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The 'THATCHER' knapsack
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halondella
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:53 am    Post subject: Thatcher Pack  Reply with quote

Paul,
Thanks you for the info. I did not expect or need a rapid reply. I am still gathering materials to make three, and need to do some slight modifications to the others.

I suspected the long Mess Tin strap was brown, could not tell originally from the pics. I "assume" it was a later addition, possibly at unit level. (I remember doing such in my active army days).  Length should be long enough to go around the tin, blanket and pack, should be easy to come up with it.

On the good chance I was not clear in my first posting: The conundrum in construction is fitting the leather reinforcements. The ends have lots of pack body and somehow the pocket for the board has to be fitted around the ends.  What I did looks nothing like the original, mayhaps the leather was added after al the canvas was sewn? Any suggestions from you or anyone else making these, please feel free to chime in.

I too use brass oval buckles for chest straps. More to polish, but it keeps the Troops out of mischief  :-).

Regards,
Harry
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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry,

I think there was much debate in the beginning about the length of the mess tin strap: whether it was meant to go over roll, or even hold the blanket in a completely different way (Horse collar method). However, towards the end of our period, it is clear that whilst on campaign, the blanket OR greatcoat was to be inside the pack; one of them being in stores.

However, the belt is brown and probably began it's life as brown grained leather approx 3/4" wide. As for the broken off piece, I'm afraid we're still non the wiser except it almost looks as though there were two separate pieces sewn at that point - possibly that was even where the buckle was, who knows...

Anyway, here's the pics I have. Hope they are of help;





Next up - construction!
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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the main mysteries of the pack was where the two straps (only one survived) at one end of the pack buckled to. My last hypothesis was that there was a missing section of cloth that went down from the centre pocket which would have had 2 buckles on.

Anyway...


Beneath the main buckles...



I suspect that these holes were where two buckles sat. (The canvas you can see through the holes belongs to a separate bag within the main bag.)
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John Waller
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you form an opinion on the nature of the black 'paint' ?
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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Waller wrote:
Did you form an opinion on the nature of the black 'paint' ?


I'm sorry to say John, I didn't.

Some years ago when I started to experiment with knapsacks, I painted one of them with a mixture I made of bone black and boiled linseed oil. However, being expensive stuff, I only experimented once. The effect was something more akin to what I'd imagine oilskin to be. The linseed did soaked through the canvas giving the pack a nice urine yellow look (not unlike the Thatcher) and making it smell very nice. It took a couple of weeks to dry and black pigment did rub off. I'll try and take some photos...

However, I'm very tempted to have another bash.


Last edited by Paul Durrant on Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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John Waller
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul Durrant wrote:
John Waller wrote:
Did you form an opinion on the nature of the black 'paint' ?


I'm sorry to say John, I didn't.

Some years ago when I started to experiment with knapsacks, I painted one of them with a mixture I made of bone black bone powder and boiled linseed oil (now called ivory black). However, being expensive stuff, I only experimented once. The effect was something more akin to what I'd imagine oilskin to be. The linseed did soaked through the canvas giving the pack a nice urine yellow look (not unlike the Thatcher) and making it smell very nice. It took a couple of weeks to dry and black pigment did rub off. I'll try and take some photos...

However, I'm very tempted to have another bash.


I've experimented making oilskin for cap covers and used stuff called 'black pigment' from George Weil Fibrecrafts. They couldn't tell me what it consisted of but it worked very well and it's a lot cheaper than bone black £5.60/500g). Pigment does not  noticeably rub off. Not tried it on a pack yet. The two I have made were given a coat off a Ronseal matt black exterior paint which worked OK. I wonder what magical concoction Mr Packer uses? They definitely have a whiff off linseed about them when new.
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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 3:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Thatcher Pack Reply with quote

halondella wrote:
"The conundrum in construction is fitting the leather reinforcements. The ends have lots of pack body and somehow the pocket for the board has to be fitted around the ends.  What I did looks nothing like the original, mayhaps the leather was added after al the canvas was sewn?"


"The conundrum in construction..."

I'm sorry to say I still don't have all the answers - and I'm furious at myself for some simple observations I should have taken and didn't. Excitement and time constraints (running out of) made me ignore some points I had presumed but should have checked. Basically I will have to go back one day...

But no use crying over it now, spilt milk and all that... (actually *sniff* there is....)

Anyway, as I see it (at the moment!);

British packs appear to be made from a length of linen roughly half a yard wide, 18" give or take, with a selvedge on both lengths (there are a couple of  extant exception in width at around 19"). With the manufacturing of the linen coming out in such 'strips' (remember we have a huge sail making industry doing the same) then a specific length, with all the knapsack internal components made from it, would equate to one pack and a supplier could easily order lengths suitable for a bulk order of packs (this is covered in more depth elsewhere in the thread).

So with this in mind I've always made my packs from a half yard width and worked out the dimensions of the internal components accordingly. Searching out the selvedge on such components helps you work out exactly what part of the 'strip' the components are cut from.

Spanners in the Works

In the beginning I thought I had this sussed.
We were working from photos and measurements sent by Sweden and measurements translated from cm/mms. The first confusion was the first batch of measurements which put the width at 19" - which, as mentioned previously wouldn't have been an impossibility - but a second take put it closer to 16¾-17" (with edges turned in ½" brings it reasonably close to 18" raw).

I then worked from the above assumption that the Side wings being an approx 12" in length (cut 13" then hemmed) were then cut longways in half (resulting in 2 wings approx 8" width, after hem) and the pockets, top wings, etc, cut accordingly.

However, whilst determining all the internal components, one element that puzzled me was why the leather loops on the outside (to hold the main harness straps) where not reinforced (with thin pieces of leather or linen) on the inside as earlier packs seemed to have when harnesses were sewn direct to linen. Here I put 2+2 together and may have come up with bollocks. I deduced from the photos that the black paint seep-through was less on the inside of the main pocket (now I don't think it is) and perhaps that part of the pack (which backed onto the wearer's back) was actually double lined. This of course would strengthen it. The there was the fact that the small leather loop on the front of the pack, the one the mess tin strap went through, was reinforced with linen and surely this was not under as much strain as the main harness loops?


Then my next spurious assumption came from the 1823 pattern (the first we have in writing, btw). Though having detailed measurements, the 1823 was hard to understand with references to side wings (obvious) and 'top' wings (not so obvious). Then the Thatcher appeared and it had what could be referred to as 'top' wings - wings sewn to the top of the pack. However, the 1823 also described a 'lining' of 15" long to do with the inside pocket. What was that all about? Then I came up with the idea that if the back of the 1823 main pocket (11½" deep) had a 15" lining, then maybe the additional 3½" could have extend to become the bottom 3½" of the main pocket! Made sense...

So my repro packs had the bag lined, reinforcing the loops stitching and creating the bag bottom. There you go...

Unfortunately that was one of the things I didn't bother to check and to be honest, a close look at the many photos I took suggests otherwise (insert extremely sorry-looking emoticon here.)

So if that is the case, the whole length of the body was a single piece and the bottom of the bag possibly also. However, the stitching of the bottom of the bag to the main body doesn't seem as thick as the stitching of other seams:
   
Main body meets bottom panel (L): bottom panel meets front of bag (R).

So, thoughts anyone? I'm wondering if the main body and the bottom the bag could still be one piece and that it's just been sewn through to sustain the 'box' effect of the bag.

Of course a simple check inside... (insert blow to the head here).
Ok, I took photos inside of the bag because it had that damned ugly internal pouch within. It was difficult of course, taking pix of the inner seams, as I was shooting blind, but sadly I didn't follow up with a visual examination - and the course bag within prevented the camera catching that important part of the seam (though the camera did pick up the main pack body seam which also suggested that there was no double lining.)

So, view inside bag:


Looking into the bag and following bag in from the right;
Right hand seam:


Bottom right hand corner:


Bottom of bag showing seam on top and 'tacked' inner bag (hiding the bottom seam, if there is one...);


Left hand corner;


Left hand side;


Next: The leather shoulders...

½ ¾ ¼


Last edited by Paul Durrant on Sat Nov 28, 2015 1:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Waller wrote:
Did you form an opinion on the nature of the black 'paint' ?


The paint doesn't seem that thick and subsequently cracking is quite fine.



And on the leather shoulders


Inside bag showing light coming through painted bottom


FWIW:

Trials of a knapsack. BGO 21st Dec 1812 WO 7/56 pp.237-238

"Report on the proceedings of a board of General Officers...upon a subject of a knapsack, made by Mssrs. Bicknells & Moore of Bond Street...11 December 1812...
      ...The board having examined the knapsack...and considered what has been stated by them relative to its properties and advantages - viz: That it is made in exact conformity to the sealed pattern; but prepared in a very peculiar manner, to obviate the evil of cracking either from being exposed to the sun or soaked with wet _ that it is considerably lighter than the sealed pattern, and they presume much more desirable, the preparation being the same as the patent Leather, the utility of which as been fully proved _ that the composition laid on the Russian Duck to render it waterproof, is of such a nature as to preserve it till the duck wears out and never comes off on the coat _ and that with all these superior qualities and advantages, the price will not exceed that of the present Regulation Knapsack"


They then agree to tests;

"..the board are of the opinion that the same is deserving of a fair trial...the experiment should be tried in other regiments serving in different parts of the world"
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shoulders

These appear to be buff leather painted over. (Agreed?)




As far as I can work out, the shoulders are probably stitched on before centre pocket is laid over, viz;
Red=first stitching onto body
Blue=secondary stitching after centre pocket stitched down.


I think the centre pocket is sewn with a finer thread, stopping at the edge of the shoulder - then heavy duty thread goes through both.


The method of stitching is quite bizarre. It appears to be a backstitch in places but in others... dunno. Ideas?

Backstitching (apologies for crappy illus.)


I can imagine it on some of the stitching, but there's something else going on there....
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halondella
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 8:45 pm    Post subject: Thatcher Knapsack Reply with quote

Paul,
The last three posts have been most helpful. The detailed pictures of the inside of the main bag, and the ones showing how the leather reinforcements are attached certainly answers my questions. Not exactly sure if I like that floppy inner bag; it seems redundant. Am considering leaving it out of my next constructions.

After much trial and error, I did attach on my personal pack the two buckles that fit "the strap to nowhere" to the back underneath the main harness buckles.  I had missed the tears before, and they do look like the result of buckles pulling out with age and use. Also, putting the top flap down over the two wing straps hold everything together. The pack looks more "finished' when close that way, even if it takes lots of undoing to get into it. (My guess is that soldiers back then only went into their pack at the end of the day).  

I agree on the leather reinforcement being buff and sewn on first. And your info on the type of paint is helpful as well. I've tried a number of different mixes, but settled on black gesso under thinned black latex.

Thanks again for all the detailed information. It is most helpful on this side of the Pond. I share this Thatcher Knapsack with all who are interested, and give you full credit.

Harry
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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2015 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Main Harness:



Pipeclay


Tapered ends


Small surprise found between the join: Red fabric, possibly wool



Stitching along 'back' strap:
This was noticed when we first saw photos of the pack and much debated. We could see no stitch marks on the pack itself and no tears (as we knew it wasn't currently stitched on. We also hypothesized that there may have been fabric sewn on the reverse of the strap to stop rubbing - or worse, that it may have once been sewn direct to a pack - just not this one!


I'm afraid, after examination, I'm still non the wiser. All we can say is that there is no evidence it was stitched on to something and perhaps torn away (no trapped or caught fabrics) and certainly not cut away from anything as the threads are still complete.

2 new theories:
It's a way of preventing stretching.
Those parts of the harness are reused from something else.

There is a small example of some stitching across one of the side wings straps that may suggest this also;



Main Harness Buckles:





Note the cutting technique for the buckle pin hole. leather bent round, diamond sliced out. Not punched out.


Mystery Markings:

Found on reverse of main shoulder straps


Last edited by Paul Durrant on Sat Nov 28, 2015 11:48 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Side 'Wings'

12" x 7"
Straps between 17" & 18" long x ¾" wide.


The long wing straps are irregularly cut as can be seen in these two ends. Also note that they appear to have been pipeclayed.


Left:wing
Right:Main body



3/4" buckles
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Board

16" x 3½" x 3.5mm. Beech
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tmdreb
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't thank y'all enough for your efforts. This is simply amazing! I'll try to post links to some originals soon, but I'll do what I can here without them.

Regarding the double buckle arrangement - I don't believe there was anything attaching these buckles to the pack. The American variants lack any sort of arrangement. On my reproduction, I leave the shoulder straps buckled once adjusted. This keeps the double buckles more or less in place. Undoing them tends to leave straps hanging all over the place, so I avoid that when possible. I think the holes in this pack are due to wear.

When making painted cloth, try lampblack for pigment. Might be cheaper than bone black. In the past, I've used oil based paint with added boiled linseed oil.

For the drying issue, add a small amount of Japan dryer. I get this from art or craft stores in the paint section. It'll reduce the drying time to hours or days rather than weeks.

To prevent bleed thru, paint one or both sides of the canvas with cornstarch simmered with water. It looks like paste. I pour it on the cloth, then spread it with a flat piece of wood. This makes it more even and smooth than just brushing it on. Remember! Painted cloth tears very easily, and is best backed with unpainted cloth.
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John Waller
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phil makes a good point about preparing the canvas for painting to prevent bleed-through. I'm sure I read somewhere that it was sized before painting. In the way an artist prepares a canvas I guess?

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