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Radford

Prototyping a George Thatcher knapsack

Greetings!

I was excited as anyone when the news and images of the George Thatcher knapsack made their way to this list. After the best part of three years of pondering, sourcing, and fabrication I have finally completed a prototype version of a knapsack modeled on the construction and dimensions of the one posted on this thread:


The prototyping process has taken me though several tweaks and improvements from this initial attempt:


The above image was my first assembly, based on the pattern layout and dimensions given in the New Knapsack Find thread. As I laid it out I noticed an oddity; the pocket side is noticeably shorter than the flap side; about an inch and a quarter. This did not make sense to me. It seems as though both sides should fold to the same length, so the packed, folded knapsack would be as square as possible. I stuffed some spare fabric in the pocket and tried to fold up the knapsack, wondering if I was missing something.



That was less than successful. It was hard to get the knapsack to fold up evenly and hold together without straps, so I decided to put the buff leather bits on and paint it to see if that helped any.



It - didn't work. Nothing magical happens - as measured the dimensions are just off. The side wings and pocket of the 1823 knapsack are the same length, so I figured there was some translation error from the museum's metric measurements. Paul Durrant sent me the original metric measurements - there was no translation error. For whatever reason the museum had measured the pocket side shorter than the wing side. I decided to ignore that and resolved to make the pocket on my prototype the same length as the wing side. The required me to pick apart the pocket, make a new front and sides, and find a low stress place to hide the seam where I pieced it in the back.




When Paul sent me the dimensions he also sent a part of the museum drawing that had not been posted in the 95th rifles knapsack thread. It showed that the top wings had rounded ends, not squared off as in the posted pattern. After verifying this on the photos of the original, I picked the top wing ends apart and rounded them off, which you can see in the first of the above two photos.

Having gotten the knapsack body sorted out, I added the closing straps and made the shoulder straps.




The next challenge was to pack it. I figure the whole point of the design of the knapsack is to pack it as firmly as possible, to provide support for the blanket/greatcoat as rolled on top. I gathered a suitable amount of kit; much of it from my AWI period knapsack, and proceeded to stuff it.



I figured to use the loose linen bag (as found in the original) to hold my blacked items; spare shoes, blackball, brush &c. to keep them from soiling the rest of the clothing. I put the shoes in the bag, put the bag in the pocket, then fitted the rest of the kit around it as efficiently and tightly as possible.

On the flap end you can see the pocket flap that I invented as an answer to what the straps on the knapsack end might attach to. If I were to make another of these, I might make the flap longer, and set the buckles down further on the flap so the square ends rest against the flap and don't abrade the drill jacket. I put a pair of AWI breeches under the drill jacket as a filler. As a substitute, a folded blanket also fits under the flap in place of the jacket.




All the way at the top of this post are three views of the packed knapsack. I tried it on and wore it around the living room for a while. It works. The mess tin strap is vital to stabilize the blanket roll on top. Although the knapsack closing straps are looped though the blanket roll spacer, the blanket roll flops around without the mess tin strap to hold it all together, and yes, there is a board in the board pocket!

I am quite looking forward to putting the George Thatcher knapsack into service and seeing how it fares under campaign conditions.
Paul Durrant

Bravo Joseph!

I'm in the throws of making one again but without the leather shoulders (trying to experiment to find out why the shoulder came about. Suspect the wood board will rub through the corners very quickly!).

I too have a prolem with those pocket v. side wings measurements. Something is wrong. I've just left the pocket length for now and shaved a bit off the side wings. Originally I was saving all that up for a trip to Stockholm myself, but that's yet to happen...

I'm glad you experimented with the inner separation flap. I think that's the way to go but to have it all the way down from the central pocket, as you pointed out (I think).

Only one thing though...
The short straps on the end flap - you have them on the outside of the canvas - on the painted side. I think they were on the inside, like so;



Love the Thatcher stamp! How did you get that? Want!

Once again, nice going.
John Waller

Nice work Radford. What do you use to blacken/waterproof the canvas?
Eddie

Always nice to see a good reconstruction job done. Bravo Radford!

For what its worth I did not get on at all well wearing that double buckle on the main straps at the bottom of the knapsack - they dug right into the small of my back. I took them out and reversed the straps so that the double buckle is at the top. Problem immediately solved.
I then found that the greatcoat straps would easily slip through the "keepers" of the double buckles. Thus the Greatcoat stays in position nicely and firmly with no additional strapping or keepers.
 I am now wondering whether these main shoulder straps were put on the wrong way round at some time in the Thatcher's history?
Radford

Buckles, straps, paint.

Dear Paul, John, Eddie and List-

Quote:
I'm in the throws of making one again but without the leather shoulders (trying to experiment to find out why the shoulder came about. Suspect the wood board will rub through the corners very quickly!).


You make a good point - I hadn't thought about that. I just figured that the T shaped shoulder reinforce was to help strengthen the attachment point for the top wings.

Quote:
I too have a prolem with those pocket v. side wings measurements. Something is wrong. I've just left the pocket length for now and shaved a bit off the side wings. Originally I was saving all that up for a trip to Stockholm myself, but that's yet to happen...


The side wings and the pocket dimension of the 1823 specification is 11 1/2 inches. The side wing of the Thatcher knapsack is 12 1/4 inches. I opted to match the larger measurement because who wouldn't want 3/4 inch more storage in his knapsack?

Quote:
Only one thing though...
The short straps on the end flap - you have them on the outside of the canvas - on the painted side. I think they were on the inside, like so;


The photos you posted are of the strap on the end of the knapsack. The top wing strap attachment looks like this:



If that photo looks familiar, it is because you posted it in a reply to the New Knapsack Find thread on 21 November 2010!


Quote:
Always nice to see a good reconstruction job done. Bravo Radford!


Thank you! The best reward will be living out of it in the field.  

Quote:
For what its worth I did not get on at all well wearing that double buckle on the main straps at the bottom of the knapsack - they dug right into the small of my back. I took them out and reversed the straps so that the double buckle is at the top. Problem immediately solved.
I then found that the greatcoat straps would easily slip through the "keepers" of the double buckles. Thus the Greatcoat stays in position nicely and firmly with no additional strapping or keepers.
I am now wondering whether these main shoulder straps were put on the wrong way round at some time in the Thatcher's history?


In my initial try-ons I found that the buckles would dig into my kidneys. I cured that by pulling the straps around until the stitching of the shoulder straps butted up against the top loops on the knapsack. That rotated the buckles far enough under the knapsack body that they no longer touched my sides. As for whether the straps were put on the wrong way around, a glance at Pierre Turner shows that none of the 19th C. knapsacks which have adjusting shoulder straps have their buckles on the top, even going all the way back to the 1790s double envelope styles. It seems unlikely that alone of all the styles seen the Thatcher knapsack would have its buckles on the top of the knapsack.


Quote:
Nice work Radford. What do you use to blacken/waterproof the canvas?


Thank you! I used semi-gloss interior/exterior black latex paint. Yes, I know, I used linen canvas, all hand stitched with waxed linen thread, and buff or veg tanned leather and period style stamped square steel buckles - and I went modern with the paint. I was not about to experiment with toxic period receipts!
Paul Durrant

Re: Buckles, straps, paint.

Radford wrote:

The short straps on the end flap - you have them on the outside of the canvas - on the painted side. I think they were on the inside, like so;


Meant the ones on the end of the main body - that go up to the partition that you introduced;



I don't think we've had any probs with the positioning of the main harness buckles v. back rub. The packs I've been making are still hypothetical ones but with 'Thatcher' features including that style harness.
Radford

Re: Buckles, straps, paint.

Quote:
Meant the ones on the end of the main body - that go up to the partition that you introduced


Oh, those straps! You are, of course, quite correct. I will switch those around to the inside. Not too tricky - I can even use the same holes!

Thank you!
Colin

Well done Radford!

What did you use to whiten the buff leather strapping?

Cheers

Colin
Radford

Colin wrote:
Well done Radford!

What did you use to whiten the buff leather strapping?

Cheers

Colin


Thank you! I use the same formula I use to whiten my AWI period kit. The oral history on this is that it was told to a US reenactor by someone from the Foot Guards. Take a 50/50 mix of white nurses' shoe polish and flat white acrylic paint. Dab it on with a sponge - do not brush it or you will get streaks. The first time you use it it take a couple of coats to come up white and even. As far as I can figure, the nurse's shoe polish gives the flat acrylic more flexibility without making it glossy. No, I have not experimented with the period formula of pipeclay and alum
Paul Durrant

Eddie wrote:
For what its worth I did not get on at all well wearing that double buckle on the main straps at the bottom of the knapsack - they dug right into the small of my back. I took them out and reversed the straps so that the double buckle is at the top. Problem immediately solved.

Paul Durrant

Radford,

One thing that always puzzled me; do the three 17½" side wing straps seem incredibly long?
Radford

Paul Durrant wrote:
Radford,

One thing that always puzzled me; do the three 17½" side wing straps seem incredibly long?


Yes. I had originally thought that the three side wing straps fastened inside the knapsack, but when I first tried using them it was obvious that they needed to wrap around the outside. I figure they are so long as to allow me to put the blanket inside on top of the uniform pieces at the times I might be rolling up a greatcoat on top. That would make a truly tremendous and unwieldy load on my back. I haven't tried it to see if it would work.

Did you get my email with the Thatcher logo artwork?
Paul Durrant

If I understand you, that's the way the museum wraps them.



Yes, got your logo. Really well done!
Paul Durrant

Been dabbling myself. Coming back to 'Thatcher' in light of Radford's experiments with the interior.

I'm also of the belief that there may have been a central partition that reached down to the lower fastening buckles (this may have been all one piece sewn down to create the central pocket). I've made mine deeper that Radford's. Take note of the 2 lower fastening straps they attach to. These are set back approx 2¼" inside the end of the main body (bottom edge). Here I have packed my greatcoat (which is not the correct thickness due to lack of lining);



Note that I have the bottom flap with the recessed straps buckled so it will be closed in when the pack is folded shut, like so;


One thing that's always bizarre with this model is that if both sides of the pack are full: ie there's a blanket/greatcoat on one side (see to a depth of 3½") and the bag is full on the other (depth same), then when folded together, the apex - the narrow central 'pocket' - which is only 4" wide - forces the bag into a a bit of a pear shape. The main harness straps when fastened tight remedy this to some degree.

Then there is the question of how the top wings fasten under the pack body. If done when pack is folded this way, we get this;


However, if the bottom flap is pulled out - which the two recessed fasteners allow it to do - we get this bottom cover;


This allows for the 'top' wings to fasten so;


However, those wings can still 'dig' into the separation in the middle of the pack. Fastening the top-wings on the outside of the main harness straps partially alleviates this;


Once bound by the main harness straps a familiar box-like appearance forms - however, the folded shape produces a bowing in the body of the pack...


A remedy for that may be an additional side strap sewn on;



I've not included the leather 'corners' that feature on the Thatcher as I'm wondering if they were put on as a result of the wearing on the corners due to the wooden insert into the centre 'pocket'. Hopefully trials will confirm this.

The wooden slat, a feature in the Thatcher, raises it's head when Carpenter approaches the BGO (1813?) with a pack that has a wood board in the top. Whilst he tells the BGO that this is common practice in the packs he has seen, they assure him it is not in the sealed pattern. There is no mention of it in the 1823 pattern either and that follows the Thatcher specs remarkably closely.

NB: In working with hypothetical packs prior to this I noted that as the pack diminishes in size (items being used or the pack improperly packed) the top of the pack sags in the middle when the mess-tin is fastened on tight. The board will likely prevent this from happening.

Finally, pack with board in top;



Now to trial it.
Radford

Side wing straps

Paul Durrant wrote:


I'm also of the belief that there may have been a central partition that reached down to the lower fastening buckles (this may have been all one piece sewn down to create the central pocket). I've made mine deeper that Radford's. Take note of the 2 lower fastening straps they attach to. These are set back approx 2¼" inside the end of the main body (bottom edge).


Dear Paul and List-

I very much like the larger central partition flap that you show. I'm going to retro fit mine with one like it.

I notice that you have buckled the side wing straps around the greatcoat on the inside of the knapsack, rather than on the outside as I did. At first I thought the side wings would buckle on the inside, but try as I might, I could not see any evidence of holes in the side wing straps on the original that would allow me to buckle it like that, which is why I figured the side wing straps buckle around the outside. In addition, buckling the side wing straps tightly around the outside does much to alleviate the "pear shape".




I like how you folded the bottom flap out under the top straps. That seems to make sense. It adds another barrier against water, as well as helping smooth out the profile. However, on the original, on the bottom of the pocket below the Geo. Thatcher stamp, there is evidence of blacking transfer from what is most likely the bottom flap being folded in - because that's where it would rub.



Regarding the leather corner on the top strap, I still think its main purpose is to reinforce the top wing attachment. I can already see the stitching pulling on the top strap in this image:



As for the knapsack sagging when it is partially filled, when would it be partially filled? It is barely large enough to contain your necessaries as is. There are no disposable, expendable items in it. On those occasions when your socks and shirts are in the laundry, you are not wearing your knapsack anyway!
Paul Durrant

Before responding, a little background...

I made a Thatcher way back after it first came to light but with a few unanswered questions (the ones we are tackling now!) it has remained gathering dust in the attic. As far as knapsack making for the unit goes, I continued with a hypothetical one but added some features of the Thatcher. When Radford sparked up the investigation again I was just beginning to make another pack and decided to go 'Thatcher' instead (hence the reason there are no leather shoulders and the side-wing straps are shorter than the original).

But that aside...

Radford wrote:
I notice that you have buckled the side wing straps around the greatcoat on the inside of the knapsack, rather than on the outside as I did. At first I thought the side wings would buckle on the inside, but try as I might, I could not see any evidence of holes in the side wing straps on the original that would allow me to buckle it like that, which is why I figured the side wing straps buckle around the outside. In addition, buckling the side wing straps tightly around the outside does much to alleviate the "pear shape".

When I saw the museum display it like that, I presumed they had packed it wrong, but as you said, the length of the side-wing straps and the hole positions in them suggest otherwise. The trouble I'm having with that is it makes sense for the pack to be able to be opened with some equipment wrapped on one side and other stuff in the pocket. Also, if the side wings come out and round the pack, then the top wings are merely closing off the top gap. The side wings are also now able to channel water into the pack itself.


Radford wrote:
I like how you folded the bottom flap out under the top straps. That seems to make sense. It adds another barrier against water, as well as helping smooth out the profile. However, on the original, on the bottom of the pocket below the Geo. Thatcher stamp, there is evidence of blacking transfer from what is most likely the bottom flap being folded in - because that's where it would rub.

Agreed - I raised this point when I first saw it - unless that's build up over the years packed up in the museum stores? But if it was just meant to buckle up to an inside partition, why not have the fastening straps sewn to the edge as in the side wings?


Radford wrote:
Regarding the leather corner on the top strap, I still think its main purpose is to reinforce the top wing attachment. I can already see the stitching pulling on the top strap in this image:


Possibly, though I suspect it's more likely to prevent wear from the wooden slat rubbing through the linen. We'll find out.

Radford wrote:
As for the knapsack sagging when it is partially filled, when would it be partially filled? It is barely large enough to contain your necessaries as is. There are no disposable, expendable items in it. On those occasions when your socks and shirts are in the laundry, you are not wearing your knapsack anyway!

I was thinking more of time spent on campaign when you've used your spare shoes, the other shirts, your spare stockings, etc.
Also, are we putting greatcoat/blanket on inside and doing away with the roll?

In truth, we need to get over there and look (and measure it!) properly but until then...
John Waller

Is it on display? I'm planning a trip to Stockholm this summer.
Paul Durrant

In stores John. But they're a pretty helpful lot so I expect with a bit of prior warning...
Obadiah

We will be seeing Ola JM this weekend so he may be able to put in a nice word for you John.

Dave
Paul Durrant

Got very excited this past weekend whilst playing around with proto-type Thatcher.

In discussing with colleagues the internal bottom straps issue (where do they buckle too, why are they sewn set back on the lower flap?), it struck us that they may have been sewn set back so as to cover the buckles (wherever they came down from) and stop them rubbing on the opposite bag when closed.

Unfortunately, I think that idea was scotched on seeing where the holes where on the original strap;



More suggs welcome...
Radford

First field test

Greetings!

The same weekend many of you were at Hoogstraten, I was wearing my 1815 33rd kit at the annual 1809 Spain event at Anza, California. This was my first chance to wear my George Thatcher knapsack under tactical conditions.

A few impressions:

I am completely confident that this knapsack is the product of British military engineering. It is fussy and complicated - I need to undo EIGHT buckles to get inside it! It helps me understand why soldiers would rather get wet or be cold than go through all the bother of unbuckling and unrolling it would take to get to the blanket. Regarding the comments upthread about soldiers wringing out their blankets before they put them in their knapsacks, if I deleted the sleeved waistcoat and spare breeches, I could fit the blanket inside under the side wings.

In any case, I found the knapsack, if not exactly comfortable, at least wearable. I was pleasantly surprised to note how the 1 1/4 inch shoulder straps did not dig into my shoulders. The buckles on the bottom of the straps did not dig into my kidneys. The weight and load were tolerable, although I found that it was very fatiguing to stand at the recover while the officers waved their swords around deciding what to do next. I tried tightening the chest strap and that helped.

I have buckled the side wings around the knapsack as tightly as I dare, yet the top wings still want to try to fit in between the folded sections of knapsack.

Please note that since these photos were taken I have learned that the chest strap is buckled under the cross belts.  

I tried setting the mess tin in its cover on top of the knapsack with no blanket. There is no hole in the mess tin strap on the original that would allow you to buckle it in place, but a friction fit just using the mess tin strap keeper and threading the loose end of the mess tin strap through the side wing straps seems to be enough to keep it in place.

It is useful to get someone to help you put the flipping thing on.

Upon falling dead, it is quite comfortable to fall back and rest on the knapsack.







Paul Durrant

Great stuff Radford! It all looks amazing - and that's one hell of a blanket!

Can you itemise the kit you have inside (in those photographs) please?

Tell us more about the cross strap going under the cross-belts.
Radford

Paul Durrant wrote:
Great stuff Radford! It all looks amazing - and that's one hell of a blanket!


That blanket is a Robert Stone reproduction. I talk about it in this thread:

http://2nd95thrifles.myfastforum.org/ftopic1119-0-asc-0.php

Quote:
Can you itemise the kit you have inside (in those photographs) please?




Starting at 12 o'clock, you see my sleeved waistcoat/patrol jacket folded and buckled under the end flaps. Underneath it is a folded AWI pair of woolen breeches. Eventually I will make something more appropriate, perhaps a pair of canvas trowsers. Working around to the 3 o'clock position, you see my tinder box, with a socket on top for a candle. Inside is a flint and steel, char cloth and tow. Next to it is a razor in its box. The razor is early to mid-19th C, and it came with the box! Sometimes you can find good stuff on eBay. Below the tinder box is a chunk of lye soap, in a horn soap dish. To the right is a folded linen cloth, on top of which is a horn comb, a licorice root "tooth brush", a badger hair shaving brush, and a small mirror. The tan leather pouch contains my musket cleaning kit; a worm that fits the rammer of my Short Land musket, a worm that fits the rammer of my Serjeant's Fusil, an oil bottle filled with whale oil, some bits of linen rag, a pin punch, a rawhide button stick, and more tow. I don't have a worm to fit my India Pattern musket, because the rammer isn't threaded - which I discovered to my shock is correct, as the majority of of them weren't! At 6 o'clock are two pair of hand knitted socks, which would look entirely at home in a WW1 knapsack! I also test drove a pair of these socks for the weekend. Itchy, but no blisters. To the left of the socks is a forage cap, based on the 10th Foot forage cap in the NAM. Its provenance is clearly post AWI, but we adopted it because it was the oldest original forge cap we could find to duplicate, and the "nightcap" style forage cap can be seen in imagery back to Hogarth. Above that is the inner linen bag from the knapsack, on top of which are a pair of straight last AWI period buckle shoes, and a shoe brush. Inside one of the shoes is a rag wrapped around a black ball. Above that are some over the knee high AWI period stockings for stuffers. Laying on the main knapsack pocket are two rolled linen shirts.

Quote:
Tell us more about the cross strap going under the cross-belts.


As I was wistfully examining the photos of H Company 33rd Foot at Rufford Park and Hoogstraten (wishing I was in them), I was brought up short to notice that they wear their knapsack chest strap fastened under the cross belts. A quick look through Hamilton-Smith shows that is precisely how the Infantry wear their knapsacks!  



Eddie

Nice presentation of Kit Radford.
Re the chest straps going under the Cross straps - noticed that before -it does seem odd as it would make it awkward to take your pack off.
Earlier folding knapsacks seem to have a short strap the buckle side - so that would put if off centre and perhaps not so difficult to still get at?
Perhaps they did not want to obscure the shiny belt plate??

On subject of straps sometimes a short strap was used to link the cartridge box and bayonet to keep them back. I think the current 33rd  do that.
Paul Durrant

I'm guessing you wouldn't be able to put that blanket inside?
Radford

Blanket fit

Paul Durrant wrote:
I'm guessing you wouldn't be able to put that blanket inside?


A folded blanket fits inside under the center and end flaps, but there's not enough room for the sleeved waistcoat along with it. A waistcoat could fit in the pocket section if there were no shoes in there.
Radford

George Thatcher Knapsack design flaw

In service testing of the George Thatcher Knapsack reveals a period original design flaw.

There are no retaining loops on top of the George Thatcher Knapsack to hold the blanket straps in place. As a result, it is possible for the rolled blanket or greatcoat to slip off of the top of the knapsack during vigorous activity, such as running across a dry wash, though the abatis, and up along the palisade to assault a French redoubt, for example.
 
Paul Durrant

I don't think you should have any retaining loops on any pack of our period. There's no evidence for them.

Do you have a main carry strap attached to your roll slings like so?


If so, wrap the main strap around your knapsack harness in some way.

And failing that...
I know you've tried the blanket inside without success, but it is mentioned that this was what was expected. So if you cannot get your blanket in there... something is amiss, no?
Radford

Design flaw

Dear Paul and List-

Paul Durrant wrote:
I don't think you should have any retaining loops on any pack of our period. There's no evidence for them.


I agree. That is another clue that points to the Thatcher knapsack being a transitional design.

Quote:
Do you have a main carry strap attached to your roll slings like so?


If so, wrap the main strap around your knapsack harness in some way.


I have not yet rigged my blanket roll to wear separately - at least for my 1815 kit. I have a web linen sling I use for my AWI period kit.



I lace the knapsack closing straps though the loops on the spreader strap for the blanket roll. Between that and the mess tin strap I thought that it would be enough to keep it all together with the blanket roll on top.



What happens is that the mess tin can slip out of place and spin around on its loop, which leaves enough slack that the blanket can come off the top of the knapsack. Should I have another mess tin strap loop on top of the mess tin cover?

Quote:
And failing that...
I know you've tried the blanket inside without success, but it is mentioned that this was what was expected. So if you cannot get your blanket in there... something is amiss, no?


I can fit a folded blanket inside, but I haven't tried to fit a folded blanket and a sleeved waistcoat. A folded blanket pretty much takes up all the available space. I suppose if I lose a few socks and shirts I could get the sleeved waistcoat inside the knapsack body, with the blanket inside. We will see what happens when I finally get a greatcoat. Does the conventional wisdom suggest that a fully laden soldier be expected to carry both a blanket and a greatcoat?
Paul Durrant

Re: Design flaw

I see the roll closer to the neck than the top of the pack, with the tin sitting solidly on the top of the pack (one of the reasons for the development of the board I suspect). Using only the roll straps (without a carry strap) some of my guys threaded the main shoulder straps of the pack through them - so the roll sat well into the neck. I made a 'cheat' for this: I made the roll straps with a divider and the divider was 'looped' so the shoulder harness threaded through them - again, holding the roll comfortably behind the neck. I'll send pix soon as.

Loops on the mess tin covers: We judged these mainly from practical necessity and Occupation prints examples. Suspect they may have been adapted on a battalion level.

Radford wrote:
Does the conventional wisdom suggest that a fully laden soldier be expected to carry both a blanket and a greatcoat?


Soldiers embarking for a country of campaign would have to carry their full load but in the Peninsula, records show that once storage depots were established, greatcoats or blankets were put into storage on an either/or (seasonal I think) basis.

I'm not convinced the 'Thatcher' was necessarily a transitional design; the description of the 1823 pattern matches it very closely - if not exact. And loops still do not appear throughout the '20s.
Ben Townsend

Regarding the load of blanket and greatcoat, specificly in the Waterloo campaign we are always told that wellington ordered the greatcoats into store. Was this order carried out in a timely fashion?

Wellington orders it on 31st may,

"General Orders, Bruxelles, 31st May 1815,
1. The Commander of the Forces is very desirous of relieving the Infantry soldiers of the British army from a part of the weight which they now carry; and he therefore desires that the name and number of each man, and the letter of his company, may be marked upon his greatcoat, with a view of its being taken into store, and the greatcoats may be packed in packages, each containing twenty greatcoats.
2. The packages must be marked each with the number of the regiment, the letter of the company, and the words, `Greatcoats belonging to Captain _______`s company.`
3. This must be completed throughout the army by the 4th of June, on which day the commissaries attached to brigades are to send the greatcoats to the stores at Ostend.
4. The commissaries attached to brigades are to supply the regiments, upon their requisition, with the means of packing the greatcoats, as above ordered.
5. The commissary of stores is to take charge of the greatcoats, and to give a receipt to the Officer handing them over to him.
6. These orders are to be communicated to, and  obeyed by, all regiments on their landing."

The general orders of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington ... in Portugal ... By Arthur Wellesley Wellington (Duke of), John Gurwood.

It doesn't appear in Adam's Brigade Orders. On 9th may he is hearing from Clinton (2nd division),

'Nothing has yet been made known of the Duke of wellington's decision respective of greatcoats and blankets, I trust one or the other will be laid aside before we begin to move. I do not venture however to direct that either should be left when the troops march, the more they are accustomed to carry under the current circumstances, when not exposed to any severe fatigue, the better they shall be prepared for what they have to undergo when the campaign shall begin.'

p.35 The Correspondence of Sir Henry Clinton in the Waterloo Campaign, vol ii
edited by Gareth Glover, Ken Trotman, 2015
Henrik Burke

Dear Sirs,

I apology I can not at this given time give any comments on packing the Thatcher knapsack, but I have a little bit of mathmatics I did when Lars and myself started working on our version of it based on the pictures; both Pauls test-version and Radfords and the chart of measurements that Paul was kind enough to share with us.

Lookinng at the measurements I found that something didn't really add up. Added that both of you were also sceptical to the difference in the dimensions of the pocket side and the flap side.

So looking at the measurements we have these:
Total length of the body: 79,5cm
Length of flap side: 31cm
Length of pocket side: 27cm
Length of Flap-extension: 17cm
Length of Top (where the wooden board goes): 9,8cm

This means that the total length can't possibly be 79,5cm:
   31
+27
+17
+ 9,8
=84,8cm

I think that establishes that the 79,5cm is just off.

I also, like you guys, think that one of the two measurements for the pocket and flap sides are wrong. When measuring up something like that it would be very easy to measure it and miss a crease. If there was a crease on the pocket side when they measured it and they didn't notice it it might very well be a bit longer. Therefor I think it is fair to guess that the measurement for both pocket and flap is 31cm...

Now let's look the 79,5 equasion again:

2 sides = 31x2= 62cm
  79,5
- 62
=17,5...
Now 17,5 could very well be the 17 length of the flap extension... Which to me means that the 79,5cm measurement of the total is the two sides added together with the flap extension measurement leaving out the 9,8cms from the top.
If that is the case the total should be:
  31
+31
+  9,8
+17
=88,8cm

We made our cardboard pattern based on this bit of mathmatics; and when we got that together it made very much sense to us (at least)...

I hope I've written this fairly understandable...

And now for something completely different:
The length of the inner separation flap (yes, both Lars and me couldn't see it as a practical thing without it. We decided to cut it the same length as the flap extension of the body. This because we figured that measurement would be more or less ideal when you've packet it and need to tighten the pack. Leaving them too short will make packing hard; as Radford experienced, and making it too long would make compression a hard task...

The fabric we've cut the pattern out of is a heavy linen canvas (much like linen tenting-canvas) that we thought resembled the body fairly well. We decided to do the inner separation flap, the board-pocket, the pocket-flap and the pocket front of a lighter plain weave as we thought the weave of the original just looks more like typical linen-lining cloth. Expecting that these pieces will suffer less stress and tension that the rest we figured that is why if appears to be so on the original...

So... We cut it accordingly and this week we'll both start assembling them...

Any thoughts?

Cheers,
Henrik
Paul Durrant

Welcome to the forum Henrik,

Yes, as you have worked out, the length should be the 88.8cm - thats approx 35 inches for us heathens, which would be from a cut length of 1 yard  (36inches/91.44) turned at each end.

All the other existing British knapsacks (bar one) seem to work from a length of linen woven approx half a yard wide, 18 inches (45.72cm). Turn the edges and you'll come out with something around 16¾ - 17 inches (approx 42.5 - 43.1Smilie_PDT.

All other cuts are usually from this same width; eg, the side flaps:
Cut approx 13" length off the half yard wide material.
Half it (2 x 9")
Hem the two pieces and you'll get side wings between 11-12 inches x 8" (27.94/30.48 x 20.32)
Henrik Burke

Excellent! That is the kind of logical explaination I was hoping for as this works along the same lines as some of the recreations we've been working on from the Danish sources.

I'm almost done stitching up all the fabric bits so I hope to have it ready for painting etc within a couple of days.

How have you gone about when you've done the Bugle and Regimental markings on your knapsacks?

Cheers,
Henrik

Oh, and thanks for the welcome. I have been reading posts, and only today read the first thread on the Thatcher find in its entirety...
Paul Durrant

Imagine huge lengths of linen (you can see sailing ships sails made of similar strips) and a knapsack contractor would know how many yards (metres) he would need per knapsack and order lengths/quantity accordingly.
Henrik Burke

Which is pretty much where style and function meets the practical economics of that kind of fabrication... :-)

I am a bit puzzled by the leather bits of the original. The straps are ok and fairly straight forward with the issue I am wondering about. As these are clearly of standard brown leather with the smooth side out, flesh side in on the two on the narrow straps running from the top around the bottom of the sack when closed, and buff leather on compression straps on the flaps. The belt straps or belt holders and the reinforcing corner pieces on the other hand confuse me: Do you think these are smooth side in-flesh side out or the opposite? To me they can be either way. And as to the painting; is this done prior or post painting of the canvas? By the photos I'd guess the textiles are all stitched together, the canvas painted and all leathers attached after that.

Cheers,
Henrik
Paul Durrant

I make the 4 harness loops (belt holders) grained leather. The shoulders I did the same.

However...

The museum stated that these were painted over (I cheat and use an acrylic paint which actually peels of grain leather) and it certainly looks that way. I suspect the leather shoulders may have been buff with the rough flesh better suited to hold the paint. See the texture in this photo;


Did they paint them before or after stitching the leather fitting on? I'm not sure. The real evidence would be to inspect the pack and look under the belt holders. If the answer is no, they painted them after the leatherwork was attached, it would mean that water running down the back of the pack could soak through beneath the holders.

However, look at these photos looking inside the pack at the the 'white' clean area beneath the leather shoulders on the top 'wings', the mess tin strap holder and the belt holders; At first I thought the fabric beneath the leather shoulders was lined but I think this 'white' effect is where the paint has been blocked from seeping through by the leather attachments.

 
larshe

We discussed this feature on the Stockholm specimen during the weekend and I agree that the areas behind the leather bits look much cleaner. The only other real reason for this as far as I see could be that the color pigments have oxidized and have started to react with the canvas. As Paul says the only way to confirm this 100% is to closely examine the backpack in person.
I think I will go for the rough side of the leather and painted shoulders and straps on the one that  I am stitching together.
Paul Durrant

I paint mine before the leatherwork but then touch up with the paint on and around the leather to seal up the sewing.
Neibelungen

From the descriptions of oilcloth and varnished cloth I've come across  it was usual to  size the cloth first in order to seal it and then paint the cloth afterwards.
I would imagine it was either a clean oil coating with no  pigment, or more probably, a simple starch type  of paste size with or without something like gum tragacanth added for bonding qualities.
Henrik Burke

I read a few recipes on an American Civil War forum, and they mention corn starch being applied before the mix of linseed oil, terpentine and lamp black... I'm curious if this was used by the time of the Thatcher due to how much dye has blead through..?

Have any of you guys looked into any period sources talking of making oilcloth?

Cheers,
Henrik
Paul Durrant

WO62/44 Storekeepers Instructions Book 29 Dec 1812

"Mr Main is to clean the paint from the knapsacks which were rejected of Mr Higgins and Mr Jackman's contracts in consequence of size having been used in the process of painting them, and after being so cleaned they are to be submitted to you for the purpose of being stamped and returned to him, who is to paint them properly, and redeliver them into store for inspection without slings."
Neibelungen

Interesting note about removing the paint because  of size, though potentially it might be the wrong type  of size.

I know canvases were often sized with either a gelatin or a rabbit skin glue before being painted on. The latter being a common use because it tightens the canvas and can be flatted better but does cause cracking as it's more hygroscopic.

We have to bear in mind that this is a painted canvas rather than an oil cloth so one procedure my not be applicable to the other
Neibelungen

William Morris: Mechanical Arts in 32 receipts (1795)  

Differentiates two recipes between oilcloth for hat covers and umbrellas and oilcloth for floors. With the former being simply two thick and possibly clear coats laid on with a case knife (pallette?) and the latter using a composition of dissolved glue, Spanish white (chalk) and honey as a size before painting.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?...nepage&q=oilcloth&f=false

My interpretation would be a clear coat of prepared boiled linseed oil with a painted oil finish afterwards while the latter is actually sized and painted afterwards.
Paul Durrant

Out of curiosity...if the 'Thatcher' had been sized, would we have seen the 'bleed through' we see?

Neibelungen

I'd say it had  probably been prepped with a clear or whitish base  oil coat.

From the image the bleedthrough seems to run through gaps between  warp or weft  (depending which way it was cut from the canvas length) threads, rather than actually  soaking through the thread  itself.

ie you get linear staining rather than round patches where  paint lies heavier from brush loading.

I think it tends to be more a problem when it's made today with a cotton canvas as that seems to  suck in paint into the threads itself more.
Paul Durrant

Updates on the recent examination of the Thatcher pack can be found on the 'Thatcher Knapsack ' thread here:
http://2nd95thrifles.myfastforum.org/ftopic823-0-asc-135.php

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