What was new at the N-SSA Spring Nationals? Not as much as in some other years, but sufficient to make things interesting for the sutlerís row stroller. My first visit was with Ed Hull of Naval Ordnance Works and Foundry (Route 32, Box 919, Shepherdstown, WV 25443). Ed had a great display of unique and interesting cast and swaged bullets and round balls spread out at his sutler stand on the road down near the main bridge over Back Creek. He was, as usual, full of new ideas and new twists on old ideas, and entertaining a crowd of shooters when I arrived.
If you recall, I gave Edís swaged .69 caliber Minie balls a try last year and discovered that they shot very well. The only drawback I encountered was that they had to be swaged down a bit to fit the .685 bore of the Whitacre barrel on my Model 1842 rifled musket. The swaging lessened the depth of the grooves and hence their lubrication and scraping action in the bore on firing. Consequently, I had to swab out the barrel every five shots or so. This should not be a problem with original barrels and their more generous tolerances. Ed has deepened the grooves on his .69 Minie, which may solve the problem with sized balls as well. I have a new batch to try, and will shoot them as soon as my hectic schedule permits me to get out to the range. Another Naval Ordnance works new product that will be of interest to Civil War shooters is Edís new Maynard carbine bullet. Iíll be shooting some of these in my Romano Second Model Maynard as soon as time permits as well.
Speaking of Larry Romano, that great gun artisan now has a sutler tent down along the lower road in Sutlerís row. Larry had some of his first and second Model Maynards on display as well as his prototype Maynard/Perry Confederate carbine and .50-110 Spencer single shot. Iíve covered the Maynard/Perry in a previous column, but the single shot was new to me. Copied from a Christopher Spencer model gun that never went into actual production, Romanoís rifle is easily the slickest dropping block black powder cartridge gun I have ever handled.
Speaking of Maynards, I have another new Maynard associated product to review. Eric Schuessler, a talented machinist who is a member of Shermanís Bodyguard, an N-SSA Midwest Region unit, has some interesting new products for Civil War era shooters. The Maynard was the only Civil War carbine deliberately designed to use cartridge cases that were reloadable, and Eric has reproduced an original Maynard reloading tool. The tool is simple to use and perfectly controls depth and bullet alignment. It is set up to use the Tom Ball Smith/Maynard bullet, but can be adjusted to use most any kind of bullet with a drill press or hand drill and rotary file. I found I needed no adjustment to load either the Rapine mold Maynard bullet and the new Naval Ordnance swaged slug. To use, just finger start the bullet in the case, place the tool over the cartridge and press down with the palm of your hand.
Although Smith carbine Civil War cartridges were disposable after firing, the original Smith rubber cartridge was meant to be reloadable, and Eric has modified the Maynard tool design to fit the plastic Smith rounds so popular with skirmishers. Schuesslerís loading tools sell for $25 plus $5 shipping. He is also producing a line of quality reproduction gun tools for the Gallager, Smith and Maynard carbines and the 1863 Springfield rifle musket, which will be of interest to the skirmisher, reenactor and collector alike. These tools are $30 each plus $5 shipping.
Eric also makes and sells a ďstool for big peopleĒ which he characterizes as his ďfinest product.Ē The Schuessler stool is an answer to the prayers of a skirmisher who wants to take a brief break between relays but would like something substantial to park him or herself on. It is fabricated of top quality materials, including a durable frame of one by one and a half-inch oak with all joints glued and screwed or nailed. The sturdy structure is covered by heavy canvas. Ericís stool is three inches taller and three inches wider than the standard camp stool, making it significantly more comfortable for the adult frame compared with current commercially available products. The stool is $25, or $35 with a backrest, plus $10 shipping.
Eric expects to have all of his products available at Midwest Regional Skirmishes this summer, and they will also be available through mail order sales. For further information, contact him at 1677 Joan Drive, Hinckley OH 44233-9725 (330-278-4815 email Eschues@aol.com).
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