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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:22 pm 

Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 8:28 am
Posts: 20
Anyone make their own nitrate paper?
If so what is the approx ratio for Nitrate to water.
Found a place online to get it so now just need to mix. ... um+nitrate


Michael Larson

PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:18 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 253
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Radioman and fellow Sharpshooters.

I discovered the information on how to nitrate paper in The Sharps Rifle: Its History, Development and Operation by Winston O Smith. Amazon books still have 3 copies used from $46.55. Smith was shooting and writing about Sharps rifles long before it was popular; his book was published in 1943.

This is what I recall off the top of my head:
boil water and gradually stir in potassium nitrate a little at a time until the solution becomes saturated (the solution will no longer absorb any additional potassium nitrate). Let cool. Pour solution into a flat pan. Take cotton bond typing paper and dip into solution and then hang on a line until dry
. Marking the typing paper with a trapizoidal template, the paper can be then cut into shapes that will be used for cartridges.

Years ago, I bought from Dixie Gun Works a percussion Sharps kit that included pre-nitrated papers. They worked fine, but when I ran out of the pre-nitrated paper I found I didn't really need them. The NY Company used Post-it notes, which I thought was pretty ingenious. I started using 2 1/4 inch width 3-M joint paper (used to seal drywall seams). The problem with the 3-M paper was that after forming the paper tube I had to cut down the lenth of cartridge because they were too long to fit into the chamber.

I currently use 38 mm adding machine tape to make both live and blank to make the 'flat base'/US Ordnance issue Sharps rounds; (vast majority of reenactors make the pre-CW/CSA 'clip tail' version). Because the paper comes off a roll it's memory is to curl-which makes rolling cartridges much easier. No nitrating is needed-the paper is consumed completely. This is probably due to my tamping a 1x1 inch piece of shirt tissue paper over the powder, folding the excess paper inwards over the tissue and crimping it in place using a wooden dowel (so the pattern looks a bit like a shotgun shell). When the cartridge is fired, powder explodes and the surrounding paper is completely consumed.

My son, Chris, and I fired over 80 rds (40 issue rds each) without a stoppage during the infanty tactics demonstration at Greenfield Village over Memorial Day. We were the only comrades in arms section to enjoy that distinction (the other fellows were all using clip-tail cartridges). I did experience a couple delays when a couple rds were slightly warped, so I had to roll the top of the cartridge between my fingers to form it into a cylindrical shape before it could be inserted into the chamber.

Hope this helps.

Bill Skillman
Randolph Mess-USSS

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