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 Post subject: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 2:22 pm 
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Location: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
I was still wondering if there was somebody else than Blockade Runner that makes good reproduction hard rubber buttons? On a lookout for button on a frock coat that I'm going to have made sometime in the future.

Also when looking online I notice that alot of the originals have metric measurements. As in 20mm and 15mm. I would assume that 20mm is the front buttons and the 15mm are the cuff. But with it being hard to find the cuff size, and just thinking of Dirty Billy, where does he get his buttons from?

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Joseph Edwards
The Deadeye Mess
Company C 2nd United States Sharp Shooters


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:49 pm 
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Any Luck on this front? Blockade runner is still out and I am also in need of some.

Thank you.

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Michael Larson
Minnesota


Last edited by 101radioman on Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:07 pm 
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Last I heard was that Blockade Runner's rubber buttons are simply made of plastic and do not share the qualities of the original rubber buttons.

I've been working on this problem for years. I have up a civilian button to a local company for testing and they said the originals have the "durometer", or hardness, of a bowling ball, the material is incredibly dense (they were hot-pressed by dies originally), and it would be nearly impossible to reproduce them using the same materials the originals are comprised of.

However...I know I just criticized Blockade Runner's product, but good reproduction rubber buttons can be made with some modern casting resins. The higher the hardness the better, and if you can find some that have mixable pigmentation then the dark brownish-black color of originals can be duplicated. The modern resins are as hard as originals if done correctly, they take to a properly made mold well enough to not lose detail, and best of all is that they will have that dull subdued sheen like originals.

Resin molding and casting is expensive stuff, with mold-making and start-up costs alone ranging from $900 to $3,000. After that you own the molds and can have as many buttons made as you want. The last time I tried this route the company told me that it would cost $2,300 for start-up paid in full, plus $8 per large button and $6 per small button without backmarks, and almost double that for buttons with backmarks. This company did not want to produce the buttons with the brass eyelet, so they said I'd have to do that myself (not sure how though).

The only option guys like us seem to have are small-time hobbyists who might be able to help. I'm talking to several locals here in Kalamazoo, and one in Gettysburg, who are interested. Furthermore, I own enough rubber eagle buttons to outfit a sack coat and two caps so I don't mind lending them out to the mold makers; this would ultimately ensure the correct eagle design and dimensions of the originals, which look nothing like the brass buttons.

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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: Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:16 pm 
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If one would go the route of casting ones own. Could metal buttons be used for the mold making? If so let me check with a friend who works at a metal casting shop here, he has setup at home or casting minitures for table top gaming, for a limited run he may be taked into doing it for his cost of material which is not to bad.
He should also be able to recommend a resin to use.

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Michael Larson
Minnesota


Last edited by 101radioman on Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:15 pm 
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Metal buttons, reproduction or original, cannot be used in the mold making process if you want truly good looking USSS eagle buttons. They do not have the correct dimensions as the originals, which are highly domed. The eagle design is different too.

I have sample buttons, one of each size, in hard rubber that were taken from a few originals in my collection years ago. I kept them so I or someone else would be able to use them to make new molds.

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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: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:02 pm 
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I will run the idea by mt friend and see what he thinks. After I find out I will post here.

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Michael Larson
Minnesota


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:17 pm 
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Friends,

In my undying, mad quest for proper USSS eagle buttons, I recently turned to the civilian artisans for help. Surprisingly, without really searching too hard, I found a lady who has taught herself molding and casting using pigmented modern hard resins. She has worked primarily on reproducing original gutta-percha jewelry, belt buckles, etc. but also tried buttons. I was fortunate enough to receive samples of her work this week and am glad to report that they look GREAT!

The buttons she's tried to produce are the flat civilian type with the self-shank and hot-pressed woven fabric design on the front. While the faces of the button were perfect the shanks seemed to give her some trouble. Being self-shank buttons, they are a little more complicated to reproduce than the kind with inserted or embedded brass wire shanks. Given the level of detail and the quality of the material she used, I think that getting well made USSS buttons may happen soon.

I'm currently testing the buttons for fading, wear, scratching, durability, etc. etc. but everything looks ideal. With a little luck I will be able to have the buttons with both proper backmarks AND the embedded wire shank...if not then one or the other. I'd prefer backmarks and I can use small gauge modern screw-eyes (screwed in, removed, and then epoxied into place) to duplicate the shanks. Having either no backmark or a modern shank may also help to keep these off the market in the future.

As for cost, I don't yet have a solid quote but she thinks it may be under a dollar per button. I am looking to have sets of 15 coat and 6 cuff sized buttons made; this is enough for a frock, blouse, and forage cap. While the material she's using is perfect, and the black pigment and dull sheen is spot-on, I want to see if she can do some in a dark black-brown as per some originals.

I'll post photos here as I get the actual samples. She's using originals from my collection so with a little time and effort we should be able to get buttons of proper design and dimensions. I am REALLY hoping to have a few extra sets to sell to anyone here who is interested BUT I don't know how long this project will hold her attention!

Just wanted to update you guys on this!

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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 Jul 13, 2009 9:46 pm 
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Location: ROCKPORT, MAINE
Gentlemen,
In looking over the three original hard rubber eagle buttons that I have in my humble collection (retrieved from the local mid-coast Maine button boxes of descendants of some of the many Rockland. Maine residents in Co D, 2nd USSS) and comparing them with other hard rubber items of more recent manufacture, I have often wondered if the dull olive drab/brown coloring is more a product of time than of original intent. I share and understand the desire to match the authentic eagle buttons with their unique shape and color, but I am not convinced that "dull black" isn't the correct color.
I know of no way of really answering this question short of cranking up a time machine. This is just food for thought and is in no way a critique of the wonderful work people like Brian are doing on this conumdrum.
My efforts to recreate the buttons using various types of modeling mediums has been an absolute failure. I can get the shape, but the detail on the eagle just doesn't pass muster.
I will be waiting anxiously for Brian's future posts, as he seems to be "our man" on this subject.

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Captain Dave Sulin
Rockport, Maine
"Mind your helm"


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:06 pm 
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Location: worcester, uk
Brian
if you do some made i'd love a set if you would send them over.

Regards
Carl
Co E (uk)


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Rubber Buttons
PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:58 pm 
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Nice work here.

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D. Bolda
Co. F, 1st USSS "F-troop"
Great Plains region


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