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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:42 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:50 pm
Posts: 1

Verbatim from Roundball to Rimfire Vol 2. Pg 191

Directions for making Ball Cartridges from Sharps MFG Co. for the New Pattern Arms

Cartridge paper or linen cloth, cut in strips on one and three eights inches for the Army size ball, and two inches for the 60 and 90 ball, and of length sufficient to wind twice around the larger end of the cartridge stick and form a cylinder, securing the end with gluten or paste, withdraw the stick, place a piece of bank note paper or gauze three-fourths of an inch square on the reverse end of the stick, form it over the end, apply the gluten or paste to the part which overlies the circumference of the stick, and insert it in the cylinder, forcing it to the rear end and withdraw the stick. When the cylinder is dry, charge with sixty grains of powder and insert the rear end of the ball to the ring thereon, moisten with the adhesive preparation, and choke the cloth or paper onto the ring of the ball.
Before casting the balls smoke the mold and heat it; you will then obtain a more perfect ball than can be swedged or pressed.
-End Quote-

In the entire chapter regarding Sharps rounds, the only reference to use of any Varnish I find is Varnishing the cartridge boxes to make them more water resistant. The only reference to treating the linen or paper with anything at all is from a company called Johnston & Dow. They used Collodian as an added explosive into the cartridge cylinder.

There was an arsenal that was sizing the linen for stiffness, but it raised concerns that the cartridge was not being consumed fully. No other arsenal (including Sharps Co) mentions stiffening the linen.

The only reason for not continuing the use of paper for cartridges was that they continued to fracture around the ball due to the lube weakening the paper, not a stiffness issue. When questioned as to why only the Sharps loads were fracturing, it was noted that with the other small arms rifles and muskets, the ball is completely encased, and therefore not subjected to being 'top heavy' on the end by an exposed ball.

The linen was the solution because it could withstand the shock of riding in the cartridge box better than the paper. That is what caused the switch. Once the switch was made, a number of ordnance officers would not accept paper cartridges any longer.

There were manufacturers that had come up with waterproof cartridges, but whether these applied to the Sharps may be debateable. That information is in Vol 1 that deals with muzzleloading weapons, not breechloaders. So, it would not be an issue for cartridges that do not have to be consumed.

I could not find anything in an ordnance manual that perscribed specially treated linen, or paper for Sharps cartridges. If there is, please let me know.

There were many complaints about different cartridge producers, but these were centered around mixed up calibers, varying powder amounts, varying lengths, poor assembly, bad powder, and such. Not bad paper or linen processing (i.e. stiffening).

Best to you,

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