast the buttons from and found the appropriate brass shanks for the backs. Unfortunately since I no longer own my original rubber buttons I will not be able to replicate the markings on the back.

Here is the casting resin I am going to use: http://www.smooth-on.com/gallery.php?galleryid=442&cPath=1325. The silicone molds will be durable enough to allow me to produce several resin button "blanks" that I can then use to make master molds containing entire sets of buttons. The shanks will be set into the back of the buttons during the curing process.

I'm working on leggings and seamless overcoats as well but I'll post photos of the buttons as soon as I can. They shouldn't be too hard to do.

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Brian White
Wambaugh, White, & Company
http://www.wwandcompany.com
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Randolph Mess, U.S. Sharpshooters


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:41 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:51 pm
Posts: 11
Location: Visalia, CA
Thanks for the update. While the back markings would be really nice I guess it won't be a major loss and it is one way to not have anyone attempt to pass these off as originals.

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Tim Pedersen
1st USSS, Co. C.
Way out in Californy, somewhere north of Fort Tejon


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:01 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:18 am
Posts: 162
It took me a while to make the time for, but a couple of months ago I finally made my master molds and cast a few buttons using the black resin. The results are impressive and I was surprised at how easy and quick it was. To make integral shanks I tried suspending them in the resin before curing but they sunk; I tried waiting a minute or so but the resin cures so fast that the hardening outer layer depressed and the liquid inside squished out! To solve the problem I'm going to drill holes in the back and use more resin or epoxy to hold the shanks in place. This isn't the method I planned on using but it's the only way I can think of to get functional buttons.

As stated before the buttons will not have back marks. I'll post photos when I get a set completed. I do plan on selling them in sets for whatever garment you want to put them on (frocks, blouses, caps) but I have yet to determine a price. Despite the lack of back marks and method of attaching the shanks, these will have the exact same shape, size, and eagle design as the originals.

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Brian White
Wambaugh, White, & Company
http://www.wwandcompany.com
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Randolph Mess, U.S. Sharpshooters


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:30 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 252
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Brian,

Looking forward to seeing the finished product--which I know from your exacting standards, should likely pass for an original or close to it to the all but most discriminating observer.

Now that you have come close to going into production mode with the 'Type 2 Berdan (Major Hastings/commercial purchase)-gutta percha button' do you have any thoughts of going 'retro' anytime in the future to make a limited run of the 'Type 1 Berdan gutta percha buttons' (issued with first run USSS coats) that you made up for the prototype Ruley/FHW wool coats?

Based upon your feedback of working the resin, likely you would need to do post-casting work to drill a hole thru the 'chocolate drop' shaped button for the brass head & shank. Do you think the resin would hold up to drilling or crack/shatter? I know the 'Type 1 (my nomenclature not the original mfgs) Berdan button was not popular, and have accounts of the USSS cutting them off the coats and replacing them with the US issue brass 'eagles' (thereby defeating Berdan's original intention of eliminating anything metallic that would reflect sunlight).

My photo of Sgt. Robert Finch (Co. B, 1st MI SS) shows he sewed a pair of the Type 1 Berdan buttons onto his trousers to replace of the paper backed tin ones; issued to secure the braces.

Bill Skillman
Randolph Mess-USSS


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:24 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:18 am
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Bill,

I'd be wary of dividing the buttons into "types" since it seems all varieties (rubber eagle, pin-shank, brass) were available and being used at the same time. But yes, I am thinking about making the pin-shank variety. I actually have one missing the shank so the finished casts would have a hollow passage through the center. I would need brass escutcheon pins that are long enough to manipulate into loops on the back....I just haven't found these yet. The buttons would likely not shatter or break during drilling but then again I haven't tried it yet.

The previous "pin-shank" buttons I made years ago were a similarly shaped button available at any fabric store. I painted them with Testors "rubber" colored model paint, drilled holes in the front, and glued in a false pin-shank (again, because I could not locate pure brass, longer escutcheon pins). This method would be way easier and cheaper then molding/casting this type of button, although the commercially available dome buttons are a little larger than the type used on the USSS coats.

Judging from original photos I have on file I'd say that there's quite an even mix of brass vs. rubber eagle buttons. The pin-shank variety appear to have been dominant in the 2nd U.S.S.S. although they do show up in 1st U.S.S.S. images on occasion. I don't know how many coats were issued with which button, or how many men chose to replace which button with another. I am aware of only one account of a sharpshooter replacing brass buttons on a newly issued frock with rubber.

I have never seen the photo of Finch that you mentioned. It's interesting that he uses rubber buttons as suspender buttons; this is for a number of reasons. First, is that an original U.S.S.S. frock in private hands featured removed cuff buttons used for different applications on the coat (button to close a field-made interior pocket). Second is that Schuylkill Arsenal trousers appear to have been issued with only two suspender buttons instead of four. It's also evidence that the Berdan's Sharpshooters weren't the only guys who had knowledge of/access to rubber buttons. This is further evidenced by the western sharpshooter frock posted in the link below; blue frock with rubber buttons and added green trim. It's accompanied by a blue forage cap with rubber buttons and is on display at the Atlanta History Center.

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Brian White
Wambaugh, White, & Company
http://www.wwandcompany.com
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Randolph Mess, U.S. Sharpshooters


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