Waterproofing a haversack -- oil vs wax?

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

rp77469

Pilgrim
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
262
Reaction score
153
Missed the original postings. I had to chime with some things I have learned.

Today BLO is mostly made and sold by adding metallic dryers to Raw Linseed Oil to speed up the cross linking reaction (curing). These dryers are at low levels, so the actual cured finish passes child safety requirements when I last checked about 18 months ago.

Raw linseed oil never completely cures. Woodworkers who collect old wooden bodied hand planes (ahem) sometimes encounter tiny shrinkage cracks in the wood. Soaking the plane body in RLO for a week or two lets the wood absorb the oil and makes it swell a little which closes up the cracks. Some collectors report they have planes with this treatment that show no shrink cracks after over 30 years.

Tried and True manufactures a non-dryer based BLO sold as their Danish Oil. Their BLO is vacuum cooked rather than boiled, but is equivalent to the old time BLO with no added driers The owner in an email to me stated he uses this to season his cast iron cook gear. They also market a BLO/beeswax blend that makes a lovely furniture finish, which is the only product I've seen so far. www.triedandtruewoodfinish.com


IME, mold just loves to feed on BLO. I made the mistake of oiling up a teak yard chair with it a decade ago and it turned black and fuzzy within a month. Scrubbed it down and it grew back. Took a year or two for the mold to eat all the BLO and die off to the point it could be scrubbed off and did not grow back. Teak oil is a very expensive repackaging of common BLO.

Previous comments mentioned BLO breaking down fabric. I don't know about included acid being the sole cause. It is very rare for producers to include much in the way of UV blockers. High efficacy UV blockers are very expensive (15 years ago on the order of $20 a pound in bulk), so doubt they are added. UV damage may be at least part of the cause.

In the early 90's I got some canvas from the sewing store, washed it a few times to remove the sizing and tighten the weave by shrinking in the dryer, then gave it a dozen coats by brush of Thompson's Water Seal. It stank for a year and took a while to soften, but you could make a bull boat of that ground cloth. I still have it and it has kept me from creeping water several times. It truly is water proof. Also flammable.

<Blah blah blah blah blah mode OFF>
 

troy2000

45 Cal.
Joined
May 7, 2019
Messages
903
Reaction score
691
Location
SoCal/Western Arizona
I'm a little late to this discussion. But I grew up in Blythe, California on the Colorado River, where the Mojave Desert meets the Sonoran Desert, and I'm intimately familiar with canvas water bags. They were being phased out in the fifties as I was growing up, as cars became more reliable and automotive AC was coming in.

They weren't waterproof, or they wouldn't have worked. Instead, they were made of closely woven canvas (usually Scottish linen). Water from the saturated cloth slowly evaporated in the desert heat, cooling the rest of the bag. If it was hung on a tree and there was a breeze, or more commonly on the front bumper of a moving vehicle, the water would be noticeably cooler and sometimes almost cold.

I have one that I bought about fifteen years ago and hung on my front bumper for a while, mostly for nostalgic reasons. I stopped at Desert Center for coffee on the I-10 one day, and an old timer came up almost in tears. He told me it had been years since he saw a desert bag on a pickup truck, and it brought back fond memories of days gone by.
 

Kansas Jake

54 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Mar 23, 2015
Messages
3,557
Reaction score
1,127
Troy2000, many farmers used those in the 1950s to carry drinking water on tractors when working in fields.
 

troy2000

45 Cal.
Joined
May 7, 2019
Messages
903
Reaction score
691
Location
SoCal/Western Arizona
Troy2000, many farmers used those in the 1950s to carry drinking water on tractors when working in fields.
I didn't know that, but it makes sense.

By the time I was old enough to work in the fields in the early sixties, farmers in my area were providing the hired help with galvanized water coolers and ice.
 

Loyalist Dave

Cannon
Staff member
Moderator
MLF Supporter
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
10,133
Reaction score
3,601
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
Water from the saturated cloth slowly evaporated in the desert heat, cooling the rest of the bag. If it was hung on a tree and there was a breeze, or more commonly on the front bumper of a moving vehicle, the water would be noticeably cooler and sometimes almost cold.

I have one that I bought about fifteen years ago and hung on my front bumper for a while, mostly for nostalgic reasons. I stopped at Desert Center for coffee on the I-10 one day, and an old timer came up almost in tears. He told me it had been years since he saw a desert bag on a pickup truck
He would never see them where I am, unless it was only for hauling water.
In the land of the super-saturated-summer-air, evaporation cooling just doesn't happen...breeze or not...
Out in New Mexico, my brother has a "swamp cooler" system to cool his home in the summertime...
We have to use real AC with pressurized refrigerant for cooling to work. ;)

LD
 

David Veale

40 Cal
MLF Supporter
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
218
Reaction score
182
Location
Three Rivers, MI
Sorry, I thought you wanted just to keep things dry...

Which period correct, easier to apply materials are you suggesting ?

Will they require recoating?

As too the cartridge guns.... I have no problem with them.
I still own a few, But we don't discuss them on this Forum.

Merry Christmas
Beeswax and linseed oil were the treatments that were most widely used to my knowledge. Yes, they may require recoating, but certainly no more than the modern coatings. Silicone sealant is very UV resistant, but it will break down just as linseed oil will with repeated abrasion. The beeswax slowly wears off but is easily renewed. No nasty chemicals required.

For me, the avoidance of synthetic materials is a big attraction, especially as we're now learning how much damage they do. Synthetic fibers from clothing are showing up in marine creatures (sewage treatment plants can't remove these) where they're concentrated, making it into the bloodstream and even crossing the blood-brain barrier and negatively altering behavior, with many of them releasing hormone-mimicking endocrine disruptors. They're also ending up in our bodies, undoubtedly with similar consequences that are probably a bit too politically sensitive for our mainstream media to acknowledge (looking for a cause of the LGBTQ alphabet soup "gender confusion" in the younger generation? I'd suggest this is a good place to start).

Better yet, you can make these waterproofing materials yourself. I keep bees and use the wax from my hives. I've also grown flax (the source of linseed oil) and processed it for linen and tow, though I have not yet tried pressing the seeds for oil. I could also make turpentine if I were so inclined, but haven't traveled that far down the rabbit hole just yet. Are these things a lot of work? Sure, but the reward and experience gained is commensurate with the effort in my experience.

The goal as I see it is not just to make something waterproof (Gore-tex is hard to beat for that purpose if you don't mind contaminating the world with cancer causing perfluorooctanoic acid as the WL Gore company has), but to do it responsibly, learn how our ancestors did it, and know the satisfaction of making your own. I've found that the materials we've essentially given up in favor of cheaper mass-produced replacements are often superior in many ways.
 
Last edited:

smo

70 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jul 25, 2007
Messages
6,390
Reaction score
2,191
Location
Tn
David, I fully understand what you’re saying, and using the more traditional methods of waterproofing are great..

But I tend too not go the traditional method on things that the average Joe Blow can’t identify.

The silicone/ mineral spirits once applied soaks into the fabric.

No one can tell it’s on the material.... only the Shadow knows...

The fabric, once dry feels like oil cloth and sheds water without any issue..
 

Bugman

32 Cal.
Joined
Mar 11, 2018
Messages
53
Reaction score
9
Would it not work to test the acidity of the turpentine/linseed oil mixture and add baking soda or some other readily available base to balance out the problem by continuously testing until a 6 or so is achieved?
 

Latest posts

Top